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The complex nature of folliculogenesis regulation accounts for its susceptibility to maternal physiological fitness. In obese mothers, progressive expansion of adipose tissue culminates with severe hyperestrogenism and hyperleptinemia with detrimental effects for ovarian performance. Indeed, maternal obesity is associated with the establishment of ovarian leptin resistance. This review summarizes current knowledge on potential effects of impaired leptin signaling throughout folliculogenesis and oocyte developmental competence in mice and women.
Dysregulation of glucose homeostasis leading to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes is the cause of an increasing world health crisis. New intriguing roles have emerged for Rho family GTPases and their Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) activators in the regulation of glucose homeostasis. This review summates the current knowledge, focusing in particular on the roles of Rho GEFs in the processes of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion by pancreatic β cells and insulin-stimulated glucose uptake into skeletal muscle and adipose tissues. We discuss the ten Rho GEFs that are known so far to regulate glucose homeostasis, nine of which are in mammals, and one is in yeast. Among the mammalian Rho GEFs, P-Rex1, Vav2, Vav3, Tiam1, Kalirin and Plekhg4 were shown to mediate the insulin-stimulated translocation of the glucose transporter GLUT4 to the plasma membrane and/or insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in skeletal muscle or adipose tissue. The Rho GEFs P-Rex1, Vav2, Tiam1 and β-PIX were found to control the glucose-stimulated release of insulin by pancreatic β cells. In vivo studies demonstrated the involvement of the Rho GEFs P-Rex2, Vav2, Vav3 and PDZ-RhoGEF in glucose tolerance and/or insulin sensitivity, with deletion of these GEFs either contributing to the development of metabolic syndrome or protecting from it. This research is in its infancy. Considering that over 80 Rho GEFs exist, it is likely that future research will identify more roles for Rho GEFs in glucose homeostasis.
Genomic imprinting, an epigenetic phenomenon that causes the expression of a small set of genes in a parent-of-origin-specific manner, is thought to have co-evolved with placentation. Many imprinted genes are expressed in the placenta, where they play diverse roles related to development and nutrient supply function. However, only a small number of imprinted genes have been functionally tested for a role in nutrient transfer capacity in relation to the structural characteristics of the exchange labyrinthine zone. Here, we examine the transfer capacity in a mouse model deficient for the maternally expressed gene, which results in placental overgrowth and a transient reduction in fetal growth. Using stereology, we show that the morphology of the labyrinthine zone in mutants is normal at E16 and E19. In vivo placental transfer of radiolabeled solutes C-methyl-D-glucose and C-MeAIB remains unaffected at both gestational time points. However, placental passive permeability, as measured using two inert hydrophilic solutes (C-mannitol; C-inulin), is significantly higher in mutants. Importantly, this increase in passive permeability is associated with fetal catch-up growth. Our findings uncover a key role played by the imprinted gene in modifying placental passive permeability that may be important for determining fetal growth.
Autophagy is a fundamental catabolic process that uses a unique post-translational modification, the conjugation of ATG8 protein to phosphatidylethanolamine (PE). ATG8 lipidation also occurs during non-canonical autophagy, a parallel pathway involving conjugation of ATG8 to single membranes (CASM) at endolysosomal compartments, with key functions in immunity, vision, and neurobiology. It is widely assumed that CASM involves the same conjugation of ATG8 to PE, but this has not been formally tested. Here, we discover that all ATG8s can also undergo alternative lipidation to phosphatidylserine (PS) during CASM, induced pharmacologically, by LC3-associated phagocytosis or influenza A virus infection, in mammalian cells. Importantly, ATG8-PS and ATG8-PE adducts are differentially delipidated by the ATG4 family and bear different cellular dynamics, indicating significant molecular distinctions. These results provide important insights into autophagy signaling, revealing an alternative form of the hallmark ATG8 lipidation event. Furthermore, ATG8-PS provides a specific "molecular signature" for the non-canonical autophagy pathway.
The origin of the jaw is a long-standing problem in vertebrate evolutionary biology. Classical hypotheses of serial homology propose that the upper and lower jaw evolved through modifications of dorsal and ventral gill arch skeletal elements, respectively. If the jaw and gill arches are derived members of a primitive branchial series, we predict that they would share common developmental patterning mechanisms. Using candidate and RNAseq/differential gene expression analyses, we find broad conservation of dorsoventral patterning mechanisms within the developing mandibular, hyoid and gill arches of a cartilaginous fish, the skate (Leucoraja erinacea). Shared features include expression of genes encoding members of the ventralising BMP and endothelin signalling pathways and their effectors, the joint markers nkx3.2 and gdf5 and pro-chondrogenic transcription factor barx1, and the dorsal territory marker pou3f3. Additionally, we find that mesenchymal expression of eya1/six1 is an ancestral feature of the mandibular arch of jawed vertebrates, while differences in notch signalling distinguish the mandibular and gill arches in skate. Comparative transcriptomic analyses of mandibular and gill arch tissues reveal additional genes differentially expressed along the dorsoventral axis of the pharyngeal arches, including scamp5 as a novel marker of the dorsal mandibular arch, as well as distinct transcriptional features of mandibular and gill arch muscle progenitors and developing gill buds. Taken together, our findings reveal conserved patterning mechanisms in the pharyngeal arches of jawed vertebrates, consistent with serial homology of their skeletal derivatives, as well as unique transcriptional features that may underpin distinct jaw and gill arch morphologies.
CRISPR/Cas9 screens are a powerful approach to identify key regulators of biological processes. By combining pooled CRISPR/Cas9 screening with single-cell RNA-sequencing readout, individual perturbations can be assessed in parallel both comprehensively and at scale. Importantly, this allows gene function and regulation to be interrogated at a cellular level in an unbiased manner. Here, we present a protocol to perform pooled CRISPR-activation screens in mouse embryonic stem cells using 10× Genomics scRNA-seq as a readout. For complete information on the generation and use of this protocol, please refer to Alda-Catalinas et al. (2020).
Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels play prominent roles in ion homeostasis by their ability to control cation influx. Mouse placentation is governed by the processes of trophoblast proliferation, invasion, differentiation, and fusion, all of which require calcium signaling. Although certain TRP channels have been shown to contribute to maternal-fetal transport of magnesium and calcium, a role for TRP channels in specific trophoblast functions has been disregarded. Using qRT-PCR and in situ hybridisation, the spatio-temporal expression pattern of TRP channels in the mouse placenta across gestation (E10.5-E18.5) was assessed. Prominent expression was observed for Trpv2, Trpm6, and Trpm7. Calcium microfluorimetry in primary trophoblast cells isolated at E14.5 of gestation further revealed the functional activity of TRPV2 and TRPM7. Finally, comparing TRP channels expression in mouse trophoblast stem cells (mTSCs) and mouse embryonic stem cells (mESC) confirmed the specific expression of TRPV2 during placental development. Moreover, TRP channel expression was similar in mTSCs compared to primary trophoblasts and validate mTSC as a model to study TRP channels in placental development. Collectivity, our results identify a specific spatio-temporal TRP channel expression pattern in trophoblasts, suggesting a possible involvement in regulating the process of placentation.
Neutrophils play fundamental roles in innate immune response, shape adaptive immunity, and are a potentially causal cell type underpinning genetic associations with immune system traits and diseases. Here, we profile the binding of myeloid master regulator PU.1 in primary neutrophils across nearly a hundred volunteers. We show that variants associated with differential PU.1 binding underlie genetically-driven differences in cell count and susceptibility to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. We integrate these results with other multi-individual genomic readouts, revealing coordinated effects of PU.1 binding variants on the local chromatin state, enhancer-promoter contacts and downstream gene expression, and providing a functional interpretation for 27 genes underlying immune traits. Collectively, these results demonstrate the functional role of PU.1 and its target enhancers in neutrophil transcriptional control and immune disease susceptibility.
CD4 regulatory T (Treg) cells, dependent upon the transcription factor Foxp3, contribute to tumour immunosuppression but are also required for immune homeostasis. There is interest in developing therapies that selectively target the immunosuppressive function of Treg cells within tumours without disrupting their systemic anti-inflammatory function. High levels of expression of Chemokine (C-C motif) receptor 8 (CCR8) discriminate Treg cells within tumours from those found in systemic lymphoid tissues. It has recently been proposed that disruption of CCR8 function using blocking anti-CCR8 antibodies results in reduced accumulation of Treg cells within tumours and disruption of their immunosuppressive function. Here, using Ccr8 mice, we show that CCR8 function is not required for Treg cell accumulation or immunosuppression in the context of syngeneic MC38 colorectal adenocarcinoma and B16 melanoma tumours. We observed high levels of CCR8 expression on tumour-infiltrating Treg cells which was abolished in Ccr8 mice. High levels of CCR8 marked cells with high levels of suppressive function. However, whereas systemic ablation of Treg cells resulted in strikingly diminished tumour burden, growth of subcutaneously implanted tumours was unaffected by systemic CCR8 loss. Consistently, we observed minimal impact of systemic CCR8 ablation on the frequency, phenotype and function of tumour-infiltrating Treg cells and conventional T (Tconv) function. These findings suggest that CCR8 is not required for Treg cell accumulation and immunosuppressive function within tumours and that depletion of CCR8 Treg cells rather than blockade of CCR8 function is a more promising avenue for selective immunotherapy.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) can cause cellular damage and promote cancer development. Besides such harmful consequences of overproduction of ROS, all cells utilize ROS for signaling purposes and stabilization of cell homeostasis. In particular, the latter is supported by the NADPH oxidase 4 (Nox4) that constitutively produces low amounts of HO By that mechanism, Nox4 forces differentiation of cells and prevents inflammation. We hypothesize a constitutive low level of HO maintains basal activity of cellular surveillance systems and is unlikely to be cancerogenic. Utilizing two different murine models of cancerogen-induced solid tumors, we found that deletion of Nox4 promotes tumor formation and lowers recognition of DNA damage. Nox4 supports phosphorylation of H2AX (γH2AX), a prerequisite of DNA damage recognition, by retaining a sufficiently low abundance of the phosphatase PP2A in the nucleus. The underlying mechanism is continuous oxidation of AKT by Nox4. Interaction of oxidized AKT and PP2A captures the phosphatase in the cytosol. Absence of Nox4 facilitates nuclear PP2A translocation and dephosphorylation of γH2AX. Simultaneously AKT is left phosphorylated. Thus, in the absence of Nox4, DNA damage is not recognized and the increased activity of AKT supports proliferation. The combination of both events results in genomic instability and promotes tumor formation. By identifying Nox4 as a protective source of ROS in cancerogen-induced cancer, we provide a piece of knowledge for understanding the role of moderate production of ROS in preventing the initiation of malignancies.
The transition from naive to primed pluripotency is accompanied by an extensive reorganisation of transcriptional and epigenetic programmes. However, the role of transcriptional enhancers and three-dimensional chromatin organisation in coordinating these developmental programmes remains incompletely understood. Here, we generate a high-resolution atlas of gene regulatory interactions, chromatin profiles and transcription factor occupancy in naive and primed human pluripotent stem cells, and develop a network-graph approach to examine the atlas at multiple spatial scales. We uncover highly connected promoter hubs that change substantially in interaction frequency and in transcriptional co-regulation between pluripotent states. Small hubs frequently merge to form larger networks in primed cells, often linked by newly-formed Polycomb-associated interactions. We identify widespread state-specific differences in enhancer activity and interactivity that correspond with an extensive reconfiguration of OCT4, SOX2 and NANOG binding and target gene expression. These findings provide multilayered insights into the chromatin-based gene regulatory control of human pluripotent states.
Holoprosencephaly is a spectrum of developmental disorder of the embryonic forebrain in which there is failed or incomplete separation of the prosencephalon into two cerebral hemispheres. To date, dominant mutations in sonic hedgehog (SHH) pathway genes are the predominant Mendelian causes, and have marked interfamilial and intrafamilial phenotypical variabilities.
Epigenetic mechanisms play diverse roles in the regulation of genome stability in eukaryotes. In Arabidopsis thaliana, genome stability is maintained during DNA replication by the H3.1K27 methyltransferases ARABIDOPSIS TRITHORAX-RELATED PROTEIN 5 (ATXR5) and ATXR6, which catalyze the deposition of K27me1 on replication-dependent H3.1 variants. The loss of H3.1K27me1 in atxr5 atxr6 double mutants leads to heterochromatin defects, including transcriptional de-repression and genomic instability, but the molecular mechanisms involved remain largely unknown. In this study, we identified the transcriptional co-activator and conserved histone acetyltransferase GCN5 as a mediator of transcriptional de-repression and genomic instability in the absence of H3.1K27me1. GCN5 is part of a SAGA-like complex in plants that requires the GCN5-interacting protein ADA2b and the chromatin remodeler CHR6 to mediate the heterochromatic defects in atxr5 atxr6 mutants. Our results also indicate that Arabidopsis GCN5 acetylates multiple lysine residues on H3.1 variants, but H3.1K27 and H3.1K36 play essential functions in inducing genomic instability in the absence of H3.1K27me1. Finally, we show that H3.1K36 acetylation by GCN5 is negatively regulated by H3.1K27me1 in vitro. Overall, this work reveals a key molecular role for H3.1K27me1 in maintaining transcriptional silencing and genome stability in heterochromatin by restricting GCN5-mediated histone acetylation in plants.
Phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) play a central role in adaptive immunity by transducing signals from the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) via production of PIP. PI3Kδ is a heterodimer composed of a p110δ catalytic subunit associated with a p85α or p85β regulatory subunit and is preferentially engaged by the TCR upon T cell activation. The molecular mechanisms leading to PI3Kδ recruitment and activation at the TCR signalosome remain unclear. In this study, we have used quantitative mass spectrometry, biochemical approaches and CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to uncover the p110δ interactome in primary CD4 T cells. Moreover, we have determined how the PI3Kδ interactome changes upon the differentiation of small naïve T cells into T cell blasts expanded in the presence of IL-2. Our interactomic analyses identified multiple constitutive and inducible PI3Kδ-interacting proteins, some of which were common to naïve and previously-activated T cells. Our data reveals that PI3Kδ rapidly interacts with as many as seven adaptor proteins upon TCR engagement, including the Gab-family proteins, GAB2 and GAB3, a CD5-CBL signalosome and the transmembrane proteins ICOS and TRIM. Our results also suggest that PI3Kδ pre-forms complexes with the adaptors SH3KBP1 and CRKL in resting cells that could facilitate the localization and activation of p110δ at the plasma membrane by forming ternary complexes during early TCR signalling. Furthermore, we identify interactions that were not previously known to occur in CD4 T cells, involving BCAP, GAB3, IQGAP3 and JAML. We used CRISPR-Cas9-mediated gene knockout in primary T cells to confirm that BCAP is a positive regulator of PI3K-AKT signalling in CD4 T cell blasts. Overall, our results provide evidence for a large protein network that regulates the recruitment and activation of PI3Kδ in T cells. Finally, this work shows how the PI3Kδ interactome is remodeled as CD4 T cells differentiate from naïve T cells to activated T cell blasts. These activated T cells upregulate additional PI3Kδ adaptor proteins, including BCAP, GAB2, IQGAP3 and ICOS. This rewiring of TCR-PI3K signalling that occurs upon T cell differentiation may serve to reduce the threshold of activation and diversify the inputs for the PI3K pathway in effector T cells.
Faithful replication of the entire genome requires replication forks to copy large contiguous tracts of DNA, and sites of persistent replication fork stalling present a major threat to genome stability. Understanding the distribution of sites at which replication forks stall, and the ensuing fork processing events, requires genome-wide methods that profile replication fork position and the formation of recombinogenic DNA ends. Here, we describe Transferase-Activated End Ligation sequencing (TrAEL-seq), a method that captures single-stranded DNA 3' ends genome-wide and with base pair resolution. TrAEL-seq labels both DNA breaks and replication forks, providing genome-wide maps of replication fork progression and fork stalling sites in yeast and mammalian cells. Replication maps are similar to those obtained by Okazaki fragment sequencing; however, TrAEL-seq is performed on asynchronous populations of wild-type cells without incorporation of labels, cell sorting, or biochemical purification of replication intermediates, rendering TrAEL-seq far simpler and more widely applicable than existing replication fork direction profiling methods. The specificity of TrAEL-seq for DNA 3' ends also allows accurate detection of double-strand break sites after the initiation of DNA end resection, which we demonstrate by genome-wide mapping of meiotic double-strand break hotspots in a dmc1Δ mutant that is competent for end resection but not strand invasion. Overall, TrAEL-seq provides a flexible and robust methodology with high sensitivity and resolution for studying DNA replication and repair, which will be of significant use in determining mechanisms of genome instability.
Regulatory T cells prevent the emergence of autoantibodies and excessive IgE, but the precise mechanisms are unclear. Here, we show that BCL6-expressing Tregs, known as follicular regulatory T (Tfr) cells, produce abundant neuritin protein that targets B cells. Mice lacking Tfr cells or neuritin in Foxp3-expressing cells accumulated early plasma cells in germinal centers (GCs) and developed autoantibodies against histones and tissue-specific self-antigens. Upon immunization, these mice also produced increased plasma IgE and IgG1. We show that neuritin is taken up by B cells, causes phosphorylation of numerous proteins, and dampens IgE class switching. Neuritin reduced differentiation of mouse and human GC B cells into plasma cells, downregulated BLIMP-1, and upregulated BCL6. Administration of neuritin to Tfr-deficient mice prevented the accumulation of early plasma cells in GCs. Production of neuritin by Tfr cells emerges as a central mechanism to suppress B cell-driven autoimmunity and IgE-mediated allergies.
Adhesive structures between cells and with the surrounding matrix are essential for the development of multicellular organisms. In addition to providing mechanical integrity, they are key signalling centres providing feedback on the extracellular environment to the cell interior, and vice versa. During development, mitosis and repair, cell adhesions must undergo extensive remodelling. Post-translational modifications of proteins within these complexes serve as switches for activity. Tyrosine phosphorylation is an important modification in cell adhesion that is dynamically regulated by the protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs) and protein tyrosine kinases. Several PTPs are implicated in the assembly and maintenance of cell adhesions, however, their signalling functions remain poorly defined. The PTPs can act by directly dephosphorylating adhesive complex components or function as scaffolds. In this review, we will focus on human PTPs and discuss their individual roles in major adhesion complexes, as well as Hippo signalling. We have collated PTP interactome and cell adhesome datasets, which reveal extensive connections between PTPs and cell adhesions that are relatively unexplored. Finally, we reflect on the dysregulation of PTPs and cell adhesions in disease.
In 2016 specific heterozygous gain-of-function mutations in MEFV were reported causal for a distinct autoinflammatory disease coined pyrin-associated autoinflammation with neutrophilic dermatosis (PAAND). We sought to provide an extended report on clinical manifestations in PAAND patients to date and evaluate the efficacy and safety of treatment with the IL-1-blocking agent anakinra.
A functional adaptive immune system must generate enormously diverse antigen receptor (AgR) repertoires from a limited number of AgR genes, using a common mechanism, V(D)J recombination. The AgR loci are among the largest in the genome, and individual genes must overcome huge spatial and temporal challenges to co-localize with optimum variability. Our understanding of the complex mechanisms involved has increased enormously, due in part to new technologies for high resolution mapping of AgR structure and dynamic movement, underpinning mechanisms, and resulting repertoires. This review will examine these advances using the paradigm of the mouse immunoglobulin heavy chain (Igh) locus. We will discuss the key regulatory elements implicated in Igh locus structure. Recent next generation repertoire sequencing methods have shown that local chromatin state at V genes contribute to recombination efficiency. Next on the multidimensional scale, we will describe imaging studies that provided the first picture of the large-scale dynamic looping and contraction the Igh locus undergoes during recombination. We will discuss chromosome conformation capture (3C)-based technologies that have provided higher resolution pictures of Igh locus structure, including the different models that have evolved. We will consider the key transcription factors (PAX5, YY1, E2A, Ikaros), and architectural factors, CTCF and cohesin, that regulate these processes. Lastly, we will discuss a plethora of recent exciting mechanistic findings. These include Rag recombinase scanning for convergent RSS sequences within DNA loops; identification of Igh loop extrusion, and its putative role in Rag scanning; the roles of CTCF, cohesin and cohesin loading factor, WAPL therein; a new phase separation model for Igh locus compartmentalization. We will draw these together and conclude with some horizon-scanning and unresolved questions.
In 2008, we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, this topic has received increasing attention, and many scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Thus, it is important to formulate on a regular basis updated guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Despite numerous reviews, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to evaluate autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. Here, we present a set of guidelines for investigators to select and interpret methods to examine autophagy and related processes, and for reviewers to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of reports that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a dogmatic set of rules, because the appropriateness of any assay largely depends on the question being asked and the system being used. Moreover, no individual assay is perfect for every situation, calling for the use of multiple techniques to properly monitor autophagy in each experimental setting. Finally, several core components of the autophagy machinery have been implicated in distinct autophagic processes (canonical and noncanonical autophagy), implying that genetic approaches to block autophagy should rely on targeting two or more autophagy-related genes that ideally participate in distinct steps of the pathway. Along similar lines, because multiple proteins involved in autophagy also regulate other cellular pathways including apoptosis, not all of them can be used as a specific marker for autophagic responses. Here, we critically discuss current methods of assessing autophagy and the information they can, or cannot, provide. Our ultimate goal is to encourage intellectual and technical innovation in the field.
Modulation and depletion strategies of regulatory T cells (Tregs) constitute valid approaches in antitumor immunotherapy but suffer from severe adverse effects due to their lack of selectivity for the tumor-infiltrating (ti-)Treg population, indicating the need for a ti-Treg specific biomarker.
Lipidomics increasingly describes the quantitation using mass spectrometry of all lipids present in a biological sample. As the power of lipidomics protocols increase, thousands of lipid molecular species from multiple categories can now be profiled in a single experiment. Observed changes due to biological differences often encompass large numbers of structurally-related lipids, with these being regulated by enzymes from well-known metabolic pathways. As lipidomics datasets increase in complexity, the interpretation of their results becomes more challenging. BioPAN addresses this by enabling the researcher to visualise quantitative lipidomics data in the context of known biosynthetic pathways. BioPAN provides a list of genes, which could be involved in the activation or suppression of enzymes catalysing lipid metabolism in mammalian tissues.