Concise Communication

Abstract

Highly effective modulator therapies dramatically improve the prognosis for those with cystic fibrosis (CF). The triple combination of elexacaftor, tezacaftor, and ivacaftor (ETI) benefits many, but not all, of those with the most common F508del mutation in the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). Here, we showed that poor sweat chloride concentration responses and lung function improvements upon initiation of ETI were associated with elevated levels of active transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) in the upper airway. Furthermore, TGF-β1 impaired the function of ETI-corrected F508del-CFTR, thereby increasing airway surface liquid (ASL) absorption rates and inducing mucus hyperconcentration in primary CF bronchial epithelial cells in vitro. TGF-β1 not only decreased CFTR mRNA but was also associated with increases in the mRNA expression of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFA) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and TNF-⍺ protein. Losartan improved TGF-β1-mediated inhibition of ETI-corrected F508del-CFTR function and reduced TNFA and COX2 mRNA and TNF⍺ protein expression. This occurred likely by improving correction of mutant CFTR rather than increasing its mRNA (without an effect on potentiation), thereby reversing the negative effects of TGF-β1 and improving ASL hydration in the CF airway epithelium in vitro. Importantly, these effects were independent of type 1 angiotensin II receptor inhibition.

Authors

Michael D. Kim, Charles D. Bengtson, Makoto Yoshida, Asef J. Niloy, John S. Dennis, Nathalie Baumlin, Matthias Salathe

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Abstract

Replication of SARS-CoV-2 in human population is defined by distributions of mutants that are present at different frequencies within the infected host, and can be detected by ultra-deep sequencing techniques. In this study, we have examined the SARS-CoV-2 mutant spectra of amplicons from the spike (S)-coding region of five nasopharyngeal isolates derived from vaccine-breakthrough patients. Interestingly, all patients became infected with the Alpha variant but amino acid substitutions that correspond to the Delta Plus, Iota and Omicron variants were present in the mutant spectra of the resident virus. Deep sequencing analysis of SARS-CoV-2 from vaccine-breakthrough patients revealed a rich reservoir of mutant types, and may also inform of tolerated substitutions that can be represented in epidemiological dominant variants.

Authors

Brenda Martínez-González, Lucía Vázquez-Sirvent, María E. Soria, Pablo Mínguez, Llanos Salar-Vidal, Carlos García-Crespo, Isabel Gallego, Ana Ávila, Carlos Llorens, Beatriz Soriano, Ricardo Ramos-Ruiz, Jaime Esteban, Ricardo Fernandez-Roblas, Ignacio Gadea, Carmen Ayuso, Javier Ruiz-Hornillos, Concepción Pérez-Jorge, Esteban Domingo, Celia Perales

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Abstract

Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive neuroendocrine skin cancer that frequently carries an integrated Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) genome and expresses viral transforming antigens (TAgs). MCC tumor cells also express signature genes detected in skin-resident, post-mitotic Merkel cells, including Atoh1, which is required for Merkel cell development from epidermal progenitors. We now report the use of in vivo cellular reprogramming, using ATOH1, to drive MCC development from murine epidermis. We generated mice that conditionally expressed MCPyV TAgs and ATOH1 in epidermal cells, yielding microscopic collections of proliferating MCC-like cells arising from hair follicles. Immunostaining of these nascent tumors revealed p53 accumulation and apoptosis, and targeted deletion of Trp53 led to development of gross skin tumors with classic MCC histology and marker expression. Global transcriptome analysis confirmed the close similarity of mouse and human MCCs, and hierarchical clustering showed conserved upregulation of signature genes. Our data establish that expression of MCPyV TAgs, in ATOH1-reprogrammed epidermal cells and their neuroendocrine progeny, initiates hair follicle-derived MCC tumorigenesis in adult mice. Moreover, progression to full-blown MCC in this model requires loss of p53, mimicking the functional inhibition of p53 reported in human MCPyV-positive MCCs.

Authors

Monique E. Verhaegen, Paul W. Harms, Julia J. Van Goor, Jacob Arche, Matthew T. Patrick, Dawn Wilbert, Haley Zabawa, Marina Grachtchouk, Chia-Jen Liu, Kevin Hu, Michael C. Kelly, Ping Chen, Thomas L. Saunders, Stephan Weidinger, Li-Jyun Syu, John S. Runge, Johann E. Gudjonsson, Sunny Y. Wong, Isaac Brownell, Marcin Cieslik, Aaron M. Udager, Arul M. Chinnaiyan, Lam C. Tsoi, Andrzej A. Dlugosz

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Abstract

Inherited germline mutations in the BRCA1 (BReast CAncer gene 1) or BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene 2) genes (herein BRCA1/2) greatly increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, presumably by elevating somatic mutational errors as a consequence of deficient DNA repair. However, this has never been directly demonstrated by a comprehensive analysis of the somatic mutational landscape of primary, non-cancer, mammary epithelial cells of women diagnosed with pathogenic BRCA1 or BRCA2 germline mutations. Here we used an accurate, single-cell whole genome sequencing approach to first show that telomerized primary mammary epithelial cells heterozygous for a highly penetrant BRCA1 variant displayed a robustly elevated mutation frequency as compared to their isogenic control cells. We then demonstrated a small but statistically significant increase in mutation frequency in mammary epithelial cells isolated from the breast of BRCA1/2 mutation carriers as compared to those obtained from age-matched controls with no genetically increased risk for breast cancer.

Authors

Shixiang Sun, Kristina Brazhnik, Moonsook Lee, Alexander Y. Maslov, Yi Zhang, Zhenqiu Huang, Susan Klugman, Ben H. Park, Jan Vijg, Cristina Montagna

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Abstract

Naive and memory CD4+ T cells reactive with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) are detectable in unexposed, unimmunized individuals. The contribution of preexisting CD4+ T cells to a primary immune response was investigated in 20 HIV-1–seronegative volunteers vaccinated with an HIV-1 envelope (Env) plasmid DNA prime and recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) boost in the HVTN 106 vaccine trial (clinicaltrials.gov NCT02296541). Prevaccination naive or memory CD4+ T cell responses directed against peptide epitopes in Env were identified in 14 individuals. After priming with DNA, 40% (8/20) of the elicited responses matched epitopes detected in the corresponding preimmunization memory repertoires, and clonotypes were shared before and after vaccination in 2 representative volunteers. In contrast, there were no shared epitope specificities between the preimmunization memory compartment and responses detected after boosting with recombinant MVA expressing a heterologous Env. Preexisting memory CD4+ T cells therefore shape the early immune response to vaccination with a previously unencountered HIV-1 antigen.

Authors

Suzanne L. Campion, Elena Brenna, Elaine Thomson, Will Fischer, Kristin Ladell, James E. McLaren, David A. Price, Nicole Frahm, Juliana M. McElrath, Kristen W. Cohen, Janine R. Maenza, Stephen R. Walsh, Lindsey R. Baden, Barton F. Haynes, Bette Korber, Persephone Borrow, Andrew J. McMichael

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Abstract

Vast numbers of differentially expressed genes and perturbed networks have been identified in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), however neither disease- nor brain region-specificity of these transcriptome alterations have been explored. Using RNA sequencing data from 231 temporal cortex and 224 cerebellum samples of patients with AD and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a tauopathy, we identify a striking correlation in the directionality and magnitude of gene expression changes between these two neurodegenerative proteinopathies. Further, the transcriptome changes in AD and PSP are highly conserved between the temporal and cerebellar cortices, indicating highly similar transcriptional changes occur in pathologically affected and grossly less affected, albeit functionally connected, areas of the brain. Shared up- or down-regulated genes in AD and PSP are enriched in biological pathways. Many of these genes also have concordant protein changes and evidence of epigenetic control. These conserved transcriptomic alterations of two distinct proteinopathies in brain regions with and without significant gross neuropathology have broad implications. AD and other neurodegenerative diseases are likely characterized by common disease or compensatory pathways with widespread perturbations in the whole brain. These findings can be leveraged to develop multifaceted therapies and biomarkers that address these common, complex and ubiquitous molecular alterations in neurodegenerative diseases.

Authors

Xue Wang, Mariet Allen, Özkan İş, Joseph S. Reddy, Frederick Q. Tutor-New, Monica Castanedes Casey, Minerva M. Carrasquillo, Stephanie R. Oatman, Yuhao Min, Yan W. Asmann, Cory Funk, Thuy Nguyen, Charlotte C.G. Ho, Kimberly G. Malphrus, Nicholas T. Seyfried, Allan I. Levey, Steven G. Younkin, Melissa E. Murray, Dennis W. Dickson, Nathan D. Price, Todd E. Golde, Nilufer Ertekin-Taner

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Abstract

Ribonuclease 7 (RNase 7) is an antimicrobial peptide that prevents urinary tract infections (UTI); however, it is yet unknown how RNASE7 genetic variations affect its antimicrobial activity and its mitigation of UTI risk. This study determined whether the RNASE7 SNP rs1263872 is more prevalent in children with UTI and defined how rs1263872 affects RNase 7’s antimicrobial activity against uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC). We performed genotyping for rs1263872 in 2 national UTI cohorts, including children enrolled in the Randomized Intervention for Children with Vesicoureteral Reflux trial or the Careful Urinary Tract Infection Evaluation study. Genotypes from these cohorts were compared with those of female controls with no UTI. To assess whether rs1263872 affects RNase 7’s antimicrobial activity, we generated RNase 7 peptides and genetically modified urothelial cultures encoding wild-type RNase 7 and its variant. Compared with controls, girls in both UTI cohorts had an increased prevalence of the RNASE7 variant. Compared with the missense variant, wild-type RNase 7 peptide showed greater bactericidal activity against UPEC. Wild-type RNase 7 overexpression in human urothelial cultures reduced UPEC invasive infection compared with mutant overexpression. These results show that children with UTI have an increased prevalence of RNASE7 rs1263872, which may increase UTI susceptibility by suppressing RNase 7’s antibacterial activity.

Authors

Keith R. Pierce, Tad Eichler, Claudia Mosquera Vasquez, Andrew L. Schwaderer, Aaron Simoni, Steven Creacy, David S. Hains, John D. Spencer

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Abstract

Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is caused by Leishmania donovani in Sri Lanka. Pentavalent antimonials (e.g. sodium stibogluconate; SSG) remain first line drugs for CL with no new effective treatments emerging. We studied whole blood and lesion transcriptomes from Sri Lankan CL patients at presentation and during SSG treatment. From lesions but not whole blood, we identified differential expression of immune-related genes, including immune checkpoint molecules, after onset of treatment. Using spatial profiling and RNA-FISH, we confirmed reduced expression of PD-L1 and IDO1 proteins on treatment in lesions of a second validation cohort and further demonstrated significantly higher expression of these checkpoint molecules on parasite-infected compared to non-infected lesional CD68+ monocytes / macrophages. Crucially, early reduction in PD-L1 but not IDO1 expression was predictive of rate of clinical cure (HR = 4.88) and occurred in parallel with reduction in parasite load. Our data support a model whereby the initial anti-leishmanial activity of antimonial drugs alleviates checkpoint inhibition on T cells, facilitating immune-drug synergism and clinical cure. Our findings demonstrate that PD-L1 expression can be used as predictor of rapidity of clinical response to SSG treatment in Sri Lanka and support further evaluation of PD-L1 as a host directed therapy target in leishmaniasis.

Authors

Nidhi S. Dey, Sujai Senaratne, Vijani Somaratne, Nayani P. Madarasinghe, Bimalka Seneviratne, Sarah Forrester, Marcela Montes de Oca, Luiza Campos Reis, Srija Moulik, Pegine B. Walrad, Mitali Chatterjee, Hiro Goto, Renu Wickremasinghe, Dimitris Lagos, Paul M. Kaye, Shalindra Ranasinghe

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Abstract

The cardiac conduction system (CCS) ensures regular contractile function, and injury to any of its components can cause cardiac dysrhythmia. Although all cardiomyocytes (CMs) originate from common progenitors, the CCS is composed of biologically distinct cell types with unique functional and developmental characteristics. In contrast to ventricular cardiomyocytes, which continue to proliferate after birth, most CCS cells terminally exit the cell cycle during fetal development. Although the CCS should thus provide a poor substrate for postnatal injury repair, its regenerative capacity remains untested. Here, we describe a genetic system for ablating CMs that reside within the atrioventricular conduction system (AVCS). Adult mouse AVCS ablation resulted in regenerative failure characterized by persistent atrioventricular conduction defects and contractile dysfunction. In contrast, AVCS injury in neonatal mice led to recovery in a subset of these mice, thus providing evidence for CCS plasticity. Furthermore, CM proliferation did not appear to completely account for the observed functional recovery, suggesting that mechanisms regulating recovery from dysrhythmia are likely to be distinct from cardiac regeneration associated with ventricular injury. Taken together, we anticipate that our results will motivate further mechanistic studies of CCS plasticity and enable the exploration of rhythm restoration as an alternative therapeutic strategy.

Authors

Lin Wang, Minoti Bhakta, Antonio Fernandez-Perez, Nikhil V. Munshi

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Abstract

In this study, we demonstrate that Forkhead Box F1 (FOXF1), a mesenchymal transcriptional factor essential for lung development, is retained in a topographically distinct mesenchymal stromal cell population along the bronchovascular space in an adult lung and identify this distinct subset of collagen-expressing cells as a key player in lung allograft remodeling and fibrosis. Utilizing Foxf1_tdTomato BAC (Foxf1_tdTomato) and Foxf1_tdTomato;Col1a1_GFP mice, we show that Lin-Foxf1+ cells encompass the Sca1+CD34+ subset of collagen I-expressing mesenchymal cells (MCs) with capacity to generate colony forming units and lung epithelial organoids. Histologically, Foxf1-expressing MCs formed a three-dimensional network along the conducting airways; FOXF1 was noted to be conspicuously absent in MCs in the alveolar compartment. Bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing confirmed distinct transcriptional signatures of Foxf1pos/neg MCs, with Foxf1-expressing cells delineated by their high Gli1 and low Integrin α8 expression, from other collagen-expressing MCs. Foxf1+Gli1+ MCs demonstrated proximity to Sonic hedgehog (Shh) expressing bronchial epithelium, and mesenchymal Foxf1/Gli1 expression was found to be dependent on the paracrine Shh signaling in epithelial organoids. Utilizing a murine lung transplant model, we show dysregulation of the epithelial mesenchymal Shh/Gli1/Foxf1 crosstalk and expansion of this specific peri-bronchial MC population in chronically rejecting fibrotic lung allografts.

Authors

Russell R. Braeuer, Natalie M. Walker, Keizo Misumi, Serina Mazzoni-Putman, Yoshiro Aoki, Ruohan Liao, Ragini Vittal, Gabriel G. Kleer, David S. Wheeler, Jonathan Z. Sexton, Carol F. Farver, Joshua D. Welch, Vibha N. Lama

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