- The interaction landscape between transcription factors and the nucleosome
- Combination therapy with anti-HIV-1 antibodies maintains viral suppression
- T cells in patients with narcolepsy target self-antigens of hypocretin neurons
- Tc toxin activation requires unfolding and refolding of a β-propeller
- Necroptosis microenvironment directs lineage commitment in liver cancer
1. The interaction landscape between transcription factors and the nucleosome
Nucleosomes cover most of the genome and are thought to be displaced by transcription factors in regions that direct gene expression. However, the modes of interaction between transcription factors and nucleosomal DNA remain largely unknown. Here Fangjie Zhu at University of Cambridge in Cambridge, UK and his colleagues systematically explore interactions between the nucleosome and 220 transcription factors representing diverse structural families. Consistent with earlier observations, they find that the majority of the studied transcription factors have less access to nucleosomal DNA than to free DNA. The motifs recovered from transcription factors bound to nucleosomal and free DNA are generally similar. However, steric hindrance and scaffolding by the nucleosome result in specific positioning and orientation of the motifs. Many transcription factors preferentially bind close to the end of nucleosomal DNA, or to periodic positions on the solvent-exposed side of the DNA. In addition, several transcription factors usually bind to nucleosomal DNA in a particular orientation. Some transcription factors specifically interact with DNA located at the dyad position at which only one DNA gyre is wound, whereas other transcription factors prefer sites spanning two DNA gyres and bind specifically to each of them. Their work reveals notable differences in the binding of transcription factors to free and nucleosomal DNA, and uncovers a diverse interaction landscape between transcription factors and the nucleosome.
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2. Combination therapy with anti-HIV-1 antibodies maintains viral suppression
Individuals infected with HIV-1 require lifelong antiretroviral therapy, because interruption of treatment leads to rapid rebound viraemia. Here Pilar Mendoza at The Rockefeller University in New York, USA and his colleagues report on a phase 1b clinical trial in which a combination of 3BNC117 and 10-1074, two potent monoclonal anti-HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies that target independent sites on the HIV-1 envelope spike, was administered during analytical treatment interruption. Participants received three infusions of 30 mg kg−1 of each antibody at 0, 3 and 6 weeks. Infusions of the two antibodies were generally well-tolerated. The nine enrolled individuals with antibody-sensitive latent viral reservoirs maintained suppression for between 15 and more than 30 weeks (median of 21 weeks), and none developed viruses that were resistant to both antibodies. They conclude that the combination of the anti-HIV-1 monoclonal antibodies 3BNC117 and 10-1074 can maintain long-term suppression in the absence of antiretroviral therapy in individuals with antibody-sensitive viral reservoirs.
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3. T cells in patients with narcolepsy target self-antigens of hypocretin neurons
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder caused by the loss of neurons that produce hypocretin. The close association with HLA-DQB1*06:02, evidence for immune dysregulation and increased incidence upon influenza vaccination together suggest that this disorder has an autoimmune origin. However, there is little evidence of autoreactive lymphocytes in patients with narcolepsy. Here Daniela Latorre at Università della Svizzera italiana in Bellinzona, Switzerland and his colleagues used sensitive cellular screens and detected hypocretin-specific CD4+ T cells in all 19 patients that we tested; T cells specific for tribbles homologue 2—another self-antigen of hypocretin neurons—were found in 8 out of 13 patients. Autoreactive CD4+ T cells were polyclonal, targeted multiple epitopes, were restricted primarily by HLA-DR and did not cross-react with influenza antigens. Hypocretin-specific CD8+ T cells were also detected in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid of several patients with narcolepsy. Autoreactive clonotypes were serially detected in the blood of the same—and even of different—patients, but not in healthy control individuals. These findings solidify the autoimmune aetiology of narcolepsy and provide a basis for rapid diagnosis and treatment of this disease.
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4. Tc toxin activation requires unfolding and refolding of a β-propeller
Tc toxins secrete toxic enzymes into host cells using a unique syringe-like injection mechanism. They are composed of three subunits, TcA, TcB and TcC. TcA forms the translocation channel and the TcB–TcC heterodimer functions as a cocoon that shields the toxic enzyme. Binding of the cocoon to the channel triggers opening of the cocoon and translocation of the toxic enzyme into the channel. Here Christos Gatsogiannis at Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund, Germany and his colleagues show in atomic detail how the assembly of the three components activates the toxin. They find that part of the cocoon completely unfolds and refolds into an alternative conformation upon binding. The presence of the toxic enzyme inside the cocoon is essential for its subnanomolar binding affinity for the TcA subunit. The enzyme passes through a narrow negatively charged constriction site inside the cocoon, probably acting as an extruder that releases the unfolded protein with its C terminus first into the translocation channel.
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5. Necroptosis microenvironment directs lineage commitment in liver cancer
Primary liver cancer represents a major health problem. It comprises hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC), which differ markedly with regards to their morphology, metastatic potential and responses to therapy. However, the regulatory molecules and tissue context that commit transformed hepatic cells towards HCC or ICC are largely unknown. Here Marco Seehawer at University Hospital Tuebingen in Tuebingen, Germany and his colleagues show that the hepatic microenvironment epigenetically shapes lineage commitment in mosaic mouse models of liver tumorigenesis. Whereas a necroptosis-associated hepatic cytokine microenvironment determines ICC outgrowth from oncogenically transformed hepatocytes, hepatocytes containing identical oncogenic drivers give rise to HCC if they are surrounded by apoptotic hepatocytes. Epigenome and transcriptome profiling of mouse HCC and ICC singled out Tbx3 and Prdm5 as major microenvironment-dependent and epigenetically regulated lineage-commitment factors, a function that is conserved in humans. Together, their results provide insight into lineage commitment in liver tumorigenesis, and explain molecularly why common liver-damaging risk factors can lead to either HCC or ICC.
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