Weekly Top Scientific Research Review (6/3/2017-10/3/2017)

Weekly Top Scientific Research Review

1. Pregnancy-Related Immune Adaptation Promotes the Emergence of Highly Virulent H1N1 Influenza Virus Strains in Allogenically Pregnant Mice.

Pregnant women are at high risk for severe influenza disease outcomes, yet insights into the underlying mechanisms are limited. Here, we present models of H1N1 infection in syngenic and allogenic pregnant mice; infection in the latter mirrors the severe course of 2009 pandemic influenza in pregnant women. We found that the anti-viral immune response in the pregnant host was significantly restricted as compared to the non-pregnant host. This included a reduced type I interferon response as well as impaired migration of CD8+ T cells into the lung. The multi-faceted failure to mount an anti-viral response in allogenic pregnant mice resulted in a less stringent selective environment that promoted the emergence of 2009 H1N1 virus variants that specifically counteract type I interferon response and mediate increased viral pathogenicity. These insights underscore the importance of influenza vaccination compliance in pregnant women and may open novel therapeutic avenues.

2. Single-Cell Multiomics: Multiple Measurements from Single Cells.

Single-cell sequencing provides information that is not confounded by genotypic or phenotypic heterogeneity of bulk samples. Sequencing of one molecular type (RNA, methylated DNA or open chromatin) in a single cell, furthermore, provides insights into the cell’s phenotype and links to its genotype. Nevertheless, only by taking measurements of these phenotypes and genotypes from the same single cells can such inferences be made unambiguously. In this review, we survey the first experimental approaches that assay, in parallel, multiple molecular types from the same single cell, before considering the challenges and opportunities afforded by these and future technologies.

3. Pyruvate and Metabolic Flexibility: Illuminating a Path Toward Selective Cancer Therapies.

Dysregulated metabolism is an emerging hallmark of cancer, and there is abundant interest in developing therapies to selectively target these aberrant metabolic phenotypes. Sitting at the decision-point between mitochondrial carbohydrate oxidation and aerobic glycolysis (i.e., the ‘Warburg effect’), the synthesis and consumption of pyruvate is tightly controlled and is often differentially regulated in cancer cells. This review examines recent efforts toward understanding and targeting mitochondrial pyruvate metabolism, and addresses some of the successes, pitfalls, and significant challenges of metabolic therapy to date.

4. Tumor–Host Cell Interactions in Ovarian Cancer: Pathways to Therapy Failure.

Although most ovarian cancer patients are highly responsive to chemotherapy, they frequently present with recurrent metastatic lesions that result in poor overall survival, a situation that has not changed in the last 20 years. This review discusses new insights into the regulation of ovarian cancer chemoresistance with a focus on the emerging role of immune and other host cells. Here, we summarize the complex molecular pathways that regulate the interaction between tumor and host cells, discuss the limitations of current in vitro and in vivo models for translational studies, and present perspectives for the development of innovative therapies

5. Developing Cures: Targeting Ontogenesis in Cancer.

Cancer has long been known to histologically resemble developing embryonic tissue. Since this early observation, a mounting body of evidence suggests that cancer mimics or co-opts developmental processes to facilitate tumor initiation and progression. Programs important in both normal ontogenesis and cancer progression broadly fall into three domains: the lineage commitment of pluripotent stem cells, the appropriation of primordial mechanisms of cell motility and invasion, and the influence of multiple aspects of the microenvironment on the parenchyma. In this review we discuss how derangements in these developmental pathways drive cancer progression with a particular focus on how they have emerged as targets of novel treatment strategies.

6. Contributions of Mammalian Chimeras to Pluripotent Stem Cell Research.

Chimeras are widely acknowledged as the gold standard for assessing stem cell pluripotency, based on their capacity to test donor cell lineage potential in the context of an organized, normally developing tissue. Experimental chimeras provide key insights into mammalian developmental mechanisms and offer a resource for interrogating the fate potential of various pluripotent stem cell states. We highlight the applications and current limitations presented by intra- and inter-species chimeras and consider their future contribution to the stem cell field. Despite the technical and ethical demands of experimental chimeras, including human-interspecies chimeras, they are a provocative resource for achieving regenerative medicine goals.

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