Nils Blüthgen's research while affiliated with Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin and other places

Publications (250)

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Background Development of resistance to targeted therapies has tempered initial optimism that precision oncology would improve poor outcomes for cancer patients. Resistance mechanisms, however, can also confer new resistance-specific vulnerabilities, termed collateral sensitivities. Here we investigated anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibitor re...
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Cellular heterogeneity in growth and differentiation results in organ patterning. Single-cell transcriptomics allows characterization of gene expression heterogeneity in developing organs at unprecedented resolution. However, the original physical location of the cell is lost during this methodology. To recover the original location of cells in the...
Preprint
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Vaccines are a cornerstone in COVID-19 pandemic management. Here, we compare immune responses to and preclinical efficacy of the mRNA vaccine BNT162b2, an adenovirus-vectored spike vaccine, and the live-attenuated-virus vaccine candidate sCPD9 after single and double vaccination in Syrian hamsters. All regimens containing sCPD9 showed superior effi...
Preprint
Differentiated cancer cells may regain stem cell characteristics; however, the effects of such a cellular dedifferentiation on tumoural growth and treatment are currently understudied. Thus, we here extend a mathematical model of cancer stem cell (CSC) driven tumour growth to also include dedifferentiation. We show that dedifferentiation increases...
Article
Despite the progress made in developmental toxicology, there is a great need for in vitro tests that identify developmental toxicants in relation to human oral doses and blood concentrations. In the present study, we established the hiPSC-based UKK2 in vitro test and analyzed genome-wide expression profiles of 23 known teratogens and 16 non-teratog...
Preprint
Colorectal cancer progression is intrinsically linked to stepwise deregulation of the intestinal differentiation trajectory. In this process, sequential mutations of APC/Wnt, KRAS, TP53 and SMAD4 stepwisely enable an oncogenic signalling network. Here, we developed a novel mass cytometry antibody panel to analyse colorectal cancer cell differentiat...
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The intestinal epithelium is one of the fastest renewing tissues in mammals. It shows a hierarchical organisation, where intestinal stem cells at the base of crypts give rise to rapidly dividing transit amplifying cells that in turn renew the pool of short-lived differentiated cells. Upon injury and stem-cell loss, cells can also de-differentiate....
Article
Lung carcinoid tumors, also referred to as pulmonary neuroendocrine tumors or lung carcinoids, are rare neoplasms of the lung with a more favorable prognosis than other subtypes of lung cancer. Still, some patients suffer from relapsed disease and metastatic spread. Several recent single‐cell studies have provided detailed insights into the cellula...
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For COVID-19, effective and well-understood treatment options are still scarce. Since vaccine efficacy is challenged by novel variants, short-lasting immunity and vaccine hesitancy, understanding and optimizing therapeutic options remains essential. We aimed at better understanding the effects of two standard-of-care drugs, dexamethasone and anti-S...
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Background Pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (PanNENs) fall into two subclasses: the well-differentiated, low- to high-grade pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PanNETs), and the poorly-differentiated, high-grade pancreatic neuroendocrine carcinomas (PanNECs). While recent studies suggest an endocrine descent of PanNETs, the origin of PanNECs remai...
Preprint
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Rationale: In face of the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, effective and well-understood treatment options are still scarce. While vaccines have proven instrumental in fighting SARS-CoV-2, their efficacy is challenged by vaccine hesitancy, novel variants and short-lasting immunity. Therefore, understanding and optimization of therapeutic options remain...
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Recent developments in immuno-oncology demonstrate that not only cancer cells, but also the tumor microenvironment can guide precision medicine. A comprehensive and in-depth characterization of the tumor microenvironment is challenging since its cell populations are diverse and can be important even if scarce. To identify clinically relevant microe...
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Resistance against radio(chemo)therapy-induced cell death is a major determinant of oncological treatment failure and remains a perpetual clinical challenge. The underlying mechanisms are manifold and demand for comprehensive, cancer entity- and subtype-specific examination. In the present study, resistance against radiotherapy was systematically a...
Preprint
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Lung carcinoid tumors, also referred to as pulmonary neuroendocrine tumors or lung carcinoids, are rare neoplasms of the lung with a more favorable prognosis than other subtypes of lung cancer. Still, some patients suffer from relapsed disease and metastatic spread while no consensus treatment exists for metastasized carcinoids. Several recent sing...
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Severe COVID-19 is linked to both dysfunctional immune response and unrestrained immunopathology, and it remains unclear whether T cells contribute to disease pathology. Here, we combined single-cell transcriptomics and single-cell proteomics with mechanistic studies to assess pathogenic T cell functions and inducing signals. We identified highly a...
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Very high risk neuroblastoma is characterised by increased MAPK signalling, and targeting MAPK signalling is a promising therapeutic strategy. We used a deeply characterised panel of neuroblastoma cell lines and found that the sensitivity to MEK inhibitors varied drastically between these cell lines. By generating quantitative perturbation data and...
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Longitudinal analyses of the innate immune system including earliest time points are essential to understand the immunopathogenesis and clinical course of COVID-19. Here, we performed a detailed characterization of natural killer cells in 205 patients (403 samples, day 2-41 after symptom onset) from four independent cohorts using single-cell transc...
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In colorectal cancer, oncogenic mutations transform a hierarchically organized and homeostatic epithelium into invasive cancer tissue lacking visible organization. We sought to define transcriptional states of colorectal cancer cells and signals controlling their development by performing single-cell transcriptome analysis of tumors and matched non...
Preprint
The intestinal epithelium is one of the fastest renewing tissues in mammals with an average turnover time of only a few days. It shows a remarkable degree of stability towards external perturbations such as physical injuries or radiation damage. Tissue renewal is driven by intestinal stem cells, and differentiated cells can de-differentiate if the...
Preprint
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Severe COVID-19 is linked to both dysfunctional immune response and unrestrained immunopathogenesis, and it remains unclear if T cells also contribute to disease pathology. Here, we combined single-cell transcriptomics and proteomics with mechanistic studies to assess pathogenic T cell functions and inducing signals. We identified highly activated,...
Article
e17544 Background: High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) can be separated by gene expression profiling into four molecular subtypes with clear correlation of the clinical outcome. However, these gene signatures have not been implemented in clinical practice to stratify patients for targeted therapy. This is mainly due to a lack of easy, cost-eff...
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Despite the correlation of clinical outcome and molecular subtypes of high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC), contemporary gene expression signatures have not been implemented in clinical practice to stratify patients for targeted therapy. Hence, we aimed to examine the potential of unsupervised matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization imaging...
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Thousands of transcriptome data sets are available, but approaches for their use in dynamic cell response modelling are few, especially for processes affected simultaneously by two orthogonal influencing variables. We approached this problem for neuroepithelial development of human pluripotent stem cells (differentiation variable), in the presence...
Preprint
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Recent developments in immuno-oncology demonstrate that not only cancer cells, but also features of the tumor microenvironment guide precision medicine. Still, the relationship between tumor and microenvironment remains poorly understood. To overcome this limitation and identify clinically relevant microenvironmental and cancer features, we applied...
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In colorectal cancer (CRC), the prevalence of NRAS mutations (5–9%) is inferior to that of KRAS mutations (40–50%). NRAS mutations feature lately during tumour progression and drive resistance to anti-EGFR therapy in KRAS wild-type tumours. To elucidate specific functions of NRAS mutations in CRC, we expressed doxycycline-inducible G12D and Q61K mu...
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Neuronal activity-regulated gene transcription underlies plasticity-dependent changes in the molecular composition and structure of neurons. A large number of genes regulated by different neuronal plasticity inducing pathways have been identified, but altered gene expression levels represent only part of the complexity of the activity-regulated tra...
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Oncoproteins such as the BRAFV600E kinase endow cancer cells with malignant properties, but they also create unique vulnerabilities. Targeting of BRAFV600E-driven cytoplasmic signaling networks has proved ineffective, as patients regularly relapse with reactivation of the targeted pathways. We identify the nuclear protein SFPQ to be synthetically l...
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Motivation: A common strategy to infer and quantify interactions between components of a biological system is to deduce them from the network's response to targeted perturbations. Such perturbation experiments are often challenging and costly. Therefore, optimizing the experimental design is essential to achieve a meaningful characterization of bi...
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To unravel vulnerabilities of KRAS-mutant CRC cells, a shRNA-based screen specifically inhibiting MAPK pathway components and targets was performed in CaCo2 cells harboring conditional oncogenic KRASG12V. The custom-designed shRNA library comprised 121 selected genes, which were previously identified to be strongly regulated in response to MEK inhi...
Preprint
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Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Neoplasms (PanNENs) comprise a rare and heterogeneous group of tumors derived from neuroendocrine cells of the pancreas. Despite genetic and epigenetic characterization, biomarkers for improved patient stratification and personalized therapy are sparse and targeted therapies, including the mTOR inhibitor Everolimus, have s...
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Extracting signalling pathway activities from transcriptome data is important to infer mechanistic origins of transcriptomic dysregulation, for example in disease. A popular method to do so is by enrichment analysis of signature genes in e.g. differentially regulated genes. Previously, we derived signatures for signalling pathways by integrating pu...
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Cells rely on input from extracellular growth factors to control their proliferation during development and adult homeostasis. Such mitogenic inputs are transmitted through multiple signaling pathways that synergize to precisely regulate cell cycle entry and progression. Although the architecture of these signaling networks has been characterized i...
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DNA damaging chemotherapeutics are widely used in cancer treatments, but for solid tumors often leave a residual tumor cell population. Here we investigated how cellular states might affect the response of individual cells in a clonal population to cisplatin, a DNA damaging chemotherapeutic agent. Using a live-cell reporter of cell cycle phase and...
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The first in vitro tests for developmental toxicity made use of rodent cells. Newer teratology tests, e.g. developed during the ESNATS project, use human cells and measure mechanistic endpoints (such as transcriptome changes). However, the toxicological implications of mechanistic parameters are hard to judge, without functional/morphological endpo...
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Dynamic mechanistic models, that is, those that can simulate behavior over time courses, are a cornerstone of molecular systems biology. They are being used to model molecular mechanisms with varying degrees of granularity—from elementary reactions to causal links—and to describe these systems by various dynamic mathematical frameworks, such as Boo...
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Tumors of different molecular subtypes can show strongly deviating responses to drug treatment, making stratification of patients based on molecular markers an important part of cancer therapy. Pharmacogenomic studies have led to the discovery of selected genomic markers (e.g., BRAF V600E ), whereas transcriptomic and proteomic markers so far have...
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Accurate modeling of intratumor heterogeneity presents a bottleneck against drug testing. Flexibility in a preclinical platform is also desirable to support assessment of different endpoints. We established the model system, OHC‐NB1, from a bone marrow metastasis from a patient diagnosed with MYCN‐amplified neuroblastoma and performed whole‐exome s...
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Motivation: A major challenge in molecular and cellular biology is to map out the regulatory networks of cells. As regulatory interactions can typically not be directly observed experimentally, various computational methods have been proposed to disentangling direct and indirect effects. Most of these rely on assumptions that are rarely met or can...
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Oncogenic mutations in KRAS or BRAF are frequent in colorectal cancer and activate the ERK kinase. Here, we find graded ERK phosphorylation correlating with cell differentiation in patient-derived colorectal cancer organoids with and without KRAS mutations. Using reporters, single cell transcriptomics and mass cytometry, we observe cell type-specif...
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HRAS, NRAS, and KRAS isoforms are almost identical proteins that are ubiquitously expressed and activate a common set of effectors. In vivo studies have revealed that they are not biologically redundant; however, the isoform specificity of Ras signaling remains poorly understood. Using a novel panel of isogenic SW48 cell lines endogenously expressi...
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Background: Proteins of the ubiquitously expressed core proteome are quantitatively correlated across multiple eukaryotic species. In addition, it was found that many protein paralogues exhibit expression anticorrelation, suggesting that the total level of protein with a given functionality must be kept constant. Methods: We performed Spearman's...
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Gene regulatory networks control the cellular phenotype by changing the RNA and protein composition. Despite its importance, the gene regulatory network in higher organisms is only partly mapped out. Here, we investigate the potential of reverse engineering methods to unravel the structure of these networks. Particularly, we focus on modular respon...
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Motivation Signal-transduction networks are often aberrated in cancer cells, and new anti-cancer drugs that specifically target oncogenes involved in signaling show great clinical promise. However, the effectiveness of such targeted treatments is often hampered by innate or acquired resistance due to feedbacks, crosstalks or network adaptations in...
Article
Kinases in signaling pathways are commonly activated by multisite phosphorylation. For example, the mitogen-activated protein kinase Erk is activated by its kinase Mek by two consecutive phosphorylations within its activation loop. In this article, we use kinetic models to study how the activation of Erk is coupled to its abundance. Intuitively, Er...
Article
In recent years, protocols have been established to differentiate stem and precursor cells into more mature cell types. However, progress in this field has been hampered by difficulties to assess the differentiation status of stem cell-derived cells in an unbiased manner. Here, we present an analysis pipeline based on published data and methods to...
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A large body of data have accumulated that characterize the gene regulatory network of stem cells. Yet, a comprehensive and integrative understanding of this complex network is lacking. Network reverse engineering methods that use transcriptome data to derive these networks may help to uncover the topology in an unbiased way. Many methods exist tha...
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Motivation: Intracellular signalling is realised by complex signalling networks which are almost impossible to understand without network models, especially if feedbacks are involved. Modular Response Analysis (MRA) is a convenient modelling method to study signalling networks in various contexts. Results: We developed the software package STASN...
Preprint
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Mutations activating the KRAS GTPase or the BRAF kinase are frequent in colorectal cancer. Here, we use inducible transgenic expression of KRASG12V or BRAFV600E in intestinal organoids of mice to investigate oncogenic signal transduction in the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade with cellular resolution. Using phospho-protein, reporter...
Conference Paper
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Introduction The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signalling pathway has been established as a key driver of cell proliferation, growth and migration. Activating mutations as well as amplifications of the receptor gene have been found in a number of solid tumours such as glioblastoma, non-small cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer. For thi...
Conference Paper
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Introduction Oncogenic KRAS is widely acknowledged as a critical determinant of the therapeutic response of colorectal cancer (CRC) – a fact that to date is pivotal for defining an appropriate treatment strategy. Whether this also extends beyond RTK- and MAPK- targeted molecular cancer therapies, to a novel and promising class of anti-cancer drugs,...
Preprint
Full-text available
Kinases in signaling pathways are commonly activated by multisite phosphorylation. For example, the mitogen-activated protein kinase Erk is activated by its kinase Mek by two consecutive phosphorylations within its activation loop. In this article, we use kinetic models to study how the activation of Erk is coupled to its abundance. Intuitively, Er...
Article
Full-text available
New technologies to generate, store and retrieve medical and research data are inducing a rapid change in clinical and translational research and health care. Systems medicine is the interdisciplinary approach wherein physicians and clinical investigators team up with experts from biology, biostatistics, informatics, mathematics and computational m...
Preprint
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New anti-cancer drugs that specifically target oncogenes involved in signalling show great clinical promise. However, the effectiveness of such targeted treatments is often hampered by innate or acquired resistance due to feedbacks, crosstalks or network adaptations in response to drug treatment. Addressing this problem requires an understanding of...