Leveraging polygenic enrichments of gene features to predict genes underlying complex traits and diseases(2023) Nature Genetics. 55, 8, p. 1267–1276 Abstract
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) are a valuable tool for understanding the biology of complex human traits and diseases, but associated variants rarely point directly to causal genes. In the present study, we introduce a new method, polygenic priority score (PoPS), that learns trait-relevant gene features, such as cell-type-specific expression, to prioritize genes at GWAS loci. Using a large evaluation set of genes with fine-mapped coding variants, we show that PoPS and the closest gene individually outperform other gene prioritization methods, but observe the best overall performance by combining PoPS with orthogonal methods. Using this combined approach, we prioritize 10,642 unique gene–trait pairs across 113 complex traits and diseases with high precision, finding not only well-established gene–trait relationships but nominating new genes at unresolved loci, such as LGR4 for estimated glomerular filtration rate and CCR7 for deep vein thrombosis. Overall, we demonstrate that PoPS provides a powerful addition to the gene prioritization toolbox.
Dendritic cell ICAM-1 strengthens synapses with CD8 T cells but is not required for their early differentiation(2023) Cell Reports. 42, 8, 112864. Abstract
Lymphocyte priming in lymph nodes (LNs) was postulated to depend on the formation of stable T cell receptor (TCR)-specific immune synapses (ISs) with antigen (Ag)-presenting dendritic cells (DCs). The high-affinity LFA-1 ligand ICAM-1 was implicated in different ISs studied in vitro. We dissect the in vivo roles of endogenous DC ICAM-1 in Ag-stimulated T cell proliferation and differentiation and find that under type 1 polarizing conditions in vaccinated or vaccinia virus-infected skin-draining LNs, Ag-presenting DCs engage in ICAM-1-dependent stable conjugates with a subset of Ag-specific CD8 blasts. Nevertheless, in the absence of these conjugates, CD8 lymphocyte proliferation and differentiation into functional cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) and skin homing effector lymphocytes takes place normally. Our results suggest that although CD8 T cell blasts engage in tight ICAM-1-dependent DC-T ISs, firm ISs are dispensable for TCR-triggered proliferation and differentiation into productive effector lymphocytes.
(2022) Cell. 185, 8, p. 1373-1388.e20 Abstract
Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma, SSc) is an incurable autoimmune disease with high morbidity and mortality rates. Here, we conducted a population-scale single-cell genomic analysis of skin and blood samples of 56 healthy controls and 97 SSc patients at different stages of the disease. We found immune compartment dysfunction only in a specific subtype of diffuse SSc patients but global dysregulation of the stromal compartment, particularly in a previously undefined subset of LGR5+-scleroderma-associated fibroblasts (ScAFs). ScAFs are perturbed morphologically and molecularly in SSc patients. Single-cell multiome profiling of stromal cells revealed ScAF-specific markers, pathways, regulatory elements, and transcription factors underlining disease development. Systematic analysis of these molecular features with clinical metadata associates specific ScAF targets with disease pathogenesis and SSc clinical traits. Our high-resolution atlas of the sclerodermatous skin spectrum will enable a paradigm shift in the understanding of SSc disease and facilitate the development of biomarkers and therapeutic strategies.
Bacterial infection disrupts established germinal center reactions through monocyte recruitment and impaired metabolic adaptation(2022) Immunity. 55, 3, p. 442-458.e8 Abstract
Consecutive exposures to different pathogens are highly prevalent and often alter the host immune response. However, it remains unknown how a secondary bacterial infection affects an ongoing adaptive immune response elicited against primary invading pathogens. We demonstrated that recruitment of Sca-1+ monocytes into lymphoid organs during Salmonella Typhimurium (STm) infection disrupted pre-existing germinal center (GC) reactions. GC responses induced by influenza, plasmodium, or commensals deteriorated following STm infection. GC disruption was independent of the direct bacterial interactions with B cells and instead was induced through recruitment of CCR2-dependent Sca-1+ monocytes into the lymphoid organs. GC collapse was associated with impaired cellular respiration and was dependent on TNFα and IFNγ, the latter of which was essential for Sca-1+ monocyte differentiation. Monocyte recruitment and GC disruption also occurred during LPS-supplemented vaccination and Listeria monocytogenes infection. Thus, systemic activation of the innate immune response upon severe bacterial infection is induced at the expense of antibody-mediated immunity.
Dietary suppression of MHC class II expression in intestinal epithelial cells enhances intestinal tumorigenesis(2021) Cell Stem Cell. 28, 11, p. 1922-1935 Abstract
Little is known about how interactions of diet, intestinal stem cells (ISCs), and immune cells affect early-stage intestinal tumorigenesis. We show that a high-fat diet (HFD) reduces the expression of the major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC class II) genes in intestinal epithelial cells, including ISCs. This decline in epithelial MHC class II expression in a HFD correlates with reduced intestinal microbiome diversity. Microbial community transfer experiments suggest that epithelial MHC class II expression is regulated by intestinal flora. Mechanistically, pattern recognition receptor (PRR) and interferon-gamma (IFNγ) signaling regulates epithelial MHC class II expression. MHC class II-negative (MHC-II−) ISCs exhibit greater tumor-initiating capacity than their MHC class II-positive (MHC-II+) counterparts upon loss of the tumor suppressor Apc coupled with a HFD, suggesting a role for epithelial MHC class II-mediated immune surveillance in suppressing tumorigenesis. ISC-specific genetic ablation of MHC class II increases tumor burden cell autonomously. Thus, HFD perturbs a microbiome-stem cell-immune cell interaction that contributes to tumor initiation in the intestine.
•HFD dampens MHC class II expression in IECs, including ISCs•HFD perturbs intestinal microbes that correlate with MHC class II expression in ISCs•PRR and IFNγ signaling mediates epithelial MHC class II expression•Loss of MHC class II on premalignant ISCs enhances tumor initiation
The mechanisms that link pro-obesity high-fat diets (HFDs) to increased colon cancer risk are not well understood. Beyaz and colleagues demonstrate that a HFD promotes intestinal tumor initiation by suppressing microbiome-stem cell-immune cell crosstalk that is mediated by MHC class II expression on intestinal stem cells.
(2021) Cell. 184, 18, p. 4734-4752 Abstract
Immune responses to cancer are highly variable, with mismatch repair-deficient (MMRd) tumors exhibiting more anti-tumor immunity than mismatch repair-proficient (MMRp) tumors. To understand the rules governing these varied responses, we transcriptionally profiled 371,223 cells from colorectal tumors and adjacent normal tissues of 28 MMRp and 34 MMRd individuals. Analysis of 88 cell subsets and their 204 associated gene expression programs revealed extensive transcriptional and spatial remodeling across tumors. To discover hubs of interacting malignant and immune cells, we identified expression programs in different cell types that co-varied across tumors from affected individuals and used spatial profiling to localize coordinated programs. We discovered a myeloid cell-attracting hub at the tumor-luminal interface associated with tissue damage and an MMRd-enriched immune hub within the tumor, with activated T cells together with malignant and myeloid cells expressing T cell-attracting chemokines. By identifying interacting cellular programs, we reveal the logic underlying spatially organized immune-malignant cell networks.[Display omitted]•A scRNA-seq study reveals shared and distinct features of human MMRd and MMRp CRC•Co-variation of single-cell transcriptional programs across specimens predicts immune hubs•A myeloid-rich inflammatory hub is identified below the colonic lumen in human CRC•CXCR3-ligand+ cells form foci with activated T cells in human MMRd CRCSingle-cell transcriptomics-based co-variation analysis of human colorectal cancer identifies a spatially resolved myeloid-rich inflammatory hub that is shared by mismatch repair-deficient (MMRd) and mismatch repair-proficient (MMRp) tumors and CXCR3-ligand+ multicellular foci distinct for MMRd tumors.
(2021) Science (American Association for the Advancement of Science). 371, 6535, eaba8310. Abstract
The intestine is a site of direct encounter with the external environment and must consequently balance barrier defense with nutrient uptake. To investigate how nutrient uptake is regulated in the small intestine, we tested the effect of diets with different macronutrient compositions on epithelial gene expression. We found that enzymes and transporters required for carbohydrate digestion and absorption were regulated by carbohydrate availability. The "on-demand" induction of this machinery required γδ T cells, which regulated this program through the suppression of interleukin-22 production by type 3 innate lymphoid cells. Nutrient availability altered the tissue localization and transcriptome of γδ T cells. Additionally, transcriptional responses to diet involved cellular remodeling of the epithelial compartment. Thus, this work identifies a role for γδ T cells in nutrient sensing.
(2020) Science. 368, 6490, p. 497-505 Abstract
Androgen deprivation is the cornerstone of prostate cancer treatment. It results in involution of the normal gland to ~90% of its original size because of the loss of luminal cells. The prostate regenerates when androgen is restored, a process postulated to involve stem cells. Using single-cell RNA sequencing, we identified a rare luminal population in the mouse prostate that expresses stemlike genes (Sca1+ and Psca+) and a large population of differentiated cells (Nkx3.1+, Pbsn+). In organoids and in mice, both populations contribute equally to prostate regeneration, partly through androgen-driven expression of growth factors (Nrg2, Rspo3) by mesenchymal cells acting in a paracrine fashion on luminal cells. Analysis of human prostate tissue revealed similar differentiated and stemlike luminal subpopulations that likewise acquire enhanced regenerative potential after androgen ablation. We propose that prostate regeneration is driven by nearly all persisting luminal cells, not just by rare stem cells.
Forefront: MiR-34a-Knockout Mice with Wild Type Hematopoietic Cells, Retain Persistent Fibrosis Following Lung Injury(2020) International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 21, 6, 2228. Abstract
MicroRNAs (miRs) are known to limit gene expression at the post-transcriptional level and have important roles in the pathogenesis of various conditions, including acute lung injury (ALI) and fibrotic diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). In this study, we found increased levels of miR-34 at times of fibrosis resolution following injury, in myofibroblasts from Bleomycin-treated mouse lungs, which correlates with susceptibility to cell death induced by immune cells. On the contrary, a substantial downregulation of miR-34 was detected at stages of evolution, when fibroblasts resist cell death. Concomitantly, we found an inverse correlation between miR-34 levels with that of the survival molecule FLICE-like inhibitory protein (FLIP) in lung myofibroblasts from humans with IPF and the experimental model. Forced upregulation of miR-34 with miR-34 mimic in human IPF fibrotic-lung myofibroblasts led to decreased cell survival through downregulation of FLIP. Using chimeric miR-34 knock-out (KO)-C57BL/6 mice with miR34KO myofibroblasts but wild-type (WT) hematopoietic cells, we found, in contrast to WT mice, increased and persistent FLIP levels with a more severe fibrosis and with no signs of resolution as detected in pathology and collagen accumulation. Moreover, a mimic of miR-34a decreased FLIP expression and susceptibility to cell death was regained in miR-34KO fibroblasts. Through this study, we show for the first time an inverse correlation between miR-34a and FLIP expression in myofibroblasts, which affects survival, and accumulation in lung fibrosis. Reprogramming fibrotic-lung myofibroblasts to regain susceptibility to cell-death by specifically increasing their miR34a and downregulating FLIP, may be a useful strategy, enabling tissue regeneration following lung injury.
(2020) ImmunoHorizons. 4, 1, p. 23-32 Abstract
Tuft cells are an epithelial cell type critical for initiating type 2 immune responses to parasites and protozoa in the small intestine. To respond to these stimuli, intestinal tuft cells use taste chemosensory signaling pathways, but the role of taste receptors in type 2 immunity is poorly understood. In this study, we show that the taste receptor TAS1R3, which detects sweet and umami in the tongue, also regulates tuft cell responses in the distal small intestine. BALB/c mice, which have an inactive form of TAS1R3, as well as Tas1r3-deficient C57BL6/J mice both have severely impaired responses to tuft cell-inducing signals in the ileum, including the protozoa Tritrichomonas muris and succinate. In contrast, TAS1R3 is not required to mount an immune response to the helminth Heligmosomoides polygyrus, which infects the proximal small intestine. Examination of uninfected Tas1r3-/- mice revealed a modest reduction in the number of tuft cells in the proximal small intestine but a severe decrease in the distal small intestine at homeostasis. Together, these results suggest that TAS1R3 influences intestinal immunity by shaping the epithelial cell landscape at steady-state.
(2019) Journal of Immunology. 203, 7, p. 1820-1829 Abstract
The clear role of autophagy in human inflammatory diseases such as Crohn disease was first identified by genome-wide association studies and subsequently dissected in multiple mechanistic studies. ATG16L1 has been particularly well studied in knockout and hypomorph settings as well as models recapitulating the Crohn disease-associated T300A polymorphism. Interestingly, ATG16L1 has a single homolog, ATG16L2, which is independently implicated in diseases, including Crohn disease and systemic lupus erythematosus. However, the contribution of ATG16L2 to canonical autophagy pathways and other cellular functions is poorly understood. To better understand its role, we generated and analyzed the first, to our knowledge, ATG16L2 knockout mouse. Our results show that ATG16L1 and ATG16L2 contribute very distinctly to autophagy and cellular ontogeny in myeloid, lymphoid, and epithelial lineages. Dysregulation of any of these lineages could contribute to complex diseases like Crohn disease and systemic lupus erythematosus, highlighting the value of examining cell-specific effects. We also identify a novel genetic interaction between ATG16L2 and epithelial ATG16L1. These findings are discussed in the context of how these genes may contribute distinctly to human disease.
(2019) Cell. 178, 5, p. 1115-1131 Abstract
Little is known about how metabolites couple tissue-specific stem cell function with physiology. Here we show that, in the mammalian small intestine, the expression of Hmgcs2 (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA synthetase 2), the gene encoding the rate-limiting enzyme in the production of ketone bodies, including beta-hydroxybutyrate (βOHB), distinguishes self-renewing Lgr5
+ stem cells (ISCs) from differentiated cell types. Hmgcs2 loss depletes βOHB levels in Lgr5
+ ISCs and skews their differentiation toward secretory cell fates, which can be rescued by exogenous βOHB and class I histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor treatment. Mechanistically, βOHB acts by inhibiting HDACs to reinforce Notch signaling, instructing ISC self-renewal and lineage decisions. Notably, although a high-fat ketogenic diet elevates ISC function and post-injury regeneration through βOHB-mediated Notch signaling, a glucose-supplemented diet has the opposite effects. These findings reveal how control of βOHB-activated signaling in ISCs by diet helps to fine-tune stem cell adaptation in homeostasis and injury. Ketone body metabolites inform intestinal stem cell decisions in response to diverse diets.
(2019) Cell. 178, 3, p. 714-730 Abstract
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed risk alleles for ulcerative colitis (UC). To understand their cell type specificities and pathways of action, we generate an atlas of 366,650 cells from the colon mucosa of 18 UC patients and 12 healthy individuals, revealing 51 epithelial, stromal, and immune cell subsets, including BEST4(+) enterocytes, microfold-like cells, and IL13RA2(+)IL11(+) inflammatory fibroblasts, which we associate with resistance to anti-TNF treatment. Inflammatory fibroblasts, inflammatory monocytes, microfold-like cells, and T cells that co-express CD8 and IL-17 expand with disease, forming intercellular interaction hubs. Many UC risk genes are cell type specific and coregulated within relatively few gene modules, suggesting convergence onto limited sets of cell types and pathways. Using this observation, we nominate and infer functions for specific risk genes across GWAS loci. Our work provides a framework for interrogating complex human diseases and mapping risk variants to cell types and pathways.
(2018) Cell. 175, 5, p. 1307-1320 Abstract
In the small intestine, a niche of accessory cell types supports the generation of mature epithelial cell types from intestinal stem cells (ISCs). It is unclear, however, if and how immune cells it the niche affect ISC fate or the balance between self-rei and differentiation. Here, we use single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) to identify MHC class II (MHCII) machinery enrichment in two subsets of Lgr(5+) ISCs. We show that MHCII+ Lgr(5+) ISCs are non-conventional antigen-presenting cells in co-cultures with CD4( +) T helper (Th) cells. Stimulation of intestinal organoids with key Th cytokines affects Lgr(5+) ISC renewal and differentiation in opposing ways: pro-inflammatory signals promote differentiation, while regulatory cells and cytokines reduce it. In vivo genetic perturbation of Th cells or MHCII expression on Lgr(5+) ISCs impacts epithelial cell differentiation and IEC fate during infection. These interactions between Th cells and Lgr(5+) ISCs, thus, orchestrate, tissue-wide responses to external signals.
(2018) Nature. 560, 7718, p. 319-324 Abstract
The airways of the lung are the primary sites of disease in asthma and cystic fibrosis. Here we study the cellular composition and hierarchy of the mouse tracheal epithelium by single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) and in vivo lineage tracing. We identify a rare cell type, the Foxi1(+) pulmonary ionocyte; functional variations in club cells based on their location; a distinct cell type in high turnover squamous epithelial structures that we term 'hillocks'; and disease-relevant subsets of tuft and goblet cells. We developed 'pulse-seq', combining scRNA-seq and lineage tracing, to show that tuft, neuroendocrine and ionocyte cells are continually and directly replenished by basal progenitor cells. Ionocytes are the major source of transcripts of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator in both mouse (Cftr) and human (CFTR). Knockout of Foxi1 in mouse ionocytes causes loss of Cftr expression and disrupts airway fluid and mucus physiology, phenotypes that are characteristic of cystic fibrosis. By associating cell-type-specific expression programs with key disease genes, we establish a new cellular narrative for airways disease.
(2017) Nature. 551, 7680, p. 333-339 Abstract
Intestinal epithelial cells absorb nutrients, respond to microbes, function as a barrier and help to coordinate immune responses. Here we report profiling of 53,193 individual epithelial cells from the small intestine and organoids of mice, which enabled the identification and characterization of previously unknown subtypes of intestinal epithelial cell and their gene signatures. We found unexpected diversity in hormone-secreting enteroendocrine cells and constructed the taxonomy of newly identified subtypes, and distinguished between two subtypes of tuft cell, one of which expresses the epithelial cytokine Tslp and the pan-immune marker CD45, which was not previously associated with non-haematopoietic cells. We also characterized the ways in which cell-intrinsic states and the proportions of different cell types respond to bacterial and helminth infections: Salmonella infection caused an increase in the abundance of Paneth cells and enterocytes, and broad activation of an antimicrobial program; Heligmosomoides polygyrus caused an increase in the abundance of goblet and tuft cells. Our survey highlights previously unidentified markers and programs, associates sensory molecules with cell types, and uncovers principles of gut homeostasis and response to pathogens.
miR-103 inhibits proliferation and sensitizes hemopoietic tumor cells for glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis(2017) Oncotarget. 8, 1, p. 472-489 Abstract
Glucocorticoid (GC) hormones are an important ingredient of leukemia therapy since they are potent inducers of lymphoid cell apoptosis. However, the development of GC resistance remains an obstacle in GC-based treatment. In the present investigation we found that miR-103 is upregulated in GC-sensitive leukemia cells treated by the hormone. Transfection of GC resistant cells with miR-103 sensitized them to GC induced apoptosis (GCIA), while miR-103 sponging of GC sensitive cells rendered them partially resistant. miR-103 reduced the expression of cyclin dependent kinase (CDK2) and its cyclin E1 target, thereby leading to inhibition of cellular proliferation. miR-103 is encoded within the fifth intron of PANK3 gene. We demonstrate that the GC receptor (GR) upregulates miR-103 by direct interaction with GC response element (GRE) in the PANK3 enhancer. Consequently, miR-103 targets the c-Myc activators c-Myb and DVL1, thereby reducing c-Myc expression. Since c-Myc is a transcription factor of the miR-17 similar to 92a poly-cistron, all six miRNAs of the latter are also downregulated. Of these, miR-18a and miR-20a are involved in GCIA, as they target GR and BIM, respectively. Consequently, GR and BIM expression are elevated, thus advancing GCIA. Altogether, this study highlights miR-103 as a useful prognostic biomarker and drug for leukemia management in the future.
(2016) Genome Biology. 17, 145. Abstract
Background: Chronic inflammation has been recognized as one of the hallmarks of cancer. We recently showed that parainflammation, a unique variant of inflammation between homeostasis and chronic inflammation, strongly promotes mouse gut tumorigenesis upon p53 loss. Here we explore the prevalence of parainflammation in human cancer and determine its relationship to certain molecular and clinical parameters affecting treatment and prognosis.Results: We generated a transcriptome signature to identify parainflammation in many primary human tumors and carcinoma cell lines as distinct from their normal tissue counterparts and the tumor microenvironment and show that parainflammation-positive tumors are enriched for p53 mutations and associated with poor prognosis. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) treatment suppresses parainflammation in both murine and human cancers, possibly explaining a protective effect of NSAIDs against cancer.Conclusions: We conclude that parainflammation, a low-grade form of inflammation, is widely prevalent in human cancer, particularly in cancer types commonly harboring p53 mutations. Our data suggest that parainflammation may be a driver for p53 mutagenesis and a guide for cancer prevention by NSAID treatment.
Erratum: A Senescence-Inflammatory Switch from Cancer-Inhibitory to Cancer-Promoting Mechanism (vol 24, pg 242, 2013)(2015) Cancer Cell. 27, 6, p. 877-878 Abstract
It has recently been brought to our attention that a duplication occurred between the DKO panel controls in Figure 6A and the DKO panels in Figures 4H and 4J. This was due to an error in the figure assembly during manuscript preparation. A corrected version of Figure 6 is presented below; Figure 4 needs no correction. We also note that the experiment presented in Figure 6A was repeated, yielding similar results. We apologize for the confusion.
Adverse Immunoregulatory Effects of 5FU and CPT11 Chemotherapy on Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells and Colorectal Cancer Outcomes(2014) Cancer Research. 74, 21, p. 6022-6035 Abstract
Colorectal cancer is associated with chronic inflammation and immunosuppression mediated by myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC). Although chemotherapy reduces tumor burden at early stages, it tends to have limited effect on a progressive disease, possibly due to adverse effects on the immune system in dictating disease outcome. Here, we show that patients with advanced colorectal cancer display enhanced MDSC levels and reduced CD247 expression and that some conventional colorectal cancer chemotherapy supports the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. A FOLFOX combined therapy reduced immunosuppression, whereas a FOLFIRI combined therapy enhanced immunosuppression. Mechanistic studies in a colorectal cancer mouse model revealed that FOLFIRI-like therapy including the drugs CPT11 and 5-fluorouracil (5FU) damaged host immunocompetence in a manner that limits treatment outcomes. CPT11 blocked MDSC apoptosis and myeloid cell differentiation, increasing MDSC immunosuppressive features and mouse mortality. In contrast, 5FU promoted immune recovery and tumor regression. Thus, CPT11 exhibited detrimental immunoregulatory effects that offset 5FU benefits when administered in combination. Our results highlight the importance of developing therapeutic regimens that can target both the immune system and tumor towards improved personalized treatments for colorectal cancer. (C)2014 AACR.
Reassessment of the Role of TSC, mTORC1 and MicroRNAs in Amino Acids-Meditated Translational Control of TOP mRNAs(2014) PLoS ONE. 9, 10, 109410. Abstract
TOP mRNAs encode components of the translational apparatus, and repression of their translation comprises one mechanism, by which cells encountering amino acid deprivation downregulate the biosynthesis of the protein synthesis machinery. This mode of regulation involves TSC as knockout of TSC1 or TSC2 rescued TOP mRNAs translation in amino acidstarved cells. The involvement of mTOR in translational control of TOP mRNAs is demonstrated by the ability of constitutively active mTOR to relieve the translational repression of TOP mRNA upon amino acid deprivation. Consistently, knockdown of this kinase as well as its inhibition by pharmacological means blocked amino acid-induced translational activation of these mRNAs. The signaling of amino acids to TOP mRNAs involves RagB, as overexpression of active RagB derepressed the translation of these mRNAs in amino acid-starved cells. Nonetheless, knockdown of raptor or rictor failed to suppress translational activation of TOP mRNAs by amino acids, suggesting that mTORC1 or mTORC2 plays a minor, if any, role in this mode of regulation. Finally, miR10a has previously been suggested to positively regulate the translation of TOP mRNAs. However, we show here that titration of this microRNA failed to downregulate the basal translation efficiency of TOP mRNAs. Moreover, Drosha knockdown or Dicer knockout, which carries out the first and second processing steps in microRNAs biosynthesis, respectively, failed to block the translational activation of TOP mRNAs by amino acid or serum stimulation. Evidently, these results are questioning the positive role of microRNAs in this mode of regulation.
(2013) Cancer Cell. 24, 2, p. 242-256 Abstract
Senescence, perceived as a cancer barrier, is paradoxically associated with inflammation, which promotes tumorigenesis. Here, we characterize a distinct low-grade inflammatory process in stressed epithelium that is related to para-inflammation; this process either represses or promotes tumorigenesis, depending on p53 activity. Csnk1a1 (CKI alpha) downregulation induces a senescence-associated inflammatory response (SIR) with growth arrest in colorectal tumors, which loses its growth control capacity in the absence of p53 and instead, accelerates growth and invasiveness. Corresponding processes occur in CKI alpha-deleted intestinal organoids, assuming tumorigenic transformation properties ex vivo, upon p53 loss. Treatment of organoids and mice with anti-inflammatory agents suppresses the SIR and prevents p53-deficient organoid transformation and mouse carcinogenesis. SIR/para-inflammation suppression may therefore constitute a key mechanism in the anticarcinogenic effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
(2011) Nature Immunology. 12, 3, p. 239-246 Abstract
Colonic homeostasis entails epithelium-lymphocyte cooperation, yet many participants in this process are unknown. We show here that epithelial microRNAs mediate the mucosa-immune system crosstalk necessary for mounting protective T helper type 2 (T(H)2) responses. Abolishing the induction of microRNA by gut-specific deletion of Dicer1 (Dicer1(Delta gut)), which encodes an enzyme involved in microRNA biogenesis, deprived goblet cells of RELM beta, a key T(H)2 antiparasitic cytokine; this predisposed the host to parasite infection. Infection of Dicer1(Delta gut) mice with helminths favored a futile T(H)1 response with hallmarks of inflammatory bowel disease. Interleukin 13 (IL-13) induced the microRNA miR-375, which regulates the expression of TSLP, a T(H)2-facilitating epithelial cytokine; this indicated a T(H)2-amplification loop. We found that miR-375 was required for RELM beta expression in vivo; miR-375-deficient mice had significantly less intestinal RELM beta, which possibly explains the greater susceptibility of Dicer1(Delta gut) mice to parasites. Our findings indicate that epithelial microRNAs are key regulators of gut homeostasis and mucosal immunity.
(2008) Nature Immunology. 9, 9, p. 1065-1073 Abstract
MICA and MICB are stress-induced ligands recognized by the activating receptor NKG2D. A microRNA encoded by human cytomegalovirus downregulates MICB expression by targeting a specific site in the MICB 3' untranslated region. As this site is conserved among different MICB alleles and a similar site exists in the MICA 3' untranslated region, we speculated that these sites are targeted by cellular microRNAs. Here we identified microRNAs that bound to these MICA and MICB 3' untranslated region sequences and obtained data suggesting that these microRNAs maintain expression of MICA and MICB protein under a certain threshold and facilitate acute upregulation of MICA and MICB during cellular stress. These microRNAs were overexpressed in various tumors and we demonstrate here that they aided tumor avoidance of immune recognition.
(2007) Science. 317, 5836, p. 376-381 Abstract
Virally encoded microRNAs (miRNAs) have recently been discovered in herpesviruses. However, their biological roles are mostly unknown. We developed an algorithm for the prediction of miRNA targets and applied it to human cytomegalovirus miRNAs, resulting in the identification of the major histocompatibility complex class I-related chain B (MICB) gene as a top candidate target of hcmv-miR-UL112. MICB is a stress-induced ligand of the natural killer (NK) cell activating receptor NKG2D and is critical for the NK cell killing of virus-infected cells and tumor cells. We show that hcmv-miR-UL112 specifically down-regulates MICB expression during viral infection, leading to decreased binding of NKG2D and reduced killing by NK cells. Our results reveal a miRNA-based immunoevasion mechanism that appears to be exploited by human cytomegalovirus.
Identification of novel snRNA-specific Sm proteins that bind selectively to U2 and U4 snRNAs in Trypanosoma brucei(2007) Rna-A Publication Of The Rna Society. 13, 1, p. 30-43 Abstract
In eukaryotes the seven Sm core proteins bind to U1, U2, U4, and U5 snRNAs. In Trypanosoma brucei, Sm proteins have been implicated in binding both spliced leader (SL) and U snRNAs. In this study, we examined the function of these Sm proteins using RNAi silencing and protein purification. RNAi silencing of each of the seven Sm genes resulted in accumulation of SL RNA as well as reduction of several U snRNAs. Interestingly, U2 was unaffected by the loss of SmB, and both U2 and U4 snRNAs were unaffected by the loss of SmD3, suggesting that these snRNAs are not bound by the heptameric Sm complex that binds to U1, U5, and SL RNA. RNAi silencing and protein purification showed that U2 and U4 snRNAs were bound by a unique set of Sm proteins that we termed SSm (specific spliceosomal Sm proteins). This is the first study that identifies specific core Sm proteins that bind only to a subset of spliceosomal snRNAs.
RNAi interference of XPO1 and Sm genes and their effect on the spliced leader RNA in Trypanosoma brucei(2006) Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology. 150, 2, p. 132-143 Abstract
In trypanosomes, trans-splicing is a major essential RNA-processing mechanism that involves the addition of a spliced leader sequence to all mRNAs from a small RNA species, known as the spliced leader RNA (SL RNA). SL RNA maturation is poorly understood and it is not clear where assembly with Sm proteins takes place. In this study, we followed the localization of the SL RNA during knockdown of Sm proteins and XPO1, which in metazoa functions in transport of mRNA and U snRNAs from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. We found that XPO1 has no role in SL RNA biogenesis in wild-type cells, or when the cells are depleted of Sm proteins. During Sm depletion, 'defective' SL RNA lacking cap modification at position +4 first accumulates in the nucleus, suggesting that Sm assembly on SL RNA most probably takes place in this compartment. Only after massive nuclear accumulation is the 'defective' SL RNA exported to the cytoplasm to form SL RNP-C, which may be a route to dispose of SL RNA when its normal biogenesis is blocked. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Silencing of Sm proteins in Trypanosoma brucei by RNA interference captured a novel cytoplasmic intermediate in spliced leader RNA biogenesis(2003) Journal of Biological Chemistry. 278, 51, p. 51469-51478 Abstract
In Trypanosoma brucei the small nuclear (sn) RNAs U1, U2, U4, and U5, as well as the spliced leader (SL) RNA, bind the seven Sm canonical proteins carrying the consensus Sm motif. To determine the function of these proteins in snRNA and SL RNA biogenesis, two of the Sm core proteins, SmE and SmD1, were silenced by RNAi. Surprisingly, whereas the level of all snRNAs, including U1, U2, U4, and U5 was reduced during silencing, the level of SL RNA was dramatically elevated, but the levels of U6 and spliced leader-associated RNA (SLA1) remained unchanged. The SL RNA that had accumulated in silenced cells lacked modification at the cap4 nucleotide but harbored modifications at the cap1 and cap2 nucleotides and carried the characteristic psi. This SL RNA possessed a longer tail and had accumulated in the cytoplasm in 10 and 50 S particles that were found by in situ hybridization to be present in "speckles." We propose a model for SL RNA biogenesis involving a cytoplasmic phase and suggest that the trypanosome-specific "cap4" nucleotides function as a signal for export and import of SL RNA out and into the nucleus. The SL RNA biogenesis pathway differs from that of U sn ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) in that it is the only RNA that binds Sm proteins that were stabilized under Sm depletion in a novel RNP, which we termed SL RNP-C.