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Hot Papers

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: Nishimura Y, Gautam R, Chun TW, Sadjadpour R, Foulds KE, Shingai M, Klein F, Gazumyan A, Golijanin J, Donaldson M, Donau OK, Plishka RJ, Buckler-White A, Seaman MS, Lifson JD, Koup RA, Fauci AS, Nussenzweig MC, Martin MA

Journal: Nature. 2017 Mar 23;543(7646):559-563. doi: 10.1038/nature21435

Highly potent and broadly neutralizing anti-HIV-1 antibodies (bNAbs) have been used to prevent and treat lentivirus infections in humanized mice, macaques, and humans. In immunotherapy experiments, administration of bNAbs to chronically infected animals transiently suppresses virus replication, which invariably returns to pre-treatment levels and results in progression to clinical disease. Here we show that early administration of bNAbs in a macaque simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) model is associated with very low levels of persistent viraemia, which leads to the establishment of T-cell immunity and resultant long-term infection control. Animals challenged with SHIVAD8-EO by mucosal or intravenous routes received a single 2-week course of two potent passively transferred bNAbs (3BNC117 and 10-1074 (refs 13, 14)). Viraemia remained undetectable for 56-177 days, depending on bNAb half-life in vivo. Moreover, in the 13 treated monkeys, plasma virus loads subsequently declined to undetectable levels in 6 controller macaques. Four additional animals maintained their counts of T cells carrying the CD4 antigen (CD4+) and very low levels of viraemia persisted for over 2 years. The frequency of cells carrying replication-competent virus was less than 1 per 106 circulating CD4+ T cells in the six controller macaques. Infusion of a T-cell-depleting anti-CD8β monoclonal antibody to the controller animals led to a specific decline in levels of CD8+ T cells and the rapid reappearance of plasma viraemia. In contrast, macaques treated for 15 weeks with combination anti-retroviral therapy, beginning on day 3 after infection, experienced sustained rebound plasma viraemia when treatment was interrupted. Our results show that passive immunotherapy during acute SHIV infection differs from combination anti-retroviral therapy in that it facilitates the emergence of potent CD8+ T-cell immunity able to durably suppress virus replication.

Authors: Sochacki KA, Dickey AM, Strub MP, Taraska JW

Journal: Nat Cell Biol. 2017 Mar 27. doi: 10.1038/ncb3498.

Dozens of proteins capture, polymerize and reshape the clathrin lattice during clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME). How or if this ensemble of proteins is organized in relation to the clathrin coat is unknown. Here, we map key molecules involved in CME at the nanoscale using correlative super-resolution light and transmission electron microscopy. We localize 19 different endocytic proteins (amphiphysin1, AP2, β2-arrestin, CALM, clathrin, DAB2, dynamin2, EPS15, epsin1, epsin2, FCHO2, HIP1R, intersectin, NECAP, SNX9, stonin2, syndapin2, transferrin receptor, VAMP2) on thousands of individual clathrin structures, generating a comprehensive molecular architecture of endocytosis with nanoscale precision. We discover that endocytic proteins distribute into distinct spatial zones in relation to the edge of the clathrin lattice. The presence or concentrations of proteins within these zones vary at distinct stages of organelle development. We propose that endocytosis is driven by the recruitment, reorganization and loss of proteins within these partitioned nanoscale zones.

Authors: Shiels MS, Chernyavskiy P, Anderson WF, Best AF, Haozous EA, Hartge P, Rosenberg PS, Thomas D, Freedman ND, de Gonzalez AB

Journal: Lancet. 2017 Mar 11;389(10073):1043-1054. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30187-3.

BACKGROUND: Reduction of premature mortality is a UN Sustainable Development Goal. Unlike other high-income countries, age-adjusted mortality in the USA plateaued in 2010 and increased slightly in 2015, possibly because of rising premature mortality. We aimed to analyse trends in mortality in the USA between 1999 and 2014 in people aged 25-64 years by age group, sex, and race and ethnicity, and to identify specific causes of death underlying the temporal trends.

METHODS: For this analysis, we used cause-of-death and demographic data from death certificates from the US National Center for Health Statistics, and population estimates from the US Census Bureau. We estimated annual percentage changes in mortality using age-period-cohort models. Age-standardised excess deaths were estimated for 2000 to 2014 as observed deaths minus expected deaths (estimated from 1999 mortality rates).

FINDINGS: Between 1999 and 2014, premature mortality increased in white individuals and in American Indians and Alaska Natives. Increases were highest in women and those aged 25-30 years. Among 30-year-olds, annual mortality increases were 2·3% (95% CI 2·1-2·4) for white women, 0·6% (0·5-0·7) for white men, and 4·3% (3·5-5·0) and 1·9% (1·3-2·5), respectively, for American Indian and Alaska Native women and men. These increases were mainly attributable to accidental deaths (primarily drug poisonings), chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, and suicide. Among individuals aged 25-49 years, an estimated 111 000 excess premature deaths occurred in white individuals and 6600 in American Indians and Alaska Natives during 2000-14. By contrast, premature mortality decreased substantially across all age groups in Hispanic individuals (up to 3·2% per year), black individuals (up to 3·9% per year), and Asians and Pacific Islanders (up to 2·6% per year), mainly because of declines in HIV, cancer, and heart disease deaths, resulting in an estimated 112 000 fewer deaths in Hispanic individuals, 311 000 fewer deaths in black individuals, and 34 000 fewer deaths in Asians and Pacific Islanders aged 25-64 years. During 2011-14, American Indians and Alaska Natives had the highest premature mortality, followed by black individuals.

INTERPRETATION: Important public health successes, including HIV treatment and smoking cessation, have contributed to declining premature mortality in Hispanic individuals, black individuals, and Asians and Pacific Islanders. However, this progress has largely been negated in young and middle-aged (25-49 years) white individuals, and American Indians and Alaska Natives, primarily because of potentially avoidable causes such as drug poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. The magnitude of annual mortality increases in the USA is extremely unusual in high-income countries, and a rapid public health response is needed to avert further premature deaths.

Authors: Gill J, Merchant-Borna K, Jeromin A, Livingston W, Bazarian J

Journal: Neurology. 2017 Feb 7;88(6):595-602. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000003587

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether tau changes after sport-related concussion (SRC) relate to return to play (RTP).

METHODS: Collegiate athletes underwent preseason plasma sampling and cognitive testing and were followed. After a SRC (n = 46), athletes and controls (n = 37) had sampling at 6 hours, and at 24 hours, 72 hours, and 7 days after SRC. A sample of 21 nonathlete controls were compared at baseline. SRC athletes were grouped by long (>10 days, n = 23) and short (≤10 days, n = 18) RTP. Total tau was measured using an ultrasensitive immunoassay.

RESULTS: Both SRC and athlete controls had significantly higher mean tau at baseline compared to nonathlete healthy controls (F101,3 = 19.644, p < 0.01). Compared to SRC athletes with short RTP, those with long RTP had higher tau concentrations overall, after controlling for sex (F39,1 = 3.59, p = 0.022), compared to long RTP athletes, at 6 (p < 0.01), 24 (p < 0.01), and 72 hours (p = 0.02). Receiver operator characteristic analyses showed that higher plasma tau 6 hours post-SRC was a significant predictor of RTP >10 days (area under the curve 0.81; 95% confidence interval 0.62-0.97, p = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: Elevated plasma tau concentration within 6 hours following a SRC was related to having a prolonged RTP, suggesting that tau levels may help inform RTP.

Authors: Hodes A, Lodish MB, Tirosh A, Meyer J, Belyavskaya E, Lyssikatos C, Rosenberg K, Demidowich A, Swan J, Jonas N, Stratakis CA, Zilbermint M

Journal: Endocrine. 2017 Feb 13. doi: 10.1007/s12020-017-1231-7

PURPOSE: Hair cortisol evaluation has been used to help detect patients with suspected Cushing syndrome. Our goal was to correlate segmental hair cortisol with biochemical testing in patients with Cushing syndrome and controls. This study was a prospective analysis of hair cortisol in confirmed Cushing syndrome cases over 16 months.

METHODS: Thirty-six subjects (26.5 ± 18.9 years, 75% female, and 75% Caucasian) were analyzed by diurnal serum cortisol, 24 h urinary free cortisol corrected for body surface area (UFC/BSA), and 24 h urinary 17-hydroxysteroids corrected for creatinine (17OHS/Cr). Thirty patients were diagnosed with Cushing syndrome, and six were defined as controls. 3-cm hair samples nearest to the scalp, cut into 1-cm segments (proximal, medial, and distal), were analyzed for cortisol by enzyme immunoassay and measured as pmol cortisol/g dry hair. Hair cortisol levels were compared with laboratory testing done within previous 2 months of the evaluation.

RESULTS: Proximal hair cortisol was higher in Cushing syndrome patients (266.6 ± 738.4 pmol/g) than control patients (38.9 ± 25.3 pmol/g) (p = 0.003). Proximal hair cortisol was highest of all segments in 25/36 (69%) patients. Among all subjects, proximal hair cortisolwas strongly correlated with UFC/BSA (r = 0.5, p = 0.005), midnight serum cortisol (r = 0.4, p = 0.03), and 17OHS/Cr, which trended towards significance (r = 0.3, p = 0.06).

CONCLUSIONS: Among the three examined hair segments, proximal hair contained the highest cortisol levels and correlated the most with the initial biochemical tests for Cushing syndrome in our study. Further studies are needed to validate proximal hair cortisol in the diagnostic workup for Cushing syndrome.

Author: Choi S, Warzecha C, Zvezdova E, Lee J, Argenty J, Lesourne R, Aravind L, Love PE

Journal: Nat Immunol. 2017 Feb 27. doi: 10.1038/ni.3692.

THEMIS, a T cell-specific protein with high expression in CD4+CD8+ thymocytes, has a crucial role in positive selection and T cell development. THEMIS lacks defined catalytic domains but contains two tandem repeats of a distinctive module of unknown function (CABIT). Here we found that THEMIS directly regulated the catalytic activity of the tyrosine phosphatase SHP-1. This action was mediated by the CABIT modules, which bound to the phosphatase domain of SHP-1 and promoted or stabilized oxidation of SHP-1's catalytic cysteine residue, which inhibited the tyrosine-phosphatase activity of SHP-1. Deletion of SHP-1 alleviated the developmental block in Themis-/- thymocytes. Thus, THEMIS facilitates thymocyte positive selection by enhancing the T cell antigen receptor signalingresponse to low-affinity ligands.

Authors: Cheng D, Deobagkar-Lele M, Zvezdova E, Choi S, Uehara S, Baup D, Bennett SC, Bull KR, Crockford TL, Ferry H, Warzecha C, Marcellin M, de Peredo AG, Lesourne R, Anzilotti C, Love PE, Cornall RJ

Journal: Nat Immunol. 2017 Feb;18(2):205-213. doi: 10.1038/ni.3642.

The positive and negative selection of lymphocytes by antigen is central to adaptive immunity and self-tolerance, yet how this is determined by different antigens is not completely understood. We found that thymocyte-selection-associated family member 2 (Themis2) increased the positive selection of B1 cells and germinal center B cells by self and foreign antigens. Themis2 lowered the threshold for B-cell activation by low-avidity, but not high-avidity, antigens. Themis2 constitutively bound the adaptor protein Grb2, src-kinase Lyn and signal transducer phospholipase γ2 (PLC-γ2), and increased activation of PLC-γ2 and its downstream pathways following B cell receptor stimulation. Our findings identify a unique function for Themis2 in differential signaling and provide insight into how B cells discriminate between antigens of different quantity and quality.

Authors: Qin L, Da F, Fisher EL, Tan DC, Nguyen TH, Fu CL, Tan VY, McCausland JW, Sturdevant DE, Joo HS, Queck SY, Cheung GY, Otto M

Journal: PLoS Pathog. 2017 Feb 2;13(2):e1006153. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006153. eCollection 2017.

Bacterial sepsis is a major killer in hospitalized patients. Coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS) with the leading species Staphylococcus epidermidis are the most frequent causes of nosocomial sepsis, with most infectious isolates being methicillin-resistant. However, which bacterial factors underlie the pathogenesis of CNS sepsis is unknown. While it has been commonly believed that invariant structures on the surface of CNS trigger sepsis by causing an over-reaction of the immune system, we show here that sepsiscaused by methicillin-resistant S. epidermidis is to a large extent mediated by the methicillin resistance island-encoded peptide toxin, PSM-mec. PSM-mec contributed to bacterial survival in whole human blood and resistance to neutrophil-mediated killing, and causedsignificantly increased mortality and cytokine expression in a mouse sepsis model. Furthermore, we show that the PSM-mec peptide itself, rather than the regulatory RNA in which its gene is embedded, is responsible for the observed virulence phenotype. This finding is of particular importance given the contrasting roles of the psm-mec locus that have been reported in S. aureus strains, inasmuch as our findings suggest that the psm-mec locus may exert effects in the background of S. aureus strains that differ from its original role in the CNS environment due to originally "unintended" interferences. Notably, while toxins have never been clearly implied in CNS infections, our tissue culture and mouse infection model data indicate that an important type of infection caused by the predominant CNS species is mediated to a large extent by a toxin. These findings suggest that CNS infections may be amenable to virulence-targeted drug development approaches.

Authors: Dutta M, Robertson SJ, Okumura A, Scott DP, Chang J, Weiss JM, Sturdevant GL, Feldmann F, Haddock E, Chiramel AI, Ponia SS, Dougherty JD, Katze MG, Rasmussen AL, Best SM

Journal: Cell Rep. 2017 Jan 17;18(3):816-829. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.12.069.

The unprecedented 2013-2016 outbreak of Ebola virus (EBOV) resulted in over 11,300 human deaths. Host resistance to RNA viruses requires RIG-I-like receptor (RLR) signaling through the adaptor protein, mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS), but the role of RLR-MAVS in orchestrating anti-EBOV responses in vivo is not known. Here we apply a systems approach to MAVS-/- mice infected with either wild-type or mouse-adapted EBOV. MAVS controlled EBOV replication through the expression of IFNα, regulation of inflammatory responses in the spleen, and prevention of cell death in the liver, with macrophages implicated as a major cell type influencing host resistance. A dominant role for RLR signaling in macrophages was confirmed following conditional MAVS deletion in LysM+ myeloidcells. These findings reveal tissue-specific MAVS-dependent transcriptional pathways associated with resistance to EBOV, and they demonstrate that EBOV adaptation to cause disease in mice involves changes in two distinct events, RLR-MAVS antagonism and suppression of RLR-independent IFN-I responses.

Authors: Wallace BD, Berman Z, Mueller GA, Lin Y, Chang T, Andres SN, Wojtaszek JL, DeRose EF, Appel CD, London RE, Yan S, Williams RS

JournalProc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Jan 10;114(2):304-309. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1610011114.

The Xenopus laevis APE2 (apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 2) nuclease participates in 3'-5' nucleolytic resection of oxidative DNA damage and activation of the ATR-Chk1 DNA damage response (DDR) pathway via ill-defined mechanisms. Here we report that APE2 resection activity is regulated by DNA interactions in its Zf-GRF domain, a region sharing high homology with DDR proteins Topoisomerase 3α (TOP3α) and NEIL3 (Nei-like DNA glycosylase 3), as well as transcription and RNA regulatory proteins, such as TTF2 (transcription termination factor 2), TFIIS, and RPB9. Biochemical and NMR results establish the nucleic acid-binding activity of the Zf-GRF domain. Moreover, an APE2 Zf-GRF X-ray structure and small-angle X-ray scattering analyses show that the Zf-GRF fold is typified by a crescent-shaped ssDNA binding claw that is flexibly appended to an APE2 endonuclease/exonuclease/phosphatase (EEP) catalytic core. Structure-guided Zf-GRF mutations impact APE2 DNA binding and 3'-5' exonuclease processing, and also prevent efficient APE2-dependent RPA recruitment to damaged chromatin and activation of the ATR-Chk1 DDR pathway in response to oxidative stress in Xenopus egg extracts. Collectively, our data unveil the APE2 Zf-GRF domain as a nucleic acid interaction module in the regulation of a key single-strand break resection function of APE2, and also reveal topologic similarity of the Zf-GRF to the zinc ribbon domains of TFIIS and RPB9.