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  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Gang Lu, Yun Ling, Minghao Jiang, Yun Tan, Dong Wei, Lu Jiang, Shuting Yu, Fangying Jiang, Shuai Wang, Yao Dai, Jinzeng Wang, Geng Wu, Xinxin Zhang, Guoyu Meng, Shengyue Wang, Feng Liu, Xiaohong Fan, Saijuan Chen
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(4): 758-767. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0981-7

    With the recent ongoing autumn/winter 2022 COVID-19 wave and the adjustment of public health control measures, there have been widespread SARS-CoV-2 infections in Chinese mainland. Here we have analyzed 369 viral genomes from recently diagnosed COVID-19 patients in Shanghai, identifying a large number of sublineages of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron family. Phylogenetic analysis, coupled with contact history tracing, revealed simultaneous community transmission of two Omicron sublineages dominating the infections in some areas of China (BA.5.2 mainly in Guangzhou and Shanghai, and BF.7 mainly in Beijing) and two highly infectious sublineages recently imported from abroad (XBB and BQ.1). Publicly available data from August 31 to November 29, 2022 indicated an overall severe/critical case rate of 0.035% nationwide, while analysis of 5706 symptomatic patients treated at the Shanghai Public Health Center between September 1 and December 26, 2022 showed that 20 cases (0.35%) without comorbidities progressed into severe/critical conditions and 153 cases (2.68%) with COVID-19-exacerbated comorbidities progressed into severe/critical conditions. These observations shall alert healthcare providers to place more resources for the treatment of severe/critical cases. Furthermore, mathematical modeling predicts this autumn/winter wave might pass through major cities in China by the end of the year, whereas some middle and western provinces and rural areas would be hit by the upcoming infection wave in mid-to-late January 2023, and the duration and magnitude of upcoming outbreak could be dramatically enhanced by the extensive travels during the Spring Festival (January 21, 2023). Altogether, these preliminary data highlight the needs to allocate resources to early diagnosis and effective treatment of severe cases and the protection of vulnerable population, especially in the rural areas, to ensure the country’s smooth exit from the ongoing pandemic and accelerate socio-economic recovery.

  • REVIEW
    Xue Wang, Ye Zhou, Junxia Min, Fudi Wang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(2): 173-206. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-023-0992-z

    Ferroptosis is defined as an iron-dependent regulated form of cell death driven by lipid peroxidation. In the past decade, it has been implicated in the pathogenesis of various diseases that together involve almost every organ of the body, including various cancers, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases, liver diseases, kidney diseases, endocrine metabolic diseases, iron-overload-related diseases, orthopedic diseases and autoimmune diseases. Understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms of ferroptosis and its regulatory pathways could provide additional strategies for the management of these disease conditions. Indeed, there are an expanding number of studies suggesting that ferroptosis serves as a bona-fide target for the prevention and treatment of these diseases in relevant pre-clinical models. In this review, we summarize the progress in the research into ferroptosis and its regulatory mechanisms in human disease, while providing evidence in support of ferroptosis as a target for the treatment of these diseases. We also discuss our perspectives on the future directions in the targeting of ferroptosis in human disease.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Ziyu Fu, Dongguo Liang, Wei Zhang, Dongling Shi, Yuhua Ma, Dong Wei, Junxiang Xi, Sizhe Yang, Xiaoguang Xu, Di Tian, Zhaoqing Zhu, Mingquan Guo, Lu Jiang, Shuting Yu, Shuai Wang, Fangyin Jiang, Yun Ling, Shengyue Wang, Saijuan Chen, Feng Liu, Yun Tan, Xiaohong Fan
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(3): 562-575. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0977-3

    The Omicron family of SARS-CoV-2 variants are currently driving the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we analyzed the clinical laboratory test results of 9911 Omicron BA.2.2 sublineages-infected symptomatic patients without earlier infection histories during a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in Shanghai in spring 2022. Compared to an earlier patient cohort infected by SARS-CoV-2 prototype strains in 2020, BA.2.2 infection led to distinct fluctuations of pathophysiological markers in the peripheral blood. In particular, severe/critical cases of COVID-19 post BA.2.2 infection were associated with less pro-inflammatory macrophage activation and stronger interferon alpha response in the bronchoalveolar microenvironment. Importantly, the abnormal biomarkers were significantly subdued in individuals who had been immunized by 2 or 3 doses of SARS-CoV-2 prototype-inactivated vaccines, supporting the estimation of an overall 96.02% of protection rate against severe/critical disease in the 4854 cases in our BA.2.2 patient cohort with traceable vaccination records. Furthermore, even though age was a critical risk factor of the severity of COVID-19 post BA.2.2 infection, vaccination-elicited protection against severe/critical COVID-19 reached 90.15% in patients aged ≥ 60 years old. Together, our study delineates the pathophysiological features of Omicron BA.2.2 sublineages and demonstrates significant protection conferred by prior prototype-based inactivated vaccines.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Dan Liu, Chunhui Xu, Yanting Liu, Wen Ouyang, Shaojian Lin, Aining Xu, Yuanliang Zhang, Yinyin Xie, Qiuhua Huang, Weili Zhao, Zhu Chen, Lan Wang, Saijuan Chen, Jinyan Huang, Zhe Bao Wu, Xiaojian Sun
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(3): 458-475. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0968-4

    The Ly-6 and uPAR (LU) domain-containing proteins represent a large family of cell-surface markers. In particular, mouse Ly-6A/Sca-1 is a widely used marker for various stem cells; however, its human ortholog is missing. In this study, based on a systematic survey and comparative genomic study of mouse and human LU domain-containing proteins, we identified a previously unannotated human gene encoding the candidate ortholog of mouse Ly-6A/Sca-1. This gene, hereby named LY6A, reversely overlaps with a lncRNA gene in the majority of exonic sequences. We found that LY6A is aberrantly expressed in pituitary tumors, but not in normal pituitary tissues, and may contribute to tumorigenesis. Similar to mouse Ly-6A/Sca-1, human LY6A is also upregulated by interferon, suggesting a conserved transcriptional regulatory mechanism between humans and mice. We cloned the full-length LY6A cDNA, whose encoded protein sequence, domain architecture, and exon‒intron structures are all well conserved with mouse Ly-6A/Sca-1. Ectopic expression of the LY6A protein in cells demonstrates that it acts the same as mouse Ly-6A/Sca-1 in their processing and glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchoring to the cell membrane. Collectively, these studies unveil a novel human gene encoding a candidate biomarker and provide an interesting model gene for studying gene regulatory and evolutionary mechanisms.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Mengmeng Yin, Hongsheng Wang, Xianmin Guan, Ju Gao, Minghua Yang, Ningling Wang, Tianfeng Liu, Jingyan Tang, Alex WK Leung, Fen Zhou, Xuedong Wu, Jie Huang, Hong Li, Shaoyan Hu, Xin Tian, Hua Jiang, Jiaoyang Cai, Xiaowen Zhai, Shuhong Shen, Qun Hu
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(3): 518-526. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0958-6

    Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a complication in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The Chinese Children’s Cancer Group-ALL-2015 protocol was carried out in China, and epidemiology, clinical characteristics, and risk factors associated with VTE were analyzed. We collected data on VTE in a multi-institutional clinical study of 7640 patients with ALL diagnosed in 20 hospitals from January 2015 to December 2019. First, VTE occurred in 159 (2.08%) patients, including 90 (56.6%) during induction therapy and 108 (67.92%) in the upper extremities. T-ALL had a 1.74-fold increased risk of VTE (95% CI 1.08–2.8, P = 0.022). Septicemia, as an adverse event of ALL treatment, can significantly promote the occurrence of VTE (P < 0.001). Catheter-related thrombosis (CRT) accounted for 75.47% (n = 120); and, symptomatic VTE, 58.49% (n = 93), which was more common in patients aged 12–18 years (P = 0.023), non-CRT patients (P < 0.001), or patients with cerebral thrombosis (P < 0.001). Of the patients with VTE treated with anticoagulation therapy (n = 147), 4.08% (n = 6) had bleeding. The VTE recurrence rate was 5.03% (n = 8). Patients with VTE treated by non-ultrasound-guided venous cannulation (P = 0.02), with residual thrombus (P = 0.006), or with short anticoagulation period (P = 0.026) had high recurrence rates. Thus, preventing repeated venous puncture and appropriately prolonged anticoagulation time can reduce the risk of VTE recurrence.

  • PERSPECTIVE
    Min Yan, Quentin Liu
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(4): 796-803. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0975-5
  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Miaomiao Zhu, Huamin Liang, Zhe Zhang, Hao Jiang, Jingwen Pu, Xiaoyi Hang, Qian Zhou, Jiacheng Xiang, Ximiao He
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(5): 939-956. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-023-0987-9

    A small proportion of mononuclear diploid cardiomyocytes (MNDCMs), with regeneration potential, could persist in adult mammalian heart. However, the heterogeneity of MNDCMs and changes during development remains to be illuminated. To this end, 12 645 cardiac cells were generated from embryonic day 17.5 and postnatal days 2 and 8 mice by single-cell RNA sequencing. Three cardiac developmental paths were identified: two switching to cardiomyocytes (CM) maturation with close CM–fibroblast (FB) communications and one maintaining MNDCM status with least CM–FB communications. Proliferative MNDCMs having interactions with macrophages and non-proliferative MNDCMs (non-pMNDCMs) with minimal cell–cell communications were identified in the third path. The non-pMNDCMs possessed distinct properties: the lowest mitochondrial metabolisms, the highest glycolysis, and high expression of Myl4 and Tnni1. Single-nucleus RNA sequencing and immunohistochemical staining further proved that the Myl4+Tnni1+ MNDCMs persisted in embryonic and adult hearts. These MNDCMs were mapped to the heart by integrating the spatial and single-cell transcriptomic data. In conclusion, a novel non-pMNDCM subpopulation with minimal cell–cell communications was unveiled, highlighting the importance of microenvironment contribution to CM fate during maturation. These findings could improve the understanding of MNDCM heterogeneity and cardiac development, thus providing new clues for approaches to effective cardiac regeneration.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Hequn Huang, Mengyun Chen, Xia Liu, Xixi Xiong, Lanbo Zhou, Zhonglan Su, Yan Lu, Bo Liang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(2): 330-338. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0933-2

    Clouston syndrome (OMIM #129500), also known as hidrotic ectodermal dysplasia type 2, is a rare autosomal dominant skin disorder. To date, four mutations in the GJB6 gene, G11R, V37E, A88V, and D50N, have been confirmed to cause this condition. In previous studies, the focus has been mainly on gene sequencing, and there has been a lack of research on clinical manifestations and pathogenesis. To confirm the diagnosis of this pedigree at the molecular level and summarize and analyse the clinical phenotype of patients and to provide a basis for further study of the pathogenesis of the disease, we performed whole-exome and Sanger sequencing on a large Chinese Clouston syndrome pedigree. Detailed clinical examination included histopathology, hair microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. We found a novel heterozygous missense variant (c.134G>C:p.G45A) for Clouston syndrome. We identified a new clinical phenotype involving all nail needling pain in all patients and found a special honeycomb hole structure in the patients’ hair under scanning electron microscopy. Our data reveal that a novel variant (c.134G>C:p.G45A) plays a likely pathogenic role in this pedigree and highlight that genetic testing is necessary for the diagnosis of Clouston syndrome.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Dawei Xie, Zheng Wang, Beibei Sun, Liwei Qu, Musheng Zeng, Lin Feng, Mingzhou Guo, Guizhen Wang, Jihui Hao, Guangbiao Zhou
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(5): 907-923. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-023-1009-7

    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.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Wenle Ye, Jinghan Wang, Jiansong Huang, Xiao He, Zhixin Ma, Xia Li, Xin Huang, Fenglin Li, Shujuan Huang, Jiajia Pan, Jingrui Jin, Qing Ling, Yungui Wang, Yongping Yu, Jie Sun, Jie Jin
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(4): 685-698. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0942-1

    Acyl-CoA synthetase long chain family member 5 (ACSL5), is a member of the acyl-CoA synthetases (ACSs) family that activates long chain fatty acids by catalyzing the synthesis of fatty acyl-CoAs. The dysregulation of ACSL5 has been reported in some cancers, such as glioma and colon cancers. However, little is known about the role of ACSL5 in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We found that the expression of ACSL5 was higher in bone marrow cells from AML patients compared with that from healthy donors. ACSL5 level could serve as an independent prognostic predictor of the overall survival of AML patients. In AML cells, the ACSL5 knockdown inhibited cell growth both in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, the knockdown of ACSL5 suppressed the activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway by suppressing the palmitoylation modification of Wnt3a. Additionally, triacsin c, a pan-ACS family inhibitor, inhibited cell growth and robustly induced cell apoptosis when combined with ABT-199, the FDA approved BCL-2 inhibitor for AML therapy. Our results indicate that ACSL5 is a potential prognosis marker for AML and a promising pharmacological target for the treatment of molecularly stratified AML.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Tianzhuo Wang, Huiying Guo, Lei Zhang, Miao Yu, Qianchen Li, Jing Zhang, Yan Tang, Hongquan Zhang, Jun Zhan
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(4): 714-728. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0959-5

    FRMD6, a member of the 4.1 ezrin–radixin–moesin domain-containing protein family, has been reported to inhibit tumor progression in multiple cancers. Here, we demonstrate the involvement of FRMD6 in lung cancer progression. We find that FRMD6 is overexpressed in lung cancer tissues relative to in normal lung tissues. In addition, the enhanced expression of FRMD6 is associated with poor outcomes in patients with lung squamous cell carcinoma (n = 75, P = 0.0054) and lung adenocarcinoma (n = 94, P = 0.0330). Cell migration and proliferation in vitro and tumor formation in vivo are promoted by FRMD6 but are suppressed by the depletion of FRMD6. Mechanistically, FRMD6 interacts and colocalizes with mTOR and S6K, which are the key molecules of the mTOR signaling pathway. FRMD6 markedly enhances the interaction between mTOR and S6K, subsequently increasing the levels of endogenous pS6K and downstream pS6 in lung cancer cells. Furthermore, knocking out FRMD6 inhibits the activation of the mTOR signaling pathway in Frmd6−/− gene KO MEFs and mice. Altogether, our results show that FRMD6 contributes to lung cancer progression by activating the mTOR signaling pathway.

  • REVIEW
    Yanhui Liang, Fangbing Chen, Kepin Wang, Liangxue Lai
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(3): 359-387. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-023-1013-y

    Base editor (BE) is a gene-editing tool developed by combining the CRISPR/Cas system with an individual deaminase, enabling precise single-base substitution in DNA or RNA without generating a DNA double-strand break (DSB) or requiring donor DNA templates in living cells. Base editors offer more precise and secure genome-editing effects than other conventional artificial nuclease systems, such as CRISPR/Cas9, as the DSB induced by Cas9 will cause severe damage to the genome. Thus, base editors have important applications in the field of biomedicine, including gene function investigation, directed protein evolution, genetic lineage tracing, disease modeling, and gene therapy. Since the development of the two main base editors, cytosine base editors (CBEs) and adenine base editors (ABEs), scientists have developed more than 100 optimized base editors with improved editing efficiency, precision, specificity, targeting scope, and capacity to be delivered in vivo, greatly enhancing their application potential in biomedicine. Here, we review the recent development of base editors, summarize their applications in the biomedical field, and discuss future perspectives and challenges for therapeutic applications.

  • COMMENT
    Pian Yu, Xiang Chen, Cong Peng
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(3): 581-583. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0971-9
  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Yu Han, Yu Zhang, Kelan Yuan, Yaying Wu, Xiuming Jin, Xiaodan Huang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(4): 781-795. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-023-0986-x

    Tear film hyperosmolarity plays a core role in the development of dry eye disease (DED) by mediating the disruption of ocular surface homeostasis and triggering inflammation in ocular surface epithelium. In this study, the mechanisms involving the hyperosmolar microenvironment, glycolysis mediating metabolic reprogramming, and pyroptosis were explored clinically, in vitro, and in vivo. Data from DED clinical samples indicated that the expression of glycolysis and pyroptosis-related genes, including PKM2 and GSDMD, was significantly upregulated and that the secretion of IL-1β significantly increased. In vitro, the indirect coculture of macrophages derived from THP-1 and human corneal epithelial cells (HCECs) was used to discuss the interaction among cells. The hyperosmolar environment was found to greatly induce HCECs’ metabolic reprogramming, which may be the primary cause of the subsequent inflammation in macrophages upon the activation of the related gene and protein expression. 2-Deoxy-d-glucose (2-DG) could inhibit the glycolysis of HCECs and subsequently suppress the pyroptosis of macrophages. In vivo, 2-DG showed potential efficacy in relieving DED activity and could significantly reduce the overexpression of genes and proteins related to glycolysis and pyroptosis. In summary, our findings suggested that hyperosmolar-induced glycolytic reprogramming played an active role in promoting DED inflammation by mediating pyroptosis.

  • REVIEW
    Chaoyue Xiao, Wei Xiong, Yiting Xu, Ji’an Zou, Yue Zeng, Junqi Liu, Yurong Peng, Chunhong Hu, Fang Wu
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(4): 585-616. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-023-1012-z

    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.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Chong Li, Xinyi Li, Ke He, Yang Wu, Xiaoming Xie, Jiju Yang, Fan Zhang, Yang Yue, Huifeng Hao, Shaokun Zhao, Xin Li, Guihua Tian
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(5): 993-1005. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-023-0989-7

    Migraine is one of the most prevalent and disabling neurological disease, but the current pharmacotherapies show limited efficacy and often accompanied by adverse effects. Acupuncture is a promising complementary therapy, but further clinical evidence is needed. The influence of acupuncture on migraine is not an immediate effect, and its mechanism remains unclear. This study aims to provide further clinical evidence for the anti-migraine effects of acupuncture and explore the mechanism involved. A randomized controlled trial was performed among 10 normal controls and 38 migraineurs. The migraineurs were divided into blank control, sham acupuncture, and acupuncture groups. Patients were subjected to two courses of treatment, and each treatment lasted for 5 days, with an interval of 1 day between the two courses. The effectiveness of treatment was evaluated using pain questionnaire. The functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were analyzed for investigating brain changes induced by treatments. Blood plasma was collected for metabolomics and proteomics studies. Correlation and mediation analyses were performed to investigate the interaction between clinical, fMRI and omics changes. Results showed that acupuncture effectively relieved migraine symptoms in a way different from sham acupuncture in terms of curative effect, affected brain regions, and signaling pathways. The anti-migraine mechanism involves a complex network related to the regulation of the response to hypoxic stress, reversal of brain energy imbalance, and regulation of inflammation. The brain regions of migraineurs affected by acupuncture include the lingual gyrus, default mode network, and cerebellum. The effect of acupuncture on patients’ metabolites/proteins may precede that of the brain.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Wei Rao, Yutao Liu, Yan Li, Lei Guo, Tian Qiu, Lin Dong, Jianming Ying, Weihua Li
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(3): 493-502. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0946-x

    Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) is the most common fusion gene involved in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and remarkable response has been achieved with the use of ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors (ALK-TKIs). However, the clinical efficacy is highly variable. Pre-existing intratumoral heterogeneity (ITH) has been proven to contribute to the poor treatment response and the resistance to targeted therapies. In this work, we investigated whether the variant allele frequencies (VAFs) of ALK fusions can help assess ITH and predict targeted therapy efficacy. Through the application of next-generation sequencing (NGS), 7.2% (326/4548) of patients were detected to be ALK positive. On the basis of the adjusted VAF (adjVAF, VAF normalization for tumor purity) of four different threshold values (adjVAF < 50%, 40%, 30%, or 20%), the association of ALK subclonality with crizotinib efficacy was assessed. Nonetheless, no statistical association was observed between median progression-free survival (PFS) and ALK subclonality assessed by adjVAF, and a poor correlation of adjVAF with PFS was found among the 85 patients who received first-line crizotinib. Results suggest that the ALK VAF determined by hybrid capture-based NGS is probably unreliable for ITH assessment and targeted therapy efficacy prediction in NSCLC.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Yanhong Xu, Xiaotong Ye, Yang Zhou, Xinyu Cao, Shiqiao Peng, Yue Peng, Xiaoying Zhang, Yili Sun, Haowen Jiang, Wenying Huang, Hongkai Lian, Jiajun Yang, Jia Li, Jianping Ye
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(2): 339-351. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0943-0

    Ketone bodies have beneficial metabolic activities, and the induction of plasma ketone bodies is a health promotion strategy. Dietary supplementation of sodium butyrate (SB) is an effective approach in the induction of plasma ketone bodies. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms are unknown. In this study, SB was found to enhance the catalytic activity of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA synthase 2 (HMGCS2), a rate-limiting enzyme in ketogenesis, to promote ketone body production in hepatocytes. SB administrated by gavage or intraperitoneal injection significantly induced blood β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) in mice. BHB production was induced in the primary hepatocytes by SB. Protein succinylation was altered by SB in the liver tissues with down-regulation in 58 proteins and up-regulation in 26 proteins in the proteomics analysis. However, the alteration was mostly observed in mitochondrial proteins with 41% down- and 65% up-regulation, respectively. Succinylation status of HMGCS2 protein was altered by a reduction at two sites (K221 and K358) without a change in the protein level. The SB effect was significantly reduced by a SIRT5 inhibitor and in Sirt5-KO mice. The data suggests that SB activated HMGCS2 through SIRT5-mediated desuccinylation for ketone body production by the liver. The effect was not associated with an elevation in NAD+/NADH ratio according to our metabolomics analysis. The data provide a novel molecular mechanism for SB activity in the induction of ketone body production.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Susi Zhu, Xu Zhang, Yeye Guo, Ling Tang, Zhe Zhou, Xiang Chen, Cong Peng
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(2): 263-274. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0935-0

    Melanoma is the most aggressive cutaneous tumor. Neuropilin and tolloid-like 2 (NETO2) is closely related to tumorigenesis. However, the functional significance of NETO2 in melanoma progression remains unclear. Herein, we found that NETO2 expression was augmented in melanoma clinical tissues and associated with poor prognosis in melanoma patients. Disrupting NETO2 expression markedly inhibited melanoma proliferation, malignant growth, migration, and invasion by downregulating the levels of calcium ions (Ca2+) and the expression of key genes involved in the calcium signaling pathway. By contrast, NETO2 overexpression had the opposite effects. Importantly, pharmacological inhibition of CaMKII/CREB activity with the CaMKII inhibitor KN93 suppressed NETO2-induced proliferation and melanoma metastasis. Overall, this study uncovered the crucial role of NETO2-mediated regulation in melanoma progression, indicating that targeting NETO2 may effectively improve melanoma treatment.

  • REVIEW
    Xueqing Hu, Ujjwol Khatri, Tao Shen, Jie Wu
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(2): 207-219. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-023-0985-y

    The rearranged during transfection (RET) is a receptor protein tyrosine kinase. Oncogenic RET fusions or mutations are found most often in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and in thyroid cancer, but also increasingly in various types of cancers at low rates. In the last few years, two potent and selective RET protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), pralsetinib (BLU-667) and selpercatinib (LOXO-292, LY3527723) were developed and received regulatory approval. Although pralsetinib and selpercatinib gave high overall response rates (ORRs), < 10% of patients achieved a complete response (CR). The RET TKI-tolerated residual tumors inevitably develop resistance by secondary target mutations, acquired alternative oncogenes, or MET amplification. RET G810 mutations located at the kinase solvent front site were identified as the major on-target mechanism of acquired resistance to both selpercatinib and pralsetinib. Several next-generation of RET TKIs capable of inhibiting the selpercatinib/pralsetinib-resistant RET mutants have progressed to clinical trials. However, it is likely that new TKI-adapted RET mutations will emerge to cause resistance to these next-generation of RET TKIs. Solving the problem requires a better understanding of the multiple mechanisms that support the RET TKI-tolerated persisters to identify a converging point of vulnerability to devise an effective co-treatment to eliminate the residual tumors.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Mingyue Tan, Qi Pan, Qi Wu, Jianfa Li, Jun Wang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(3): 503-517. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0947-9

    Aldolase B (ALDOB), a glycolytic enzyme, is uniformly depleted in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) tissues. We previously showed that ALDOB inhibited proliferation through a mechanism independent of its enzymatic activity in ccRCC, but the mechanism was not unequivocally identified. We showed that the corepressor C-terminal-binding protein 2 (CtBP2) is a novel ALDOB-interacting protein in ccRCC. The CtBP2-to-ALDOB expression ratio in clinical samples was correlated with the expression of CtBP2 target genes and was associated with shorter survival. ALDOB inhibited CtBP2-mediated repression of multiple cell cycle inhibitor, proapoptotic, and epithelial marker genes. Furthermore, ALDOB overexpression decreased the proliferation and migration of ccRCC cells in an ALDOB-CtBP2 interaction-dependent manner. Mechanistically, our findings showed that ALDOB recruited acireductone dioxygenase 1, which catalyzes the synthesis of an endogenous inhibitor of CtBP2, 4-methylthio 2-oxobutyric acid. ALDOB functions as a scaffold to bring acireductone dioxygenase and CtBP2 in close proximity to potentiate acireductone dioxygenase-mediated inhibition of CtBP2, and this scaffolding effect was independent of ALDOB enzymatic activity. Moreover, increased ALDOB expression inhibited tumor growth in a xenograft model and decreased lung metastasis in vivo. Our findings reveal that ALDOB is a negative regulator of CtBP2 and inhibits tumor growth and metastasis in ccRCC.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Yuhua Fan, Yue Zhang, Hongrui Zhao, Wenfeng Liu, Wanqing Xu, Lintong Jiang, Ranchen Xu, Yue Zheng, Xueqing Tang, Xiaohan Li, Limin Zhao, Xin Liu, Yang Hong, Yuan Lin, Hui Chen, Yong Zhang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(2): 317-329. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0931-4

    Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) play a critical role in the regulation of atherosclerosis. Here, we investigated the role of the lncRNA growth arrest-specific 5 (lncR-GAS5) in atherogenesis. We found that the enforced expression of lncR-GAS5 contributed to the development of atherosclerosis, which presented as increased plaque size and reduced collagen content. Moreover, impaired autophagy was observed, as shown by a decreased LC3II/LC3I protein ratio and an elevated P62 level in lncR-GAS5-overexpressing human aortic endothelial cells. By contrast, lncR-GAS5 knockdown promoted autophagy. Moreover, serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 10 (SRSF10) knockdown increased the LC3II/LC3I ratio and decreased the P62 level, thus enhancing the formation of autophagic vacuoles, autolysosomes, and autophagosomes. Mechanistically, lncR-GAS5 regulated the downstream splicing factor SRSF10 to impair autophagy in the endothelium, which was reversed by the knockdown of SRSF10. Further results revealed that overexpression of the lncR-GAS5-targeted gene miR-193-5p promoted autophagy and autophagic vacuole accumulation by repressing its direct target gene, SRSF10. Notably, miR-193-5p overexpression decreased plaque size and increased collagen content. Altogether, these findings demonstrate that lncR-GAS5 partially contributes to atherogenesis and plaque instability by impairing endothelial autophagy. In conclusion, lncR-GAS5 overexpression arrested endothelial autophagy through the miR-193-5p/SRSF10 signaling pathway. Thus, miR-193-5p/SRSF10 may serve as a novel treatment target for atherosclerosis.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Miyesaier Abudureyimu, Mingjie Yang, Xiang Wang, Xuanming Luo, Junbo Ge, Hu Peng, Yingmei Zhang, Jun Ren
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(6): 1219-1235. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-023-0983-0

    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.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Jing Feng, Zheng Zhao, Yanfei Wei, Zhaoshi Bao, Wei Zhang, Fan Wu, Guanzhang Li, Zhiyan Sun, Yanli Tan, Jiuyi Li, Yunqiu Zhang, Zejun Duan, Xueling Qi, Kai Yu, Zhengmin Cong, Junjie Yang, Yaxin Wang, Yingyu Sun, Fuchou Tang, Xiaodong Su, Chuan Fang, Tao Jiang, Xiaolong Fan
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(2): 240-262. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0936-z

    Detailed characterizations of genomic alterations have not identified subtype-specific vulnerabilities in adult gliomas. Mapping gliomas into developmental programs may uncover new vulnerabilities that are not strictly related to genomic alterations. After identifying conserved gene modules co-expressed with EGFR or PDGFRA (EM or PM), we recently proposed an EM/PM classification scheme for adult gliomas in a histological subtype- and grade-independent manner. By using cohorts of bulk samples, paired primary and recurrent samples, multi-region samples from the same glioma, single-cell RNA-seq samples, and clinical samples, we here demonstrate the temporal and spatial stability of the EM and PM subtypes. The EM and PM subtypes, which progress in a subtype-specific mode, are robustly maintained in paired longitudinal samples. Elevated activities of cell proliferation, genomic instability and microenvironment, rather than subtype switching, mark recurrent gliomas. Within individual gliomas, the EM/PM subtype was preserved across regions and single cells. Malignant cells in the EM and PM gliomas were correlated to neural stem cell and oligodendrocyte progenitor cell compartment, respectively. Thus, while genetic makeup may change during progression and/or within different tumor areas, adult gliomas evolve within a neurodevelopmental framework of the EM and PM molecular subtypes. The dysregulated developmental pathways embedded in these molecular subtypes may contain subtype-specific vulnerabilities.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Pengfei Li, Zexuan Chen, Shanshan You, Yintai Xu, Zhifang Hao, Didi Liu, Jiechen Shen, Bojing Zhu, Wei Dan, Shisheng Sun
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(2): 304-316. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0964-8

    The structure of N-glycans on specific proteins can regulate innate and adaptive immunity via sensing environmental signals. Meanwhile, the structural diversity of N-glycans poses analytical challenges that limit the exploration of specific glycosylation functions. In this work, we used THP-1-derived macrophages as examples to show the vast potential of a N-glycan structural interpretation tool StrucGP in N-glycoproteomic analysis. The intact glycopeptides of macrophages were enriched and analyzed using mass spectrometry (MS)-based glycoproteomic approaches, followed by the large-scale mapping of site-specific glycan structures via StrucGP. Results revealed that bisected GlcNAc, core fucosylated, and sialylated glycans (e.g., HexNAc4Hex5Fuc1Neu5Ac1, N4H5F1S1) were increased in M1 and M2 macrophages, especially in the latter. The findings indicated that these structures may be closely related to macrophage polarization. In addition, a high level of glycosylated PD-L1 was observed in M1 macrophages, and the LacNAc moiety was detected at Asn-192 and Asn-200 of PD-L1, and Asn-200 contained Lewis epitopes. The precision structural interpretation of site-specific glycans and subsequent intervention of target glycoproteins and related glycosyltransferases are of great value for the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for different diseases.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Hao Wang, Yu Yuan, Bihao Wu, Mingzhong Xiao, Zhen Wang, Tingyue Diao, Rui Zeng, Li Chen, Yanshou Lei, Pinpin Long, Yi Guo, Xuefeng Lai, Yuying Wen, Wenhui Li, Hao Cai, Lulu Song, Wei Ni, Youyun Zhao, Kani Ouyang, Jingzhi Wang, Qi Wang, Li Liu, Chaolong Wang, An Pan, Xiaodong Li, Rui Gong, Tangchun Wu
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(4): 747-757. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0954-x

    Emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants have made COVID-19 convalescents susceptible to re-infection and have raised concern about the efficacy of inactivated vaccination in neutralization against emerging variants and antigen-specific B cell response. To this end, a study on a long-term cohort of 208 participants who have recovered from COVID-19 was conducted, and the participants were followed up at 3.3 (Visit 1), 9.2 (Visit 2), and 18.5 (Visit 3) months after SARS-CoV-2 infection. They were classified into three groups (no-vaccination (n = 54), one-dose (n = 62), and two-dose (n = 92) groups) on the basis of the administration of inactivated vaccination. The neutralizing antibody (NAb) titers against the wild-type virus continued to decrease in the no-vaccination group, but they rose significantly in the one-dose and two-dose groups, with the highest NAb titers being observed in the two-dose group at Visit 3. The NAb titers against the Delta variant for the no-vaccination, one-dose, and two-dose groups decreased by 3.3, 1.9, and 2.3 folds relative to the wild-type virus, respectively, and those against the Omicron variant decreased by 7.0, 4.0, and 3.8 folds, respectively. Similarly, the responses of SARS-CoV-2 RBD-specific B cells and memory B cells were boosted by the second vaccine dose. Results showed that the convalescents benefited from the administration of the inactivated vaccine (one or two doses), which enhanced neutralization against highly mutated SARS-CoV-2 variants and memory B cell responses. Two doses of inactivated vaccine among COVID-19 convalescents are therefore recommended for the prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic, and vaccination guidelines and policies need to be updated.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Yubing Zhou, Xinyu He, Yanan Jiang, Zitong Wang, Yin Yu, Wenjie Wu, Chenyang Zhang, Jincheng Li, Yaping Guo, Xinhuan Chen, Zhicai Liu, Jimin Zhao, Kangdong Liu, Zigang Dong
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(2): 290-303. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0956-8

    Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the leading causes of cancer death worldwide. It is urgent to develop new drugs to improve the prognosis of ESCC patients. Here, we found benzydamine, a locally acting non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, had potent cytotoxic effect on ESCC cells. Benzydamine could suppress ESCC proliferation in vivo and in vitro. In terms of mechanism, CDK2 was identified as a target of benzydamine by molecular docking, pull-down assay and in vitro kinase assay. Specifically, benzydamine inhibited the growth of ESCC cells by inhibiting CDK2 activity and affecting downstream phosphorylation of MCM2, c-Myc and Rb, resulting in cell cycle arrest. Our study illustrates that benzydamine inhibits the growth of ESCC cells by downregulating the CDK2 pathway.

  • REVIEW
    Ying Dong, Yingbei Qi, Haowen Jiang, Tian Mi, Yunkai Zhang, Chang Peng, Wanchen Li, Yongmei Zhang, Yubo Zhou, Yi Zang, Jia Li
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(3): 388-431. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-023-0998-6

    Metformin has been used for the treatment of type II diabetes mellitus for decades due to its safety, low cost, and outstanding hypoglycemic effect clinically. The mechanisms underlying these benefits are complex and still not fully understood. Inhibition of mitochondrial respiratory-chain complex I is the most described downstream mechanism of metformin, leading to reduced ATP production and activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Meanwhile, many novel targets of metformin have been gradually discovered. In recent years, multiple pre-clinical and clinical studies are committed to extend the indications of metformin in addition to diabetes. Herein, we summarized the benefits of metformin in four types of diseases, including metabolic associated diseases, cancer, aging and age-related diseases, neurological disorders. We comprehensively discussed the pharmacokinetic properties and the mechanisms of action, treatment strategies, the clinical application, the potential risk of metformin in various diseases. This review provides a brief summary of the benefits and concerns of metformin, aiming to interest scientists to consider and explore the common and specific mechanisms and guiding for the further research. Although there have been countless studies of metformin, longitudinal research in each field is still much warranted.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Zixun Yan, Li Li, Di Fu, Wen Wu, Niu Qiao, Yaohui Huang, Lu Jiang, Depei Wu, Yu Hu, Huilai Zhang, Pengpeng Xu, Shu Cheng, Li Wang, Sahin Lacin, Muharrem Muftuoglu, Weili Zhao
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(4): 699-713. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0972-8

    Anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy has achieved 40%–50% long-term complete response in relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) patients. However, the underlying mechanism of alterations in the tumor microenvironments resulting in CAR-T cell therapy failure needs further investigation. A multi-center phase I/II trial of anti-CD19 CD28z CAR-T (FKC876, ChiCTR1800019661) was conducted. Among 22 evaluable DLBCL patients, seven achieved complete remission, 10 experienced partial remissions, while four had stable disease by day 29. Single-cell RNA sequencing results were obtained from core needle biopsy tumor samples collected from long-term complete remission and early-progressed patients, and compared at different stages of treatment. M2-subtype macrophages were significantly involved in both in vivo and in vitro anti-tumor functions of CAR-T cells, leading to CAR-T cell therapy failure and disease progression in DLBCL. Immunosuppressive tumor microenvironments persisted before CAR-T cell therapy, during both cell expansion and disease progression, which could not be altered by infiltrating CAR-T cells. Aberrant metabolism profile of M2-subtype macrophages and those of dysfunctional T cells also contributed to the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironments. Thus, our findings provided a clinical rationale for targeting tumor microenvironments and reprogramming immune cell metabolism as effective therapeutic strategies to prevent lymphoma relapse in future designs of CAR-T cell therapy.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Chengdong Wu, Dekai Liu, Lufei Zhang, Jingjie Wang, Yuan Ding, Zhongquan Sun, Weilin Wang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2023, 17(3): 476-492. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0966-6

    tRNA-derived small RNAs (tsRNAs) are novel non-coding RNAs that are involved in the occurrence and progression of diverse diseases. However, their exact presence and function in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remain unclear. Here, differentially expressed tsRNAs in HCC were profiled. A novel tsRNA, tRNAGln-TTG derived 5′-tiRNA-Gln, is significantly downregulated, and its expression level is correlated with progression in patients. In HCC cells, 5′-tiRNA-Gln overexpression impaired the proliferation, migration, and invasion in vitro and in vivo, while 5′-tiRNA-Gln knockdown yielded opposite results. 5′-tiRNA-Gln exerted its function by binding eukaryotic initiation factor 4A-I (EIF4A1), which unwinds complex RNA secondary structures during translation initiation, causing the partial inhibition of translation. The suppressed downregulated proteins include ARAF, MEK1/2 and STAT3, causing the impaired signaling pathway related to HCC progression. Furthermore, based on the construction of a mutant 5′-tiRNA-Gln, the sequence of forming intramolecular G-quadruplex structure is crucial for 5′-tiRNA-Gln to strongly bind EIF4A1 and repress translation. Clinically, 5′-tiRNA-Gln expression level is negatively correlated with ARAF, MEK1/2, and STAT3 in HCC tissues. Collectively, these findings reveal that 5′-tiRNA-Gln interacts with EIF4A1 to reduce related mRNA binding through the intramolecular G-quadruplex structure, and this process partially inhibits translation and HCC progression.