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Research advances from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Research Program (IRP) are often published in high-impact journals. Read some of our recent articles:

Authors: Machiela MJ, Zhou W, Sampson JN, Dean MC, Jacobs KB, Black A, Brinton LA, Chang IS, Chen C, Chen C, Chen K, Cook LS, Crous Bou M, De Vivo I, Doherty J, Friedenreich CM, Gaudet MM, Haiman CA, Hankinson SE, Hartge P, Henderson BE, Hong YC, Hosgood HD 3rd, Hsiung CA, Hu W, Hunter DJ, Jessop L, Kim HN, Kim YH, Kim YT, Klein R, Kraft P, Lan Q, Lin D, Liu J, Le Marchand L, Liang X, Lissowska J, Lu L, Magliocco AM, Matsuo K, Olson SH, Orlow I, Park JY, Pooler L, Prescott J, Rastogi R, Risch HA, Schumacher F, Seow A, Setiawan VW, Shen H, Sheng X, Shin MH, Shu XO, VanDen Berg D, Wang JC, Wentzensen N, Wong MP, Wu C, Wu T, Wu YL, Xia L, Yang HP, Yang PC, Zheng W, Zhou B, Abnet CC, Albanes D, Aldrich MC, Amos C, Amundadottir LT, Berndt SI, Blot WJ, Bock CH, Bracci PM, Burdett L, Buring JE, Butler MA, Carreón T, Chatterjee N, Chung CC, Cook MB, Cullen M, Davis FG, Ding T, Duell EJ, Epstein CG, Fan JH, Figueroa JD, Fraumeni JF Jr, Freedman ND, Fuchs CS, Gao YT, Gapstur SM, Patiño-Garcia A, Garcia-Closas M, Gaziano JM, Giles GG, Gillanders EM, Giovannucci EL, Goldin L, Goldstein AM, Greene MH, Hallmans G, Harris CC, Henriksson R, Holly EA, Hoover RN, Hu N, Hutchinson A, Jenab M, Johansen C, Khaw KT, Koh WP, Kolonel LN, Kooperberg C, Krogh V, Kurtz RC, LaCroix A, Landgren A, Landi MT, Li D, Liao LM, Malats N, McGlynn KA, McNeill LH, McWilliams RR, Melin BS, Mirabello L, Peplonska B, Peters U, Petersen GM, Prokunina-Olsson L, Purdue M, Qiao YL, Rabe KG, Rajaraman P, Real FX, Riboli E, Rodríguez-Santiago B, Rothman N, Ruder AM, Savage SA, Schwartz AG, Schwartz KL, Sesso HD, Severi G, Silverman DT, Spitz MR, Stevens VL, Stolzenberg-Solomon R, Stram D, Tang ZZ, Taylor PR, Teras LR, Tobias GS, Viswanathan K, Wacholder S, Wang Z, Weinstein SJ, Wheeler W, White E, Wiencke JK, Wolpin BM, Wu X, Wunder JS, Yu K, Zanetti KA, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Ziegler RG, de Andrade M, Barnes KC, Beaty TH, Bierut LJ, Desch KC, Doheny KF, Feenstra B, Ginsburg D, Heit JA, Kang JH, Laurie CA, Li JZ, Lowe WL, Marazita ML, Melbye M, Mirel DB, Murray JC, Nelson SC, Pasquale LR, Rice K, Wiggs JL, Wise A, Tucker M, Pérez-Jurado LA, Laurie CC, Caporaso NE, Yeager M, Chanock SJ

Journal: Am J Hum Genet. 2015 Mar 5;96(3):487-97. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2015.01.011

Analyses of genome-wide association study (GWAS) data have revealed that detectable genetic mosaicism involving large (>2 Mb) structural autosomal alterations occurs in a fraction of individuals. We present results for a set of 24,849 genotyped individuals (total GWAS set II [TGSII]) in whom 341 large autosomal abnormalities were observed in 168 (0.68%) individuals. Merging data from the new TGSII set with data from two prior reports (the Gene-Environment Association Studies and the total GWAS set I) generated a large dataset of 127,179 individuals; we then conducted a meta-analysis to investigate the patterns of detectable autosomal mosaicism (n = 1,315 events in 925 [0.73%] individuals). Restricting to events >2 Mb in size, we observed an increase in event frequency as event size decreased. The combined results underscore that the rate of detectable mosaicism increases with age (p value = 5.5 × 10(-31)) and is higher in men (p value = 0.002) but lower in participants of African ancestry (p value = 0.003). In a subset of 47 individuals from whom serial samples were collected up to 6 years apart, complex changes were noted over time and showed an overall increase in the proportion of mosaic cells as age increased. Our large combined sample allowed for a unique ability to characterize detectable genetic mosaicism involving large structural events and strengthens the emerging evidence of non-random erosion of the genome in the aging population.

Authors: Williams JS, Clausen AR, Lujan SA, Marjavaara L, Clark AB, Burgers PM, Chabes A, Kunkel TA

Journal: Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2015 Mar 9. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2989. [Epub ahead of print]

Ribonucleotides incorporated during DNA replication are removed by RNase H2-dependent ribonucleotide excision repair (RER). In RER-defective yeast, topoisomerase 1 (Top1) incises DNA at unrepaired ribonucleotides, initiating their removal, but this is accompanied by RNA-DNA-damage phenotypes. Here we show that these phenotypes are incurred by a high level of ribonucleotides incorporated by a leading strand-replicase variant, DNA polymerase (Pol) ɛ, but not by orthologous variants of the lagging-strand replicases, Pols α or δ. Moreover, loss of both RNases H1 and H2 is lethal in combination with increased ribonucleotide incorporation by Pol ɛ but not by Pols α or δ. Several explanations for this asymmetry are considered, including the idea that Top1 incision at ribonucleotides relieves torsional stress in the nascent leading strand but not in the nascent lagging strand, in which preexisting nicks prevent the accumulation of superhelical tension.

Authors: Williams LH, Fromm G, Gokey NG, Henriques T, Muse GW, Burkholder A, Fargo DC, Hu G, Adelman K

Journal: Mol Cell. 2015 Mar 11. pii: S1097-2765(15)00095-7. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2015.02.003. [Epub ahead of print]

The remarkable capacity for pluripotency and self-renewal in embryonic stem cells (ESCs) requires a finely tuned transcriptional circuitry wherein the pathways and genes that initiate differentiation are suppressed, but poised to respond rapidly to developmental signals. To elucidate transcriptional control in mouse ESCs in the naive, ground state, we defined the distribution of engaged RNA polymerase II (Pol II) at high resolution. We find that promoter-proximal pausing of Pol II is most enriched at genes regulating cell cycle and signal transduction and not, as expected, at developmental or bivalent genes. Accordingly, ablation of the primary pause-inducing factor NELF does not increase expression of lineage markers, but instead causes proliferation defects, embryonic lethality, and dysregulation of ESC signaling pathways. Indeed, ESCs lacking NELF have dramatically attenuated FGF/ERK activity, rendering them resistant to differentiation. This work thus uncovers a key role for NELF-mediated pausing in establishing the responsiveness of stem cells to developmental cues.

Authors: Zhang D, Gao ZG, Zhang K, Kiselev E, Crane S, Wang J, Paoletta S, Yi C, Ma L, Zhang W, Han GW, Liu H, Cherezov V, Katritch V4, Jiang H5, Stevens RC6, Jacobson KA2, Zhao Q1, Wu B1.

Journal: Nature. 2015 Mar 30. doi: 10.1038/nature14287. [Epub ahead of print]

In response to adenosine 5'-diphosphate, the P2Y1 receptor (P2Y1R) facilitates platelet aggregation, and thus serves as an important antithrombotic drug target. Here we report the crystal structures of the human P2Y1R in complex with a nucleotide antagonist MRS2500 at 2.7 Å resolution, and with a non-nucleotide antagonist BPTU at 2.2 Å resolution. The structures reveal two distinct ligand-binding sites, providing atomic details of P2Y1R's unique ligand-binding modes. MRS2500 recognizes a binding site within the seven transmembrane bundle of P2Y1R, which is different in shape and location from the nucleotide binding site in the previously determined structure of P2Y12R, representative of another P2YR subfamily. BPTU binds to an allosteric pocket on the external receptor interface with the lipid bilayer, making it the first structurally characterized selective G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) ligand located entirely outside of the helical bundle. These high-resolution insights into P2Y1R should enable discovery of new orthosteric and allosteric antithrombotic drugs with reduced adverse effects.

Authors: Gadalla SM, Wang T, Haagenson M, Spellman SR, Lee SJ, Williams KM, Wong JY, De Vivo I, Savage SA

Journal: JAMA. 2015 Feb 10;313(6):594-602. doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.7

IMPORTANCE: Telomeres protect chromosome ends and are markers of cellular aging and replicative capacity.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association between recipient and donor pretransplant leukocyte telomere length with outcomes after unrelated donor allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) for patients with severe aplastic anemia.
DESIGN, PARTICIPANTS, AND SETTING: The study included 330 patients (235 acquired, 85 Fanconi anemia, and 10 Diamond-Blackfan anemia) and their unrelated donors who had pre-HCT blood samples and clinical and outcome data available at the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research. Patients underwent HCT between 1989 and 2007 in 84 centers and were followed-up to March 2013.
EXPOSURES: Recipient and donor pre-HCT leukocyte telomere length classified into long (third tertile) and short (first and second tertiles combined) based on donor telomere length distribution.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Overall survival, neutrophil recovery, and acute and chronic graft-vs-host disease, as ascertained by transplant centers through regular patient follow-up.
RESULTS: Longer donor leukocyte telomere length was associated with higher survival probability (5-year overall survival, 56%; number at risk, 57; cumulative deaths, 50) than shorter donor leukocyte telomere length (5-year overall survival, 40%; number at risk, 71; cumulative deaths, 128; P = .009). The association remained statistically significant after adjusting for donor age, disease subtype, Karnofsky performance score, graft type, HLA matching, prior aplastic anemia therapy, race/ethnicity, and calendar year of transplant (hazard ratio [HR], 0.61; 95% CI, 0.44-0.86). Similar results were noted in analyses stratified on severe aplastic anemia subtype, recipient age, HLA matching, calendar year of transplant, and conditioning regimen. There was no association between donor telomere length and neutrophil engraftment at 28 days (cumulative incidence, 86% vs 85%; HR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.73-1.22), acute graft-vs-host disease grades III-IV at 100 days (cumulative incidence, 22% vs 28%; HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.48-1.23), or chronic graft-vs-host disease at 1-year (cumulative incidence, 28% vs 30%; HR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.53-1.24) for long vs short, respectively. Pretransplant leukocyte telomere length in the recipients was not associated with posttransplant survival (HR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.64-1.30).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Longer donor leukocyte telomere length was associated with increased 5-year survival in patients who received HCT for severe aplastic anemia. Patient leukocyte telomere length was not associated with survival. The results of this observational study suggest that donor leukocyte telomere length may have a role in long-term posttransplant survival.

Authors: Robbins HA, Pfeiffer RM, Shiels MS, Li J, Hall HI, Engels EA

Journal: J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Feb 6;107(4). pii: dju503. doi: 10.1093/jnci/dju503. Print 2015 Apr.

BACKGROUND: Nearly 900 000 people in the United States are living with diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and therefore increased cancer risk. The total number of cancers occurring among HIV-infected people and the excess number above expected background cases are unknown.
METHODS: We derived cancer incidence rates for the United States HIV-infected and general populations from Poisson models applied to linked HIV and cancer registry data and from Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program data, respectively. We applied these rates to estimates of people living with diagnosed HIV at mid-year 2010 to estimate total and expected cancer counts, respectively. We subtracted expected from total cancers to estimate excess cancers.
RESULTS: An estimated 7760 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 7330 to 8320) cancers occurred in 2010 among HIV-infected people, of which 3920 cancers (95% CI = 3480 to 4470) or 50% (95% CI = 48 to 54%) were in excess of expected. The most common excess cancers were non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL; n = 1440 excess cancers, occurring in 88% excess), Kaposi's sarcoma (KS, n = 910, 100% excess), anal cancer (n = 740, 97% excess), and lung cancer (n = 440, 52% excess). The proportion of excess cancers that were AIDS defining (ie, KS, NHL, cervical cancer) declined with age and time since AIDS diagnosis (both P < .001). For anal cancer, 83% of excess cases occurred among men who have sex with men, and 71% among those living five or more years since AIDS onset. Among injection drug users, 22% of excess cancers were lung cancer, and 16% were liver cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: The excess cancer burden in the US HIV population is substantial, and patterns across groups highlight opportunities for cancer control initiatives targeted to HIV-infected people.

Authors: Wang Q, Qian L, Chen SH, Chu CH, Wilson B, Oyarzabal E, Ali S, Robinson B, Rao D, Hong JS

Journal: Brain. 2015 Feb 25. pii: awv034. [Epub ahead of print]

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase, a key superoxide-producing enzyme, plays a critical role in microglia-mediated chronic neuroinflammation and subsequent progressive dopaminergic neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease. Although nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase-targeting anti-inflammatory therapy for Parkinson's disease has been proposed, its application in translational research remains limited. The aim of this study was to obtain preclinical evidence supporting this therapeutic strategy by testing the efficacy of an ultra-low dose of the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase inhibitor diphenyleneiodonium in both endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide)- and 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-treated mice using post-treatment regimens. Our data revealed that post-treatment with diphenyleneiodonium significantly attenuated progressive dopaminergic degeneration and improved rotarod activity. Remarkably, post-treatment with diphenyleneiodonium 10 months after lipopolysaccharide injection when mice had 30% loss of nigral dopaminergic neurons, showed high efficacy in protecting the remaining neuronal population and restoring motor function. Diphenyleneiodonium-elicited neuroprotection was associated with the inhibition of microglial activation, a reduction in the expression of proinflammatory factors and an attenuation of α-synuclein aggregation. A pathophysiological evaluation of diphenyleneiodonium-treated mice, including assessment of body weight, organs health, and neuronal counts, revealed no overt signs of toxicity. In summary, infusion of ultra-low dose diphenyleneiodonium potently reduced microglia-mediated chronic neuroinflammation by selectively inhibiting nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase and halted the progression of neurodegeneration in mouse models of Parkinson's disease. The robust neuroprotective effects and lack of apparent toxic side effects suggest that diphenyleneiodonium at ultra-low dose may be a promising candidate for future clinical trials in Parkinson's disease patients.

Authors: Kim YJ, Igiesuorobo O, Ramos CI, Bao H, Zhang B, Serpe M

Journal: PLoS Genet. 2015 Feb 27;11(2):e1004988. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004988. eCollection 2015

Stabilization of neurotransmitter receptors at postsynaptic specializations is a key step in the assembly of functional synapses. Drosophila Neto (Neuropillin and Tolloid-like protein) is an essential auxiliary subunit of ionotropic glutamate receptor (iGluR) complexes required for the iGluRs clustering at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Here we show that optimal levels of Neto are crucial for stabilization of iGluRs at synaptic sites and proper NMJ development. Genetic manipulations of Neto levels shifted iGluRs distribution to extrajunctional locations. Perturbations in Neto levels also produced small NMJs with reduced synaptic transmission, but only Neto-depleted NMJs showed diminished postsynaptic components. Drosophila Neto contains an inhibitory prodomain that is processed by Furin1-mediated limited proteolysis. neto null mutants rescued with a Neto variant that cannot be processed have severely impaired NMJs and reduced iGluRs synaptic clusters. Unprocessed Neto retains the ability to engage iGluRs in vivo and to form complexes with normal synaptic transmission. However, Neto prodomain must be removed to enable iGluRs synaptic stabilization and proper postsynaptic differentiation.

Authors: Tiano JP, Springer DA, Rane SG

Journal: J Biol Chem. 2015 Feb 3. pii: jbc.M114.617399. [Epub ahead of print]

Beige adipose cells are a distinct and inducible type of thermogenic fat cell that express the mitochondrial uncoupling protein-1 and thus represent a powerful target for treating obesity. Mice lacking the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) effector protein SMAD3 are protected against diet-induced obesity due to browning of their white adipose tissue (WAT) leading to increased whole body energy expenditure. However, the role SMAD3 plays in WAT browning is not clearly understood. Irisin is an exercise-induced skeletal muscle hormone that induces WAT browning similar to that observed in SMAD3 deficient mice. Together these observations suggested that SMAD3 may negatively regulate irisin production and/or secretion from skeletal muscle. To address this question we used wild type and SMAD3 knockout (Smad3-/-) mice subjected to an exercise regime and C2C12 myotubes treated with TGF-β, a TGF-β receptor-1 pharmacological inhibitor, adenovirus expressing constitutively active SMAD3 or siRNA against SMAD3. We find that in Smad3-/- mice exercise increases serum irisin and skeletal muscle FNDC5 (irisin precursor) and its upstream activator peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-α (PGC-1α) to a greater extent than in wild type mice. In C2C12 myotubes TGF-β suppresses FNDC5 and PGC-1α mRNA and protein levels via SMAD3 and promotes SMAD3 binding to the FNDC5 and PGC-1α promoters. These data establish that SMAD3 suppresses FNDC5 and PGC-1α in skeletal muscle cells. These findings shed light on the poorly understood regulation of irisin/FNDC5 by demonstrating a novel association between irisin and SMAD3 signaling in skeletal muscle.

Authors: Aroda VR, Christophi CA, Edelstein SL, Zhang P, Herman WH, Barrett-Connor E, Delahanty LM, Montez MG, Ackermann RT, Zhuo X, Knowler WC, Ratner RE; for the Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group

Journal: J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Feb 23:jc20143761. [Epub ahead of print]

Context: Gestational diabetes (GDM) confers a high risk of type 2 diabetes. In the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), intensive lifestyle (ILS) and metformin prevented or delayed diabetes in women with a history of GDM. Objective: The objective of the study was to evaluate the impact of ILS and metformin intervention over 10 years in women with and without a history of GDM in the DPP/Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study. Design: This was a randomized controlled clinical trial with an observational follow-up. Setting: The study was conducted at 27 clinical centers. Participants: Three hundred fifty women with a history of GDM and 1416 women with previous live births but no history of GDM participated in the study. The participants had an elevated body mass index and fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance at study entry. Interventions: Interventions included placebo, ILS, or metformin. Outcomes Measure: Outcomes measure was diabetes mellitus. Results: Over 10 years, women with a history of GDM assigned to placebo had a 48% higher risk of developing diabetes compared with women without a history of GDM. In women with a history of GDM, ILS and metformin reduced progression to diabetes compared with placebo by 35% and 40%, respectively. Among women without a history of GDM, ILS reduced the progression to diabetes by 30%, and metformin did not reduce the progression to diabetes. Conclusions: Women with a history of GDM are at an increased risk of developing diabetes. In women with a history of GDM in the DPP/Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study, both lifestyle and metformin were highly effective in reducing progression to diabetes during a 10-year follow-up period. Among women without a history of GDM, lifestyle but not metformin reduced progression to diabetes.