Publications

2019
Lisa W Witten, Christopher J Cheng, and Frank J Slack. 2019. “miR-155 drives oncogenesis by promoting and cooperating with mutations in the c-Kit oncogene.” Oncogene, 38, 12, Pp. 2151-2161.Abstract
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as crucial players in the development and maintenance of disease. miR-155 is an inflammation-associated, oncogenic miRNA, frequently overexpressed in hematological malignancies and solid tumors. However, the mechanism of oncogenesis by miR-155 is not well characterized, and research has focused primarily on individual, direct targets, which does not recapitulate the complexities of cancer. Using a powerful, inducible transgenic mouse model that overexpresses miR-155 and develops miR-155-addicted hematological malignancy, we describe here a multi-step process of oncogenesis by miR-155, which involves cooperation between miR-155, its direct targets, and other oncogenes. miR-155 is known to target DNA-repair proteins, leading to a mutator phenotype, and we find that over 93% of tumors in our miR-155 overexpressing mice contain activating mutations in a single oncogene, c-Kit. Treating mice with dasatinib or imatinib, which target c-Kit, resulted in complete tumor regression, indicating that c-Kit activity is crucial in the oncogenic process. Interestingly, c-Kit expression is high when miR-155 is overexpressed, indicating further cooperation between miR-155 and c-Kit. Our findings support a multi-step model of oncogenesis by miR-155 in which miR-155 promotes both a mutator phenotype and a cellular environment particularly susceptible to mutations in a given oncogene.
Mira Pavkovic, Lorena Pantano, Cory V Gerlach, Sergine Brutus, Sarah A Boswell, Robert A Everley, Jagesh V Shah, Shannan H Sui, and Vishal S Vaidya. 2019. “Multi omics analysis of fibrotic kidneys in two mouse models.” Sci Data, 6, 1, Pp. 92.Abstract
Kidney fibrosis represents an urgent unmet clinical need due to the lack of effective therapies and an inadequate understanding of the molecular pathogenesis. We have generated a comprehensive and combined multi-omics dataset (proteomics, mRNA and small RNA transcriptomics) of fibrotic kidneys that is searchable through a user-friendly web application: http://hbcreports.med.harvard.edu/fmm/ . Two commonly used mouse models were utilized: a reversible chemical-induced injury model (folic acid (FA) induced nephropathy) and an irreversible surgically-induced fibrosis model (unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO)). mRNA and small RNA sequencing, as well as 10-plex tandem mass tag (TMT) proteomics were performed with kidney samples from different time points over the course of fibrosis development. The bioinformatics workflow used to process, technically validate, and combine the single omics data will be described. In summary, we present temporal multi-omics data from fibrotic mouse kidneys that are accessible through an interrogation tool (Mouse Kidney Fibromics browser) to provide a searchable transcriptome and proteome for kidney fibrosis researchers.
Aron Gyuris, Jose Navarrete-Perea, Ala Jo, Simona Cristea, Shuang Zhou, Kyle Fraser, Zhiyun Wei, Anna M Krichevsky, Ralph Weissleder, Hakho Lee, Steve P Gygi, and Al Charest. 2019. “Physical and Molecular Landscapes of Mouse Glioma Extracellular Vesicles Define Heterogeneity.” Cell Rep, 27, 13, Pp. 3972-3987.e6.Abstract
Cancer extracellular vesicles (EVs) are highly heterogeneous, which impedes our understanding of their function as intercellular communication agents and biomarkers. To deconstruct this heterogeneity, we analyzed extracellular RNAs (exRNAs) and extracellular proteins (exPTNs) from size fractionation of large, medium, and small EVs and ribonucleoprotein complexes (RNPs) from mouse glioblastoma cells by RNA sequencing and quantitative proteomics. mRNA from medium-sized EVs most closely reflects the cellular transcriptome, whereas small EV exRNA is enriched in small non-coding RNAs and RNPs contain precisely processed tRNA fragments. The exPTN composition of EVs and RNPs reveals that they are closely related by vesicle type, independent of their cellular origin, and single EV analysis reveals that small EVs are less heterogeneous in their protein content than larger ones. We provide a foundation for better understanding of segregation of macromolecules in glioma EVs through a catalog of diverse exRNAs and exPTNs.
Yiran Dong, Robert A Sanford, William P Inskeep, Vaibhav Srivastava, Vincent Bulone, Christopher J Fields, Peter M Yau, Mayandi Sivaguru, Dag Ahrén, Kyle W Fouke, Joseph Weber, Charles R Werth, Isaac K Cann, Kathleen M Keating, Radhika S Khetani, Alvaro G Hernandez, Chris Wright, Mark Band, Brian S Imai, Glenn A Fried, and Bruce W Fouke. 2019. “Physiology, Metabolism, and Fossilization of Hot-Spring Filamentous Microbial Mats.” Astrobiology, 19, 12, Pp. 1442-1458.Abstract
The evolutionarily ancient Aquificales bacterium spp. dominates filamentous microbial mat communities in shallow, fast-flowing, and dysoxic hot-spring drainage systems around the world. In the present study, field observations of these fettuccini-like microbial mats at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park are integrated with geology, geochemistry, hydrology, microscopy, and multi-omic molecular biology analyses. Strategic sampling of living filamentous mats along with the hot-spring CaCO () in which they are actively being entombed and fossilized has permitted the first direct linkage of spp. physiology and metabolism with the formation of distinct travertine streamer microbial biomarkers. Results indicate that, during chemoautotrophy and CO carbon fixation, the 87-98% -dominated mats utilize chaperons to facilitate enzyme stability and function. High-abundance transcripts and proteins for type IV pili and extracellular polymeric substances (EPSs) are consistent with their strong mucus-rich filaments tens of centimeters long that withstand hydrodynamic shear as they become encrusted by more than 5 mm of travertine per day. Their primary energy source is the oxidation of reduced sulfur ( sulfide, sulfur, or thiosulfate) and the simultaneous uptake of extremely low concentrations of dissolved O facilitated by bd-type cytochromes. The formation of elevated travertine ridges permits the -dominated mats to create a shallow platform from which to access low levels of dissolved oxygen at the virtual exclusion of other microorganisms. These ridged travertine streamer microbial biomarkers are well preserved and create a robust fossil record of microbial physiological and metabolic activities in modern and ancient hot-spring ecosystems.
Heng-Jia Liu, Hilaire C Lam, Christian V Baglini, Julie Nijmeh, Alischer A Cottrill, Stephen Y Chan, and Elizabeth P Henske. 2019. “Rapamycin-upregulated miR-29b promotes mTORC1-hyperactive cell growth in TSC2-deficient cells by downregulating tumor suppressor retinoic acid receptor β (RARβ).” Oncogene, 38, 49, Pp. 7367-7383.Abstract
miR-29b has been identified as a rapamycin-induced microRNA (miRNA) in Tsc2-deficient, mTORC1-hyperactive cells. The biological significance of this induction of miR-29b is unknown. We have found that miR-29b acts as an oncogenic miRNA in Tsc2-deficient cells: inhibition of miR-29b suppressed cell proliferation, anchorage-independent cell growth, cell migration, invasion, and the growth of Tsc2-deficient tumors in vivo. Importantly, the combination of miR-29b inhibition with rapamycin treatment further inhibited these tumor-associated cellular processes. To gain insight into the molecular mechanisms by which miR-29b promotes tumorigenesis, we used RNA sequencing to identify the tumor suppressor retinoid receptor beta (RARβ) as a target gene of miR-29b. We found that miR-29b directly targeted the 3'UTR of RARβ. Forced expression of RARβ reversed the effects of miR-29b overexpression in proliferation, migration, and invasion, indicating that it is a critical target. miR-29b expression correlated with low RARβ expression in renal clear cell carcinomas and bladder urothelial carcinomas, tumors associated with TSC gene mutations. We further identified growth family member 4 (ING4) as a novel interacting partner of RARβ. Overexpression of ING4 inhibited the migration and invasion of Tsc2-deficient cells while silencing of ING4 reversed the RARβ-mediated suppression of cell migration and invasion. Taken together, our findings reveal a novel miR-29b/RARβ/ING4 pathway that regulates tumorigenic properties of Tsc2-deficient cells, and that may serve as a potential therapeutic target for TSC, lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), and other mTORC1-hyperactive tumors.
Ahmad Al-Moujahed, Bo Tian, Nikolaos E Efstathiou, Eleni K Konstantinou, Mien Hoang, Haijiang Lin, Joan W Miller, and Demetrios G Vavvas. 2019. “Receptor interacting protein kinase 3 (RIP3) regulates iPSCs generation through modulating cell cycle progression genes.” Stem Cell Res, 35, Pp. 101387.Abstract
The molecular mechanisms involved in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) generation are poorly understood. The cell death machinery of apoptosis-inducing caspases have been shown to facilitate the process of iPSCs reprogramming. However, the effect of other cell death processes, such as programmed necrosis (necroptosis), on iPSCs induction has not been studied. In this study, we investigated the role of receptor-interacting protein kinase 3 (RIP3), an essential regulator of necroptosis, in reprogramming mouse embryonic fibroblast cells (MEFs) into iPSCs. RIP3 was found to be upregulated in iPSCs compared to MEFs. Deletion of RIP3 dramatically suppressed the reprogramming of iPSCs (~82%). RNA-seq analysis and qRT-PCR showed that RIP3 KO MEFs expressed lower levels of genes that control cell cycle progression and cell division and higher levels of extracellular matrix-regulating genes. The growth rate of RIP3 KO MEFs was significantly slower than WT MEFs. These findings can partially explain the inhibitory effects of RIP3 deletion on iPSCs generation and show for the first time that the necroptosis kinase RIP3 plays an important role in iPSC reprogramming. In contrast to RIP3, the kinase and scaffolding functions of RIPK1 appeared to have distinct effects on reprogramming.
William C Engeland, Logan Massman, Lauren Miller, Sining Leng, Emanuele Pignatti, Lorena Pantano, Diana L Carlone, Paulo Kofuji, and David T Breault. 2019. “Sex Differences in Adrenal Bmal1 Deletion-Induced Augmentation of Glucocorticoid Responses to Stress and ACTH in Mice.” Endocrinology, 160, 10, Pp. 2215-2229.Abstract
The circadian glucocorticoid (GC) rhythm is dependent on a molecular clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and an adrenal clock that is synchronized by the SCN. To determine whether the adrenal clock modulates GC responses to stress, experiments used female and male Cyp11A1Cre/+::Bmal1Fl/Fl knockout [side-chain cleavage (SCC)-KO] mice, in which the core clock gene, Bmal1, is deleted in all steroidogenic tissues, including the adrenal cortex. Following restraint stress, female and male SCC-KO mice demonstrate augmented plasma corticosterone but not plasma ACTH. In contrast, following submaximal scruff stress, plasma corticosterone was elevated only in female SCC-KO mice. Adrenal sensitivity to ACTH was measured in vitro using acutely dispersed adrenocortical cells. Maximal corticosterone responses to ACTH were elevated in cells from female KO mice without affecting the EC50 response. Neither the maximum nor the EC50 response to ACTH was affected in male cells, indicating that female SCC-KO mice show a stronger adrenal phenotype. Parallel experiments were conducted using female Cyp11B2 (Aldosterone Synthase)Cre/+::Bmal1Fl/Fl mice and adrenal cortex-specific Bmal1-null (Ad-KO) mice. Plasma corticosterone was increased in Ad-KO mice following restraint or scruff stress, and in vitro responses to ACTH were elevated in adrenal cells from Ad-KO mice, replicating data from female SCC-KO mice. Gene analysis showed increased expression of adrenal genes in female SCC-KO mice involved in cell cycle control, cell adhesion-extracellular matrix interaction, and ligand receptor activity that could promote steroid production. These observations underscore a role for adrenal Bmal1 as an attenuator of steroid secretion that is most prominent in female mice.
Maria Mavrikaki, Lorena Pantano, David Potter, Maximilian A Rogers-Grazado, Eleni Anastasiadou, Frank J Slack, Sami S Amr, Kerry J Ressler, Nikolaos P Daskalakis, and Elena Chartoff. 2019. “Sex-Dependent Changes in miRNA Expression in the Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis Following Stress.” Front Mol Neurosci, 12, Pp. 236.Abstract
Anxiety disorders disproportionately affect women compared to men, which may arise from sex differences in stress responses. MiRNAs are small non-coding RNAs known to regulate gene expression through actions on mRNAs. MiRNAs are regulated, in part, by factors such as stress and gonadal sex, and they have been implicated in the pathophysiology of multiple psychiatric disorders. Here, we assessed putative sex differences in miRNA expression in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) - a sexually dimorphic brain region implicated in anxiety - of adult male and female rats that had been exposed to social isolation (SI) stress throughout adolescence. To assess the translational utility of our results, we assessed if childhood trauma in humans resulted in changes in blood miRNA expression that are similar to those observed in rats. Male and female Sprague-Dawley rats underwent SI during adolescence or remained group housed (GH) and were tested for anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus maze as adults. Small RNA sequencing was performed on tissue extracted from the BNST. Furthermore, we re-analyzed an already available small RNA sequencing data set from the Grady Trauma Project (GTP) from men and women to identify circulating miRNAs that are associated with childhood trauma exposure. Our results indicated that there were greater anxiogenic-like effects and changes in BNST miRNA expression in SI versus GH females compared to SI versus GH males. In addition, we found nine miRNAs that were regulated in both the BNST from SI compared to GH rats and in blood samples from humans exposed to childhood trauma. These studies emphasize the utility of rodent models in studying neurobiological mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders and suggest that rodent models could be used to identify novel sex-specific pharmacotherapies for anxiety disorders.
Kathleen Hanlon, Alex Thompson, Lorena Pantano, John N Hutchinson, Arshed Al-Obeidi, Shu Wang, Meghan Bliss-Moreau, Jennifer Helble, Gabriela Alexe, Kimberly Stegmaier, Daniel E Bauer, and Ben A Croker. 2019. “Single-cell cloning of human T-cell lines reveals clonal variation in cell death responses to chemotherapeutics.” Cancer Genet, 237, Pp. 69-77.Abstract
Genetic modification of human leukemic cell lines using CRISPR-Cas9 has become a staple of gene-function studies. Single-cell cloning of modified cells is frequently used to facilitate studies of gene function. Inherent in this approach is an assumption that the genetic drift, amplified in some cell lines by mutations in DNA replication and repair machinery, as well as non-genetic factors will not introduce significant levels of experimental cellular heterogeneity in clones derived from parental populations. In this study, we characterize the variation in cell death of fifty clonal cell lines generated from human Jurkat and MOLT-4 T-cells edited by CRISPR-Cas9. We demonstrate a wide distribution of sensitivity to chemotherapeutics between non-edited clonal human leukemia T-cell lines, and also following CRISPR-Cas9 editing at the NLRP1 locus, or following transfection with non-targeting sgRNA controls. The cell death sensitivity profile of clonal cell lines was consistent across experiments and failed to revert to the non-clonal parental phenotype. Whole genome sequencing of two clonal cell lines edited by CRISPR-Cas9 revealed unique and shared genetic variants, which had minimal read support in the non-clonal parental population and were not suspected CRISPR-Cas9 off-target effects. These variants included genes related to cell death and drug metabolism. The variation in cell death phenotype of clonal populations of human T-cell lines may be a consequence of T-cell line genetic instability, and to a lesser extent clonal heterogeneity in the parental population or CRISPR-Cas9 off-target effects not predicted by current models. This work highlights the importance of genetic variation between clonal T-cell lines in the design, conduct, and analysis of experiments to investigate gene function after single-cell cloning.
Alessio Tovaglieri, Alexandra Sontheimer-Phelps, Annelies Geirnaert, Rachelle Prantil-Baun, Diogo M Camacho, David B Chou, Sasan Jalili-Firoozinezhad, Tomás de Wouters, Magdalena Kasendra, Michael Super, Mark J Cartwright, Camilla A Richmond, David T Breault, Christophe Lacroix, and Donald E Ingber. 2019. “Species-specific enhancement of enterohemorrhagic E. coli pathogenesis mediated by microbiome metabolites.” Microbiome, 7, 1, Pp. 43.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Species-specific differences in tolerance to infection are exemplified by the high susceptibility of humans to enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) infection, whereas mice are relatively resistant to this pathogen. This intrinsic species-specific difference in EHEC infection limits the translation of murine research to human. Furthermore, studying the mechanisms underlying this differential susceptibility is a difficult problem due to complex in vivo interactions between the host, pathogen, and disparate commensal microbial communities. RESULTS: We utilize organ-on-a-chip (Organ Chip) microfluidic culture technology to model damage of the human colonic epithelium induced by EHEC infection, and show that epithelial injury is greater when exposed to metabolites derived from the human gut microbiome compared to mouse. Using a multi-omics approach, we discovered four human microbiome metabolites-4-methyl benzoic acid, 3,4-dimethylbenzoic acid, hexanoic acid, and heptanoic acid-that are sufficient to mediate this effect. The active human microbiome metabolites preferentially induce expression of flagellin, a bacterial protein associated with motility of EHEC and increased epithelial injury. Thus, the decreased tolerance to infection observed in humans versus other species may be due in part to the presence of compounds produced by the human intestinal microbiome that actively promote bacterial pathogenicity. CONCLUSION: Organ-on-chip technology allowed the identification of specific human microbiome metabolites modulating EHEC pathogenesis. These identified metabolites are sufficient to increase susceptibility to EHEC in our human Colon Chip model and they contribute to species-specific tolerance. This work suggests that higher concentrations of these metabolites could be the reason for higher susceptibility to EHEC infection in certain human populations, such as children. Furthermore, this research lays the foundation for therapeutic-modulation of microbe products in order to prevent and treat human bacterial infection.
Alexandros Poulopoulos, Alexander J Murphy, Abdulkadir Ozkan, Patrick Davis, John Hatch, Rory Kirchner, and Jeffrey D Macklis. 2019. “Subcellular transcriptomes and proteomes of developing axon projections in the cerebral cortex.” Nature, 565, 7739, Pp. 356-360.Abstract
The development of neural circuits relies on axon projections establishing diverse, yet well-defined, connections between areas of the nervous system. Each projection is formed by growth cones-subcellular specializations at the tips of growing axons, encompassing sets of molecules that control projection-specific growth, guidance, and target selection. To investigate the set of molecules within native growth cones that form specific connections, here we developed growth cone sorting and subcellular RNA-proteome mapping, an approach that identifies and quantifies local transcriptomes and proteomes from labelled growth cones of single projections in vivo. Using this approach on the developing callosal projection of the mouse cerebral cortex, we mapped molecular enrichments in trans-hemispheric growth cones relative to their parent cell bodies, producing paired subcellular proteomes and transcriptomes from single neuron subtypes directly from the brain. These data provide generalizable proof-of-principle for this approach, and reveal molecular specializations of the growth cone, including accumulations of the growth-regulating kinase mTOR, together with mRNAs that contain mTOR-dependent motifs. These findings illuminate the relationships between subcellular distributions of RNA and protein in developing projection neurons, and provide a systems-level approach for the discovery of subtype- and stage-specific molecular substrates of circuit wiring, miswiring, and the potential for regeneration.
Lorena Pantano, Francisco Pantano, Eulalia Marti, and Shannan Ho Sui. 2019. “Visualization of the small RNA transcriptome using seqclusterViz.” F1000Res, 8.Abstract
The study of small RNAs provides us with a deeper understanding of the complexity of gene regulation within cells. Of the different types of small RNAs, the most important in mammals are miRNA, tRNA fragments and piRNAs. Using small RNA-seq analysis, we can study all small RNA types simultaneously, with the potential to detect novel small RNA types. We describe SeqclusterViz, an interactive HTML-javascript webpage for visualizing small noncoding RNAs (small RNAs) detected by Seqcluster. The SeqclusterViz tool allows users to visualize known and novel small RNA types in model or non-model organisms, and to select small RNA candidates for further validation. SeqclusterViz is divided into three panels: i) query-ready tables showing detected small RNA clusters and their genomic locations, ii) the expression profile over the precursor for all the samples together with RNA secondary structures, and iii) the mostly highly expressed sequences. Here, we show the capabilities of the visualization tool and its validation using human brain samples from patients with Parkinson's disease.
2018
William C Engeland, Logan Massman, Shubhendu Mishra, Marina J Yoder, Sining Leng, Emanuele Pignatti, Mary E Piper, Diana L Carlone, David T Breault, and Paulo Kofuji. 2018. “The Adrenal Clock Prevents Aberrant Light-Induced Alterations in Circadian Glucocorticoid Rhythms.” Endocrinology, 159, 12, Pp. 3950-3964.Abstract
The glucocorticoid (GC) rhythm is entrained to light-dark (LD) cycles via a molecular clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and is maintained by an adrenal clock synchronized by SCN-dependent signals. Targeted deletion of the core clock gene Bmal1 can disrupt adrenal clock function. The requirement of the adrenal clock to stabilize the circadian GC rhythm during exposure to aberrant LD cycles was determined using novel aldosterone synthase (AS)Cre/+::Bmal1Fl/Fl mice in which Bmal1 deletion occurred during postnatal adrenal transdifferentiation. To examine whether adrenal Bmal1 deletion results in loss of the adrenal clock, mice were crossed with mPER2::Luciferase (mPER2Luc/+) mice. Adrenals from ASCre/+::Bmal1+/+::PER2Luc/+ [control (CTRL)] mice show mPER2Luc rhythms ex vivo, whereas slices from ASCre/+::Bmal1Fl/Fl::PER2Luc/+ [knockout (KO)] mice show dampened rhythms. To monitor corticosterone rhythmicity, mice were implanted with subcutaneous microdialysis probes and sampled at 60-minute intervals for up to 3 days under 12:12-hour [τ (T) 24] LD or 3.5:3.5-hour (T7) LD cycles. Corticosterone rhythms were entrained to T24 LD in CTRL and KO mice. Under T7 LD, circadian corticosterone rhythms persisted in most CTRL mice but not KO mice. Hyperadrenocorticism also was observed in KO mice under T7 LD, reflected by increased corticosterone peak amplitude, total daily corticosterone, and responses to ACTH. Analysis of dysregulated adrenal genes in KO mice exposed to aberrant light identified candidates involved in cholesterol metabolism and trafficking, including steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, which could increase steroidogenesis. Our results show that the adrenal clock functions to buffer steroidogenic responses to aberrant light and stabilize circadian GC rhythmicity.
Björn Grüning, Ryan Dale, Andreas Sjödin, Brad A Chapman, Jillian Rowe, Christopher H Tomkins-Tinch, Renan Valieris, and Johannes Köster. 2018. “Bioconda: sustainable and comprehensive software distribution for the life sciences.” Nat Methods, 15, 7, Pp. 475-476.
Matthew L Steinhauser, Benjamin A Olenchock, John O'Keefe, Mingyue Lun, Kerry A Pierce, Hang Lee, Lorena Pantano, Anne Klibanski, Gerald I Shulman, Clary B Clish, and Pouneh K Fazeli. 2018. “The circulating metabolome of human starvation.” JCI Insight, 3, 16.Abstract
The human adaptive starvation response allows for survival during long-term caloric deprivation. Whether the physiology of starvation is adaptive or maladaptive is context dependent: activation of pathways by caloric restriction may promote longevity, yet in the context of caloric excess, the same pathways may contribute to obesity. Here, we performed plasma metabolite profiling of longitudinally collected samples during a 10-day, 0-calorie fast in humans. We identify classical milestones in adaptive starvation, including the early consumption of gluconeogenic amino acids and the subsequent surge in plasma nonesterified fatty acids that marks the shift from carbohydrate to lipid metabolism, and demonstrate findings, including (a) the preferential release of unsaturated fatty acids and an associated shift in plasma lipid species with high degrees of unsaturation and (b) evidence that acute, starvation-mediated hypoleptinemia may be a driver of the transition from glucose to lipid metabolism in humans.
Bence György, Camilla Lööv, Mikołaj P Zaborowski, Shuko Takeda, Benjamin P Kleinstiver, Caitlin Commins, Ksenia Kastanenka, Dakai Mu, Adrienn Volak, Vilmantas Giedraitis, Lars Lannfelt, Casey A Maguire, Keith J Joung, Bradley T Hyman, Xandra O Breakefield, and Martin Ingelsson. 2018. “CRISPR/Cas9 Mediated Disruption of the Swedish APP Allele as a Therapeutic Approach for Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease.” Mol Ther Nucleic Acids, 11, Pp. 429-440.Abstract
The APPswe (Swedish) mutation in the amyloid precursor protein (APP) gene causes dominantly inherited Alzheimer's disease (AD) as a result of increased β-secretase cleavage of the amyloid-β (Aβ) precursor protein. This leads to abnormally high Aβ levels, not only in brain but also in peripheral tissues of mutation carriers. Here, we selectively disrupted the human mutant APP allele using CRISPR. By applying CRISPR/Cas9 from Streptococcus pyogenes, we generated allele-specific deletions of either APP or APP. As measured by ELISA, conditioned media of targeted patient-derived fibroblasts displayed an approximate 60% reduction in secreted Aβ. Next, coding sequences for the APP-specific guide RNA (gRNA) and Cas9 were packaged into separate adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors. Site-specific indel formation was achieved both in primary neurons isolated from APP transgenic mouse embryos (Tg2576) and after co-injection of these vectors into hippocampus of adult mice. Taken together, we here present proof-of-concept data that CRISPR/Cas9 can selectively disrupt the APP allele both ex vivo and in vivo-and thereby decrease pathogenic Aβ. Hence, this system may have the potential to be developed as a tool for gene therapy against AD caused by APPswe and other point mutations associated with increased Aβ.
José-Manuel Baizabal, Meeta Mistry, Miguel Turrero García, Nicolás Gómez, Olubusola Olukoya, Diana Tran, Matthew B Johnson, Christopher A Walsh, and Corey C Harwell. 2018. “The Epigenetic State of PRDM16-Regulated Enhancers in Radial Glia Controls Cortical Neuron Position.” Neuron, 98, 5, Pp. 945-962.e8.Abstract
The epigenetic landscape is dynamically remodeled during neurogenesis. However, it is not understood how chromatin modifications in neural stem cells instruct the formation of complex structures in the brain. We report that the histone methyltransferase PRDM16 is required in radial glia to regulate lineage-autonomous and stage-specific gene expression programs that control number and position of upper layer cortical projection neurons. PRDM16 regulates the epigenetic state of transcriptional enhancers to activate genes involved in intermediate progenitor cell production and repress genes involved in cell migration. The histone methyltransferase domain of PRDM16 is necessary in radial glia to promote cortical neuron migration through transcriptional silencing. We show that repression of the gene encoding the E3 ubiquitin ligase PDZRN3 by PRDM16 determines the position of upper layer neurons. These findings provide insights into how epigenetic control of transcriptional enhancers in radial glial determines the organization of the mammalian cerebral cortex.
Zafira Castaño, Beatriz P San Juan, Asaf Spiegel, Ayush Pant, Molly J DeCristo, Tyler Laszewski, Jessalyn M Ubellacker, Susanne R Janssen, Anushka Dongre, Ferenc Reinhardt, Ayana Henderson, Ana Garcia Del Rio, Ann M Gifford, Zachary T Herbert, John N Hutchinson, Robert A Weinberg, Christine L Chaffer, and Sandra S McAllister. 2018. “IL-1β inflammatory response driven by primary breast cancer prevents metastasis-initiating cell colonization.” Nat Cell Biol, 20, 9, Pp. 1084-1097.Abstract
Lack of insight into mechanisms governing breast cancer metastasis has precluded the development of curative therapies. Metastasis-initiating cancer cells (MICs) are uniquely equipped to establish metastases, causing recurrence and therapeutic resistance. Using various metastasis models, we discovered that certain primary tumours elicit a systemic inflammatory response involving interleukin-1β (IL-1β)-expressing innate immune cells that infiltrate distant MIC microenvironments. At the metastatic site, IL-1β maintains MICs in a ZEB1-positive differentiation state, preventing MICs from generating highly proliferative E-cadherin-positive progeny. Thus, when the inherent plasticity of MICs is impeded, overt metastases cannot be established. Ablation of the pro-inflammatory response or inhibition of the IL-1 receptor relieves the differentiation block and results in metastatic colonization. Among patients with lymph node-positive breast cancer, high primary tumour IL-1β expression is associated with better overall survival and distant metastasis-free survival. Our data reveal complex interactions that occur between primary tumours and disseminated MICs that could be exploited to improve patient survival.
Assaf C Bester, Jonathan D Lee, Alejandro Chavez, Yu-Ru Lee, Daphna Nachmani, Suhani Vora, Joshua Victor, Martin Sauvageau, Emanuele Monteleone, John L Rinn, Paolo Provero, George M Church, John G Clohessy, and Pier Paolo Pandolfi. 2018. “An Integrated Genome-wide CRISPRa Approach to Functionalize lncRNAs in Drug Resistance.” Cell, 173, 3, Pp. 649-664.e20.Abstract
Resistance to chemotherapy plays a significant role in cancer mortality. To identify genetic units affecting sensitivity to cytarabine, the mainstay of treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), we developed a comprehensive and integrated genome-wide platform based on a dual protein-coding and non-coding integrated CRISPRa screening (DICaS). Putative resistance genes were initially identified using pharmacogenetic data from 760 human pan-cancer cell lines. Subsequently, genome scale functional characterization of both coding and long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) genes by CRISPR activation was performed. For lncRNA functional assessment, we developed a CRISPR activation of lncRNA (CaLR) strategy, targeting 14,701 lncRNA genes. Computational and functional analysis identified novel cell-cycle, survival/apoptosis, and cancer signaling genes. Furthermore, transcriptional activation of the GAS6-AS2 lncRNA, identified in our analysis, leads to hyperactivation of the GAS6/TAM pathway, a resistance mechanism in multiple cancers including AML. Thus, DICaS represents a novel and powerful approach to identify integrated coding and non-coding pathways of therapeutic relevance.
Ruggero Spadafora, Junjie Lu, Radhika S Khetani, Cheng Zhang, Aimee Iberg, Hu Li, Yang Shi, and Paul H Lerou. 2018. “Lung-Resident Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Reveal Transcriptional Dynamics of Lung Development in Preterm Infants.” Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 198, 7, Pp. 961-964.

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