Topics overview: Dietary vitamin A on the regulation of cell-cycle-mediated stem cell plasticity, mechanisms controlling immunity to vaccination, RNA structure has widespread roles in mammalian mRNA biogenesis and metabolism, CTCF mediates transcriptional insulator function through enhancer blocking but not as a direct barrier to heterochromatin spreading and anti-virus monoclonal antibody could be elicited more efficiently with suitably optimized GP immunogens.
Vitamin A-Retinoic Acid Signaling Regulates Hematopoietic Stem Cell Dormancy.
Dormant hematopoietic stem cells (dHSCs) are atop the hematopoietic hierarchy. The molecular identity of dHSCs and the mechanisms regulating their maintenance or exit from dormancy remain uncertain. Here, Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid at Division of Stem Cells and Cancer in Heidelberg, Germany and her colleagues use single-cell RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis to show that the transition from dormancy toward cell-cycle entry is a continuous developmental path associated with upregulation of biosynthetic processes rather than a stepwise progression. In addition, low Myc levels and high expression of a retinoic acid program are characteristic for dHSCs. To follow the behavior of dHSCs in situ, a Gprc5c-controlled reporter mouse was established. Treatment with all-trans retinoic acid antagonizes stress-induced activation of dHSCs by restricting protein translation and levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and Myc. Mice maintained on a vitamin A-free diet lose HSCs and show a disrupted re-entry into dormancy after exposure to inflammatory stress stimuli. Their results highlight the impact of dietary vitamin A on the regulation of cell-cycle-mediated stem cell plasticity.
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Metabolic Phenotypes of Response to Vaccination in Humans.
Herpes zoster (shingles) causes significant morbidity in immune compromised hosts and older adults. Whereas a vaccine is available for prevention of shingles, its efficacy declines with age. To help to understand the mechanisms driving vaccinal responses, Shuzhao Li at Emory University in Atlanta, USA and his colleagues constructed a multiscale, multifactorial response network (MMRN) of immunity in healthy young and older adults immunized with the live attenuated shingles vaccine Zostavax. Vaccination induces robust antigen-specific antibody, plasmablasts, and CD4+ T cells yet limited CD8+ T cell and antiviral responses. The MMRN reveals striking associations between orthogonal datasets, such as transcriptomic and metabolomics signatures, cell populations, and cytokine levels, and identifies immune and metabolic correlates of vaccine immunity. Networks associated with inositol phosphate, glycerophospholipids, and sterol metabolism are tightly coupled with immunity. Critically, the sterol regulatory binding protein 1 and its targets are key integrators of antibody and T follicular cell responses. Their approach is broadly applicable to study human immunity and can help to identify predictors of efficacy as well as mechanisms controlling immunity to vaccination.
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Widespread Influence of 3′-End Structures on Mammalian mRNA Processing and Stability.
The physiological relevance of structures within mammalian mRNAs has been elusive, as these mRNAs are less folded in cells than in vitro and have predicted secondary structures no more stable than those of random sequences. Here, Xuebing Wu at Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, USA and his colleagues investigate the possibility that mRNA structures facilitate the 3′-end processing of thousands of human mRNAs by juxtaposing poly(A) signals (PASs) and cleavage sites that are otherwise too far apart. They find that RNA structures are predicted to be more prevalent within these extended 3′-end regions than within PAS-upstream regions and indeed are substantially more folded within cells, as determined by intracellular probing. Analyses of thousands of ectopically expressed variants demonstrate that this folding both enhances processing and increases mRNA metabolic stability. Even folds with predicted stabilities resembling those of random sequences can enhance processing. Structure-controlled processing can also regulate neighboring gene expression. Thus, RNA structure has widespread roles in mammalian mRNA biogenesis and metabolism.
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Targeted Degradation of CTCF Decouples Local Insulation of Chromosome Domains from Genomic Compartmentalization.
The molecular mechanisms underlying folding of mammalian chromosomes remain poorly understood. The transcription factor CTCF is a candidate regulator of chromosomal structure. Using the auxin-inducible degron system in mouse embryonic stem cells, Elphège P. Nora at Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, USA and his colleagues show that CTCF is absolutely and dose-dependently required for looping between CTCF target sites and insulation of topologically associating domains (TADs). Restoring CTCF reinstates proper architecture on altered chromosomes, indicating a powerful instructive function for CTCF in chromatin folding. CTCF remains essential for TAD organization in non-dividing cells. Surprisingly, active and inactive genome compartments remain properly segregated upon CTCF depletion, revealing that compartmentalization of mammalian chromosomes emerges independently of proper insulation of TADs. Furthermore, their data support that CTCF mediates transcriptional insulator function through enhancer blocking but not as a direct barrier to heterochromatin spreading. Beyond defining the functions of CTCF in chromosome folding, these results provide new fundamental insights into the rules governing mammalian genome organization.
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Antibodies from a Human Survivor Define Sites of Vulnerability for Broad Protection against Ebolaviruses.
Experimental monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapies have shown promise for treatment of lethal Ebola virus (EBOV) infections, but their species-specific recognition of the viral glycoprotein (GP) has limited their use against other divergent ebolaviruses associated with human disease. Here, Anna Z. Wec at Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY , USA and her colleagues mined the human immune response to natural EBOV infection and identified mAbs with exceptionally potent pan-ebolavirus neutralizing activity and protective efficacy against three virulent ebolaviruses. These mAbs recognize an inter-protomer epitope in the GP fusion loop, a critical and conserved element of the viral membrane fusion machinery, and neutralize viral entry by targeting a proteolytically primed, fusion-competent GP intermediate (GPCL) generated in host cell endosomes. Only a few somatic hypermutations are required for broad antiviral activity, and germline-approximating variants display enhanced GPCL recognition, suggesting that such antibodies could be elicited more efficiently with suitably optimized GP immunogens. Their findings inform the development of both broadly effective immunotherapeutics and vaccines against filoviruses.
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