Obesity is associated with an increased risk of severe Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection and mortality. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of serious COVID-19 outcomes; however, their effectiveness in people with obesity is incompletely understood. We studied the relationship among body mass index (BMI), hospitalization and mortality due to COVID-19 among 3.6 million people in Scotland using the Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance of COVID-19 (EAVE II) surveillance platform. We found that vaccinated individuals with severe obesity (BMI > 40 kg/m) were 76% more likely to experience hospitalization or death from COVID-19 (adjusted rate ratio of 1.76 (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.60-1.94). We also conducted a prospective longitudinal study of a cohort of 28 individuals with severe obesity compared to 41 control individuals with normal BMI (BMI 18.5-24.9 kg/m). We found that 55% of individuals with severe obesity had unquantifiable titers of neutralizing antibody against authentic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus compared to 12% of individuals with normal BMI (P = 0.0003) 6 months after their second vaccine dose. Furthermore, we observed that, for individuals with severe obesity, at any given anti-spike and anti-receptor-binding domain (RBD) antibody level, neutralizing capacity was lower than that of individuals with a normal BMI. Neutralizing capacity was restored by a third dose of vaccine but again declined more rapidly in people with severe obesity. We demonstrate that waning of COVID-19 vaccine-induced humoral immunity is accelerated in individuals with severe obesity. As obesity is associated with increased hospitalization and mortality from breakthrough infections, our findings have implications for vaccine prioritization policies.
Effective vaccines have reduced SARS-CoV-2 morbidity and mortality; however, the elderly remain the most at risk. Understanding how vaccines generate protective immunity, and how these mechanisms change with age is key for informing future vaccine design. Cytotoxic CD8 T cells are important for killing virally infected cells, and vaccines that induce antigen specific CD8 T cells in addition to humoral immunity provide an extra layer of immune protection. This is particularly important in cases where antibody titres are sub-optimal, as can occur in older individuals. Here, we show that in aged mice, spike-epitope specific CD8 T cells are generated in comparable numbers to younger animals after ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccination, although phenotypic differences exist. This demonstrates that ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 elicits a good CD8 T cell response in older bodies, but that typical age-associated features are evident on these vaccine reactive T cells.
Emergence from the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has been facilitated by the rollout of effective vaccines. Successful vaccines generate high-affinity plasma blasts and long-lived protective memory B cells. Here, we show a requirement for T follicular helper (Tfh) cells and the germinal center reaction for optimal serum antibody and memory B cell formation after ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccination. We found that Tfh cells play an important role in expanding antigen-specific B cells while identifying Tfh-cell-dependent and -independent memory B cell subsets. Upon secondary vaccination, germinal center B cells generated during primary immunizations can be recalled as germinal center B cells again. Likewise, primary immunization GC-Tfh cells can be recalled as either Tfh or Th1 cells, highlighting the pluripotent nature of Tfh cell memory. This study demonstrates that ChAdOx1 nCoV-19-induced germinal centers are a critical source of humoral immunity.
The type IIB receptor protein tyrosine phosphatases (R2B RPTPs) are cell surface transmembrane proteins that engage in cell adhesion via their extracellular domains (ECDs) and cell signaling via their cytoplasmic phosphatase domains. The ECDs of R2B RPTPs form stable, homophilic, trans interactions between adjacent cell membranes. Previous work has demonstrated how one family member, PTPRM, forms head-to-tail homodimers. However, as the interface was composed of residues conserved across the family, the determinants of homophilic specificity remain unknown. Here, we have solved the X-ray crystal structure of the membrane-distal, N-terminal domains of PTPRK that form a head-to-tail dimer consistent with intermembrane adhesion. Comparison with the PTPRM structure demonstrates inter-domain conformational differences that may define homophilic specificity. Using small-angle X-ray scattering, we determined the solution structures of the full-length ECDs of PTPRM and PTPRK, identifying that both are rigid, extended molecules that differ in their overall long-range conformation. Furthermore, we identify one residue, W351, within the interaction interface that differs between PTPRM and PTPRK and show that mutation to glycine, the equivalent residue in PTPRM, abolishes PTPRK dimer formation in vitro. This comparison of two members of the receptor tyrosine phosphatase family suggests that homophilic specificity is driven by a combination of shape complementarity and specific but limited sequence differences.
Protein tyrosine phosphatase receptor-type kappa (PTPRK) is a transmembrane receptor that links extracellular homophilic interactions to intracellular catalytic activity. Previously we showed that PTPRK promotes cell-cell adhesion by selectively dephosphorylating several cell junction regulators including the protein Afadin (Fearnley et al, 2019). Here, we demonstrate that Afadin is recruited for dephosphorylation by directly binding to the PTPRK D2 pseudophosphatase domain. We mapped this interaction to a putative coiled coil (CC) domain in Afadin that is separated by more than 100 amino acids from the substrate pTyr residue. We identify the residues that define PTP specificity, explaining how Afadin is selectively dephosphorylated by PTPRK yet not by the closely related receptor tyrosine phosphatase PTPRM. Our work demonstrates that PTP substrate specificity can be determined by protein-protein interactions distal to the active site. This explains how PTPRK and other PTPs achieve substrate specificity despite a lack of specific sequence context at the substrate pTyr. Furthermore, by demonstrating that these interactions are phosphorylation-independent and mediated via binding to a non-catalytic domain, we highlight how receptor PTPs could function as intracellular scaffolds in addition to catalyzing protein dephosphorylation.
Vismodegib is approved for the treatment of locally advanced basal cell carcinoma (laBCC), but some cases demonstrate intrinsic resistance (IR) to the drug. We sought to assess the frequency of IR to vismodegib in laBCC and its underlying genomic mechanisms.
Holoprosencephaly is a spectrum of developmental disorder of the embryonic forebrain in which there is failed or incomplete separation of the prosencephalon into two cerebral hemispheres. To date, dominant mutations in sonic hedgehog (SHH) pathway genes are the predominant Mendelian causes, and have marked interfamilial and intrafamilial phenotypical variabilities.
Adhesive structures between cells and with the surrounding matrix are essential for the development of multicellular organisms. In addition to providing mechanical integrity, they are key signalling centres providing feedback on the extracellular environment to the cell interior, and vice versa. During development, mitosis and repair, cell adhesions must undergo extensive remodelling. Post-translational modifications of proteins within these complexes serve as switches for activity. Tyrosine phosphorylation is an important modification in cell adhesion that is dynamically regulated by the protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs) and protein tyrosine kinases. Several PTPs are implicated in the assembly and maintenance of cell adhesions, however, their signalling functions remain poorly defined. The PTPs can act by directly dephosphorylating adhesive complex components or function as scaffolds. In this review, we will focus on human PTPs and discuss their individual roles in major adhesion complexes, as well as Hippo signalling. We have collated PTP interactome and cell adhesome datasets, which reveal extensive connections between PTPs and cell adhesions that are relatively unexplored. Finally, we reflect on the dysregulation of PTPs and cell adhesions in disease.
The receptor-linked protein tyrosine phosphatases (RPTPs) are key regulators of cell-cell communication through the control of cellular phosphotyrosine levels. Most human RPTPs possess an extracellular receptor domain and tandem intracellular phosphatase domains: comprising an active membrane proximal (D1) domain and an inactive distal (D2) pseudophosphatase domain. Here we demonstrate that PTPRU is unique amongst the RPTPs in possessing two pseudophosphatase domains. The PTPRU-D1 displays no detectable catalytic activity against a range of phosphorylated substrates and we show that this is due to multiple structural rearrangements that destabilise the active site pocket and block the catalytic cysteine. Upon oxidation, this cysteine forms an intramolecular disulphide bond with a vicinal "backdoor" cysteine, a process thought to reversibly inactivate related phosphatases. Importantly, despite the absence of catalytic activity, PTPRU binds substrates of related phosphatases strongly suggesting that this pseudophosphatase functions in tyrosine phosphorylation by competing with active phosphatases for the binding of substrates.
Phosphatases are a diverse family of enzymes, comprising at least 10 distinct protein folds. Like most other enzyme families, many have sequence variations that predict an impairment or loss of catalytic activity classifying them as pseudophosphatases. Research on pseudoenzymes is an emerging area of interest, with new biological functions repurposed from catalytically active relatives. Here, we provide an overview of the pseudophosphatases identified to date in all major phosphatase families. We will highlight the degeneration of the various catalytic sequence motifs and discuss the challenges associated with the experimental determination of catalytic inactivity. We will also summarize the role of pseudophosphatases in various diseases and discuss the major challenges and future directions in this field.
Hedgehog pathway inhibitors (HPI) inactivating SMO , have become first line treatment for patients with locally advanced BCC (laBCC). HPI safety and efficacy have been shown in clinical trials . Nevertheless, common adverse events lead to treatment discontinuation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Cell-cell communication in multicellular organisms depends on the dynamic and reversible phosphorylation of protein tyrosine residues. The receptor-linked protein tyrosine phosphatases (RPTPs) receive cues from the extracellular environment and are well placed to influence cell signaling. However, the direct events downstream of these receptors have been challenging to resolve. We report here that the homophilic receptor PTPRK is stabilized at cell-cell contacts in epithelial cells. By combining interaction studies, quantitative tyrosine phosphoproteomics, proximity labeling and dephosphorylation assays we identify high confidence PTPRK substrates. PTPRK directly and selectively dephosphorylates at least five substrates, including Afadin, PARD3 and δ-catenin family members, which are all important cell-cell adhesion regulators. In line with this, loss of PTPRK phosphatase activity leads to disrupted cell junctions and increased invasive characteristics. Thus, identifying PTPRK substrates provides insight into its downstream signaling and a potential molecular explanation for its proposed tumor suppressor function.
The kinase GRK2 has been linked to the clinically important Hedgehog (HH) signaling pathway, where it is paradoxically required for signal transduction yet also promotes internalization and degradation of the critical HH signal transducer Smoothened. Two reports by Li and Pusapati in this issue of provide new insights into the role of GRK2 in HH signaling.
Cholesterol can regulate the Hedgehog signalling pathway by directly binding to a receptor on the cell surface.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) of the skin is the most common malignant neoplasm in humans. BCC is primarily driven by the Sonic Hedgehog (Hh) pathway. However, its phenotypic variation remains unexplained. Our genetic profiling of 293 BCCs found the highest mutation rate in cancer (65 mutations/Mb). Eighty-five percent of the BCCs harbored mutations in Hh pathway genes (PTCH1, 73% or SMO, 20% (P = 6.6 × 10(-8)) and SUFU, 8%) and in TP53 (61%). However, 85% of the BCCs also harbored additional driver mutations in other cancer-related genes. We observed recurrent mutations in MYCN (30%), PPP6C (15%), STK19 (10%), LATS1 (8%), ERBB2 (4%), PIK3CA (2%), and NRAS, KRAS or HRAS (2%), and loss-of-function and deleterious missense mutations were present in PTPN14 (23%), RB1 (8%) and FBXW7 (5%). Consistent with the mutational profiles, N-Myc and Hippo-YAP pathway target genes were upregulated. Functional analysis of the mutations in MYCN, PTPN14 and LATS1 suggested their potential relevance in BCC tumorigenesis.
The Hedgehog pathway is critical for animal development and has been implicated in multiple human malignancies. Despite great interest in targeting the pathway pharmacologically, many of the principles underlying the signal transduction cascade remain poorly understood. Hedgehog ligands are recognized by a unique receptor system that features the transporter-like protein Patched and the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-like Smoothened (SMO). The biochemical interaction between these transmembrane proteins is the subject of intensive efforts. Recent structural and functional studies have provided great insight into the small-molecule regulation of SMO through identification of two distinct ligand-binding sites. In this Perspective, we review these recent findings and relate them to potential mechanisms for the endogenous regulation of SMO.
Smoothened (SMO) inhibitors are under clinical investigation for the treatment of several cancers. Vismodegib is approved for the treatment of locally advanced and metastatic basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Most BCC patients experience significant clinical benefit on vismodegib, but some develop resistance. Genomic analysis of tumor biopsies revealed that vismodegib resistance is associated with Hedgehog (Hh) pathway reactivation, predominantly through mutation of the drug target SMO and to a lesser extent through concurrent copy number changes in SUFU and GLI2. SMO mutations either directly impaired drug binding or activated SMO to varying levels. Furthermore, we found evidence for intra-tumor heterogeneity, suggesting that a combination of therapies targeting components at multiple levels of the Hh pathway is required to overcome resistance.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most commonly diagnosed cancer. While most BCCs are amenable to surgery, some tumors can reach a more advanced stage or metastasize, and become ineligible for surgical resection or radiotherapy. Abnormal activation of the Hedgehog (Hh) pathway is a key driver in BCC pathophysiology. Consequently, inhibitors of the Hh pathway have been developed. Molecules that inhibit the receptor protein Smoothened (SMO) are the most advanced in clinical development. Vismodegib is the first-in-class SMO inhibitor and has been approved in a number of countries for the treatment of metastatic or locally advanced BCC. Several molecules have demonstrated antitumoral activity, but treatment may be limited in duration by a number of side effects, and it is not yet established whether these agents are truly curative or whether continued treatment will be required. Resistance to SMO inhibition has been reported in the clinic for which incidence and mechanisms must be elucidated to inform future therapeutic strategies. Intermittent dosing regimens to improve tolerability, as well as neoadjuvant use of Hh pathway inhibitors, are currently under investigation. Here, we review the most recent outcomes obtained with Hh inhibitors under clinical investigation in BCC.
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the site of synthesis of secreted and membrane proteins. To exit the ER, proteins are packaged into COPII vesicles through direct interaction with the COPII coat or aided by specific cargo receptors. Despite the fundamental role of such cargo receptors in protein traffic, only a few have been identified; their cargo spectrum is unknown and the signals they recognize remain poorly understood. We present here an approach we term "PAIRS" (pairing analysis of cargo receptors), which combines systematic genetic manipulations of yeast with automated microscopy screening, to map the spectrum of cargo for a known receptor or to uncover a novel receptor for a particular cargo. Using PAIRS we followed the fate of ∼150 cargos on the background of mutations in nine putative cargo receptors and identified novel cargo for most of these receptors. Deletion of the Erv14 cargo receptor affected the widest range of cargo. Erv14 substrates have a wide array of functions and structures; however, they are all membrane-spanning proteins of the late secretory pathway or plasma membrane. Proteins residing in these organelles have longer transmembrane domains (TMDs). Detailed examination of one cargo supported the hypothesis that Erv14 dependency reflects the length rather than the sequence of the TMD. The PAIRS approach allowed us to uncover new cargo for known cargo receptors and to obtain an unbiased look at specificity in cargo selection. Obtaining the spectrum of cargo for a cargo receptor allows a novel perspective on its mode of action. The rules that appear to guide Erv14 substrate recognition suggest that sorting of membrane proteins at multiple points in the secretory pathway could depend on the physical properties of TMDs. Such a mechanism would allow diverse proteins to utilize a few receptors without the constraints of evolving location-specific sorting motifs.
The various membranes of eukaryotic cells differ in composition, but it is at present unclear if this results in differences in physical properties. The sequences of transmembrane domains (TMDs) of integral membrane proteins should reflect the physical properties of the bilayers in which they reside. We used large datasets from both fungi and vertebrates to perform a comprehensive comparison of the TMDs of proteins from different organelles. We find that TMDs are not generic but have organelle-specific properties with a dichotomy in TMD length between the early and late parts of the secretory pathway. In addition, TMDs from post-ER organelles show striking asymmetries in amino acid compositions across the bilayer that is linked to residue size and varies between organelles. The pervasive presence of organelle-specific features among the TMDs of a particular organelle has implications for TMD prediction, regulation of protein activity by location, and sorting of proteins and lipids in the secretory pathway.
Members of the widespread rhomboid family of intramembrane proteases cleave transmembrane domain (TMD) proteins to regulate processes as diverse as EGF receptor signaling, mitochondrial dynamics, and invasion by apicomplexan parasites. However, lack of information about their substrates means that the biological role of most rhomboids remains obscure. Knowledge of how rhomboids recognize their substrates would illuminate their mechanism and might also allow substrate prediction. Previous work has suggested that rhomboid substrates are specified by helical instability in their TMD. Here we demonstrate that rhomboids instead primarily recognize a specific sequence surrounding the cleavage site. This recognition motif is necessary for substrate cleavage, it determines the cleavage site, and it is more strictly required than TM helix-destabilizing residues. Our work demonstrates that intramembrane proteases can be sequence specific and that genome-wide substrate prediction based on their recognition motifs is feasible.
Secretory proteins are transported from the endoplasmic reticulum to the Golgi apparatus via COPII-coated intermediates. Yeast Erv29p is a transmembrane protein cycling between these compartments. It is conserved across species, with one ortholog found in each genome studied, including the surf-4 protein in mammals. Yeast Erv29p acts as a receptor, loading a specific subset of soluble cargo, including glycosylated alpha factor pheromone precursor and carboxypeptidase Y, into vesicles. As the eukaryotic secretory pathway is highly conserved, mammalian surf-4 may perform a similar role in the transport of unknown substrates. Here we report the membrane topology of yeast Erv29p, which we solved by minimally invasive cysteine accessibility scanning using thiol-specific biotinylation and fluorescent labeling methods. Erv29p contains four transmembrane domains with both termini exposed to the cytosol. Two luminal loops may contain a recognition site for hydrophobic export signals on soluble cargo.
Microglia are associated with neuritic plaques in Alzheimer disease (AD) and serve as a primary component of the innate immune response in the brain. Neuritic plaques are fibrous deposits composed of the amyloid beta-peptide fragments (Abeta) of the amyloid precursor protein (APP). Numerous studies have shown that the immune cells in the vicinity of amyloid deposits in AD express mRNA and proteins for pro-inflammatory cytokines, leading to the hypothesis that microglia demonstrate classical (Th-1) immune activation in AD. Nonetheless, the complex role of microglial activation has yet to be fully explored since recent studies show that peripheral macrophages enter an "alternative" activation state.