Many genetic disorders are a result of single or multiple genome abnormalities. A possible approach to circumvent genetic disorders is to use gene editing agents to correct these mistakes, but a major challenge remains in the mode of delivery of gene editing agents to different regions of the body. Banskota et al. present the use of engineered DNA-free virus-like particles (eVLPs) to deliver base editors to different organs in a mice model for improved outcomes, highlighting the potential of eVLPS to deliver base editors and as an efficient delivery mechanism, leveraging the advantages of viral and nonviral delivery methods.
For many important crops including sorghum, use of CRISPR/Cas technology is limited not only by the delivery of the gene-modification components into a plant cell, but also by the ability to regenerate a fertile plant from the engineered cell through tissue culture. Here, we report that Wuschel2 (Wus2) -enabled transformation increases not only the transformation efficiency, but also the CRISPR/Cas-targeted genome editing frequency in sorghum ( Sorghum bicolor L .). Using Agrobacterium -mediated transformation, we have demonstrated Wus2 -induced direct somatic embryo formation and regeneration, bypassing genotype-dependent callus formation and significantly shortening the tissue culture cycle time. This method also increased the regeneration capacity that resulted in higher transformation efficiency across different sorghum varieties. Subsequently, advanced excision systems and “altruistic” transformation technology have been developed to generate high-quality morphogenic gene-free and/or selectable marker-free sorghum events. Finally, we demonstrate up to 6.8-fold increase in CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene dropout frequency using Wus2 -enabled transformation, compared to without Wus2 , across various targeted loci in different sorghum genotypes.
TOX4 is one of the regulatory factors of PP1 phosphatases with poorly understood functions. Here we show that chromatin occupancy pattern of TOX4 resembles that of RNA polymerase II (Pol II), and its loss increases cellular level of C-terminal domain (CTD) phosphorylated Pol II but mainly decreases Pol II occupancy on promoters. In addition, elongation rate analyses by 4sUDRB-seq suggest that TOX4 restricts pause release and early elongation but promotes late elongation. Moreover, TT-seq analyses indicate that TOX4 loss mainly decreases transcriptional output. Mechanistically, TOX4 may restrict pause release through facilitating CTD serine 2 and DSIF dephosphorylation, and promote Pol II recycling and reinitiation through facilitating CTD serines 2 and 5 dephosphorylation. Furthermore, among the PP1 phosphatases, TOX4 preferentially binds PP1α and is capable of facilitating Pol II CTD dephosphorylation in vitro. These results lay the foundation for a better understanding of the role of TOX4 in transcriptional regulation.
Bacterial persister cells are temporarily tolerant to bactericidal antibiotics but are not necessarily dormant and may exhibit physiological activities leading to cell damage. Based on the link between fluoroquinolone-mediated SOS responses and persister cell recovery, we screened chemicals that target fluoroquinolone persisters. Metabolic inhibitors (e.g., phenothiazines) combined with ofloxacin (OFX) perturbed persister levels in metabolically active cell populations. When metabolically stimulated, intrinsically tolerant stationary phase cells also became OFX-sensitive in the presence of phenothiazines. The effects of phenothiazines on cell metabolism and physiology are highly pleiotropic: at sublethal concentrations, phenothiazines reduce cellular metabolic, transcriptional, and translational activities; impair cell repair and recovery mechanisms; transiently perturb membrane integrity; and disrupt proton motive force by dissipating the proton concentration gradient across the cell membrane. Screening a subset of mutant strains lacking membrane-bound proteins revealed the pleiotropic effects of phenothiazines potentially rely on their ability to inhibit a wide range of critical metabolic proteins. Altogether, our study further highlights the complex roles of metabolism in persister cell formation, survival and recovery, and suggests metabolic inhibitors such as phenothiazines can be selectively detrimental to persister cells.
T cells are critically important for host defense against infections. T cell activation is specific because signal initiation requires T cell receptor (TCR) recognition of foreign antigen peptides presented by major histocompatibility complexes (pMHC) on antigen presenting cells (APCs). Recent advances reveal that the TCR acts as a mechanoreceptor, but it remains unclear how pMHC/TCR engagement generates mechanical forces that are converted to intracellular signals. Here we propose a TCR Bending Mechanosignal (TBM) model, in which local bending of the T cell membrane on the nanometer scale allows sustained contact of relatively small pMHC/TCR complexes interspersed among large surface receptors and adhesion molecules on the opposing surfaces of T cells and APCs. Localized T cell membrane bending is suggested to increase accessibility of TCR signaling domains to phosphorylation, facilitate selective recognition of agonists that form catch bonds, and reduce noise signals associated with slip bonds.
Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) offer a wealth of therapeutic targets for a range of diseases. However, secondary structures and high similarity within sequence families make specific knockdown challenging. Here, we engineer a series of artificial oligonucleotide enzymes (XNAzymes) composed of 2’-deoxy-2’-fluoro-β-D-arabino nucleic acid (FANA) that specifically or preferentially cleave individual ncRNA family members under quasi-physiological conditions, including members of the classic microRNA cluster miR-17~92 (oncomiR-1) and the Y RNA hY5. We demonstrate self-assembly of three anti-miR XNAzymes into a biostable catalytic XNA nanostructure, which targets the cancer-associated microRNAs miR-17, miR-20a and miR-21. Our results provide a starting point for the development of XNAzymes as a platform technology for precision knockdown of specific non-coding RNAs, with the potential to reduce off-target effects compared with other nucleic acid technologies. Engineered RNA endonuclease XNAzymes can specifically target individual disease-associated non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) in vitro with potential as platform technology for precision detection or knockdown of individual microRNAs or longer ncRNAs.
The Musashi proteins, MSI1 and MSI2, are conserved RNA binding proteins with a role in the maintenance and renewal of stem cells. Contrasting with this role, terminally differentiated photoreceptor cells express high levels of MSI1 and MSI2, pointing to a role for the two proteins in vision. Combined knockout of Msi1 and Msi2 in mature photoreceptor cells abrogated the retinal response to light and caused photoreceptor cell death. In photoreceptor cells the Musashi proteins perform distinct nuclear and cytoplasmic functions. In the nucleus, the Musashi proteins promote splicing of photoreceptor-specific alternative exons. Surprisingly, conserved photoreceptor-specific alternative exons in genes critical for vision proved to be dispensable, raising questions about the selective pressures that lead to their conservation. In the cytoplasm MSI1 and MSI2 activate protein expression. Loss of Msi1 and Msi2 lead to reduction in the levels of multiple proteins including proteins required for vision and photoreceptor survival. The requirement for MSI1 and MSI2 in terminally differentiated photoreceptors alongside their role in stem cells shows that, depending on cellular context, these two proteins can control processes ranging from cell proliferation to sensory perception.
Anthocyanins, a major class of flavonoids, are important pigments of grape berries. Despite the recent discovery of the genetic cause underlying the loss of color, the metabolomic and molecular responses are unknown. Anthocyanin quantification among diverse berry color muscadines suggests that all genotypes could produce adequate anthocyanin quantities, irrespective of berry color. Transcriptome profiling of contrasting color muscadine genotypes proposes a potential deficiency that occurs within the anthocyanin transport and/or degradation mechanisms and might cause unpigmented berries. Genome-wide association studies highlighted a region on chromosome-4, comprising several genes encoding glutathione S-transferases involved in anthocyanin transport. Sequence comparison among genotypes reveals the presence of two GST4b alleles that differ by substituting the conserved amino acid residue Pro 171-to-Leu. Molecular dynamics simulations demonstrate that GST4b2-Leu 171 encodes an inactive protein due to modifications within the H-binding site. Population gen-otyping suggests the recessive inheritance of the unpigmented trait with a GST4b2/2 homozygous. A model defining colorless muscadines' response to the mutation stimulus, avoiding the impact of trapped anthocyanins within the cytoplasm is established.
Humans differ from each other in a wide range of biometrics, but to what extent brain connectivity varies between individuals remains largely unknown. By combining diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG), this study characterizes the inter-subject variability (ISV) of multimodal brain connectivity. Structural connectivity is characterized by higher ISV in association cortices including the core multiple-demand network and lower ISV in the sensorimotor cortex. MEG ISV exhibits frequency-dependent signatures, and the extent of MEG ISV is consistent with that of structural connectivity ISV in selective macroscopic cortical clusters. Across the cortex, the ISVs of structural connectivity and beta-band MEG functional connectivity are negatively associated with cortical myelin content indexed by the quantitative T1 relaxation rate measured by high-resolution 7 T MRI. Furthermore, MEG ISV from alpha to gamma bands relates to the hindrance and restriction of the white-matter tissue estimated by DWI microstructural models. Our findings depict the inter-relationship between the ISV of brain connectivity from multiple modalities, and highlight the role of tissue microstructure underpinning the ISV.
Water conservation is vital for life in the desert. The dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius) produces low volumes of highly concentrated urine, more so when water is scarce, to conserve body water. Two hormones, arginine vasopressin and oxytocin, both produced in the supraoptic nucleus, the core hypothalamic osmoregulatory control centre, are vital for this adaptive process, but the mechanisms that enable the camel supraoptic nucleus to cope with osmotic stress are not known. To investigate the central control of water homeostasis in the camel, we first build three dimensional models of the camel supraoptic nucleus based on the expression of the vasopressin and oxytocin mRNAs in order to facilitate sampling. We then compare the transcriptomes of the supraoptic nucleus under control and water deprived conditions and identified genes that change in expression due to hyperosmotic stress. By comparing camel and rat datasets, we have identified common elements of the water deprivation transcriptomic response network, as well as elements, such as extracellular matrix remodelling and upregulation of angiotensinogen expression, that appear to be unique to the dromedary camel and that may be essential adaptations necessary for life in the desert. Comparative transcriptomic analyses between dromedary camels and rats provide insight into water homeostasis gene responses in animals under water stress conditions.
Widespread use of unregulated acoustic technologies in maritime industries raises concerns about effects on acoustically sensitive marine fauna worldwide. Anthropogenic noise can disrupt behavior and may cause short- to long-term disturbance with possible population-level consequences, particularly for animals with a limited geographic range. Ultrasonic antifouling devices are commercially available, installed globally on a variety of vessel types, and are marketed as an environmentally-friendly method for biofouling control. Here we show that they can be an acoustic disturbance to marine wildlife, as seasonal operation of these hull-mounted systems by tourist vessels in the marine protected area of Guadalupe Island, México resulted in the reduced presence of a potentially resident population of Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris). Human activities are rapidly altering soundscapes on local and global scales, and these findings highlight the need to identify key noise sources and assess their impacts on marine life to effectively manage oceanic ecosystems.
Highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) are fatty acids with more than three double bonds in the molecule. Mammalian testes contain very high levels of omega-6 HUFAs compared with other tissues. However, the metabolic and biological significance of these HUFAs in the mammalian testis is poorly understood. Here we show that Leydig cells vigorously synthesize omega-6 HUFAs to facilitate male sex hormone production. In the testis, FADS2 (Fatty acid desaturase 2), the rate-limiting enzyme for HUFA biosynthesis, is highly expressed in Leydig cells. In this study, pharmacological and genetic inhibition of FADS2 drastically reduces the production of omega-6 HUFAs and male steroid hormones in Leydig cells; this reduction is significantly rescued by supplementation with omega-6 HUFAs. Mechanistically, hormone- sensitive lipase (HSL; also called LIPE), a lipase that supplies free cholesterol for steroid hormone production, preferentially hydrolyzes HUFA-containing cholesteryl esters as sub- strates. Taken together, our results demonstrate that Leydig cells highly express FADS2 to facilitate male steroid hormone production by accumulating omega-6 HUFA-containing cholesteryl esters, which serve as preferred substrates for HSL. These findings unveil a previously unrecognized importance of omega-6 HUFAs in the mammalian male reproductive system.
Hyperprolinemia type II (HPII) is an inborn error of metabolism due to genetic variants in ALDH4A1, leading to a deficiency in Δ-1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C) dehydrogenase. This leads to an accumulation of toxic levels of P5C, an intermediate in proline catabolism. The accumulating P5C spontaneously reacts with, and inactivates, pyridoxal 5’-phosphate, a crucial cofactor for many enzymatic processes, which is thought to be the pathophysiological mechanism for HPII. Here, we describe the use of a combination of LC-QTOF untargeted metabolomics, NMR spectroscopy and infrared ion spectroscopy (IRIS) to identify and characterize biomarkers for HPII that result of the spontaneous reaction of P5C with malonic acid and acetoacetic acid. We show that these biomarkers can differentiate between HPI, caused by a deficiency of proline oxidase activity, and HPII. The elucidation of their molecular structures yields insights into the disease pathophysiology of HPII.
Strokes cause lesions that damage brain tissue, disrupt normal brain activity patterns and can lead to impairments in motor function. Although modulation of cortical activity is central to stimulation-based rehabilitative therapies, aberrant and adaptive patterns of brain activity after stroke have not yet been fully characterized. Here, we apply a brain dynamics analysis approach to study longitudinal brain activity patterns in individuals with ischemic pontine stroke. We first found 4 commonly occurring brain states largely characterized by high amplitude activations in the visual, frontoparietal, default mode, and motor networks. Stroke subjects spent less time in the frontoparietal state compared to controls. For individuals with dominant-hand CST damage, more time spent in the frontoparietal state from 1 week to 3-6 months post-stroke was associated with better motor recovery over the same time period, an association which was independent of baseline impairment. Furthermore, the amount of time spent in brain states was linked empirically to functional connectivity. This work suggests that when the dominant-hand CST is compromised in stroke, resting state configurations may include increased activation of the frontoparietal network, which may facilitate compensatory neural pathways that support recovery of motor function when traditional motor circuits of the dominant-hemisphere are compromised.
Detection of nucleic acid amplification has typically required sophisticated laboratory instrumentation, but as the amplification techniques have moved away from the lab, complementary detection techniques have been implemented to facilitate point-of-care, field, and even at-home applications. Simple visual detection approaches have been widely used for isothermal amplification methods, but have generally displayed weak color changes or been highly sensitive to sample and atmospheric effects. Here we describe the use of pyridylazophenol dyes and binding to manganese ion to produce a strong visible color that changes in response to nucleic acid amplification. This detection approach is easily quantitated with absorbance, rapidly and clearly visible by eye, robust to sample effects, and notably compatible with both isothermal and PCR amplification. Nucleic acid amplification and molecular diagnostic methods are being used in an increasing number of novel applications and settings, and the ability to reliably and sensitively detect them without the need for additional instrumentation will enable even more access to these powerful techniques.
An efficient strategy for cancer therapy is presented, in which a tumor mass is initially pretreated with calcium hydroxide, then treated with Taxotere (TXT). In this regard, an advanced delivery system based on iron oxide nanoparticles has been designed. The surface of nanoparticles was functionalized with sortilin (SORT-1, a human IgG1 monoclonal antibody) that specifically encodes caov-4 ovarian cancerous cells. Plasmonic heating of the incorporated gold nanoparticles in polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) has been exploited to control the release process of TXT. The in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo experiments have exhibited high efficacy of a seven-day pretreatment by Ca(OH)2 plus 14 days treatment program by Ca(OH)2@Fe3O4/PVA/Au-SORT nano-therapeutics, where more penetration ratio resulted in tumor growth inhibition by ca. 78.3%. As a result, due to showing high values of the anti-tumor properties and biosafety, the presented pretreatment strategy is suggested for more effective treatment on the aged tumors.
Unconjugated bilirubin (UCB) confers Th17-cells immunosuppressive features by activating aryl-hydrocarbon-receptor, a modulator of toxin and adaptive immune responses. In Crohn’s disease, Th17-cells fail to acquire regulatory properties in response to UCB, remaining at an inflammatory/pathogenic state. Here we show that UCB modulates Th17-cell metabolism by limiting glycolysis and through downregulation of glycolysis-related genes, namely phosphoglycerate-kinase-1 (PGK1) and aldolase-A (ALDOA). Th17-cells of Crohn’s disease patients display heightened PGK1 and ALDOA and defective response to UCB. Silencing of PGK1 or ALDOA restores Th17-cell response to UCB, as reflected by increase in immunoregulatory markers like FOXP3, IL-10 and CD39. In vivo, PGK1 and ALDOA silencing enhances UCB salutary effects in trinitro-benzene-sulfonic-acid-induced colitis in NOD/scid/gamma humanized mice where control over disease activity and enhanced immunoregulatory phenotypes are achieved. PGK1 and/or ALDOA blockade might have therapeutic effects in Crohn’s disease by favoring acquisition of regulatory properties by Th17-cells along with control over their pathogenic potential.
Highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) are fatty acids with more than three double bonds in the molecule. Mammalian testes contain very high levels of omega-6 HUFAs compared with other tissues. However, the metabolic and biological significance of these HUFAs in the mammalian testis is poorly understood. Here we show that Leydig cells vigorously synthesize omega-6 HUFAs to facilitate male sex hormone production. In the testis, FADS2 (Fatty acid desaturase 2), the rate-limiting enzyme for HUFA biosynthesis, is highly expressed in Leydig cells. In this study, pharmacological and genetic inhibition of FADS2 drastically reduces the production of omega-6 HUFAs and male steroid hormones in Leydig cells; this reduction is significantly rescued by supplementation with omega-6 HUFAs. Mechanistically, hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL; also called LIPE), a lipase that supplies free cholesterol for steroid hormone production, preferentially hydrolyzes HUFA-containing cholesteryl esters as sub-strates. Taken together, our results demonstrate that Leydig cells highly express FADS2 to facilitate male steroid hormone production by accumulating omega-6 HUFA-containing cholesteryl esters, which serve as preferred substrates for HSL. These findings unveil a previously unrecognized importance of omega-6 HUFAs in the mammalian male reproductive system.
Despite the clear potential of livestock models of human functional variants to provide important insights into the biological mechanisms driving human diseases and traits, their use to date has been limited. Generating such models via genome editing is costly and time consuming, and it is unclear which variants will have conserved effects across species. In this study we address these issues by studying naturally occurring livestock models of human functional variants. We show that orthologues of over 1.6 million human variants are already segregating in domesticated mammalian species, including several hundred previously directly linked to human traits and diseases. Models of variants linked to particular phenotypes, including metabolomic disorders and height, are preferentially shared across species, meaning studying the genetic basis of these phenotypes is particularly tractable in livestock. Using machine learning we demonstrate it is possible to identify human variants that are more likely to have an existing livestock orthologue, and, importantly, we show that the effects of functional variants are often conserved in livestock, acting on orthologous genes with the same direction of effect. Consequently, this work demonstrates the substantial potential of naturally occurring livestock carriers of orthologues of human functional variants to disentangle their functional impacts.
Wearing a face mask has become essential to contain the spread of COVID-19 and has become mandatory when collecting fMRI data at most research institutions. Here, we investigate the effects of wearing a surgical mask on fMRI data in n = 37 healthy participants. Activations during finger tapping, emotional face matching, working memory tasks, and rest were examined. Preliminary fMRI analyses show that despite the different mask states, resting-state signals and task activations were relatively similar. Resting-state functional connectivity showed negligible attenuation patterns in mask-on compared with mask-off. Task-based ROI analysis also demonstrated no significant difference between the two mask states under each contrast investigated. Notwithstanding the overall insignificant effects, these results indicate that wearing a face mask during fMRI has little to no significant effect on resting-state and task activations.
Neuronal populations in the brain are engaged in a temporally coordinated manner at rest. Here we show that spontaneous transitions between large-scale resting-state networks are altered in chronic neuropathic pain. We applied an approach based on the Hidden Markov Model to magnetoencephalography data to describe how the brain moves from one activity state to another. This identified 12 fast transient (~80 ms) brain states including the sensorimotor, ascending nociceptive pathway, salience, visual, and default mode networks. Compared to healthy controls, we found that people with neuropathic pain exhibited abnormal alpha power in the right ascending nociceptive pathway state, but higher power and coherence in the sensorimotor network state in the beta band, and shorter time intervals between visits of the sensorimotor network, indicating more active time in this state. Conversely, the neuropathic pain group showed lower coherence and spent less time in the frontal attentional state. Therefore, this study reveals a temporal imbalance and dysregulation of spectral frequency-specific brain microstates in patients with neuropathic pain. These findings can potentially impact the development of a mechanism-based therapeutic approach by identifying brain targets to stimulate using neuromodulation to modify abnormal activity and to restore effective neuronal synchrony between brain states.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with hepatic metabolism dysfunction. However, the mechanistic role of miR204 in the development of NAFLD is unknown. We investigate the functional significance of miR204 in the evolution of NAFLD. IDH2 KO mice feed a normal diet (ND) or HFD increased body weight, epididymal fat-pad weight, lipid droplet in liver, blood parameter and inflammation compared to WT mice fed a ND or HFD. Moreover, the expression of miR204 is increased in mice with IDH2 deficiency. Increased miR204 by IDH2 deficiency regulates carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1a (cpt1a) synthesis, which inhibits fatty acid β-oxidation. Inhibition of miR204 prevents the disassembly of two fatty acid-related genes by activating CPT1a expression, which decreases lipid droplet in liver, inflammatory cytokines, epididymal fat pad weight, blood parameters. Increased miR204 by IDH2 deficiency promotes the pathogenesis of HFD-induced NAFLD by regulating hepatic fatty acid metabolism and inflammation.
Clockwise rotation of the primitive heart tube, a process regulated by restricted left-sided Nodal signaling, is the first morphological manifestation of left-right asymmetry. How Nodal regulates cell behaviors to drive asymmetric morphogenesis remains poorly understood. Here, using high-resolution live imaging of zebrafish embryos, we simultaneously visualized cellular dynamics underlying early heart morphogenesis and resulting changes in tissue shape, to identify two key cell behaviors: cell rearrangement and cell shape change, which convert initially flat heart primordia into a tube through convergent extension. Interestingly, left cells were more active in these behaviors than right cells, driving more rapid convergence of the left primordium, and thereby rotating the heart tube. Loss of Nodal signaling abolished the asymmetric cell behaviors as well as the asymmetric convergence of the left and right heart primordia. Collectively, our results demonstrate that Nodal signaling regulates the magnitude of morphological changes by acting on basic cellular behaviors underlying heart tube formation, driving asymmetric deformation and rotation of the heart tube.
The reasons why some animals have developed larger brains has long been a subject of debate. Yet, it remains unclear which selective pressures may favour the encephalization and how it may act during evolution at different taxonomic scales. Here we studied the patterns and tempo of brain evolution within the order Carnivora and present large-scale comparative analysis of the effect of ecological, environmental, social, and physiological variables on relative brain size in a sample of 174 extant carnivoran species. We found a complex pattern of brain size change between carnivoran families with differences in both the rate and diversity of encephalization. Our findings suggest that during carnivorans' evolution, a trade-off have occurred between the cognitive advantages of acquiring a relatively large brain allowing to adapt to specific environments, and the metabolic costs of the brain which may constitute a disadvantage when facing the need to colonize new environments.
Long-read sequencing technology enable better characterization of structural variants (SVs). To adapt the technology to population-scale analyses, one critical issue is to obtain sufficient amount of high-molecular-weight genomic DNA. Here, we propose utilizing activated T lymphocytes, which can be established efficiently in a biobank to stably supply high-grade genomic DNA sufficiently. We conducted nanopore sequencing of 333 individuals constituting 111 trios with high-coverage long-read sequencing data (depth 22.2x, N50 of 25.8 kb) and identified 74,201 SVs. Our trio-based analysis revealed that more than 95% of the SVs were concordant with Mendelian inheritance. We also identified SVs associated with clinical phenotypes, all of which appear to be stably transmitted from parents to offspring. Our data provide a catalog of SVs in the general Japanese population, and the applied approach using the activated T-lymphocyte resource will contribute to biobank-based human genetic studies focusing on SVs at the population scale.
Rhabdomyosarcoma, the most common pediatric sarcoma, has no effective treatment for the pleomorphic subtype. Still, what triggers transformation into this aggressive phenotype remains poorly understood. Here we used Ptch1+/−/ETV7TG/+/− mice with enhanced incidence of rhabdomyosarcoma to generate a model of pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma driven by haploinsufficiency of the lysosomal sialidase neuraminidase 1. These tumors share mostly features of embryonal and some of alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Mechanistically, we show that the transforming pathway is increased lysosomal exocytosis downstream of reduced neuraminidase 1, exemplified by the redistribution of the lysosomal associated membrane protein 1 at the plasma membrane of tumor and stromal cells. Here we exploit this unique feature for single cell analysis and define heterogeneous populations of exocytic, only partially differentiated cells that force tumors to pleomorphism and promote a fibrotic microenvironment. These data together with the identification of an adipogenic signature shared by human rhabdomyosarcoma, and likely fueling the tumor’s metabolism, make this model of pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma ideal for diagnostic and therapeutic studies. A mouse model of pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive and treatment-resistant form of pediatric sarcoma, provides an ideal tool for future diagnostic and therapeutic studies.
In Duchenne muscular dystrophy, dystrophin loss leads to chronic muscle damage, dysregulation of repair, fibro-fatty replacement, and weakness. We develop methodology to efficiently isolate individual nuclei from minute quantities of frozen skeletal muscle, allowing single nuclei sequencing of irreplaceable archival samples and from very small samples. We apply this method to identify cell and gene expression dynamics within human DMD and mdx mouse muscle, characterizing effects of dystrophin rescue by exon skipping therapy at single nuclei resolution. DMD exon 23 skipping events are directly observed and increased in myonuclei from treated mice. We describe partial rescue of type IIa and IIx myofibers, expansion of an MDSC-like myeloid population, recovery of repair/remodeling M2-macrophage, and repression of inflammatory POSTN1 + fibroblasts in response to exon skipping and partial dystrophin restoration. Use of this method enables exploration of cellular and transcriptomic mechanisms of dystrophin loss and repair within an intact muscle environment. Our initial findings will scaffold our future work to more directly examine muscular dystrophies and putative recovery pathways.
Hybrid cells derived through fertilization or somatic cell fusion recognize and separate chromosomes of different origins. The underlying mechanisms are unknown but could prevent aneuploidy and tumor formation. Here, we acutely induce fusion between Drosophila neural stem cells (neuroblasts; NBs) and differentiating ganglion mother cells (GMCs) in vivo to define how epigenetically distinct chromatin is recognized and segregated. We find that NB-GMC hybrid cells align both endogenous (neuroblast-origin) and ectopic (GMC-origin) chromosomes at the metaphase plate through centrosome derived dual-spindles. Physical separation of endogenous and ectopic chromatin is achieved through asymmetric, microtubule-dependent chromatin retention in interphase and physical boundaries imposed by nuclear envelopes. The chromatin separation mechanisms described here could apply to the first zygotic division in insects, arthropods, and vertebrates or potentially inform biased chromatid segregation in stem cells.
Alternative splicing is an RNA processing mechanism involved in skeletal muscle development and pathology. Muscular diseases exhibit splicing alterations and changes in mechanobiology leading us to investigate the interconnection between mechanical forces and RNA processing. We performed deep RNA-sequencing after stretching muscle cells. First, we uncovered transcriptional changes in genes encoding proteins involved in muscle function and transcription. Second, we observed that numerous mechanosensitive genes were part of the MAPK pathway which was activated in response to stretching. Third, we revealed that stretching skeletal muscle cells increased the proportion of alternatively spliced cassette exons and their inclusion. Fourth, we demonstrated that the serine and arginine-rich proteins exhibited stronger transcriptional changes than other RNA-binding proteins and that SRSF4 phosphorylation is mechanosensitive. Identifying SRSF4 as a mechanosensitive RNA-binding protein that might contribute to crosstalk between mechanotransduction, transcription, and splicing could potentially reveal novel insights into muscular diseases, particularly those with unknown etiologies.
TMEM16F is a Ca²⁺-activated phospholipid scramblase in the TMEM16 family of membrane proteins. Unlike other TMEM16s exhibiting a membrane-exposed hydrophilic groove that serves as a translocation pathway for lipids, the experimentally determined structures of TMEM16F shows the groove in a closed conformation even under conditions of maximal scramblase activity. It is currently unknown if/how TMEM16F groove can open for lipid scrambling. Here we describe the analysis of ~400 µs all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the TMEM16F revealing an allosteric mechanism leading to an open-groove, lipid scrambling competent state of the protein. The groove opens into a continuous hydrophilic conduit that is highly similar in structure to that seen in other activated scramblases. The allosteric pathway connects this opening to an observed destabilization of the Ca²⁺ ion bound at the distal site near the dimer interface, to the dynamics of specific protein regions that produces the open-groove state to scramble phospholipids.
The twin-arginine translocation (Tat) system transports folded proteins across bacterial and plastid energy transducing membranes. Ion leaks are generally considered to be mitigated by the creation and destruction of the translocation conduit in a cargo-dependent manner, a mechanism that enables tight sealing around a wide range of cargo shapes and sizes. In contrast to the variable stoichiometry of the active translocon, the oligomerization state of the receptor complex is considered more consistently stable but has proved stubbornly difficult to establish. Here, using a single molecule photobleaching analysis of individual inverted membrane vesicles, we demonstrate that Tat receptor complexes are tetrameric in native membranes with respect to both TatB and TatC. This establishes a maximal diameter for a resting state closed pore. A large percentage of Tat-deficient vesicles explains the typically low transport efficiencies observed. This individual reaction chamber approach will facilitate examination of the effects of stochastically distributed molecules.
Robust frontoparietal connectivity is a defining feature of primate cortical organization. Whether mammals outside the primate order, such as rodents, possess similar frontoparietal functional connectivity organization is a controversial topic. Previous work has primarily focused on comparing mice and rats to primates. However, as these rodents are nocturnal and terrestrial, they rely much less on visual input than primates. Here, we investigated the functional cortical organization of grey squirrels which are diurnal and arboreal, thereby better resembling primate ecology. We used ultra-high field resting-state fMRI data to compute and compare the functional connectivity patterns of frontal regions in grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis), rats (Rattus norvegicus), and marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). We utilized a fingerprinting analysis to compare interareal patterns of functional connectivity from seeds across frontal cortex in all three species. The results show that grey squirrels, but not rats, possess a frontoparietal connectivity organization that resembles the connectivity pattern of marmoset lateral prefrontal cortical areas. Since grey squirrels and marmosets have acquired an arboreal way of life but show no common arboreal ancestor, the expansion of the visual system and the formation of a frontoparietal connectivity architecture might reflect convergent evolution driven by similar ecological niches in primates and tree squirrels. Comparisons of frontoparietal connectivity between marmosets, rats and grey squirrels suggest the formation of a common frontoparietal network architecture among arboreal species (grey squirrels and marmosets) that might reflect convergent evolution.
SPACA6 is a sperm-expressed surface protein that is critical for gamete fusion during mammalian sexual reproduction. Despite this fundamental role, little is known about how SPACA6 specifically functions. We elucidated the crystal structure of the SPACA6 ectodomain at 2.2-Å resolution, revealing a two-domain protein containing a four-helix bundle and Ig-like β-sandwich connected via a quasi-flexible linker. This structure is reminiscent of IZUMO1, another gamete fusion-associated protein, making SPACA6 and IZUMO1 founding members of a superfamily of fertilization-associated proteins, herein dubbed the IST superfamily. The IST superfamily is defined structurally by its distorted four-helix bundle and a pair of disulfide-bonded CXXC motifs. A structure-based search of the AlphaFold human proteome identified more protein members to this superfamily; remarkably, many of these proteins are linked to gamete fusion. The SPACA6 structure and its connection to other IST-superfamily members provide a missing link in our knowledge of mammalian gamete fusion.
Rising temperatures can lead to the occurrence of a large-scale climatic event, such as the melting of Greenland ice sheet, weakening the AMOC and further increasing dissimilarities between current and future climate. The impacts of such an event are still poorly assessed. Here, we evaluate those impacts across megadiverse countries on 21,146 species of tetrapods and vascular plants using the pessimistic climate change scenario (RCP 8.5) and four different scenarios of Greenland's ice sheet melting. We show that RCP 8.5 emission scenario would lead to a widespread reduction in species' geographic ranges (28-48%), which is projected to be magnified (58-99%) with any added contribution from the melting of Greenland. Also, declines in the potential geographical extent of species hotspots (12-89%) and alterations of species composition (19-91%) will be intensified. These results imply that the influence of a strong and rapid Greenland ice sheet melting, resulting in a large AMOC weakening, can lead to a faster collapse of biodiversity across the globe.
Transgenic animals expressing fluorescent proteins are widely used to label specific cells and proteins. By using a split Cre recombinase fused with mCherry-binding nanobodies or designed ankyrin repeat proteins, we created Cre recombinase dependent on red fluorescent protein (RFP) (Cre-DOR). Functional binding units for monomeric RFPs are different from those for polymeric RFPs. We confirmed selective target RFP-dependent gene expression in the mouse cerebral cortex using stereotaxic injection of adeno-associated virus vectors. In estrogen receptor-beta (Esr2)-mRFP1 mice and gastrin-releasing peptide receptor (Grpr)-mRFP1 rats, we confirmed that Cre-DOR can be used for selective tracing of the neural projection from RFP-expressing specific neurons. Cellular localization of RFPs affects recombination efficiency of Cre-DOR, and light and chemical-induced nuclear translocation of an RFP-fused protein can modulate Cre-DOR efficiency. Our results provide a method for manipulating gene expression in specific cells expressing RFPs and expand the repertory of nanobody-based genetic tools.
Topoisomerase I (TOP1) controls the topological state of DNA during DNA replication, and its dysfunction due to treatment with an inhibitor, such as camptothecin (CPT), causes replication arrest and cell death. Although CPT has excellent cytotoxicity, it has the disadvantage of instability under physiological conditions. Therefore, new types of TOP1 inhibitor have attracted particular attention. Here, we characterised the effect of a non-camptothecin inhibitor, Genz-644282 (Genz). First, we found that treatment with Genz showed cytotoxicity by introducing double-strand breaks (DSBs), which was suppressed by co-treatment with aphidicolin. Genz-induced DSB formation required the functions of TOP1. Next, we explored the advantages of Genz over CPT and found it was effective against CPT-resistant TOP1 carrying either N722S or N722A mutation. The effect of Genz was also confirmed at the cellular level using a CPT-resistant cell line carrying N722S mutation in the TOP1 gene. Moreover, we found arginine residue 364 plays a crucial role for the binding of Genz. Because tyrosine residue 723 is the active centre for DNA cleavage and re-ligation by TOP1, asparagine residue 722 plays crucial roles in the accessibility of the drug. Here, we discuss the mechanism of action of Genz on TOP1 inhibition.
The monomeric catalytic domain (residues 1–199) of SARS-CoV-2 main protease (MPro¹⁻¹⁹⁹) fused to 25 amino acids of its flanking nsp4 region mediates its autoprocessing at the nsp4-MPro¹⁻¹⁹⁹ junction. We report the catalytic activity and the dissociation constants of MPro¹⁻¹⁹⁹ and its analogs with the covalent inhibitors GC373 and nirmatrelvir (NMV), and the estimated monomer-dimer equilibrium constants of these complexes. Mass spectrometry indicates the presence of the accumulated adduct of NMV bound to MProWT and MPro¹⁻¹⁹⁹ and not of GC373. A room temperature crystal structure reveals a native-like fold of the catalytic domain with an unwound oxyanion loop (E state). In contrast, the structure of a covalent complex of the catalytic domain-GC373 or NMV shows an oxyanion loop conformation (E* state) resembling the full-length mature dimer. These results suggest that the E-E* equilibrium modulates autoprocessing of the main protease when converting from a monomeric polyprotein precursor to the mature dimer.
The quality control of variants from whole-genome sequencing data is vital in clinical diagnosis and human genetics research. However, current filtering methods (Frequency, Hard-Filter, VQSR, GARFIELD, and VEF) were developed to be utilized on particular variant callers and have certain limitations. Especially, the number of eliminated true variants far exceeds the number of removed false variants using these methods. Here, we present an adaptive method for quality control on genetic variants from different analysis pipelines, and validate it on the variants generated from four popular variant callers (GATK HaplotypeCaller, Mutect2, Varscan2, and DeepVariant). FVC consistently exhibited the best performance. It removed far more false variants than the current state-of-the-art filtering methods and recalled ~51-99% true variants filtered out by the other methods. Once trained, FVC can be conveniently integrated into a user-specific variant calling pipeline.
Virgin female laboratory mice readily express pup care when co-housed with dams and pups. However, pup-sensitized virgins fail to express intruder-directed aggression on a single session of testing. To study whether repeated testing would affect the onset and dynamics of maternal or intruder-directed aggression, we tested dams and their accompanying virgins from postpartum day 4 to 6. Repeated testing led to escalated aggression towards male intruders in dams, but virgins never developed aggression. In dams, inhibition of the medial amygdala using DREADD (designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs) vectors carrying the hM4Di receptor blocked the expected increase in maternal aggression on the second testing day. Our data support that the onset of maternal aggression is linked to physiological changes occurring during motherhood, and that medial amygdala, a key centre integrating vomeronasal, olfactory and hormonal information, enables the expression of escalated aggression induced by repeated testing. Future studies selectively targeting specific neuronal populations of the medial amygdala are needed to allow a deeper understanding of the control of experience-dependent aggression increase, a phenomenon leading to the high aggression levels found in violent behaviours.
Ecological causes of developmental evolution, for example from predation, remain much investigated, but the potential importance of latent phenotypes in eco-evo-devo has received little attention. Using the predatory bacterium Myxococcus xanthus, which undergoes aggregative fruiting body development upon starvation, we tested whether adaptation to distinct growth environments that do not induce development latently alters developmental phenotypes under starvation conditions that do induce development. In an evolution experiment named MyxoEE-3, growing M. xanthus populations swarmed across agar surfaces while adapting to conditions varying at factors such as surface stiffness or prey identity. Such ecological variation during growth was found to greatly impact the latent evolution of development, including fruiting body morphology, the degree of morphological trait correlation, reaction norms, degrees of developmental plasticity and stochastic diversification. For example, some prey environments promoted retention of developmental proficiency whereas others led to its systematic loss. Our results have implications for understanding evolutionary interactions among predation, development and motility in myxobacterial life cycles, and, more broadly, how ecology can profoundly shape the evolution of developmental systems latently rather than by direct selection on developmental features. An evolution experiment with the predatory bacterium Myxococcus xanthus reveals the potential for ecological factors to impact the evolution of multicellular morphology latently, rather than via direct selection.
The smallest phytoplankton species are key actors in oceans biogeochemical cycling and their abundance and distribution are affected with global environmental changes. Among them, algae of the Pelagophyceae class encompass coastal species causative of harmful algal blooms while others are cosmopolitan and abundant. The lack of genomic reference in this lineage is a main limitation to study its ecological importance. Here, we analysed Pelagomonas calceolata relative abundance, ecological niche and potential for the adaptation in all oceans using a complete chromosome-scale assembled genome sequence. Our results show that P. calceolata is one of the most abundant eukaryotic species in the oceans with a relative abundance favoured by high temperature, low-light and iron-poor conditions. Climate change projections based on its relative abundance suggest an extension of the P. calceolata habitat toward the poles at the end of this century. Finally, we observed a specific gene repertoire and expression level variations potentially explaining its ecological success in low-iron and low-nitrate environments. Collectively, these findings reveal the ecological importance of P. calceolata and lay the foundation for a global scale analysis of the adaptation and acclimation strategies of this small phytoplankton in a changing environment. Genomic inference reveals potential climate change-driven range expansion of the phytoplankton species Pelagomonas calceolata.
The most likely pathway for many species to survive future climate change is by pre-existing trait variation providing a fitness advantage under the new climate. Here we evaluate the potential role of haemoglobin (Hb) variation in bank voles under future climate change. We model gene-climate relationships for two functionally distinct Hb types, HbS and HbF, which have a north-south distribution in Britain presenting an unusually tractable system linking genetic variation in physiology to geographical and temporal variation in climate. Projections to future climatic conditions suggest a change in relative climatic suitability that would result in HbS being displaced by HbF in northern Britain. This would facilitate local adaptation to future climate—without Hb displacement, populations in northern Britain would likely be suboptimally adapted because their Hb would not match local climatic conditions. Our study shows how pre-existing physiological differences can influence the adaptive capacity of species to climate change.
Leydig cells in fetal testes play crucial roles in masculinizing fetuses through androgen production. Gene knockout studies have revealed that growth factors are implicated in fetal Leydig cell (FLC) differentiation, but little is known about the mechanisms regulating this process. We investigate this issue by characterizing FLC progenitor cells using single-cell RNA sequencing. The sequence datasets suggest that thymosin β10 (Tmsb10) is transiently upregulated in the progenitors. While studying the function of Tmsb10, we reveal that platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) regulates ciliogenesis through the RAS/ERK and PI3K/AKT pathways, and thereby promotes desert hedgehog (DHH)-dependent FLC differentiation. Tmsb10 expressed in the progenitor cells induces their differentiation into FLCs by suppressing the RAS/ERK pathway. Through characterizing the transiently expressed Tmsb10 in the FLC progenitors, this study unveils the molecular process of FLC differentiation and shows that it is cooperatively induced by DHH and PDGF.
Tree lycopsids prospered in the Late Devonian and constituted a major part of the Late Paleozoic forest ecosystem that deeply impacted the Earth’s climate. However, the fertile organs of these early tree lycopsids display low morphological disparity, which has hampered further knowledge about their ecological habit. Here, we report Omprelostrobus gigas gen. et sp. nov. from the Upper Devonian (Famennian) Wutong Formation at Changxing, Zhejiang, China. The collection includes aerial axes, strobili and associated roots. The strobili are the largest among coeval lycopsids to our knowledge, and are divided into proximal and distal portions by dimorphic sporophylls with differentiated laminae and probable strong photosynthetic capacity. The associated but not attached roots displaying multiple isotomous branches lack rootlets and typical rootlet scars. The varied strobili sizes of early tree lycopsids were relatively independent of their body plan, but the large strobili could suggest increased reproductive investment to overcome the disadvantages of the disturbed flooded habitat.
Gut bacteria play important roles in insect life cycle, and various routes can be used by insects to effectively transmit their gut bacteria. However, it is unclear if the gut bacteria can spread by actively attracting their insect hosts, and the recognition mechanisms of host insects are poorly understood. Here, we explore chemical interactions between Bactrocera dorsalis and its gut bacterium Citrobacter sp. (CF-BD). We found that CF-BD could affect the development of host ovaries and could be vertically transmitted via host oviposition. CF-BD could attract B. dorsalis to lay eggs by producing 3-hexenyl acetate (3-HA) in fruits that were hosts of B. dorsalis. Furthermore, we found that B. dorsalis could directly recognize CF-BD in fruits with their ovipositors in which olfactory genes were expressed to bind 3-HA. This work reports an important mechanism concerning the active spread of gut bacteria in their host insects.
Crucial conventional patch-clamp approaches to investigate cellular electrophysiology suffer from low-throughput and require considerable experimenter expertise. Automated patch-clamp (APC) approaches are more experimenter independent and offer high-throughput, but by design are predominantly limited to assays containing small, homogenous cells. In order to enable high-throughput APC assays on larger cells such as native cardiomyocytes isolated from mammalian hearts, we employed a fixed-well APC plate format. A broad range of detailed electrophysiological parameters including action potential, L-type calcium current and basal inward rectifier current were reliably acquired from isolated swine atrial and ventricular cardiomyocytes using APC. Effective pharmacological modulation also indicated that this technique is applicable for drug screening using native cardiomyocyte material. Furthermore, sequential acquisition of multiple parameters from a single cell was successful in a high throughput format, substantially increasing data richness and quantity per experimental run. When appropriately expanded, these protocols will provide a foundation for effective mechanistic and phenotyping studies of human cardiac electrophysiology. Utilizing scarce biopsy samples, regular high throughput characterization of primary cardiomyocytes using APC will facilitate drug development initiatives and personalized treatment strategies for a multitude of cardiac diseases.