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The 5-year programme award will support research on the DNA repair mechanisms that protect cancer cells from therapy, informing the development of future treatments.
After decades of research, our understanding of when and why individuals infected with Plasmodium falciparum develop clinical malaria is still limited. Correlates of immune protection are often sought through prospective cohort studies, where measured host factors are correlated against the incidence of clinical disease over a set period of time. However, robustly inferring individual-level protection from these population-level findings has proved difficult due to small effect sizes and high levels of variance underlying such data. In order to better understand the nature of these inter-individual variations, we analysed the long-term malaria epidemiology of children ≤12 years old growing up under seasonal exposure to the parasite in the sub-location of Junju, Kenya. Despite the cohort’s limited geographic expanse (ca. 3km x 10km), our data reveal a high degree of spatial and temporal variability in malaria prevalence and incidence rates, causing individuals to experience varying levels of exposure to the parasite at different times during their life. Analysing individual-level infection histories further reveal an unexpectedly high variability in the rate at which children experience clinical malaria episodes. Besides exposure to the parasite, measured as disease prevalence in the surrounding area, we find that the birth time of year has an independent effect on the individual’s risk of experiencing a clinical episode. Furthermore, our analyses reveal that those children with a history of an above average number of episodes are more likely to experience further episodes during the upcoming transmission season. These findings are indicative of phenotypic differences in the rates by which children acquire clinical protection to malaria and offer important insights into the natural variability underlying malaria epidemiology.
Super-Resolution STED Microscopy-Based Mobility Studies of the Viral Env Protein at HIV-1 Assembly Sites of Fully Infected T-Cells.
The ongoing threat of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) requires continued, detailed investigations of its replication cycle, especially when combined with the most physiologically relevant, fully infectious model systems. Here, we demonstrate the application of the combination of stimulated emission depletion (STED) super-resolution microscopy with beam-scanning fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (sSTED-FCS) as a powerful tool for the interrogation of the molecular dynamics of HIV-1 virus assembly on the cell plasma membrane in the context of a fully infectious virus. In this process, HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) becomes incorporated into the assembling virus by interacting with the nascent Gag structural protein lattice. Molecular dynamics measurements at these distinct cell surface sites require a guiding strategy, for which we have used a two-colour implementation of sSTED-FCS to simultaneously target individual HIV-1 assembly sites via the aggregated Gag signal. We then compare the molecular mobility of Env proteins at the inside and outside of the virus assembly area. Env mobility was shown to be highly reduced at the assembly sites, highlighting the distinct trapping of Env as well as the usefulness of our methodological approach to study the molecular mobility of specifically targeted sites at the plasma membrane, even under high-biosafety conditions.
Although liquid–liquid phase separation of cytoplasmic or nuclear components in cells has been a major focus in cell biology, it is only recently that the principle of phase separation has been a long-standing concept and extensively studied in biomembranes. Membrane phase separation has been reconstituted in simplified model systems, and its detailed physicochemical principles, including essential phase diagrams, have been extensively explored. These model membrane systems have proven very useful to study the heterogeneity in cellular membranes, however, concerns have been raised about how reliably they can represent native membranes. In this review, we will discuss how phase-separated membrane systems can mimic cellular membranes and where they fail to reflect the native cell membrane heterogeneity. We also include a few humble suggestions on which phase-separated systems should be used for certain applications, and which interpretations should be avoided to prevent unreliable conclusions.
The repertoire of serous ovarian cancer non-genetic heterogeneity revealed by single-cell sequencing of normal fallopian tube epithelial cells
SummaryThe inter-differentiation between cell states promotes cancer cell survival under stress and fosters non-genetic heterogeneity (NGH). NGH is, therefore, a surrogate of tumor resilience but its quantification is confounded by genetic heterogeneity. Here we show that NGH can be accurately measured when informed by the molecular signatures of the normal cells of origin. We surveyed the transcriptomes of ∼ 4000 normal fallopian tube epithelial (FTE) cells, the cells of origin of serous ovarian cancer (SOC), and identified six FTE subtypes. We used subtype signatures to deconvolute SOC expression data and found substantial intra-tumor NGH that was previously unrecognized. Importantly, NGH-based stratification of ∼1700 tumors robustly predicted survival. Our findings lay the foundation for accurate prognostic and therapeutic stratification of SOC.HighlightsThe projection of FTE subtypes refines the molecular classification of serous OCComprehensive single-cell profiling of FTE cells identifies 6 molecular subtypesSubstantial non-genetic heterogeneity of HGSOC identified in 1700 tumorsA mesenchymal-high HGSOC subtype is robustly correlated with poor prognosis
Erf affects commitment and differentiation of osteoprogenitor cells in cranial sutures via the retinoic acid pathway
ETS2 repressor factor (ERF) haploinsufficiency causes late onset craniosynostosis (OMIM 600775; CRS4) in humans while in mice Erf-insufficiency also leads to a similar multi-suture synostosis phenotype preceded by mildly reduced calvarium ossification. However, neither the cell types affected nor the effects per se have been identified so far. Here we establish an ex vivo system for the expansion of suture-derived mesenchymal stem and progenitor cells (sdMSCs) and analyze the role of Erf levels in their differentiation. Cellular data suggest that Erf-insufficiency specifically decreases osteogenic differentiation of sdMSCs resulting in the initially delayed mineralization of the calvarium. Transcriptome analysis indicates that Erf is required for efficient osteogenic lineage commitment of sdMSCs. Elevated retinoic acid catabolism due to increased levels of the cytochrome P450 superfamily member Cyp26b1 as a result of decreased Erf levels appears to be the underlying mechanism leading to defective differentiation. Exogenous addition of retinoic acid can rescue the osteogenic differentiation defect suggesting that Erf affects cranial bone mineralization during skull development through retinoic acid gradient regulation
Controlled Fluorescent Labelling of Metal Oxide Nanoparticles for Artefact-free Live Cell Microscopy
Nanotechnologies hold great promise for various applications. To predict and guarantee the safety of novel nanomaterials, it is essential to understand their mechanism of action in an organism, causally connecting adverse outcomes with early molecular events. They are best investigated using non-invasive advanced optical methods, such as high-resolution live-cell fluorescence microscopy, which require stable labelling of nanoparticles with fluorescent dyes. When performed inadequately, unbound fluorophores and inadvertently altered chemical and physical properties of the nanoparticles can, however, result in experimental artefacts and erroneous conclusions. To prevent such unintentional errors, we here describe a minimal combination of experimental methods to enable artefact-free fluorescent labelling of metal-oxide nanoparticles - the largest subpopulation of nanoparticles by industrial production and applications - and demonstrate its application in the case of TiO2 nanotubes. We 1) characterize potential changes of the nanoparticles' surface charge and morphology that might occur during labelling, and 2) assess stable binding of the fluorescent dye to nanomaterial, which ensures correct nanoparticle localization. Together, these steps warrant the reliability and reproducibility of advanced optical tracking, which is necessary to explore nanomaterials' mechanism of action and will foster widespread and safe use of new nanomaterials.
Multi-Modal Characterization of Monocytes in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Reveals a Primed Type I Interferon Immune Phenotype.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is the most severe form of chronic lung fibrosis. Circulating monocytes have been implicated in immune pathology in IPF but their phenotype is unknown. In this work, we determined the immune phenotype of monocytes in IPF using multi-colour flow cytometry, RNA sequencing and corresponding serum factors, and mapped the main findings to amount of lung fibrosis and single cell transcriptomic landscape of myeloid cells in IPF lungs. We show that monocytes from IPF patients displayed increased expression of CD64 (FcγR1) which correlated with amount of lung fibrosis, and an amplified type I IFN response ex vivo. These were accompanied by markedly raised CSF-1 levels, IL-6, and CCL-2 in serum of IPF patients. Interrogation of single cell transcriptomic data from human IPF lungs revealed increased proportion of CD64hi monocytes and "transitional macrophages" with higher expression of CCL-2 and type I IFN genes. Our study shows that monocytes in IPF patients are phenotypically distinct from age-matched controls, with a primed type I IFN pathway that may contribute to driving chronic inflammation and fibrosis. These findings strengthen the potential role of monocytes in the pathogenesis of IPF.
The role of NS1-specific antibodies in the pathogenesis of dengue virus infection is poorly understood. Here we investigate the immunoglobulin responses of patients with dengue fever (DF) and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) to NS1. Antibody responses to recombinant-NS1 are assessed in serum samples throughout illness of patients with acute secondary DENV1 and DENV2 infection by ELISA. NS1 antibody titres are significantly higher in patients with DHF compared to those with DF for both serotypes, during the critical phase of illness. Furthermore, during both acute secondary DENV1 and DENV2 infection, the antibody repertoire of DF and DHF patients is directed towards distinct regions of the NS1 protein. In addition, healthy individuals, with past non-severe dengue infection have a similar antibody repertoire as those with mild acute infection (DF). Therefore, antibodies that target specific NS1 epitopes could predict disease severity and be of potential benefit in aiding vaccine and treatment design.
Group-2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2), type-2 cytokines, and eosinophils have all been implicated in sustaining adipose tissue homeostasis. However, the interplay between the stroma and adipose-resident immune cells is less well understood. We identify that white adipose tissue-resident multipotent stromal cells (WAT-MSCs) can act as a reservoir for IL-33, especially after cell stress, but also provide additional signals for sustaining ILC2. Indeed, we demonstrate that WAT-MSCs also support ICAM-1-mediated proliferation and activation of LFA-1-expressing ILC2s. Consequently, ILC2-derived IL-4 and IL-13 feed back to induce eotaxin secretion from WAT-MSCs, supporting eosinophil recruitment. Thus, MSCs provide a niche for multifaceted dialogue with ILC2 to sustain a type-2 immune environment in WAT.