The Babraham Institute Publications database contains details of all publications resulting from our research groups and scientific facilities. Pre-prints by Institute authors can be viewed on the Institute's bioRxiv channel. We believe that free and open access to the outputs of publicly‐funded research offers significant social and economic benefits, as well as aiding the development of new research. We are working to provide Open Access to as many publications as possible and these can be identified below by the padlock icon. Where this hasn't been possible, subscriptions may be required to view the full text.

Jung R, Lechler MC, Fernandez-Villegas A, Chung CW, Jones HC, Choi YH, Thompson MA, Rödelsperger C, Röseler W, Kaminski Schierle GS, Sommer RJ, David DC Signalling

During aging, proteostasis capacity declines and distinct proteins become unstable and can accumulate as protein aggregates inside and outside of cells. Both in disease and during aging, proteins selectively aggregate in certain tissues and not others. Yet, tissue-specific regulation of cytoplasmic protein aggregation remains poorly understood. Surprisingly, we found that the inhibition of 3 core protein quality control systems, namely chaperones, the proteasome, and macroautophagy, leads to lower levels of age-dependent protein aggregation in Caenorhabditis elegans pharyngeal muscles, but higher levels in body-wall muscles. We describe a novel safety mechanism that selectively targets newly synthesized proteins to suppress their aggregation and associated proteotoxicity. The safety mechanism relies on macroautophagy-independent lysosomal degradation and involves several previously uncharacterized components of the intracellular pathogen response (IPR). We propose that this protective mechanism engages an anti-aggregation machinery targeting aggregating proteins for lysosomal degradation.

+view abstract PLoS biology , PMID: 37708127

Mielczarek O, Rogers CH, Zhan Y, Matheson LS, Stubbington MJT, Schoenfelder S, Bolland DJ, Javierre BM, Wingett SW, Várnai C, Segonds-Pichon A, Conn SJ, Krueger F, Andrews S, Fraser P, Giorgetti L, Corcoran AE Immunology , Bioinformatics

To produce a diverse antibody repertoire, immunoglobulin heavy-chain (Igh) loci undergo large-scale alterations in structure to facilitate juxtaposition and recombination of spatially separated variable (V), diversity (D), and joining (J) genes. These chromosomal alterations are poorly understood. Uncovering their patterns shows how chromosome dynamics underpins antibody diversity. Using tiled Capture Hi-C, we produce a comprehensive map of chromatin interactions throughout the 2.8-Mb Igh locus in progenitor B cells. We find that the Igh locus folds into semi-rigid subdomains and undergoes flexible looping of the V genes to its 3' end, reconciling two views of locus organization. Deconvolution of single Igh locus conformations using polymer simulations identifies thousands of different structures. This heterogeneity may underpin the diversity of V(D)J recombination events. All three immunoglobulin loci also participate in a highly specific, developmentally regulated network of interchromosomal interactions with genes encoding B cell-lineage factors. This suggests a model of interchromosomal coordination of B cell development.

+view abstract Cell reports , PMID: 37676766

Zylstra A, Hadj-Moussa H, Horkai D, Whale AJ, Piguet B, Houseley J Epigenetics

The massive accumulation of extrachromosomal ribosomal DNA circles (ERCs) in yeast mother cells has been long cited as the primary driver of replicative ageing. ERCs arise through ribosomal DNA (rDNA) recombination, and a wealth of genetic data connects rDNA instability events giving rise to ERCs with shortened life span and other ageing pathologies. However, we understand little about the molecular effects of ERC accumulation. Here, we studied ageing in the presence and absence of ERCs, and unexpectedly found no evidence of gene expression differences that might indicate stress responses or metabolic feedback caused by ERCs. Neither did we observe any global change in the widespread disruption of gene expression that accompanies yeast ageing, altogether suggesting that ERCs are largely inert. Much of the differential gene expression that accompanies ageing in yeast was actually associated with markers of the senescence entry point (SEP), showing that senescence, rather than age, underlies these changes. Cells passed the SEP irrespective of ERCs, but we found the SEP to be associated with copy number amplification of a region of chromosome XII between the rDNA and the telomere (ChrXIIr) forming linear fragments up to approximately 1.8 Mb size, which arise in aged cells due to rDNA instability but through a different mechanism to ERCs. Therefore, although rDNA copy number increases dramatically with age due to ERC accumulation, our findings implicate ChrXIIr, rather than ERCs, as the primary driver of senescence during budding yeast ageing.

+view abstract PLoS biology , PMID: 37643194

Horkai D, Hadj-Moussa H, Whale AJ, Houseley J Epigenetics

Caloric restriction increases lifespan and improves ageing health, but it is unknown whether these outcomes can be separated or achieved through less severe interventions. Here, we show that an unrestricted galactose diet in early life minimises change during replicative ageing in budding yeast, irrespective of diet later in life. Average mother cell division rate is comparable between glucose and galactose diets, and lifespan is shorter on galactose, but markers of senescence and the progressive dysregulation of gene expression observed on glucose are minimal on galactose, showing that these are not intrinsic aspects of replicative ageing but rather associated processes. Respiration on galactose is critical for minimising hallmarks of ageing, and forced respiration during ageing on glucose by overexpression of the mitochondrial biogenesis factor Hap4 also has the same effect though only in a fraction of cells. This fraction maintains Hap4 activity to advanced age with low senescence and a youthful gene expression profile, whereas other cells in the same population lose Hap4 activity, undergo dramatic dysregulation of gene expression and accumulate fragments of chromosome XII (ChrXIIr), which are tightly associated with senescence. Our findings support the existence of two separable ageing trajectories in yeast. We propose that a complete shift to the healthy ageing mode can be achieved in wild-type cells through dietary change in early life without caloric restriction.

+view abstract PLoS biology , PMID: 37643155

Florey O Signalling

Maintaining the integrity of the endolysosomal system is of great importance for cellular homeostasis. Recent work published in The EMBO Journal and EMBO Reports reveals a novel role for the protein TECPR1 as a sensor for stressed membranes and regulator of lysosomal membrane repair.

+view abstract The EMBO journal , PMID: 37638605

Renna FJ, Enriqué Steinberg JH, Gonzalez CD, Manifava M, Tadic MS, Orquera T, Vecino CV, Ropolo A, Guardavaccaro D, Rossi M, Ktistakis NT, Vaccaro MI Signalling

Autophagy is a tightly regulated catabolic process involved in the degradation and recycling of proteins and organelles. Ubiquitination plays an important role in the regulation of autophagy. Vacuole Membrane Protein 1 (VMP1) is an essential autophagy protein. The expression of VMP1 in pancreatic cancer stem cells carrying the activated Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) triggers autophagy and enables therapy resistance. Using biochemical and cellular approaches, we identified ubiquitination as a post-translational modification of VMP1 from the initial steps in autophagosome biogenesis. VMP1 remains ubiquitinated as part of the autophagosome membrane throughout autophagic flux until autolysosome formation. However, VMP1 is not degraded by autophagy, nor by the ubiquitin-proteasomal system. Mass spectrometry and immunoprecipitation showed that the cell division cycle protein cdt2 (Cdt2), the substrate recognition subunit of the E3 ligase complex associated with cancer, cullin-RING ubiquitin ligase complex 4 (CRL4), is a novel interactor of VMP1 and is involved in VMP1 ubiquitination. VMP1 ubiquitination decreases under the CRL inhibitor MLN4924 and increases with Cdt2 overexpression. Moreover, VMP1 recruitment and autophagosome formation is significantly affected by CRL inhibition. Our results indicate that ubiquitination is a novel post-translational modification of VMP1 during autophagy in human tumor cells. VMP1 ubiquitination may be of clinical relevance in tumor-cell-therapy resistance.

+view abstract International journal of molecular sciences , PMID: 37629161

Salerno F, Howden AJM, Matheson LS, Gizlenci Ö, Screen M, Lingel H, Brunner-Weinzierl MC, Turner M Immunology

During B cell maturation, transitional and mature B cells acquire cell-intrinsic features that determine their ability to exit quiescence and mount effective immune responses. Here we use label-free proteomics to quantify the proteome of B cell subsets from the mouse spleen and map the differential expression of environmental sensing, transcription, and translation initiation factors that define cellular identity and function. Cross-examination of the full-length transcriptome and proteome identifies mRNAs related to B cell activation and antibody secretion that are not accompanied by detection of the encoded proteins. In addition, proteomic data further suggests that the translational repressor PDCD4 restrains B cell responses, in particular those from marginal zone B cells, to a T-cell independent antigen. In summary, our molecular characterization of B cell maturation presents a valuable resource to further explore the mechanisms underpinning the specialized functions of B cell subsets, and suggest the presence of 'poised' mRNAs that enable expedited B cell responses.

+view abstract Nature communications , PMID: 37612319

Giuliani A, Licursi V, Nisi PS, Fiore M, D'Angelo S, Biagioni S, Negri R, Rugg-Gunn PJ, Cacci E, Lupo G Epigenetics

In the adult mouse brain, the subventricular zone (SVZ) underlying the lateral ventricles harbours a population of quiescent neural stem cells, which can be activated (aNSCs) to initiate proliferation and generate a neurogenic lineage consisting of transit amplifying progenitors (TAPs), neuroblasts (NBs) and newborn neurons. This process is markedly reduced during aging. Recent studies suggest that the aged SVZ niche decreases the pool of proliferating neural/stem progenitor cells (NSPCs), and hence adult neurogenesis, by causing transcriptomic changes that promote NSC quiescence. The transcription factors that mediate these changes, however, remain unclear. We previously found that the homeobox gene Dbx2 is upregulated in NSPCs of the aged mouse SVZ and can inhibit the growth of NSPC cultures. Here, we further investigate its role as a candidate transcriptional regulator of neurogenic decline. We show that Dbx2 expression is downregulated by Epidermal Growth Factor receptor signaling, which promotes NSPC proliferation and decreases in the aged SVZ. By means of transgenic NSPC lines overexpressing Dbx2, we also show that this gene inhibits NSPC proliferation by hindering the G2/M transition. Furthermore, we exploit RNA sequencing of transgenic NSPCs to elucidate the transcriptomic networks modulated by Dbx2. Among the top hits, we report the downregulation of the molecular pathways implicated in cell cycle progression. Accordingly, we find that Dbx2 function is negatively correlated with the transcriptional signatures of proliferative NSPCs (aNSCs, TAPs and early NBs). These results point to Dbx2 as a transcription factor relaying the anti-neurogenic input of the aged niche to the NSPC transcriptome.

+view abstract Stem cell reviews and reports , PMID: 37605090

Ferreira IATM, Lee CYC, Foster WS, Abdullahi A, Dratva LM, Tuong ZK, Stewart BJ, Ferdinand JR, Guillaume SM, Potts MOP, Perera M, Krishna BA, Peñalver A, Cabantous M, Kemp SA, Ceron-Gutierrez L, Ebrahimi S, , Lyons P, Smith KGC, Bradley J, Collier DA, McCoy LE, van der Klaauw A, Thaventhiran JED, Farooqi IS, Teichmann SA, MacAry PA, Doffinger R, Wills MR, Linterman MA, Clatworthy MR, Gupta RK Immunology

Suboptimal responses to a primary vaccination course have been reported in the elderly, but there is little information regarding the impact of age on responses to booster third doses. Here, we show that individuals 70 years or older (median age 73, range 70-75) who received a primary two-dose schedule with AZD1222 and booster third dose with mRNA vaccine achieve significantly lower neutralizing antibody responses against SARS-CoV-2 spike pseudotyped virus compared with those younger than 70 (median age 66, range 54-69) at 1 month post booster. Impaired neutralization potency and breadth post third dose in the elderly is associated with circulating "atypical" spike-specific B cells expressing CD11c and FCRL5. However, when considering individuals who received three doses of mRNA vaccine, we did not observe differences in neutralization or enrichment in atypical B cells. This work highlights the finding that AdV and mRNA COVID-19 vaccine formats differentially instruct the memory B cell response.

+view abstract Cell reports , PMID: 37590132

Chessa TAM, Jung P, Anwar A, Suire S, Anderson KE, Barneda D, Kielkowska A, Sadiq BA, Lai IW, Felisbino S, Turnham DJ, Pearson HB, Phillips WA, Sasaki J, Sasaki T, Oxley D, Spensberger D, Segonds-Pichon A, Wilson M, Walker S, Okkenhaug H, Cosulich S, Hawkins PT, Stephens LR Signalling , Imaging, Mass Spectrometry, Bioinformatics, Gene Targeting

The PIP/PI3K network is a central regulator of metabolism and is frequently activated in cancer, commonly by loss of the PIP/PI(3,4)P phosphatase, PTEN. Despite huge research investment, the drivers of the PI3K network in normal tissues and how they adapt to overactivation are unclear. We find that in healthy mouse prostate PI3K activity is driven by RTK/IRS signaling and constrained by pathway feedback. In the absence of PTEN, the network is dramatically remodeled. A poorly understood YXXM- and PIP/PI(3,4)P-binding PH domain-containing adaptor, PLEKHS1, became the dominant activator and was required to sustain PIP, AKT phosphorylation, and growth in PTEN-null prostate. This was because PLEKHS1 evaded pathway-feedback and experienced enhanced PI3K- and Src-family kinase-dependent phosphorylation of YXXM, eliciting PI3K activation. hPLEKHS1 mRNA and activating Y phosphorylation of hSrc correlated with PI3K pathway activity in human prostate cancers. We propose that in PTEN-null cells receptor-independent, Src-dependent tyrosine phosphorylation of PLEKHS1 creates positive feedback that escapes homeostasis, drives PIP signaling, and supports tumor progression.

+view abstract Molecular cell , PMID: 37567175

Osma-Garcia IC, Mouysset M, Capitan-Sobrino D, Aubert Y, Turner M, Diaz-Muñoz MD Immunology

Germinal centers (GCs) are essential for the establishment of long-lasting antibody responses. GC B cells rely on post-transcriptional RNA mechanisms to translate activation-associated transcriptional programs into functional changes in the cell proteome. However, the critical proteins driving these key mechanisms are still unknown. Here, we show that the RNA binding proteins TIA1 and TIAL1 are required for the generation of long-lasting GC responses. TIA1- and TIAL1-deficient GC B cells fail to undergo antigen-mediated positive selection, expansion and differentiation into B-cell clones producing high-affinity antibodies. Mechanistically, TIA1 and TIAL1 control the transcriptional identity of dark- and light-zone GC B cells and enable timely expression of the prosurvival molecule MCL1. Thus, we demonstrate here that TIA1 and TIAL1 are key players in the post-transcriptional program that selects high-affinity antigen-specific GC B cells.

+view abstract Cellular & molecular immunology , PMID: 37474714

Rappoport N, Chomsky E, Nagano T, Seibert C, Lubling Y, Baran Y, Lifshitz A, Leung W, Mukamel Z, Shamir R, Fraser P, Tanay A

Embryonic development involves massive proliferation and differentiation of cell lineages. This must be supported by chromosome replication and epigenetic reprogramming, but how proliferation and cell fate acquisition are balanced in this process is not well understood. Here we use single cell Hi-C to map chromosomal conformations in post-gastrulation mouse embryo cells and study their distributions and correlations with matching embryonic transcriptional atlases. We find that embryonic chromosomes show a remarkably strong cell cycle signature. Despite that, replication timing, chromosome compartment structure, topological associated domains (TADs) and promoter-enhancer contacts are shown to be variable between distinct epigenetic states. About 10% of the nuclei are identified as primitive erythrocytes, showing exceptionally compact and organized compartment structure. The remaining cells are broadly associated with ectoderm and mesoderm identities, showing only mild differentiation of TADs and compartment structures, but more specific localized contacts in hundreds of ectoderm and mesoderm promoter-enhancer pairs. The data suggest that while fully committed embryonic lineages can rapidly acquire specific chromosomal conformations, most embryonic cells are showing plastic signatures driven by complex and intermixed enhancer landscapes.

+view abstract Nature communications , PMID: 37386027

Machin PA, Johnsson AE, Massey EJ, Pantarelli C, Chetwynd SA, Chu JY, Okkenhaug H, Segonds-Pichon A, Walker S, Malliri A, Fukui Y, Welch HCE Signalling , Bioinformatics, Imaging

Rac-GTPases and their Rac-GEF activators play important roles in neutrophil-mediated host defence. These proteins control the adhesion molecules and cytoskeletal dynamics required for neutrophil recruitment to inflamed and infected organs, and the neutrophil effector responses that kill pathogens.

+view abstract Frontiers in immunology , PMID: 37383235

Linterman MA Immunology

Vaccination is an excellent strategy to limit the morbidity and mortality associated with infectious disease. Vaccination creates protective, long-lived antibody-mediated immunity by inducing the germinal centre response, an intricate immune reaction that produces memory B cells and long-lived antibody-secreting plasma cells that provide protection against (re)infection. The magnitude and quality of the germinal centre response declines with age, contributing to poor vaccine-induced immunity in older individuals. T follicular helper cells are essential for the formation and function of the germinal centre response. This review will discuss how age-dependent changes in T follicular helper cells influence the germinal centre response, and the evidence that age-dependent changes need not be a barrier to successful vaccination in the later years of life.

+view abstract Seminars in immunology , PMID: 37379670

Herppich S, Hoenicke L, Kern F, Kruse F, Smout J, Greweling-Pils MC, Geffers R, Burton OT, Liston A, Keller A, Floess S, Huehn J Immunology

Mucosal barrier integrity and pathogen clearance is a complex process influenced by both Th17 and Treg cells. Previously, we had described the DNA methylation profile of Th17 cells and identified Zinc finger protein (Zfp)362 to be uniquely demethylated. Here, we generated Zfp362 mice to unravel the role of Zfp362 for Th17 cell biology. Zfp362 mice appeared clinically normal, showed no phenotypic alterations in the T-cell compartment, and upon colonization with segmented filamentous bacteria, no effect of Zfp362 deficiency on Th17 cell differentiation was observed. By contrast, Zfp362 deletion resulted in increased frequencies of colonic Foxp3 Treg cells and IL-10 and RORγt Treg cell subsets in mesenteric lymph nodes. Adoptive transfer of naïve CD4 T cells from Zfp362 mice into Rag2 mice resulted in a significantly lower weight loss when compared with controls receiving cells from Zfp362 littermates. However, this attenuated weight loss did not correlate with alterations of Th17 cells but instead was associated with an increase of effector Treg cells in mesenteric lymph nodes. Together, these results suggest that Zfp362 plays an important role in promoting colonic inflammation; however, this function is derived from constraining the effector function of Treg cells rather than directly promoting Th17 cell differentiation.

+view abstract European journal of immunology , PMID: 37366299

Taubenschmid-Stowers J, Reik W Epigenetics

The totipotent embryo initiates transcription during zygotic or embryonic genome activation (EGA, ZGA). ZGA occurs at the 8-cell stage in humans and its failure leads to developmental arrest. Understanding the molecular pathways underlying ZGA and totipotency is essential to comprehend human development. Recently, human 8-cell-like cells (8CLCs) have been discovered in vitro that resemble the 8-cell embryo. 8CLCs exist among naive pluripotent stem cells and can be induced genetically or chemically. Their ZGA-like transcriptome, transposable element activation, 8-cell embryo-specific protein expression, and developmental properties make them an exceptional model system to study early embryonic cell-state transitions and human totipotency programs in vitro.

+view abstract Current opinion in genetics & development , PMID: 37356343

Zhu X, Wang Y, Soaita I, Lee HW, Bae H, Boutagy N, Bostwick A, Zhang RM, Bowman C, Xu Y, Trefely S, Chen Y, Qin L, Sessa W, Tellides G, Jang C, Snyder NW, Yu L, Arany Z, Simons M Epigenetics, Signalling

Endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndMT), a process initiated by activation of endothelial TGF-β signaling, underlies numerous chronic vascular diseases and fibrotic states. Once induced, EndMT leads to a further increase in TGF-β signaling, thus establishing a positive-feedback loop with EndMT leading to more EndMT. Although EndMT is understood at the cellular level, the molecular basis of TGF-β-driven EndMT induction and persistence remains largely unknown. Here, we show that metabolic modulation of the endothelium, triggered by atypical production of acetate from glucose, underlies TGF-β-driven EndMT. Induction of EndMT suppresses the expression of the enzyme PDK4, which leads to an increase in ACSS2-dependent Ac-CoA synthesis from pyruvate-derived acetate. This increased Ac-CoA production results in acetylation of the TGF-β receptor ALK5 and SMADs 2 and 4 leading to activation and long-term stabilization of TGF-β signaling. Our results establish the metabolic basis of EndMT persistence and unveil novel targets, such as ACSS2, for the potential treatment of chronic vascular diseases.

+view abstract Cell metabolism , PMID: 37327791

Abakir A, Reik W Epigenetics

No abstract available

+view abstract Nature chemical biology , PMID: 37322154

Rugg-Gunn PJ, Moris N, Tam PPL Epigenetics

Recent years have seen exciting progress across human embryo research, including new methods for culturing embryos, transcriptional profiling of embryogenesis and gastrulation, mapping lineage trajectories, and experimenting on stem cell-based embryo models. These advances are beginning to define the dynamical principles of development across stages, tissues and organs, enabling a better understanding of human development before birth in health and disease, and potentially leading to improved treatments for infertility and developmental disorders. However, there are still significant roadblocks en route to this goal. Here, we highlight technical challenges to studying early human development and propose ways and means to overcome some of these constraints.

+view abstract Development (Cambridge, England) , PMID: 37260362

Murphy LO, Ktistakis NT Signalling

As a maturing field that continues to provide fundamental insights into cell physiology, autophagy is also beginning to attract considerable interest from the biotechnology/pharmaceutical sector. For this Editor's corner, I thought it would be both useful and interesting to talk with somebody who has spent a lot of time in the commercial sphere, working on autophagy and related processes. I was fortunate that Dr. Leon Murphy, Chief Scientific Officer at Casma therapeutics, was willing and able to answer my questions. In addition to his insights on the commercial interest for autophagy, Dr. Murphy also shared his personal experience on the scientific life working in large and small pharmaceutical companies.

+view abstract Autophagy , PMID: 37255335

Renna FJ, Herrera Lopez M, Manifava M, Ktistakis NT, Vaccaro MI Signalling

Autophagy is a specialized catabolic process that selectively degrades cytoplasmic components, including proteins and damaged organelles. Autophagy allows cells to physiologically respond to stress stimuli and, thus, maintain cellular homeostasis. Cancer cells might modulate their autophagy levels to adapt to adverse conditions such as hypoxia, nutrient deficiency, or damage caused by chemotherapy. Ductal pancreatic adenocarcinoma is one of the deadliest types of cancer. Pancreatic cancer cells have high autophagy activity due to the transcriptional upregulation and post-translational activation of autophagy proteins. Here, the PANC-1 cell line was used as a model of pancreatic human cancer cells, and the AR42J pancreatic acinar cell line was used as a physiological model of highly differentiated mammalian cells. This study used the immunofluorescence of microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3) as an indicator of the status of autophagy activation. LC3 is an autophagy protein that, in basal conditions, shows a diffuse pattern of distribution in the cytoplasm (known as LC3-I in this condition). Autophagy induction triggers the conjugation of LC3 to phosphatidylethanolamine on the surface of newly formed autophagosomes to form LC3-II, a membrane-bound protein that aids in the formation and expansion of autophagosomes. To quantify the number of labeled autophagic structures, the open-source software FIJI was utilized with the aid of the "3D Objects Counter" tool. The measure of the autophagic levels both in physiological conditions and in cancer cells allows us to study the modulation of autophagy under diverse conditions such as hypoxia, chemotherapy treatment, or the knockdown of certain proteins.

+view abstract Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE , PMID: 37184277

van der Klaauw AA, Horner EC, Pereyra-Gerber P, Agrawal U, Foster WS, Spencer S, Vergese B, Smith M, Henning E, Ramsay ID, Smith JA, Guillaume SM, Sharpe HJ, Hay IM, Thompson S, Innocentin S, Booth LH, Robertson C, McCowan C, Kerr S, Mulroney TE, O'Reilly MJ, Gurugama TP, Gurugama LP, Rust MA, Ferreira A, Ebrahimi S, Ceron-Gutierrez L, Scotucci J, Kronsteiner B, Dunachie SJ, Klenerman P, , Park AJ, Rubino F, Lamikanra AA, Stark H, Kingston N, Estcourt L, Harvala H, Roberts DJ, Doffinger R, Linterman MA, Matheson NJ, Sheikh A, Farooqi IS, Thaventhiran JED Signalling, Immunology

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.

+view abstract Nature medicine , PMID: 37169862

Gerbaux M, Roos E, Willemsen M, Staels F, Neumann J, Bücken L, Haughton J, Yshii L, Dooley J, Schlenner S, Humblet-Baron S, Liston A Immunology

FOXP3 deficiency results in severe multisystem autoimmunity in both mice and humans, driven by the absence of functional regulatory T cells. Patients typically present with early and severe autoimmune polyendocrinopathy, dermatitis, and severe inflammation of the gut, leading to villous atrophy and ultimately malabsorption, wasting, and failure to thrive. In the absence of successful treatment, FOXP3-deficient patients usually die within the first 2 years of life. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation provides a curative option but first requires adequate control over the inflammatory condition. Due to the rarity of the condition, no clinical trials have been conducted, with widely unstandardized therapeutic approaches. We sought to compare the efficacy of lead therapeutic candidates rapamycin, anti-CD4 antibody, and CTLA4-Ig in controlling the physiological and immunological manifestations of Foxp3 deficiency in mice.

+view abstract Journal of clinical immunology , PMID: 37156988

Soaita I, Megill E, Kantner D, Chatoff A, Cheong YJ, Clarke P, Arany Z, Snyder NW, Wellen KE, Trefely S Signalling, Epigenetics

The ability of cells to store and rapidly mobilize energy reserves in response to nutrient availability is essential for survival. Breakdown of carbon stores produces acetyl-coenzyme-A (AcCoA), which fuels essential metabolic pathways and is also the acyl donor for protein lysine acetylation. Histones are abundant and highly acetylated proteins, accounting for 40% - 75% of cellular protein acetylation. Notably, histone acetylation is sensitive to AcCoA availability and nutrient replete conditions induce a substantial accumulation of acetylation on histones. Deacetylation releases acetate, which can be recycled to AcCoA, suggesting that deacetylation could be mobilized as an AcCoA source to feed downstream metabolic processes under nutrient depletion. While the notion of histones as a metabolic reservoir has been frequently proposed, experimental evidence has been lacking. Therefore, to test this concept directly, we used acetate-dependent ATP citrate lyase-deficient fibroblasts (Acly MEFs) and designed a pulse-chase experimental system to trace deacetylation-derived acetate and its incorporation into AcCoA. We found that dynamic protein deacetylation in Acly MEFs contributed carbons to AcCoA and proximal downstream metabolites. However, deacetylation had no significant effect on acyl-CoA pool sizes, and even at maximal acetylation, deacetylation transiently supplied less than 10% of cellular AcCoA. Together, our data reveal that although histone acetylation is dynamic and nutrient-sensitive, its potential for maintaining cellular AcCoA-dependent metabolic pathways is limited compared to cellular demand.

+view abstract The Journal of biological chemistry , PMID: 37142219