Jan 2024, Volume 15 Issue 1

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    Huan Liu, Kunlan Zuo, Zongzhen Wu, Hao Cheng
    Ning Wu, Ling Wei, Zhipeng Zhu, Qiang Liu, Kailong Li, Fengbiao Mao, Jie Qiao, Xiaolu Zhao

    Originating but free from chromosomal DNA, extrachromosomal circular DNAs (eccDNAs) are organized in circular form and have long been found in unicellular and multicellular eukaryotes. Their biogenesis and function are poorly understood as they are characterized by sequence homology with linear DNA, for which few detection methods are available. Recent advances in high-throughput sequencing technologies have revealed that eccDNAs play crucial roles in tumor formation, evolution, and drug resistance as well as aging, genomic diversity, and other biological processes, bringing it back to the research hotspot. Several mechanisms of eccDNA formation have been proposed, including the breakage-fusion-bridge (BFB) and translocation–deletion–amplification models. Gynecologic tumors and disorders of embryonic and fetal development are major threats to human reproductive health. The roles of eccDNAs in these pathological processes have been partially elucidated since the first discovery of eccDNA in pig sperm and the double minutes in ovarian cancer ascites. The present review summarized the research history, biogenesis, and currently available detection and analytical methods for eccDNAs and clarified their functions in gynecologic tumors and reproduction. We also proposed the application of eccDNAs as drug targets and liquid biopsy markers for prenatal diagnosis and the early detection, prognosis, and treatment of gynecologic tumors. This review lays theoretical foundations for future investigations into the complex regulatory networks of eccDNAs in vital physiological and pathological processes.

    Zhenmeiyu Li, Guoping Liu, Lin Yang, Mengge Sun, Zhuangzhi Zhang, Zhejun Xu, Yanjing Gao, Xin Jiang, Zihao Su, Xiaosu Li, Zhengang Yang

    The seat of human intelligence is the human cerebral cortex, which is responsible for our exceptional cognitive abilities. Identifying principles that lead to the development of the large-sized human cerebral cortex will shed light on what makes the human brain and species so special. The remarkable increase in the number of human cortical pyramidal neurons and the size of the human cerebral cortex is mainly because human cortical radial glial cells, primary neural stem cells in the cortex, generate cortical pyramidal neurons for more than 130 days, whereas the same process takes only about 7 days in mice. The molecular mechanisms underlying this difference are largely unknown. Here, we found that bone morphogenic protein 7 (BMP7) is expressed by increasing the number of cortical radial glial cells during mammalian evolution (mouse, ferret, monkey, and human). BMP7 expression in cortical radial glial cells promotes neurogenesis, inhibits gliogenesis, and thereby increases the length of the neurogenic period, whereas Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) signaling promotes cortical gliogenesis. We demonstrate that BMP7 signaling and SHH signaling mutually inhibit each other through regulation of GLI3 repressor formation. We propose that BMP7 drives the evolutionary expansion of the mammalian cortex by increasing the length of the neurogenic period.

    Jinghui Lei, Xiaoyu Jiang, Daoyuan Huang, Ying Jing, Shanshan Yang, Lingling Geng, Yupeng Yan, Fangshuo Zheng, Fang Cheng, Weiqi Zhang, Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, Guang-Hui Liu, Si Wang, Jing Qu

    Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1α), a core transcription factor responding to changes in cellular oxygen levels, is closely associated with a wide range of physiological and pathological conditions. However, its differential impacts on vascular cell types and molecular programs modulating human vascular homeostasis and regeneration remain largely elusive. Here, we applied CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing of human embryonic stem cells and directed differentiation to generate HIF-1α-deficient human vascular cells including vascular endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells, and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), as a platform for discovering cell type-specific hypoxia-induced response mechanisms. Through comparative molecular profiling across cell types under normoxic and hypoxic conditions, we provide insight into the indispensable role of HIF-1α in the promotion of ischemic vascular regeneration. We found human MSCs to be the vascular cell type most susceptible to HIF-1α deficiency, and that transcriptional inactivation of ANKZF1, an effector of HIF-1α, impaired pro-angiogenic processes. Altogether, our findings deepen the understanding of HIF-1α in human angiogenesis and support further explorations of novel therapeutic strategies of vascular regeneration against ischemic damage.

    Yiyao Chen, Bingxin Yang, Xiaoyu Merlin Zhang, Songchang Chen, Minhui Wang, Liya Hu, Nina Pan, Shuyuan Li, Weihui Shi, Zhenhua Yang, Li Wang, Yajing Tan, Jian Wang, Yanlin Wang, Qinghe Xing, Zhonghua Ma, Jinsong Li, He-Feng Huang, Jinglan Zhang, Chenming Xu

    Here, we report a previously unrecognized syndromic neurodevelopmental disorder associated with biallelic loss-of-function variants in the RBM42 gene. The patient is a 2-year-old female with severe central nervous system (CNS) abnormalities, hypotonia, hearing loss, congenital heart defects, and dysmorphic facial features. Familial whole-exome sequencing (WES) reveals that the patient has two compound heterozygous variants, c.304C>T (p.R102*) and c.1312G>A (p.A438T), in the RBM42 gene which encodes an integral component of splicing complex in the RNA-binding motif protein family. The p.A438T variant is in the RRM domain which impairs RBM42 protein stability in vivo. Additionally, p.A438T disrupts the interaction of RBM42 with hnRNP K, which is the causative gene for Au-Kline syndrome with overlapping disease characteristics seen in the index patient. The human R102* or A438T mutant protein failed to fully rescue the growth defects of RBM42 ortholog knockout ΔFgRbp1 in Fusarium while it was rescued by the wild-type (WT) human RBM42. A mouse model carrying Rbm42 compound heterozygous variants, c.280C>T (p.Q94*) and c.1306_1308delinsACA (p.A436T), demonstrated gross fetal developmental defects and most of the double mutant animals died by E13.5. RNA-seq data confirmed that Rbm42 was involved in neurological and myocardial functions with an essential role in alternative splicing (AS). Overall, we present clinical, genetic, and functional data to demonstrate that defects in RBM42 constitute the underlying etiology of a new neurodevelopmental disease which links the dysregulation of global AS to abnormal embryonic development.

    Miao Mei, Maria_Antonietta Impagnatiello, Jun Jiao, Ulrich Reiser, Ulrike Tontsch-Grunt, Ju Zhang, Paul Nicklin, Bingke Yu, Yu Wang, Yuan He, Xu Tan