The 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has occurred in China and around the world. SARS-CoV-2-infected patients with severe pneumonia rapidly develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and die of multiple organ failure. Despite advances in supportive care approaches, ARDS is still associated with high mortality and morbidity. Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based therapy may be an potential alternative strategy for treating ARDS by targeting the various pathophysiological events of ARDS. By releasing a variety of paracrine factors and extracellular vesicles, MSC can exert anti-inflammatory, antiapoptotic, anti-microbial, and pro-angiogenic effects, promote bacterial and alveolar fluid clearance, disrupt the pulmonary endothelial and epithelial cell damage, eventually avoiding the lung and distal organ injuries to rescue patients with ARDS. An increasing number of experimental animal studies and early clinical studies verify the safety and efficacy of MSC therapy in ARDS. Since low cell engraftment and survival in lung limit MSC therapeutic potentials, several strategies have been developed to enhance their engraftment in the lung and their intrinsic, therapeutic properties. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of the mechanisms and optimization of MSC therapy in ARDS and highlighted the potentials and possible barriers of MSC therapy for COVID-19 patients with ARDS.
Emerging and re-emerging RNA viruses occasionally cause epidemics and pandemics worldwide, such as the on-going outbreak of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Herein, we identiﬁed two potent inhibitors of human DHODH, S312 and S416, with favorable drug-likeness and pharmacokinetic proﬁles, which all showed broadspectrum antiviral effects against various RNA viruses, including inﬂuenza A virus, Zika virus, Ebola virus, and particularly against SARS-CoV-2. Notably, S416 is reported to be the most potent inhibitor so far with an EC50 of 17 nmol/L and an SI value of 10,505.88 in infected cells. Our results are the ﬁrst to validate that DHODH is an attractive host target through high antiviral efﬁcacy invivoand low virus replication in DHODH knock-out cells. This work demonstrates that both S312/S416 and old drugs (Leﬂunomide/Teriﬂunomide) with dual actions of antiviral and immuno-regulation may have clinical potentials to cure SARS-CoV-2 or other RNA viruses circulating worldwide, no matter such viruses are mutated or not.
Sterol-regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs) are the key transcriptional regulators of lipid metabolism. The activation of SREBP requires translocation of the SREBP precursor from the endoplasmic reticulum to the Golgi, where it is sequentially cleaved by site-1 protease (S1P) and site-2 protease and releases a nuclear form to modulate gene expression. To search for new genes regulating cholesterol metabolism, we perform a genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9 knockout screen and find that partner of site-1 protease (POST1), encoded by C12ORF49, is critically involved in the SREBP signaling. Ablation of POST1 decreases the generation of nuclear SREBP and reduces the expression of SREBP target genes. POST1 binds S1P, which is synthesized as an inactive protease (form A) and becomes fully mature via a two-step autocatalytic process involving forms B’/B and C’/C. POST1 promotes the generation of the functional S1P-C’/C from S1P-B’/B (canonical cleavage) and, notably, from S1P-A directly (non-canonical cleavage) as well. This POST1-mediated S1P activation is also essential for the cleavages of other S1P substrates including ATF6, CREB3 family members and the α/β-subunit precursor of N-acetylglucosamine-1-phosphotransferase. Together, we demonstrate that POST1 is a cofactor controlling S1P maturation and plays important roles in lipid homeostasis, unfolded protein response, lipoprotein metabolism and lysosome biogenesis.
Over 17 and 160 types of chemical modifications have been identified in DNA and RNA, respectively. The interest in understanding the various biological functions of DNA and RNA modifications has lead to the cutting-edged fields of epigenomics and epitranscriptomics. Developing chemical and biological tools to detect specific modifications in the genome or transcriptome has greatly facilitated their study. Here, we review the recent technological advances in this rapidly evolving field. We focus on high-throughput detection methods and biological findings for these modifications, and discuss questions to be addressed as well. We also summarize third-generation sequencing methods, which enable long-read and single-molecule sequencing of DNA and RNA modification.
Advances in high-throughput sequencing (HTS) have fostered rapid developments in the field of microbiome research, and massive microbiome datasets are now being generated. However, the diversity of software tools and the complexity of analysis pipelines make it difficult to access this field. Here, we systematically summarize the advantages and limitations of microbiome methods. Then, we recommend specific pipelines for amplicon and metagenomic analyses, and describe commonly-used software and databases, to help researchers select the appropriate tools. Furthermore, we introduce statistical and visualization methods suitable for microbiome analysis, including alpha- and betadiversity, taxonomic composition, difference comparisons, correlation, networks, machine learning, evolution, source tracing, and common visualization styles to help researchers make informed choices. Finally, a stepby-step reproducible analysis guide is introduced. We hope this review will allow researchers to carry out data analysis more effectively and to quickly select the appropriate tools in order to efficiently mine the biological significance behind the data.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been extensively used to ameliorate diseases in Asia for over thousands of years. However, owing to a lack of formal scientific validation, the absence of information regarding the mechanisms underlying TCMs restricts their application. After oral administration, TCM herbal ingredients frequently are not directly absorbed by the host, but rather enter the intestine to be transformed by gut microbiota. The gut microbiota is a microbial community living in animal intestines, and functions to maintain host homeostasis and health. Increasing evidences indicate that TCM herbs closely affect gut microbiota composition, which is associated with the conversion of herbal components into active metabolites. These may significantly affect the therapeutic activity of TCMs. Microbiota analyses, in conjunction with modern multiomics platforms, can together identify novel functional metabolites and form the basis of future TCM research.
Age-associated changes in immune cells have been linked to an increased risk for infection. However, a global and detailed characterization of the changes that human circulating immune cells undergo with age is lacking. Here, we combined scRNA-seq, mass cytometry and scATAC-seq to compare immune cell types in peripheral blood collected from young and old subjects and patients with COVID-19. We found that the immune cell landscape was reprogrammed with age and was characterized by T cell polarization from naive and memory cells to effector, cytotoxic, exhausted and regulatory cells, along with increased late natural killer cells, age-associated B cells, inflammatory monocytes and age-associated dendritic cells. In addition, the expression of genes, which were implicated in coronavirus susceptibility, was upregulated in a cell subtypespecific manner with age. Notably, COVID-19 promoted age-induced immune cell polarization and gene expression related to inflammation and cellular senescence. Therefore, these findings suggest that a dysregulated immune system and increased gene expression associated with SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility may at least partially account for COVID-19 vulnerability in the elderly.
For multicellular organisms, cell-cell communication is essential to numerous biological processes. Drawing upon the latest development of single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq), high-resolution transcriptomic data have deepened our understanding of cellular phenotype heterogeneity and composition of complex tissues, which enables systematic cell-cell communication studies at a single-cell level. We first summarize a common workflow of cell-cell communication study using scRNA-seq data, which often includes data preparation, construction of communication networks, and result validation. Two common strategies taken to uncover cell-cell communications are reviewed, e.g., physically vicinal structure-based and ligand-receptor interaction-based one. To conclude, challenges and current applications of cell-cell communication studies at a single-cell resolution are discussed in details and future perspectives are proposed.
Gene expression labeling and conditional manipulation of gene function are important for elaborate dissection of gene function. However, contemporary generation of pairwise dual-function knockin alleles to achieve both conditional and geno-tagging effects with a single donor has not been reported. Here we first developed a strategy based on a flipping donor named FoRe to generate conditional knockout alleles coupled with fluorescent allele-labeling through NHEJ-mediated unidirectional targeted insertion in zebrafish facilitated by the CRISPR/Cas system. We demonstrated the feasibility of this strategy at sox10 and isl1 loci, and successfully achieved Cre-induced conditional knockout of target gene function and simultaneous switch of the fluorescent reporter, allowing generation of genetic mosaics for lineage tracing. We then improved the donor design enabling efficient one-step bidirectional knockin to generate paired positive and negative conditional alleles, both tagged with two different fluorescent reporters. By introducing Cre recombinase, these alleles could be used to achieve both conditional knockout and conditional gene restoration in parallel; furthermore, differential fluorescent labeling of the positive and negative alleles enables simple, early and efficient realtime discrimination of individual live embryos bearing different genotypes prior to the emergence of morphologically visible phenotypes. We named our improved donor as Bi-FoRe and demonstrated its feasibility at the sox10 locus. Furthermore, we eliminated the undesirable bacterial backbone in the donor using minicircle DNA technology. Our system could easily be expanded for other applications or to other organisms, and coupling fluorescent labeling of gene expression and conditional manipulation of gene function will provide unique opportunities to fully reveal the power of emerging single-cell sequencing technologies.
This study was designed to evaluate ERK5 expression in lung cancer and malignant melanoma progression and to ascertain the involvement of ERK5 signaling in lung cancer and melanoma. We show that ERK5 expression is abundant in human lung cancer samples, and elevated ERK5 expression in lung cancer was linked to the acquisition of increased metastatic and invasive potential. Importantly, we observed a significant correlation between ERK5 activity and FAK expression and its phosphorylation at the Ser910 site. Mechanistically, ERK5 increased the expression of the transcription factor USF1, which could transcriptionally upregulate FAK expression, resulting in FAK signaling activation to promote cell migration. We also provided evidence that the phosphorylation of FAK at Ser910 was due to ERK5 but not ERK1/2, and we then suggested a role for Ser910 in the control of cell motility. In addition, ERK5 had targets in addition to FAK that regulate epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and cell motility in cancer cells. Taken together, our findings uncover a cancer metastasis-promoting role for ERK5 and provide the rationale for targeting ERK5 as a potential therapeutic approach.
Tripartite motif (TRIM) family proteins are important effectors of innate immunity against viral infections. Here we identified TRIM35 as a regulator of TRAF3 activation. Deficiency in or inhibition of TRIM35 suppressed the production of type I interferon (IFN) in response to viral infection. Trim35-deficient mice were more susceptible to influenza A virus (IAV) infection than were wild-type mice. TRIM35 promoted the RIG-Imediated signaling by catalyzing Lys63-linked polyubiquitination of TRAF3 and the subsequent formation of a signaling complex with VISA and TBK1. IAV PB2 polymerase countered the innate antiviral immune response by impeding the Lys63-linked polyubiquitination and activation of TRAF3. TRIM35 mediated Lys48-linked polyubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of IAV PB2, thereby antagonizing its suppression of TRAF3 activation. Our in vitro and in vivo findings thus reveal novel roles of TRIM35, through catalyzing Lys63-or Lys48-linked polyubiquitination, in RIG-I antiviral immunity and mechanism of defense against IAV infection.
TET2, a member of ten-eleven translocation (TET) family as α-ketoglutarate- and Fe2+-dependent dioxygenase catalyzing the iterative oxidation of 5-methylcytosine (5mC), has been widely recognized to be an important regulator for normal hematopoiesis especially myelopoiesis. Mutation and dysregulation of TET2 contribute to the development of multiple hematological malignancies. Recent studies reveal that TET2 also plays an important role in innate immune homeostasis by promoting DNA demethylation or independent of its enzymatic activity. Here, we focus on the functions of TET2 in the initiation and resolution of inflammation through epigenetic regulation and signaling network. In addition, we highlight regulation of TET2 at various molecular levels as well as the correlated inflammatory diseases, which will provide the insight to intervene in the pathological process caused by TET2 dysregulation.
Metabolic regulation has been proven to play a critical role in T cell antitumor immunity. However, cholesterol metabolism as a key component of this regulation remains largely unexplored. Herein, we found that the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR), which has been previously identified as a transporter for cholesterol, plays a pivotal role in regulating CD8+ T cell antitumor activity. Besides the involvement of cholesterol uptake which is mediated by LDLR in T cell priming and clonal expansion, we also found a non-canonical function of LDLR in CD8+ T cells: LDLR interacts with the T-cell receptor (TCR) complex and regulates TCR recycling and signaling, thus facilitating the effector function of cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTLs). Furthermore, we found that the tumor microenvironment (TME) downregulates CD8+ T cell LDLR level and TCR signaling via tumor cellderived proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) which binds to LDLR and prevents the recycling of LDLR and TCR to the plasma membrane thus inhibits the effector function of CTLs. Moreover, genetic deletion or pharmacological inhibition of PCSK9 in tumor cells can enhance the antitumor activity of CD8+ T cells by alleviating the suppressive effect on CD8+ T cells and consequently inhibit tumor progression. While previously established as a hypercholesterolemia target, this study highlights PCSK9/LDLR as a potential target for cancer immunotherapy as well.
Mammalian fertilization begins with the fusion of two specialized gametes, followedbymajor epigenetic remodeling leading to the formation of a totipotent embryo. During the development of the pre-implantation embryo, precise reprogramming progress is a prerequisite for avoiding developmental defects or embryonic lethality, but the underlyingmolecularmechanisms remain elusive. For the past few years, unprecedented breakthroughs have been made in mapping the regulatory network of dynamic epigenomes during mammalian early embryo development, taking advantage ofmultiple advances and innovations in low-input genome-wide chromatin analysis technologies. The aim of this review is to highlight the most recent progress in understanding the mechanisms of epigenetic remodeling during early embryogenesis in mammals, including DNA methylation, histone modifications, chromatin accessibility and 3D chromatin organization.