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It is with profound sadness that we learnt of the death of Professor Vincenzo Cerundolo FRS.
There is an urgent need to understand the nature of immune responses against SARS-CoV-2, to inform risk-mitigation strategies for people living with HIV (PLWH). We show that the majority of PLWH, controlled on ART, mount a functional adaptive immune response to SARS-CoV-2. Humoral and SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses are comparable between HIV-positive and negative subjects and persist 5-7 months following predominately mild COVID-19 disease. T cell responses against Spike, Membrane and Nucleocapsid are the most prominent, with SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4 T cells outnumbering CD8 T cells. We further show that the overall magnitude of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses relates to the size of the naive CD4 T cell pool and the CD4:CD8 ratio in PLWH, in whom disparate antibody and T cell responses are observed. These findings suggest that inadequate immune reconstitution on ART, could hinder immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 with implications for the individual management and vaccine effectiveness in PLWH.
A COVID-19 vaccine candidate using SpyCatcher multimerization of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor-binding domain induces potent neutralising antibody responses.
There is need for effective and affordable vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 to tackle the ongoing pandemic. In this study, we describe a protein nanoparticle vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. The vaccine is based on the display of coronavirus spike glycoprotein receptor-binding domain (RBD) on a synthetic virus-like particle (VLP) platform, SpyCatcher003-mi3, using SpyTag/SpyCatcher technology. Low doses of RBD-SpyVLP in a prime-boost regimen induce a strong neutralising antibody response in mice and pigs that is superior to convalescent human sera. We evaluate antibody quality using ACE2 blocking and neutralisation of cell infection by pseudovirus or wild-type SARS-CoV-2. Using competition assays with a monoclonal antibody panel, we show that RBD-SpyVLP induces a polyclonal antibody response that recognises key epitopes on the RBD, reducing the likelihood of selecting neutralisation-escape mutants. Moreover, RBD-SpyVLP is thermostable and can be lyophilised without losing immunogenicity, to facilitate global distribution and reduce cold-chain dependence. The data suggests that RBD-SpyVLP provides strong potential to address clinical and logistic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
High-resolution targeted 3C interrogation of cis-regulatory element organization at genome-wide scale.
Chromosome conformation capture (3C) provides an adaptable tool for studying diverse biological questions. Current 3C methods generally provide either low-resolution interaction profiles across the entire genome, or high-resolution interaction profiles at limited numbers of loci. Due to technical limitations, generation of reproducible high-resolution interaction profiles has not been achieved at genome-wide scale. Here, to overcome this barrier, we systematically test each step of 3C and report two improvements over current methods. We show that up to 30% of reporter events generated using the popular in situ 3C method arise from ligations between two individual nuclei, but this noise can be almost entirely eliminated by isolating intact nuclei after ligation. Using Nuclear-Titrated Capture-C, we generate reproducible high-resolution genome-wide 3C interaction profiles by targeting 8055 gene promoters in erythroid cells. By pairing high-resolution 3C interaction calls with nascent gene expression we interrogate the role of promoter hubs and super-enhancers in gene regulation.
Tissue-resident macrophages regulate lymphatic vessel growth and patterning in the developing heart.
Macrophages are components of the innate immune system with key roles in tissue inflammation and repair. It is now evident that macrophages also support organogenesis, but few studies have characterized their identity, ontogeny and function during heart development. Here, we show that the distribution and prevalence of resident macrophages in the subepicardial compartment of the developing heart coincides with the emergence of new lymphatics, and that macrophages interact closely with the nascent lymphatic capillaries. Consequently, global macrophage deficiency led to extensive vessel disruption, with mutant hearts exhibiting shortened and mis-patterned lymphatics. The origin of cardiac macrophages was linked to the yolk sac and foetal liver. Moreover, the Cx3cr1+ myeloid lineage was found to play essential functions in the remodelling of the lymphatic endothelium. Mechanistically, macrophage hyaluronan was required for lymphatic sprouting by mediating direct macrophage-lymphatic endothelial cell interactions. Together, these findings reveal insight into the role of macrophages as indispensable mediators of lymphatic growth during the development of the mammalian cardiac vasculature.
Binding of Hyaluronan to the Native Lymphatic Vessel Endothelial Receptor LYVE-1 Is Critically Dependent on Receptor Clustering and Hyaluronan Organization.
The lymphatic endothelial receptor LYVE-1 has been implicated in both uptake of hyaluronan (HA) from tissue matrix and in facilitating transit of leukocytes and tumor cells through lymphatic vessels based largely onin vitrostudies with recombinant receptor in transfected fibroblasts. Curiously, however, LYVE-1 in lymphatic endothelium displays little if any binding to HAin vitro, and this has led to the conclusion that the native receptor is functionally silenced, a feature that is difficult to reconcile with its proposedin vivofunctions. Nonetheless, as we reported recently, LYVE-1 can function as a receptor for HA-encapsulated Group A streptococci and mediate lymphatic dissemination in mice. Here we resolve these paradoxical findings and show that the capacity of LYVE-1 to bind HA is strictly dependent on avidity, demanding appropriate receptor self-association and/or HA multimerization. In particular, we demonstrate the prerequisite of a critical LYVE-1 threshold density and show that HA binding may be elicited in lymphatic endothelium by surface clustering with divalent LYVE-1 mAbs. In addition, we show that cross-linking of biotinylated HA in streptavidin multimers or supramolecular complexes with the inflammation-induced protein TSG-6 enables binding even in the absence of LYVE-1 cross-linking. Finally, we show that endogenous HA on the surface of macrophages can engage LYVE-1, facilitating their adhesion and transit across lymphatic endothelium. These results reveal LYVE-1 as a low affinity receptor tuned to discriminate between different HA configurations through avidity and establish a new mechanistic basis for the functions ascribed to LYVE-1 in matrix HA binding and leukocyte traffickingin vivo.
Phase III, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of CC-486 (Oral Azacitidine) in Patients With Lower-Risk Myelodysplastic Syndromes.
PURPOSE: Treatment options are limited for patients with lower-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (LR-MDS). This phase III, placebo-controlled trial evaluated CC-486 (oral azacitidine), a hypomethylating agent, in patients with International Prognostic Scoring System LR-MDS and RBC transfusion-dependent anemia and thrombocytopenia. METHODS: Patients were randomly assigned 1:1 to CC-486 300-mg or placebo for 21 days/28-day cycle. The primary end point was RBC transfusion independence (TI). RESULTS: Two hundred sixteen patients received CC-486 (n = 107) or placebo (n = 109). The median age was 74 years, median platelet count was 25 × 109/L, and absolute neutrophil count was 1.3 × 109/L. In the CC-486 and placebo arms, 31% and 11% of patients, respectively, achieved RBC-TI (P = .0002), with median durations of 11.1 and 5.0 months. Reductions of ≥ 4 RBC units were attained by 42.1% and 30.6% of patients, respectively, with median durations of 10.0 and 2.3 months, and more CC-486 patients had ≥ 1.5 g/dL hemoglobin increases from baseline (23.4% v 4.6%). Platelet hematologic improvement rate was higher with CC-486 (24.3% v 6.5%). Underpowered interim overall survival analysis showed no difference between CC-486 and placebo (median, 17.3 v 16.2 months; P = .96). Low-grade GI events were the most common adverse events in both arms. In the CC-486 and placebo arms, 90% and 73% of patients experienced a grade 3-4 adverse event. Overall death rate was similar between arms, but there was an imbalance in deaths during the first 56 days (CC-486, n = 16; placebo, n = 6), most related to infections; the median pretreatment absolute neutrophil count for the 16 CC-486 patients was 0.57 × 109/L. CONCLUSION: CC-486 significantly improved RBC-TI rate and induced durable bilineage improvements in patients with LR-MDS and high-risk disease features. More early deaths occurred in the CC-486 arm, most related to infections in patients with significant pretreatment neutropenia. Further evaluation of CC-486 in MDS is needed.
Serological detection of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 is essential for establishing rates of seroconversion in populations, and for seeking evidence for a level of antibody that may be protective against COVID-19 disease. Several high-performance commercial tests have been described, but these require centralised laboratory facilities that are comparatively expensive, and therefore not available universally. Red cell agglutination tests do not require special equipment, are read by eye, have short development times, low cost and can be applied at the Point of Care. Here we describe a quantitative Haemagglutination test (HAT) for the detection of antibodies to the receptor binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The HAT has a sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 99% for detection of antibodies after a PCR diagnosed infection. We will supply aliquots of the test reagent sufficient for ten thousand test wells free of charge to qualified research groups anywhere in the world.
Almost all haplotype-based variant callers were designed specifically for detecting common germline variation in diploid populations, and give suboptimal results in other scenarios. Here we present Octopus, a variant caller that uses a polymorphic Bayesian genotyping model capable of modeling sequencing data from a range of experimental designs within a unified haplotype-aware framework. Octopus combines sequencing reads and prior information to phase-called genotypes of arbitrary ploidy, including those with somatic mutations. We show that Octopus accurately calls germline variants in individuals, including single nucleotide variants, indels and small complex replacements such as microinversions. Using a synthetic tumor data set derived from clean sequencing data from a sample with known germline haplotypes and observed mutations in a large cohort of tumor samples, we show that Octopus is more sensitive to low-frequency somatic variation, yet calls considerably fewer false positives than other methods. Octopus also outputs realigned evidence BAM files to aid validation and interpretation.
Global proteomic analysis of extracellular matrix in mouse and human brain highlights relevance to cerebrovascular disease.
The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a key interface between the cerebrovasculature and adjacent brain tissues. Deregulation of the ECM contributes to a broad range of neurological disorders. However, despite this importance, our understanding of the ECM composition remains very limited mainly due to difficulties in its isolation. To address this, we developed an approach to extract the cerebrovascular ECM from mouse and human post-mortem normal brain tissues. We then used mass spectrometry with off-line high-pH reversed-phase fractionation to increase the protein detection. This identified more than 1000 proteins in the ECM-enriched fraction, with > 66% of the proteins being common between the species. We report 147 core ECM proteins of the human brain vascular matrisome, including collagens, laminins, fibronectin and nidogens. We next used network analysis to identify the connection between the brain ECM proteins and cerebrovascular diseases. We found that genes related to cerebrovascular diseases, such as COL4A1, COL4A2, VCAN and APOE were significantly enriched in the cerebrovascular ECM network. This provides unique mechanistic insight into cerebrovascular disease and potential drug targets. Overall, we provide a powerful resource to study the functions of brain ECM and highlight a specific role for brain vascular ECM in cerebral vascular disease.
Thermal and pH stabilities of i-DNA: confronting in vitro experiments with models and in-cell NMR data.
Recent studies indicate that i-DNA, a four-stranded cytosine-rich DNA also known as the i-motif, is actually formed in vivo ; however, a systematic study on sequence effects on stability has been missing. Herein, an unprecedented number of different sequences (271) bearing four runs of 3-6 cytosines with different spacer lengths has been tested. While i-DNA stability is nearly independent on total spacer length, the central spacer plays a special role on stability. Stability also depends on the length of the C-tracts at both acidic and neutral pHs. This study provides a global picture on i-DNA stability thanks to the large size of the introduced data set; it reveals unexpected features and allows to conclude that determinants of i-DNA stability do not mirror those of G-quadruplexes. Our results illustrate the structural roles of loops and C-tracts on i-DNA stability, confirm its formation in cells, and allow establishing rules to predict its stability.
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-Seq) datasets that are produced from clinical samples are often confounded by batch effects and inter-patient variability. Existing batch effect removal methods typically require strong assumptions on the composition of cell populations being near identical across patients. Here we present a novel meta-clustering workflow, CIDER, based on inter-group similarity measures. We demonstrate that CIDER outperforms other scRNA-Seq clustering methods and integration approaches in both simulated and real datasets. Moreover, we show that CIDER can be used to assess the biological correctness of integration in real datasets, while it does not require the existence of prior cellular annotations.</jats:p>
The conduits of life; the animal oviducts and human fallopian tubes are of paramount importance for reproduction in amniotes. They connect the ovary with the uterus and are essential for fertility. They provide the appropriate environment for gamete maintenance, fertilization and preimplantation embryonic development. However, serious pathologies, such as ectopic pregnancy, malignancy and severe infections, occur in the oviducts. They can have drastic effects on fertility, and some are life-threatening. Despite the crucial importance of the oviducts in life, relatively little is known about the molecular drivers underpinning the embryonic development of their precursor structures, the Müllerian ducts, and their successive differentiation and maturation. The Müllerian ducts are simple rudimentary tubes comprised of an epithelial lumen surrounded by a mesenchymal layer. They differentiate into most of the adult female reproductive tract (FRT). The earliest sign of Müllerian duct formation is the thickening of the anterior mesonephric coelomic epithelium to form a placode of two distinct progenitor cells. It is proposed that one subset of progenitor cells undergoes partial epithelial-mesenchymal transition (pEMT), differentiating into immature Müllerian luminal cells, and another subset undergoes complete EMT to become Müllerian mesenchymal cells. These cells invaginate and proliferate forming the Müllerian ducts. Subsequently, pEMT would be reversed to generate differentiated epithelial cells lining the fully formed Müllerian lumen. The anterior Müllerian epithelial cells further specialize into the oviduct epithelial subtypes. This review highlights the key established molecular and genetic determinants of the processes involved in Müllerian duct development and the differentiation of its upper segment into oviducts. Furthermore, an extensive genome-wide survey of mouse knockout lines displaying Müllerian or oviduct phenotypes was undertaken. In addition to widely established genetic determinants of Müllerian duct development, our search has identified surprising associations between loss-of-function of several genes and high-penetrance abnormalities in the Müllerian duct and/or oviducts. Remarkably, these associations have not been investigated in any detail. Finally, we discuss future directions for research on Müllerian duct development and oviducts.
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.
Defects in DNA repair frequently lead to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases, underscoring the particular importance of DNA repair in long-lived post-mitotic neurons1,2. The cellular genome is subjected to a constant barrage of endogenous DNA damage, but surprisingly little is known about the identity of the lesion(s) that accumulate in neurons and whether they accrue throughout the genome or at specific loci. Here we show that post-mitotic neurons accumulate unexpectedly high levels of DNA single-strand breaks (SSBs) at specific sites within the genome. Genome-wide mapping reveals that SSBs are located within enhancers at or near CpG dinucleotides and sites of DNA demethylation. These SSBs are repaired by PARP1 and XRCC1-dependent mechanisms. Notably, deficiencies in XRCC1-dependent short-patch repair increase DNA repair synthesis at neuronal enhancers, whereas defects in long-patch repair reduce synthesis. The high levels of SSB repair in neuronal enhancers are therefore likely to be sustained by both short-patch and long-patch processes. These data provide the first evidence of site- and cell type-specific SSB repair, revealing unexpected levels of localized and continuous DNA breakage in neurons. In addition, they suggest an explanation for the neurodegenerative phenotypes that occur in patients with defective SSB repair.
Unexpected role of SIX1 variants in craniosynostosis: expanding the phenotype of SIX1-related disorders.
BACKGROUND: Pathogenic heterozygous SIX1 variants (predominantly missense) occur in branchio-otic syndrome (BOS), but an association with craniosynostosis has not been reported. METHODS: We investigated probands with craniosynostosis of unknown cause using whole exome/genome (n=628) or RNA (n=386) sequencing, and performed targeted resequencing of SIX1 in 615 additional patients. Expression of SIX1 protein in embryonic cranial sutures was examined in the Six1 nLacZ/+ reporter mouse. RESULTS: From 1629 unrelated cases with craniosynostosis we identified seven different SIX1 variants (three missense, including two de novo mutations, and four nonsense, one of which was also present in an affected twin). Compared with population data, enrichment of SIX1 loss-of-function variants was highly significant (p=0.00003). All individuals with craniosynostosis had sagittal suture fusion; additionally four had bilambdoid synostosis. Associated BOS features were often attenuated; some carrier relatives appeared non-penetrant. SIX1 is expressed in a layer basal to the calvaria, likely corresponding to the dura mater, and in the mid-sagittal mesenchyme. CONCLUSION: Craniosynostosis is associated with heterozygous SIX1 variants, with possible enrichment of loss-of-function variants compared with classical BOS. We recommend screening of SIX1 in craniosynostosis, particularly when sagittal±lambdoid synostosis and/or any BOS phenotypes are present. These findings highlight the role of SIX1 in cranial suture homeostasis.
An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Short and long-read genome sequencing methodologies for somatic variant detection; genomic analysis of a patient with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
Recent advances in throughput and accuracy mean that the Oxford Nanopore Technologies PromethION platform is a now a viable solution for genome sequencing. Much of the validation of bioinformatic tools for this long-read data has focussed on calling germline variants (including structural variants). Somatic variants are outnumbered many-fold by germline variants and their detection is further complicated by the effects of tumour purity/subclonality. Here, we evaluate the extent to which Nanopore sequencing enables detection and analysis of somatic variation. We do this through sequencing tumour and germline genomes for a patient with diffuse B-cell lymphoma and comparing results with 150 bp short-read sequencing of the same samples. Calling germline single nucleotide variants (SNVs) from specific chromosomes of the long-read data achieved good specificity and sensitivity. However, results of somatic SNV calling highlight the need for the development of specialised joint calling algorithms. We find the comparative genome-wide performance of different tools varies significantly between structural variant types, and suggest long reads are especially advantageous for calling large somatic deletions and duplications. Finally, we highlight the utility of long reads for phasing clinically relevant variants, confirming that a somatic 1.6 Mb deletion and a p.(Arg249Met) mutation involving TP53 are oriented in trans.
SARS-CoV-2 has caused over 2 million deaths in little over a year. Vaccines are being deployed at scale, aiming to generate responses against the virus spike. The scale of the pandemic and error-prone virus replication is leading to the appearance of mutant viruses and potentially escape from antibody responses. Variant B.1.1.7, now dominant in the UK, with increased transmission, harbors 9 amino acid changes in the spike, including N501Y in the ACE2 interacting surface. We examine the ability of B.1.1.7 to evade antibody responses elicited by natural SARS-CoV-2 infection or vaccination. We map the impact of N501Y by structure/function analysis of a large panel of well-characterized monoclonal antibodies. B.1.1.7 is harder to neutralize than parental virus, compromising neutralization by some members of a major class of public antibodies through light-chain contacts with residue 501. However, widespread escape from monoclonal antibodies or antibody responses generated by natural infection or vaccination was not observed.