Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Publications

The Babraham Institute Publications database contains details of all publications resulting from our research groups and scientific services.

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Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

NFIL3 mutations alter immune homeostasis and sensitise for arthritis pathology.
Schlenner S, Pasciuto E, Lagou V, Burton O, Prezzemolo T, Junius S, Roca CP, Seillet C, Louis C, Dooley J, Luong K, Van Nieuwenhove E, Wicks IP, Belz G, Humblet-Baron S, Wouters C, Liston A

is a key immunological transcription factor, with knockout mice studies identifying functional roles in multiple immune cell types. Despite the importance of NFIL3, little is known about its function in humans.

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Annals of the rheumatic diseases, 78, 1468-2060, 342-349, 2019

PMID: 30552177


Open Access

A robust pipeline with high replication rate for detection of somatic variants in the adaptive immune system as a source of common genetic variation in autoimmune disease.
Van Horebeek L, Hilven K, Mallants K, Van Nieuwenhuijze A, Kelkka T, Savola P, Mustjoki S, Schlenner SM, Liston A, Dubois B, Goris A

The role of somatic variants in diseases beyond cancer is increasingly being recognized, with potential roles in autoinflammatory and autoimmune diseases. However, as mutation rates and allele fractions are lower, studies in these diseases are substantially less tolerant of false positives and bio-informatics algorithms require high replication rates. We developed a pipeline combining two variant callers, MuTect2 and VarScan2, with technical filtering and prioritization. Our pipeline detects somatic variants with allele fractions as low as 0.5% and achieves a replication rate >55%. Validation in an independent dataset demonstrates excellent performance (sensitivity >57%, specificity >98%, replication rate >80%). We applied this pipeline to the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis (MS) as a proof-of-principle. We demonstrate that 60% of MS patients carry 2-10 exonic somatic variants in their peripheral blood T and B cells, with the vast majority (80%) occurring in T cells and variants persisting over time. Synonymous variants significantly co-occur with nonsynonymous variants. Systematic characterization indicates somatic variants are enriched for being novel or very rare in public databases of germline variants and trend towards being more damaging and conserved, as reflected by higher CADD and GERP scores. Our pipeline and proof-of-principle now warrant further investigation of common somatic genetic variation on top of inherited genetic variation in the context of autoimmune disease, where it may offer subtle survival advantages to immune cells and contribute to the capacity of these cells to participate in the autoimmune reaction.

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Human molecular genetics, , 1460-2083, , 2018

PMID: 30541027


Germinal center humoral autoimmunity independently mediates progression of allograft vasculopathy.
Qureshi MS, Alsughayyir J, Chhabra M, Ali JM, Goddard MJ, Devine C, Conlon TM, Linterman MA, Motallebzadeh R, Pettigrew GJ

The development of humoral autoimmunity following organ transplantation is increasingly recognised, but of uncertain significance. We examine whether autoimmunity contributes independently to allograft rejection. In a MHC class II-mismatched murine model of chronic humoral rejection, we report that effector antinuclear autoantibody responses were initiated upon graft-versus-host allorecognition of recipient B cells by donor CD4 T-cells transferred within heart allografts. Consequently, grafts were rejected more rapidly, and with markedly augmented autoantibody responses, upon transplantation of hearts from donors previously primed against recipient. Nevertheless, rejection was dependent upon recipient T follicular helper (T) cell differentiation and provision of cognate (peptide-specific) help for maintenance as long-lived GC reactions, which diversified to encompass responses against vimentin autoantigen. Heart grafts transplanted into stable donor/recipient mixed haematopoietic chimeras, or from parental strain donors into F1 recipients (neither of which can trigger host adaptive alloimmune responses), nevertheless provoked GC autoimmunity and were rejected chronically, with rejection similarly dependent upon host T cell differentiation. Thus, autoantibody responses contribute independently of host adaptive alloimmunity to graft rejection, but require host T cell differentiation to maintain long-lived GC responses. The demonstration that one population of helper CD4 T-cells initiates humoral autoimmunity, but that a second population of T cells is required for its maintenance as a GC reaction, has important implications for how autoimmune-related phenomena manifest.

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Journal of autoimmunity, , 1095-9157, , 2018

PMID: 30528910


The RNA-binding proteins Zfp36l1 and Zfp36l2 act redundantly in myogenesis.
Bye-A-Jee H, Pugazhendhi D, Woodhouse S, Brien P, Watson R, Turner M, Pell J

Members of the ZFP36 family of RNA-binding proteins regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally by binding to AU-rich elements in the 3'UTR of mRNA and stimulating mRNA degradation. The proteins within this family target different transcripts in different tissues. In particular, ZFP36 targets myogenic transcripts and may have a role in adult muscle stem cell quiescence. Our study examined the requirement of ZFP36L1 and ZFP36L2 in adult muscle cell fate regulation.

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Skeletal muscle, 8, 2044-5040, 37, 2018

PMID: 30526691


Open Access

Biosynthesis of histone messenger RNA employs a specific 3' end endonuclease.
Pettinati I, Grzechnik P, Ribeiro de Almeida C, Brem J, McDonough MA, Dhir S, Proudfoot NJ, Schofield CJ

Replication-dependent (RD) core histone mRNA produced during S-phase is the only known metazoan protein-coding mRNA presenting a 3' stem-loop instead of the otherwise universal polyA tail. A metallo β-lactamase (MBL) fold enzyme, cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor 73 (CPSF73), is proposed to be the sole endonuclease responsible for 3' end processing of both mRNA classes. We report cellular, genetic, biochemical, substrate selectivity, and crystallographic studies providing evidence that an additional endoribonuclease, MBL domain containing protein 1 (MBLAC1), is selective for 3' processing of RD histone pre-mRNA during the S-phase of the cell cycle. Depletion of MBLAC1 in cells significantly affects cell cycle progression thus identifying MBLAC1 as a new type of S-phase-specific cancer target.

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eLife, 7, 2050-084X, , 2018

PMID: 30507380


Open Access

Modeling Meets Metabolomics-The WormJam Consensus Model as Basis for Metabolic Studies in the Model Organism .
Witting M, Hastings J, Rodriguez N, Joshi CJ, Hattwell JPN, Ebert PR, van Weeghel M, Gao AW, Wakelam MJO, Houtkooper RH, Mains A, Le Novère N, Sadykoff S, Schroeder F, Lewis NE, Schirra HJ, Kaleta C, Casanueva O

Metabolism is one of the attributes of life and supplies energy and building blocks to organisms. Therefore, understanding metabolism is crucial for the understanding of complex biological phenomena. Despite having been in the focus of research for centuries, our picture of metabolism is still incomplete. Metabolomics, the systematic analysis of all small molecules in a biological system, aims to close this gap. In order to facilitate such investigations a blueprint of the metabolic network is required. Recently, several metabolic network reconstructions for the model organism have been published, each having unique features. We have established the WormJam Community to merge and reconcile these (and other unpublished models) into a single consensus metabolic reconstruction. In a series of workshops and annotation seminars this model was refined with manual correction of incorrect assignments, metabolite structure and identifier curation as well as addition of new pathways. The WormJam consensus metabolic reconstruction represents a rich data source not only for network-based approaches like flux balance analysis, but also for metabolomics, as it includes a database of metabolites present in , which can be used for annotation. Here we present the process of model merging, correction and curation and give a detailed overview of the model. In the future it is intended to expand the model toward different tissues and put special emphasizes on lipid metabolism and secondary metabolism including ascaroside metabolism in accordance to their central role in physiology.

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Frontiers in molecular biosciences, 5, 2296-889X, 96, 2018

PMID: 30488036


Trophoblast organoids as a model for maternal-fetal interactions during human placentation.
Turco MY, Gardner L, Kay RG, Hamilton RS, Prater M, Hollinshead MS, McWhinnie A, Esposito L, Fernando R, Skelton H, Reimann F, Gribble FM, Sharkey A, Marsh SGE, O'Rahilly S, Hemberger M, Burton GJ, Moffett A

The placenta is the extraembryonic organ that supports the fetus during intrauterine life. Although placental dysfunction results in major disorders of pregnancy with immediate and lifelong consequences for the mother and child, our knowledge of the human placenta is limited owing to a lack of functional experimental models. After implantation, the trophectoderm of the blastocyst rapidly proliferates and generates the trophoblast, the unique cell type of the placenta. In vivo, proliferative villous cytotrophoblast cells differentiate into two main sub-populations: syncytiotrophoblast, the multinucleated epithelium of the villi responsible for nutrient exchange and hormone production, and extravillous trophoblast cells, which anchor the placenta to the maternal decidua and transform the maternal spiral arteries. Here we describe the generation of long-term, genetically stable organoid cultures of trophoblast that can differentiate into both syncytiotrophoblast and extravillous trophoblast. We used human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing to confirm that the organoids were derived from the fetus, and verified their identities against four trophoblast-specific criteria. The cultures organize into villous-like structures, and we detected the secretion of placental-specific peptides and hormones, including human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) and pregnancy-specific glycoprotein (PSG) by mass spectrometry. The organoids also differentiate into HLA-G extravillous trophoblast cells, which vigorously invade in three-dimensional cultures. Analysis of the methylome reveals that the organoids closely resemble normal first trimester placentas. This organoid model will be transformative for studying human placental development and for investigating trophoblast interactions with the local and systemic maternal environment.

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Nature, , 1476-4687, , 2018

PMID: 30487605


Macropinocytosis and autophagy crosstalk in nutrient scavenging
Florey O, Overholtzer M

Adaptive strategies used by cells to scavenge and recycle essential nutrients are important for survival in nutrient-depleted environments such as cancer tissues. Autophagy and macropinocytosis are two major mechanisms that promote nutrient recycling and scavenging, which share considerable, yet poorly understood, cross-regulation. Here we review recent findings that connect these starvation response mechanisms and discuss the implications of their crosstalk. This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Macropinocytosis’.

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Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 374, 1765, , 2018

PMID: 30478386

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2018.0154


Open Access

The double life of autophagy proteins.
Florey O

Nature microbiology, 3, 2058-5276, 1334-1335, 2018

PMID: 30478385


3D growth of cancer cells elicits sensitivity to kinase inhibitors but not lipid metabolism modifiers.
Jones DT, Valli A, Haider S, Zang Q, Smethurst E, Schug ZT, Peck B, Aboagye EO, Critchlow SE, Schulze A, Gottlieb E, Wakelam MJO, Adrian HL

Tumour cells exhibit altered lipid metabolism compared to normal cells. Cell signalling kinases are important for regulating lipid synthesis and energy storage. How upstream kinases regulate lipid content, versus direct targeting of lipid metabolising enzymes, is currently unexplored. We evaluated intracellular lipid concentrations in prostate and breast tumour spheroids, treated with drugs directly inhibiting metabolic enzymes FASN, ACC, DGAT and PDHK, or cell signalling kinase enzymes PI3K, AKT and mTOR with lipidomic analysis. We assessed whether baseline lipid profiles corresponded to inhibitors' effectiveness in modulating lipid profiles in 3D-growth, and their relationship to therapeutic activity. Inhibitors against PI3K, AKT and mTOR significantly inhibited MDA-MB-468 and PC3 cell growth in 2D and 3D spheroid growth, while moderately altering lipid content. Conversely, metabolism inhibitors against FASN and DGAT altered lipid content most effectively, while only moderately inhibiting growth compared to kinase inhibitors. The FASN and ACC inhibitors' effectiveness in MDA-MB-468, versus PC3, suggested the former depended more on synthesis whereas the latter may salvage lipids. Although baseline lipid profiles didn't predict growth effects, lipid changes on therapy matched the growth effects of FASN and DGAT inhibitors. Several phospholipids, including phosphatidylcholine, were also upregulated following treatment, possibly via the Kennedy pathway. As this promotes tumour growth, combination studies should include drugs targeting it. Two-dimensional drug screening may miss important metabolism inhibitors or underestimate their potency. Clinical studies should consider serial measurements of tumour lipids to prove target modulation. Pre-therapy tumour classification by de novo lipid synthesis versus uptake may help demonstrate efficacy.

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Molecular cancer therapeutics, , 1538-8514, , 2018

PMID: 30478149


Open Access

Hepatic gene body hypermethylation is a shared epigenetic signature of murine longevity.
Hahn O, Stubbs TM, Reik W, Grönke S, Beyer A, Partridge L

Dietary, pharmacological and genetic interventions can extend health- and lifespan in diverse mammalian species. DNA methylation has been implicated in mediating the beneficial effects of these interventions; methylation patterns deteriorate during ageing, and this is prevented by lifespan-extending interventions. However, whether these interventions also actively shape the epigenome, and whether such epigenetic reprogramming contributes to improved health at old age, remains underexplored. We analysed published, whole-genome, BS-seq data sets from mouse liver to explore DNA methylation patterns in aged mice in response to three lifespan-extending interventions: dietary restriction (DR), reduced TOR signaling (rapamycin), and reduced growth (Ames dwarf mice). Dwarf mice show enhanced DNA hypermethylation in the body of key genes in lipid biosynthesis, cell proliferation and somatotropic signaling, which strongly correlates with the pattern of transcriptional repression. Remarkably, DR causes a similar hypermethylation in lipid biosynthesis genes, while rapamycin treatment increases methylation signatures in genes coding for growth factor and growth hormone receptors. Shared changes of DNA methylation were restricted to hypermethylated regions, and they were not merely a consequence of slowed ageing, thus suggesting an active mechanism driving their formation. By comparing the overlap in ageing-independent hypermethylated patterns between all three interventions, we identified four regions, which, independent of genetic background or gender, may serve as novel biomarkers for longevity-extending interventions. In summary, we identified gene body hypermethylation as a novel and partly conserved signature of lifespan-extending interventions in mouse, highlighting epigenetic reprogramming as a possible intervention to improve health at old age.

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PLoS genetics, 14, 1553-7404, e1007766, 2018

PMID: 30462643


Open Access

Deregulated Expression of Mammalian lncRNA through Loss of SPT6 Induces R-Loop Formation, Replication Stress, and Cellular Senescence.
Nojima T, Tellier M, Foxwell J, Ribeiro de Almeida C, Tan-Wong SM, Dhir S, Dujardin G, Dhir A, Murphy S, Proudfoot NJ

Extensive tracts of the mammalian genome that lack protein-coding function are still transcribed into long noncoding RNA. While these lncRNAs are generally short lived, length restricted, and non-polyadenylated, how their expression is distinguished from protein-coding genes remains enigmatic. Surprisingly, depletion of the ubiquitous Pol-II-associated transcription elongation factor SPT6 promotes a redistribution of H3K36me3 histone marks from active protein coding to lncRNA genes, which correlates with increased lncRNA transcription. SPT6 knockdown also impairs the recruitment of the Integrator complex to chromatin, which results in a transcriptional termination defect for lncRNA genes. This leads to the formation of extended, polyadenylated lncRNAs that are both chromatin restricted and form increased levels of RNA:DNA hybrid (R-loops) that are associated with DNA damage. Additionally, these deregulated lncRNAs overlap with DNA replication origins leading to localized DNA replication stress and a cellular senescence phenotype. Overall, our results underline the importance of restricting lncRNA expression.

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Molecular cell, 72, 1097-4164, 970-984.e7, 2018

PMID: 30449723


Open Access

Quantitation of class IA PI3Ks in mice reveals p110-free-p85s and isoform-selective subunit associations and recruitment to receptors.
Tsolakos N, Durrant TN, Chessa T, Suire SM, Oxley D, Kulkarni S, Downward J, Perisic O, Williams RL, Stephens L, Hawkins PT

Class IA PI3Ks have many roles in health and disease. The rules that govern intersubunit and receptor associations, however, remain unclear. We engineered mouse lines in which individual endogenous class IA PI3K subunits were C-terminally tagged with 17aa that could be biotinylated in vivo. Using these tools we quantified PI3K subunits in streptavidin or PDGFR pull-downs and cell lysates. This revealed that p85α and β bound equivalently to p110α or p110β but p85α bound preferentially to p110δ. p85s were found in molar-excess over p110s in a number of contexts including MEFs (p85β, 20%) and liver (p85α, 30%). In serum-starved MEFs, p110-free-p85s were preferentially, compared with heterodimeric p85s, bound to PDGFRs, consistent with in vitro assays that demonstrated they bound PDGFR-based tyrosine-phosphorylated peptides with higher affinity and co-operativity; suggesting they may act to tune a PI3K activation threshold. p110α-heterodimers were recruited 5-6× more efficiently than p110β-heterodimers to activated PDGFRs in MEFs or to PDGFR-based tyrosine-phosphorylated peptides in MEF-lysates. This suggests that PI3Kα has a higher affinity for relevant tyrosine-phosphorylated motifs than PI3Kβ. Nevertheless, PI3Kβ contributes substantially to acute PDGF-stimulation of PIP and PKB in MEFs because it is synergistically, and possibly sequentially, activated by receptor-recruitment and small GTPases (Rac/CDC42) via its RBD, whereas parallel activation of PI3Kα is independent of its RBD. These results begin to provide molecular clarity to the rules of engagement between class IA PI3K subunits in vivo and past work describing "excess p85," p85α as a tumor suppressor, and differential receptor activation of PI3Kα and PI3Kβ.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115, 1091-6490, 12176-12181, 2018

PMID: 30442661


Open Access

Distinct proteostasis circuits cooperate in nuclear and cytoplasmic protein quality control.
Samant RS, Livingston CM, Sontag EM, Frydman J

Protein misfolding is linked to a wide array of human disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and type II diabetes. Protective cellular protein quality control (PQC) mechanisms have evolved to selectively recognize misfolded proteins and limit their toxic effects, thus contributing to the maintenance of the proteome (proteostasis). Here we examine how molecular chaperones and the ubiquitin-proteasome system cooperate to recognize and promote the clearance of soluble misfolded proteins. Using a panel of PQC substrates with distinct characteristics and localizations, we define distinct chaperone and ubiquitination circuitries that execute quality control in the cytoplasm and nucleus. In the cytoplasm, proteasomal degradation of misfolded proteins requires tagging with mixed lysine 48 (K48)- and lysine 11 (K11)-linked ubiquitin chains. A distinct combination of E3 ubiquitin ligases and specific chaperones is required to achieve each type of linkage-specific ubiquitination. In the nucleus, however, proteasomal degradation of misfolded proteins requires only K48-linked ubiquitin chains, and is thus independent of K11-specific ligases and chaperones. The distinct ubiquitin codes for nuclear and cytoplasmic PQC appear to be linked to the function of the ubiquilin protein Dsk2, which is specifically required to clear nuclear misfolded proteins. Our work defines the principles of cytoplasmic and nuclear PQC as distinct, involving combinatorial recognition by defined sets of cooperating chaperones and E3 ligases. A better understanding of how these organelle-specific PQC requirements implement proteome integrity has implications for our understanding of diseases linked to impaired protein clearance and proteostasis dysfunction.

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Nature, 563, 1476-4687, 407-411, 2018

PMID: 30429547


Author Correction: Promoter interactome of human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes connects GWAS regions to cardiac gene networks.
Choy MK, Javierre BM, Williams SG, Baross SL, Liu Y, Wingett SW, Akbarov A, Wallace C, Freire-Pritchett P, Rugg-Gunn PJ, Spivakov M, Fraser P, Keavney BD

In the original version of the Article, the gene symbol for tissue factor pathway inhibitor was inadvertently given as 'TFP1' instead of 'TFPI'. This has now been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the Article.

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Nature communications, 9, 2041-1723, 4792, 2018

PMID: 30420621


Open Access

Single cell transcriptome analysis of human, marmoset and mouse embryos reveals common and divergent features of preimplantation development.
Boroviak T, Stirparo GG, Dietmann S, Hernando-Herraez I, Mohammed H, Reik W, Smith A, Sasaki E, Nichols J, Bertone P

The mouse embryo is the canonical model for mammalian preimplantation development. Recent advances in single cell profiling allow detailed analysis of embryogenesis in other eutherian species, including human, to distinguish conserved from divergent regulatory programs and signalling pathways in the rodent paradigm. Here, we identify and compare transcriptional features of human, marmoset and mouse embryos by single cell RNA-seq. Zygotic genome activation correlates with the presence of polycomb repressive complexes in all three species, while ribosome biogenesis emerges as a predominant attribute in primate embryos, supporting prolonged translation of maternally deposited RNAs. We find that transposable element expression signatures are species, stage and lineage specific. The pluripotency network in the primate epiblast lacks certain regulators that are operative in mouse, but encompasses WNT components and genes associated with trophoblast specification. Sequential activation of GATA6, SOX17 and GATA4 markers of primitive endoderm identity is conserved in primates. Unexpectedly, OTX2 is also associated with primitive endoderm specification in human and non-human primate blastocysts. Our cross-species analysis demarcates both conserved and primate-specific features of preimplantation development, and underscores the molecular adaptability of early mammalian embryogenesis.

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Development (Cambridge, England), 145, 1477-9129, , 2018

PMID: 30413530


Open Access

Regulation of the Germinal Center Response.
Stebegg M, Kumar SD, Silva-Cayetano A, Fonseca VR, Linterman MA, Graca L

The germinal center (GC) is a specialized microstructure that forms in secondary lymphoid tissues, producing long-lived antibody secreting plasma cells and memory B cells, which can provide protection against reinfection. Within the GC, B cells undergo somatic mutation of the genes encoding their B cell receptors which, following successful selection, can lead to the emergence of B cell clones that bind antigen with high affinity. However, this mutation process can also be dangerous, as it can create autoreactive clones that can cause autoimmunity. Because of this, regulation of GC reactions is critical to ensure high affinity antibody production and to enforce self-tolerance by avoiding emergence of autoreactive B cell clones. A productive GC response requires the collaboration of multiple cell types. The stromal cell network orchestrates GC cell dynamics by controlling antigen delivery and cell trafficking. T follicular helper (Tfh) cells provide specialized help to GC B cells through cognate T-B cell interactions while Foxp3 T follicular regulatory (Tfr) cells are key mediators of GC regulation. However, regulation of GC responses is not a simple outcome of Tfh/Tfr balance, but also involves the contribution of other cell types to modulate the GC microenvironment and to avoid autoimmunity. Thus, the regulation of the GC is complex, and occurs at multiple levels. In this review we outline recent developments in the biology of cell subsets involved in the regulation of GC reactions, in both secondary lymphoid tissues, and Peyer's patches (PPs). We discuss the mechanisms which enable the generation of potent protective humoral immunity whilst GC-derived autoimmunity is avoided.

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Frontiers in immunology, 9, 1664-3224, 2469, 2018

PMID: 30410492


Open Access

Alpha-synuclein fibrils recruit TBK1 and OPTN to lysosomal damage sites and induce autophagy in microglial cells.
Bussi C, Peralta Ramos JM, Arroyo DS, Gallea JI, Ronchi P, Kolovou A, Wang JM, Florey O, Celej MS, Schwab Y, Ktistakis NT, Iribarren P

Autophagic dysfunction and protein aggregation have been linked to several neurodegenerative disorders, but the exact mechanisms and causal connections are not clear and most work was done in neurons and not in microglial cells. Here we report that exogenous fibrillar but not monomeric alpha-synuclein (AS) induces autophagy in microglial cells. We extensively studied the dynamics of this response by both live-cell imaging and correlative light-electron microscopy (CLEM) and found that it correlates with lysosomal damage and is characterised by the recruitment of the selective autophagy-associated proteins TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) and Optineurin (OPTN) to ubiquitinated lysosomes. In addition, we observed that LC3 recruitment to damaged lysosomes was dependent on TBK1 activity. In these fibrillar AS-treated cells, autophagy inhibition impairs mitochondrial function and leads to microglial cell death. Our results suggest that microglial autophagy is induced in response to lysosomal damage caused by persistent accumulation of AS fibrils. Importantly, triggering of the autophagic response appears to be an attempt at lysosomal quality control and not for engulfment of fibrillar AS.

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Journal of cell science, , 1477-9137, , 2018

PMID: 30404831


Open Access

The ATG5-binding and coiled coil domains of ATG16L1 maintain autophagy and tissue homeostasis in mice independently of the WD domain required for LC3-associated phagocytosis.
Rai S, Arasteh M, Jefferson M, Pearson T, Wang Y, Zhang W, Bicsak B, Divekar D, Powell PP, Nauman R, Beraza N, Carding SR, Florey O, Mayer U, Wileman T

Macroautophagy/autophagy delivers damaged proteins and organelles to lysosomes for degradation, and plays important roles in maintaining tissue homeostasis by reducing tissue damage. The translocation of LC3 to the limiting membrane of the phagophore, the precursor to the autophagosome, during autophagy provides a binding site for autophagy cargoes, and facilitates fusion with lysosomes. An autophagy-related pathway called LC3-associated phagocytosis (LAP) targets LC3 to phagosome and endosome membranes during uptake of bacterial and fungal pathogens, and targets LC3 to swollen endosomes containing particulate material or apoptotic cells. We have investigated the roles played by autophagy and LAP in vivo by exploiting the observation that the WD domain of ATG16L1 is required for LAP, but not autophagy. Mice lacking the linker and WD domains, activate autophagy, but are deficient in LAP. The LAP mice survive postnatal starvation, grow at the same rate as littermate controls, and are fertile. The liver, kidney, brain and muscle of these mice maintain levels of autophagy cargoes such as LC3 and SQSTM1/p62 similar to littermate controls, and prevent accumulation of SQSTM1 inclusions and tissue damage associated with loss of autophagy. The results suggest that autophagy maintains tissue homeostasis in mice independently of LC3-associated phagocytosis. Further deletion of glutamate E230 in the coiled-coil domain required for WIPI2 binding produced mice with defective autophagy that survived neonatal starvation. Analysis of brain lysates suggested that interactions between WIPI2 and ATG16L1 were less critical for autophagy in the brain, which may allow a low level of autophagy to overcome neonatal lethality. Abbreviations: CCD: coiled-coil domain; CYBB/NOX2: cytochrome b-245: beta polypeptide; GPT/ALT: glutamic pyruvic transaminase: soluble; LAP: LC3-associated phagocytosis; LC3: microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3; MEF: mouse embryonic fibroblast; NOD: nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain; NADPH: nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate; RUBCN/Rubicon: RUN domain and cysteine-rich domain containing Beclin 1-interacting protein; SLE: systemic lupus erythematosus; SQSTM1/p62: sequestosome 1; TLR: toll-like receptor; TMEM: transmembrane protein; TRIM: tripartite motif-containing protein; UVRAG: UV radiation resistance associated gene; WD: tryptophan-aspartic acid; WIPI: WD 40 repeat domain: phosphoinositide interacting.

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Autophagy, , 1554-8635, 1-14, 2018

PMID: 30403914


Disease-relevant transcriptional signatures identified in individual smooth muscle cells from healthy mouse vessels.
Dobnikar L, Taylor AL, Chappell J, Oldach P, Harman JL, Oerton E, Dzierzak E, Bennett MR, Spivakov M, Jørgensen HF

Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) show pronounced heterogeneity across and within vascular beds, with direct implications for their function in injury response and atherosclerosis. Here we combine single-cell transcriptomics with lineage tracing to examine VSMC heterogeneity in healthy mouse vessels. The transcriptional profiles of single VSMCs consistently reflect their region-specific developmental history and show heterogeneous expression of vascular disease-associated genes involved in inflammation, adhesion and migration. We detect a rare population of VSMC-lineage cells that express the multipotent progenitor marker Sca1, progressively downregulate contractile VSMC genes and upregulate genes associated with VSMC response to inflammation and growth factors. We find that Sca1 upregulation is a hallmark of VSMCs undergoing phenotypic switching in vitro and in vivo, and reveal an equivalent population of Sca1-positive VSMC-lineage cells in atherosclerotic plaques. Together, our analyses identify disease-relevant transcriptional signatures in VSMC-lineage cells in healthy blood vessels, with implications for disease susceptibility, diagnosis and prevention.

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Nature communications, 9, 2041-1723, 4567, 2018

PMID: 30385745


Open Access

5-Formylcytosine organizes nucleosomes and forms Schiff base interactions with histones in mouse embryonic stem cells.
Raiber EA, Portella G, Martínez Cuesta S, Hardisty R, Murat P, Li Z, Iurlaro M, Dean W, Spindel J, Beraldi D, Liu Z, Dawson MA, Reik W, Balasubramanian S

Nucleosomes are the basic unit of chromatin that help the packaging of genetic material while controlling access to the genetic information. The underlying DNA sequence, together with transcription-associated proteins and chromatin remodelling complexes, are important factors that influence the organization of nucleosomes. Here, we show that the naturally occurring DNA modification, 5-formylcytosine (5fC) is linked to tissue-specific nucleosome organization. Our study reveals that 5fC is associated with increased nucleosome occupancy in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrate that 5fC-associated nucleosomes at enhancers in the mammalian hindbrain and heart are linked to elevated gene expression. Our study also reveals the formation of a reversible-covalent Schiff base linkage between lysines of histone proteins and 5fC within nucleosomes in a cellular environment. We define their specific genomic loci in mouse embryonic stem cells and look into the biological consequences of these DNA-histone Schiff base sites. Collectively, our findings show that 5fC is a determinant of nucleosome organization and plays a role in establishing distinct regulatory regions that control transcription.

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Nature chemistry, , 1755-4349, , 2018

PMID: 30349137


A closer look at neuron interaction with track-etched microporous membranes.
George JH, Nagel D, Waller S, Hill E, Parri HR, Coleman MD, Cui Z, Ye H

Microporous membranes support the growth of neurites into and through micro-channels, providing a different type of neural growth platform to conventional dish cultures. Microporous membranes are used to support various types of culture, however, the role of pore diameter in relation to neurite growth through the membrane has not been well characterised. In this study, the human cell line (SH-SY5Y) was differentiated into neuron-like cells and cultured on track-etched microporous membranes with pore and channel diameters selected to accommodate neurite width (0.8 µm to 5 µm). Whilst neurites extended through all pore diameters, the extent of neurite coverage on the non-seeded side of the membranes after 5 days in culture was found to be directly proportional to channel diameter. Neurite growth through membrane pores reduced significantly when neural cultures were non-confluent. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that neurites bridged pores and circumnavigated pore edges - such that the overall likelihood of a neurite entering a pore channel was decreased. These findings highlight the role of pore diameter, cell sheet confluence and contact guidance in directing neurite growth through pores and may be useful in applications that seek to use physical substrates to maintain separate neural populations whilst permitting neurite contact between cultures.

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Scientific reports, 8, 2045-2322, 15552, 2018

PMID: 30341335


Open Access

P7C3-A20 neuroprotection is independent of Wallerian degeneration in primary neuronal culture.
Hill CS, Menon DK, Coleman MP

The antiapoptotic, neuroprotective compound P7C3-A20 reduces neurological deficits when administered to murine in-vivo models of traumatic brain injury. P7C3-A20 is thought to exert its activity through small-molecule activation of the enzyme nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase. This enzyme converts nicotinamide to nicotinamide mononucleotide, the precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide synthesis. Alterations to this bioenergetic pathway have been shown to induce Wallerian degeneration (WD) of the distal neurite following injury. This study aimed to establish whether P7C3-A20, through induction of nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase activity, would affect the rate of WD. The model systems used were dissociated primary cortical neurons, dissociated superior cervical ganglion neurons and superior cervical ganglion explants. P7C3-A20 failed to show any protection against WD induced by neurite transection or vincristine administration. Furthermore, there was a concentration-dependent neurotoxicity. These findings are important in understanding the mechanism by which P7C3-A20 mediates its effects - a key step before moving to human clinical trials.This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CCBY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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Neuroreport, , 1473-558X, , 2018

PMID: 30334859


Open Access

Murine myeloproliferative disorder as a consequence of impaired collaboration between dendritic cells and CD4 T cells.
Humblet-Baron S, Barber JS, Roca CP, Lenaerts A, Koni PA, Liston A

Dendritic cells (DCs) are a key cell type in the initiation of the adaptive immune response. Recently, an additional role for DCs in suppressing myeloproliferation was discovered. Myeloproliferative disorder (MPD) was observed in murine studies with constitutive depletion of DCs, as well as in patients with congenital deficiency in DCs caused by mutations in or The mechanistic link between DC deficiency and MPD was not predicted through the known biology and has remained an enigma. Prevailing models suggest numerical DC deficiency leads to MPD through compensatory myeloid differentiation. Here, we formally tested whether MPD can also arise through a loss of DC function without numerical deficiency. Using mice whose DCs are deficient in antigen presentation, we find spontaneous MPD that is characterized by splenomegaly, neutrophilia, and extramedullary hematopoiesis, despite normal numbers of DCs. Disease development was dependent on loss of the MHC class II (MHCII) antigen-presenting complex on DCs and was eliminated in mice deficient in total lymphocytes. Mice lacking MHCII and CD4 T cells did not develop disease. Thus, MPD was paradoxically contingent on the presence of CD4 T cells and on a failure of DCs to activate CD4 T cells, trapping the cells in a naive Flt3 ligand-expressing state. These results identify a novel requirement for intercellular collaboration between DCs and CD4 T cells to regulate myeloid differentiation. Our findings support a new conceptual framework of DC biology in preventing MPD in mice and humans.

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Blood, 133, 1528-0020, 319-330, 2019

PMID: 30333120


Open Access

Genetic Architecture of Adaptive Immune System Identifies Key Immune Regulators.
Lagou V, Garcia-Perez JE, Smets I, Van Horebeek L, Vandebergh M, Chen L, Mallants K, Prezzemolo T, Hilven K, Humblet-Baron S, Moisse M, Van Damme P, Boeckxstaens G, Bowness P, Dubois B, Dooley J, Liston A, Goris A

The immune system is highly diverse, but characterization of its genetic architecture has lagged behind the vast progress made by genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of emergent diseases. Our GWAS for 54 functionally relevant phenotypes of the adaptive immune system in 489 healthy individuals identifies eight genome-wide significant associations explaining 6%-20% of variance. Coding and splicing variants in PTPRC and COMMD10 are involved in memory T cell differentiation. Genetic variation controlling disease-relevant T helper cell subsets includes RICTOR and STON2 associated with Th2 and Th17, respectively, and the interferon-lambda locus controlling regulatory T cell proliferation. Early and memory B cell differentiation stages are associated with variation in LARP1B and SP4. Finally, the latrophilin family member ADGRL2 correlates with baseline pro-inflammatory interleukin-6 levels. Suggestive associations reveal mechanisms of autoimmune disease associations, in particular related to pro-inflammatory cytokine production. Pinpointing these key human immune regulators offers attractive therapeutic perspectives.

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Cell reports, 25, 2211-1247, 798-810.e6, 2018

PMID: 30332657


Open Access