bims-nimamd Biomed News
on Neuroimmunity and neuroinflammation in ageing and metabolic disease
Issue of 2023‒12‒24
sixty-one papers selected by
Fawaz Alzaïd, Sorbonne Université

  1. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 18. 14(1): 8405
      Precise coupling between cellular physiology and metabolism is emerging as a vital relationship underpinning tissue health and longevity. Nevertheless, functional-metabolic coupling within heterogenous microenvironments in vivo remains poorly understood due to tissue complexity and metabolic plasticity. Here, we establish the Drosophila renal system as a paradigm for linking mechanistic analysis of metabolism, at single-cell resolution, to organ-wide physiology. Kidneys are amongst the most energetically-demanding organs, yet exactly how individual cell types fine-tune metabolism to meet their diverse, unique physiologies over the life-course remains unclear. Integrating live-imaging of metabolite and organelle dynamics with spatio-temporal genetic perturbation within intact functional tissue, we uncover distinct cellular metabolic signatures essential to support renal physiology and healthy ageing. Cell type-specific programming of glucose handling, PPP-mediated glutathione regeneration and FA β-oxidation via dynamic lipid-peroxisomal networks, downstream of differential ERR receptor activity, precisely match cellular energetic demands whilst limiting damage and premature senescence; however, their dramatic dysregulation may underlie age-related renal dysfunction.
  2. Science. 2023 Dec 22. 382(6677): 1430
  3. Sci Immunol. 2023 Dec 15. 8(90): eabo5558
      Regulatory T (Treg) cells contribute to immune homeostasis but suppress immune responses to cancer. Strategies to disrupt Treg cell-mediated cancer immunosuppression have been met with limited clinical success, but the underlying mechanisms for treatment failure are poorly understood. By modeling Treg cell-targeted immunotherapy in mice, we find that CD4+ Foxp3- conventional T (Tconv) cells acquire suppressive function upon depletion of Foxp3+ Treg cells, limiting therapeutic efficacy. Foxp3- Tconv cells within tumors adopt a Treg cell-like transcriptional profile upon ablation of Treg cells and acquire the ability to suppress T cell activation and proliferation ex vivo. Suppressive activity is enriched among CD4+ Tconv cells marked by expression of C-C motif receptor 8 (CCR8), which are found in mouse and human tumors. Upon Treg cell depletion, CCR8+ Tconv cells undergo systemic and intratumoral activation and expansion, and mediate IL-10-dependent suppression of antitumor immunity. Consequently, conditional deletion of Il10 within T cells augments antitumor immunity upon Treg cell depletion in mice, and antibody blockade of IL-10 signaling synergizes with Treg cell depletion to overcome treatment resistance. These findings reveal a secondary layer of immunosuppression by Tconv cells released upon therapeutic Treg cell depletion and suggest that broader consideration of suppressive function within the T cell lineage is required for development of effective Treg cell-targeted therapies.
  4. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 20. 14(1): 8463
      Brain endothelial LDL receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1) is involved in the clearance of Aβ peptides across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Here we show that endothelial deficiency of ankyrin repeat and SAM domain containing 1 A (ANKS1A) reduces both the cell surface levels of LRP1 and the Aβ clearance across the BBB. Association of ANKS1A with the NPXY motifs of LRP1 facilitates the transport of LRP1 from the endoplasmic reticulum toward the cell surface. ANKS1A deficiency in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model results in exacerbated Aβ pathology followed by cognitive impairments. These deficits are reversible by gene therapy with brain endothelial-specific ANKS1A. In addition, human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived BBBs (iBBBs) were generated from endothelial cells lacking ANKS1A or carrying the rs6930932 variant. Those iBBBs exhibit both reduced cell surface LRP1 and impaired Aβ clearance. Thus, our findings demonstrate that ANKS1A regulates LRP1-mediated Aβ clearance across the BBB.
  5. Nature. 2024 Jan;625(7993): 35-36
    Keywords:  Cell biology; Immunology; Physiology
  6. Cell Metab. 2023 Dec 08. pii: S1550-4131(23)00421-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Common genetic variants in glucokinase regulator (GCKR), which encodes GKRP, a regulator of hepatic glucokinase (GCK), influence multiple metabolic traits in genome-wide association studies (GWASs), making GCKR one of the most pleiotropic GWAS loci in the genome. It is unclear why. Prior work has demonstrated that GCKR influences the hepatic cytosolic NADH/NAD+ ratio, also referred to as reductive stress. Here, we demonstrate that reductive stress is sufficient to activate the transcription factor ChREBP and necessary for its activation by the GKRP-GCK interaction, glucose, and ethanol. We show that hepatic reductive stress induces GCKR GWAS traits such as increased hepatic fat, circulating FGF21, and circulating acylglycerol species, which are also influenced by ChREBP. We define the transcriptional signature of hepatic reductive stress and show its upregulation in fatty liver disease and downregulation after bariatric surgery in humans. These findings highlight how a GCKR-reductive stress-ChREBP axis influences multiple human metabolic traits.
    Keywords:  ChREBP; FGF21; GCK; GCKR; MLIXPL; NAD(+); NADH; fatty liver disease; gastric bypass surgery; metabolism; reductive stress; trigylcerides
  7. Sci Adv. 2023 Dec 22. 9(51): eadj1397
      Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) not only counteract bacterial and fungal pathogens but can also promote thrombosis, autoimmunity, and sterile inflammation. The presence of citrullinated histones, generated by the peptidylarginine deiminase 4 (PAD4), is synonymous with NETosis and is considered independent of apoptosis. Mitochondrial- and death receptor-mediated apoptosis promote gasdermin E (GSDME)-dependent calcium mobilization and membrane permeabilization leading to histone H3 citrullination (H3Cit), nuclear DNA extrusion, and cytoplast formation. H3Cit is concentrated at the promoter in bone marrow neutrophils and redistributes in a coordinated process from promoter to intergenic and intronic regions during apoptosis. Loss of GSDME prevents nuclear and plasma membrane disruption of apoptotic neutrophils but prolongs early apoptosis-induced cellular changes to the chromatin and cytoplasmic granules. Apoptotic signaling engages PAD4 in neutrophils, establishing a cellular state that is primed for NETosis, but that occurs only upon membrane disruption by GSDME, thereby redefining the end of life for neutrophils.
  8. Sci Immunol. 2023 Dec 22. 8(90): eadf4699
      Immune cells sense the microenvironment to fine-tune their inflammatory responses. Patients with cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome (CAPS), caused by mutations in the NLRP3 gene, develop autoinflammation triggered by nonantigenic cues such as from the environment. However, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we uncover that KCNN4, a calcium-activated potassium channel, links PIEZO-mediated mechanotransduction to NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Yoda1, a PIEZO1 agonist, lowered the threshold for NLRP3 inflammasome activation. PIEZO-mediated sensing of stiffness and shear stress increased NLRP3-dependent inflammation. Myeloid-specific deletion of PIEZO1/2 protected mice from gouty arthritis. Mechanistically, activation of PIEZO1 triggers calcium influx, which activates KCNN4 to evoke potassium efflux and promotes NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Activation of PIEZO signaling was sufficient to activate the inflammasome in cells expressing CAPS-causing NLRP3 mutants via KCNN4. Last, pharmacological inhibition of KCNN4 alleviated autoinflammation in cells of patients with CAPS and in mice bearing a CAPS mutation. Thus, PIEZO-dependent mechanical inputs boost inflammation in NLRP3-dependent diseases, including CAPS.
  9. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 20. 14(1): 8474
      Hepatic steatosis is the result of imbalanced nutrient delivery and metabolism in the liver and is the first hallmark of Metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD). MASLD is the most common chronic liver disease and involves the accumulation of excess lipids in hepatocytes, inflammation, and cancer. Mitochondria play central roles in liver metabolism yet the specific mitochondrial functions causally linked to MASLD remain unclear. Here, we identify Mitochondrial Fission Process 1 protein (MTFP1) as a key regulator of mitochondrial and metabolic activity in the liver. Deletion of Mtfp1 in hepatocytes is physiologically benign in mice yet leads to the upregulation of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) activity and mitochondrial respiration, independently of mitochondrial biogenesis. Consequently, liver-specific knockout mice are protected against high fat diet-induced steatosis and metabolic dysregulation. Additionally, Mtfp1 deletion inhibits mitochondrial permeability transition pore opening in hepatocytes, conferring protection against apoptotic liver damage in vivo and ex vivo. Our work uncovers additional functions of MTFP1 in the liver, positioning this gene as an unexpected regulator of OXPHOS and a therapeutic candidate for MASLD.
  10. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 20. 14(1): 8484
      The naked mole rat (NMR), Heterocephalus glaber, the longest-living rodent, provides a unique opportunity to explore how evolution has shaped adult stem cell (ASC) activity and tissue function with increasing lifespan. Using cumulative BrdU labelling and a quantitative imaging approach to track intestinal ASCs (Lgr5+) in their native in vivo state, we find an expanded pool of Lgr5+ cells in NMRs, and these cells specifically at the crypt base (Lgr5+CBC) exhibit slower division rates compared to those in short-lived mice but have a similar turnover as human LGR5+CBC cells. Instead of entering quiescence (G0), NMR Lgr5+CBC cells reduce their division rates by prolonging arrest in the G1 and/or G2 phases of the cell cycle. Moreover, we also observe a higher proportion of differentiated cells in NMRs that confer enhanced protection and function to the intestinal mucosa which is able to detect any chemical imbalance in the luminal environment efficiently, triggering a robust pro-apoptotic, anti-proliferative response within the stem/progenitor cell zone.
  11. Science. 2023 Dec 22. 382(6677): 1357-1358
      Advancing drug discovery requires increasingly integrative structural biology approaches.
  12. Nat Genet. 2023 Dec 20.
      Long DNA segments shared between two individuals, known as identity-by-descent (IBD), reveal recent genealogical connections. Here we introduce ancIBD, a method for identifying IBD segments in ancient human DNA (aDNA) using a hidden Markov model and imputed genotype probabilities. We demonstrate that ancIBD accurately identifies IBD segments >8 cM for aDNA data with an average depth of >0.25× for whole-genome sequencing or >1× for 1240k single nucleotide polymorphism capture data. Applying ancIBD to 4,248 ancient Eurasian individuals, we identify relatives up to the sixth degree and genealogical connections between archaeological groups. Notably, we reveal long IBD sharing between Corded Ware and Yamnaya groups, indicating that the Yamnaya herders of the Pontic-Caspian Steppe and the Steppe-related ancestry in various European Corded Ware groups share substantial co-ancestry within only a few hundred years. These results show that detecting IBD segments can generate powerful insights into the growing aDNA record, both on a small scale relevant to life stories and on a large scale relevant to major cultural-historical events.
  13. Sci Adv. 2023 Dec 22. 9(51): eadm8715
      After apoptotic cell death begins neutrophils initiate NETosis, a second cell death program.
  14. Cell. 2023 Dec 21. pii: S0092-8674(23)01312-0. [Epub ahead of print]186(26): 5876-5891.e20
      Harmonizing cell types across the single-cell community and assembling them into a common framework is central to building a standardized Human Cell Atlas. Here, we present CellHint, a predictive clustering tree-based tool to resolve cell-type differences in annotation resolution and technical biases across datasets. CellHint accurately quantifies cell-cell transcriptomic similarities and places cell types into a relationship graph that hierarchically defines shared and unique cell subtypes. Application to multiple immune datasets recapitulates expert-curated annotations. CellHint also reveals underexplored relationships between healthy and diseased lung cell states in eight diseases. Furthermore, we present a workflow for fast cross-dataset integration guided by harmonized cell types and cell hierarchy, which uncovers underappreciated cell types in adult human hippocampus. Finally, we apply CellHint to 12 tissues from 38 datasets, providing a deeply curated cross-tissue database with ∼3.7 million cells and various machine learning models for automatic cell annotation across human tissues.
    Keywords:  Human Cell Atlas; cell hierarchy; cell-type harmonization; data integration; harmonization graph; machine learning; organ atlas; predictive clustering tree; single cell
  15. Mol Metab. 2023 Dec 19. pii: S2212-8778(23)00189-8. [Epub ahead of print] 101855
      OBJECTIVE: Retinol saturase (RetSat) is an endoplasmic reticulum-localized oxidoreductase highly expressed in organs involved in lipid metabolism such as white (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT). Cold exposure was shown to increase RETSAT protein in BAT but its relevance for non-shivering thermogenesis, a process with beneficial effects on metabolic health, is unknown.METHODS: We analyzed the regulation of RetSat expression in white and brown adipocytes and different murine adipose tissue depots upon β-adrenergic stimulation and cold exposure. RetSat function during the differentiation and β-adrenergic stimulation of brown adipocytes was dissected by loss-of-function experiments. Mice with BAT-specific deletion of RetSat were generated and exposed to cold. Gene expression in human WAT was analyzed and the effect of RetSat depletion on adipocyte lipolysis investigated.
    RESULTS: We show that cold exposure induces RetSat expression in both WAT and BAT of mice via β-adrenergic signaling. In brown adipocytes, RetSat has minor effects on differentiation but is required for maximal thermogenic gene and protein expression upon β-adrenergic stimulation and mitochondrial respiration. In mice, BAT-specific deletion of RetSat impaired acute but not long-term adaptation to cold exposure. RetSat expression in subcutaneous WAT of humans correlates with the expression of genes related to mitochondrial function. Mechanistically, we found that RetSat depletion impaired β-agonist-induced lipolysis, a major regulator of thermogenic gene expression in adipocytes.
    CONCLUSIONS: Thus, RetSat expression is under β-adrenergic control and determines thermogenic capacity of brown adipocytes and acute cold tolerance in mice. Modulating RetSat activity may allow for therapeutic interventions towards pathologies with inadequate metabolic activity.
    Keywords:  adipose tissue; lipolysis; mitochondria; retinol saturase; thermogenesis; β-adrenergic signaling
  16. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 15. 14(1): 8364
      Selective autophagy of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), known as ER-phagy, is an important regulator of ER remodeling and essential to maintain cellular homeostasis during environmental changes. We recently showed that members of the FAM134 family play a critical role during stress-induced ER-phagy. However, the mechanisms on how they are activated remain largely unknown. In this study, we analyze phosphorylation of FAM134 as a trigger of FAM134-driven ER-phagy upon mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) inhibition. An unbiased screen of kinase inhibitors reveals CK2 to be essential for FAM134B- and FAM134C-driven ER-phagy after mTOR inhibition. Furthermore, we provide evidence that ER-phagy receptors are regulated by ubiquitination events and that treatment with E1 inhibitor suppresses Torin1-induced ER-phagy flux. Using super-resolution microscopy, we show that CK2 activity is essential for the formation of high-density FAM134B and FAM134C clusters. In addition, dense clustering of FAM134B and FAM134C requires phosphorylation-dependent ubiquitination of FAM134B and FAM134C. Treatment with the CK2 inhibitor SGC-CK2-1 or mutation of FAM134B and FAM134C phosphosites prevents ubiquitination of FAM134 proteins, formation of high-density clusters, as well as Torin1-induced ER-phagy flux. Therefore, we propose that CK2-dependent phosphorylation of ER-phagy receptors precedes ubiquitin-dependent activation of ER-phagy flux.
  17. Nat Immunol. 2023 Dec 15.
      In mouse peritoneal and other serous cavities, the transcription factor GATA6 drives the identity of the major cavity resident population of macrophages, with a smaller subset of cavity-resident macrophages dependent on the transcription factor IRF4. Here we showed that GATA6+ macrophages in the human peritoneum were rare, regardless of age. Instead, more human peritoneal macrophages aligned with mouse CD206+ LYVE1+ cavity macrophages that represent a differentiation stage just preceding expression of GATA6. A low abundance of CD206+ macrophages was retained in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet and in wild-captured mice, suggesting that differences between serous cavity-resident macrophages in humans and mice were not environmental. IRF4-dependent mouse serous cavity macrophages aligned closely with human CD1c+CD14+CD64+ peritoneal cells, which, in turn, resembled human peritoneal CD1c+CD14-CD64- cDC2. Thus, major populations of serous cavity-resident mononuclear phagocytes in humans and mice shared common features, but the proportions of different macrophage differentiation stages greatly differ between the two species, and dendritic cell (DC2)-like cells were especially prominent in humans.
  18. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 18. 14(1): 8391
      Exercise is an effective non-pharmacological strategy for ameliorating nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), but the underlying mechanism needs further investigation. Cysteine dioxygenase type 1 (Cdo1) is a key enzyme for cysteine catabolism that is enriched in liver, whose role in NAFLD remains poorly understood. Here, we show that exercise induces the expression of hepatic Cdo1 via the cAMP/PKA/CREB signaling pathway. Hepatocyte-specific knockout of Cdo1 (Cdo1LKO) decreases basal metabolic rate of the mice and impairs the effect of exercise against NAFLD, whereas hepatocyte-specific overexpression of Cdo1 (Cdo1LTG) increases basal metabolic rate of the mice and synergizes with exercise to ameliorate NAFLD. Mechanistically, Cdo1 tethers Camkk2 to AMPK by interacting with both of them, thereby activating AMPK signaling. This promotes fatty acid oxidation and mitochondrial biogenesis in hepatocytes to attenuate hepatosteatosis. Therefore, by promoting hepatic Camkk2-AMPK signaling pathway, Cdo1 acts as an important downstream effector of exercise to combat against NAFLD.
  19. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 21. 14(1): 8512
      Adipose tissue invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are a crucial cell type for adipose tissue homeostasis in obese animals. However, heterogeneity of adipose iNKT cells and their function in adipocyte turnover are not thoroughly understood. Here, we investigate transcriptional heterogeneity in adipose iNKT cells and their hierarchy using single-cell RNA sequencing in lean and obese mice. We report that distinct subpopulations of adipose iNKT cells modulate adipose tissue homeostasis through adipocyte death and birth. We identify KLRG1+ iNKT cells as a unique iNKT cell subpopulation in adipose tissue. Adoptive transfer experiments showed that KLRG1+ iNKT cells are selectively generated within adipose tissue microenvironment and differentiate into a CX3CR1+ cytotoxic subpopulation in obese mice. In addition, CX3CR1+ iNKT cells specifically kill enlarged and inflamed adipocytes and recruit macrophages through CCL5. Furthermore, adipose iNKT17 cells have the potential to secrete AREG, and AREG is involved in stimulating adipose stem cell proliferation. Collectively, our data suggest that each adipose iNKT cell subpopulation plays key roles in the control of adipocyte turnover via interaction with adipocytes, adipose stem cells, and macrophages in adipose tissue.
  20. Cell Metab. 2023 Dec 09. pii: S1550-4131(23)00443-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      A major hypothesis for the etiology of type 1 diabetes (T1D) postulates initiation by viral infection, leading to double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-mediated interferon response and inflammation; however, a causal virus has not been identified. Here, we use a mouse model, corroborated with human islet data, to demonstrate that endogenous dsRNA in beta cells can lead to a diabetogenic immune response, thus identifying a virus-independent mechanism for T1D initiation. We found that disruption of the RNA editing enzyme adenosine deaminases acting on RNA (ADAR) in beta cells triggers a massive interferon response, islet inflammation, and beta cell failure and destruction, with features bearing striking similarity to early-stage human T1D. Glycolysis via calcium enhances the interferon response, suggesting an actionable vicious cycle of inflammation and increased beta cell workload.
    Keywords:  RNA editing; beta cells; interferon response; islet inflammation; metabolic stress; type 1 diabetes
  21. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 18. 14(1): 8411
      Individual differences in cognition during childhood are associated with important social, physical, and mental health outcomes in adolescence and adulthood. Given that cortical surface arealization during development reflects the brain's functional prioritization, quantifying variation in the topography of functional brain networks across the developing cortex may provide insight regarding individual differences in cognition. We test this idea by defining personalized functional networks (PFNs) that account for interindividual heterogeneity in functional brain network topography in 9-10 year olds from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development℠ Study. Across matched discovery (n = 3525) and replication (n = 3447) samples, the total cortical representation of fronto-parietal PFNs positively correlates with general cognition. Cross-validated ridge regressions trained on PFN topography predict cognition in unseen data across domains, with prediction accuracy increasing along the cortex's sensorimotor-association organizational axis. These results establish that functional network topography heterogeneity is associated with individual differences in cognition before the critical transition into adolescence.
  22. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 22. 14(1): 8487
    ISARIC4C Investigators
      To understand neurological complications of COVID-19 better both acutely and for recovery, we measured markers of brain injury, inflammatory mediators, and autoantibodies in 203 hospitalised participants; 111 with acute sera (1-11 days post-admission) and 92 convalescent sera (56 with COVID-19-associated neurological diagnoses). Here we show that compared to 60 uninfected controls, tTau, GFAP, NfL, and UCH-L1 are increased with COVID-19 infection at acute timepoints and NfL and GFAP are significantly higher in participants with neurological complications. Inflammatory mediators (IL-6, IL-12p40, HGF, M-CSF, CCL2, and IL-1RA) are associated with both altered consciousness and markers of brain injury. Autoantibodies are more common in COVID-19 than controls and some (including against MYL7, UCH-L1, and GRIN3B) are more frequent with altered consciousness. Additionally, convalescent participants with neurological complications show elevated GFAP and NfL, unrelated to attenuated systemic inflammatory mediators and to autoantibody responses. Overall, neurological complications of COVID-19 are associated with evidence of neuroglial injury in both acute and late disease and these correlate with dysregulated innate and adaptive immune responses acutely.
  23. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 15. 14(1): 8347
      Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified thousands of non-coding variants that are associated with human complex traits and diseases. The analysis of such GWAS variants in different contexts and physiological states is essential for deciphering the regulatory mechanisms underlying human disease. Alternative polyadenylation (APA) is a key post-transcriptional modification for most human genes that substantially impacts upon cell behavior. Here, we mapped 9,493 3'-untranslated region APA quantitative trait loci in 18 human immune baseline cell types and 8 stimulation conditions (immune 3'aQTLs). Through the comparison between baseline and stimulation data, we observed the high responsiveness of 3'aQTLs to immune stimulation (response 3'aQTLs). Co-localization and mendelian randomization analyses of immune 3'aQTLs identified 678 genes where 3'aQTL are associated with variation in complex traits, 27.3% of which were derived from response 3'aQTLs. Overall, these analyses reveal the role of immune 3'aQTLs in the determination of complex traits, providing new insights into the regulatory mechanisms underlying disease etiologies.
  24. Cell. 2023 Dec 21. pii: S0092-8674(23)01316-8. [Epub ahead of print]186(26): 5826-5839.e18
      Super-enhancers are compound regulatory elements that control expression of key cell identity genes. They recruit high levels of tissue-specific transcription factors and co-activators such as the Mediator complex and contact target gene promoters with high frequency. Most super-enhancers contain multiple constituent regulatory elements, but it is unclear whether these elements have distinct roles in activating target gene expression. Here, by rebuilding the endogenous multipartite α-globin super-enhancer, we show that it contains bioinformatically equivalent but functionally distinct element types: classical enhancers and facilitator elements. Facilitators have no intrinsic enhancer activity, yet in their absence, classical enhancers are unable to fully upregulate their target genes. Without facilitators, classical enhancers exhibit reduced Mediator recruitment, enhancer RNA transcription, and enhancer-promoter interactions. Facilitators are interchangeable but display functional hierarchy based on their position within a multipartite enhancer. Facilitators thus play an important role in potentiating the activity of classical enhancers and ensuring robust activation of target genes.
    Keywords:  alpha globin locus; cis-regulatory elements; enhancer cluster; enhancer cooperation; facilitators; gene expression; genome engineering; super-enhancers; synthetic genome; transcriptional regulation
  25. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023 Dec 19. 120(51): e2300474120
      Seasonal influenza results in 3 to 5 million cases of severe disease and 250,000 to 500,000 deaths annually. Macrophages have been implicated in both the resolution and progression of the disease, but the drivers of these outcomes are poorly understood. We probed mouse lung transcriptomic datasets using the Digital Cell Quantifier algorithm to predict immune cell subsets that correlated with mild or severe influenza A virus (IAV) infection outcomes. We identified a unique lung macrophage population that transcriptionally resembled small serosal cavity macrophages and whose presence correlated with mild disease. Until now, the study of serosal macrophage translocation in the context of viral infections has been neglected. Here, we show that pleural macrophages (PMs) migrate from the pleural cavity to the lung after infection with IAV. We found that the depletion of PMs increased morbidity and pulmonary inflammation. There were increased proinflammatory cytokines in the pleural cavity and an influx of neutrophils within the lung. Our results show that PMs are recruited to the lung during IAV infection and contribute to recovery from influenza. This study expands our knowledge of PM plasticity and identifies a source of lung macrophages independent of monocyte recruitment and local proliferation.
    Keywords:  influenza; macrophages; pleural cavity; tissue deconvolution; transcriptomics
  26. Nat Chem. 2023 Dec 18.
      Proteolysis-targeting chimeras (PROTACs) are molecules that induce proximity between target proteins and E3 ligases triggering target protein degradation. Pomalidomide, a widely used E3 ligase recruiter in PROTACs, can independently degrade other proteins, including zinc-finger (ZF) proteins, with vital roles in health and disease. This off-target degradation hampers the therapeutic applicability of pomalidomide-based PROTACs, requiring development of PROTAC design rules that minimize off-target degradation. Here we developed a high-throughput platform that interrogates off-target degradation and found that reported pomalidomide-based PROTACs induce degradation of several ZF proteins. We generated a library of pomalidomide analogues to understand how functionalizing different positions of the phthalimide ring, hydrogen bonding, and steric and hydrophobic effects impact ZF protein degradation. Modifications of appropriate size on the C5 position reduced off-target ZF degradation, which we validated through target engagement and proteomics studies. By applying these design principles, we developed anaplastic lymphoma kinase oncoprotein-targeting PROTACs with enhanced potency and minimal off-target degradation.
  27. Nat Med. 2023 Dec 20.
      The innate immune compartment of the human central nervous system (CNS) is highly diverse and includes several immune-cell populations such as macrophages that are frequent in the brain parenchyma (microglia) and less numerous at the brain interfaces as CNS-associated macrophages (CAMs). Due to their scantiness and particular location, little is known about the presence of temporally and spatially restricted CAM subclasses during development, health and perturbation. Here we combined single-cell RNA sequencing, time-of-flight mass cytometry and single-cell spatial transcriptomics with fate mapping and advanced immunohistochemistry to comprehensively characterize the immune system at human CNS interfaces with over 356,000 analyzed transcriptomes from 102 individuals. We also provide a comprehensive analysis of resident and engrafted myeloid cells in the brains of 15 individuals with peripheral blood stem cell transplantation, revealing compartment-specific engraftment rates across different CNS interfaces. Integrated multiomic and high-resolution spatial transcriptome analysis of anatomically dissected glioblastoma samples shows regionally distinct myeloid cell-type distributions driven by hypoxia. Notably, the glioblastoma-associated hypoxia response was distinct from the physiological hypoxia response in fetal microglia and CAMs. Our results highlight myeloid diversity at the interfaces of the human CNS with the periphery and provide insights into the complexities of the human brain's immune system.
  28. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 21. 14(1): 8517
      Telomere length (TL) shortening is a pivotal indicator of biological aging and is associated with many human diseases. The genetic determinates of human TL have been widely investigated, however, most existing studies were conducted based on adult tissues which are heavily influenced by lifetime exposure. Based on the analyses of terminal restriction fragment (TRF) length of telomere, individual genotypes, and gene expressions on 166 healthy placental tissues, we systematically interrogate TL-modulated genes and their potential functions. We discover that the TL in the placenta is comparatively longer than in other adult tissues, but exhibiting an intra-tissue homogeneity. Trans-ancestral TL genome-wide association studies (GWASs) on 644,553 individuals identify 20 newly discovered genetic associations and provide increased polygenic determination of human TL. Next, we integrate the powerful TL GWAS with placental expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) mapping to prioritize 23 likely causal genes, among which 4 are functionally validated, including MMUT, RRM1, KIAA1429, and YWHAZ. Finally, modeling transcriptomic signatures and TRF-based TL improve the prediction performance of human TL. This study deepens our understanding of causal genes and transcriptomic determinants of human TL, promoting the mechanistic research on fine-grained TL regulation.
  29. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 20. 14(1): 8455
      Innate sensors initiate the production of type I interferons (IFN-I) and proinflammatory cytokines to protect host from viral infection. Several innate nuclear sensors that mainly induce IFN-I production have been identified. Whether there exist innate nuclear sensors that mainly induce proinflammatory cytokine production remains to be determined. By functional screening, we identify 40 S ribosomal protein SA (RPSA) as a nuclear protein that recognizes viral nucleic acids and predominantly promotes proinflammatory cytokine gene expression in antiviral innate immunity. Myeloid-specific Rpsa-deficient mice exhibit less innate inflammatory response against infection with Herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) and Influenza A virus (IAV), the viruses replicating in nucleus. Mechanistically, nucleus-localized RPSA is phosphorylated at Tyr204 upon infection, then recruits ISWI complex catalytic subunit SMARCA5 to increase chromatin accessibility of NF-κB to target gene promotors without affecting innate signaling. Our results add mechanistic insights to an intra-nuclear way of initiating proinflammatory cytokine expression in antiviral innate defense.
  30. Nature. 2023 Dec 20.
      The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) polymerase is a multifunctional RNA-dependent RNA polymerase composed of the large (L) protein and the phosphoprotein (P). It transcribes the RNA genome into ten viral mRNAs and replicates full-length viral genomic and antigenomic RNAs1. The RSV polymerase initiates RNA synthesis by binding to the conserved 3'-terminal RNA promoters of the genome or antigenome2. However, the lack of a structure of the RSV polymerase bound to the RNA promoter has impeded the mechanistic understanding of RSV RNA synthesis. Here we report cryogenic electron microscopy structures of the RSV polymerase bound to its genomic and antigenomic viral RNA promoters, representing two of the first structures of an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase in complex with its RNA promoters in non-segmented negative-sense RNA viruses. The overall structures of the promoter-bound RSV polymerases are similar to that of the unbound (apo) polymerase. Our structures illustrate the interactions between the RSV polymerase and the RNA promoters and provide the structural basis for the initiation of RNA synthesis at positions 1 and 3 of the RSV promoters. These structures offer a deeper understanding of the pre-initiation state of the RSV polymerase and could aid in antiviral research against RSV.
  31. Science. 2023 Dec 22. 382(6677): 1360-1362
      Surgical innovation is helping to identify roles for somatic mutations in brain disorders.
  32. Nature. 2023 Dec 20.
    Keywords:  Public health; SARS-CoV-2; Vaccines
  33. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 20. 14(1): 8337
      De novo chromosome synthesis is costly and time-consuming, limiting its use in research and biotechnology. Building synthetic chromosomes from natural components is an unexplored alternative with many potential applications. In this paper, we report CReATiNG (Cloning, Reprogramming, and Assembling Tiled Natural Genomic DNA), a method for constructing synthetic chromosomes from natural components in yeast. CReATiNG entails cloning segments of natural chromosomes and then programmably assembling them into synthetic chromosomes that can replace the native chromosomes in cells. We use CReATiNG to synthetically recombine chromosomes between strains and species, to modify chromosome structure, and to delete many linked, non-adjacent regions totaling 39% of a chromosome. The multiplex deletion experiment reveals that CReATiNG also enables recovery from flaws in synthetic chromosome design via recombination between a synthetic chromosome and its native counterpart. CReATiNG facilitates the application of chromosome synthesis to diverse biological problems.
  34. Cancer Commun (Lond). 2023 Dec 22.
      BACKGROUND: Transmembrane 4 L six family member 5 (TM4SF5) translocates subcellularly and functions metabolically, although it is unclear how intracellular TM4SF5 translocation is linked to metabolic contexts. It is thus of interests to understand how the traffic dynamics of TM4SF5 to subcellular endosomal membranes are correlated to regulatory roles of metabolisms.METHODS: Here, we explored the metabolic significance of TM4SF5 localization at mitochondria-lysosome contact sites (MLCSs), using in vitro cells and in vivo animal systems, via approaches by immunofluorescence, proximity labelling based proteomics analysis, organelle reconstitution etc. RESULTS: Upon extracellular glucose repletion following depletion, TM4SF5 became enriched at MLCSs via an interaction between mitochondrial FK506-binding protein 8 (FKBP8) and lysosomal TM4SF5. Proximity labeling showed molecular clustering of phospho-dynamic-related protein I (DRP1) and certain mitophagy receptors at TM4SF5-enriched MLCSs, leading to mitochondrial fission and autophagy. TM4SF5 bound NPC intracellular cholesterol transporter 1 (NPC1) and free cholesterol, and mediated export of lysosomal cholesterol to mitochondria, leading to impaired oxidative phosphorylation but intact tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and β-oxidation. In mouse models, hepatocyte Tm4sf5 promoted mitophagy and cholesterol transport to mitochondria, both with positive relations to liver malignancy.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggested that TM4SF5-enriched MLCSs regulate glucose catabolism by facilitating cholesterol export for mitochondrial reprogramming, presumably while hepatocellular carcinogenesis, recapitulating aspects for hepatocellular carcinoma metabolism with mitochondrial reprogramming to support biomolecule synthesis in addition to glycolytic energetics.
    Keywords:  cholesterol; fluorescent imaging; glucose catabolism; hepatocellular carcinogenesis; membrane contact sites; mitochondria function; mitophagy; oxidative phosphorylation; protein-protein interaction; tetraspanin
  35. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 20. 14(1): 8473
      Single-cell and single-nucleus RNA-sequencing (sxRNA-seq) is increasingly being used to characterise the transcriptomic state of cell types at homeostasis, during development and in disease. However, this is a challenging task, as biological effects can be masked by technical variation. Here, we present JOINTLY, an algorithm enabling joint clustering of sxRNA-seq datasets across batches. JOINTLY performs on par or better than state-of-the-art batch integration methods in clustering tasks and outperforms other intrinsically interpretable methods. We demonstrate that JOINTLY is robust against over-correction while retaining subtle cell state differences between biological conditions and highlight how the interpretation of JOINTLY can be used to annotate cell types and identify active signalling programs across cell types and pseudo-time. Finally, we use JOINTLY to construct a reference atlas of white adipose tissue (WATLAS), an expandable and comprehensive community resource, in which we describe four adipocyte subpopulations and map compositional changes in obesity and between depots.
  36. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 16. 14(1): 8381
      The BCL-2 family protein BAX is a major regulator of physiological and pathological cell death. BAX predominantly resides in the cytosol in a quiescent state and upon stress, it undergoes conformational activation and mitochondrial translocation leading to mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization, a critical event in apoptosis execution. Previous studies reported two inactive conformations of cytosolic BAX, a monomer and a dimer, however, it remains unclear how they regulate BAX. Here we show that, surprisingly, cancer cell lines express cytosolic inactive BAX dimers and/or monomers. Expression of inactive dimers, results in reduced BAX activation, translocation and apoptosis upon pro-apoptotic drug treatments. Using the inactive BAX dimer structure and a pharmacophore-based drug screen, we identify a small-molecule modulator, BDM19 that binds and activates cytosolic BAX dimers and prompts cells to apoptosis either alone or in combination with BCL-2/BCL-XL inhibitor Navitoclax. Our findings underscore the role of the cytosolic inactive BAX dimer in resistance to apoptosis and demonstrate a strategy to potentiate BAX-mediated apoptosis.
  37. Sci Adv. 2023 Dec 22. 9(51): eadj8442
      Forkhead box A1 (FoxA1)+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) exhibit distinct characteristics from FoxP3+ Tregs while equally effective in exerting anti-inflammatory properties. The role of FoxP3+ Tregs in vivo has been challenged, motivating a better understanding of other Tregs in modulating hyperactive immune responses. FoxA1+ Tregs are generated on activation of the transcription factor FoxA1 by interferon-β (IFNβ), an anti-inflammatory cytokine. T cell activation, expansion, and function hinge on metabolic adaptability. We demonstrated that IFNβ promotes a metabolic rearrangement of FoxA1+ Tregs by enhancing oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondria clearance by mitophagy. In response to IFNβ, FoxA1 induces a specific transcription variant of adenosine 5'-monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) γ2 subunit, PRKAG2.2. This leads to the activation of AMPK signaling, thereby enhancing mitochondrial respiration and mitophagy by ULK1-BNIP3. This IFNβ-FoxA1-PRKAG2.2-BNIP3 axis is pivotal for their suppressive function. The involvement of PRKAG2.2 in FoxA1+ Treg, not FoxP3+ Treg differentiation, underscores the metabolic differences between Treg populations and suggests potential therapeutic targets for autoimmune diseases.
  38. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 20. 14(1): 8459
      Single-cell technologies enable the dynamic analyses of cell fate mapping. However, capturing the gene regulatory relationships and identifying the driver factors that control cell fate decisions are still challenging. We present CEFCON, a network-based framework that first uses a graph neural network with attention mechanism to infer a cell-lineage-specific gene regulatory network (GRN) from single-cell RNA-sequencing data, and then models cell fate dynamics through network control theory to identify driver regulators and the associated gene modules, revealing their critical biological processes related to cell states. Extensive benchmarking tests consistently demonstrated the superiority of CEFCON in GRN construction, driver regulator identification, and gene module identification over baseline methods. When applied to the mouse hematopoietic stem cell differentiation data, CEFCON successfully identified driver regulators for three developmental lineages, which offered useful insights into their differentiation from a network control perspective. Overall, CEFCON provides a valuable tool for studying the underlying mechanisms of cell fate decisions from single-cell RNA-seq data.
  39. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023 Dec 26. 120(52): e2310670120
      In plants, epidermal guard cells integrate and respond to numerous environmental signals to control stomatal pore apertures, thereby regulating gas exchange. Chromatin structure controls transcription factor (TF) access to the genome, but whether large-scale chromatin remodeling occurs in guard cells during stomatal movements, and in response to the hormone abscisic acid (ABA) in general, remains unknown. Here, we isolate guard cell nuclei from Arabidopsis thaliana plants to examine whether the physiological signals, ABA and CO2 (carbon dioxide), regulate guard cell chromatin during stomatal movements. Our cell type-specific analyses uncover patterns of chromatin accessibility specific to guard cells and define cis-regulatory sequences supporting guard cell-specific gene expression. We find that ABA triggers extensive and dynamic chromatin remodeling in guard cells, roots, and mesophyll cells with clear patterns of cell type specificity. DNA motif analyses uncover binding sites for distinct TFs enriched in ABA-induced and ABA-repressed chromatin. We identify the Abscisic Acid Response Element (ABRE) Binding Factor (ABF) bZIP-type TFs that are required for ABA-triggered chromatin opening in guard cells and roots and implicate the inhibition of a clade of bHLH-type TFs in controlling ABA-repressed chromatin. Moreover, we demonstrate that ABA and CO2 induce distinct programs of chromatin remodeling, whereby elevated atmospheric CO2 had only minimal impact on chromatin dynamics. We provide insight into the control of guard cell chromatin dynamics and propose that ABA-induced chromatin remodeling primes the genome for abiotic stress resistance.
    Keywords:  chromatin; guard cells; plant hormones; stomata; transcription factors
  40. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 15. 14(1): 8372
      ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling SWI/SNF complexes exist in three subcomplexes: canonical BAF (cBAF), polybromo BAF (PBAF), and a newly described non-canonical BAF (ncBAF). While cBAF and PBAF regulate fates of multiple cell types, roles for ncBAF in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have not been investigated. Motivated by recent discovery of disrupted expression of BRD9, an essential component of ncBAF, in multiple cancers, including clonal hematopoietic disorders, we evaluate here the role of BRD9 in normal and malignant HSCs. BRD9 loss enhances chromatin accessibility, promoting myeloid lineage skewing while impairing B cell development. BRD9 significantly colocalizes with CTCF, whose chromatin recruitment is augmented by BRD9 loss, leading to altered chromatin state and expression of myeloid-related genes within intact topologically associating domains. These data uncover ncBAF as critical for cell fate specification in HSCs via three-dimensional regulation of gene expression and illuminate roles for ncBAF in normal and malignant hematopoiesis.
  41. Nat Aging. 2023 Dec 15.
      Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in efforts to ameliorate aging and the diseases it causes, with transient expression of nuclear reprogramming factors recently emerging as an intriguing approach. Expression of these factors, either systemically or in a tissue-specific manner, has been shown to combat age-related deterioration in mouse and human model systems at the cellular, tissue and organismal level. Here we discuss the current state of epigenetic rejuvenation strategies via partial reprogramming in both mouse and human models. For each classical reprogramming factor, we provide a brief description of its contribution to reprogramming and discuss additional factors or chemical strategies. We discuss what is known regarding chromatin remodeling and the molecular dynamics underlying rejuvenation, and, finally, we consider strategies to improve the practical uses of epigenetic reprogramming to treat aging and age-related diseases, focusing on the open questions and remaining challenges in this emerging field.
  42. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023 Dec 26. 120(52): e2308366120
      Immune system threat detection hinges on T cells' ability to perceive varying peptide-major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) antigens. As the Erk and NFAT pathways link T cell receptor engagement to gene regulation, their signaling dynamics may convey information about pMHC inputs. To test this idea, we developed a dual reporter mouse strain and a quantitative imaging assay that, together, enable simultaneous monitoring of Erk and NFAT dynamics in live T cells over day-long timescales as they respond to varying pMHC inputs. Both pathways initially activate uniformly across various pMHC inputs but diverge only over longer (9+ h) timescales, enabling independent encoding of pMHC affinity and dose. These late signaling dynamics are decoded via multiple temporal and combinatorial mechanisms to generate pMHC-specific transcriptional responses. Our findings underscore the importance of long timescale signaling dynamics in antigen perception and establish a framework for understanding T cell responses under diverse contexts.
    Keywords:  T cell receptor signaling; gene regulation; live-cell imaging; signal encoding; signaling dynamics
  43. J Immunol. 2024 Jan 01. 212(1): 5-6
  44. Dev Cell. 2023 Dec 18. pii: S1534-5807(23)00611-1. [Epub ahead of print]58(24): 2914-2929.e7
      Low-grade chronic inflammation is a hallmark of ageing, associated with impaired tissue function and disease development. However, how cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic factors collectively establish this phenotype, termed inflammaging, remains poorly understood. We addressed this question in the mouse intestinal epithelium, using mouse organoid cultures to dissect stem cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic sources of inflammaging. At the single-cell level, we found that inflammaging is established differently along the crypt-villus axis, with aged intestinal stem cells (ISCs) strongly upregulating major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) genes. Importantly, the inflammaging phenotype was stably propagated by aged ISCs in organoid cultures and associated with increased chromatin accessibility at inflammation-associated loci in vivo and ex vivo, indicating cell-intrinsic inflammatory memory. Mechanistically, we show that the expression of inflammatory genes is dependent on STAT1 signaling. Together, our data identify that intestinal inflammaging in mice is promoted by a cell-intrinsic mechanism, stably propagated by ISCs, and associated with a disbalance in immune homeostasis.
    Keywords:  ISC; ageing; epigenetics; inflammaging; inflammation; interferon; intestinal epithelium; intestinal stem cells; intestine; single-cell analysis
  45. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 19. 14(1): 8449
      Cutaneous Leishmania major infection elicits a rapid T cell response that is insufficient to clear residually infected cells, possibly due to the accumulation of regulatory T cells in healed skin. Here, we used Leishmania-specific TCR transgenic mice as a sensitive tool to characterize parasite-specific effector and immunosuppressive responses in vivo using two-photon microscopy. We show that Leishmania-specific Tregs displayed higher suppressive activity compared to polyclonal Tregs, that was mediated through IL-10 and not through disrupting cell-cell contacts or antigen presentation. In vivo expansion of endogenous Leishmania-specific Tregs resulted in disease reactivation that was also IL-10 dependent. Interestingly, lack of Treg expansion that recognized the immunodominant Leishmania peptide PEPCK was sufficient to restore robust effector Th1 responses and resulted in parasite control exclusively in male hosts. Our data suggest a stochastic model of Leishmania major persistence in skin, where cellular factors that control parasite numbers are counterbalanced by Leishmania-specific Tregs that facilitate parasite persistence.
  46. Nat Aging. 2023 Dec;3(12): 1486-1499
      Information storage and retrieval is essential for all life. In biology, information is primarily stored in two distinct ways: the genome, comprising nucleic acids, acts as a foundational blueprint and the epigenome, consisting of chemical modifications to DNA and histone proteins, regulates gene expression patterns and endows cells with specific identities and functions. Unlike the stable, digital nature of genetic information, epigenetic information is stored in a digital-analog format, susceptible to alterations induced by diverse environmental signals and cellular damage. The Information Theory of Aging (ITOA) states that the aging process is driven by the progressive loss of youthful epigenetic information, the retrieval of which via epigenetic reprogramming can improve the function of damaged and aged tissues by catalyzing age reversal.
  47. Trends Cancer. 2023 Dec 20. pii: S2405-8033(23)00239-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      There is considerable interest in developing more effective programmed cell death (PD)-1 combination therapies against cancer. One major obstacle to these efforts is a dysfunctional/exhausted state of CD8 T cells, which PD-1 monotherapy is not able to overcome. Recent studies have highlighted that PD-1+ T cell factor (TCF)-1+ stem-like CD8 T cells are not fate locked into the exhaustion program and their differentiation trajectory can be changed by interleukin (IL)-2 signals. Modifying the CD8 T cell exhaustion program and generating better effectors from stem-like CD8 T cells by IL-2 form the fundamental immunological basis for combining IL-2 with PD-1 therapy. Many versions of IL-2-based products are being tested and each product should be carefully evaluated for its ability to modulate dysfunctional states of anti-tumor CD8 T cells.
    Keywords:  IL-2; PD-1; T cell exhaustion; cancer; chronic infection; immunotherapy
  48. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 20. 14(1): 8472
      COVID-19 highlighted modeling as a cornerstone of pandemic response. But it also revealed that current models may not fully exploit the high-resolution data on disease progression, epidemic surveillance and host behavior, now available. Take the epidemic threshold, which quantifies the spreading risk throughout epidemic emergence, mitigation, and control. Its use requires oversimplifying either disease or host contact dynamics. We introduce the epidemic graph diagrams to overcome this by computing the epidemic threshold directly from arbitrarily complex data on contacts, disease and interventions. A grammar of diagram operations allows to decompose, compare, simplify models with computational efficiency, extracting theoretical understanding. We use the diagrams to explain the emergence of resistant influenza variants in the 2007-2008 season, and demonstrate that neglecting non-infectious prodromic stages of sexually transmitted infections biases the predicted epidemic risk, compromising control. The diagrams are general, and improve our capacity to respond to present and future public health challenges.
  49. Nature. 2023 Dec 20.
      Digested dietary fats are taken up by enterocytes where they are assembled into pre-chylomicrons in the endoplasmic reticulum followed by transport to the Golgi for maturation and subsequent secretion to the circulation1. The role of mitochondria in dietary lipid processing is unclear. Here we show that mitochondrial dysfunction in enterocytes inhibits chylomicron production and the transport of dietary lipids to peripheral organs. Mice with specific ablation of the mitochondrial aspartyl-tRNA synthetase DARS2 (ref. 2), the respiratory chain subunit SDHA3 or the assembly factor COX10 (ref. 4) in intestinal epithelial cells showed accumulation of large lipid droplets (LDs) in enterocytes of the proximal small intestine and failed to thrive. Feeding a fat-free diet suppressed the build-up of LDs in DARS2-deficient enterocytes, which shows that the accumulating lipids derive mostly from digested fat. Furthermore, metabolic tracing studies revealed an impaired transport of dietary lipids to peripheral organs in mice lacking DARS2 in intestinal epithelial cells. DARS2 deficiency caused a distinct lack of mature chylomicrons concomitant with a progressive dispersal of the Golgi apparatus in proximal enterocytes. This finding suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction results in impaired trafficking of chylomicrons from the endoplasmic reticulum to the Golgi, which in turn leads to storage of dietary lipids in large cytoplasmic LDs. Taken together, these results reveal a role for mitochondria in dietary lipid transport in enterocytes, which might be relevant for understanding the intestinal defects observed in patients with mitochondrial disorders5.
  50. Genome Biol. 2023 Dec 18. 24(1): 291
      Spatial omics technologies can help identify spatially organized biological processes, but existing computational approaches often overlook structural dependencies in the data. Here, we introduce Smoother, a unified framework that integrates positional information into non-spatial models via modular priors and losses. In simulated and real datasets, Smoother enables accurate data imputation, cell-type deconvolution, and dimensionality reduction with remarkable efficiency. In colorectal cancer, Smoother-guided deconvolution reveals plasma cell and fibroblast subtype localizations linked to tumor microenvironment restructuring. Additionally, joint modeling of spatial and single-cell human prostate data with Smoother allows for spatial mapping of reference populations with significantly reduced ambiguity.
    Keywords:  Cell-type deconvolution; Data imputation; Dimensionality reduction; Joint analysis of single-cell and spatial data; Reference mapping; Spatial omics; Spatial prior
  51. Sci Adv. 2023 Dec 22. 9(51): eadj3003
      Effective therapies for obesity require invasive surgical and endoscopic interventions or high patient adherence, making it challenging for patients with obesity to effectively manage their disease. Gastric mechanoreceptors sense distension of the stomach and perform volume-dependent vagal signaling to initiate the gastric phase and influence satiety. In this study, we developed a new luminal stimulation modality to specifically activate these gastric stretch receptors to elicit a vagal afferent response commensurate with mechanical distension. We designed the Vibrating Ingestible BioElectronic Stimulator (VIBES) pill, an ingestible device that performs luminal vibratory stimulation to activate mechanoreceptors and stroke mucosal receptors, which induces serotonin release and yields a hormonal metabolic response commensurate with a fed state. We evaluated VIBES across 108 meals in swine which consistently led to diminished food intake (~40%, P < 0.0001) and minimized the weight gain rate (P < 0.05) as compared to untreated controls. Application of mechanoreceptor biology could transform our capacity to help patients suffering from nutritional disorders.
  52. Mol Cell. 2023 Dec 21. pii: S1097-2765(23)00966-8. [Epub ahead of print]83(24): 4633-4645.e9
      Despite tremendous progress in detecting DNA variants associated with human disease, interpreting their functional impact in a high-throughput and single-base resolution manner remains challenging. Here, we develop a pooled prime-editing screen method, PRIME, that can be applied to characterize thousands of coding and non-coding variants in a single experiment with high reproducibility. To showcase its applications, we first identified essential nucleotides for a 716 bp MYC enhancer via PRIME-mediated single-base resolution analysis. Next, we applied PRIME to functionally characterize 1,304 genome-wide association study (GWAS)-identified non-coding variants associated with breast cancer and 3,699 variants from ClinVar. We discovered that 103 non-coding variants and 156 variants of uncertain significance are functional via affecting cell fitness. Collectively, we demonstrate that PRIME is capable of characterizing genetic variants at single-base resolution and scale, advancing accurate genome annotation for disease risk prediction, diagnosis, and therapeutic target identification.
    Keywords:  disease variants; enhancer; high-throughput screens; prime editing; single-base resolution
  53. Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 15. 14(1): 8362
      Neurogenins are proneural transcription factors required to specify neuronal identity. Their overexpression in human pluripotent stem cells rapidly produces cortical-like neurons with spiking activity and, because of this, they have been widely adopted for human neuron disease models. However, we do not fully understand the key downstream regulatory effectors responsible for driving neural differentiation. Here, using inducible expression of NEUROG1 and NEUROG2, we identify transcription factors (TFs) required for directed neuronal differentiation by combining expression and chromatin accessibility analyses with a pooled in vitro CRISPR-Cas9 screen targeting all ~1900 TFs in the human genome. The loss of one of these essential TFs (ZBTB18) yields few MAP2-positive neurons. Differentiated ZBTB18-null cells have radically altered gene expression, leading to cytoskeletal defects and stunted neurites and spines. In addition to identifying key downstream TFs for neuronal differentiation, our work develops an integrative multi-omics and TFome-wide perturbation platform to rapidly characterize essential TFs for the differentiation of any human cell type.
  54. Cell Rep Med. 2023 Dec 19. pii: S2666-3791(23)00553-0. [Epub ahead of print]4(12): 101336
      Pre-existing anti-human leukocyte antigen (HLA) allo-antibodies constitute a major barrier to transplantation. Current desensitization approaches fail due to ineffective depletion of allo-specific memory B cells (Bmems) and long-lived plasma cells (LLPCs). We evaluate the efficacy of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells targeting CD19 and B cell maturation antigen (BCMA) to eliminate allo-antibodies in a skin pre-sensitized murine model of islet allo-transplantation. We find that treatment of allo-sensitized hosts with CAR T cells targeting Bmems and LLPCs eliminates donor-specific allo-antibodies (DSAs) and mitigates hyperacute rejection of subsequent islet allografts. We then assess the clinical efficacy of the CAR T therapy for desensitization in patients with multiple myeloma (MM) with pre-existing HLA allo-antibodies who were treated with the combination of CART-BCMA and CART-19 ( NCT03549442) and observe clinically meaningful allo-antibody reduction. These findings provide logical rationale for clinical evaluation of CAR T-based immunotherapy in highly sensitized candidates to promote successful transplantation.
    Keywords:  BCMA; CAR T cells; CD19; TACI; allo-antibodies; desensitization; immunotherapy; long-lived plasma cells; rejection; transplantation