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An overview on the molecular and metabolic mechanisms behind individual cell differences in developmental timing in the segmentation clock and the central nervous system.
Arbovirus can cause diseases with a broad spectrum from mild to severe and long-lasting symptoms, affecting humans worldwide and therefore considered a public health problem with global and diverse socio-economic impacts. Understanding how they spread within and across different regions is necessary to devise strategies to control and prevent new outbreaks. Complex network approaches have widespread use to get important insights on several phenomena, as the spread of these viruses within a given region. This work uses the motif-synchronization methodology to build time varying complex networks based on data of registered infections caused by Zika, chikungunya, and dengue virus from 2014 to 2020, in 417 cities of the state of Bahia, Brazil. The resulting network sets capture new information on the spread of the diseases that are related to the time delay in the synchronization of the time series among different municipalities. Thus the work adds new and important network-based insights to previous results based on dengue dataset in the period 2001-2016. The most frequent synchronization delay time between time series in different cities, which control the insertion of edges in the networks, ranges 7 to 14 days, a period that is compatible with the time of the individual-mosquito-individual transmission cycle of these diseases. As the used data covers the initial periods of the first Zika and chikungunya outbreaks, our analyses reveal an increasing monotonic dependence between distance among cities and the time delay for synchronization between the corresponding time series. The same behavior was not observed for dengue, first reported in the region back in 1986, either in the previously 2001-2016 based results or in the current work. These results show that, as the number of outbreaks accumulates, different strategies must be adopted to combat the dissemination of arbovirus infections.
There is widespread interest in the three-dimensional chromatin conformation of the genome and its impact on gene expression. However, these studies frequently do not consider parent-of-origin differences, such as genomic imprinting, which result in monoallelic expression. In addition, genome-wide allele-specific chromatin conformation associations have not been extensively explored. There are few accessible bioinformatic workflows for investigating allelic conformation differences and these require pre-phased haplotypes which are not widely available.
At the time of its discovery and characterization in 1994, leptin was mostly considered a metabolic hormone able to regulate body weight and energy homeostasis. However, in recent years, a great deal of literature has revealed leptin's pleiotropic nature, through its involvement in numerous physiological contexts including the regulation of the female reproductive tract and ovarian function. Obesity has been largely associated with infertility, and leptin signalling is known to be dysregulated in the ovaries of obese females. Hence, the disruption of ovarian leptin signalling was shown to contribute to the pathophysiology of ovarian failure in obese females, affecting transcriptional programmes in the gamete and somatic cells. This review attempts to uncover the underlying mechanisms contributing to female infertility associated with obesity, as well as to shed light on the role of leptin in the metabolic dysregulation within the follicle, the effects on the oocyte epigenome, and the potential long-term consequence to embryo programming.
The shuffling of genetic material facilitated by meiotic crossovers is a critical driver of genetic variation. Therefore, the number and positions of crossover events must be carefully controlled. In , an obligate crossover and repression of nearby crossovers on each chromosome pair are abolished in mutants that lack the synaptonemal complex (SC), a conserved protein scaffold. We use mathematical modelling and quantitative super-resolution microscopy to explore and mechanistically explain meiotic crossover pattering in lines with full, incomplete or abolished synapsis. For mutants, which lack an SC, we develop a coarsening model in which crossover precursors globally compete for a limited pool of the pro-crossover factor HEI10, with dynamic HEI10 exchange mediated through the nucleoplasm. We demonstrate that this model is capable of quantitatively reproducing and predicting experimental crossover patterning and HEI10 foci intensity data. Additionally, we find that a model combining both SC- and nucleoplasm-mediated coarsening can explain crossover patterning in wild-type and in mutants, which display partial synapsis. Together, our results reveal that regulation of crossover patterning in wild-type and SC defective mutants likely act through the same underlying coarsening mechanism, differing only in the spatial compartments through which the pro-crossover factor diffuses.
Activated PI3Kδ Syndrome (APDS) is a rare inherited inborn error of immunity caused by mutations that constitutively activate the p110 delta isoform of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3Kδ), resulting in recurring pulmonary infections. Currently no licensed therapies are available. Here we report the results of an open-label trial in which five subjects were treated for 12 weeks with nemiralisib, an inhaled inhibitor of PI3Kδ, to determine safety, systemic exposure, together with lung and systemic biomarker profiles (Clinicaltrial.gov: NCT02593539). Induced sputum was captured to measure changes in phospholipids and inflammatory mediators, and blood samples were collected to assess pharmacokinetics of nemiralisib, and systemic biomarkers. Nemiralisib was shown to have an acceptable safety and tolerability profile, with cough being the most common adverse event, and no severe adverse events reported during the study. No meaningful changes in phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate (PIP3; the enzyme product of PI3Kδ) or downstream inflammatory markers in induced sputum, were observed following nemiralisib treatment. Similarly, there were no meaningful changes in blood inflammatory markers, or lymphocytes subsets. Systemic levels of nemiralisib were higher in subjects in this study compared to previous observations. While nemiralisib had an acceptable safety profile, there was no convincing evidence of target engagement in the lung following inhaled dosing and no downstream effects observed in either the lung or blood compartments. We speculate that this could be explained by nemiralisib not being retained in the lung for sufficient duration, suggested by the increased systemic exposure, perhaps due to pre-existing structural lung damage. In this study investigating a small number of subjects with APDS, nemiralisib appeared to be safe and well-tolerated. However, data from this study do not support the hypothesis that inhaled treatment with nemiralisib would benefit patients with APDS.
Severe congenital neutropenia presents with recurrent infections early in life due to arrested granulopoiesis. Multiple genetic defects are known to block granulocyte differentiation, however a genetic cause remains unknown in approximately 40% of cases.
Targeted metabolite assays that measure tens or hundreds of pre-selected metabolites, typically using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, are increasingly being developed and applied to metabolic phenotyping studies. These are used both as standalone phenotyping methods and for the validation of putative metabolic biomarkers obtained from untargeted metabolomics studies. However, there are no widely accepted standards in the scientific community for ensuring reliability of the development and validation of targeted metabolite assays (referred to here as 'targeted metabolomics'). Most current practices attempt to adopt, with modifications, the strict guidance provided by drug regulatory authorities for analytical methods designed largely for measuring drugs and other xenobiotic analytes. Here, the regulatory guidance provided by the European Medicines Agency, US Food and Drug Administration and International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use are summarized. In this Perspective, we have adapted these guidelines and propose a less onerous 'tiered' approach to evaluate the reliability of a wide range of metabolomics analyses, addressing the need for community-accepted, harmonized guidelines for tiers other than full validation. This 'fit-for-purpose' tiered approach comprises four levels-discovery, screening, qualification and validation-and is discussed in the context of a range of targeted and untargeted metabolomics assays. Issues arising with targeted multiplexed metabolomics assays, and how these might be addressed, are considered. Furthermore, guidance is provided to assist the community with selecting the appropriate degree of reliability for a series of well-defined applications of metabolomics.
Abnormalities in the endosomal-autophagic-lysosomal (EAL) system are an early event in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis. However, the mechanisms underlying these abnormalities are unclear. The transient receptor potential channel mucolipin 1(TRPML1), a vital endosomal-lysosomal Ca2+ channel whose loss of function leads to neurodegeneration, has not been investigated with respect to EAL pathogenesis in late onset AD (LOAD). Here, we identify pathological hallmarks of TRPML1 dysregulation in LOAD neurons, including increased perinuclear clustering and vacuolation of endolysosomes. We reveal that iPSC human cortical neurons expressing APOE e4, the strongest genetic risk factor for LOAD, have significantly diminished TRPML1-induced endolysosomal Ca2+ release. Furthermore, we found that blocking TRPML1 function in primary neurons by depleting the TRPML1 agonist PI(3,5)P2. via PIKfyve inhibition, recreated multiple features of EAL neuropathology evident in LOAD. This included increased endolysosomal Ca2+ content, enlargement and perinuclear clustering of endolysosomes, autophagic vesicle accumulation, and early endosomal enlargement. Strikingly, these AD-like neuronal EAL defects were rescued by TRPML1 reactivation using its synthetic agonist ML-SA1. These findings implicate defects in TRPML1 in LOAD EAL pathogenesis and present TRPML1 as a potential therapeutic target.
The rapid and reversible nature of microRNA (miRNA) transcriptional regulation is ideal for implementing global changes to cellular processes and metabolism, a necessary asset for the freeze-tolerant gray tree frog (Dryophytes versicolor). D. versicolor can freeze up to 42% of its total body water during the winter and then thaw completely upon more favorable conditions of spring. Herein, we examined the freeze-specific miRNA responses in the gray tree frog using RBiomirGS, a bioinformatic tool designed for the analysis of miRNA-seq transcriptomics in non-genome sequenced organisms. We identified 11 miRNAs differentially regulated during freezing (miR-140-3p, miR-181a-5p, miR-206-3p, miR-451a, miR-19a-3p, miR-101-3p, miR-30e-5p, miR-142-3p and -5p, miR-21-5p, and miR-34a-5p). Gene Ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway enrichment analysis suggests these miRNAs play roles in downregulating signaling pathways, apoptosis, and nuclear processes while enhancing ribosomal biogenesis. Overall, these findings point towards miRNA inducing a state of energy conservation by downregulating energy-expensive pathways, while ribosomal biogenesis may lead to prioritization of critical processes for freeze-tolerance survival.
The advent of high-dimensional single-cell data has necessitated the development of dimensionality-reduction tools. t-Distributed stochastic neighbor embedding (t-SNE) and uniform manifold approximation and projection (UMAP) are the two most frequently used approaches, allowing clear visualization of complex single-cell datasets. Despite the need for quantitative comparison, t-SNE and UMAP have largely remained visualization tools due to the lack of robust statistical approaches. Here, we have derived a statistical test for evaluating the difference between dimensionality-reduced datasets using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test on the distributions of cross entropy of single cells within each dataset. As the approach uses the inter-relationship of single cells for comparison, the resulting statistic is robust and capable of identifying true biological variation. Further, the test provides a valid distance between single-cell datasets, allowing the organization of multiple samples into a dendrogram for quantitative comparison of complex datasets. These results demonstrate the largely untapped potential of dimensionality-reduction tools for biomedical data analysis beyond visualization.
During pre-implantation stages of mammalian development, maternally stored material promotes both the erasure of the sperm and oocyte epigenetic profiles and is responsible for concomitant genome activation. Here, we have utilized single-cell methylome and transcriptome sequencing (scM&T-seq) to quantify both mRNA expression and DNA methylation in oocytes and a developmental series of human embryos at single-cell resolution. We fully characterize embryonic genome activation and maternal transcript degradation and map key epigenetic reprogramming events in developmentally high-quality embryos. By comparing these signatures with early embryos that have undergone spontaneous cleavage-stage arrest, as determined by time-lapse imaging, we identify embryos that fail to appropriately activate their genomes or undergo epigenetic reprogramming. Our results indicate that a failure to successfully accomplish these essential milestones impedes the developmental potential of pre-implantation embryos and is likely to have important implications, similar to aneuploidy, for the success of assisted reproductive cycles.
X chromosome inactivation (XCI) is an essential process, yet it initiates with remarkable diversity in various mammalian species. XIST, the main trigger of XCI, is controlled in the mouse by an interplay of lncRNA genes (LRGs), some of which evolved concomitantly to XIST and have orthologues across all placental mammals. Here, we addressed the functional conservation of human orthologues of two such LRGs, FTX and JPX. By combining analysis of single-cell RNA-seq data from early human embryogenesis with various functional assays in matched human and mouse pluripotent stem- or differentiated post-XCI cells, we demonstrate major functional differences for these orthologues between species, independently of primary sequence conservation. While the function of FTX is not conserved in humans, JPX stands as a major regulator of XIST expression in both species. However, we show that different entities of JPX control the production of XIST at various steps depending on the species. Altogether, our study highlights the functional versatility of LRGs across evolution, and reveals that functional conservation of orthologous LRGs may involve diversified mechanisms of action. These findings represent a striking example of how the evolvability of LRGs can provide adaptative flexibility to constrained gene regulatory networks.
Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are characterized by the activated JAK2-STAT pathway. Pleckstrin-2 (Plek2) is a downstream target of the JAK2-STAT pathway and overexpressed in patients with MPNs. We previously revealed that Plek2 plays critical roles in the pathogenesis of JAK2 mutated MPNs. The non-essential roles of Plek2 under physiologic conditions makes it an ideal target for MPN therapy. Here we identified first-in-class Plek2 inhibitors through an in silico high-throughput screening and cell-based assays followed by the synthesis of analogs. The Plek2 specific small molecule inhibitors showed potent inhibitory effects on cell proliferation. Mechanistically, Plek2 interacts with and enhances the activity of Akt through the recruitment of downstream effector proteins. The Plek2 signaling complex also includes Hsp72 that protects Akt from degradation. These functions were blocked by Plek2 inhibitors via their direct binding to Plek2 DEP domain. The role of Plek2 in activating the Akt signaling was further confirmed in vivo using a hematopoietic specific Pten knockout mouse model. We next tested Plek2 inhibitors alone or in combination with an Akt inhibitor in various MPN mouse models, which showed significant therapeutic efficacies similar to the genetic depletion of Plek2. The Plek2 inhibitor was also effective in reducing proliferation of CD34 positive cells from MPN patients. Our studies reveal a Plek2-Akt complex that drives cell proliferation and can be targeted by a new class of anti-proliferative compounds for MPN therapy.
Freeze tolerance is an adaptive strategy that wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) use to survive the subzero temperatures of winter. It is characterized by a variety of metabolic and physiological changes that facilitate successful freezing and anoxia. As both mRNA regulation and posttranslation protein modification have been implicated in freeze tolerance, we hypothesized that posttranslational RNA regulation is also involved in coordinating freeze-thaw cycles and metabolic rate depression. As such, we investigated the most abundant RNA modification, adenosine methylation (N -methyladenosine; m A) in wood frog brains during 24 h periods of freezing and anoxia. This was followed by an examination of levels of RNA methyltransferases, demethyltransferases, and the readers of RNA methylation. Despite relative levels of methylation on mRNA remaining constant throughout freezing and anoxia, a significant increase in relative abundance of m A methyltransferases METTL3 and METTL14 was observed. In addition, we investigated the effect of m A RNA methylation on mRNA triaging to stress granules and report a significant increase in stress granule markers TIAR and TIA-1 in both freezing and anoxia. Our findings are the first report of RNA posttranslational regulation during metabolic rate depression in the wood frog brain and suggest that the dynamic RNA methylation observed is not directly linked to mRNA regulation during periods of extreme metabolic reorganization, warranting future investigations.
Scientific research plays a vital role for society, but carries a significant environmental footprint, involving intensive use of energy and resources. Scientists are well placed to understand the unfolding climate and ecological crises, but may not appreciate how heavily their research, and other work-related activities, contribute to emissions and pollution. With the consequences of climate change and ecological breakdown playing out in real time, scientists now have an important, urgent role to play in catalysing solutions. Here, we explore how research organisations can reduce their environmental impact, share useful resources and encourage the global community to engage in making science more sustainable.
DNA methylation is a repressive epigenetic modification that is essential for development, exemplified by the embryonic and perinatal lethality observed in mice lacking de novo DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs). Here we characterise the role for DNMT3A, 3B and 3L in gene regulation and development of the mouse placenta. We find that each DNMT establishes unique aspects of the placental methylome through targeting to distinct chromatin features. Loss of Dnmt3b results in de-repression of germline genes in trophoblast lineages and impaired formation of the maternal-foetal interface in the placental labyrinth. Using Sox2-Cre to delete Dnmt3b in the embryo, leaving expression intact in placental cells, the placental phenotype was rescued and, consequently, the embryonic lethality, as Dnmt3b null embryos could now survive to birth. We conclude that de novo DNA methylation by DNMT3B during embryogenesis is principally required to regulate placental development and function, which in turn is critical for embryo survival.
EHMT1 (also known as GLP) is a multifunctional protein, best known for its role as an H3K9me1 and H3K9me2 methyltransferase through its reportedly obligatory dimerization with EHMT2 (also known as G9A). Here, we investigated the role of EHMT1 in the oocyte in comparison to EHMT2 using oocyte-specific conditional knockout mouse models ( cKO, cKO, cDKO), with ablation from the early phase of oocyte growth. Loss of EHMT1 in cKO and cDKO oocytes recapitulated meiotic defects observed in the cKO; however, there was a significant impairment in oocyte maturation and developmental competence in cKO and cDKO oocytes beyond that observed in the cKO. Consequently, loss of EHMT1 in oogenesis results, upon fertilization, in mid-gestation embryonic lethality. To identify H3K9 methylation and other meaningful biological changes in each mutant to explore the molecular functions of EHMT1 and EHMT2, we performed immunofluorescence imaging, multi-omics sequencing, and mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteome analyses in cKO oocytes. Although H3K9me1 was depleted only upon loss of EHMT1, H3K9me2 was decreased, and H3K9me2-enriched domains were eliminated equally upon loss of EHMT1 or EHMT2. Furthermore, there were more significant changes in the transcriptome, DNA methylome, and proteome in cDKO than cKO oocytes, with transcriptional derepression leading to increased protein abundance and local changes in genic DNA methylation in cDKO oocytes. Together, our findings suggest that EHMT1 contributes to local transcriptional repression in the oocyte, partially independent of EHMT2, and is critical for oogenesis and oocyte developmental competence.
The present work shows a comprehensive chromatographic methods and MS conditions that have been developed according to the chemical properties of each lipid subclass to detect low abundance molecular species. This manuscript shows that the developed methods can detect low and/or very low-abundant lipids like phosphatidic acid (PA) in the glycerophospholipids method, dhCer, dhSPB in the ceramides method, and LPA, LPI, LPG, SPBP in the lysolipids method. Abundant lipid subclasses in human plasma are chromatographically separated from low abundance lipids prior to detection, avoiding the need for derivatisation. Lipid subclasses from the de novo lipogenesis and sphingolipids pathways are presented in this work. Three chromatographic methods here were implemented using a tertiary pumping system to allow for the inclusion of a gradient for analyte separation using A and B pumps, while an isocratic wash elutes interfering compounds. The isocratic wash enabled elution of lipid subclasses not targeted within the method that would otherwise cause background signal in the subsequent sample injection and reduction in column lifetime. Four chromatographic methods coupled with mass spectrometry using targeted and untargeted approaches to separate high and low abundance lipid subclasses are described here. An optimised extraction method for lysolipids is also used in addition to Folch extraction in human plasma.
In their attempt to fulfill the wish of having children, women who suffer from fertility issues often undergo assisted reproductive technologies such as ovarian stimulation, which has been associated with adverse health outcomes and imprinting disorders in children. However, given the crucial role of exogenous hormone stimulation in improving human infertility treatments, a more comprehensive analysis of the potential impacts on DNA methylation in embryos following ovarian stimulation is needed. Here, we provide genome-wide DNA methylation profiles of blastocysts generated after superovulation of prepubertal or adult mice, compared with blastocysts derived from non-stimulated adult mice. Additionally, we assessed the impact of the in vitro growth and maturation of oocytes on methylation in blastocysts.
Many bacteria of the genus are facultative anaerobes able to reduce a broad range of soluble and insoluble substrates, including Fe(III) mineral oxides. Under anoxic conditions, the bacterium Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 uses a porin-cytochrome complex (Mtr) to mediate extracellular electron transfer (EET) across the outer membrane to extracellular substrates. However, it is unclear how EET prevents generating harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) when exposed to oxic environments. The Mtr complex is expressed under anoxic and oxygen-limited conditions and contains an extracellular MtrC subunit. This has a conserved CXC motif that inhibits aerobic growth when removed. This inhibition is caused by an increase in ROS that kills the majority of S. oneidensis cells in culture. To better understand this effect, soluble MtrC isoforms with modified CXC were isolated. These isoforms produced increased concentrations of HO in the presence of flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and greatly increased the affinity between MtrC and FMN. X-ray crystallography revealed that the molecular structure of MtrC isoforms was largely unchanged, while small-angle X-ray scattering suggested that a change in flexibility was responsible for controlling FMN binding. Together, these results reveal that FMN reduction in S. oneidensis MR-1 is controlled by the redox-active disulfide on the cytochrome surface. In the presence of oxygen, the disulfide forms, lowering the affinity for FMN and decreasing the rate of peroxide formation. This cysteine pair consequently allows the cell to respond to changes in oxygen level and survive in a rapidly transitioning environment. Bacteria that live at the oxic/anoxic interface have to rapidly adapt to changes in oxygen levels within their environment. The facultative anaerobe Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 can use EET to respire in the absence of oxygen, but on exposure to oxygen, EET could directly reduce extracellular oxygen and generate harmful reactive oxygen species that damage the bacterium. By modifying an extracellular cytochrome called MtrC, we show how preventing a redox-active disulfide from forming causes the production of cytotoxic concentrations of peroxide. The disulfide affects the affinity of MtrC for the redox-active flavin mononucleotide, which is part of the EET pathway. Our results demonstrate how a cysteine pair exposed on the surface controls the path of electron transfer, allowing facultative anaerobic bacteria to rapidly adapt to changes in oxygen concentration at the oxic/anoxic interface.
In this editors' corner, the section editors were asked to indicate where they see the autophagy field heading and to suggest what they consider to be key unanswered questions in their specialty area.