Authors: Nemecek D, Boura E, Wu W, Cheng N, Plevka P, Qiao J, Mindich L, Heymann JB, Hurley JH, Steven AC
Journal: Structure. 2013 Jul 23. pii: S0969-2126(13)00208-6. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2013.06.007. [Epub ahead of print]
The cystovirus ϕ6 shares several distinct features with other double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses, including the human pathogen, rotavirus: segmented genomes, nonequivalent packing of 120 subunits in its icosahedral capsid, and capsids as compartments for transcription and replication. ϕ6 assembles as a dodecahedral procapsid that undergoes major conformational changes as it matures into the spherical capsid. We determined the crystal structure of the capsid protein, P1, revealing a flattened trapezoid subunit with an α-helical fold. We also solved the procapsid with cryo-electron microscopy to comparable resolution. Fitting the crystal structure into the procapsid disclosed substantial conformational differences between the two P1 conformers. Maturation via two intermediate states involves remodeling on a similar scale, besides huge rigid-body rotations. The capsid structure and its stepwise maturation that is coupled to sequential packaging of three RNA segments sets the cystoviruses apart from other dsRNA viruses as a dynamic molecular machine.
Authors: Chen KY, Brychta RJ, Linderman JD, Smith S, Courville A, Dieckmann W, Herscovitch P, Millo CM, Remaley A, Lee P, Celi FS
Journal: J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jun 18. [Epub ahead of print]
Context: The contribution of brown adipose tissue (BAT) to the energy balance in humans exposed to sustainable cold has not been completely established, partially because of measurement limitations of both BAT activity and energy expenditure (EE). Objective: The objective of the study was to characterize the role of BAT activation in cold-induced thermogenesis (CIT). Design: This study was a single-blind, randomized crossover intervention. Setting: The study was conducted at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. Study Participants: Thirty-one healthy volunteers participated in the study. Interventions: The intervention included mild cold exposure. Main Outcomes: CIT and BAT activation were the main outcomes in this study. Methods: Overnight EE measurement by whole-room indirect calorimeter at 24°C or 19°C was followed by 2-[18F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography (PET) scan. After 36 hours, volunteers crossed over to the alternate study temperature under identical conditions. BAT activity was measured in a 3-dimensional region of interest in the upper torso by comparing the uptake at the two temperatures. Results: Twenty-four volunteers (14 males, 10 females) had a complete data set. When compared with 24°C, exposure at 19°C resulted in increased EE (5.3 ± 5.9%, P < .001), indicating CIT response and mean BAT activity (10.5 ± 11.1%, P < .001). Multiple regression analysis indicated that a difference in BAT activity (P < .001), age (P = .01), and gender (P = .037) were independent contributors to individual variability of CIT. Conclusions: A small reduction in ambient temperature, within the range of climate-controlled buildings, is sufficient to increase human BAT activity, which correlates with individual CIT response. This study uncovers for the first time a spectrum of BAT activation among healthy adults during mild cold exposure not previously recognized by conventional PET and PET-computed tomography methods. The enhancement of cold-induced BAT stimulation may represent a novel environmental strategy in obesity treatment.
Authors: Grainger JR, Wohlfert EA, Fuss IJ, Bouladoux N, Askenase MH, Legrand F, Koo LY, Brenchley JM, Fraser ID, Belkaid Y
Journal: Nat Med. 2013 Jun;19(6):713-21. doi: 10.1038/nm.3189
The commensal flora can promote both immunity to pathogens and mucosal inflammation. How commensal-driven inflammation is regulated in the context of infection remains poorly understood. Here, we show that during acute mucosal infection of mice with Toxoplasma gondii, inflammatory monocytes acquire a tissue-specific regulatory phenotype associated with production of the lipid mediator prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Notably, in response to commensals, inflammatory monocytes can directly inhibit neutrophil activation in a PGE2-dependent manner. Further, in the absence of inflammatory monocytes, mice develop severe neutrophil-mediated pathology in response to pathogen challenge that can be controlled by PGE2 analog treatment. Complementing these findings, inhibition of PGE2 led to enhanced neutrophil activation and host mortality after infection. These data demonstrate a previously unappreciated dual action of inflammatory monocytes in controlling pathogen expansion while limiting commensal-mediated damage to the gut. Collectively, our results place inflammatory monocyte-derived PGE2 at the center of a commensal-driven regulatory loop required to control host-commensal dialog during pathogen-induced inflammation.
Authors: Indzhykulian AA, Stepanyan R, Nelina A, Spinelli KJ, Ahmed ZM, Belyantseva IA, Friedman TB, Barr-Gillespie PG, Frolenkov GI
Journal: PLoS Biol. 2013 Jun;11(6):e1001583. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001583
Scanning electron microscopy image illustrates tiny extracellular links between stereocilia of an inner ear hair cell. One type of link, the tip link, connects the top of the shorter stereocilium to the side of a longer stereocilium and is crucial for hearing. The yellow dots in the inset are the immuno-gold particles that label specific proteins comprising the tip link.
Sound detection by inner ear hair cells requires tip links that interconnect mechanosensory stereocilia and convey force to yet unidentified transduction channels. Current models postulate a static composition of the tip link, with protocadherin 15 (PCDH15) at the lower and cadherin 23 (CDH23) at the upper end of the link. In terminally differentiated mammalian auditory hair cells, tip links are subjected to sound-induced forces throughout an organism's life. Although hair cells can regenerate disrupted tip links and restore hearing, the molecular details of this process are unknown. We developed a novel implementation of backscatter electron scanning microscopy to visualize simultaneously immuno-gold particles and stereocilia links, both of only a few nanometers in diameter. We show that functional, mechanotransduction-mediating tip links have at least two molecular compositions, containing either PCDH15/CDH23 or PCDH15/PCDH15. During regeneration, shorter tip links containing nearly equal amounts of PCDH15 at both ends appear first. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings demonstrate that these transient PCDH15/PCDH15 links mediate mechanotransduction currents of normal amplitude but abnormal Ca(2+)-dependent decay (adaptation). The mature PCDH15/CDH23 tip link composition is re-established later, concomitant with complete recovery of adaptation. Thus, our findings provide a molecular mechanism for regeneration and maintenance of mechanosensory function in postmitotic auditory hair cells and could help identify elusive components of the mechanotransduction machinery.
Authors: Lämmermann T, Afonso PV, Angermann BR, Wang JM, Kastenmüller W, Parent CA, Germain RN
Journal: Nature. 2013 Jun 20;498(7454):371-5. doi: 10.1038/nature12175
Neutrophil recruitment from blood to extravascular sites of sterile or infectious tissue damage is a hallmark of early innate immune responses, and the molecular events leading to cell exit from the bloodstream have been well defined. Once outside the vessel, individual neutrophils often show extremely coordinated chemotaxis and cluster formation reminiscent of the swarming behaviour of insects. The molecular players that direct this response at the single-cell and population levels within the complexity of an inflamed tissue are unknown. Using two-photon intravital microscopy in mouse models of sterile injury and infection, we show a critical role for intercellular signal relay among neutrophils mediated by the lipid leukotriene B4, which acutely amplifies local cell death signals to enhance the radius of highly directed interstitial neutrophil recruitment. Integrin receptors are dispensable for long-distance migration, but have a previously unappreciated role in maintaining dense cellular clusters when congregating neutrophils rearrange the collagenous fibre network of the dermis to form a collagen-free zone at the wound centre. In this newly formed environment, integrins, in concert with neutrophil-derived leukotriene B4 and other chemoattractants, promote local neutrophil interaction while forming a tight wound seal. This wound seal has borders that cease to grow in kinetic concert with late recruitment of monocytes and macrophages at the edge of the displaced collagen fibres. Together, these data provide an initial molecular map of the factors that contribute to neutrophil swarming in the extravascular space of a damaged tissue. They reveal how local events are propagated over large-range distances, and how auto-signalling produces coordinated, self-organized neutrophil-swarming behaviour that isolates the wound or infectious site from surrounding viable tissue.
Authors: Chappert P, Bouladoux N, Naik S, Schwartz RH
Journal: Immunity. 2013 Jun 27;38(6):1198-210. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2013.06.005
Differences in gut commensal flora can dramatically influence autoimmune responses, but the mechanisms behind this are still unclear. We report, in a Th1-cell-driven murine model of autoimmune arthritis, that specific gut commensals, such as segmented filamentous bacteria, have the ability to modulate the activation threshold of self-reactive T cells. In the local microenvironment of gut-associated lymphoid tissues, inflammatory cytokines elicited by the commensal flora dynamically enhanced the antigen responsiveness of T cells that were otherwise tuned down to a systemic self-antigen. Together with subtle differences in early lineage differentiation, this ultimately led to an enhanced recruitment of pathogenic Th1 cells and the development of a more severe form of autoimmune arthritis. These findings define a key role for the gut commensal flora in sustaining ongoing autoimmune responses through the local fine tuning of T-cell-receptor-proximal activation events in autoreactive T cells.
Authors: Cruse G, Beaven MA, Ashmole I, Bradding P, Gilfillan AM, Metcalfe DD
Journal: Immunity. 2013 May 23;38(5):906-17. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2013.04.007
Human linkage analyses have implicated the MS4A2-containing gene locus (encoding FcεRIβ) as a candidate for allergy susceptibility. We have identified a truncation of FcεRIβ (t-FcεRIβ) in humans that contains a putative calmodulin-binding domain and thus, we sought to identify the role of this variant in mast cell function. We determined that t-FcεRIβ is critical for microtubule formation and degranulation and that it may perform this function by trafficking adaptor molecules and kinases to the pericentrosomal and Golgi region in response to Ca2+ signals. Mutagenesis studies suggest that calmodulin binding to t-FcεRIβ in the presence of Ca2+ could be critical for t-FcεRIβ function. In addition, gene targeting of t-FcεRIβ attenuated microtubule formation, degranulation, and IL-8 production downstream of Ca2+ signals. Therefore, t-FcεRIβ mediates Ca2+ -dependent microtubule formation, which promotes degranulation and cytokine release. Because t-FcεRIβ has this critical function, it represents a therapeutic target for the downregulation of allergic inflammation.
Authors: Batra VK, Perera L, Lin P, Shock DD, Beard WA, Pedersen LC, Pedersen LG, Wilson SH
Journal: J Am Chem Soc. 2013 May 29;135(21):8078-88. doi: 10.1021/ja403842j. Epub 2013 May 16.
DNA polymerase β (pol β) is a bifunctional enzyme widely studied for its roles in base excision DNA repair, where one key function is gap-filling DNA synthesis. In spite of significant progress in recent years, the atomic level mechanism of the DNA synthesis reaction has remained poorly understood. Based on crystal structures of pol β in complex with its substrates and theoretical considerations of amino acids and metals in the active site, we have proposed that a nearby carboxylate group of Asp256 enables the reaction by accepting a proton from the primer O3'group, thus activating O3'as the nucleophile in the reaction path. Here, we tested this proposal by altering the side chain of Asp256 to Glu and then exploring the impact of this conservative change on the reaction. The D256E enzyme is more than 1000-fold less active than the wild-type enzyme, and the crystal structures are subtly different in the active sites of the D256E and wild-type enzymes. Theoretical analysis of DNA synthesis by the D256E enzyme shows that the O3'proton still transfers to the nearby carboxylate of residue 256. However, the electrostatic stabilization and location of the O3' proton transfer during the reaction path are dramatically altered compared with wild-type. Surprisingly, this is due to repositioning of the Arg254 side chain in the Glu256 enzyme active site, such that Arg254 is not in position to stabilize the proton transfer from O3'. The theoretical results with the wild-type enzyme indicate an early charge reorganization associated with the O3' proton transfer, and this does not occur in the D256E enzyme. The charge reorganization is mediated by the catalytic magnesium ion in the active site.
Authors: Liang TJ, Ghany MG
Journal: N Engl J Med. 2013 May 16;368(20):1907-17. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1213651
Only 20 years after the discovery of the hepatitis C virus, a cure is now likely for most people with chronic infection. This review considers current therapy and the present landscape of drug development for hepatitis C.
Authors: Xu Z, Bolick SC, Deroo LA, Weinberg CR, Sandler DP, Taylor JA
Journal: J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013 May 15;105(10):694-700. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt045. Epub 2013 Apr 11
Background: Previous studies have suggested DNA methylation in blood is a potential epigenetic marker of cancer risk, but this has not been evaluated on a genome-wide scale in prospective studies for breast cancer. Methods: We measured DNA methylation at 27578 CpGs in blood samples from 298 women who developed breast cancer 0 to 5 years after enrollment in the Sister Study cohort and compared them with a random sample of 612 cohort women who remained cancer free. We also genotyped women for nine common polymorphisms associated with breast cancer. Results: We identified 250 differentially methylated CpGs (dmCpGs) between case subjects and noncase subjects (false discovery rate [FDR] Q < 0.05). Of these dmCpGs, 75.2% were undermethylated in case subjects relative to noncase subjects. Women diagnosed within 1 year of blood draw had small but consistently greater divergence from noncase subjects than did women diagnosed at more than 1 year. Gene set enrichment analysis identified Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes cancer pathways at the recommended FDR of Q less than 0.25. Receiver operating characteristic analysis estimated a prediction accuracy of 65.8% (95% confidence interval = 61.0% to 70.5%) for methylation, compared with 56.0% for the Gail model and 58.8% for genome-wide association study polymorphisms. The prediction accuracy of just five dmCpGs (64.1%) was almost as good as the larger panel and was similar (63.1%) when replicated in a small sample of 81 women with diverse ethnic backgrounds. Conclusions: Methylation profiling of blood holds promise for breast cancer detection and risk prediction.