bims-ginsta Biomed News
on Genome instability
Issue of 2024‒06‒30
thirty-one papers selected by
Jinrong Hu, National University of Singapore

  1. bioRxiv. 2024 Jun 13. pii: 2024.06.13.598853. [Epub ahead of print]
      Notch proteins undergo ligand-induced proteolysis to release a nuclear effector that influences a wide range of cellular processes by regulating transcription. Despite years of study, however, how Notch induces the transcription of its target genes remains unclear. Here, we comprehensively examined the response to human Notch1 across a time course of activation using genomic assays of nascent RNA and chromatin accessibility. These data revealed that Notch induces target gene transcription primarily by releasing paused RNA polymerase II (RNAPII), in contrast to prevailing models suggesting that Notch acts by promoting chromatin accessibility. Indeed, we found that open chromatin is established at Notch-responsive regulatory elements prior to Notch signaling, through SWI/SNF-mediated remodeling. Notch activation, however, elicited no further chromatin opening at these loci. Together, these studies reveal that the nuclear response to Notch signaling is dictated by the pre-existing chromatin state and RNAPII distribution at time of signal activation.
  2. bioRxiv. 2024 Jun 10. pii: 2024.06.09.598134. [Epub ahead of print]
      In humans, aging triggers cellular and tissue deterioration, and the female reproductive system is the first to show signs of decline. Reproductive aging is associated with decreased ovarian reserve, decreased quality of the remaining oocytes, and decreased production of the ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone. With aging, both mouse and human ovaries become pro-fibrotic and stiff. However, whether stiffness directly impairs ovarian function, folliculogenesis, and oocyte quality is unknown. To answer this question, we cultured mouse follicles in alginate gels that mimicked the stiffness of reproductively young and old ovaries. Follicles cultured in stiff hydrogels exhibited decreased survival and growth, decreased granulosa cell viability and estradiol synthesis, and decreased oocyte quality. We also observed a reduction in the number of granulosa cell-oocyte transzonal projections. RNA sequencing revealed early changes in the follicle transcriptome in response to stiffness. Follicles cultured in a stiff environment had lower expression of genes related to follicle development and greater expression of genes related to inflammation and extracellular matrix remodeling than follicles cultured in a soft environment. Altogether, our findings suggest that ovarian stiffness directly modulates folliculogenesis and contributes to the progressive decline in oocyte quantity and quality observed in women of advanced maternal age.
  3. Nature. 2024 Jun 26.
      Tissue repair, immune defence and cancer progression rely on a vital cellular decision between quiescence and proliferation1,2. Mammalian cells proliferate by triggering a positive feedback mechanism3,4. The transcription factor E2F activates cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2), which in turn phosphorylates and inactivates the E2F inhibitor protein retinoblastoma (Rb). This action further increases E2F activity to express genes needed for proliferation. Given that positive feedback can inadvertently amplify small signals, understanding how cells keep this positive feedback in check remains a puzzle. Here we measured E2F and CDK2 signal changes in single cells and found that the positive feedback mechanism engages only late in G1 phase. Cells spend variable and often extended times in a reversible state of intermediate E2F activity before committing to proliferate. This intermediate E2F activity is proportional to the amount of phosphorylation of a conserved T373 residue in Rb that is mediated by CDK2 or CDK4/CDK6. Such T373-phosphorylated Rb remains bound on chromatin but dissociates from it once Rb is hyperphosphorylated at many sites, which fully activates E2F. The preferential initial phosphorylation of T373 can be explained by its relatively slower rate of dephosphorylation. Together, our study identifies a primed state of intermediate E2F activation whereby cells sense external and internal signals and decide whether to reverse and exit to quiescence or trigger the positive feedback mechanism that initiates cell proliferation.
  4. Dev Cell. 2024 Jun 21. pii: S1534-5807(24)00379-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Recent advances in human genetics have shed light on the genetic factors contributing to inflammatory diseases, particularly Crohn's disease (CD), a prominent form of inflammatory bowel disease. Certain risk genes associated with CD directly influence cytokine biology and cell-specific communication networks. Current CD therapies primarily rely on anti-inflammatory drugs, which are inconsistently effective and lack strategies for promoting epithelial restoration and mucosal balance. To understand CD's underlying mechanisms, we investigated the link between CD and the FGFR1OP gene, which encodes a centrosome protein. FGFR1OP deletion in mouse intestinal epithelial cells disrupted crypt architecture, resulting in crypt loss, inflammation, and fatality. FGFR1OP insufficiency hindered epithelial resilience during colitis. FGFR1OP was crucial for preserving non-muscle myosin II activity, ensuring the integrity of the actomyosin cytoskeleton and crypt cell adhesion. This role of FGFR1OP suggests that its deficiency in genetically predisposed individuals may reduce epithelial renewal capacity, heightening susceptibility to inflammation and disease.
    Keywords:  FGFR1OP; adhesion; autoimmunity; centrosome; cytoskeleton; desmosome; epithelial cells; inflammatory bowel disease; non-muscle myosin
  5. Trends Genet. 2024 Jun 22. pii: S0168-9525(24)00134-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      The emergence of aerobic respiration created unprecedented bioenergetic advantages, while imposing the need to protect critical genetic information from reactive byproducts of oxidative metabolism (i.e., reactive oxygen species, ROS). The evolution of histone proteins fulfilled the need to shield DNA from these potentially damaging toxins, while providing the means to compact and structure massive eukaryotic genomes. To date, several metabolism-linked histone post-translational modifications (PTMs) have been shown to regulate chromatin structure and gene expression. However, whether and how PTMs enacted by metabolically produced ROS regulate adaptive chromatin remodeling remain relatively unexplored. Here, we review novel mechanistic insights into the interactions of ROS with histones and their consequences for the control of gene expression regulation, cellular plasticity, and behavior.
    Keywords:  ROS; chromatin structure; cysteine oxidation; epigenetics; histone oxidation; histones
  6. Stem Cell Reports. 2024 Jun 16. pii: S2213-6711(24)00152-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      Genetic differences between pluripotent stem cell lines cause variable activity of extracellular signaling pathways, limiting reproducibility of directed differentiation protocols. Here we used human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to interrogate how exogenous factors modulate endogenous signaling events during specification of foregut endoderm lineages. We find that transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) activates a putative human OTX2/LHX1 gene regulatory network which promotes anterior fate by antagonizing endogenous Wnt signaling. In contrast to Porcupine inhibition, TGF-β1 effects cannot be reversed by exogenous Wnt ligands, suggesting that induction of SHISA proteins and intracellular accumulation of Fzd receptors render TGF-β1-treated cells refractory to Wnt signaling. Subsequently, TGF-β1-mediated inhibition of BMP and Wnt signaling suppresses liver fate and promotes pancreas fate. Furthermore, combined TGF-β1 treatment and Wnt inhibition during pancreatic specification reproducibly and robustly enhance INSULIN+ cell yield across hESC lines. This modification of widely used differentiation protocols will enhance pancreatic β cell yield for cell-based therapeutic applications.
    Keywords:  BMP; LHX1; OTX2; TGF-β; Wnt; liver; pancreas; patterning; signaling; stem cells
  7. bioRxiv. 2024 Jun 14. pii: 2024.06.12.598567. [Epub ahead of print]
      Postnatal genomic regulation significantly influences tissue and organ maturation but is under-studied relative to existing genomic catalogs of adult tissues or prenatal development in mouse. The ENCODE4 consortium generated the first comprehensive single-nucleus resource of postnatal regulatory events across a diverse set of mouse tissues. The collection spans seven postnatal time points, mirroring human development from childhood to adulthood, and encompasses five core tissues. We identified 30 cell types, further subdivided into 69 subtypes and cell states across adrenal gland, left cerebral cortex, hippocampus, heart, and gastrocnemius muscle. Our annotations cover both known and novel cell differentiation dynamics ranging from early hippocampal neurogenesis to a new sex-specific adrenal gland population during puberty. We used an ensemble Latent Dirichlet Allocation strategy with a curated vocabulary of 2,701 regulatory genes to identify regulatory "topics," each of which is a gene vector, linked to cell type differentiation, subtype specialization, and transitions between cell states. We find recurrent regulatory topics in tissue-resident macrophages, neural cell types, endothelial cells across multiple tissues, and cycling cells of the adrenal gland and heart. Cell-type-specific topics are enriched in transcription factors and microRNA host genes, while chromatin regulators dominate mitosis topics. Corresponding chromatin accessibility data reveal dynamic and sex-specific regulatory elements, with enriched motifs matching transcription factors in regulatory topics. Together, these analyses identify both tissue-specific and common regulatory programs in postnatal development across multiple tissues through the lens of the factors regulating transcription.
  8. Development. 2024 Jul 01. pii: dev202482. [Epub ahead of print]151(13):
      During heart development, the embryonic ventricle becomes enveloped by the epicardium, which adheres to the outer apical surface of the heart. This is concomitant with onset of ventricular trabeculation, where a subset of cardiomyocytes lose apicobasal polarity and delaminate basally from the ventricular wall. Llgl1 regulates the formation of apical cell junctions and apicobasal polarity, and we investigated its role in ventricular wall maturation. We found that llgl1 mutant zebrafish embryos exhibit aberrant apical extrusion of ventricular cardiomyocytes. While investigating apical cardiomyocyte extrusion, we identified a basal-to-apical shift in laminin deposition from the internal to the external ventricular wall. We find that epicardial cells express several laminin subunits as they adhere to the ventricle, and that the epicardium is required for laminin deposition on the ventricular surface. In llgl1 mutants, timely establishment of the epicardial layer is disrupted due to delayed emergence of epicardial cells, resulting in delayed apical deposition of laminin on the ventricular surface. Together, our analyses reveal an unexpected role for Llgl1 in correct timing of epicardial development, supporting integrity of the ventricular myocardial wall.
    Keywords:  Epicardium; Extracellular matrix; Heart development; Laminin; Polarity; Zebrafish
  9. Nat Commun. 2024 Jun 25. 15(1): 5381
      During human embryonic development, early cleavage-stage embryos are more susceptible to errors. Studies have shown that many problems occur during the first mitosis, such as direct cleavage, chromosome segregation errors, and multinucleation. However, the mechanisms whereby these errors occur during the first mitosis in human embryos remain unknown. To clarify this aspect, in the present study, we image discarded living human two-pronuclear stage zygotes using fluorescent labeling and confocal microscopy without microinjection of DNA or mRNA and investigate the association between spindle shape and nuclear abnormality during the first mitosis. We observe that the first mitotic spindles vary, and low-aspect-ratio-shaped spindles tend to lead to the formation of multiple nuclei at the 2-cell stage. Moreover, we observe defocusing poles in many of the first mitotic spindles, which are strongly associated with multinucleation. Additionally, we show that differences in the positions of the centrosomes cause spindle abnormality in the first mitosis. Furthermore, many multinuclei are modified to form mononuclei after the second mitosis because the occurrence of pole defocusing is firmly reduced. Our study will contribute markedly to research on the occurrence of mitotic errors during the early cleavage of human embryos.
  10. Cell. 2024 Jun 20. pii: S0092-8674(24)00595-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mammalian blastocyst formation involves the specification of the trophectoderm followed by the differentiation of the inner cell mass into embryonic epiblast and extra-embryonic primitive endoderm (PrE). During this time, the embryo maintains a window of plasticity and can redirect its cellular fate when challenged experimentally. In this context, we found that the PrE alone was sufficient to regenerate a complete blastocyst and continue post-implantation development. We identify an in vitro population similar to the early PrE in vivo that exhibits the same embryonic and extra-embryonic potency and can form complete stem cell-based embryo models, termed blastoids. Commitment in the PrE is suppressed by JAK/STAT signaling, collaborating with OCT4 and the sustained expression of a subset of pluripotency-related transcription factors that safeguard an enhancer landscape permissive for multi-lineage differentiation. Our observations support the notion that transcription factor persistence underlies plasticity in regulative development and highlight the importance of the PrE in perturbed development.
    Keywords:  JAK/STAT; Oct4/Pou5f1; enhancer; hypoblast; plasticity; pluripotency; preimplantation development; primitive endoderm; totipotency; transcription
  11. Cell Rep. 2024 Jun 20. pii: S2211-1247(24)00575-8. [Epub ahead of print]43(7): 114247
      Human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived intestinal organoids are valuable tools for researching developmental biology and personalized therapies, but their closed topology and relative immature state limit applications. Here, we use organ-on-chip technology to develop a hiPSC-derived intestinal barrier with apical and basolateral access in a more physiological in vitro microenvironment. To replicate growth factor gradients along the crypt-villus axis, we locally expose the cells to expansion and differentiation media. In these conditions, intestinal epithelial cells self-organize into villus-like folds with physiological barrier integrity, and myofibroblasts and neurons emerge and form a subepithelial tissue in the bottom channel. The growth factor gradients efficiently balance dividing and mature cell types and induce an intestinal epithelial composition, including absorptive and secretory lineages, resembling the composition of the human small intestine. This well-characterized hiPSC-derived intestine-on-chip system can facilitate personalized studies on physiological processes and therapy development in the human small intestine.
    Keywords:  CP: Stem cell research; differentiation medium; enteric neuron; gut-on-chip; human; induced pluripotent stem cell; intestinal epithelial barrier; intestine-on-chip; mesenchyme; organ-on-chip; small intestine
  12. Nucleic Acids Res. 2024 Jun 22. pii: gkae521. [Epub ahead of print]
      Intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) guide transcription factors (TFs) to their genomic binding sites, raising the question of how structure-lacking regions encode for complex binding patterns. We investigated this using the TF Gln3, revealing sets of IDR-embedded determinants that direct Gln3 binding to respective groups of functionally related promoters, and enable tuning binding preferences between environmental conditions, phospho-mimicking mutations, and orthologs. Through targeted mutations, we defined the role of short linear motifs (SLiMs) and co-binding TFs (Hap2) in stabilizing Gln3 at respiration-chain promoters, while providing evidence that Gln3 binding at nitrogen-associated promoters is encoded by the IDR amino-acid composition, independent of SLiMs or co-binding TFs. Therefore, despite their apparent simplicity, TF IDRs can direct and regulate complex genomic binding patterns through a combination of SLiM-mediated and composition-encoded interactions.
  13. EMBO Rep. 2024 Jun 28.
      Heterochromatin marks such as H3K9me3 undergo global erasure and re-establishment after fertilization, and the proper reprogramming of H3K9me3 is essential for early development. Despite the widely conserved dynamics of heterochromatin reprogramming in invertebrates and non-mammalian vertebrates, previous studies have shown that the underlying mechanisms may differ between species. Here, we investigate the molecular mechanism of H3K9me3 dynamics in medaka (Japanese killifish, Oryzias latipes) as a non-mammalian vertebrate model, and show that rapid cell cycle during cleavage stages causes DNA replication-dependent passive erasure of H3K9me3. We also find that cell cycle slowing, toward the mid-blastula transition, permits increasing nuclear accumulation of H3K9me3 histone methyltransferase Setdb1, leading to the onset of H3K9me3 re-accumulation. We further demonstrate that cell cycle length in early development also governs H3K9me3 reprogramming in zebrafish and Xenopus laevis. Together with the previous studies in invertebrates, we propose that a cell cycle length-dependent mechanism for both global erasure and re-accumulation of H3K9me3 is conserved among rapid-cleavage species of non-mammalian vertebrates and invertebrates such as Drosophila, C. elegans, Xenopus and teleost fish.
    Keywords:  Development; Epigenome; Heterochromatin; Mid-blastula Transition; Reprogramming
  14. J Cell Sci. 2024 Jun 15. pii: jcs261899. [Epub ahead of print]137(12):
      Desmosomes are relatives of ancient cadherin-based junctions, which emerged late in evolution to ensure the structural integrity of vertebrate tissues by coupling the intermediate filament cytoskeleton to cell-cell junctions. Their ability to dynamically counter the contractile forces generated by actin-associated adherens junctions is particularly important in tissues under high mechanical stress, such as the skin and heart. Much more than the simple cellular 'spot welds' depicted in textbooks, desmosomes are in fact dynamic structures that can sense and respond to changes in their mechanical environment and external stressors like ultraviolet light and pathogens. These environmental signals are transmitted intracellularly via desmosome-dependent mechanochemical pathways that drive the physiological processes of morphogenesis and differentiation. This Cell Science at a Glance article and the accompanying poster review desmosome structure and assembly, highlight recent insights into how desmosomes integrate chemical and mechanical signaling in the epidermis, and discuss desmosomes as targets in human disease.
    Keywords:  Cell adhesion; Cell mechanics; Cytoskeleton; Epidermal signaling; Intercellular junctions; Skin
  15. Nat Cardiovasc Res. 2023 Oct;2(10): 937-955
      Missense variants throughout ACTA2, encoding smooth muscle α-actin (αSMA), predispose to adult-onset thoracic aortic disease, but variants disrupting arginine 179 (R179) lead to Smooth Muscle Dysfunction Syndrome (SMDS) characterized by diverse childhood-onset vascular diseases. Here we show that αSMA localizes to the nucleus in wildtype (WT) smooth muscle cells (SMCs), enriches in the nucleus with SMC differentiation, and associates with chromatin remodeling complexes and SMC contractile gene promotors. The ACTA2 p.R179 αSMA variant shows decreased nuclear localization. Primary SMCs from Acta2 SMC-R179C/+ mice are less differentiated than WT SMCs in vitro and in vivo and have global changes in chromatin accessibility. Induced pluripotent stem cells from patients with ACTA2 p.R179 variants fail to fully differentiate from neuroectodermal progenitor cells to SMCs, and single-cell transcriptomic analyses of an ACTA2 p.R179H patient's aortic tissue show increased SMC plasticity. Thus, nuclear αSMA participates in SMC differentiation, and loss of this nuclear activity occurs with ACTA2 p.R179 pathogenic variants.
  16. bioRxiv. 2024 Jun 13. pii: 2024.06.12.598694. [Epub ahead of print]
      Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a fatal disease characterized by the TGF-β-dependent activation of lung fibroblasts, leading to excessive deposition of collagen proteins and progressive replacement of healthy lung with scar tissue. We and others have shown that fibroblast activation is supported by metabolic reprogramming, including the upregulation of the de novo synthesis of glycine, the most abundant amino acid found in collagen protein. How fibroblast metabolic reprogramming is regulated downstream of TGF-β is incompletely understood. We and others have shown that TGF-β-mediated activation of the Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 (mTORC1) and downstream upregulation of Activating Transcription Factor 4 (ATF4) promote increased expression of the enzymes required for de novo glycine synthesis; however, whether mTOR and ATF4 regulate other metabolic pathways in lung fibroblasts has not been explored. Here, we used RNA sequencing to determine how both ATF4 and mTOR regulate gene expression in human lung fibroblasts following TGF-β. We found that ATF4 primarily regulates enzymes and transporters involved in amino acid homeostasis as well as aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. mTOR inhibition resulted not only in the loss of ATF4 target gene expression, but also in the reduced expression of glycolytic enzymes and mitochondrial electron transport chain subunits. Analysis of TGF-β-induced changes in cellular metabolite levels confirmed that ATF4 regulates amino acid homeostasis in lung fibroblasts while mTOR also regulates glycolytic and TCA cycle metabolites. We further analyzed publicly available single cell RNAseq data sets and found increased expression of ATF4 and mTOR metabolic targets in pathologic fibroblast populations from the lungs of IPF patients. Our results provide insight into the mechanisms of metabolic reprogramming in lung fibroblasts and highlight novel ATF4 and mTOR-dependent pathways that may be targeted to inhibit fibrotic processes.
  17. J Am Heart Assoc. 2024 Jun 27. e033155
      BACKGROUND: Current protocols generate highly pure human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) in vitro that recapitulate characteristics of mature in vivo cardiomyocytes. Yet, a risk of arrhythmias exists when hiPSC-CMs are injected into large animal models. Thus, understanding hiPSC-CM maturational mechanisms is crucial for clinical translation. Forkhead box (FOX) transcription factors regulate postnatal cardiomyocyte maturation through a balance between FOXO and FOXM1. We also previously demonstrated that p53 activation enhances hiPSC-CM maturation. Here, we investigate whether p53 activation modulates the FOXO/FOXM1 balance to promote hiPSC-CM maturation in 3-dimensional suspension culture.METHODS AND RESULTS: Three-dimensional cultures of hiPSC-CMs were treated with Nutlin-3a (p53 activator, 10 μM), LOM612 (FOXO relocator, 5 μM), AS1842856 (FOXO inhibitor, 1 μM), or RCM-1 (FOXM1 inhibitor, 1 μM), starting 2 days after onset of beating, with dimethyl sulfoxide (0.2% vehicle) as control. P53 activation promoted hiPSC-CM metabolic and electrophysiological maturation alongside FOXO upregulation and FOXM1 downregulation, in n=3 to 6 per group for all assays. FOXO inhibition significantly decreased expression of cardiac-specific markers such as TNNT2. In contrast, FOXO activation or FOXM1 inhibition promoted maturational characteristics such as increased contractility, oxygen consumption, and voltage peak maximum upstroke velocity, in n=3 to 6 per group for all assays. Further, by single-cell RNA sequencing of n=2 LOM612-treated cells compared with dimethyl sulfoxide, LOM612-mediated FOXO activation promoted expression of cardiac maturational pathways.
    CONCLUSIONS: We show that p53 activation promotes FOXO and suppresses FOXM1 during 3-dimensional hiPSC-CM maturation. These results expand our understanding of hiPSC-CM maturational mechanisms in a clinically-relevant 3-dimensional culture system.
    Keywords:  FOXM1; FOXO; cardiomyocytes; maturation; p53; stem cells
  18. Cell Rep. 2024 Jun 25. pii: S2211-1247(24)00726-5. [Epub ahead of print]43(7): 114398
      Mechanosensitive Piezo channels regulate cell division, cell extrusion, and cell death. However, systems-level functions of Piezo in regulating organogenesis remain poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that Piezo controls epithelial cell topology to ensure precise organ growth by integrating live-imaging experiments with pharmacological and genetic perturbations and computational modeling. Notably, the knockout or knockdown of Piezo increases bilateral asymmetry in wing size. Piezo's multifaceted functions can be deconstructed as either autonomous or non-autonomous based on a comparison between tissue-compartment-level perturbations or between genetic perturbation populations at the whole-tissue level. A computational model that posits cell proliferation and apoptosis regulation through modulation of the cutoff tension required for Piezo channel activation explains key cell and tissue phenotypes arising from perturbations of Piezo expression levels. Our findings demonstrate that Piezo promotes robustness in regulating epithelial topology and is necessary for precise organ size control.
    Keywords:  CP: Cell biology; CP: Developmental biology; calcium; cell cycle; fluctuating asymmetry; morphogenesis
  19. Nat Cell Biol. 2024 Jun 24.
      R-loops are three-stranded nucleic acid structures that are abundant and widespread across the genome and that have important physiological roles in many nuclear processes. Their accumulation is observed in cancers and neurodegenerative disorders. Recent studies have implicated a function for R-loops and G-quadruplex (G4) structures, which can form on the displaced single strand of R-loops, in three-dimensional genome organization in both physiological and pathological contexts. Here we discuss the interconnected functions of DNA:RNA hybrids and G4s within R-loops, their impact on DNA repair and gene regulatory networks, and their emerging roles in genome organization during development and disease.
  20. Cell. 2024 Jun 21. pii: S0092-8674(24)00594-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      In aging, physiologic networks decline in function at rates that differ between individuals, producing a wide distribution of lifespan. Though 70% of human lifespan variance remains unexplained by heritable factors, little is known about the intrinsic sources of physiologic heterogeneity in aging. To understand how complex physiologic networks generate lifespan variation, new methods are needed. Here, we present Asynch-seq, an approach that uses gene-expression heterogeneity within isogenic populations to study the processes generating lifespan variation. By collecting thousands of single-individual transcriptomes, we capture the Caenorhabditis elegans "pan-transcriptome"-a highly resolved atlas of non-genetic variation. We use our atlas to guide a large-scale perturbation screen that identifies the decoupling of total mRNA content between germline and soma as the largest source of physiologic heterogeneity in aging, driven by pleiotropic genes whose knockdown dramatically reduces lifespan variance. Our work demonstrates how systematic mapping of physiologic heterogeneity can be applied to reduce inter-individual disparities in aging.
    Keywords:  Caenorhabditis elegans; aging; complex systems; computational biology; gene regulation; individual variation; non-genetic individuality; quantitative biology; statistical modeling
  21. Cell. 2024 Jun 24. pii: S0092-8674(24)00639-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Neuroimmune interactions mediate intercellular communication and underlie critical brain functions. Microglia, CNS-resident macrophages, modulate the brain through direct physical interactions and the secretion of molecules. One such secreted factor, the complement protein C1q, contributes to complement-mediated synapse elimination in both developmental and disease models, yet brain C1q protein levels increase significantly throughout aging. Here, we report that C1q interacts with neuronal ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes in an age-dependent manner. Purified C1q protein undergoes RNA-dependent liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) in vitro, and the interaction of C1q with neuronal RNP complexes in vivo is dependent on RNA and endocytosis. Mice lacking C1q have age-specific alterations in neuronal protein synthesis in vivo and impaired fear memory extinction. Together, our findings reveal a biophysical property of C1q that underlies RNA- and age-dependent neuronal interactions and demonstrate a role of C1q in critical intracellular neuronal processes.
    Keywords:  C1q; RNA granule; RNA-binding protein; complement; liquid-liquid phase separation; microglia; neuroimmune; neuronal translation; polysome; ribonucleoprotein complex
  22. Nat Commun. 2024 Jun 27. 15(1): 5449
      Progressive lung fibrosis is associated with poorly understood aging-related endothelial cell dysfunction. To gain insight into endothelial cell alterations in lung fibrosis we performed single cell RNA-sequencing of bleomycin-injured lungs from young and aged mice. Analysis reveals activated cell states enriched for hypoxia, glycolysis and YAP/TAZ activity in ACKR1+ venous and TrkB+ capillary endothelial cells. Endothelial cell activation is prevalent in lungs of aged mice and can also be detected in human fibrotic lungs. Longitudinal single cell RNA-sequencing combined with lineage tracing demonstrate that endothelial activation resolves in young mouse lungs but persists in aged ones, indicating a failure of the aged vasculature to return to quiescence. Genes associated with activated lung endothelial cells states in vivo can be induced in vitro by activating YAP/TAZ. YAP/TAZ also cooperate with BDNF, a TrkB ligand that is reduced in fibrotic lungs, to promote capillary morphogenesis. These findings offer insights into aging-related lung endothelial cell dysfunction that may contribute to defective lung injury repair and persistent fibrosis.
  23. Cell. 2024 Jun 26. pii: S0092-8674(24)00649-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      The ability of proteins and RNA to coalesce into phase-separated assemblies, such as the nucleolus and stress granules, is a basic principle in organizing membraneless cellular compartments. While the constituents of biomolecular condensates are generally well documented, the mechanisms underlying their formation under stress are only partially understood. Here, we show in yeast that covalent modification with the ubiquitin-like modifier Urm1 promotes the phase separation of a wide range of proteins. We find that the drop in cellular pH induced by stress triggers Urm1 self-association and its interaction with both target proteins and the Urm1-conjugating enzyme Uba4. Urmylation of stress-sensitive proteins promotes their deposition into stress granules and nuclear condensates. Yeast cells lacking Urm1 exhibit condensate defects that manifest in reduced stress resilience. We propose that Urm1 acts as a reversible molecular "adhesive" to drive protective phase separation of functionally critical proteins under cellular stress.
    Keywords:  Saccharomyces cerevisiae; biomolecular condensate; heat stress; liquid-liquid phase separation; nucleolus; nucleus; stress granules; uba4; ubiquitin-like modifier; urm1
  24. J Cell Biol. 2024 Oct 07. pii: e202403115. [Epub ahead of print]223(10):
      Regulated cell shape change requires the induction of cortical cytoskeletal domains. Often, local changes to plasma membrane (PM) topography are involved. Centrosomes organize cortical domains and can affect PM topography by locally pulling the PM inward. Are these centrosome effects coupled? At the syncytial Drosophila embryo cortex, centrosome-induced actin caps grow into dome-like compartments for mitoses. We found the nascent cap to be a collection of PM folds and tubules formed over the astral centrosomal MT array. The localized infoldings require centrosome and dynein activities, and myosin-based surface tension prevents them elsewhere. Centrosome-engaged PM infoldings become specifically enriched with an Arp2/3 induction pathway. Arp2/3 actin network growth between the infoldings counterbalances centrosomal pulling forces and disperses the folds for actin cap expansion. Abnormal domain topography with either centrosome or Arp2/3 disruption correlates with decreased exocytic vesicle association. Together, our data implicate centrosome-organized PM infoldings in coordinating Arp2/3 network growth and exocytosis for cortical domain assembly.
  25. Nature. 2024 Jun 26.
      A deep understanding of how the brain controls behaviour requires mapping neural circuits down to the muscles that they control. Here, we apply automated tools to segment neurons and identify synapses in an electron microscopy dataset of an adult female Drosophila melanogaster ventral nerve cord (VNC)1, which functions like the vertebrate spinal cord to sense and control the body. We find that the fly VNC contains roughly 45 million synapses and 14,600 neuronal cell bodies. To interpret the output of the connectome, we mapped the muscle targets of leg and wing motor neurons using genetic driver lines2 and X-ray holographic nanotomography3. With this motor neuron atlas, we identified neural circuits that coordinate leg and wing movements during take-off. We provide the reconstruction of VNC circuits, the motor neuron atlas and tools for programmatic and interactive access as resources to support experimental and theoretical studies of how the nervous system controls behaviour.
  26. J Cell Biol. 2024 Sep 02. pii: e202306087. [Epub ahead of print]223(9):
      Context-dependent physiological remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM) is essential for development and organ homeostasis. On the other hand, consumption of high-caloric diet leverages ECM remodeling to create pathological conditions that impede the functionality of different organs, including the heart. However, the mechanistic basis of high caloric diet-induced ECM remodeling has yet to be elucidated. Employing in vivo molecular genetic analyses in Drosophila, we demonstrate that high dietary sugar triggers ROS-independent activation of JNK signaling to promote fatty acid oxidation (FAO) in the pericardial cells (nephrocytes). An elevated level of FAO, in turn, induces histone acetylation-dependent transcriptional upregulation of the cytokine Unpaired 3 (Upd3). Release of pericardial Upd3 augments fat body-specific expression of the cardiac ECM protein Pericardin, leading to progressive cardiac fibrosis. Importantly, this pathway is quite distinct from the ROS-Ask1-JNK/p38 axis that regulates Upd3 expression under normal physiological conditions. Our results unravel an unknown physiological role of FAO in cytokine-dependent ECM remodeling, bearing implications in diabetic fibrosis.
  27. bioRxiv. 2024 Jun 13. pii: 2024.06.11.598511. [Epub ahead of print]
      LMNA- related dilated cardiomyopathy ( LMNA -DCM) is one of the most severe forms of DCM. The incomplete understanding of the molecular disease mechanisms results in lacking treatment options, leading to high mortality amongst patients. Here, using an inducible, cardiomyocyte-specific lamin A/C depletion mouse model, we conducted a comprehensive transcriptomic study, combining both bulk and single nucleus RNA sequencing, and spanning LMNA -DCM disease progression, to identify potential disease drivers. Our refined analysis pipeline identified 496 genes already misregulated early in disease. The expression of these genes was largely driven by disease specific cardiomyocyte sub-populations and involved biological processes mediating cellular response to DNA damage, cytosolic pattern recognition, and innate immunity. Indeed, DNA damage in LMNA -DCM hearts was significantly increased early in disease and correlated with reduced cardiomyocyte lamin A levels. Activation of cytosolic pattern recognition in cardiomyocytes was independent of cGAS, which is rarely expressed in cardiomyocytes, but likely occurred downstream of other pattern recognition sensors such as IFI16. Altered gene expression in cardiac fibroblasts and immune cell infiltration further contributed to tissue-wide changes in gene expression. Our transcriptomic analysis further predicted significant alterations in cell-cell communication between cardiomyocytes, fibroblasts, and immune cells, mediated through early changes in the extracellular matrix (ECM) in the LMNA -DCM hearts. Taken together, our work suggests a model in which nuclear damage in cardiomyocytes leads to activation of DNA damage responses, cytosolic pattern recognition pathway, and other signaling pathways that activate inflammation, immune cell recruitment, and transcriptional changes in cardiac fibroblasts, which collectively drive LMNA -DCM pathogenesis.
  28. J Extracell Vesicles. 2024 Jul;13(7): e12461
      Cardiac fibrosis is a common pathological feature of cardiovascular diseases that arises from the hyperactivation of fibroblasts and excessive extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition, leading to impaired cardiac function and potentially heart failure or arrhythmia. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by cardiomyocytes (CMs) regulate various physiological functions essential for myocardial homeostasis, which are disrupted in cardiac disease. Therefore, healthy CM-derived EVs represent a promising cell-free therapy for the treatment of cardiac fibrosis. To this end, we optimized the culture conditions of human adult CMs to obtain a large yield of EVs without compromising cellular integrity by using a defined combination of small molecules. EVs were isolated by ultracentrifugation, and their characteristics were analysed. Finally, their effect on fibrosis was tested. Treatment of TGFβ-activated human cardiac fibroblasts with EVs derived from CMs using our culture system resulted in a decrease in fibroblast activation markers and ECM accumulation. The rescued phenotype was associated with specific EV cargo, including multiple myocyte-specific and antifibrotic microRNAs, although their effect individually was not as effective as the EV treatment. Notably, pathway analysis showed that EV treatment reverted the transcription of activated fibroblasts and decreased several signalling pathways, including MAPK, mTOR, JAK/STAT, TGFβ, and PI3K/Akt, all of which are involved in fibrosis development. Intracardiac injection of CM-derived EVs in an animal model of cardiac fibrosis reduced fibrotic area and increased angiogenesis, which correlated with improved cardiac function. These findings suggest that EVs derived from human adult CMs may offer a targeted and effective treatment for cardiac fibrosis, owing to their antifibrotic properties and the specificity of cargo.
    Keywords:  EVs; cardiac fibrosis; cardiovascular diseases; cell‐free therapy; extracellular vesicles; microRNA
  29. bioRxiv. 2024 Jun 12. pii: 2024.06.11.598333. [Epub ahead of print]
      Ion channels are essential for proper morphogenesis of the craniofacial skeleton. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are unknown. Loss of the Kcnj2 potassium channel disrupts Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) signaling within the developing palate. BMP signaling is essential for the correct development of several skeletal structures, including the palate, though little is known about the mechanisms that govern BMP secretion. We introduce a tool to image the release of bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) from mammalian cells. Using this tool, we show that depolarization induces BMP4 release from mouse embryonic palate mesenchyme cells in a calcium-dependent manner. We show native transient changes in intracellular calcium occur in cranial neural crest cells, the cells from which embryonic palate mesenchyme derives. Waves of transient changes in intracellular calcium suggest that these cells are electrically coupled and may temporally coordinate BMP release. These transient changes in intracellular calcium persist in palate mesenchyme cells from embryonic day (E) 9.5 to 13.5 mice. Disruption of Kcnj2 significantly decreases the amplitude of calcium transients and the ability of cells to secrete BMP. Together, these data suggest that temporal control of developmental cues is regulated by ion channels, depolarization, and changes in intracellular calcium for mammalian craniofacial morphogenesis.SUMMARY: We show that embryonic palate mesenchyme cells undergo transient changes in intracellular calcium. Depolarization of these cells induces BMP4 release suggesting that ion channels are a node in BMP4 signaling.
  30. Nat Commun. 2024 Jun 25. 15(1): 5360
      Oxygen homeostasis is maintained in plants and animals by O2-sensing enzymes initiating adaptive responses to low O2 (hypoxia). Recently, the O2-sensitive enzyme ADO was shown to initiate degradation of target proteins RGS4/5 and IL32 via the Cysteine/Arginine N-degron pathway. ADO functions by catalysing oxidation of N-terminal cysteine residues, but despite multiple proteins in the human proteome having an N-terminal cysteine, other endogenous ADO substrates have not yet been identified. This could be because alternative modifications of N-terminal cysteine residues, including acetylation, prevent ADO-catalysed oxidation. Here we investigate the relationship between ADO-catalysed oxidation and NatA-catalysed acetylation of a broad range of protein sequences with N-terminal cysteines. We present evidence that human NatA catalyses N-terminal cysteine acetylation in vitro and in vivo. We then show that sequences downstream of the N-terminal cysteine dictate whether this residue is oxidised or acetylated, with ADO preferring basic and aromatic amino acids and NatA preferring acidic or polar residues. In vitro, the two modifications appear to be mutually exclusive, suggesting that distinct pools of N-terminal cysteine proteins may be acetylated or oxidised. These results reveal the sequence determinants that contribute to N-terminal cysteine protein modifications, with implications for O2-dependent protein stability and the hypoxic response.
  31. Cell Rep. 2024 Jun 26. pii: S2211-1247(24)00728-9. [Epub ahead of print]43(7): 114400
      ADAR1-mediated RNA editing establishes immune tolerance to endogenous double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) by preventing its sensing, primarily by MDA5. Although deleting Ifih1 (encoding MDA5) rescues embryonic lethality in ADAR1-deficient mice, they still experience early postnatal death, and removing other MDA5 signaling proteins does not yield the same rescue. Here, we show that ablation of MDA5 in a liver-specific Adar knockout (KO) murine model fails to rescue hepatic abnormalities caused by ADAR1 loss. Ifih1;Adar double KO (dKO) hepatocytes accumulate endogenous dsRNAs, leading to aberrant transition to a highly inflammatory state and recruitment of macrophages into dKO livers. Mechanistically, progranulin (PGRN) appears to mediate ADAR1 deficiency-induced liver pathology, promoting interferon signaling and attracting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)+ macrophages into dKO liver, exacerbating hepatic inflammation. Notably, the PGRN-EGFR crosstalk communication and consequent immune responses are significantly repressed in ADAR1high tumors, revealing that pre-neoplastic or neoplastic cells can exploit ADAR1-dependent immune tolerance to facilitate immune evasion.
    Keywords:  ADAR1; CP: Cell biology; CP: Immunology; EGFR; HCC; PGRN; RNA editing; immunosuppression; innate immunity; liver inflammation; macrophage infiltration