Refereed Preprints

Review Commons provides authors with a Refereed Preprint, which includes the authors’ manuscript, reports from a single round of peer review and the authors’ response. These Refereed Preprints are transferred on the author’s behalf to bioRxiv. The most recently-completed Review Commons peer-reviews are listed below, with the most recently posted reviews at the top.

Latest Refereed Preprints

Evolutionary Biology | 20 Oct 2020

On the Emergence of P-Loop NTPase and Rossmann Enzymes from a Beta-Alpha-Beta Ancestral Fragment

Liam M Longo, Jagoda Jablonska, Pratik Vyas, Manil Kanade, Rachel Kolodny, Nir Ben-Tal, Dan S Tawfik

Dating back to the last universal common ancestor (LUCA), the P-loop NTPases and Rossmanns now comprise the most ubiquitous and diverse enzyme lineages. Intriguing similarities in their overall architecture and phosphate binding motifs suggest common ancestry; however, due to a lack of sequence identity and some fundamental structural differences, these families are considered independent emergences. To address this longstanding dichotomy, we systematically searched for 'bridge proteins' with structure and sequence elements shared by both lineages. We detected homologous segments that span the first βαβ segment of both lineages and include two key functional motifs: (i) a phosphate binding loop - the 'Walker A' motif of P-loop NTPases or the Rossmann equivalent, both residing at the N-terminus of α1 ; and (ii) an Asp at the tip of β2. The latter comprises the 'Walker B' aspartate that chelates the catalytic metal in P-loop NTPases, or the canonical Rossmann β2-Asp that binds the cofactor's ribose moiety. Tubulin, a Rossmann GTPase, demonstrates the potential of the β2-Asp to take either one of these two roles. We conclude that common P-loops/Rossmann ancestry is plausible, although convergence cannot be completely ruled out. Regardless, both lineages most likely emerged from a polypeptide comprising a βαβ segment carrying the above two functional motifs, a segment that comprises the core of both enzyme families to this very day.
Cell Biology | 03 Jul 2020

Spatial Variation of Microtubule Depolymerization in Large Asters Suggests Regulation by MAP Depletion

Keisuke Ishihara, Franziska Decker, Paulo Caldas, James F. Pelletier, Martin Loose, Jan Brugués, Timothy J. Mitchison

Microtubule plus end depolymerization rate is a potentially important target of physiological regulation, but it has been challenging to measure, so its role in spatial organization is poorly understood. Here we apply a method for tracking plus ends based on time difference imaging to measure depolymerization rates in large interphase asters growing in Xenopus egg extract. We observed strong spatial regulation of depolymerization rates, which were almost two-fold higher in the aster interior compared to the periphery, and much less regulation of polymerization or catastrophe rates. We interpret these data in terms of a limiting component model, where aster growth results in lower levels of soluble tubulin and MAPs in the interior cytosol compared to that at the periphery. The steady-state polymer fraction of tubulin was ∼30%, so tubulin is not strongly depleted in the aster interior. We propose that the limiting component for microtubule assembly is a MAP that inhibits depolymerization, and that egg asters are tuned to low microtubule density.
Microbiology | 27 Aug 2020

A drug repurposing screen identifies hepatitis C antivirals as inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-2 main protease

Jeremy D. Baker, Rikki L. Uhrich, Gerald C. Kraemer, Jason E. Love, Brian C. Kraemer

The SARS coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in late 2019 as a zoonotic virus highly transmissible between humans that has caused the COVID-19 pandemic 1,2. This pandemic has the potential to disrupt healthcare globally and has already caused high levels of mortality, especially amongst the elderly. The overall case fatality rate for COVID-19 is estimated to be ∼2.3% overall 3 and 32.3% in hospitalized patients age 70-79 years 4. Therapeutic options for treating the underlying viremia in COVID-19 are presently limited by a lack of effective SARS-CoV-2 antiviral drugs, although steroidal anti-inflammatory treatment can be helpful. A variety of potential antiviral targets for SARS-CoV-2 have been considered including the spike protein and replicase. Based upon previous successful antiviral drug development for HIV-1 and hepatitis C, the SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro) appears an attractive target for drug development. Here we show the existing pharmacopeia contains many drugs with potential for therapeutic repurposing as selective and potent inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 Mpro. We screened a collection of ∼6,070 drugs with a previous history of use in humans for compounds that inhibit the activity of Mpro in vitro. In our primary screen we found ∼50 compounds with activity against Mpro (overall hit rate <0.75%). Subsequent dose validation studies demonstrated 8 dose responsive hits with an IC50 ≤ 50 μM. Hits from our screen are enriched with hepatitis C NS3/4A protease targeting drugs including Boceprevir (IC50=0.95 μM), Ciluprevir (20.77μM). Narlaprevir (IC50=1.10μM), and Telaprevir (15.25μM). These results demonstrate that some existing approved drugs can inhibit SARS-CoV-2 Mpro and that screen saturation of all approved drugs is both feasible and warranted. Taken together this work suggests previous large-scale commercial drug development initiatives targeting hepatitis C NS3/4A viral protease should be revisited because some previous lead compounds may be more potent against SARS-CoV-2 Mpro than Boceprevir and suitable for rapid repurposing.
Molecular Biology | 03 Feb 2020

A double role of the Gal80 N-terminus in activation of transcription by Gal4p

Annekathrin Reinhardt-Tews, Rościsław Krutyhołowa, Christian Günzel, Sebastian Glatt, Karin D Breunig

The yeast galactose switch operated by the Gal4p-Gal80p-Gal3p regulatory module is a textbook model of transcription regulation in eukaryotes. The Gal80 protein inhibits Gal4p-mediated transcription activation by binding to the transcription activation domain. Inhibition is relieved by formation of an alternative Gal80-Gal3 complex. In yeasts lacking a Gal3p ortholog the Gal1 protein combines regulatory and enzymatic activity. The data presented here reveal a so-far unknown role of the Gal80 N-terminus in the mechanism of Gal4p activation. The N-terminus contains an NLS, which is responsible for nuclear accumulation of KlGal80p and galactokinase inhibition in vitro. Herein we propose a model where the N-terminus of KlGal80p reaches into the catalytic center of KlGal1p of the nuclear fraction of KlGal1p triggering dissociation of the KlGal80-KlGal4 complex. We corroborate this model by genetic analyses and structural modelling and provide a rationale for the divergent evolution of the mechanism activating Gal4p.Summary blurbActivation of gene expression by Gal4p in K. lactis requires an element in the N-terminus of KlGal80 that mediates nuclear import, KlGal1 interaction and galactokinase inhibition
Bioinformatics | 24 Aug 2020

Predicting gene regulatory networks from cell atlases

Andreas Fønss Møller, Kedar Nath Natarajan

Recent single-cell RNA-sequencing atlases have surveyed and identified major cell-types across different mouse tissues. Here, we computationally reconstruct gene regulatory networks from 3 major mouse cell atlases to capture functional regulators critical for cell identity, while accounting for a variety of technical differences including sampled tissues, sequencing depth and author assigned cell-type labels. Extracting the regulatory crosstalk from mouse atlases, we identify and distinguish global regulons active in multiple cell-types from specialised cell-type specific regulons. We demonstrate that regulon activities accurately distinguish individual cell types, despite differences between individual atlases. We generate an integrated network that further uncovers regulon modules with coordinated activities critical for cell-types, and validate modules using available experimental data. Inferring regulatory networks during myeloid differentiation from wildtype and Irf8 KO cells, we uncover functional contribution of Irf8 regulon activity and composition towards monocyte lineage. Our analysis provides an avenue to further extract and integrate the regulatory crosstalk from single-cell expression data.Integrated single-cell gene regulatory network from three mouse cell atlases captures global and cell-type specific regulatory modules and crosstalk, important for cellular identity.
Cancer Biology | 26 Mar 2020

DDX5 targets tissue-specific RNAs to promote intestine tumorigenesis

Nazia Abbasi, Tianyun Long, Yuxin Li, Evelyn Ma, Brian A. Yee, Parth R. Patel, Ibrahim M Sayed, Nissi Varki, Soumita Das, Pradipta Ghosh, Gene W. Yeo, Wendy J.M. Huang

Tumorigenesis in different segments of the intestinal tract involves tissue-specific oncogenic drivers. In the colon, complement component 3 (C3) activation is a major contributor to inflammation and malignancies. By contrast, tumorigenesis in the small intestine involves fatty acid-binding protein 1 (FABP1). However, little is known of the upstream mechanisms driving their expressions in different segments of the intestinal tract. Here, we report that an RNA binding protein DDX5 augments C3 and FABP1 expressions post-transcriptionally to promote tumorigenesis in the colon and small intestine, respectively. Mice with epithelial-specific knockout of DDX5 are protected from intestine tumorigenesis. The identification of DDX5 as the common upstream regulator of tissue-specific oncogenic molecules provides a new therapeutic target for intestine cancers.
Biochemistry | 04 Apr 2019

A meiosis-specific AAA+ assembly reveals repurposing of ORC during budding yeast gametogenesis

María Ascensión Villar-Fernández, Richard Cardoso da Silva, Dongqing Pan, Elisabeth Weir, Annika Sarembe, Vivek B. Raina, John R. Weir, Gerben Vader

ORC (Orc1-6) is an AAA+ complex that loads the AAA+ MCM helicase to replication origins. Orc1, a subunit of ORC, functionally interacts with budding yeast Pch2, a meiosis-specific AAA+ protein. Pch2 regulates several chromosomal events of gametogenesis, but mechanisms that dictate Pch2 function remain poorly understood. We demonstrate that ORC directly interacts with an AAA+ Pch2 hexamer. The ORC-Pch2 assembly is established without Cdc6, a factor crucial for ORC-MCM binding. Biochemical analysis suggests that Pch2 utilizes ORC’s Cdc6-binding interface and employs its non-enzymatic NH2-terminal domain and AAA+ core to engage ORC. In contrast to phenotypes observed upon Orc1 impairment, nuclear depletion of other subunits of ORC does not lead to Pch2-like phenotypes, indicating that ORC integrity per se is not required to support Pch2 function. We thus reveal functional interplay between Pch2 and ORC, and uncover the repurposing of ORC to establish a non-canonical and meiosis-specific AAA+ assembly.
Bioinformatics | 16 Apr 2020

multicrispr: gRNA design for prime editing and parallel targeting of thousands of targets

Aditya M Bhagwat, Johannes Graumann, Rene Wiegandt, Mette Bentsen, Carsten Kuenne, Jens Preussner, Thomas Braun, Mario Looso

Targeting the coding genome to introduce single nucleotide deletions/insertions via Crispr/Cas9 technology has become a standard procedure in recent years. It has quickly spawned a multitude of methods such as Prime Editing, Crispr/Cas9 assisted APEX proximity labeling of proteins, or homology directed repair (HDR), for which supporting bioinformatic tools are, however, lagging behind. New applications often require specific guide-RNA (gRNA) design functionality, and a generic gRNA design tool is critically missing. Here we review gRNA designer software and introduce multicrispr, an R based tool intended to design individual gRNAs as well as gRNA libraries targeting many genomic loci in parallel. The package is easy to use, detects, scores and filters gRNAs on both efficiency and specificity, visualizes and aggregates results per target or Crispr/Cas9 sequence, and finally returns both genomic ranges as well as sequences of preferred, off target-free gRNAs. In order to be generic, multicrispr defines and implements a genomic arithmetics framework as a basis for facile adaptation to techniques yet to arise. Its performance and new gRNA design concepts such as target set specific filtering for gRNA libraries render multicrispr the tool of choice when dealing with screening-like approaches.
Microbiology | 12 Sep 2019

Peptide-based quorum sensing systems in Paenibacillus polymyxa

Maya Voichek, Sandra Maaß, Tobias Kroniger, Dörte Becher, Rotem Sorek

Paenibacillus polymyxa is an agriculturally important plant growth-promoting rhizobacterium. Many Paenibacillus species are known to be engaged in complex bacteria-bacteria and bacteria-host interactions, which in other species were shown to necessitate quorum sensing communication. However, to date no quorum sensing systems have been described in Paenibacillus. Here we show that the type strain P. polymyxa ATCC 842 encodes at least 16 peptide-based communication systems. Each of these systems is comprised of a pro-peptide that is secreted to the growth medium and processed to generate a mature short peptide. Each peptide has a cognate intracellular receptor of the RRNPP family, and we show that external addition of P. polymyxa communication peptides leads to reprogramming of the transcriptional response. We found that these quorum sensing systems are conserved across hundreds of species belonging to the Paenibacillaceae family, with some species encoding more than 25 different peptide-receptor pairs, representing a record number of quorum sensing systems encoded in a single genome.
Cell Biology | 02 Aug 2019

A time resolved interaction analysis of Bem1 reconstructs the flow of Cdc42 during polar growth

Sören Grinhagens, Alexander Dünkler, Yehui Wu, Lucia Rieger, Philipp Brenner, Thomas Gronemeyer, Nils Johnsson

Cdc42 organizes cellular polarity and directs the formation of cellular structures in many organisms. By locating Cdc24, the source of active Cdc42, to the growing edge of the yeast cell, the scaffold protein Bem1 is instrumental in shaping the cellular gradient of Cdc42. This gradient instructs bud formation, bud growth, or cytokinesis through the actions of a diverse set of effector proteins. To address how Bem1 participates in this transformation we systematically mapped its protein interactions in time and space. SPLIFF analysis defined a unique ensemble of Bem1 interaction-states for each cell cycle stage. The characterization of mutants of Bem1 that interact with a discrete subset of the interaction partners allowed to assign specific functions to different interaction states and identified the determinants for their cellular distributions. The analysis characterizes Bem1 as a cell cycle specific shuttle that distributes active Cdc42 from its source to its effectors and helps to convert the PAKs Cla4 and Ste20 into their active conformation.
Biochemistry | 01 Jul 2020

An evolutionary approach to systematic discovery of novel deubiquitinases, applied to Legionella

Thomas Hermanns, Ilka Woiwode, Ricardo F. M. Guerreiro, Robert Vogt, Michael Lammers, Kay Hofmann

Deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) are important regulators of the posttranslational protein ubiquitination system. Mammalian genomes encode about hundred different DUBs, which can be grouped into seven different classes. Members of other DUB classes are found in pathogenic bacteria, which use them to target the host defense. By combining bioinformatical and experimental approaches, we address the question if the known DUB families have a common evolutionary ancestry and share conserved features that set them apart from other proteases. By systematically comparing family-specific Hidden-Markov-Models, we uncovered distant relationships between established DUBs and other cysteine protease families. Most DUB families share a conserved aromatic residue linked to the active site, which restricts the cleavage of substrates with sidechains at the S2 position, corresponding to Gly-75 in ubiquitin. By applying these criteria to Legionella pneumophila ORFs, we identified lpg1621 and lpg1148 as deubiquitinases, characterized their cleavage specificities, and confirmed the importance of the aromatic gatekeeper motif for substrate selection.
Immunology | 19 Jun 2020

Attenuation of cGAS/STING Activity During Mitosis

Brittany L. Uhlorn, Eduardo R. Gamez, Shuaizhi Li, Samuel K. Campos

The innate immune system recognizes cytosolic DNA associated with microbial infections and cellular stress via the cGAS/STING pathway, leading to activation of phospho-IRF3 and downstream IFN-I and senescence responses. To prevent hyperactivation, cGAS/STING is presumed to be non-responsive to chromosomal self DNA during open mitosis, though specific regulatory mechanisms are lacking. Given a role for the Golgi in STING activation, we investigated the state of the cGAS/STING pathway in interphase cells with artificially vesiculated Golgi and in cells arrested in mitosis. We find that while cGAS activity is impaired through interaction with mitotic chromosomes, Golgi integrity has little effect on the enzyme’s production of cGAMP. In contrast, STING activation in response to either foreign DNA (cGAS-dependent) or exogenous cGAMP is impaired by a vesiculated Golgi. Overall our data suggest a secondary means for cells to limit potentially harmful cGAS/STING responses during open mitosis via natural Golgi vesiculation.
Genomics | 23 Mar 2018

An unexpected contribution of lincRNA splicing to enhancer function

Jennifer Y. Tan, Adriano Biasini, Robert S. Young, Ana C. Marques

Transcription is common at active mammalian enhancers sometimes giving rise to stable and unidirectionally transcribed enhancer-associated long intergenic noncoding RNAs (elincRNAs). ElincRNA expression is associated with changes in neighboring gene product abundance and local chromosomal topology, suggesting that transcription at these loci contributes to gene expression regulation in cis. Despite the lack of evidence supporting sequence-dependent functions for most elincRNAs, splicing of these transcripts is unexpectedly common. Whether elincRNA splicing is a mere consequence of their cognate enhancer activity or if it directly impacts enhancer-associated cis-regulation remains unanswered.Here we show that elincRNAs are efficiently and rapidly spliced and that their processing rate is strongly associated with their cognate enhancer activity. This association is supported by: their enrichment in enhancer-specific chromatin signatures; elevated binding of co-transcriptional regulators, including CBP and p300; increased local intra-chromosomal DNA contacts; and strengthened cis-regulation on target gene expression. Using nucleotide polymorphisms at elincRNA splice sites, we found that elincRNA splicing enhances their transcription and directly impacts cis-regulatory function of their cognate enhancers. Importantly, up to 90% of human elincRNAs have nucleotide variants that are associated with both their splicing and the expression levels of their proximal genes.Our results highlight an unexpected contribution of elincRNA splicing to enhancer function.
Cancer Biology | 21 Jan 2020
Chk1 kinase is downstream of the ATR kinase in the sensing of improper replication. Previous cell culture studies have demonstrated that Chk1 is essential for replication and Chk1 inhibitors are efficacious against tumors with high-level replication stress such as Myc-induced lymphoma cells. Treatment with Chk1 inhibitors also combines well with certain chemotherapeutic drugs and effects associates with induction of DNA damage and reduction of Chk1 protein levels. Most studies of Chk1 function has relied on the use of inhibitors. Whether or not a mouse or cancer cells could survive if a kinase-dead form of Chk1 is expressed has not been investigated before. Here we generate a mouse model that expresses a kinase-dead (D130A) allele in the mouse germline. We find that this mouse is overtly normal and does not have problems with erythropoiesis with ageing as previously been shown for a mouse expressing one null allele. However, similar to a null allele, homozygous kinase-dead mice cannot be generated and timed pregnancies of heterozygous mice suggest lethality of homozygous blastocysts at around the time of implantation. By breeding the kinase-dead Chk1 mouse with a conditional allele we are able to demonstrate that expression of only one kinase-dead allele, but no wildtype allele, of Chek1 is lethal for Myc-induced cancer cells. Finally, treatment of melanoma cells with tumor-infiltrating T cells or CAR-T cells is effective even if Chk1 is inhibited, suggesting that Chk1 inhibitors can be safely administered in patients where immunotherapy is an essential component of the arsenal against cancer.
Cell Biology | 11 Mar 2020

Lipid-associated PML domains regulate CCTα, Lipin1 and lipid homeostasis

Jonghwa Lee, Jayme Salsman, Jason Foster, Graham Dellaire, Neale D. Ridgway

Nuclear LDs (nLDs) originate at the inner nuclear membrane by a mechanism that involves the promyelocytic leukemia (PML) protein. Here we demonstrate that nLDs in oleate-treated U2OS cells are associated with Lipid-Associated PML (LAP) domains that differ from canonical PML nuclear bodies by the relative absence of SUMO1, SP100 and DAXX. nLDs were also enriched in CTP:phosphocholine cytidylyltransferase α (CCTα), the phosphatidic acid phosphatase Lipin1 and diacylglycerol (DAG). High resolution imaging revealed that LAP domains and CCTα occupy distinct polarized regions on nLDs, and that loss of LAP domains in PML knockout U2OS cells reduced the recruitment of CCTα onto nLDs by its amphipathic α-helical M-domain. The association of Lipin1 and DAG with nLDs was also LAP domain-dependent. The disruption of CCTα and Lipin1 localization on nLDs in PML knockout cells resulted in the inhibition of phosphatidylcholine and triacylglycerol synthesis indicating that LAP domains are a unique PML subdomain involved in nLD assembly and regulation of lipid metabolism.
Cell Biology | 19 Aug 2019
Mitofusins are members of the dynamin-related protein family, large GTPases that harness the energy from nucleotide hydrolysis to remodel membranes. Mitofusins possess four structural domains including two extended helical bundles that are connected by a flexible linker. The role of this linker (Hinge 1) in mitofusin-mediated membrane fusion is not well understood. We have characterized four variants with amino acid substitutions within this region of Mfn2. While a defect was not apparent in cells, a fusion deficiency was observed in vitro, and was rescued by the addition of cytosolic fraction. All four variants had decreased nucleotide-dependent assembly, which was improved by the addition of Bax. Assembly of mitofusins across two membranes was unaffected as formation of the trans complex was similar to wild type for all variants. We further demonstrate that variants with substitutions in both helical bundles are more severely impaired than any single mutant, suggesting that both helical bundles contribute to this function. Our data are consistent with a model where this region contributes to conformational changes that are important for assembly.
Evolutionary Biology | 14 Sep 2019

Plant-microbe co-evolution: allicin resistance in a Pseudomonas fluorescens strain (PfAR-1) isolated from garlic

Jan Borlinghaus, Anthony Bolger, Christina Schier, Alexander Vogel, Martin C. H. Gruhlke, Alan J. Slusarenko

The antibiotic defense substance allicin (diallylthiosulfinate) is produced by garlic (Allium sativum L.) after tissue damage, giving garlic its characteristic odor. Allicin is a redox-toxin that oxidizes thiols in glutathione and cellular proteins. A highly allicin-resistant Pseudomonas fluorescens strain (PfAR-1) was isolated from garlic, and genomic clones were shotgun electroporated into an allicin-susceptible P. syringae strain (Ps4612). Recipients showing allicin-resistance had all inherited a group of genes from one of three similar genomic islands (GI), that had been identified in an in silico analysis of the PfAR-1 genome. A core fragment of 8-10 congruent genes with redox-related functions, present in each GI, was shown to confer allicin-specific resistance to P. syringae, and even to an unrelated E. coli strain. Transposon mutagenesis and overexpression analyses revealed the contribution of individual candidate genes to allicin-resistance. Moreover, PfAR-1 was unusual in having 3 glutathione reductase (glr) genes, two copies in two of the GIs, but outside of the core group, and one copy in the PfAR-1 genome. Glr activity was approximately 2-fold higher in PfAR-1 than in related susceptible Pf0-1, with only a single glr gene. Moreover, an E. coli Δglr mutant showed increased susceptibility to allicin, which was complemented by PfAR-1 glr1. Taken together, our data support a multi-component resistance mechanism against allicin, achieved through horizontal gene transfer during coevolution, and allowing exploitation of the garlic ecological niche. GI regions syntenic with PfAR-1 GIs are present in other plant-associated bacterial species, perhaps suggesting a wider role in adaptation to plants per se.
Cancer Biology | 31 Oct 2019

Ubiquitin and SUMO conjugation as biomarkers of Acute Myeloid Leukemias response to chemotherapies

Pierre Gâtel, Frédérique Brockly, Christelle Reynes, Manuela Pastore, Yosr Hicheri, Guillaume Cartron, Marc Piechaczyk, Guillaume Bossis

Ubiquitin and the ubiquitin-like SUMO are covalently conjugated to thousands of proteins to modulate their function and fate. Many of the enzymes involved in their conjugation are dysregulated in cancers and involved in cancer cells response to therapies. We describe here the identification of biomarkers of the activity of these enzymes and their use to predict Acute Myeloid Leukemias (AML) response to standard chemotherapy (daunorubicine-DNR and cytarabine-Ara-C). We compared the ability of extracts from chemosensitive and chemoresistant AML cells to conjugate ubiquitin or SUMO-1 on 9000 proteins spotted on protein-arrays. We identified 122 proteins whose conjugation by these post-translational modifiers marks AML resistance to DNR and/or Ara-C. Based on this modifomic signature, we defined a statistical score able to predict AML patient response to standard chemotherapy. We finally developed a miniaturized assay to easily assess the modification level of the selected biomarkers and validated it in patient cell extracts. Thus, our work identifies a new type of ubiquitin-based biomarkers that could be used to predict cancer patients response to treatments.Summary blurbThis study describes the identification of a new class of biomarkers of cancer response to therapies based on protein modification by Ubiquitin and SUMO and provides the tools to analyze them in Acute Myeloid Leukemia patient samples.
Immunology | 13 Jun 2019

Dynamic changes in the regulatory T cell heterogeneity and function by murine IL-2 mutein

Daniel R. Lu, Hao Wu, Ian Driver, Sarah Ingersoll, Sue Sohn, Songli Wang, Chi-Ming Li, Hyewon Phee

The therapeutic expansion of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) shows promise for treating autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. Yet, how this treatment affects the heterogeneity and function of Tregs is not clear. Using single-cell RNA-seq analysis, we characterized 31,908 Tregs from the mice treated with a half-life extended mutant form of murine IL-2 (IL-2 mutein, IL-2M) that preferentially expanded Tregs, or mouse IgG Fc as a control. Cell clustering analysis revealed that IL-2M specifically expands multiple sub-states of Tregs with distinct expression profiles. TCR-profiling with single-cell analysis uncovered Treg migration across tissues and transcriptional changes between clonally related Tregs following IL-2M treatment. Finally, we identified IL-2M-expanded Tnfrsf9+Il1rl1+ Tregs with superior suppressive function, highlighting the potential of IL-2M to expand highly suppressive Foxp3+ Tregs.One Sentence SummarySingle-cell analysis revealed that IL-2 mutein treatment expanded multiple sub-states of Tregs with a highly suppressive function in mice.
Developmental Biology | 24 Dec 2019

BACH family members regulate angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis by modulating VEGFC expression

Batya Cohen, Hanoch Tempelhof, Tal Raz, Roni Oren, Julian Nicenboim, Filip Bochner, Ron Even, Adam Jelinski, Raya Eilam, Shifra Ben-Dor, Yoseph Adaddi, Ofra Golani, Shlomi Lazar, Karina Yaniv, Michal Neeman

Angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis are key processes during embryogenesis as well as under physiological and pathological conditions. Vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGFC), the ligand for both VEGFR2 and VEGFR3, is a central lymphangiogenic regulator that also drives angiogenesis. Here we report that members of the highly conserved BACH (BTB and CNC homology) family of transcription factors regulate VEGFC expression, through direct binding to its promoter. Accordingly, downregulation of bach2a hinders blood-vessel formation and impairs lymphatic sprouting in a vegfc-dependent manner during zebrafish embryonic development. In contrast, BACH1-overexpression enhances intratumoral blood-vessel density and peritumoral lymphatic vessel diameter in ovarian and lung mouse tumor models. The effects on the vascular compartment correlate spatially and temporally with BACH1 transcriptional regulation of VEGFC expression. Altogether, our results uncover a novel role for the BACH/VEGFC signaling axis in lymphatic formation during embryogenesis and cancer, providing a novel potential target for therapeutic interventions.
Biochemistry | 21 Jul 2019
The scavenger receptor cysteine-rich (SRCR) family of proteins comprise more than 20 membrane-associated and secreted molecules. Characterised by the presence of one or more copies of the ~110 amino acid SRCR domain, this class of proteins have widespread functions as anti-microbial molecules, scavenger- and signalling-receptors. Despite the high level of structural conservation of SRCR domains, no molecular basis for ligand interaction has been described. The SRCR protein SALSA, also known as dmbt1/gp340, is a key player in mucosal immunology. Based on detailed structures of the SALSA SRCR domains 1 and 8, we here reveal a novel universal ligand binding mechanism for SALSA ligands. The binding interface incorporates a dual cation binding site, which is highly conserved across the SRCR super family. Along with the well-described cation dependency on most SRCR domain-ligand interactions, our data suggest that the binding mechanism described for the SALSA SRCR domains is applicable to all SRCR domains. We thus propose to have identified in SALSA a conserved functional mechanism for ligand recognition by the SRCR class of proteins.
Genetics | 03 Jul 2019

Myf6/MRF4 is a Myogenic Niche Regulator Required for the Maintenance of the Muscle Stem Cell Pool

Felicia Lazure, Darren M. Blackburn, Nabila Karam, Korin Sahinyan, Ahmad Sharanek, Duy Nguyen, Aldo H. Corchado, Christoph Lepper, Hamed S. Najafabadi, Theodore J. Perkins, Arezu Jahani-Asl, Vahab Soleimani

In metazoans, skeletal muscle evolved to contract and produce force. However, recent experimental evidence suggests that skeletal muscle has also acquired endocrine functions and produces a vast array of myokines. Using ChIP-Seq and gene expression analyses of myogenic factors, we show that Myf6/MRF4 transcriptionally regulates a broad spectrum of myokines and muscle-secreted proteins, including ligands for downstream activation of key signaling pathways such as EGFR, STAT3 and VEGFR. Homozygous deletion of Myf6 causes a significant reduction in the ability of muscle to produce key myokines such as EGF, VEGFA and LIF. Consequently, although Myf6 knockout mice are born with a normal muscle stem cell compartment, they undergo progressive reduction in their stem cell pool during postnatal life. Mechanistically, muscle stem cells from the Myf6 knockout animals show defects in activation of EGFR and STAT3 signaling, upregulate the p38 MAP kinase pathway and spontaneously break from quiescence. Exogenous application of recombinant EGF and LIF rescue the defects in the muscle stem cell pool of Myf6 knockout animals. Finally, skeletal muscles of mice lacking Myf6 have a significantly reduced ability to sustain donor-engrafted muscle stem cells. Taken together, our data uncovers a novel role for Myf6 in regulating the expression of niche factors and myokines to maintain the skeletal muscle stem cell pool in adult mice.
Cell Biology | 14 Feb 2020

Neuronal lipolysis participates in PUFA-mediated neural function and neurodegeneration

Leilei Yang, Jingjing Liang, Sin Man Lam, Ahmet Yavuz, Meng C. Wang, Guanghou Shui, Mei Ding, Xun Huang

Lipid droplets (LDs) are dynamic cytoplasmic organelles present in most eukaryotic cells. The appearance of LDs in neurons is not usually observed under physiological conditions, but is associated with neural diseases. It remains unclear how LD dynamics is regulated in neurons and how the appearance of LDs affects neuronal functions. We discovered that mutations of two key lipolysis genes atgl-1 and lid-1 lead to LD appearance in neurons of Caenorhabditis elegans. This neuronal lipid accumulation protects neurons from hyperactivation-triggered neurodegeneration, with a mild decrease in touch sensation. We also discovered that reduced biosynthesis of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) causes similar effects, synergistically with decreased lipolysis. Furthermore, we demonstrated that these changes in lipolysis and PUFA biosynthesis increase PUFA partitioning toward triacylglycerol, and reduced incorporation of PUFAs into phospholipids increases neuronal protection. Together, these results suggest the crucial role of neuronal lipolysis in regulating neural functions and neurodegeneration cell-autonomously.Neuronal lipolysis prevents LD accumulation in neurons.Defective neuronal lipolysis leads to touch sensation defect.Blocking neuronal lipolysis alleviates neurodegeneration.Neuronal lipolysis and de novo PUFA biosynthesis have a synergistic effect in neurodegeneration.The incorporation of PUFAs into phospholipids promotes neurodegeneration.
Cell Biology | 27 Sep 2019

Prominin-1-Radixin Axis controls hepatic gluconeogenesis by regulating PKA activity

Hyun Lee, Dong-Min Yu, Jun Sub Park, Hwayeon Lee, Jun-Seok Kim, Seung-Hoi Koo, Jae-Seon Lee, Sungsoo Lee, Young-Gyu Ko

Prominin-1 (Prom1) is a major cell surface marker of cancer stem cells, but its physiological functions in the liver have not been elucidated. We analyzed the levels of mRNA transcripts in serum-starved primary Prom1+/+ and Prom1-/- mouse hepatocytes using RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) data, and found that CREB target genes were down-regulated. This initial observation led us to determine that the Prom1 deficiency inhibited cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) activation and gluconeogenesis, but not cyclic AMP (cAMP) accumulation, in glucagon-, epinephrine-, or forskolin-treated liver tissues and primary hepatocytes, and mitigated glucagon-induced hyperglycemia. Because Prom1 interacted with radixin, the Prom1 deficiency prevented radixin from localizing to the plasma membrane. Moreover, systemic adenoviral knockdown of radixin inhibited CREB activation and gluconeogenesis in glucagon-treated liver tissues and primary hepatocytes, and mitigated glucagon-elicited hyperglycemia. Based on these results, we conclude that Prom1 regulates hepatic PKA signaling via radixin functioning as an A kinase-anchored protein (AKAP).
Systems Biology | 05 Feb 2020

Aggregation and Disaggregation Features of the Human Proteome

Tomi A Määttä, Mandy Rettel, Dominic Helm, Frank Stein, Mikhail M Savitski

Protein aggregates have negative implications in disease. While reductionist experiments have increased our understanding of aggregation processes, the systemic view in biological context is still limited. To extend this understanding, we used mass spectrometry-based proteomics to characterize aggregation and disaggregation in human cells after non-lethal heat shock. Aggregation-prone proteins were enriched in nuclear proteins, high proportion of intrinsically disordered regions, high molecular mass, high isoelectric point and hydrophilic amino acids. During recovery, most aggregating proteins disaggregated with a rate proportional to the aggregation propensity: larger loss in solubility was counteracted by faster disaggregation. High amount of intrinsically disordered regions also resulted in faster disaggregation. However, other characteristics enriched in aggregating proteins did not correlate with the disaggregation rates. In addition, we analyzed changes in protein thermal stability after heat shock. Soluble remnants of aggregated proteins were more thermally stable compared to control condition. Our results provide a rich resource of heat stress-related protein solubility data, propose novel roles for intrinsically disordered regions in protein quality control and reveal a protection mechanism to repress protein aggregation in heat stress.
Biochemistry | 21 Nov 2019

G-Quadruplexes Act as Sequence Dependent Chaperones via Protein Oligomerization

Adam Begeman, Theodore J. Litberg, Jennifer Bourne, Zhenyu Xuan, Scott Horowitz

Maintaining proteome health is important for cell survival. Nucleic acids possess the ability to prevent aggregation up to 300-fold more efficiently than traditional chaperone proteins. In this study, we explore the sequence specificity of the chaperone activity of nucleic acids. Evaluating over 500 nucleic acid sequences’ effects on aggregation, we demonstrate that the holdase chaperone effect of nucleic acids is highly sequence dependent. Quadruplexes are found to have especially potent effects on aggregation with many different proteins via quadruplex:protein oligomerization. These observations contextualize recent reports of quadruplexes playing important roles in aggregation-related diseases, such as Fragile X and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Cancer Biology | 31 Jan 2020

The Mutational Landscape of the SCAN-B Real-World Primary Breast Cancer Transcriptome

Christian Brueffer, Sergii Gladchuk, Christof Winter, Johan Vallon-Christersson, Cecilia Hegardt, Jari Häkkinen, Anthony M. George, Yilun Chen, Anna Ehinger, Christer Larsson, Niklas Loman, Martin Malmberg, Lisa Rydén, Åke Borg, Lao H. Saal

Breast cancer is a disease of genomic alterations, of which the complete panorama of somatic mutations and how these relate to molecular subtypes and therapy response is incompletely understood. Within the Sweden Cancerome Analysis Network–Breast project (SCAN-B; NCT02306096), an ongoing study elucidating the tumor transcriptomic profiles for thousands of breast cancers prospectively, we developed an optimized pipeline for detection of single nucleotide variants and small insertions and deletions from RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data, and profiled a large real-world population-based cohort of 3,217 breast tumors. We use it to describe the mutational landscape of primary breast cancer viewed through the transcriptome of a large population-based cohort of patients, and relate it to patient overall survival. We demonstrate that RNA-seq can be used to call mutations in important breast cancer genes such as PIK3CA, TP53, and ERBB2, as well as the status of key molecular pathways and tumor mutational burden, and identify potentially druggable genes in 86.8% percent of tumors. To make this rich and growing mutational portraiture of breast cancer available for the wider research community, we developed an open source web-based application, the SCAN-B MutationExplorer, accessible at These results add another dimension to the use of RNA-seq as a potential clinical tool, where both gene expression-based and gene mutation-based biomarkers can be interrogated simultaneously and in real-time within one week of tumor sampling.
Cell Biology | 20 May 2020

SARS-CoV-2 targets cortical neurons of 3D human brain organoids and shows neurodegeneration-like effects

Anand Ramani, Lisa Müller, Philipp Niklas Ostermann, Elke Gabriel, Pranty Abida-Islam, Andreas Müller-Schiffmann, Aruljothi Mariappan, Olivier Goureau, Henning Gruell, Andreas Walker, Marcel Andrée, Sandra Hauka, Torsten Houwaart, Alexander Dilthey, Kai Wohlgemuth, Heymut Omran, Florian Klein, Dagmar Wieczorek, Ortwin Adams, Jörg Timm, Carsten Korth, Heiner Schaal, Jay Gopalakrishnan

COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection is a public health emergency. COVID-19 typically exhibits respiratory illness. Unexpectedly, emerging clinical reports indicate that neurological symptoms continue to rise, suggesting detrimental effects of SARS-CoV-2 on the central nervous system (CNS). Here, we show that a Düsseldorf isolate of SARS-CoV-2 enters 3D human brain organoids within two days of exposure. Using COVID-19 convalescent serum, we identified that SARS-CoV-2 preferably targets soma of cortical neurons but not neural stem cells, the target cell type of ZIKA virus. Imaging cortical neurons of organoids reveal that SARS-CoV-2 exposure is associated with missorted Tau from axons to soma, hyperphosphorylation, and apparent neuronal death. Surprisingly, SARS-CoV-2 co-localizes specifically with Tau phosphorylated at Threonine-231 in the soma, indicative of early neurodegeneration-like effects. Our studies, therefore, provide initial insights into the impact of SARS-CoV-2 as a neurotropic virus and emphasize that brain organoids could model CNS pathologies of COVID-19.One sentence summaryCOVID-19 modeling in human brain organoids
Genetics | 13 Feb 2020
When glucose is available, many organisms repress mitochondrial respiration in favour of aerobic glycolysis, or fermentation in yeast, that suffices for ATP production. Fission yeast cells, however, rely partially on respiration for rapid proliferation under fermentative conditions. Here we determined the limiting factors that require respiratory function during fermentation. When the electron transport chain was inhibited, supplementation with arginine was necessary and sufficient to restore rapid cell proliferation. Accordingly, a systematic screen for mutants growing poorly without arginine identified not only mutants defective in arginine synthesis but also mutants defective in mitochondrial oxidative metabolism. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of respiration triggered a drop in intracellular levels of arginine and amino acids derived from the Krebs-cycle metabolite alpha-ketoglutarate: glutamine, lysine and glutamic acid. Conversion of arginine into these amino acids was required for rapid proliferation when the respiratory chain was blocked. The respiratory block triggered an immediate gene-expression response diagnostic of TOR inhibition, which was muted by arginine supplementation or without the AMPK-activating kinase Ssp1. The TOR-controlled proteins featured biased composition of amino acids reflecting their shortage after respiratory inhibition. We conclude that respiration supports rapid proliferation in fermenting cells of fission yeast by boosting the supply of Krebs-cycle derived amino acids.
Neuroscience | 30 Oct 2019

Fxr1 regulates sleep and synaptic homeostasis

Jivan Khlghatyan, Alesya Evstratova, Lusine Bozoyan, Simon Chamberland, Aleksandra Marakhovskaia, Tiago Soares Silva, Katalin Toth, Valerie Mongrain, Jean-Martin Beaulieu

The fragile X autosomal homolog 1 (Fxr1) has been GWAS-associated to schizophrenia and insomnia but its contributions to brain functions are unclear. Homeostatic regulation of synaptic strength is essential for the maintenance of brain functions and engages both global and cell autonomous level processes. We used Crispr/Cas9-mediated somatic knockouts, overexpression, neuronal activity recordings and translatome sequencing, to examine the contribution of Fxr1 to cell-autonomous homeostatic synaptic scaling and global-level sleep homeostasis. Our findings indicate that Fxr1 is downregulated during scaling and sleep deprivation via a Gsk3β dependent mechanism. In both conditions, downregulation of Fxr1 is essential for the homeostatic modulation of synaptic strength. Furthermore, overexpression of Fxr1 during sleep deprivation results in altered EEG signatures and reverts changes of translatome profiles. These findings indicate that Fxr1 represents a shared signaling hub linking cell autonomous homeostatic plasticity and system level sleep homeostasis with potential implications for neuropsychiatric illnesses.
Cancer Biology | 26 Mar 2020

Reprogrammed mRNA translation drives resistance to therapeutic targeting of ribosome biogenesis

E. P. Kusnadi, A. S. Trigos, C. Cullinane, D. L. Goode, O. Larsson, J. R. Devlin, K. T. Chan, D. P. De Souza, M. J. McConville, G. A. McArthur, G. Thomas, E. Sanij, G. Poortinga, R. D. Hannan, K. M. Hannan, J. Kang, R. B. Pearson

Elevated ribosome biogenesis in oncogene-driven cancers is commonly targeted by DNA-damaging cytotoxic drugs. Our first-in-human trial of CX-5461, a novel, less genotoxic agent that specifically inhibits ribosome biogenesis via suppression of RNA Polymerase I (Pol I) transcription, revealed single agent efficacy in refractory blood cancers. Despite this clinical response, patients were not cured. In parallel, we demonstrated a marked improvement in the in vivo efficacy of CX-5461 in combination with PI3K/AKT/mTORC1 pathway inhibitors. Here we show that this improved efficacy is associated with specific suppression of translation of mRNAs encoding regulators of cellular metabolism. Importantly, acquired resistance to this co-treatment is driven by translational re-wiring that results in dysregulated cellular metabolism and induction of a cAMP-dependent pathway critical for the survival of blood cancers including lymphoma and acute myeloid leukemia. Our studies identify the molecular mechanisms underpinning the response of blood cancers to selective ribosome biogenesis inhibitors and identify metabolic vulnerabilities that will facilitate the rational design of more effective regimens for Pol I-directed therapies.
Molecular Biology | 17 Nov 2019

Enzymatic degradation of RNA causes widespread protein aggregation in cell and tissue lysates

Johan Aarum, Claudia P Cabrera, Tania A Jones, Shiron Rajendran, Rocco Adiutori, Gavin Giovannoni, Michael R Barnes, Andrea Malaspina, Denise Sheer

Most proteins in cell and tissue lysates are soluble. Here, we show that many of these proteins, including several that are implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, are maintained in a soluble and functional state by association with endogenous RNA, as degradation of RNA invariably leads to protein aggregation. We identify the importance of nucleic acid structure, with single-stranded pyrimidine-rich bulges or loops surrounded by double-stranded regions being particularly efficient in this role, revealing an apparent one-to-one protein-nucleic acid stoichiometry. The relationship of these findings to pathological protein aggregation is suggested by our discovery that protein aggregates isolated from brain tissue from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis patients can be rendered soluble after refolding by both RNA and synthetic oligonucleotides. Together, these findings open new avenues for understanding the mechanism behind protein aggregation and shed light on how certain proteins remain soluble.
Developmental Biology | 05 Oct 2018

Stage-specific transcriptomes and DNA methylomes indicate an early and transient loss of transposon control in Arabidopsis shoot stem cells

Ruben Gutzat, Klaus Rembart, Thomas Nussbaumer, Rahul Pisupati, Falko Hofmann, Gabriele Bradamante, Nina Daubel, Angelika Gaidora, Nicole Lettner, Mattia Donà, Magnus Nordborg, Michael Nodine, Ortrun Mittelsten Scheid

In contrast to animals, postembryonic development in plants is modular, and aerial organs originate from stem cells in the center of the shoot apical meristem (SAM) throughout life. Descendants of SAM stem cells in the subepidermal layer (L2) give also rise to male and female gametes (reviewed in 1) and are therefore considered primordial germ cells. In these cells, transmission of somatic mutations including virus and TE insertions must be avoided. Despite their essential role for plant development and intergenerational continuity, no comprehensive molecular analysis of SAM stem cells exists, due to their low number, deep embedding among non-stem cells, and difficult isolation. Here we present a comprehensive analysis of stage-specific gene expression and DNA methylation dynamics in Arabidopsis SAM stem cells. Stem cell expression signatures are mostly defined by development, but we also identified a core set of differentially expressed stemness genes. Surprisingly, vegetative SAM stem cells showed increased expression of transposable elements (TEs) relative to surrounding cells, despite high expression of genes connected to epigenetic silencing. We also find increasing methylation at CHG and a drop in CHH methylation at TEs before stem cells enter the reproductive lineage, indicating an onset of epigenetic reprogramming at an early stage. Transiently elevated TE expression is reminiscent of that in animal primordial germ cells (PGCs) 2 and demonstrates commonality of transposon biology. Our results connect SAM stem cells with germline development and transposon evolution and will allow future experiments to determine the degree of epigenetic heritability between generations.
Microbiology | 11 Nov 2019

Disrupting HIV-1 capsid formation causes cGAS sensing of viral DNA

Rebecca P. Sumner, Lauren Harrison, Emma Touizer, Thomas P. Peacock, Matthew Spencer, Lorena Zuliani-Alvarez, Greg J. Towers

Detection of viral DNA by cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) is a first line of defence leading to the production of type-I interferon (IFN). As HIV-1 is not a strong inducer of IFN we have hypothesised that its capsid cloaks viral DNA from cGAS. To test this we generated defective viral particles by treatment with HIV-1 protease inhibitors or by genetic manipulation of gag. These viruses had defective Gag cleavage, reduced infectivity and diminished capacity to saturate TRIM5α. Importantly, unlike wild-type HIV-1, infection with cleavage defective HIV-1 triggered an IFN response in THP-1 cells and primary human macrophages that was dependent on viral DNA and cGAS. Infection in the presence of the capsid destabilising small molecule PF-74 also induced a cGAS-dependent IFN response. These data demonstrate a protective role for capsid and suggest that antiviral activity of capsid- and protease-targeting antivirals may benefit from enhanced innate and adaptive immunity in vivo.
Cell Biology | 05 Mar 2020

LRRK2 and Rab10 Coordinate Macropinocytosis to Mediate Immunological Responses in Phagocytes

Zhiyong Liu, Enquan Xu, Hien Tran Zhao, Tracy Cole, Andrew B. West

Genetic variation in LRRK2 associates with susceptibility to Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, and mycobacteria infection, with high expression of LRRK2, and the LRRK2 kinase substrate Rab10, in phagocytic cells in the immune system. In mouse and human primary monocyte-derived macrophages, dendritic cells, and microglia-like cells, we find that Rab10 specifically regulates a specialized form of endocytosis known as macropinocytosis, without affecting phagocytosis or clathrin-mediated endocytosis. LRRK2 phosphorylates cytoplasmic PI(3,4,5)P3-positive GTP-Rab10 early macropinosomes, before EEA1 and Rab5 recruitment occurs. Macropinosome cargo in macrophages includes CCR5, CD11b, and MHCII, with LRRK2-phosphorylation of Rab10 potently blocking EHBP1L1-mediated recycling tubules and cargo turnover. EHBP1L1 over-expression competitively inhibits LRRK2-phosphorylation of Rab10, mimicking the effects of LRRK2 kinase inhibition in promoting cargo recycling. Both Rab10 knockdown and LRRK2 kinase inhibition potently suppresses the maturation of macropinosome-derived CCR5-loaded signaling endosomes important for CCL5-induced AKT-activation and chemotaxis. These data support a novel axis in the endolysosomal system whereby LRRK2-mediated Rab10 phosphorylation stalls vesicle fast-recycling to promote PI3K-AKT signal transduction.
Synthetic Biology | 05 May 2020

Programmable and portable CRISPR-Cas transcriptional activation in bacteria

Hsing-I Ho, Jennifer Fang, Jacky Cheung, Harris H. Wang

Programmable gene activation enables fine-tuned regulation of endogenous and synthetic gene circuits to control cellular behavior. While CRISPR-Cas-mediated gene activation have been extensively developed for eukaryotic systems, similar strategies have been difficult to implement in bacteria. Here, we present a generalizable platform for screening and selection of functional bacterial CRISPR-Cas transcription activators. Using this platform, we identified a novel CRISPR activator, dCas9-AsiA, that could activate gene expression by up to 200-fold across genomic and plasmid targets with diverse promoters after directed evolution. The evolved dCas9-AsiA can simultaneously mediate activation and repression of bacterial regulons in E. coli. We further identified hundreds of promoters with varying basal expression that could be induced by dCas9-AsiA, which provides a rich resource of genetic parts for inducible gene activation. Finally, we show that dCas9-AsiA can be ported to other bacteria of clinical and bioindustrial relevance, thus enabling bacterial CRISPRa in more application areas. This work expands the toolbox for programmable gene regulation in bacteria and provides a useful resource for future engineering of other bacterial CRISPR-based gene regulators.
Cell Biology | 10 Apr 2019

AGO1x prevents dsRNA-induced interferon signaling to promote breast cancer cell proliferation

Souvik Ghosh, Joao C Guimaraes, Manuela Lanzafame, Alexander Schmidt, Afzal Pasha Syed, Beatrice Dimitriades, Anastasiya Börsch, Shreemoyee Ghosh, Ana Luisa Correia, Johannes Danner, Gunter Meister, Luigi M. Terracciano, Salvatore Piscuoglio, Mihaela Zavolan

Initially reported for viral RNA, elongation of polypeptide chains beyond the stop codon (translational readthrough (TR)) also occurs on eukaryotic transcripts. TR diversifies the proteome and can modulate protein levels 1-6. Here we report that AGO1x, a conserved TR isoform of Argonaute 1, is generated in highly proliferative breast cancer cells, where it curbs accumulation of double stranded RNAs, the induction of the interferon response and apoptosis. In contrast to other mammalian Argonaute protein family members with primarily cytoplasmic functions, AGO1x localizes to the nucleus, in the vicinity of nucleoli. We identify a novel interaction of AGO1x with the Polyribonucleotide Nucleotidyltransferase 1, depletion of either protein leading to dsRNA accumulation and impaired cell proliferation. Our study thus uncovers a novel function of an Argonaute protein outside of the miRNA effector pathway, in buffering dsRNA-induced interferon responses. As AGO1x expression is tightly linked to breast cancer cell proliferation, our study suggests a new direction for limiting tumor growth.
Molecular Biology | 15 Oct 2019
The heat shock response is a universal transcriptional response to proteotoxic stress orchestrated by heat shock transcription factor Hsf1 in all eukaryotic cells. Despite over 40 years of intense research, the mechanism of HSF1 activity regulation remains poorly understood at a molecular level. In metazoa Hsf1 trimerizes upon heat shock through a leucin-zipper domain and binds to DNA. How Hsf1 is dislodged from DNA and monomerized remained enigmatic. Here, we demonstrate that trimeric Hsf1 is dissociated from DNA in vitro by Hsc70 and DnaJB1. Hsc70 acts at two distinct sites on Hsf1. Hsf1 trimers are monomerized by successive cycles of entropic pulling, unzipping the triple leucine-zipper. This process directly monitors the concentration of Hsc70 and DnaJB1. During heat shock adaptation Hsc70 first binds to the transactivation domain leading to partial attenuation of the response and subsequently, at higher concentrations, Hsc70 removes Hsf1 from DNA to restore the resting state.
Systems Biology | 18 Mar 2020

Developmental function and state transitions of a gene expression oscillator in C. elegans

Milou W.M. Meeuse, Yannick P. Hauser, Gert-Jan Hendriks, Jan Eglinger, Guy Bogaarts, Charisios Tsiairis, Helge Großhans

Gene expression oscillators can structure biological events temporally and spatially. Different biological functions benefit from distinct oscillator properties. Thus, finite developmental processes rely on oscillators that start and stop at specific times; a poorly understood behavior. Here, we have characterized a massive gene expression oscillator comprising >3,700 genes in C. elegans larvae. We report that oscillations initiate in embryos, arrest transiently after hatching and in response to perturbation, and cease in adults. Experimental observation of the transitions between oscillatory and non-oscillatory states at a resolution where we can identify bifurcation points reveals an oscillator operating near a Saddle Node on Invariant Cycle (SNIC) bifurcation. These findings constrain the architecture and mathematical models that can represent this oscillator. They also reveal that oscillator arrests occur reproducibly in a specific phase. Since we find oscillations to be coupled to developmental processes, including molting, this characteristic of SNIC bifurcations thus endows the oscillator with the potential to halt larval development at defined intervals, and thereby execute a developmental checkpoint function.
Cancer Biology | 26 Nov 2019

The breast cancer oncogene IKKε coordinates mitochondrial function and serine metabolism

Ruoyan Xu, William Jones, Ewa Wilcz-Villega, A. Sofia H. Costa, Vinothini Rajeeve, Robert B. Bentham, Kevin Bryson, Ai Nagano, Busra Yaman, Sheila Olendo Barasa, Yewei Wang, Claude Chelala, Pedro Cutillas, Gyorgy Szabadkai, Christian Frezza, Katiuscia Bianchi

The IκB kinase ε (IKKε) is a key molecule at the crossroads of inflammation and cancer. Known for its role as an activator of NFκB and IRF3 signalling leading to cytokine secretion, the kinase is also a breast cancer oncogene, overexpressed in a variety of tumours. However, to what extent IKKε remodels cellular metabolism is currently unknown. Here we used a combination of metabolomics and phosphoproteomics to show that IKKε orchestrates a complex metabolic reprogramming that affects mitochondrial metabolism and serine biosynthesis. Acting independently of its canonical signalling role, IKKε upregulates the serine biosynthesis pathway (SBP) mainly by limiting glucose and pyruvate derived anaplerosis of the TCA cycle. In turn, this elicits activation of the transcription factor ATF4 and upregulation of the SBP genes. Importantly, pharmacological inhibition of the IKKε-induced metabolic phenotype reduces proliferation of breast cancer cells. Finally, we show that in a set of basal ER negative and highly proliferative human breast cancer tumours, IKKε and PSAT1 expression levels are positively correlated corroborating the link between IKKε and the SBP in the clinical context.
Bioinformatics | 14 Aug 2019

Predicting antigen-specificity of single T-cells based on TCR CDR3 regions

David S. Fischer, Yihan Wu, Benjamin Schubert, Fabian J. Theis

It has recently become possible to assay T-cell specificity with respect to large sets of antigens as well as T-cell receptor sequence in high-throughput single-cell experiments. We propose multiple sequence-data specific deep learning approaches to impute TCR to epitope specificity to reduce the complexity of new experiments. We found that models that treat antigens as categorical variables outperform those which model the TCR and epitope sequence jointly. Moreover, we show that variability in single-cell immune repertoire screens can be mitigated by modeling cell-specific covariates.
Neuroscience | 04 Nov 2019

PI 3-kinase delta enhances axonal PIP3 to support axon regeneration in the adult CNS

Amanda C Barber, Rachel S Evans, Bart Nieuwenhuis, Craig S Pearson, Joachim Fuchs, Amy R MacQueen, Susan van Erp, Barabara Haenzi, Lianne A Hulshof, Andrew Osborne, Raquel Conceicao, Sarita S Deshpande, Joshua Cave, Charles ffrench-Constant, Patrice D Smith, Klaus Okkenhaug, Britta J Eickholt, Keith R Martin, James W Fawcett, Richard Eva

Peripheral nervous system (PNS) neurons support axon regeneration into adulthood, whereas central nervous system (CNS) neurons lose regenerative ability after development. To better understand this decline whilst aiming to improve regeneration, we focused on phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) and its product phosphatidylinositol(3,4,5)-trisphosphate (PIP3). We found that neuronal PIP3 decreases with maturity in line with regenerative competence, firstly in the cell body and subsequently in the axon. We show that adult PNS neurons utilise two catalytic subunits of PI3K for efficient regeneration: p110α and p110δ. Overexpressing p110α in CNS neurons had no effect, however expression of p110δ restored axonal PIP3 and enhanced CNS regeneration in rat and human neurons and in transgenic mice, functioning in the same way as the hyperactivating H1047R mutation of p110α. Furthermore, viral delivery of p110δ promoted robust regeneration after optic nerve injury. These findings demonstrate a deficit of axonal PIP3 as a reason for intrinsic regeneration failure and show that native p110δ facilitates axon regeneration by functioning in a hyperactive fashion.
Cell Biology | 26 May 2020

Mapping the nucleolar proteome reveals a spatiotemporal organization related to intrinsic protein disorder

Lovisa Stenström, Diana Mahdessian, Christian Gnann, Anthony J. Cesnik, Wei Ouyang, Manuel D. Leonetti, Mathias Uhlén, Sara Cuylen-Häring, Peter J. Thul, Emma Lundberg

The nucleolus is essential for ribosome biogenesis and is involved in many other cellular functions. We performed a systematic spatiotemporal dissection of the human nucleolar proteome using confocal microscopy. In total, 1,318 nucleolar proteins were identified; 287 were localized to fibrillar components, and 157 were enriched along the nucleoplasmic border, indicating a potential fourth nucleolar subcompartment (nucleoli rim). We found 65 nucleolar proteins (36 uncharacterized) to relocate to the chromosomal periphery during mitosis. Interestingly, we observed temporal partitioning into two recruitment phenotypes: early (prometaphase) and late (after metaphase), suggesting phase-specific functions. We further show that expression of MKI67 is critical for this temporal partitioning. We provide the first proteome-wide analysis of intrinsic protein disorder for the human nucleolus and show that nucleolar proteins in general, and mitotic chromosome proteins in particular, have significantly higher intrinsic disorder level compared to cytosolic proteins. In summary, this study provides a comprehensive and essential resource of spatiotemporal expression data for the nucleolar proteome as part of the Human Protein Atlas.
Cell Biology | 18 Nov 2019

Structural insights into filament recognition by cellular actin markers

Archana Kumari, Shubham Kesarwani, Manjunath G Javoor, Kutti R. Vinothkumar, Minhajuddin Sirajuddin

Cellular studies of filamentous actin (F-actin) processes commonly utilize fluorescent versions of toxins, peptides and proteins that bind actin. While the choice of these markers has been largely based on availability and ease, there is a severe dearth of structural data for an informed judgment in employing suitable F-actin markers for a particular requirement. Here we describe the electron cryomicroscopy structures of phalloidin, lifeAct and utrophin bound to F-actin, providing the first high-resolution structures and comparison of widely used actin markers and their influence towards F-actin. Our results show that phalloidin binding does not induce conformations and lifeAct specifically recognizes ADP-actin state, which can be used as a sensor for distinguishing different nucleotide states of F-actin. The utrophin structural model aided designing minimal utrophin, which can be utilized as F-actin marker. Together, our study provides a structural perspective, where the binding sites of utrophin and lifeAct overlap with majority of actin binding proteins. Further offering an invaluable resource for researchers in choosing appropriate actin markers and generating new marker variants.
Cell Biology | 21 May 2020

The protein expression profile of ACE2 in human tissues

Feria Hikmet, Loren Méar, Åsa Edvinsson, Patrick Micke, Mathias Uhlén, Cecilia Lindskog

The novel SARS-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) poses a global challenge on healthcare and society. For understanding the susceptibility for SARS-CoV-2 infection, the cell type-specific expression of the host cell surface receptor is necessary. The key protein suggested to be involved in host cell entry is Angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Here, we report the expression pattern of ACE2 across >150 different cell types corresponding to all major human tissues and organs based on stringent immunohistochemical analysis. The results were compared with several datasets both on the mRNA and protein level. ACE2 expression was mainly observed in enterocytes, renal tubules, gallbladder, cardiomyocytes, male reproductive cells, placental trophoblasts, ductal cells, eye and vasculature. In the respiratory system, the expression was limited, with no or only low expression in a subset of cells in a few individuals, observed by one antibody only. Our data constitutes an important resource for further studies on SARS-CoV-2 host cell entry, in order to understand the biology of the disease and to aid in the development of effective treatments to the viral infection.
Cell Biology | 28 Nov 2018

The protein architecture of the endocytic coat analyzed by FRET

Michal Skruzny, Emma Pohl, Sandina Gnoth, Gabriele Malengo, Victor Sourjik

Endocytosis is a fundamental cellular trafficking pathway, which requires an organized assembly of the multiprotein endocytic coat to pull the plasma membrane into the cell. Although the protein composition of the endocytic coat is known, its functional architecture is not well understood. Here we determine the nanoscale organization of the endocytic coat by FRET microscopy in yeast. We assessed proximities of 18 conserved coat-associated proteins and used clathrin subunits and protein truncations as molecular rulers to obtain a high-resolution protein map of the coat. Furthermore, we followed rearrangements of coat proteins during membrane invagination and their binding dynamics at the endocytic site. We show that the endocytic coat is stratified into several functional layers situated above and below the clathrin lattice with key proteins transversing through the lattice deeply into the cytoplasm. We propose that this conserved design enables an efficient and regulated function of the endocytic coat during endocytosis.
Synthetic Biology | 21 Mar 2019

Multiplexing cell-cell communication

John T. Sexton, Jeffrey J. Tabor

The engineering of advanced multicellular behaviors, such as the programmed growth of biofilms or tissues, requires cells to communicate multiple aspects of physiological information. Unfortunately, few cell-cell communication systems have been developed for synthetic biology. Here, we engineer a genetically-encoded channel selector device that enables a single communication system to transmit two separate intercellular conversations. Our design comprises multiplexer and demultiplexer sub-circuits constructed from a total of 12 CRISPRi-based transcriptional logic gates, an acyl homoserine lactone-based communication module, and three inducible promoters that enable small molecule control over the conversations. Experimentally-parameterized mathematical models of the sub-components predict the steady state and dynamical performance of the full system. Multiplexed cell-cell communication has applications in synthetic development, metabolic engineering, and other areas requiring the coordination of multiple pathways amongst a community of cells.One Sentence SummaryWe have engineered a synthetic genetic system that enables bacteria to have two separate conversations over a single chemical “wire” by separating the conversations in time.
Physiology | 22 Mar 2020

A new model for the HPA axis explains dysregulation of stress hormones on the timescale of weeks

Omer Karin, Moriya Raz, Avichai Tendler, Alon Bar, Yael Korem Kohanim, Tomer Milo, Uri Alon

Stress activates a complex network of hormones known as the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis is dysregulated in chronic stress and psychiatric disorders, but the origin of this dysregulation is unclear and cannot be explained by current HPA models. To address this, we developed a new mathematical model for the HPA axis that incorporates changes in the total functional mass of the HPA hormone-secreting glands. The mass changes are caused by the HPA hormones which act as growth factors for the glands in the axis. We find that the HPA axis shows the property of dynamical compensation, where gland masses adjust over weeks to buffer variation in physiological parameters. These mass changes explain the experimental findings on dysregulation of cortisol and ACTH dynamics in alcoholism, anorexia and postpartum. Dysregulation occurs for a wide range of parameters, and is exacerbated by impaired glucocorticoid receptor (GR) feedback, providing an explanation for the implication of GR in mood disorders. These findings suggest that gland-mass dynamics may play an important role in the pathophysiology of stress-related disorders.Author SummaryThe HPA axis is a neuroendocrine axis that is activated in response to stressors. The classical description of this axis includes three hormones that act in a cascade, with the final hormone cortisol inhibiting the two upstream hormones, ACTH and CRH. This classical picture has timescales of hours due to hormone half-lives, and cannot explain phenomena on the scale of weeks to months associated with this axis, such as the dysregulation observed in depression, alcohol addiction, postpartum, and other conditions. Here, we use a minimal-model approach to add to the classical model two known interactions in which CRH and ACTH not only regulate downstream hormones, but also act as growth factors for the cells that secrete these hormones. This creates a physiological circuit that can maintain total cell mass and buffer parameter changes. It has a fragility in which after prolonged stress, the total cell functional masses grow and take weeks to return to baseline. This is sufficient to explain the specific dynamics of hormone dysregulation found in several contexts. It also quantifies the effect of the cortisol (glucocorticoid) receptor on resilience to prolonged stress. Our findings suggest that interactions between hormones and cell functional mass may play an important role in HPA axis regulation on the timescale of weeks to months.The HPA axis helps the body adapt to stress, but becomes dysregulated after prolonged activation, with clinical consequences. The origin of this dysregulation is unclear. We provide a mechanism for dysregulation based on the effect of the HPA hormones as growth factors for their downstream glands.
A mathematical model that includes gland functional mass dynamics, introduces a new slow timescale of weeks to the HPA axis; previous models had only fast timescales of hours.The gland masses grow during prolonged activation, providing dynamical compensation, and recover with overshoots over weeks after withdrawal of activation.These overshoots are sufficient to explain the observed HPA dysregulation in pathological conditions, and clarify the role of glucocorticoid receptors in resilience to prolonged stress.
Neuroscience | 25 Apr 2020

Local externalization of phosphatidylserine mediates developmental synaptic pruning by microglia

Nicole Scott-Hewitt, Fabio Perrucci, Raffaella Morini, Marco Erreni, Matthew Mahoney, Agata Witkowska, Alanna Carey, Elisa Faggiani, Lisa Theresia Schuetz, Sydney Mason, Matteo Tamborini, Matteo Bizzotto, Lorena Passoni, Fabia Filipello, Reinhard Jahn, Beth Stevens, Michela Matteoli

Neuronal circuits assembly requires the fine equilibrium between synapse formation and elimination. Microglia, through the elimination of supernumerary synapses, have an established role in this process. While the microglial receptor TREM2 and the soluble complement proteins C1q and C3 are recognized key players in this process, the neuronal molecular components that tag synapses to be eliminated are still undefined. Here we show that exposed phosphatidylserine (PS) represents a neuronal ‘eat-me’ signal enabling microglial-mediated synapse pruning. In hippocampal neuron and microglia co-cultures, synapse elimination can be prevented by blocking accessibility of exposed PS using Annexin V or through microglial loss of TREM2. In vivo, exposed PS is detectable at both hippocampal and retinogeniculate synapses, where exposure coincides with the onset of synapse elimination and increased PS engulfment by microglia. Mice deficient in C1q, which fail to properly refine retinogeniculate connections, display elevated exposed PS and reduced PS engulfment by microglia. These data provide mechanistic insight into microglial-mediated synapse pruning and identify a novel role of developmentally regulated PS exposure that is common among developing brain structures.
Systems Biology | 14 Jan 2020

Drug mechanism-of-action discovery through the integration of pharmacological and CRISPR screens

Emanuel Gonçalves, Aldo Segura-Cabrera, Clare Pacini, Gabriele Picco, Fiona M. Behan, Patricia Jaaks, Elizabeth A. Coker, Donny van der Meer, Andrew Barthorpe, Howard Lightfoot, Andrew R. Leach, James T. Lynch, Ben Sidders, Claire Crafter, Francesco Iorio, Stephen Fawell, Mathew J. Garnett,

Low success rates during drug development are due in part to the difficulty of defining drug mechanism-of-action and molecular markers of therapeutic activity. Here, we integrated 199,219 drug sensitivity measurements for 397 unique anti-cancer drugs and genome-wide CRISPR loss-of-function screens in 484 cell lines to systematically investigate in cellular drug mechanism-of-action. We observed an enrichment for positive associations between drug sensitivity and knockout of their nominal targets, and by leveraging protein-protein networks we identified pathways that mediate drug response. This revealed an unappreciated role of mitochondrial E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase MARCH5 in sensitivity to MCL1 inhibitors. We also estimated drug on-target and off-target activity, informing on specificity, potency and toxicity. Linking drug and gene dependency together with genomic datasets uncovered contexts in which molecular networks when perturbed mediate cancer cell loss-of-fitness, and thereby provide independent and orthogonal evidence of biomarkers for drug development. This study illustrates how integrating cell line drug sensitivity with CRISPR loss-of-function screens can elucidate mechanism-of-action to advance drug development.
Bioinformatics | 16 Apr 2020
To deal with the huge number of novel protein-coding variants identified by genome and exome sequencing studies, many computational variant effect predictors (VEPs) have been developed. Such predictors are often trained and evaluated using different variant datasets, making a direct comparison between VEPs difficult. In this study, we use 31 previously published deep mutational scanning (DMS) experiments, which provide quantitative, independent phenotypic measurements for large numbers of single amino acid substitutions, in order to benchmark and compare 46 different VEPs. We also evaluate the ability of DMS measurements and VEPs to discriminate between pathogenic and benign missense variants. We find that DMS experiments tend to be superior to the top-ranking predictors, demonstrating the tremendous potential of DMS for identifying novel human disease mutations. Among the VEPs, DeepSequence clearly stood out, showing both the strongest correlations with DMS data and having the best ability to predict pathogenic mutations, which is especially remarkable given that it is an unsupervised method. We further recommend SNAP2, DEOGEN2, SNPs&GO and REVEL based upon their performance in these analyses.
Cell Biology | 14 Feb 2020

Nesprin-2 accumulates at the front of the nucleus during confined cell migration

Patricia M. Davidson, Aude Battistella, Théophile Déjardin, Timo Betz, Julie Plastino, Nicolas Borghi, Bruno Cadot, Cécile Sykes

The mechanisms by which cells exert forces on their nuclei to migrate through openings smaller than the nuclear diameter remain unclear. In microfluidic devices, the hourglass shape of the nucleus and its strain patterns as it translocates through narrow constrictions suggest pulling forces. We use CRISPR/Cas9 to fluorescently label nesprin-2 giant, a protein that links the cytoskeleton to the interior of the nucleus. We demonstrate that nesprin-2 giant accumulates at the front of the nucleus during nuclear deformation through narrow constrictions, independently of the nuclear lamina. We find that nesprins are more mobile than lamin A/C, at time scales similar to that of the accumulation. Using artificial constructs, we show that the actin-binding domain of nesprin-2 is necessary and sufficient to generate this accumulation, and that microtubules are not necessary. Actin filaments are organized in a barrel structure around the moving nucleus in the direction of movement, suggesting that this structure is responsible for redistribution of nesprins towards the front of the nucleus. Two-photon ablation and the use of drugs inhibiting the cytoskeleton demonstrate a pulling force on the nucleus from the front of the cell that is dependent on formin and actomyosin contractility. This elastic recoil is significantly reduced when nesprins are reduced at the nuclear envelope. We thus show that actin redistributes nesprin-2 giant towards the front of the nucleus and contributes to pulling the nucleus through narrow constrictions, in concert with myosin.
Developmental Biology | 20 Dec 2019

Temporal specificity and heterogeneity of the fly immune cells’ transcriptional landscape

Pierre B. Cattenoz, Rosy Sakr, Alexia Pavlidaki, Claude Delaporte, Andrea Riba, Nacho Molina, Nivedita Hariharan, Tina Mukherjee, Angela Giangrande

Immune cells provide defense against the non-self, however recent data suggest roles well beyond innate immunity, in processes as diverse as development, metabolism and tumor progression. Nevertheless, the heterogeneity of these cells remains an open question. Using bulk RNA sequencing we find that the Drosophila immune cells (hemocytes) display distinct features in the embryo, a closed and rapidly developing system, compared to the larva, which is exposed to environmental and metabolic challenges. Through single cell RNA sequencing we identify fourteen hemocyte clusters present in unchallenged larvae and associated with distinct cellular processes e.g. proliferation, phagocytosis, metabolic homeostasis and humoral response. Finally, we characterize the changes occurring in the hemocyte clusters upon wasp infestation that triggers the differentiation of a novel cell type, the lamellocyte. This first molecular atlas provides precious insights and paves the way to study the biology of the Drosophila immune cells in physiological and pathological conditions.