Insight
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Publications in Biomedical Research by NOMIS researchers

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

July 10, 2024

The emergence of single nucleus RNA sequencing (snRNA-seq) offers to revolutionize the study of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Integration with complementary multiomics data such as genetics, proteomics and clinical data provides powerful opportunities to link cell subpopulations and molecular networks with a broader disease-relevant context. We report snRNA-seq profiles from superior frontal gyrus samples from 101 well characterized subjects from the Banner Brain and Body Donation Program in combination with whole genome sequences. We report findings that link common AD risk variants with CR1 expression in oligodendrocytes as well as alterations in hematological parameters. We observed an AD-associated CD83(+) microglial subtype with unique molecular networks and which is associated with immunoglobulin IgG4 production in the transverse colon. Our major observations were replicated in two additional, independent snRNA-seq data sets. These findings illustrate the power of multi-tissue molecular profiling to contextualize snRNA-seq brain transcriptomics and reveal disease biology.

Research field(s)
Genetics & Heredity, Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

June 20, 2024

Gamete formation and subsequent offspring development often involve extended phases of suspended cellular development or even dormancy. How cells adapt to recover and resume growth remains poorly understood. Here, we visualized budding yeast cells undergoing meiosis by cryo-electron tomography (cryoET) and discovered elaborate filamentous assemblies decorating the nucleus, cytoplasm, and mitochondria. To determine filament composition, we developed a “filament identification” (FilamentID) workflow that combines multiscale cryoET/cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) analyses of partially lysed cells or organelles. FilamentID identified the mitochondrial filaments as being composed of the conserved aldehyde dehydrogenase Ald4ALDH2 and the nucleoplasmic/cytoplasmic filaments as consisting of acetyl-coenzyme A (CoA) synthetase Acs1ACSS2. Structural characterization further revealed the mechanism underlying polymerization and enabled us to genetically perturb filament formation. Acs1 polymerization facilitates the recovery of chronologically aged spores and, more generally, the cell cycle re-entry of starved cells. FilamentID is broadly applicable to characterize filaments of unknown identity in diverse cellular contexts.

Research field(s)
Microbiology, Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

June 19, 2024

Variants in APOE and PSEN1 (encoding apolipoprotein E and presenilin 1, respectively) alter the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. We previously reported a delay of cognitive impairment in a person with autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease caused by the PSEN1E280A variant who also had two copies of the apolipoprotein E3 Christchurch variant (APOE3Ch). Heterozygosity for the APOE3Ch variant may influence the age at which the onset of cognitive impairment occurs. We assessed this hypothesis in a population in which the PSEN1E280A variant is prevalent.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Genetics & Heredity, Clinical Medicine

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

June 19, 2024

The directed migration of epithelial cell collectives through coordinated movements plays a crucial role in various physiological processes and is increasingly understood at the level of large confluent monolayers. However, numerous processes rely on the migration of small groups of polarized epithelial clusters in complex environments, and their responses to external geometries remain poorly understood. To address this, we cultivate primary epithelial keratocyte tissues on adhesive microstripes to create autonomous epithelial clusters with well-defined geometries. We show that their migration efficiency is strongly influenced by the contact geometry and the orientation of cell–cell contacts with respect to the direction of migration. A combination of velocity and polarity alignment with contact regulation of locomotion in an active matter model captures quantitatively the experimental data. Furthermore, we predict that this combination of rules enables efficient navigation in complex geometries, which we confirm experimentally. Altogether, our findings provide a conceptual framework for extracting the interaction rules of active systems from their interaction with physical boundaries, as well as design principles for collective navigation in complex microenvironments.

Research field(s)
Biophysics

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

April 4, 2024

Genomic DNA that resides in the nuclei of mammalian neurons can be as old as the organism itself. The life span of nuclear RNAs, which are critical for proper chromatin architecture and transcription regulation, has not been determined in adult tissues. In this work, we identified and characterized nuclear RNAs that do not turn over for at least 2 years in a subset of postnatally born cells in the mouse brain. These long-lived RNAs were stably retained in nuclei in a neural cell type–specific manner and were required for the maintenance of heterochromatin. Thus, the life span of neural cells may depend on both the molecular longevity of DNA for the storage of genetic information and also the extreme stability of RNA for the functional organization of chromatin.

Research field(s)
Genetics & Heredity, Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

November 6, 2023

Chromatin conformation reorganization is emerging as an important layer of regulation for gene expression and lineage specification. Yet, how lineage-specific transcription factors contribute to the establishment of cell type-specific 3D chromatin architecture in the immune cells remains unclear, especially for the late stages of T cell subset differentiation and maturation. Regulatory T cells (Treg) are mainly generated in the thymus as a subpopulation of T cells specializing in suppressing excessive immune responses. Here, by comprehensively mapping 3D chromatin organization during Treg cell differentiation, we show that Treg-specific chromatin structures were progressively established during its lineage specification, and highly associated with Treg signature gene expression. Additionally, the binding sites of Foxp3, a Treg lineage specifying transcription factor, were highly enriched at Treg-specific chromatin loop anchors. Further comparison of the chromatin interactions between wide-type Tregs versus Treg cells from Foxp3 knock-in/knockout or newly-generated Foxp3 domain-swap mutant mouse revealed that Foxp3 was essential for the establishment of Treg-specific 3D chromatin architecture, although it was not dependent on the formation of the Foxp3 domain-swapped dimer. These results highlighted an underappreciated role of Foxp3 in modulating Treg-specific 3D chromatin structure formation.

Research field(s)
Genetics & Heredity, Immunology, Oncology & Carcinogenesis

Published in

September 12, 2023

The limited efficacy of immunotherapies against glioblastoma underscores the urgency of better understanding immunity in the central nervous system. We found that treatment with αCTLA-4, but not αPD-1, prolonged survival in a mouse model of mesenchymal-like glioblastoma. This effect was lost upon the depletion of CD4+ T cells but not CD8+ T cells. αCTLA-4 treatment increased frequencies of intratumoral IFNγ-producing CD4+ T cells, and IFNγ blockade negated the therapeutic impact of αCTLA-4. The anti-tumor activity of CD4+ T cells did not require tumor-intrinsic MHC-II expression but rather required conventional dendritic cells as well as MHC-II expression on microglia. CD4+ T cells interacted directly with microglia, promoting IFNγ-dependent microglia activation and phagocytosis via the AXL/MER tyrosine kinase receptors, which were necessary for tumor suppression. Thus, αCTLA-4 blockade in mesenchymal-like glioblastoma promotes a CD4+ T cell-microglia circuit wherein IFNγ triggers microglia activation and phagocytosis and microglia in turn act as antigen-presenting cells fueling the CD4+ T cell response. © 2023 Elsevier Inc.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

September 6, 2023

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a lethal malignancy in need of new therapeutic options. Using unbiased analyses of super-enhancers (SEs) as sentinels of core genes involved in cell-specific function, here we uncover a druggable SE-mediated RNA-binding protein (RBP) cascade that supports PDAC growth through enhanced mRNA translation. This cascade is driven by a SE associated with the RBP heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein F, which stabilizes protein arginine methyltransferase 1 (PRMT1) to, in turn, control the translational mediator ubiquitin-associated protein 2-like. All three of these genes and the regulatory SE are essential for PDAC growth and coordinately regulated by the Myc oncogene. In line with this, modulation of the RBP network by PRMT1 inhibition reveals a unique vulnerability in Myc-high PDAC patient organoids and markedly reduces tumor growth in male mice. Our study highlights a functional link between epigenetic regulation and mRNA translation and identifies components that comprise unexpected therapeutic targets for PDAC. © 2023, Springer Nature Limited.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

September 1, 2023

Delayed gratification is an important focus of research, given its potential relationship to forms of behavior, such as savings, susceptibility to addiction, and pro-social behaviors. The COVID-19 pandemic may be one of the most consequential recent examples of this phenomenon, with people’s willingness to delay gratification affecting their willingness to socially distance themselves. COVID-19 also provides a naturalistic context by which to evaluate the ecological validity of delayed gratification. This article outlines four large-scale online experiments (total N =12, 906) where we ask participants to perform Money Earlier or Later (MEL) decisions (e.g., $5 today vs. $10 tomorrow) and to also report stress measures and pandemic mitigation behaviors. We found that stress increases impulsivity and that less stressed and more patient individuals socially distanced more throughout the pandemic. These results help resolve longstanding theoretical debates in the MEL literature as well as provide policymakers with scientific evidence that can help inform response strategies in the future © 2023 American Psychological Association

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

August 17, 2023

Animals must continually evaluate stimuli in their environment to decide which opportunities to pursue, and in many cases these decisions can be understood in fundamentally economic terms. Although several brain regions have been individually implicated in these processes, the brain-wide mechanisms relating these regions in decision-making are unclear. Using an economic decision-making task adapted for rats, we find that neural activity in both of two connected brain regions, the ventrolateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and the dorsomedial striatum (DMS), was required for economic decision-making. Relevant neural activity in both brain regions was strikingly similar, dominated by the spatial features of the decision-making process. However, the neural encoding of choice direction in OFC preceded that of DMS, and this temporal relationship was strongly correlated with choice accuracy. Furthermore, activity specifically in the OFC projection to the DMS was required for appropriate economic decision-making. These results demonstrate that choice information in the OFC is relayed to the DMS to lead accurate economic decision-making. © 2023, The Author(s).

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

July 31, 2023

Supervised learning typically focuses on learning transferable representations from training examples annotated by humans. While rich annotations (like soft labels) carry more information than sparse annotations (like hard labels), they are also more expensive to collect. For example, while hard labels only provide information about the closest class an object belongs to (e.g., “this is a dog”), soft labels provide information about the object’s relationship with multiple classes (e.g., “this is most likely a dog, but it could also be a wolf or a coyote”). We use information theory to compare how a number of commonly-used supervision signals contribute to representation-learning performance, as well as how their capacity is affected by factors such as the number of labels, classes, dimensions, and noise. Our framework provides theoretical justification for using hard labels in the big-data regime, but richer supervision signals for few-shot learning and out-of-distribution generalization. We validate these results empirically in a series of experiments with over 1 million crowdsourced image annotations and conduct a cost-benefit analysis to establish a tradeoff curve that enables users to optimize the cost of supervising representation learning on their own datasets. © UAI 2023. All rights reserved.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

July 20, 2023

Homology-directed repair (HDR), a method for repair of DNA double-stranded breaks can be leveraged for the precise introduction of mutations supplied by synthetic DNA donors, but remains limited by low efficiency and off-target effects. In this study, we report HDRobust, a high-precision method that, via the combined transient inhibition of nonhomologous end joining and microhomology-mediated end joining, resulted in the induction of point mutations by HDR in up to 93% (median 60%, s.e.m. 3) of chromosomes in populations of cells. We found that, using this method, insertions, deletions and rearrangements at the target site, as well as unintended changes at other genomic sites, were largely abolished. We validated this approach for 58 different target sites and showed that it allows efficient correction of pathogenic mutations in cells derived from patients suffering from anemia, sickle cell disease and thrombophilia. © 2023, The Author(s).

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

June 29, 2023

Chromosomes in the eukaryotic nucleus are highly compacted. However, for many functional processes, including transcription initiation, the pairwise motion of distal chromosomal elements such as enhancers and promoters is essential and necessitates dynamic fluidity. Here, we used a live-imaging assay to simultaneously measure the positions of pairs of enhancers and promoters and their transcriptional output while systematically varying the genomic separation between these two DNA loci. Our analysis reveals the coexistence of a compact globular organization and fast subdiffusive dynamics. These combined features cause an anomalous scaling of polymer relaxation times with genomic separation leading to long-ranged correlations. Thus, encounter times of DNA loci are much less dependent on genomic distance than predicted by existing polymer models, with potential consequences for eukaryotic gene expression. © 2023 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

June 29, 2023

Aims: Psychotic symptoms are increasingly recognized as a distinguishing clinical feature in patients with dementia due to frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 pathology (FTLD-TDP). Within this group, carriers of the C9orf72 repeat expansion are particularly prone to develop delusions and hallucinations. Methods: The present retrospective study sought to provide novel details about the relationship between FTLD-TDP pathology and the presence of psychotic symptoms during life. Results: We found that FTLD-TDP subtype B was more frequent in patients with psychotic symptoms than in those without. This relationship was present even when corrected for the presence of C9orf72 mutation, suggesting that pathophysiological processes leading to the development of subtype B pathology may increase the risk of psychotic symptoms. Within the group of FTLD-TDP cases with subtype B pathology, psychotic symptoms tended to be associated with a greater burden of TDP-43 pathology in the white matter and a lower burden in lower motor neurons. When present, pathological involvement of motor neurons was more likely to be asymptomatic in patients with psychosis. Conclusions: This work suggests that psychotic symptoms in patients with FTLD-TDP tend to be associated with subtype B pathology. This relationship is not completely explained by the effects of the C9orf72 mutation and raises the possibility of a direct link between psychotic symptoms and this particular pattern of TDP-43 pathology. © 2023 The Authors. Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Neuropathological Society.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

June 15, 2023

The progressive accumulation of insoluble aggregates of the presynaptic protein alpha-synuclein (α-Syn) is a hallmark of neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s disease (PD), Multiple System Atrophy, and Dementia with Lewy Bodies, commonly referred to as synucleinopathies. Despite considerable progress on the structural biology of these aggregates, the molecular mechanisms mediating their cell-to-cell transmission, propagation, and neurotoxicity remain only partially understood. Numerous studies have highlighted the stereotypical spatiotemporal spreading of pathological α-Syn aggregates across different tissues and anatomically connected brain regions over time. Experimental evidence from various cellular and animal models indicate that α-Syn transfer occurs in two defined steps: the release of pathogenic α-Syn species from infected cells, and their uptake via passive or active endocytic pathways. Once α-Syn aggregates have been internalized, little is known about what drives their toxicity or how they interact with the endogenous protein to promote its misfolding and subsequent aggregation. Similarly, unknown genetic factors modulate different cellular responses to the aggregation and accumulation of pathogenic α-Syn species. Here we discuss the current understanding of the molecular phenomena associated with the intercellular spreading of pathogenic α-Syn seeds and summarize the evidence supporting the transmission hypothesis. Understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in α-Syn aggregates transmission is essential to develop novel targeted therapeutics against PD and related synucleinopathies. © 2022 The Author(s)

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

June 13, 2023

CD8+ T cells provide host protection against pathogens by differentiating into distinct effector and memory cell subsets, but how chromatin is site-specifically remodeled during their differentiation is unclear. Due to its critical role in regulating chromatin and enhancer accessibility through its nucleosome remodeling activities, we investigated the role of the canonical BAF (cBAF) chromatin remodeling complex in antiviral CD8+ T cells during infection. ARID1A, a subunit of cBAF, was recruited early after activation and established de novo open chromatin regions (OCRs) at enhancers. Arid1a deficiency impaired the opening of thousands of activation-induced enhancers, leading to loss of TF binding, dysregulated proliferation and gene expression, and failure to undergo terminal effector differentiation. Although Arid1a was dispensable for circulating memory cell formation, tissue-resident memory (Trm) formation was strongly impaired. Thus, cBAF governs the enhancer landscape of activated CD8+ T cells that orchestrates TF recruitment and activity and the acquisition of specific effector and memory differentiation states. © 2023 Elsevier Inc.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

June 2, 2023

The β-hemoglobinopathies, such as sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia, are one of the most common genetic diseases worldwide and are caused by mutations affecting the structure or production of β-globin subunits in adult hemoglobin. Many gene editing efforts to treat the β-he-moglobinopathies attempt to correct β-globin mutations or increase γ-globin for fetal hemoglobin production. δ-globin, the subunit of adult hemoglobin A2, has high homology to β-globin and is already pan-cellularly expressed at low levels in adult red blood cells. However, upregulation of δ-globin is a relatively unexplored avenue to increase the amount of functional hemoglobin. Here, we use CRISPR-Cas9 to repair non-functional transcriptional elements in the endogenous promoter region of δ-globin to increase overall expression of adult hemoglobin 2 (HbA2). We find that insertion of a KLF1 site alone is insufficient to upregulate δ-globin. Instead, multiple transcription factor elements are necessary for robust upregulation of δ-globin from the endogenous locus. Promoter edited HUDEP-2 immortalized erythroid progenitor cells exhibit striking increases of HBD transcript, from less than 5% to over 20% of total β-like globins in clonal populations. Edited CD34 +hemato-poietic stem and progenitors (HSPCs) differentiated to primary human erythroblasts express up to 46% HBD in clonal populations. These findings add mechanistic insight to globin gene regulation and offer a new therapeutic avenue to treat β-hemoglobinopathies. © 2023, eLife Sciences Publications Ltd. All rights reserved.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

Molecular classification of gastric cancer (GC) identified a subgroup of patients showing chemoresistance and poor prognosis, termed SEM (Stem-like/Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition/Mesenchymal) type in this study. Here, we show that SEM-type GC exhibits a distinct metabolic profile characterized by high glutaminase (GLS) levels. Unexpectedly, SEM-type GC cells are resistant to glutaminolysis inhibition. We show that under glutamine starvation, SEM-type GC cells up-regulate the 3 phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PHGDH)-mediated mitochondrial folate cycle pathway to produce NADPH as a reactive oxygen species scavenger for survival. This metabolic plasticity is associated with globally open chromatin structure in SEM-type GC cells, with ATF4/CEBPB identified as transcriptional drivers of the PHGDH-driven salvage pathway. Single-nucleus transcriptome analysis of patient-derived SEM-type GC organoids revealed intratumoral heterogeneity, with stemness-high subpopulations displaying high GLS expression, a resistance to GLS inhibition, and ATF4/CEBPB activation. Notably, coinhibition of GLS and PHGDH successfully eliminated stemness-high cancer cells. Together, these results provide insight into the metabolic plasticity of aggressive GC cells and suggest a treatment strategy for chemoresistant GC patients. Copyright © 2023 the Author(s). Published by PNAS. This article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND).

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

May 15, 2023

The LINC complex tethers the cell nucleus to the cytoskeleton to regulate mechanical forces during cell migration, differentiation, and various diseases. The function of LINC complexes relies on the interaction between highly conserved SUN and KASH proteins that form higher-order assemblies capable of load bearing. These structural details have emerged from in vitro assembled LINC complexes; however, the principles of in vivo assembly remain obscure. Here, we report a conformation-specific SUN2 antibody as a tool to visualize LINC complex dynamics in situ. Using imaging, biochemical, and cellular methods, we find that conserved cysteines in SUN2 undergo KASH-dependent inter- and intramolecular disulfide bond rearrangements. Disruption of the SUN2 terminal disulfide bond compromises SUN2 localization, turnover, LINC complex assembly in addition to cytoskeletal organization and cell migration. Moreover, using pharmacological and genetic perturbations, we identify components of the ER lumen as SUN2 cysteines redox state regulators. Overall, we provide evidence for SUN2 disulfide bond rearrangement as a physiologically relevant structural modification that regulates LINC complex functions. © 2023 Sharma and Hetzer.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

May 9, 2023

The amoeba-resistant bacterium Legionella pneumophila causes Legionnaires’ disease and employs a type IV secretion system (T4SS) to replicate in the unique, ER-associated Legionella-containing vacuole (LCV). The large fusion GTPase Sey1/atlastin is implicated in ER dynamics, ER-de-rived lipid droplet (LD) formation, and LCV maturation. Here, we employ cryo-electron tomography, confocal microscopy, proteomics, and isotopologue profiling to analyze LCV-LD interactions in the genetically tractable amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. Dually fluorescence-labeled D. discoideum producing LCV and LD markers revealed that Sey1 as well as the L. pneumophila T4SS and the Ran GTPase activator LegG1 promote LCV-LD interactions. In vitro reconstitution using purified LCVs and LDs from parental or Δsey1 mutant D. discoideum indicated that Sey1 and GTP promote this process. Sey1 and the L. pneumophila fatty acid transporter FadL were implicated in palmi-tate catabolism and palmitate-dependent intracellular growth. Taken together, our results reveal that Sey1 and LegG1 mediate LD-and FadL-dependent fatty acid metabolism of intracellular L. pneumophila. © Hüsler et al.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

May 9, 2023

Motoneurons are one of the most energy-demanding cell types and a primary target in Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a debilitating and lethal neurodegenerative disorder without currently available effective treatments. Disruption of mitochondrial ultrastructure, transport, and metabolism is a commonly reported phenotype in ALS models and can critically affect survival and the proper function of motor neurons. However, how changes in metabolic rates contribute to ALS progression is not fully understood yet. Here, we utilize hiPCS-derived motoneuron cultures and live imaging quantitative techniques to evaluate metabolic rates in fused in sarcoma (FUS)-ALS model cells. We show that differentiation and maturation of motoneurons are accompanied by an overall upregulation of mitochondrial components and a significant increase in metabolic rates that correspond to their high energy-demanding state. Detailed compartment-specific live measurements using a fluorescent ATP sensor and FLIM imaging show significantly lower levels of ATP in the somas of cells carrying FUS-ALS mutations. These changes lead to the increased vulnerability of diseased motoneurons to further metabolic challenges with mitochondrial inhibitors and could be due to the disruption of mitochondrial inner membrane integrity and an increase in its proton leakage. Furthermore, our measurements demonstrate heterogeneity between axonal and somatic compartments, with lower relative levels of ATP in axons. Our observations strongly support the hypothesis that mutated FUS impacts the metabolic states of motoneurons and makes them more susceptible to further neurodegenerative mechanisms. © 2023 by the authors.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology