Insight
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Publications in Science by NOMIS researchers

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)

Published in

November 12, 2021

Recent studies indicate that the adaptive immune system plays a role in Lewy body dementia (LBD). However, the mechanism regulating T cell brain homing in LBD is unknown. Here, we observed T cells adjacent to Lewy bodies and dopaminergic neurons in postmortem LBD brains. Single-cell RNA sequencing of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) identified up-regulated expression of C-X-C motif chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) in CD4+ T cells in LBD. CSF protein levels of the CXCR4 ligand, C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 12 (CXCL12), were associated with neuroaxonal damage in LBD. Furthermore, we observed clonal expansion and up-regulated interleukin 17A expression by CD4+ T cells stimulated with a phosphorylated a-synuclein epitope. Thus, CXCR4-CXCL12 signaling may represent a mechanistic target for inhibiting pathological interleukin-17-producing T cell trafficking in LBD.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

February 5, 2021

The RNA binding protein TDP-43 forms intranuclear or cytoplasmic aggregates in age-related neurodegenerative diseases. In this study, we found that RNA binding-deficient TDP-43 (produced by neurodegeneration-causing mutations or posttranslational acetylation in its RNA recognition motifs) drove TDP-43 demixing into intranuclear liquid spherical shells with liquid cores. These droplets, which we named “anisosomes”, have shells that exhibit birefringence, thus indicating liquid crystal formation. Guided by mathematical modeling, we identified the primary components of the liquid core to be HSP70 family chaperones, whose adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-dependent activity maintained the liquidity of shells and cores. In vivo proteasome inhibition within neurons, to mimic aging-related reduction of proteasome activity, induced TDP-43-containing anisosomes. These structures converted to aggregates when ATP levels were reduced. Thus, acetylation, HSP70, and proteasome activities regulate TDP-43 phase separation and conversion into a gel or solid phase.

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

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

October 2, 2020

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

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

October 2, 2020

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Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Oncology & Carcinogenesis

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

August 21, 2020

Uromodulin is the most abundant protein in human urine, and it forms filaments that antagonize the adhesion of uropathogens; however, the filament structure and mechanism of protection remain poorly understood. We used cryo–electron tomography to show that the uromodulin filament consists of a zigzag-shaped backbone with laterally protruding arms. N-glycosylation mapping and biophysical assays revealed that uromodulin acts as a multivalent ligand for the bacterial type 1 pilus adhesin, presenting specific epitopes on the regularly spaced arms. Imaging of uromodulin-uropathogen interactions in vitro and in patient urine showed that uromodulin filaments associate with uropathogens and mediate bacterial aggregation, which likely prevents adhesion and allows clearance by micturition. These results provide a framework for understanding uromodulin in urinary tract infections and in its more enigmatic roles in physiology and disease.

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

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

June 19, 2020

Plants emit an extraordinary diversity of chemicals that provide information about their identity and mediate their interactions with insects. However, most studies of this have focused on a few model species in controlled environments, limiting our capacity to understand plant-insect chemical communication in ecological communities. Here, by integrating information theory with ecological and evolutionary theories, we show that a stable information structure of plant volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can emerge from a conflicting information process between plants and herbivores. We corroborate this information “arms race” theory with field data recording plant-VOC associations and plant-herbivore interactions in a tropical dry forest. We reveal that plant VOC redundancy and herbivore specialization can be explained by a conflicting information transfer. Information-based communication approaches can increase our understanding of species interactions across trophic levels.

Research field(s)
Natural Sciences, Biology, Ecology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

April 12, 2019

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), and prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease attack different parts of the central nervous system (CNS) and elicit distinct symptoms, yet they share many biochemical and neuropathological features. These include the formation of protein aggregates in the affected brain regions and progressive activation of non-neuronal cells in the brain that play crucial roles in immune responses. The activation of immune cells in the CNS (“neuroinflammation”) is prominent in these diseases. However, it remains unclear whether boosting or suppressing the immune system, in the brain or in the periphery, may attenuate neurodegeneration. In the case of extraneural prion infections, genetic or pharmacological ablation of components of the immune system, such as B cells and complement, can prevent disease (1). However, immunotherapies, which have been successful in treating certain types of cancer, have yet to reverse neurodegeneration in any patients. Therefore, the therapeutic promise of this approach remains debatable.

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

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

September 15, 2017

Channelrhodopsins are light-gated ion channels that, via regulation of flagellar function, enable single-celled motile algae to seek ambient light conditions suitable for photosynthesis and survival. These plant behavioral responses were initially investigated more than 150 years ago. Recently, major principles of function for light-gated ion channels have been elucidated by creating channelrhodopsins with kinetics that are accelerated or slowed over orders of magnitude, by discovering and designing channelrhodopsins with altered spectral properties, by solving the high-resolution channelrhodopsin crystal structure, and by structural model–guided redesign of channelrhodopsins for altered ion selectivity. Each of these discoveries not only revealed basic principles governing the operation of light-gated ion channels, but also enabled the creation of new proteins for illuminating, via optogenetics, the fundamentals of brain function.

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

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

September 15, 2017

Water deprivation produces a drive to seek and consume water. How neural activity creates this motivation remains poorly understood. We used activity-dependent genetic labeling to characterize neurons activated by water deprivation in the hypothalamic median preoptic nucleus (MnPO). Single-cell transcriptional profiling revealed that dehydration-activated MnPO neurons consist of a single excitatory cell type. After optogenetic activation of these neurons, mice drank water and performed an operant lever-pressing task for water reward with rates that scaled with stimulation frequency. This stimulation was aversive, and instrumentally pausing stimulation could reinforce lever-pressing. Activity of these neurons gradually decreased over the course of an operant session. Thus, the activity of dehydration-activated MnPO neurons establishes a scalable, persistent, and aversive internal state that dynamically controls thirst-motivated behavior.

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