David obtained a degree in Chemistry from the University of Hull and completed a PhD studying the structures of the O- and K-polysaccharide antigens of the opportunistic pathogen Serratia marcescens. He then moved to the Plant Cell Biology Research Centre at the University of Melbourne in Australia, working first on the structure/function of the S-ribonucleases, the female component of the self-incompatibility system in the many flowering plants; and also on arabinogalactan proteins – ubiquitous plant cell surface and extracellular matrix proteoglycans. After a short spell at Proteome Systems Ltd – a biotech company in Sydney, where he set-up the LC-MS based platform for proteomic analysis and developed high sensitivity LC-MS methods for the analysis of glycoproteins. David joined the Babraham Institute in 2002 and established the Mass Spectrometry Facility, which he still runs.
The PIP/PI3K network is a central regulator of metabolism and is frequently activated in cancer, commonly by loss of the PIP/PI(3,4)P phosphatase, PTEN. Despite huge research investment, the drivers of the PI3K network in normal tissues and how they adapt to overactivation are unclear. We find that in healthy mouse prostate PI3K activity is driven by RTK/IRS signaling and constrained by pathway feedback. In the absence of PTEN, the network is dramatically remodeled. A poorly understood YXXM- and PIP/PI(3,4)P-binding PH domain-containing adaptor, PLEKHS1, became the dominant activator and was required to sustain PIP, AKT phosphorylation, and growth in PTEN-null prostate. This was because PLEKHS1 evaded pathway-feedback and experienced enhanced PI3K- and Src-family kinase-dependent phosphorylation of YXXM, eliciting PI3K activation. hPLEKHS1 mRNA and activating Y phosphorylation of hSrc correlated with PI3K pathway activity in human prostate cancers. We propose that in PTEN-null cells receptor-independent, Src-dependent tyrosine phosphorylation of PLEKHS1 creates positive feedback that escapes homeostasis, drives PIP signaling, and supports tumor progression.
Reprogramming of somatic cells into induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) is a major leap towards personalised approaches to disease modelling and cell-replacement therapies. However, we still lack the ability to fully control the epigenetic status of iPSCs, which is a major hurdle for their downstream applications. Epigenetic fidelity can be tracked by genomic imprinting, a phenomenon dependent on DNA methylation, which is frequently perturbed in iPSCs by yet unknown reasons. To try to understand the causes underlying these defects, we conducted a thorough imprinting analysis using IMPLICON, a high-throughput method measuring DNA methylation levels, in multiple female and male murine iPSC lines generated under different experimental conditions. Our results show that imprinting defects are remarkably common in iPSCs, but their nature depends on the sex of donor cells and their response to culture conditions. Imprints in female iPSCs resist the initial genome-wide DNA demethylation wave during reprogramming, but ultimately cells accumulate hypomethylation defects irrespective of culture medium formulations. In contrast, imprinting defects on male iPSCs depends on the experimental conditions and arise during reprogramming, being mitigated by the addition of vitamin C (VitC). Our findings are fundamental to further optimise reprogramming strategies and generate iPSCs with a stable epigenome.
Host defense against bacterial and fungal infections diminishes with age. In humans, impaired neutrophil responses are thought to contribute to this decline. However, it remains unclear whether neutrophil responses are also impaired in old mice. Here, we investigated neutrophil function in old mice, focusing on responses primed by lipopolysaccharide (LPS), an endotoxin released by gram-negative bacteria like , which signals through toll-like receptor (TLR) 4. We show that old mice have a reduced capacity to clear pathogenic during septic peritonitis. Neutrophil recruitment was elevated during LPS-induced but not aseptic peritonitis. Neutrophils from old mice showed reduced killing of . Their reactive oxygen species (ROS) production was impaired upon priming with LPS but not with GM-CSF/TNFα. Phagocytosis and degranulation were reduced in a partially LPS-dependent manner, whereas impairment of NET release in response to was independent of LPS. Unexpectedly, chemotaxis was normal, as were Rac1 and Rac2 GTPase activities. LPS-primed activation of Erk and p38 Mapk was defective. PIP production was reduced upon priming with LPS but not with GM-CSF/TNFα, whereas PIP levels were constitutively low. The expression of 5% of neutrophil proteins was dysregulated in old age. Granule proteins, particularly cathepsins and serpins, as well as TLR-pathway proteins and membrane receptors were upregulated, whereas chromatin and RNA regulators were downregulated. The upregulation of CD180 and downregulation of MyD88 likely contribute to the impaired LPS signaling. In summary, all major neutrophil responses except chemotaxis decline with age in mice, particularly upon LPS priming. This LPS/TLR4 pathway dependence resolves previous controversy regarding effects of age on murine neutrophils and confirms that mice are an appropriate model for the decline in human neutrophil function.