Cyclosporine H Overcomes Innate Immune Restrictions to Improve Lentiviral Transduction and Gene Editing In Human Hematopoietic Stem Cells

Content introduction:

  • Cyclosporine H Overcomes Innate Immune Restrictions to Improve Lentiviral Transduction and Gene Editing In Human Hematopoietic Stem Cells
  • Notch-Induced miR-708 Antagonizes Satellite Cell Migration and Maintains Quiescence
  • In Vitro Expansion of Primary Human Hepatocytes with Efficient Liver Repopulation Capacity
  • A Comprehensive Human Gastric Cancer Organoid Biobank Captures Tumor Subtype Heterogeneity and Enables Therapeutic Screening
  • Generation of Bimaternal and Bipaternal Mice from Hypomethylated Haploid ESCs with Imprinting Region Deletions

1. Cyclosporine H Overcomes Innate Immune Restrictions to Improve Lentiviral Transduction and Gene Editing In Human Hematopoietic Stem Cells

Innate immune factors may restrict hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) genetic engineering and contribute to broad individual variability in gene therapy outcomes. Here, Carolina Petrillo at IRCCS San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy and his colleagues show that HSCs harbor an early, constitutively active innate immune block to lentiviral transduction that can be efficiently overcome by cyclosporine H (CsH). CsH potently enhances gene transfer and editing in human long-term repopulating HSCs by inhibiting interferon-induced transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3), which potently restricts VSV glycoprotein-mediated vector entry. Importantly, individual variability in endogenous IFITM3 levels correlated with permissiveness of HSCs to lentiviral transduction, suggesting that CsH treatment will be useful for improving ex vivo gene therapy and standardizing HSC transduction across patients. Overall, their work unravels the involvement of innate pathogen recognition molecules in immune blocks to gene correction in primary human HSCs and highlights how these roadblocks can be overcome to develop innovative cell and gene therapies.

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2. Notch-Induced miR-708 Antagonizes Satellite Cell Migration and Maintains Quiescence

Critical features of stem cells include anchoring within a niche and activation upon injury. Notch signaling maintains skeletal muscle satellite (stem) cell quiescence by inhibiting differentiation and inducing expression of extracellular components of the niche. However, the complete spectrum of how Notch safeguards quiescence is not well understood. Here, Meryem B. Baghdadi at Institut Pasteur in Paris, France and his colleagues perform Notch ChIP-sequencing and small RNA sequencing in satellite cells and identify the Notch-induced microRNA-708, which is a mirtron that is highly expressed in quiescent cells and sharply downregulated in activated cells. They employ in vivo and ex vivo functional studies, in addition to live imaging, to show that miR-708 regulates quiescence and self-renewal by antagonizing cell migration through targeting the transcripts of the focal-adhesion-associated protein Tensin3. Therefore, this study identifies a Notch-miR708-Tensin3 axis and suggests that Notch signaling can regulate satellite cell quiescence and transition to the activation state through dynamic regulation of the migratory machinery.

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3. In Vitro Expansion of Primary Human Hepatocytes with Efficient Liver Repopulation Capacity

Transplantation of human hepatocytes (HHs) holds significant potential for treating liver diseases. However, the supply of transplantable HHs is severely constrained by limited donor availability and compromised capacity for in vitro expansion. In response to chronic injury, some HHs are reprogrammed into proliferative cells that express both hepatocyte and progenitor markers, suggesting exploitable strategies for expanding HHs in vitro. Here, Kun Zhang at Tongji University School of Medicine in Shanghai, China and his colleagues report defined medium conditions that allow 10,000-fold expansion of HHs. These proliferating HHs are bi-phenotypic, partially retaining hepatic features while gaining expression of progenitor-associated genes. Importantly, these cells engraft into injured mouse liver at a level comparable to primary HHs, and they undergo maturation following transplantation in vivo or differentiation in vitro. Thus, this study provides a protocol that enables large-scale expansion of transplantable HHs, which could be further developed for modeling and treating human liver disease.

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4. A Comprehensive Human Gastric Cancer Organoid Biobank Captures Tumor Subtype Heterogeneity and Enables Therapeutic Screening

Gastric cancer displays marked molecular heterogeneity with aggressive behavior and treatment resistance. Therefore, good in vitro models that encompass unique subtypes are urgently needed for precision medicine development. Here, Helen H.N. Yan at The University of Hong Kong in Pokfulam, Hong Kong and his colleagues have established a primary gastric cancer organoid (GCO) biobank that comprises normal, dysplastic, cancer, and lymph node metastases (n = 63) from 34 patients, including detailed whole-exome and transcriptome analysis. The cohort encompasses most known molecular subtypes (including EBV, MSI, intestinal/CIN, and diffuse/GS, with CLDN18-ARHGAP6 or CTNND1-ARHGAP26 fusions or RHOA mutations), capturing regional heterogeneity and subclonal architecture, while their morphology, transcriptome, and genomic profiles remain closely similar to in vivo tumors, even after long-term culture. Large-scale drug screening revealed sensitivity to unexpected drugs that were recently approved or in clinical trials, including Napabucasin, Abemaciclib, and the ATR inhibitor VE-822. Overall, this new GCO biobank, with linked genomic data, provides a useful resource for studying both cancer cell biology and precision cancer therapy.

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5. Generation of Bimaternal and Bipaternal Mice from Hypomethylated Haploid ESCs with Imprinting Region Deletions

Unisexual reproduction is widespread among lower vertebrates, but not in mammals. Deletion of the H19 imprinted region in immature oocytes produced bimaternal mice with defective growth; however, bipaternal reproduction has not been previously achieved in mammals. Zhi-Kun Li at Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China and his colleagues found that cultured parthenogenetic and androgenetic haploid embryonic stem cells (haESCs) display DNA hypomethylation resembling that of primordial germ cells. Through MII oocyte injection or sperm coinjection with hypomethylated haploid ESCs carrying specific imprinted region deletions, they obtained live bimaternal and bipaternal mice. Deletion of 3 imprinted regions in parthenogenetic haploid ESCs restored normal growth of fertile bimaternal mice, whereas deletion of 7 imprinted regions in androgenetic haploid ESCs enabled production of live bipaternal mice that died shortly after birth. Phenotypic analyses of organ and body size of these mice support the genetic conflict theory of genomic imprinting. Taken together, their results highlight the factors necessary for crossing same-sex reproduction barriers in mammals.

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