Insight
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Publications in Health Sciences by NOMIS researchers

Published in

January 25, 2024
The limited efficacy of currently approved immunotherapies in EGFR-driven lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) underscores the need to better understand alternative mechanisms governing local immunosuppression to fuel novel therapies. Elevated surfactant and GM-CSF secretion from the transformed epithelium induces tumor-associated alveolar macrophage (TA-AM) proliferation, which supports tumor growth by rewiring inflammatory functions and lipid metabolism. TA-AM properties are driven by increased GM-CSF–PPARγ signaling and inhibition of airway GM-CSF or PPARγ in TA-AMs suppresses cholesterol efflux to tumor cells, which impairs EGFR phosphorylation and restrains LUAD progression. In the absence of TA-AM metabolic support, LUAD cells compensate by increasing cholesterol synthesis, and blocking PPARγ in TA-AMs simultaneous with statin therapy further suppresses tumor progression and increases proinflammatory immune responses. These results reveal new therapeutic combinations for immunotherapy-resistant EGFR-mutant LUADs and demonstrate how cancer cells can metabolically co-opt TA-AMs through GM-CSF–PPARγ signaling to provide nutrients that promote oncogenic signaling and growth.
Significance:

Alternate strategies harnessing anticancer innate immunity are required for lung cancers with poor response rates to T cell–based immunotherapies. This study identifies a targetable, mutually supportive, metabolic relationship between macrophages and transformed epithelium, which is exploited by tumors to obtain metabolic and immunologic support to sustain proliferation and oncogenic signaling.

Research field(s)
Oncology & Carcinogenesis

NOMIS Researcher(s)

January 21, 2024

Importance  Sepsis is a leading cause of death among children worldwide. Current pediatric-specific criteria for sepsis were published in 2005 based on expert opinion. In 2016, the Third International Consensus Definitions for Sepsis and Septic Shock (Sepsis-3) defined sepsis as life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection, but it excluded children.

Objective  To update and evaluate criteria for sepsis and septic shock in children.

Evidence Review  The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) convened a task force of 35 pediatric experts in critical care, emergency medicine, infectious diseases, general pediatrics, nursing, public health, and neonatology from 6 continents. Using evidence from an international survey, systematic review and meta-analysis, and a new organ dysfunction score developed based on more than 3 million electronic health record encounters from 10 sites on 4 continents, a modified Delphi consensus process was employed to develop criteria.

Findings  Based on survey data, most pediatric clinicians used sepsis to refer to infection with life-threatening organ dysfunction, which differed from prior pediatric sepsis criteria that used systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria, which have poor predictive properties, and included the redundant term, severe sepsis. The SCCM task force recommends that sepsis in children be identified by a Phoenix Sepsis Score of at least 2 points in children with suspected infection, which indicates potentially life-threatening dysfunction of the respiratory, cardiovascular, coagulation, and/or neurological systems. Children with a Phoenix Sepsis Score of at least 2 points had in-hospital mortality of 7.1% in higher-resource settings and 28.5% in lower-resource settings, more than 8 times that of children with suspected infection not meeting these criteria. Mortality was higher in children who had organ dysfunction in at least 1 of 4—respiratory, cardiovascular, coagulation, and/or neurological—organ systems that was not the primary site of infection. Septic shock was defined as children with sepsis who had cardiovascular dysfunction, indicated by at least 1 cardiovascular point in the Phoenix Sepsis Score, which included severe hypotension for age, blood lactate exceeding 5 mmol/L, or need for vasoactive medication. Children with septic shock had an in-hospital mortality rate of 10.8% and 33.5% in higher- and lower-resource settings, respectively.

Conclusions and Relevance  The Phoenix sepsis criteria for sepsis and septic shock in children were derived and validated by the international SCCM Pediatric Sepsis Definition Task Force using a large international database and survey, systematic review and meta-analysis, and modified Delphi consensus approach. A Phoenix Sepsis Score of at least 2 identified potentially life-threatening organ dysfunction in children younger than 18 years with infection, and its use has the potential to improve clinical care, epidemiological assessment, and research in pediatric sepsis and septic shock around the world.

Research field(s)
Emergency & Critical Care Medicine, Pediatrics

NOMIS Researcher(s)

January 21, 2024

Importance  The Society of Critical Care Medicine Pediatric Sepsis Definition Task Force sought to develop and validate new clinical criteria for pediatric sepsis and septic shock using measures of organ dysfunction through a data-driven approach.

Objective  To derive and validate novel criteria for pediatric sepsis and septic shock across differently resourced settings.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Multicenter, international, retrospective cohort study in 10 health systems in the US, Colombia, Bangladesh, China, and Kenya, 3 of which were used as external validation sites. Data were collected from emergency and inpatient encounters for children (aged <18 years) from 2010 to 2019: 3 049 699 in the development (including derivation and internal validation) set and 581 317 in the external validation set.

Exposure  Stacked regression models to predict mortality in children with suspected infection were derived and validated using the best-performing organ dysfunction subscores from 8 existing scores. The final model was then translated into an integer-based score used to establish binary criteria for sepsis and septic shock.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome for all analyses was in-hospital mortality. Model- and integer-based score performance measures included the area under the precision recall curve (AUPRC; primary) and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC; secondary). For binary criteria, primary performance measures were positive predictive value and sensitivity.

Results  Among the 172 984 children with suspected infection in the first 24 hours (development set; 1.2% mortality), a 4-organ-system model performed best. The integer version of that model, the Phoenix Sepsis Score, had AUPRCs of 0.23 to 0.38 (95% CI range, 0.20-0.39) and AUROCs of 0.71 to 0.92 (95% CI range, 0.70-0.92) to predict mortality in the validation sets. Using a Phoenix Sepsis Score of 2 points or higher in children with suspected infection as criteria for sepsis and sepsis plus 1 or more cardiovascular point as criteria for septic shock resulted in a higher positive predictive value and higher or similar sensitivity compared with the 2005 International Pediatric Sepsis Consensus Conference (IPSCC) criteria across differently resourced settings.

Conclusions and Relevance  The novel Phoenix sepsis criteria, which were derived and validated using data from higher- and lower-resource settings, had improved performance for the diagnosis of pediatric sepsis and septic shock compared with the existing IPSCC criteria.

Research field(s)
Emergency & Critical Care Medicine, Pediatrics

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

November 23, 2023

The mRNA transcript of the human STMN2 gene, encoding for stathmin-2 protein (also called SCG10), is profoundly impacted by TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) loss of function. The latter is a hallmark of several neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Using a combination of approaches, including transient antisense oligonucleotide-mediated suppression, sustained shRNA-induced depletion in aging mice, and germline deletion, we show that stathmin-2 has an important role in the establishment and maintenance of neurofilament-dependent axoplasmic organization that is critical for preserving the caliber and conduction velocity of myelinated large-diameter axons. Persistent stathmin-2 loss in adult mice results in pathologies found in ALS, including reduced interneurofilament spacing, axonal caliber collapse that drives tearing within outer myelin layers, diminished conduction velocity, progressive motor and sensory deficits, and muscle denervation. These findings reinforce restoration of stathmin-2 as an attractive therapeutic approach for ALS and other TDP-43-dependent neurodegenerative diseases. © 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences

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

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

November 2, 2023

When we see new people, we rapidly form first impressions. Whereas past research has focused on the role of morphological or emotional cues, we asked whether transient visceral states bias the impressions we form. Across three studies (N = 94 university students), we investigated how fluctuations of bodily states, driven by the interoceptive impact of cardiac signals, influence the perceived trustworthiness of faces. Participants less often chose faces presented in synchrony with their own cardiac systole as more trustworthy than faces presented out of synchrony. Participants also explicitly judged faces presented in synchrony with their cardiac systole as less trustworthy. Finally, the presentation of faces in synchrony with participants’ cardiac diastole did not modulate participants’ perceptions of the faces’ trustworthiness, suggesting that the systolic phase is necessary for such interoceptive effects. These findings highlight the role of phasic interoceptive information in the processing of social information and provide a mechanistic account of the role of visceroception for social perception. © The Author(s) 2022.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Psychology & Cognitive Sciences, Experimental Psychology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

October 19, 2023

Structural and functional changes in cortical and subcortical regions have been reported in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), however, a multimodal approach may provide deeper insights into the neural correlates of neuropsychiatric symptoms. In this multicenter study, we measured cortical thickness (CTh) and subcortical volumes to identify structural abnormalities in 37 bvFTD patients, and 37 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. For seed regions with significant structural changes, whole-brain functional connectivity (FC) was examined in a sub-cohort of N = 22 bvFTD and N = 22 matched control subjects to detect complementary alterations in brain network organization. To explore the functional significance of the observed structural and functional deviations, correlations with clinical and neuropsychological outcomes were tested where available. Significantly decreased CTh was observed in the bvFTD group in caudal middle frontal gyrus, left pars opercularis, bilateral superior frontal and bilateral middle temporal gyrus along with subcortical volume reductions in bilateral basal ganglia, thalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging showed decreased FC in bvFTD between: dorsal striatum and left caudal middle frontal gyrus; putamen and fronto-parietal regions; pallidum and cerebellum. Conversely, bvFTD showed increased FC between: left middle temporal gyrus and paracingulate gyrus; caudate nucleus and insula; amygdala and parahippocampal gyrus. Additionally, cortical thickness in caudal, lateral and superior frontal regions as well as caudate nucleus volume correlated negatively with apathy severity scores of the Neuropsychiatry Inventory Questionnaire. In conclusion, multimodal structural and functional imaging indicates that fronto-striatal regions have a considerable influence on the severity of apathy in bvFTD. © 2023, The Author(s).

Research field(s)
Health Sciences

NOMIS Researcher(s)

October 12, 2023

We question whether bradyphrenia, slowing of cognitive processing not explained by depression or a global cognitive assessment, is a nosological entity in idiopathic parkinsonism (IP). The time taken to break contact of an index finger with a touch-sensitive plate was measured, with and without a warning in the alerting signal as to which side the imperative would indicate, in 77 people diagnosed with IP and in 124 people without an IP diagnosis. The ability to utilise a warning, measured by the difference between loge-transformed reaction times (unwarned minus warned), was termed ‘cognitive efficiency’. It was approximately normally distributed. A questionnaire on self- and partner perception of proband’s bradyphrenia was applied. A multivariable model showed that those prescribed levodopa were less cognitively efficient (mean −5.2 (CI −9.5, −1.0)% per 300 mg/day, p = 0.02), but those prescribed the anti-muscarinic trihexyphenidyl were more efficient (14.7 (0.2, 31.3)% per 4 mg/day, p < 0.05) and those prescribed monoamine oxidase-B inhibitor (MAOBI) tended to be more efficient (8.3 (0.0, 17.4)%, p = 0.07). The variance in efficiency was greater within IP (F-test, p = 0.01 adjusted for any demographic covariates: coefficient of variation, with and without IP, 0.68 and 0.46, respectively), but not so after adjustment for anti-parkinsonian medication (p = 0.13: coefficient of variation 0.62). The within-participant follow-up time, a median of 4.8 (interquartile range 3.1, 5.5) years (101 participants), did not influence efficiency, irrespective of IP status. Perception of bradyphrenia did not usefully predict efficiency. We conclude that both bradyphrenia and ‘tachyphrenia’ in IP appear to have iatrogenic components, of clinically important size, related to the dose of antiparkinsonian medication. Levodopa is the most commonly prescribed first-line medication: co-prescribing a MAOBI may circumvent its associated bradyphrenia. The previously reported greater efficiency associated with (low-dose) anti-muscarinic was confirmed. © 2023 by the authors.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

October 10, 2023

CD8+ T cells are end effectors of cancer immunity. Most forms of effective cancer immunotherapy involve CD8+ T cell effector function. Here, we review the current understanding of T cell function in cancer, focusing on key CD8+ T cell subtypes and states. We discuss factors that influence CD8+ T cell differentiation and function in cancer through a framework that incorporates the classic three-signal model and a fourth signal—metabolism—and also consider the impact of the tumor microenvironment from a T cell perspective. We argue for the notion of immunotherapies as “pro-drugs” that act to augment or modulate T cells, which ultimately serve as the drug in vivo, and for the importance of overall immune health in cancer treatment and prevention. The progress in understanding T cell function in cancer has and will continue to improve harnessing of the immune system across broader tumor types to benefit more patients. © 2023 Elsevier Inc.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences

NOMIS Researcher(s)

October 5, 2023

Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) mediate the bidirectional transport of cargo across the nuclear envelope (NE). NPCs are also membrane remodeling machines with a capacity to curve and fuse the membranes of the NE. However, little is known about the interplay of NPCs and lipids at a mechanistic level. A full understanding of NPC structure and function needs to encompass how the NPC shapes membranes and is itself shaped by lipids. Here we attempt to connect recent findings in NPC research with the broader field of membrane biochemistry to illustrate how an interplay between NPCs and lipids may facilitate the conformational plasticity of NPCs and the generation of a unique pore membrane topology. We highlight the need to better understand the NPC’s lipid environment and outline experimental avenues towards that goal. © 2023 The Authors

Research field(s)
Health Sciences

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

October 5, 2023

Background: Identifying phenotypes in sepsis patients may enable precision medicine approaches. However, the generalisability of these phenotypes to specific patient populations is unclear. Given that paediatric cancer patients with sepsis have different host response and pathogen profiles and higher mortality rates when compared to non-cancer patients, we determined whether unique, reproducible, and clinically-relevant sepsis phenotypes exist in this specific patient population. Methods: We studied patients with underlying malignancies admitted with sepsis to one of 25 paediatric intensive care units (PICUs) participating in two large, multi-centre, observational cohorts from the European SCOTER study (n = 383 patients; study period between January 1, 2018 and January 1, 2020) and the U.S. Novel Data-Driven Sepsis Phenotypes in Children study (n = 1898 patients; study period between January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2018). We independently used latent class analysis (LCA) in both cohorts to identify phenotypes using demographic, clinical, and laboratory data from the first 24 h of PICU admission. We then tested the association of the phenotypes with clinical outcomes in both cohorts. Findings: LCA identified two distinct phenotypes that were comparable across both cohorts. Phenotype 1 was characterised by lower serum bicarbonate and albumin, markedly increased lactate and hepatic, renal, and coagulation abnormalities when compared to phenotype 2. Patients with phenotype 1 had a higher 90-day mortality (European cohort 29.2% versus 13.4%, U.S. cohort 27.3% versus 11.4%, p < 0.001) and received more vasopressor and renal replacement therapy than patients with phenotype 2. After adjusting for severity of organ dysfunction, haematological cancer, prior stem cell transplantation and age, phenotype 1 was associated with an adjusted OR of death at 90-day of 1.9 (1.04–3.34) in the European cohort and 1.6 (1.2–2.2) in the U.S. cohort. Interpretation: We identified two clinically-relevant sepsis phenotypes in paediatric cancer patients that are reproducible across two international, multicentre cohorts with prognostic implications. These results may guide further research regarding therapeutic approaches for these specific phenotypes. Funding: Part of this study is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. © 2023 The Authors

Research field(s)
Health Sciences

NOMIS Researcher(s)

September 26, 2023

The SARS-CoV2 global pandemic impacted participants in the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API) Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer’s Disease (ADAD) clinical trial, who faced three stressors: 1) fear of developing dementia; 2) concerns about missing treatment; and 3) risk of SARS-CoV2 infection. Objective: To describe the frequency of psychological disorders among the participants of the API ADAD Colombia clinical study, treated by a holistic mental health team during the COVID-19 pandemic. The extent of use of mental health team services was explored considering different risk factors, and users and non-users of these services were compared. Methods: Participants had free and optional access to psychology and psychiatry services, outside of the study protocol. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze the frequency of the mental health difficulties. A multivariable logistic regression model has been used to assess associations with using this program. Results: 66 participants were treated by the Mental Health Team from March 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020. Before and after the start of the pandemic, the most common psychological problems were anxiety (36.4% before, 63.6% after) and depression (34.8% before, 37.9% after). 70% of users assisted by psychology and 81.6% of those assisted by psychiatry felt that the services were useful for them. Female sex, depression, and anxiety before the pandemic were positively associated with being assisted by either psychology or psychiatry, while the association with hyperlipidemia was negative. Conclusions: A holistic mental health program, carried out in the context of a study, could mitigate psychopathology during pandemics such as COVID-19. © 2023 – IOS Press. All rights reserved.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Neurology & Neurosurgery

NOMIS Researcher(s)

September 22, 2023

Genome editing technologies generate targeted DNA lesions and rely on cellular DNA repair pathways for resolution. Understanding the DNA repair mechanisms responsible for resolving the specific damage caused by gene editing tools can significantly advance their optimization and facilitate their broader application in research and therapeutic contexts. Here we explore the cellular processes involved in repairing base and prime editor-generated DNA lesions and strategies to leverage and manipulate DNA repair pathways for desired genomic changes. © 2023 The Author(s)

Research field(s)
Health Sciences

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

September 16, 2023

The expanded hexanucleotide GGGGCC repeat mutation in the C9orf72 gene is the main genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia. Under one disease mechanism, sense and antisense transcripts of the repeat are predicted to bind various RNA-binding proteins, compromise their function and cause cytotoxicity. Here we identify phenylalanine-tRNA synthetase (FARS) subunit alpha (FARSA) as the main interactor of the CCCCGG antisense repeat RNA in cytosol. The aminoacylation of tRNAPhe by FARS is inhibited by antisense RNA, leading to decreased levels of charged tRNAPhe. Remarkably, this is associated with global reduction of phenylalanine incorporation in the proteome and decrease in expression of phenylalanine-rich proteins in cellular models and patient tissues. In conclusion, this study reveals functional inhibition of FARSA in the presence of antisense RNA repeats. Compromised aminoacylation of tRNA could lead to impairments in protein synthesis and further contribute to C9orf72 mutation-associated pathology. © 2023, Springer Nature Limited.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Purpose: Early after [18F]PI-2620 PET tracer administration, perfusion imaging has potential for regional assessment of neuronal injury in neurodegenerative diseases. This is while standard late-phase [18F]PI-2620 tau-PET is able to discriminate the 4-repeat tauopathies progressive supranuclear palsy and corticobasal syndrome (4RTs) from disease controls and healthy controls. Here, we investigated whether early-phase [18F]PI-2620 PET has an additive value for biomarker based evaluation of 4RTs. Methods: Seventy-eight patients with 4RTs (71 ± 7 years, 39 female), 79 patients with other neurodegenerative diseases (67 ± 12 years, 35 female) and twelve age-matched controls (69 ± 8 years, 8 female) underwent dynamic (0–60 min) [18F]PI-2620 PET imaging. Regional perfusion (0.5–2.5 min p.i.) and tau load (20–40 min p.i.) were measured in 246 predefined brain regions [standardized-uptake-value ratios (SUVr), cerebellar reference]. Regional SUVr were compared between 4RTs and controls by an ANOVA including false-discovery-rate (FDR, p < 0.01) correction. Hypoperfusion in resulting 4RT target regions was evaluated at the patient level in all patients (mean value − 2SD threshold). Additionally, perfusion and tau pattern expression levels were explored regarding their potential discriminatory value of 4RTs against other neurodegenerative disorders, including validation in an independent external dataset (n = 37), and correlated with clinical severity in 4RTs (PSP rating scale, MoCA, activities of daily living). Results: Patients with 4RTs had significant hypoperfusion in 21/246 brain regions, most dominant in thalamus, caudate nucleus, and anterior cingulate cortex, fitting to the topology of the 4RT disease spectrum. However, single region hypoperfusion was not specific regarding the discrimination of patients with 4RTs against patients with other neurodegenerative diseases. In contrast, perfusion pattern expression showed promise for discrimination of patients with 4RTs from other neurodegenerative diseases (AUC: 0.850). Discrimination by the combined perfusion-tau pattern expression (AUC: 0.903) exceeded that of the sole tau pattern expression (AUC: 0.864) and the discriminatory power of the combined perfusion-tau pattern expression was replicated in the external dataset (AUC: 0.917). Perfusion but not tau pattern expression was associated with PSP rating scale (R = 0.402; p = 0.0012) and activities of daily living (R = − 0.431; p = 0.0005). Conclusion: [18F]PI-2620 perfusion imaging mirrors known topology of regional hypoperfusion in 4RTs. Single region hypoperfusion is not specific for 4RTs, but perfusion pattern expression may provide an additive value for the discrimination of 4RTs from other neurodegenerative diseases and correlates closer with clinical severity than tau pattern expression. © 2022, The Author(s).

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Nuclear Medicine & Medical Imaging

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 7, 2023

The receptor tyrosine kinase Mer (gene name Mertk) acts in vascular endothelial cells (ECs) to tighten the blood-brain barrier (BBB) subsequent to viral infection, but how this is achieved is poorly understood. We find that Mer controls the expression and activity of a large cohort of BBB regulators, along with endothelial nitric oxide synthase. It also controls, via an Akt-Foxo1 pathway, the expression of multiple angiogenic genes. Correspondingly, EC-specific Mertk gene inactivation resulted in perturbed vascular sprouting and a compromised BBB after induced photothrombotic stroke. Unexpectedly, stroke lesions in the brain were also reduced in the absence of EC Mer, which was linked to reduced plasma expression of fibrinogen, prothrombin, and other effectors of blood coagulation. Together, these results demonstrate that Mer is a central regulator of angiogenesis, BBB integrity, and blood coagulation in the mature vasculature. They may also account for disease severity following infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. © 2023, Springer Nature Limited.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences

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)

Published in

September 4, 2023

During apoptosis, caspases degrade 8 out of ~30 nucleoporins to irreversibly demolish the nuclear pore complex. However, for poorly understood reasons, caspases are also activated during cell differentiation. Here, we show that sublethal activation of caspases during myogenesis results in the transient proteolysis of four peripheral Nups and one transmembrane Nup. ‘Trimmed’ NPCs become nuclear export-defective, and we identified in an unbiased manner several classes of cytoplasmic, plasma membrane, and mitochondrial proteins that rapidly accumulate in the nucleus. NPC trimming by non-apoptotic caspases was also observed in neurogenesis and endoplasmic reticulum stress. Our results suggest that caspases can reversibly modulate nuclear transport activity, which allows them to function as agents of cell differentiation and adaptation at sublethal levels. © 2023, eLife Sciences Publications Ltd. All rights reserved.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences

Published in

September 4, 2023

Pharmacologic depletion of RNA-binding motif 39 (RBM39) using aryl sulfonamides represents a promising anti-cancer therapy but requires high levels of the adaptor protein DCAF15. Consequently, novel approaches to deplete RBM39 in an DCAF15-independent manner are required. Here, we uncover that RBM39 autoregulates via the inclusion of a poison exon into its own pre-mRNA and identify the cis-acting elements that govern this regulation. We also determine the NMR solution structures of RBM39’s tandem RNA recognition motifs (RRM1 and RRM2) bound to their respective RNA targets, revealing how RRM1 recognises RNA stem loops whereas RRM2 binds specifically to single-stranded N(G/U)NUUUG. Our results support a model where RRM2 selects the 3’-splice site of a poison exon and the RRM3 and RS domain stabilise the U2 snRNP at the branchpoint. Our work provides molecular insights into RBM39-dependent 3’-splice site selection and constitutes a solid basis to design alternative anti-cancer therapies. © 2023, Springer Nature Limited.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences

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