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    Beibei Jiang, Tong Zhang, Minjuan Deng, Wei Jin, Yuan Hong, Xiaotong Chen, Xin Chen, Jing Wang, Hongjia Hou, Yajuan Gao, Wenfeng Gong, Xing Wang, Haiying Li, Xiaosui Zhou, Yingcai Feng, Bo Zhang, Bin Jiang, Xueping Lu, Lijie Zhang, Yang Li, Weiwei Song, Hanzi Sun, Zuobai Wang, Xiaomin Song, Zhirong Shen, Xuesong Liu, Kang Li, Lai Wang, Ye Liu

    OX40 is a costimulatory receptor that is expressed primarily on activated CD4+, CD8+, and regulatory T cells. The ligation of OX40 to its sole ligand OX40L potentiates T cell expansion, differentiation, and activation and also promotes dendritic cells to mature to enhance their cytokine production. Therefore, the use of agonistic anti-OX40 antibodies for cancer immunotherapy has gained great interest. However, most of the agonistic anti-OX40 antibodies in the clinic are OX40L-competitive and show limited efficacy. Here, we discovered that BGB-A445, a non-ligand-competitive agonistic anti-OX40 antibody currently under clinical investigation, induced optimal T cell activation without impairing dendritic cell function. In addition, BGB-A445 dose-dependently and significantly depleted regulatory T cells in vitro and in vivo via antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. In the MC38 syngeneic model established in humanized OX40 knock-in mice, BGB-A445 demonstrated robust and dose-dependent antitumor efficacy, whereas the ligand-competitive anti-OX40 antibody showed antitumor efficacy characterized by a hook effect. Furthermore, BGB-A445 demonstrated a strong combination antitumor effect with an anti-PD-1 antibody. Taken together, our findings show that BGB-A445, which does not block OX40–OX40L interaction in contrast to clinical-stage anti-OX40 antibodies, shows superior immune-stimulating effects and antitumor efficacy and thus warrants further clinical investigation.

    Guoqiang Li, Peng Pu, Mengqiao Pan, Xiaoling Weng, Shimei Qiu, Yiming Li, Sk Jahir Abbas, Lu Zou, Ke Liu, Zheng Wang, Ziyu Shao, Lin Jiang, Wenguang Wu, Yun Liu, Rong Shao, Fatao Liu, Yingbin Liu

    Altered three-dimensional architecture of chromatin influences various genomic regulators and subsequent gene expression in human cancer. However, knowledge of the topological rearrangement of genomic hierarchical layers in cancer is largely limited. Here, by taking advantage of in situ Hi-C, RNA-sequencing, and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq), we investigated structural reorganization and functional changes in chromosomal compartments, topologically associated domains (TADs), and CCCTC binding factor (CTCF)-mediated loops in gallbladder cancer (GBC) tissues and cell lines. We observed that the chromosomal compartment A/B switch was correlated with CTCF binding levels and gene expression changes. Increased inter-TAD interactions with weaker TAD boundaries were identified in cancer cell lines relative to normal controls. Furthermore, the chromatin short loops and cancer unique loops associated with chromatin remodeling and epithelial–mesenchymal transition activation were enriched in cancer compared with their control counterparts. Cancer-specific enhancer–promoter loops, which contain multiple transcription factor binding motifs, acted as a central element to regulate aberrant gene expression. Depletion of individual enhancers in each loop anchor that connects with promoters led to the inhibition of their corresponding gene expressions. Collectively, our data offer the landscape of hierarchical layers of cancer genome and functional alterations that contribute to the development of GBC.

    Xinyue Zhao, Haijun Ge, Wenshuai Xu, Chongsheng Cheng, Wangji Zhou, Yan Xu, Junping Fan, Yaping Liu, Xinlun Tian, Kai-Feng Xu, Xue Zhang

    Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is a highly heterogeneous recessive inherited disorder. FAP54, the homolog of CFAP54 in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, was previously demonstrated as the C1d projection of the central microtubule apparatus of flagella. A Cfap54 knockout mouse model was then reported to have PCD-relevant phenotypes. Through whole-exome sequencing, compound heterozygous variants c.2649_2657delinC (p. E883Dfs*47) and c.7312_7313insCGCAGGCTGAATTCTTGG (p. T2438delinsTQAEFLA) in a new suspected PCD-relevant gene, CFAP54, were identified in an individual with PCD. Two missense variants, c.4112A>C (p. E1371A) and c.6559C>T (p. P2187S), in CFAP54 were detected in another unrelated patient. In this study, a minigene assay was conducted on the frameshift mutation showing a reduction in mRNA expression. In addition, a CFAP54 in-frame variant knock-in mouse model was established, which recapitulated the typical symptoms of PCD, including hydrocephalus, infertility, and mucus accumulation in nasal sinuses. Correspondingly, two missense variants were deleterious, with a dramatic reduction in mRNA abundance from bronchial tissue and sperm. The identification of PCD-causing variants of CFAP54 in two unrelated patients with PCD for the first time provides strong supportive evidence that CFAP54 is a new PCD-causing gene. This study further helps expand the disease-associated gene spectrum and improve genetic testing for PCD diagnosis in the future.

    Zheng Jin, Qin Zhou, Jia-Nan Cheng, Qingzhu Jia, Bo Zhu

    The tumor immune microenvironment (TIME) is broadly composed of various immune cells, and its heterogeneity is characterized by both immune cells and stromal cells. During the course of tumor formation and progression and anti-tumor treatment, the composition of the TIME becomes heterogeneous. Such immunological heterogeneity is not only present between populations but also exists on temporal and spatial scales. Owing to the existence of TIME, clinical outcomes can differ when a similar treatment strategy is provided to patients. Therefore, a comprehensive assessment of TIME heterogeneity is essential for developing precise and effective therapies. Facilitated by advanced technologies, it is possible to understand the complexity and diversity of the TIME and its influence on therapy responses. In this review, we discuss the potential reasons for TIME heterogeneity and the current approaches used to explore it. We also summarize clinical intervention strategies based on associated mechanisms or targets to control immunological heterogeneity.

    Yarui Ma, Jingbo Gan, Yinlei Bai, Dandan Cao, Yuchen Jiao

    Minimal residual disease (MRD) is termed as the small numbers of remnant tumor cells in a subset of patients with tumors. Liquid biopsy is increasingly used for the detection of MRD, illustrating the potential of MRD detection to provide more accurate management for cancer patients. As new techniques and algorithms have enhanced the performance of MRD detection, the approach is becoming more widely and routinely used to predict the prognosis and monitor the relapse of cancer patients. In fact, MRD detection has been shown to achieve better performance than imaging methods. On this basis, rigorous investigation of MRD detection as an integral method for guiding clinical treatment has made important advances. This review summarizes the development of MRD biomarkers, techniques, and strategies for the detection of cancer, and emphasizes the application of MRD detection in solid tumors, particularly for the guidance of clinical treatment.

    Meiling Xia, Rui Yan, Wenjuan Wang, Meng Zhang, Zhigang Miao, Bo Wan, Xingshun Xu

    Brain development requires a delicate balance between self-renewal and differentiation in neural stem cells (NSC), which rely on the precise regulation of gene expression. Ten-eleven translocation 2 (TET2) modulates gene expression by the hydroxymethylation of 5-methylcytosine in DNA as an important epigenetic factor and participates in the neuronal differentiation. Yet, the regulation of TET2 in the process of neuronal differentiation remains unknown. Here, the protein level of TET2 was reduced by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway during NSC differentiation, in contrast to mRNA level. We identified that TET2 physically interacts with the core subunits of the glucose-induced degradation-deficient (GID) ubiquitin ligase complex, an evolutionarily conserved ubiquitin ligase complex and is ubiquitinated by itself. The protein levels of GID complex subunits increased reciprocally with TET2 level upon NSC differentiation. The silencing of the core subunits of the GID complex, including WDR26 and ARMC8, attenuated the ubiquitination and degradation of TET2, increased the global 5-hydroxymethylcytosine levels, and promoted the differentiation of the NSC. TET2 level increased in the brain of the Wdr26+/− mice. Our results illustrated that the GID complex negatively regulates TET2 protein stability, further modulates NSC differentiation, and represents a novel regulatory mechanism involved in brain development.

    Jie Shao, Wenjuan Wang, Baorui Tao, Zihao Cai, Haixia Li, Jinhong Chen

    Through bioinformatics predictions, we identified that GTF2I and FAT1 were downregulated in thyroid carcinoma (TC). Further, Pearson’s correlation coefficient revealed a positive correlation between GTF2I expression and FAT1 expression. Therefore, we selected them for this present study, where the effects of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell-derived EVs (BMSDs-EVs) enriched with GTF2I were evaluated on the epithelial–to–mesenchymal transition (EMT) and stemness maintenance in TC. The under-expression of GTF2I and FAT1 was validated in TC cell lines. Ectopically expressed GTF2I and FAT1 were found to augment malignant phenotypes of TC cells, EMT, and stemness maintenance. Mechanistic studies revealed that GTF2I bound to the promoter region of FAT1 and consequently upregulated its expression. MSC-EVs could shuttle GTF2I into TPC-1 cells, where GTF2I inhibited TC malignant phenotypes, EMT, and stemness maintenance by increasing the expression of FAT1 and facilitating the FAT1-mediated CDK4/FOXM1 downregulation. In vivo experiments confirmed that silencing of GTF2I accelerated tumor growth in nude mice. Taken together, our work suggests that GTF2I transferred by MSC-EVs confer antioncogenic effects through the FAT1/CDK4/FOXM1 axis and may be used as a promising biomarker for TC treatment.

    Chaoyue Xiao, Wei Xiong, Yiting Xu, Ji’an Zou, Yue Zeng, Junqi Liu, Yurong Peng, Chunhong Hu, Fang Wu

    Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have demonstrated unparalleled clinical responses and revolutionized the paradigm of tumor treatment, while substantial patients remain unresponsive or develop resistance to ICIs as a single agent, which is traceable to cellular metabolic dysfunction. Although dysregulated metabolism has long been adjudged as a hallmark of tumor, it is now increasingly accepted that metabolic reprogramming is not exclusive to tumor cells but is also characteristic of immunocytes. Correspondingly, people used to pay more attention to the effect of tumor cell metabolism on immunocytes, but in practice immunocytes interact intimately with their own metabolic function in a way that has never been realized before during their activation and differentiation, which opens up a whole new frontier called immunometabolism. The metabolic intervention for tumor-infiltrating immunocytes could offer fresh opportunities to break the resistance and ameliorate existing ICI immunotherapy, whose crux might be to ascertain synergistic combinations of metabolic intervention with ICIs to reap synergic benefits and facilitate an adjusted anti-tumor immune response. Herein, we elaborate potential mechanisms underlying immunotherapy resistance from a novel dimension of metabolic reprogramming in diverse tumor-infiltrating immunocytes, and related metabolic intervention in the hope of offering a reference for targeting metabolic vulnerabilities to circumvent immunotherapeutic resistance.

    Dawei Xie, Zheng Wang, Beibei Sun, Liwei Qu, Musheng Zeng, Lin Feng, Mingzhou Guo, Guizhen Wang, Jihui Hao, Guangbiao Zhou

    The characteristic genetic abnormality of neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs), a heterogeneous group of tumors found in various organs, remains to be identified. Here, based on the analysis of the splicing variants of an oncogene Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) in The Cancer Genome Atlas datasets that contain 9193 patients of 33 cancer subtypes, we found that Box 6/Box 7-containing FAK variants (FAK6/7) were observed in 7 (87.5%) of 8 pancreatic neuroendocrine carcinomas and 20 (11.76%) of 170 pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDACs). We tested FAK variants in 157 tumor samples collected from Chinese patients with pancreatic tumors, and found that FAK6/7 was positive in 34 (75.6%) of 45 pancreatic NENs, 19 (47.5%) of 40 pancreatic solid pseudopapillary neoplasms, and 2 (2.9%) of 69 PDACs. We further tested FAK splicing variants in breast neuroendocrine carcinoma (BrNECs), and found that FAK6/7 was positive in 14 (93.3%) of 15 BrNECs but 0 in 23 non-NEC breast cancers. We explored the underlying mechanisms and found that a splicing factor serine/arginine repetitive matrix protein 4 (SRRM4) was overexpressed in FAK6/7-positive pancreatic tumors and breast tumors, which promoted the formation of FAK6/7 in cells. These results suggested that FAK6/7 could be a biomarker of NENs and represent a potential therapeutic target for these orphan diseases.

    Miyesaier Abudureyimu, Mingjie Yang, Xiang Wang, Xuanming Luo, Junbo Ge, Hu Peng, Yingmei Zhang, Jun Ren

    Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) displays normal or near-normal left ventricular ejection fraction, diastolic dysfunction, cardiac hypertrophy, and poor exercise capacity. Berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid, possesses cardiovascular benefits. Adult male mice were assigned to chow or high-fat diet with L-NAME (“two-hit” model) for 15 weeks. Diastolic function was assessed using echocardiography and non-invasive Doppler technique. Myocardial morphology, mitochondrial ultrastructure, and cardiomyocyte mechanical properties were evaluated. Proteomics analysis, autophagic flux, and intracellular Ca2+ were also assessed in chow and HFpEF mice. The results show exercise intolerance and cardiac diastolic dysfunction in “two-hit”-induced HFpEF model, in which unfavorable geometric changes such as increased cell size, interstitial fibrosis, and mitochondrial swelling occurred in the myocardium. Diastolic dysfunction was indicated by the elevated E value, mitral E/A ratio, and E/e’ ratio, decreased e’ value and maximal velocity of re-lengthening (–dL/dt), and prolonged re-lengthening in HFpEF mice. The effects of these processes were alleviated by berberine. Moreover, berberine ameliorated autophagic flux, alleviated Drp1 mitochondrial localization, mitochondrial Ca2+ overload and fragmentation, and promoted intracellular Ca2+ reuptake into sarcoplasmic reticulum by regulating phospholamban and SERCA2a. Finally, berberine alleviated diastolic dysfunction in “two-hit” diet-induced HFpEF model possibly because of the promotion of autophagic flux, inhibition of mitochondrial fragmentation, and cytosolic Ca2+ overload.