Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
  • Cambridge, MA, United States
Recent publications
Neuroinflammation is a hallmark of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Microglia, the brain's immune cells, express many of the AD‐risk loci identified in genome wide association studies and present a promising target for anti‐inflammatory RNA therapeutics but are difficult to transfect with current methods. Here, we examined several lipid nanoparticle (LNP) formulations and identified a lead candidate that supports efficient RNA delivery in cultures of human stem cell‐derived microglia‐like cells (iMGLs) and animal models of neuroinflammation. The lead microglia LNP (MG‐LNP) formulation showed minimal toxicity and improved delivery efficiency to inflammatory iMGLs, suggesting a preference for delivery into activated microglia. Systemic injection of the MG‐LNP formulation generated wide‐spread expression of the delivered reporter construct in all organs whereas local intracisternal injection directly into the cerebrospinal fluid led to preferential expression in the brain. We showed that LNP‐mediated delivery of siRNA targeting the PU.1 transcription factor, a known AD‐risk locus, successfully reduced PU.1 levels in iMGLs and reduced neuroinflammation in mice injected with LPS and in CK‐p25 mice that mimic the chronic neuroinflammation seen in AD patients. Our LNP formulation represents an effective RNA delivery vehicle when applied intrathecally and can be broadly utilized to test potential neuroinflammation‐directed gene therapies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Problematic alcohol use (PAU), a trait that combines alcohol use disorder and alcohol-related problems assessed with a questionnaire, is a leading cause of death and morbidity worldwide. Here we conducted a large cross-ancestry meta-analysis of PAU in 1,079,947 individuals (European, N = 903,147; African, N = 122,571; Latin American, N = 38,962; East Asian, N = 13,551; and South Asian, N = 1,716 ancestries). We observed a high degree of cross-ancestral similarity in the genetic architecture of PAU and identified 110 independent risk variants in within- and cross-ancestry analyses. Cross-ancestry fine mapping improved the identification of likely causal variants. Prioritizing genes through gene expression and chromatin interaction in brain tissues identified multiple genes associated with PAU. We identified existing medications for potential pharmacological studies by a computational drug repurposing analysis. Cross-ancestry polygenic risk scores showed better performance of association in independent samples than single-ancestry polygenic risk scores. Genetic correlations between PAU and other traits were observed in multiple ancestries, with other substance use traits having the highest correlations. This study advances our knowledge of the genetic etiology of PAU, and these findings may bring possible clinical applicability of genetics insights—together with neuroscience, biology and data science—closer.
Human life expectancy is constantly increasing and aging has become a major risk factor for many diseases, although the underlying gene regulatory mechanisms are still unclear. Using transcriptomic and chromosomal conformation capture (Hi‐C) data from human skin fibroblasts from individuals across different age groups, we identified a tight coupling between the changes in co‐regulation and co‐localization of genes. We obtained transcription factors, cofactors, and chromatin regulators that could drive the cellular aging process by developing a time‐course prize‐collecting Steiner tree algorithm. In particular, by combining RNA‐Seq data from different age groups and protein–protein interaction data we determined the key transcription regulators and gene regulatory changes at different life stage transitions. We then mapped these transcription regulators to the 3D reorganization of chromatin in young and old skin fibroblasts. Collectively, we identified key transcription regulators whose target genes are spatially rearranged and correlate with changes in their expression, thereby providing potential targets for reverting cellular aging.
Background Genotype imputation is an essential step in genetic studies to improve data quality and statistical power. Public imputation servers are widely used by researchers to impute their data using otherwise access-controlled reference panels of high-fidelity genomes held by these servers. Results We report evidence against the prevailing assumption that providing access to panels only indirectly via imputation servers poses a negligible privacy risk to individuals in the panels. To this end, we present algorithmic strategies for adaptively constructing artificial input samples and interpreting their imputation results that lead to the accurate reconstruction of reference panel haplotypes. We illustrate this possibility on three reference panels of real genomes for a range of imputation tools and output settings. Moreover, we demonstrate that reconstructed haplotypes from the same individual could be linked via their genetic relatives using our Bayesian linking algorithm, which allows a substantial portion of the individual’s diploid genome to be reassembled. We also provide population genetic estimates of the proportion of a panel that could be linked when an adversary holds a varying number of genomes from the same population. Conclusions Our results show that genomes in imputation server reference panels can be vulnerable to reconstruction, implying that additional safeguards may need to be considered. We suggest possible mitigation measures based on our findings. Our work illustrates the value of adversarial algorithms in uncovering new privacy risks to help inform the genomics community towards secure data sharing practices.
Cytokines mediate cell–cell communication in the immune system and represent important therapeutic targets1–3. A myriad of studies have highlighted their central role in immune function4–13, yet we lack a global view of the cellular responses of each immune cell type to each cytokine. To address this gap, we created the Immune Dictionary, a compendium of single-cell transcriptomic profiles of more than 17 immune cell types in response to each of 86 cytokines (>1,400 cytokine–cell type combinations) in mouse lymph nodes in vivo. A cytokine-centric view of the dictionary revealed that most cytokines induce highly cell-type-specific responses. For example, the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β induces distinct gene programmes in almost every cell type. A cell-type-centric view of the dictionary identified more than 66 cytokine-driven cellular polarization states across immune cell types, including previously uncharacterized states such as an interleukin-18-induced polyfunctional natural killer cell state. Based on this dictionary, we developed companion software, Immune Response Enrichment Analysis, for assessing cytokine activities and immune cell polarization from gene expression data, and applied it to reveal cytokine networks in tumours following immune checkpoint blockade therapy. Our dictionary generates new hypotheses for cytokine functions, illuminates pleiotropic effects of cytokines, expands our knowledge of activation states of each immune cell type, and provides a framework to deduce the roles of specific cytokines and cell–cell communication networks in any immune response.
Tobacco smoking doubles the risk of active tuberculosis (TB) and accounts for up to 20% of all active TB cases globally. How smoking promotes lung microenvironments permissive to Mycobacterium tuberculosis ( Mtb ) growth remains incompletely understood. We investigated primary bronchoalveolar lavage cells from current and never smokers by performing single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq), flow cytometry, and functional assays. We observed the enrichment of immature inflammatory monocytes in the lungs of smokers compared with nonsmokers. These monocytes exhibited phenotypes consistent with recent recruitment from blood, ongoing differentiation, increased activation, and states similar to those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Using integrative scRNA-seq and flow cytometry, we identified CD93 as a marker for a subset of these newly recruited smoking-associated lung monocytes and further provided evidence that the recruitment of monocytes into the lung was mediated by CCR2-binding chemokines, including CCL11. We also show that these cells exhibit elevated inflammatory responses upon exposure to Mtb and accelerated intracellular growth of Mtb compared with mature macrophages. This elevated Mtb growth could be inhibited by anti-inflammatory small molecules, providing a connection between smoking-induced pro-inflammatory states and permissiveness to Mtb growth. Our findings suggest a model in which smoking leads to the recruitment of immature inflammatory monocytes from the periphery to the lung, which results in the accumulation of these Mtb -permissive cells in the airway. This work defines how smoking may lead to increased susceptibility to Mtb and identifies host-directed therapies to reduce the burden of TB among those who smoke.
CAR-T therapy is a promising, novel treatment modality for B-cell malignancies and yet many patients relapse through a variety of means, including loss of CAR-T cells and antigen escape. To investigate leukemia-intrinsic CAR-T resistance mechanisms, we performed genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 loss-of-function screens in an immunocompetent murine model of B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) utilizing a modular guide RNA library. We identified IFNγR/JAK/STAT signaling and components of antigen processing and presentation pathway as key mediators of resistance to CAR-T therapy in vivo; intriguingly, loss of this pathway yielded the opposite effect in vitro (sensitized leukemia to CAR-T cells). Transcriptional characterization of this model demonstrated upregulation of these pathways in tumors relapsed after CAR-T treatment, and functional studies showed a surprising role for natural killer (NK) cells in engaging this resistance program. Finally, examination of data from B-ALL patients treated with CAR-T revealed an association between poor outcomes and increased expression of JAK/STAT and MHC-I in leukemia cells. Overall, our data identify an unexpected mechanism of resistance to CAR-T therapy in which tumor cell interaction with the in vivo tumor microenvironment, including NK cells, induces expression of an adaptive, therapy-induced, T-cell resistance program in tumor cells.
Gene editing strategies for cystic fibrosis are challenged by the complex barrier properties of airway epithelia. We previously reported that the amphiphilic S10 shuttle peptide non-covalently combined with CRISPR-associated (Cas) ribonucleoprotein (RNP) enabled editing of human and mouse airway epithelial cells. Here, we derive the S315 peptide as an improvement over S10 in delivering base editor RNP. Following intratracheal aerosol delivery of Cy5-labeled peptide in rhesus macaques, we confirm delivery throughout the respiratory tract. Subsequently, we target CCR5 with co-administration of ABE8e-Cas9 RNP and S315. We achieve editing efficiencies of up-to 5.3% in rhesus airway epithelia. Moreover, we document persistence of edited epithelia for up to 12 months in mice. Finally, delivery of ABE8e-Cas9 targeting the CFTR R553X mutation restores anion channel function in cultured human airway epithelia. These results demonstrate the therapeutic potential of base editor delivery with S315 to functionally correct the CFTR R553X mutation in respiratory epithelia.
We present Tuna-step, a novel microfluidic module based on step emulsification that allows for reliable generation of droplets of different sizes. Until now, sizes of droplets generated with step emulsification...
Aberrant expression of stem-cell-associated genes is a common feature in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and is linked to leukemic self-renewal and therapy resistance. Using AF10-rearranged leukemia as a prototypical example of the recurrently activated "stemness" network in AML, we screened for chromatin regulators that sustain its expression. We deployed a CRISPR-Cas9 screen with a bespoke domain-focused library and identified several novel chromatin-modifying complexes as regulators of the TALE domain transcription factor MEIS1, a key leukemia stem cell (LSC)-associated gene. CRISPR droplet sequencing revealed that many of these MEIS1 regulators coordinately controlled the transcription of several AML oncogenes. In particular, we identified a novel role for the Tudor-domain containing chromatin reader protein SGF29 in the transcription of AML oncogenes. Furthermore, SGF29 deletion impaired leukemogenesis in models representative of multiple AML subtypes in multiple AML subtype models. Our studies reveal a novel role for SGF29 as a non-oncogenic dependency in AML and identify the SGF29 Tudor domain as an attractive target for drug discovery.
Gender minorities and cisgender women face barriers to healthcare access. Prior work suggests cost may represent a particular barrier to accessing care for transgender and gender diverse (TGD) individuals. To examine odds of delaying care for any reason and, secondarily, for 7 specific reasons among TGD individuals and cisgender women compared with cisgender men in the All of Us Research Program. We calculated the odds of delayed care by gender identity relative to cisgender men using multivariable-adjusted logistic regression, with adjustment for age, race, income, education, and Charlson comorbidity index. We examined 117,806 All of Us participants who completed the healthcare access and utilization survey. The primary outcome was self-reported delayed care in the past 12 months for any of 7 potential reasons: cost (out-of-pocket cost, co-payment costs, and/or high deductible), lack of childcare, lack of eldercare, nervousness associated with visiting the healthcare provider, rurality, inability to take time off work, and lack of transportation. Compared with cisgender men, the multivariable-adjusted odds ratio (OR) for delaying care for any reason was 1.48 (95% CI, 1.44–1.53; P < 0.001) among cisgender women, 1.65 (95% CI, 1.24–2.21; P < 0.001) among TGD individuals assigned male at birth, and 2.76 (95% CI, 2.26–3.39; P < 0.001) among TGD individuals assigned female at birth. Results were consistent across multiple sensitivity analyses. TGD individuals were substantially more likely to cite nervousness with visiting a healthcare provider as a barrier, whereas cisgender women were more likely to delay care due to lack of childcare coverage. Cisgender women and TGD individuals were more likely to delay seeking heath care compared with cisgender men, and for partially different reasons. These findings highlight the need to address common and distinct barriers to care access among marginalized groups.
Aortic aneurysms, which may dissect or rupture acutely and be lethal, can be a part of multisystem disorders that have a heritable basis. We report four patients with deficiency of selenocysteine-containing proteins due to selenocysteine Insertion Sequence Binding Protein 2 ( SECISBP2) mutations who show early-onset, progressive, aneurysmal dilatation of the ascending aorta due to cystic medial necrosis. Zebrafish and male mice with global or vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC)-targeted disruption of Secisbp2 respectively show similar aortopathy. Aortas from patients and animal models exhibit raised cellular reactive oxygen species, oxidative DNA damage and VSMC apoptosis. Antioxidant exposure or chelation of iron prevents oxidative damage in patient’s cells and aortopathy in the zebrafish model. Our observations suggest a key role for oxidative stress and cell death, including via ferroptosis, in mediating aortic degeneration.
mRNA translation is a fundamental process for life. Selection of the translation initiation site (TIS) is crucial, as it establishes the correct open reading frame for mRNA decoding. Studies in vertebrate mRNAs discovered that a purine at −3 and a G at +4 (where A of the AUG initiator codon is numbered + 1), promote TIS recognition. However, the TIS context in other eukaryotes has been poorly experimentally analyzed. We analyzed in vitro the influence of the −3, −2, −1 and + 4 positions of the TIS context in rabbit, Drosophila, wheat, and yeast. We observed that −3A conferred the best translational efficiency across these species. However, we found variability at the + 4 position for optimal translation. In addition, the Kozak motif that was defined from mammalian cells was only weakly predictive for wheat and essentially non-predictive for yeast. We discovered eight conserved sequences that significantly disfavored translation. Due to the big differences in translational efficiency observed among weak TIS context sequences, we define a novel category that we termed ‘barren AUG context sequences (BACS)’, which represent sequences disfavoring translation. Analysis of mRNA-ribosomal complexes structures provided insights into the function of BACS. The gene ontology of the BACS-containing mRNAs is presented.
Circulating tumor HPV DNA (ctHPV16) assessed in liquid biopsy may be used as a marker of cancer in patients with HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer (HPV + OPC). Factors influencing the initial ctHPV16 quantity are not well recognized. In this study we aimed to establish what factors are related to the level of ctHPV16 at the time of diagnosis. 51 patients (37 men and 14 women, median age of 57 years old) with HPV + OPC prior to definitive treatment were included. ctHPV16 was measured by qPCR. Tumor and nodal staging were assessed according to AJCC8. Blood derived factors included squamous cell carcinoma antigen (SCC-Ag), serum soluble fragment of cytokeratin 19 (CYFRA 21-1), C-reactive protein (CRP), albumin level (Alb), neutrophils (Neut), thrombocytes (Plt) and lymphocyte (Lym) count, Neut/Lym ratio were assessed. The volumes of the primary tumor (TV) and involved lymph nodes (NV) were calculated using MRI, CT or PET-CT scans. Data were analysed using parametric and nonparametric methods. Variables for multivariable linear regression analysis were chosen based on the results from univariable analysis (correlation, univariable regression and difference). There were 9 (18%), 10 (19%) and 32 (63%) patients who had TV and NV assessed in MRI, CT or PET respectively. Primary tumor neither as T-stage nor TV was related to ctHPV16 level. Significant differences in the ctHPV16 between patients with high vs low pain (P = 0.038), NV (P = 0.023), TV + NV (P = 0.018), CYFRA 21-1 (P = 0.002), CRP (P = 0.019), and N1 vs N3 (P = 0.044) were observed. ctHPV16 was significantly associated with CYFRA 21-1 (P = 0.017), N stage (P = 0.005), NV (P = 0.009), TV + NV (P = 0.002), CRP (P = 0.019), and pain (P = 0.038). In univariable linear regression analysis the same variables predicted ctHPV16 level. In multivariable analyses, CYFRA 21-1 and CRP (both as categorical variables) were predictors of ctHPV16 level even above NV. ctHPV16 at presentation is driven by tumor volume measured mostly by N. CYFRA 21-1 and CRP are additional factors related to ctHPV16 prior to the treatment.
Individuals sharing recent ancestors are likely to co-inherit large identical-by-descent (IBD) genomic regions. The distribution of these IBD segments in a population may be used to reconstruct past demographic events such as effective population size variation, but accurate IBD detection is difficult in ancient DNA data and in underrepresented populations with limited reference data. In this work, we introduce an accurate method for inferring effective population size variation during the past ~2000 years in both modern and ancient DNA data, called HapNe. HapNe infers recent population size fluctuations using either IBD sharing (HapNe-IBD) or linkage disequilibrium (HapNe-LD), which does not require phasing and can be computed in low coverage data, including data sets with heterogeneous sampling times. HapNe shows improved accuracy in a range of simulated demographic scenarios compared to currently available methods for IBD-based and LD-based inference of recent effective population size, while requiring fewer computational resources. We apply HapNe to several modern populations from the 1,000 Genomes Project, the UK Biobank, the Allen Ancient DNA Resource, and recently published samples from Iron Age Britain, detecting multiple instances of recent effective population size variation across these groups.
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937 members
Dirk Gevers
  • Genome Sequencing and Analysis Program
Shamsudheen Karuthedath Vellarikkal
  • Program in Medical and Population Genetics
Aviad Tsherniak
  • Cancer Program
Peter Tsvetkov
  • Cancer Program
7 Cambridge Center, 02142, Cambridge, MA, United States
Head of institution
Eric Lander