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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: 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.

Authors: Abolhassani H, Edwards ES, Ikinciogullari A, Jing H, Borte S, Buggert M, Du L, Matsuda-Lennikov M, Romano R, Caridha R, Bade S, Zhang Y, Frederiksen J, Fang M, Bal SK, Haskologlu S, Dogu F, Tacyildiz N, Matthews HF, McElwee JJ, Gostick E, Price DA, Palendira U, Aghamohammadi A, Boisson B, Rezaei N, Karlsson AC, Lenardo MJ, Casanova JL, Hammarström L, Tangye SG, Su HC, Pan-Hammarström Q

Journal: J Exp Med. 2017 Jan;214(1):91-106. doi: 10.1084/jem.20160849.

In this study, we describe four patients from two unrelated families of different ethnicities with a primary immunodeficiency, predominantly manifesting as susceptibility to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-related diseases. Three patients presented with EBV-associated Hodgkin's lymphoma and hypogammaglobulinemia; one also had severe varicella infection. The fourth had viral encephalitis during infancy. Homozygous frameshift or in-frame deletions in CD70 in these patients abolished either CD70 surface expression or binding to its cognate receptor CD27. Blood lymphocyte numbers were normal, but the proportions of memory B cells and EBV-specific effector memory CD8+ T cells were reduced. Furthermore, although T cell proliferation was normal, in vitro-generated EBV-specific cytotoxic T cell activity was reduced because of CD70 deficiency. This reflected impaired activation by, rather than effects during killing of, EBV-transformed B cells. Notably, expression of 2B4 and NKG2D, receptors implicated in controlling EBV infection, on memory CD8+ T cells from CD70-deficient individuals was reduced, consistent with their impaired killing of EBV-infected cells. Thus, autosomal recessive CD70 deficiency is a novel cause of combined immunodeficiency and EBV-associated diseases, reminiscent of inherited CD27 deficiency. Overall, human CD70-CD27 interactions therefore play a nonredundant role in T and B cell-mediated immunity, especially for protection against EBV and humoral immunity.

Authors: Greenberg AJ, Haney D, Blake KD, Moser RP, Hesse BW

Journal: J Rural Health. 2017 Jan 11. doi: 10.1111/jrh.12228. [Epub ahead of print]

PURPOSE:  The increase in use of health information technologies (HIT) presents new opportunities for patient engagement and self-management. Patients in rural areas stand to benefit especially from increased access to health care tools and electronic communication with providers. We assessed the adoption of 4 HIT tools over time by rural or urban residency.
METHODS:  Analyses were conducted using data from 7 iterations of the National Cancer Institute's Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS; 2003-2014). Rural/urban residency was based on the USDA's 2003 Rural-Urban Continuum Codes. Outcomes of interest included managing personal health information online; whether providers maintain electronic health records (EHRs); e-mailing health care providers; and purchasing medicine online. Bivariate analyses and logistic regression were used to assess relationships between geography and outcomes, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics.
FINDINGS:  In total, 6,043 (17.6%, weighted) of the 33,749 respondents across the 7 administrations of HINTS lived in rural areas. Rural participants were less likely to report regular access to Internet (OR = 0.70, 95% CI = 0.61-0.80). Rural respondents were neither more nor less likely to report that their health care providers maintained EHRs than were urban respondents; however, they had decreased odds of managing personal health information online (OR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.40-0.78) and e-mailing health care providers (OR = 0.62, 95% CI = 0.49-0.77).
CONCLUSIONS:  The digital divide between rural and urban residents extends to HIT. Additional investigation is needed to determine whether the decreased use of HIT may be due to lack of Internet connectivity or awareness of these tools.

Authors: Sowalsky AG, Kissick HT, Gerrin S, Schaefer R, Xia Z, Russo J, Arredouani MS, Bubley GJ, Sanda MG, Li W, Ye H, Balk SP

Journal: Clin Cancer Res. 2017 Jan 24. pii: clincanres.2414.2016. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-16-2414. [Epub ahead of print]

PURPOSE:  The molecular features that account for the distinct histology and aggressive biological behavior of Gleason pattern 4 (Gp4) versus Gp3 prostate cancer (PCa), and whether Gp3 tumors progress directly to Gp4, remain to be established.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:  Whole exome sequencing and transcriptome profiling of laser-capture microdissected adjacent Gp3 and cribiform Gp4 were used to determine the relationship between these entities.
RESULTS:  Sequencing confirmed that adjacent Gp3 and Gp4 were clonal based on multiple shared genomic alterations. However, large numbers of unique mutations in the Gp3 and Gp4 tumors showed that the Gp4 were not derived directly from the Gp3. Remarkably, the Gp3 tumors retain their indolent appearing morphology despite acquisition of multiple genomic alterations including tumor suppressor losses. Although there were no consistent genomic alterations that distinguished Gp3 from Gp4, pairwise transcriptome analyses identified increased c-Myc and decreased p53 activity in Gp4 versus adjacent clonal Gp3 foci.
CONCLUSIONS:  These findings establish that at least a subset of Gp3 and aggressive Gp4 tumors have a common origin, and support a branched evolution model wherein the Gp3 and Gp4 tumors emerge early from a common precursor and subsequently undergo substantial divergence. Genomic alterations detectable in the Gp3 may distinguish these tumors from truly indolent Gp3. Screening for a panel of these genomic alterations in men who have prostate biopsies showing only Gp3 (Gleason score 6, Gs6) may allow for more precise selection of men who can be safely managed by active surveillance versus those who may benefit from further intervention.

Authors: Çağlayan M, Horton JK, Dai DP, Stefanick DF, Wilson SH

JournalNat Commun. 2017 Jan 9;8:14045. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14045.

Oxidative stress in cells can lead to accumulation of reactive oxygen species and oxidation of DNA precursors. Oxidized purine nucleotides can be inserted into DNA during replication and repair. The main pathway for correcting oxidized bases in DNA is baseexcision repair (BER), and in vertebrates DNA polymerase β (pol β) provides gap filling and tailoring functions. Here we report that the DNA ligation step of BER is compromised after pol β insertion of oxidized purine nucleotides into the BER intermediate in vitro. These results suggest the possibility that BER mediated toxic strand breaks are produced in cells under oxidative stress conditions. We observe enhanced cytotoxicity in oxidizing-agent treated pol β expressing mouse fibroblasts, suggesting formation of DNA strand breaks under these treatment conditions. Increased cytotoxicity following MTH1 knockout or treatment with MTH1 inhibitor suggests the oxidation of precursor nucleotides.

Authors: Tejeda HA, Wu J, Kornspun AR, Pignatelli M, Kashtelyan V, Krashes MJ, Lowell BB, Carlezon WA Jr, Bonci A

Journal: Neuron. 2017 Jan 4;93(1):147-163. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.12.005

Endogenous dynorphin signaling via the kappa-opioid receptor (KOR) in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) powerfully mediates negative affective states and stress reactivity. Excitatory inputs from the hippocampus and amygdala play a fundamental role in shaping the activity of both NAcc D1 and D2 MSNs, which encode positive and negative motivational valences, respectively. However, a circuit-based mechanism by which KOR modulation of excitation-inhibition balance modifies D1 and D2 MSN activity is lacking. Here, we provide a comprehensive synaptic framework wherein presynaptic KOR inhibition decreases the excitatory drive of D1 MSN activity by the amygdala, but not the hippocampus. Conversely, presynaptic inhibition by KORs of inhibitory synapses on D2 MSNs enhances integration of excitatory drive by the amygdala and hippocampus. In conclusion, we describe a circuit-based mechanism showing differential gating of afferent control of D1 and D2 MSN activity by KORs in a pathway-specific manner.

Authors: Shaw ND, Brand H, Kupchinsky ZA, Bengani H, Plummer L, Jones TI, Erdin S, Williamson KA, Rainger J, Stortchevoi A, Samocha K, Currall BB, Dunican DS, Collins RL, Willer JR, Lek A, Lek M, Nassan M, Pereira S, Kammin T, Lucente D, Silva A, Seabra CM, Chiang C, An Y, Ansari M, Rainger JK, Joss S, Smith JC, Lippincott MF, Singh SS, Patel N, Jing JW, Law JR, Ferraro N, Verloes A, Rauch A, Steindl K, Zweier M, Scheer I, Sato D, Okamoto N, Jacobsen C, Tryggestad J, Chernausek S, Schimmenti LA, Brasseur B, Cesaretti C, García-Ortiz JE, Buitrago TP, Silva OP, Hoffman JD, Mühlbauer W, Ruprecht KW, Loeys BL, Shino M, Kaindl AM, Cho CH, Morton CC, Meehan RR, van Heyningen V, Liao EC, Balasubramanian R, Hall JE, Seminara SB, Macarthur D, Moore SA, Yoshiura KI, Gusella JF, Marsh JA, Graham JM Jr, Lin AE, Katsanis N, Jones PL, Crowley WF Jr, Davis EE, FitzPatrick DR, Talkowski ME

JournalNat Genet. 2017 Jan 9. doi: 10.1038/ng.3743.

Arhinia, or absence of the nose, is a rare malformation of unknown etiology that is often accompanied by ocular and reproductive defects. Sequencing of 40 people with arhinia revealed that 84% of probands harbor a missense mutation localized to a constrained region of SMCHD1 encompassing the ATPase domain. SMCHD1 mutations cause facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy type 2 (FSHD2) via a trans-acting loss-of-function epigenetic mechanism. We discovered shared mutations and comparable DNA hypomethylation patterning between these distinct disorders. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated alteration of smchd1 in zebrafish yielded arhinia-relevant phenotypes. Transcriptome and protein analyses in arhinia probands and controls showed no differences in SMCHD1 mRNA or protein abundance but revealed regulatory changes in genes and pathways associated with craniofacial patterning. Mutations in SMCHD1 thus contribute to distinct phenotypic spectra, from craniofacial malformation and reproductive disorders to musculardystrophy, which we speculate to be consistent with oligogenic mechanisms resulting in pleiotropic outcomes.

Authors: DeLeo FR, Kobayashi SD, Porter AR, Freedman B, Dorward DW, Chen L, Kreiswirth BN

Journal: Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2017 Jan 23. pii: AAC.02533-16. doi: 10.1128/AAC.02533-16.

Klebsiella pneumoniae is a prominent cause of nosocomial infections worldwide. Bloodstream infections caused by carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae, including the epidemic lineage known as multilocus sequence type 258 (ST258), are difficult to treat and mortality is high. Thus, it is imperative that we gain a better understanding of host defense against this pathogen as a step toward developing novel therapies. Here we tested the hypothesis that resistance of ST258 to bactericidal components of human blood, such as serum complement, is linked to virulence capacity in the context of bacteremia. There was significant variance in survival of ST258clinical isolates in heparinized human blood or normal human serum. Survival of ST258 isolates in human blood was in general similar to that in normal human serum, suggesting a prominent role for complement (rather than leukocytes) in the healthy host defense against ST258 and related organisms. Indeed, deposition of serum complement-C5b-C9 membrane attack complex-onto the surface of ST258isolates accompanied serum bactericidal activity. Human serum treated with pharmacological inhibitors of complement, depleted of antibody, or heated at 56°C for 30 min had significantly reduced or absent bactericidal activity. In contrast to heparinized blood from humans, that from Balb/c mice lacked bactericidal activity toward the ST258 isolates tested-but virulence of these ST258 isolates in a mouse bacteremia model was inexplicably limited. Our data highlight the importance of the complement system in host defense against ST258 bacteremia, and we propose there is potential to enhance complement-mediated bactericidal activity using an antibody-based approach.