bims-nimamd Biomed News
on Neuroimmunity and neuroinflammation in ageing and metabolic disease
Issue of 2023‒06‒25
fifty-one papers selected by
Fawaz Alzaïd
Sorbonne Université

  1. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 22. 14(1): 3716
      Accumulating evidence indicates that mitochondria play crucial roles in immunity. However, the role of the mitochondrial Krebs cycle in immunity remains largely unknown, in particular at the organism level. Here we show that mitochondrial aconitase, ACO-2, a Krebs cycle enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of citrate to isocitrate, inhibits immunity against pathogenic bacteria in C. elegans. We find that the genetic inhibition of aco-2 decreases the level of oxaloacetate. This increases the mitochondrial unfolded protein response, subsequently upregulating the transcription factor ATFS-1, which contributes to enhanced immunity against pathogenic bacteria. We show that the genetic inhibition of mammalian ACO2 increases immunity against pathogenic bacteria by modulating the mitochondrial unfolded protein response and oxaloacetate levels in cultured cells. Because mitochondrial aconitase is highly conserved across phyla, a therapeutic strategy targeting ACO2 may eventually help properly control immunity in humans.
  2. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 21. 14(1): 3672
      High-resolution imaging has revolutionized the study of single cells in their spatial context. However, summarizing the great diversity of complex cell shapes found in tissues and inferring associations with other single-cell data remains a challenge. Here, we present CAJAL, a general computational framework for the analysis and integration of single-cell morphological data. By building upon metric geometry, CAJAL infers cell morphology latent spaces where distances between points indicate the amount of physical deformation required to change the morphology of one cell into that of another. We show that cell morphology spaces facilitate the integration of single-cell morphological data across technologies and the inference of relations with other data, such as single-cell transcriptomic data. We demonstrate the utility of CAJAL with several morphological datasets of neurons and glia and identify genes associated with neuronal plasticity in C. elegans. Our approach provides an effective strategy for integrating cell morphology data into single-cell omics analyses.
  3. Science. 2023 Jun 23. 380(6651): 1294
  4. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 22. 14(1): 3720
      Transmission and secretion of signals via the choroid plexus (ChP) brain barrier can modulate brain states via regulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) composition. Here, we developed a platform to analyze diurnal variations in male mouse ChP and CSF. Ribosome profiling of ChP epithelial cells revealed diurnal translatome differences in metabolic machinery, secreted proteins, and barrier components. Using ChP and CSF metabolomics and blood-CSF barrier analyses, we observed diurnal changes in metabolites and cellular junctions. We then focused on transthyretin (TTR), a diurnally regulated thyroid hormone chaperone secreted by the ChP. Diurnal variation in ChP TTR depended on Bmal1 clock gene expression. We achieved real-time tracking of CSF-TTR in awake TtrmNeonGreen mice via multi-day intracerebroventricular fiber photometry. Diurnal changes in ChP and CSF TTR levels correlated with CSF thyroid hormone levels. These datasets highlight an integrated platform for investigating diurnal control of brain states by the ChP and CSF.
  5. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 17. 14(1): 3611
      Follicular helper T (Tfh) cells are essential for germinal center (GC) B cell responses. However, it is not clear which PD-1+CXCR5+Bcl6+CD4+ T cells will differentiate into PD-1hiCXCR5hiBcl6hi GC-Tfh cells and how GC-Tfh cell differentiation is regulated. Here, we report that the sustained Tigit expression in PD-1+CXCR5+CD4+ T cells marks the precursor Tfh (pre-Tfh) to GC-Tfh transition, whereas Tigit-PD-1+CXCR5+CD4+ T cells upregulate IL-7Rα to become CXCR5+CD4+ T memory cells with or without CCR7. We demonstrate that pre-Tfh cells undergo substantial further differentiation at the transcriptome and chromatin accessibility levels to become GC-Tfh cells. The transcription factor c-Maf appears critical in governing the pre-Tfh to GC-Tfh transition, and we identify Plekho1 as a stage-specific downstream factor regulating the GC-Tfh competitive fitness. In summary, our work identifies an important marker and regulatory mechanism of PD-1+CXCR5+CD4+ T cells during their developmental choice between memory T cell fate and GC-Tfh cell differentiation.
  6. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 23. 14(1): 3746
      Brown adipose tissue (BAT) has abundant mitochondria with the unique capability of generating heat via uncoupled respiration. Mitochondrial uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) is activated in BAT during cold stress and dissipates mitochondrial proton motive force generated by the electron transport chain to generate heat. However, other mitochondrial factors required for brown adipocyte respiration and thermogenesis under cold stress are largely unknown. Here, we show LETM1 domain-containing protein 1 (LETMD1) is a BAT-enriched and cold-induced protein required for cold-stimulated respiration and thermogenesis of BAT. Proximity labeling studies reveal that LETMD1 is a mitochondrial matrix protein. Letmd1 knockout male mice display aberrant BAT mitochondria and fail to carry out adaptive thermogenesis under cold stress. Letmd1 knockout BAT is deficient in oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) complex proteins and has impaired mitochondrial respiration. In addition, BAT-specific Letmd1 deficient mice exhibit phenotypes identical to those observed in Letmd1 knockout mice. Collectively, we demonstrate that the BAT-enriched mitochondrial matrix protein LETMD1 plays a tissue-autonomous role that is essential for BAT mitochondrial function and thermogenesis.
  7. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 20. 14(1): 3645
      Unconventional T cells, such as innate natural killer T cells (iNKT) cells, are an important part of vertebrate immune defences. iNKT recognise glycolipids through a T cell receptor (TCR) that is composed of a semi-invariant TCR α chain, paired with a restricted set of TCR β chains. Here, we show that splicing of the cognate Trav11-Traj18-Trac pre-mRNA encoding the characteristic Vα14Jα18 variable region of this semi-invariant TCR depends on the presence of Tnpo3. The Tnpo3 gene encodes a nuclear transporter of the β-karyopherin family whose cargo includes various splice regulators. The block of iNKT cell development in the absence of Tnpo3 can be overcome by transgenic provision of a rearranged Trav11-Traj18-Trac cDNA, indicating that Tnpo3 deficiency does not interfere with the development of iNKT cells per se. Our study thus identifies a role for Tnpo3 in regulating the splicing of the pre-mRNA encoding the cognate TCRα chain of iNKT cells.
  8. J Immunol. 2023 Jul 01. 211(1): 1
  9. Nature. 2023 Jun 21.
      Lymphocytes of vertebrate adaptive immune systems acquired the capability to assemble, from split genes in the germline, billions of functional antigen receptors1-3. These receptors show specificity; unlike the broadly tuned receptors of the innate system, antibodies (Ig) expressed by B cells, for instance, can accurately distinguish between the two enantiomers of organic acids4, whereas T cell receptors (TCRs) reliably recognize single amino acid replacements in their peptide antigens5. In developing lymphocytes, antigen receptor genes are assembled from a comparatively small set of germline-encoded genetic elements in a process referred to as V(D)J recombination6,7. Potential self-reactivity of some antigen receptors arising from the quasi-random somatic diversification is suppressed by several robust control mechanisms8-12. For decades, scientists have puzzled over the evolutionary origin of somatically diversifying antigen receptors13-16. It has remained unclear how, at the inception of this mechanism, immunologically beneficial expanded receptor diversity was traded against the emerging risk of destructive self-recognition. Here we explore the hypothesis that in early vertebrates, sequence microhomologies marking the ends of recombining elements became the crucial targets of selection determining the outcome of non-homologous end joining-based repair of DNA double-strand breaks generated during RAG-mediated recombination. We find that, across the main clades of jawed vertebrates, TCRα repertoire diversity is best explained by species-specific extents of such sequence microhomologies. Thus, selection of germline sequence composition of rearranging elements emerges as a major factor determining the degree of diversity of somatically generated antigen receptors.
  10. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 23. 14(1): 3745
      Intracellular pH dynamics is increasingly recognized to regulate myriad cell behaviors. We report a finding that intracellular pH dynamics also regulates adult stem cell lineage specification. We identify an intracellular pH gradient in mouse small intestinal crypts, lowest in crypt stem cells and increasing along the crypt column. Disrupting this gradient by inhibiting H+ efflux by Na+/H+ exchanger 1 abolishes crypt budding and blocks differentiation of Paneth cells, which are rescued with exogenous WNT. Using single-cell RNA sequencing and lineage tracing we demonstrate that intracellular pH dynamics acts downstream of ATOH1, with increased pH promoting differentiation toward the secretory lineage. Our findings indicate that an increase in pH is required for the lineage specification that contributes to crypt maintenance, establishing a role for intracellular pH dynamics in cell fate decisions within an adult stem cell lineage.
  11. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 17. 14(1): 3608
      KATP channels are metabolic sensors for intracellular ATP/ADP ratios, play essential roles in many physiological processes, and are implicated in a spectrum of pathological conditions. SUR2A-containing KATP channels differ from other subtypes in their sensitivity to Mg-ADP activation. However, the underlying structural mechanism remains poorly understood. Here we present a series of cryo-EM structures of SUR2A in the presence of different combinations of Mg-nucleotides and the allosteric inhibitor repaglinide. These structures uncover regulatory helix (R helix) on the NBD1-TMD2 linker, which wedges between NBD1 and NBD2. R helix stabilizes SUR2A in the NBD-separated conformation to inhibit channel activation. The competitive binding of Mg-ADP with Mg-ATP to NBD2 mobilizes the R helix to relieve such inhibition, allowing channel activation. The structures of SUR2B in similar conditions suggest that the C-terminal 42 residues of SUR2B enhance the structural dynamics of NBD2 and facilitate the dissociation of the R helix and the binding of Mg-ADP to NBD2, promoting NBD dimerization and subsequent channel activation.
  12. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 20. 14(1): 3669
      Bacteria from the Turicibacter genus are prominent members of the mammalian gut microbiota and correlate with alterations in dietary fat and body weight, but the specific connections between these symbionts and host physiology are poorly understood. To address this knowledge gap, we characterize a diverse set of mouse- and human-derived Turicibacter isolates, and find they group into clades that differ in their transformations of specific bile acids. We identify Turicibacter bile salt hydrolases that confer strain-specific differences in bile deconjugation. Using male and female gnotobiotic mice, we find colonization with individual Turicibacter strains leads to changes in host bile acid profiles, generally aligning with those produced in vitro. Further, colonizing mice with another bacterium exogenously expressing bile-modifying genes from Turicibacter strains decreases serum cholesterol, triglycerides, and adipose tissue mass. This identifies genes that enable Turicibacter strains to modify host bile acids and lipid metabolism, and positions Turicibacter bacteria as modulators of host fat biology.
  13. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 17. 14(1): 3613
      Cannabidiol (CBD), a major non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid in cannabis, is an effective treatment for some forms of epilepsy and pain. At high concentrations, CBD interacts with a huge variety of proteins, but which targets are most relevant for clinical actions is still unclear. Here we show that CBD interacts with Nav1.7 channels at sub-micromolar concentrations in a state-dependent manner. Electrophysiological experiments show that CBD binds to the inactivated state of Nav1.7 channels with a dissociation constant of about 50 nM. The cryo-EM structure of CBD bound to Nav1.7 channels reveals two distinct binding sites. One is in the IV-I fenestration near the upper pore. The other binding site is directly next to the inactivated "wedged" position of the Ile/Phe/Met (IFM) motif on the short linker between repeats III and IV, which mediates fast inactivation. Consistent with producing a direct stabilization of the inactivated state, mutating residues in this binding site greatly reduced state-dependent binding of CBD. The identification of this binding site may enable design of compounds with improved properties compared to CBD itself.
  14. Commun Biol. 2023 06 19. 6(1): 649
      Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human metapneumovirus (HMPV) are related RNA viruses responsible for severe respiratory infections and resulting disease in infants, elderly, and immunocompromised adults1-3. Therapeutic small molecule inhibitors that bind to the RSV polymerase and inhibit viral replication are being developed, but their binding sites and molecular mechanisms of action remain largely unknown4. Here we report a conserved allosteric inhibitory site identified on the L polymerase proteins of RSV and HMPV that can be targeted by a dual-specificity, non-nucleoside inhibitor, termed MRK-1. Cryo-EM structures of the inhibitor in complexes with truncated RSV and full-length HMPV polymerase proteins provide a structural understanding of how MRK-1 is active against both viruses. Functional analyses indicate that MRK-1 inhibits conformational changes necessary for the polymerase to engage in RNA synthesis initiation and to transition into an elongation mode. Competition studies reveal that the MRK-1 binding pocket is distinct from that of a capping inhibitor with an overlapping resistance profile, suggesting that the polymerase conformation bound by MRK-1 may be distinct from that involved in mRNA capping. These findings should facilitate optimization of dual RSV and HMPV replication inhibitors and provide insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying their polymerase activities.
  15. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 20. 14(1): 3646
      Acquisition of new stem cell fates relies on the dissolution of the prior regulatory network sustaining the existing cell fates. Currently, extensive insights have been revealed for the totipotency regulatory network around the zygotic genome activation (ZGA) period. However, how the dissolution of the totipotency network is triggered to ensure the timely embryonic development following ZGA is largely unknown. In this study, we identify the unexpected role of a highly expressed 2-cell (2C) embryo specific transcription factor, ZFP352, in facilitating the dissolution of the totipotency network. We find that ZFP352 has selective binding towards two different retrotransposon sub-families. ZFP352 coordinates with DUX to bind the 2C specific MT2_Mm sub-family. On the other hand, without DUX, ZFP352 switches affinity to bind extensively onto SINE_B1/Alu sub-family. This leads to the activation of later developmental programs like ubiquitination pathways, to facilitate the dissolution of the 2C state. Correspondingly, depleting ZFP352 in mouse embryos delays the 2C to morula transition process. Thus, through a shift of binding from MT2_Mm to SINE_B1/Alu, ZFP352 can trigger spontaneous dissolution of the totipotency network. Our study highlights the importance of different retrotransposons sub-families in facilitating the timely and programmed cell fates transition during early embryogenesis.
  16. Sci Immunol. 2023 Jun 23. 8(84): eadd6910
      The paucity of blood granulocyte populations such as neutrophils in laboratory mice is a notable difference between this model organism and humans, but the cause of this species-specific difference is unclear. We previously demonstrated that laboratory mice released into a seminatural environment, referred to as rewilding, display an increase in blood granulocytes that is associated with expansion of fungi in the gut microbiota. Here, we find that tonic signals from fungal colonization induce sustained granulopoiesis through a mechanism distinct from emergency granulopoiesis, leading to a prolonged expansion of circulating neutrophils that promotes immunity. Fungal colonization after either rewilding or oral inoculation of laboratory mice with Candida albicans induced persistent expansion of myeloid progenitors in the bone marrow. This increase in granulopoiesis conferred greater long-term protection from bloodstream infection by gram-positive bacteria than by the trained immune response evoked by transient exposure to the fungal cell wall component β-glucan. Consequently, introducing fungi into laboratory mice may restore aspects of leukocyte development and provide a better model for humans and free-living mammals that are constantly exposed to environmental fungi.
  17. Mol Cell. 2023 Jun 08. pii: S1097-2765(23)00384-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      The RNA-binding ARS2 protein is centrally involved in both early RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) transcription termination and transcript decay. Despite its essential nature, the mechanisms by which ARS2 enacts these functions have remained unclear. Here, we show that a conserved basic domain of ARS2 binds a corresponding acidic-rich, short linear motif (SLiM) in the transcription restriction factor ZC3H4. This interaction recruits ZC3H4 to chromatin to elicit RNAPII termination, independent of other early termination pathways defined by the cleavage and polyadenylation (CPA) and Integrator (INT) complexes. We find that ZC3H4, in turn, forms a direct connection to the nuclear exosome targeting (NEXT) complex, hereby facilitating rapid degradation of the nascent RNA. Hence, ARS2 instructs the coupled transcription termination and degradation of the transcript onto which it is bound. This contrasts with ARS2 function at CPA-instructed termination sites where the protein exclusively partakes in RNA suppression via post-transcriptional decay.
    Keywords:  ARS2; CPA complex; INT complex; NEXT; PAXT; RNA decay; ZC3H4; early transcription termination
  18. Nat Chem Biol. 2023 Jun 22.
      Serine hydrolases have important roles in signaling and human metabolism, yet little is known about their functions in gut commensal bacteria. Using bioinformatics and chemoproteomics, we identify serine hydrolases in the gut commensal Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron that are specific to the Bacteroidetes phylum. Two are predicted homologs of the human dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (hDPP4), a key enzyme that regulates insulin signaling. Our functional studies reveal that BT4193 is a true homolog of hDPP4 that can be inhibited by FDA-approved type 2 diabetes medications targeting hDPP4, while the other is a misannotated proline-specific triaminopeptidase. We demonstrate that BT4193 is important for envelope integrity and that loss of BT4193 reduces B. thetaiotaomicron fitness during in vitro growth within a diverse community. However, neither function is dependent on BT4193 proteolytic activity, suggesting a scaffolding or signaling function for this bacterial protease.
  19. Cell Rep. 2023 Jun 18. pii: S2211-1247(23)00663-0. [Epub ahead of print]42(6): 112652
      Brain-derived transcriptomes are known to correlate with resting-state brain activity in humans. Whether this association holds in nonhuman primates remains uncertain. Here, we search for such molecular correlates by integrating 757 transcriptomes derived from 100 macaque cortical regions with resting-state activity in separate conspecifics. We observe that 150 noncoding genes explain variations in resting-state activity at a comparable level with protein-coding genes. In-depth analysis of these noncoding genes reveals that they are connected to the function of nonneuronal cells such as oligodendrocytes. Co-expression network analysis finds that the modules of noncoding genes are linked to both autism and schizophrenia risk genes. Moreover, genes associated with resting-state noncoding genes are highly enriched in human resting-state functional genes and memory-effect genes, and their links with resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signals are altered in the brains of patients with autism. Our results highlight the potential for noncoding RNAs to explain resting-state activity in the nonhuman primate brain.
    Keywords:  CP: Neuroscience; autism; non-human primate; noncoding RNA; oligodendrocyte; resting-state activity
  20. Nat Immunol. 2023 Jun 19.
      Macrophages are involved in immune defense, organogenesis and tissue homeostasis. Macrophages contribute to the different phases of mammary gland remodeling during development, pregnancy and involution postlactation. Less is known about the dynamics of mammary gland macrophages in the lactation stage. Here, we describe a macrophage population present during lactation in mice. By multiparameter flow cytometry and single-cell RNA sequencing, we identified a lactation-induced CD11c+CX3CR1+Dectin-1+ macrophage population (liMac) that was distinct from the two resident F4/80hi and F4/80lo macrophage subsets present pregestationally. LiMacs were predominantly monocyte-derived and expanded by proliferation in situ concomitant with nursing. LiMacs developed independently of IL-34, but required CSF-1 signaling and were partly microbiota-dependent. Locally, they resided adjacent to the basal cells of the alveoli and extravasated into the milk. We found several macrophage subsets in human milk that resembled liMacs. Collectively, these findings reveal the emergence of unique macrophages in the mammary gland and milk during lactation.
  21. Nat Metab. 2023 Jun 19.
      Adipocyte function is a major determinant of metabolic disease, warranting investigations of regulating mechanisms. We show at single-cell resolution that progenitor cells from four human brown and white adipose depots separate into two main cell fates, an adipogenic and a structural branch, developing from a common progenitor. The adipogenic gene signature contains mitochondrial activity genes, and associates with genome-wide association study traits for fat distribution. Based on an extracellular matrix and developmental gene signature, we name the structural branch of cells structural Wnt-regulated adipose tissue-resident (SWAT) cells. When stripped from adipogenic cells, SWAT cells display a multipotent phenotype by reverting towards progenitor state or differentiating into new adipogenic cells, dependent on media. Label transfer algorithms recapitulate the cell types in human adipose tissue datasets. In conclusion, we provide a differentiation map of human adipocytes and define the multipotent SWAT cell, providing a new perspective on adipose tissue regulation.
  22. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 23. 14(1): 3763
      Altered protein phosphorylation in cancer cells often leads to surface presentation of phosphopeptide neoantigens. However, their role in cancer immunogenicity remains unclear. Here we describe a mechanism by which an HLA-B*0702-specific acute myeloid leukemia phosphoneoantigen, pMLL747-755 (EPR(pS)PSHSM), is recognized by a cognate T cell receptor named TCR27, a candidate for cancer immunotherapy. We show that the replacement of phosphoserine P4 with serine or phosphomimetics does not affect pMHC conformation or peptide-MHC affinity but abrogates TCR27-dependent T cell activation and weakens binding between TCR27 and pMHC. Here we describe the crystal structures for TCR27 and cognate pMHC, map of the interface produced by nuclear magnetic resonance, and a ternary complex generated using information-driven protein docking. Our data show that non-covalent interactions between the epitope phosphate group and TCR27 are crucial for TCR specificity. This study supports development of new treatment options for cancer patients through target expansion and TCR optimization.
  23. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 20. 14(1): 3660
      Due to postmortem DNA degradation and microbial colonization, most ancient genomes have low depth of coverage, hindering genotype calling. Genotype imputation can improve genotyping accuracy for low-coverage genomes. However, it is unknown how accurate ancient DNA imputation is and whether imputation introduces bias to downstream analyses. Here we re-sequence an ancient trio (mother, father, son) and downsample and impute a total of 43 ancient genomes, including 42 high-coverage (above 10x) genomes. We assess imputation accuracy across ancestries, time, depth of coverage, and sequencing technology. We find that ancient and modern DNA imputation accuracies are comparable. When downsampled at 1x, 36 of the 42 genomes are imputed with low error rates (below 5%) while African genomes have higher error rates. We validate imputation and phasing results using the ancient trio data and an orthogonal approach based on Mendel's rules of inheritance. We further compare the downstream analysis results between imputed and high-coverage genomes, notably principal component analysis, genetic clustering, and runs of homozygosity, observing similar results starting from 0.5x coverage, except for the African genomes. These results suggest that, for most populations and depths of coverage as low as 0.5x, imputation is a reliable method that can improve ancient DNA studies.
  24. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 22. 14(1): 3708
      We describe the first cases of germline biallelic null mutations in ARPC5, part of the Arp2/3 actin nucleator complex, in two unrelated patients presenting with recurrent and severe infections, early-onset autoimmunity, inflammation, and dysmorphisms. This defect compromises multiple cell lineages and functions, and when protein expression is reestablished in-vitro, the Arp2/3 complex conformation and functions are rescued. As part of the pathophysiological evaluation, we also show that interleukin (IL)-6 signaling is distinctively impacted in this syndrome. Disruption of IL-6 classical but not trans-signaling highlights their differential roles in the disease and offers perspectives for therapeutic molecular targets.
  25. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 22. 14(1): 3702
      The Wnt enhanceosome is responsible for transactivation of Wnt-responsive genes and a promising therapeutic target for treatment of numerous cancers with Adenomatous Polyposis Coli (APC) or β-catenin mutations. How the Wnt enhanceosome is assembled remains poorly understood. Here we show that B-cell lymphoma 9 protein (BCL9), Pygopus (Pygo), LIM domain-binding protein 1 (LDB1) and single-stranded DNA-binding protein (SSBP) form a stable core complex within the Wnt enhanceosome. Their mutual interactions rely on a highly conserved N-terminal asparagine proline phenylalanine (NPF) motif of Pygo, through which the BCL9-Pygo complex binds to the LDB-SSBP core complex. Our crystal structure of a ternary complex comprising the N-terminus of human Pygo2, LDB1 and SSBP2 reveals a single LDB1-SSBP2 complex binding simultaneously to two Pygo2 molecules via their NPF motifs. These interactions critically depend on the NPF motifs which bind to a deep groove formed between LDB1 and SSBP2, potentially constituting a binding site for drugs blocking Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Analysis of human cell lines lacking LDB or Pygo supports the functional relevance of the Pygo-LDB1-SSBP2 interaction for Wnt/β-catenin-dependent transcription.
  26. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 20. 14(1): 3648
      Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) is a transcription factor responsible for mounting an anti-oxidation gene expression program to counter oxidative stress. Under unstressed conditions, Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1), an adaptor protein for CUL3 E3 ubiquitin ligase, mediates NRF2 ubiquitination and degradation. We show here that the deubiquitinase USP25 directly binds to KEAP1 and prevents KEAP1's own ubiquitination and degradation. In the absence of Usp25 or if the DUB is inhibited, KEAP1 is downregulated and NRF2 is stabilized, allowing the cells to respond to oxidative stress more readily. In acetaminophen (APAP) overdose-induced oxidative liver damage in male mice, the inactivation of Usp25, either genetically or pharmacologically, greatly attenuates liver injury and reduces the mortality rates resulted from lethal doses of APAP.
  27. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 20. 14(1): 3651
      Astrocyte dysfunction has previously been linked to multiple neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson's disease (PD). Among their many roles, astrocytes are mediators of the brain immune response, and astrocyte reactivity is a pathological feature of PD. They are also involved in the formation and maintenance of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), but barrier integrity is compromised in people with PD. This study focuses on an unexplored area of PD pathogenesis by characterizing the interplay between astrocytes, inflammation and BBB integrity, and by combining patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells with microfluidic technologies to generate a 3D human BBB chip. Here we report that astrocytes derived from female donors harboring the PD-related LRRK2 G2019S mutation are pro-inflammatory and fail to support the formation of a functional capillary in vitro. We show that inhibition of MEK1/2 signaling attenuates the inflammatory profile of mutant astrocytes and rescues BBB formation, providing insights into mechanisms regulating barrier integrity in PD. Lastly, we confirm that vascular changes are also observed in the human postmortem substantia nigra of both males and females with PD.
  28. Nat Metab. 2023 Jun 19.
      Mesenchymal stem/progenitor cells are essential for tissue development and repair throughout life, but how they are maintained under chronic differentiation pressure is not known. Using single-cell transcriptomics of human progenitor cells we find that adipose differentiation stimuli elicit two cellular trajectories: one toward mature adipocytes and another toward a pool of non-differentiated cells that maintain progenitor characteristics. These cells are induced by transient Wnt pathway activation and express numerous extracellular matrix genes and are therefore named structural Wnt-regulated adipose tissue cells. We find that the genetic signature of structural Wnt-regulated adipose tissue cells is present in adult human adipose tissue and adipose tissue developed from human progenitor cells in mice. Our results suggest a mechanism whereby adipose differentiation occurs concurrently with the maintenance of a mesenchymal progenitor cell pool, ensuring tissue development, repair and appropriate metabolic control over the lifetime.
  29. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 20. 14(1): 3654
      CRISPR-Cas effector complexes enable the defense against foreign nucleic acids and have recently been exploited as molecular tools for precise genome editing at a target locus. To bind and cleave their target, the CRISPR-Cas effectors have to interrogate the entire genome for the presence of a matching sequence. Here we dissect the target search and recognition process of the Type I CRISPR-Cas complex Cascade by simultaneously monitoring DNA binding and R-loop formation by the complex. We directly quantify the effect of DNA supercoiling on the target recognition probability and demonstrate that Cascade uses facilitated diffusion for its target search. We show that target search and target recognition are tightly linked and that DNA supercoiling and limited 1D diffusion need to be considered when understanding target recognition and target search by CRISPR-Cas enzymes and engineering more efficient and precise variants.
  30. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 20. 14(1): 3668
      Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by decreased bone mineral density (BMD) and reduced bone strength, leading to an increased risk of fractures. Here, to identify novel risk variants for susceptibility to osteoporosis-related traits, an exome-wide association study is performed with 6,485 exonic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 2,666 women of two Korean study cohorts. The rs2781 SNP in UBAP2 gene is suggestively associated with osteoporosis and BMD with p-values of 6.1 × 10-7 (odds ratio = 1.72) and 1.1 × 10-7 in the case-control and quantitative analyzes, respectively. Knockdown of Ubap2 in mouse cells decreases osteoblastogenesis and increases osteoclastogenesis, and knockdown of ubap2 in zebrafish reveals abnormal bone formation. Ubap2 expression is associated with E-cadherin (Cdh1) and Fra1 (Fosl1) expression in the osteclastogenesis-induced monocytes. UBAP2 mRNA levels are significantly reduced in bone marrow, but increased in peripheral blood, from women with osteoporosis compared to controls. UBAP2 protein level is correlated with the blood plasma level of the representative osteoporosis biomarker osteocalcin. These results suggest that UBAP2 has a critical role in bone homeostasis through the regulation of bone remodeling.
  31. J Immunol. 2023 Jun 21. pii: ji2200851. [Epub ahead of print]
      CMV can elicit adaptive immune features in both mouse and human NK cells. Mouse Ly49H+ NK cells expand 100- to 1000-fold in response to mouse CMV infection and persist for months after exposure. Human NKG2C+ NK cells also expand after human CMV (HCMV) infection and persist for months. The clonal expansion of adaptive NK cells is likely an energy-intensive process, and the metabolic requirements that support adaptive NK cell expansion and persistence remain largely uncharacterized. We previously reported that NK cells from HCMV-seropositive donors had increased maximum capacity for both glycolysis and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation relative to NK cells from HCMV-seronegative donors. In this article, we report an extension of this work in which we analyzed the metabolomes of NK cells from HCMV-seropositive donors with NKG2C+ expansions and NK cells from HCMV seronegative donors without such expansions. NK cells from HCMV+ donors exhibited striking elevations in purine and pyrimidine deoxyribonucleotides, along with moderate increases in plasma membrane components. Mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a serine/threonine protein kinase that, as a part of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), bridges nutrient signaling to metabolic processes necessary for cell growth. Signaling through mTORC1 induces both nucleotide and lipid synthesis. We observed elevated mTORC1 signaling on activation in both NKG2C- and NKG2C+ NK cells from HCMV+ donors relative to those from HCMV- donors, demonstrating a correlation between higher mTORC1 activity and synthesis of key metabolites for cell growth and division.
  32. Nat Microbiol. 2023 Jun 22.
      Herpes simplex encephalitis is a life-threatening disease of the central nervous system caused by herpes simplex viruses (HSVs). Following standard of care with antiviral acyclovir treatment, most patients still experience various neurological sequelae. Here we characterize HSV-1 infection of human brain organoids by combining single-cell RNA sequencing, electrophysiology and immunostaining. We observed strong perturbations of tissue integrity, neuronal function and cellular transcriptomes. Under acyclovir treatment viral replication was stopped, but did not prevent HSV-1-driven defects such as damage of neuronal processes and neuroepithelium. Unbiased analysis of pathways deregulated upon infection revealed tumour necrosis factor activation as a potential causal factor. Combination of anti-inflammatory drugs such as necrostatin-1 or bardoxolone methyl with antiviral treatment prevented the damages caused by infection, indicating that tuning the inflammatory response in acute infection may improve current therapeutic strategies.
  33. J Hepatol. 2023 Jun 20. pii: S0168-8278(23)00422-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND & AIMS: Glycoprotein A repetitions predominant (GARP) is a membrane protein that functions as a latent TGF-β docking molecule. While the immune regulatory properties of GARP on blood cells have been studied, the function of GARP on tissue stromal cells remains unclear. Here, we investigate the role of GARP expressed on hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) in the development of liver fibrosis.METHODS: The function of GARP on HSCs was explored in toxin-induced and metabolic liver fibrosis models, using conditional GARP-deficient mice or a newly generated inducible system for HSC-specific gene ablation. Primary mouse and human HSCs were isolated to evaluate the contribution of GARP to the activation of latent TGF-β. Moreover, cell contraction of HSCs in the context of TGF-β activation was tested in a GARP-dependent fashion.
    RESULTS: Mice lacking GARP in HSCs were protected from developing liver fibrosis. Therapeutically deleting GARP on HSCs alleviated the fibrotic process in established disease. Furthermore, NKT cells exacerbated hepatic fibrosis by inducing GARP expression on HSCs through IL-4 production. Mechanistically, GARP facilitated fibrogenesis by activating TGF-β and enhancing endothelin-1 (ET-1)-mediated HSC contraction. Functional GARP was expressed on human HSCs and significantly upregulated in the liver of fibrosis patients. Lastly, deletion of GARP on HSCs did not augment inflammation or liver damage.
    CONCLUSIONS: GARP expressed on HSCs drives the development of liver fibrosis via cell contraction-mediated activation of latent TGF-β. Considering that systemic blockade of TGF-β has major side effects, we highlight a therapeutic niche provided by GARP and surface-mediated TGF-β activation. Thus, our findings suggest an important role of GARP on HSCs as a promising target for the treatment of liver fibrosis.
    IMPACT AND IMPLICATIONS: Liver fibrosis represents a substantial and increasing public health burden globally, and specific treatments are not available. Here, we show that the protein GARP expressed on hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) drives the development of liver fibrosis. Our findings suggest GARP as a novel target for future therapies of fibrotic disease.
    Keywords:  GARP; TGF-β; endothelin-1 (ET-1); hepatic stellate cells (HSCs); liver fibrosis; natural killer T (NKT) cells
  34. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 22. 14(1): 3725
      Sphingolipids are ubiquitous components of membranes and function as bioactive lipid signaling molecules. Here, through genetic screening and lipidomics analyses, we find that the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) calcium channel Csg2 integrates sphingolipid metabolism with autophagy by regulating ER calcium homeostasis in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Csg2 functions as a calcium release channel and maintains calcium homeostasis in the ER, which enables normal functioning of the essential sphingolipid synthase Aur1. Under starvation conditions, deletion of Csg2 causes increases in calcium levels in the ER and then disturbs Aur1 stability, leading to accumulation of the bioactive sphingolipid phytosphingosine, which specifically and completely blocks autophagy and induces loss of starvation resistance in cells. Our findings indicate that calcium homeostasis in the ER mediated by the channel Csg2 translates sphingolipid metabolism into autophagy regulation, further supporting the role of the ER as a signaling hub for calcium homeostasis, sphingolipid metabolism and autophagy.
  35. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 21. 14(1): 3697
      The eukaryotic polymerase α (Pol α) synthesizes an RNA-DNA hybrid primer of 20-30 nucleotides. Pol α is composed of Pol1, Pol12, Primase 1 (Pri1), and Pri2. Pol1 and Pri1 contain the DNA polymerase and RNA primase activities, respectively. It has been unclear how Pol α hands over an RNA primer from Pri1 to Pol1 for DNA primer extension, and how the primer length is defined. Here we report the cryo-EM analysis of yeast Pol α in the apo, primer initiation, primer elongation, RNA primer hand-off from Pri1 to Pol1, and DNA extension states, revealing a series of very large movements. We reveal a critical point at which Pol1-core moves to take over the 3'-end of the RNA from Pri1. DNA extension is limited by a spiral motion of Pol1-core. Since both Pri1 and Pol1-core are flexibly attached to a stable platform, primer growth produces stress that limits the primer length.
  36. Mol Cell. 2023 Jun 13. pii: S1097-2765(23)00420-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Type IV CRISPR-Cas systems, which are primarily found on plasmids and exhibit a strong plasmid-targeting preference, are the only one of the six known CRISPR-Cas types for which the mechanistic details of their function remain unknown. Here, we provide high-resolution functional snapshots of type IV-A Csf complexes before and after target dsDNA binding, either in the absence or presence of CasDinG, revealing the mechanisms underlying CsfcrRNA complex assembly, "DWN" PAM-dependent dsDNA targeting, R-loop formation, and CasDinG recruitment. Furthermore, we establish that CasDinG, a signature DinG family helicase, harbors ssDNA-stimulated ATPase activity and ATP-dependent 5'-3' DNA helicase activity. In addition, we show that CasDinG unwinds the non-target strand (NTS) and target strand (TS) of target dsDNA from the CsfcrRNA complex. These molecular details advance our mechanistic understanding of type IV-A CRISPR-Csf function and should enable Csf complexes to be harnessed as genome-engineering tools for biotechnological applications.
    Keywords:  CRISPR; CasDinG recruitment; PAM recognition; R-loop formation; bacterial defense systems; crRNA maturation; dsDNA targeting; genome engineering; helicase activity; type IV-A CRISPR-Csf system
  37. Cell Rep. 2023 Jun 19. pii: S2211-1247(23)00668-X. [Epub ahead of print]42(6): 112657
      Interleukin-21 (IL-21) plays a critical role in generating immunological memory by promoting the germinal center reaction, yet clinical use of IL-21 remains challenging because of its pleiotropy and association with autoimmune disease. To better understand the structural basis of IL-21 signaling, we determine the structure of the IL-21-IL-21R-γc ternary signaling complex by X-ray crystallography and a structure of a dimer of trimeric complexes using cryo-electron microscopy. Guided by the structure, we design analogs of IL-21 by introducing substitutions to the IL-21-γc interface. These IL-21 analogs act as partial agonists that modulate downstream activation of pS6, pSTAT3, and pSTAT1. These analogs exhibit differential activity on T and B cell subsets and modulate antibody production in human tonsil organoids. These results clarify the structural basis of IL-21 signaling and offer a potential strategy for tunable manipulation of humoral immunity.
    Keywords:  CP: Immunology; CP: Molecular biology; IL-21; cytokine; germinal center; humoral immunity; immunology; receptor; signaling; signaling complex; structural biology; vaccination
  38. Nat Genet. 2023 Jun 19.
    CHIMGEN Consortium
      The hippocampus is critical for memory and cognition and neuropsychiatric disorders, and its subfields differ in architecture and function. Genome-wide association studies on hippocampal and subfield volumes are mainly conducted in European populations; however, other ancestral populations are under-represented. Here we conduct cross-ancestry genome-wide association meta-analyses in 65,791 individuals for hippocampal volume and 38,977 for subfield volumes, including 7,009 individuals of East Asian ancestry. We identify 339 variant-trait associations at P < 1.13 × 10-9 for 44 hippocampal traits, including 23 new associations. Common genetic variants have similar effects on hippocampal traits across ancestries, although ancestry-specific associations exist. Cross-ancestry analysis improves the fine-mapping precision and the prediction performance of polygenic scores in under-represented populations. These genetic variants are enriched for Wnt signaling and neuron differentiation and affect cognition, emotion and neuropsychiatric disorders. These findings may provide insight into the genetic architectures of hippocampal and subfield volumes.
  39. Sci Adv. 2023 Jun 23. 9(25): eadf4683
      Skeletal shape depends on the transmission of contractile muscle forces from tendon to bone across the enthesis. Loss of muscle loading impairs enthesis development, yet little is known if and how the postnatal enthesis adapts to increased loading. Here, we studied adaptations in enthesis structure and function in response to increased loading, using optogenetically induced muscle contraction in young (i.e., growth) and adult (i.e., mature) mice. Daily bouts of unilateral optogenetic loading in young mice led to radial calcaneal expansion and warping. This also led to a weaker enthesis with increased collagen damage in young tendon and enthisis, with little change in adult mice. We then used RNA sequencing to identify the pathways associated with increased mechanical loading during growth. In tendon, we found enrichment of glycolysis, focal adhesion, and cell-matrix interactions. In bone, we found enrichment of inflammation and cell cycle. Together, we demonstrate the utility of optogenetic-induced muscle contraction to elicit in vivo adaptation of the enthesis.
  40. Cell Rep. 2023 Jun 16. pii: S2211-1247(23)00660-5. [Epub ahead of print]42(6): 112649
      During chronic viral infection and cancer, it has been established that a subset of progenitor CD8+ T cells continuously gives rise to terminally exhausted cells and cytotoxic effector cells. Although multiple transcriptional programs governing the bifurcated differentiation trajectories have been previously studied, little is known about the chromatin structure changes regulating CD8+ T cell-fate decision. In this study, we demonstrate that the chromatin remodeling complex PBAF restrains expansion and promotes exhaustion of CD8+ T cells during chronic viral infection and cancer. Mechanistically, transcriptomic and epigenomic analyses reveal the role of PBAF in maintaining chromatin accessibility of multiple genetic pathways and transcriptional programs to restrain proliferation and promote T cell exhaustion. Harnessing this knowledge, we demonstrate that perturbation of PBAF complex constrained exhaustion and promoted expansion of tumor-specific CD8+ T cells resulting in antitumor immunity in a preclinical melanoma model, implicating PBAF as an attractive target for cancer immunotherapeutic.
    Keywords:  CD8(+) T cell differentiation; CP: Immunology; PBAF; SWI/SNF; epigenetics; exhaustion; immunotherapy
  41. Commun Biol. 2023 Jun 22. 6(1): 661
      A key feature of the fetal period is the rapid emergence of organised patterns of spontaneous brain activity. However, characterising this process in utero using functional MRI is inherently challenging and requires analytical methods which can capture the constituent developmental transformations. Here, we introduce a novel analytical framework, termed "maturational networks" (matnets), that achieves this by modelling functional networks as an emerging property of the developing brain. Compared to standard network analysis methods that assume consistent patterns of connectivity across development, our method incorporates age-related changes in connectivity directly into network estimation. We test its performance in a large neonatal sample, finding that the matnets approach characterises adult-like features of functional network architecture with a greater specificity than a standard group-ICA approach; for example, our approach is able to identify a nearly complete default mode network. In the in-utero brain, matnets enables us to reveal the richness of emerging functional connections and the hierarchy of their maturational relationships with remarkable anatomical specificity. We show that the associative areas play a central role within prenatal functional architecture, therefore indicating that functional connections of high-level associative areas start emerging prior to exposure to the extra-utero environment.
  42. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 23. 14(1): 3760
      Cellular membrane area is a key parameter for any living cell that is tightly regulated to avoid membrane damage. Changes in area-to-volume ratio are known to be critical for cell shape, but are mostly investigated by changing the cell volume via osmotic shocks. In turn, many important questions relating to cellular shape, membrane tension homeostasis and local membrane area cannot be easily addressed because experimental tools for controlled modulation of cell membrane area are lacking. Here we show that photoswitching an amphiphilic azobenzene can trigger its intercalation into the plasma membrane of various mammalian cells ranging from erythrocytes to myoblasts and cancer cells. The photoisomerization leads to a rapid (250-500 ms) and highly reversible membrane area change (ca 2 % for erythrocytes) that triggers a dramatic shape modulation of living cells.