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BACKGROUND: Thresholds for SARS-CoV-2 antibody assays have typically been determined using samples from symptomatic, often hospitalised, patients. In this setting the sensitivity and specificity of the best performing assays can both exceed 98%. However, antibody assay performance following mild infection is less clear. METHODS: We assessed quantitative IgG responses in a cohort of healthcare workers in Oxford, UK, with a high pre-test probability of Covid-19, in particular the 991/11,475(8.6%) who reported loss of smell/taste. We use anosmia/ageusia and other risk factors as probes for Covid-19 infection potentially undiagnosed by immunoassays by investigating their relationship with antibody readings either side of assay thresholds. RESULTS: The proportion of healthcare workers reporting anosmia/ageusia increased at antibody readings below diagnostic thresholds using an in-house ELISA (n = 9324) and the Abbott Architect chemiluminescent microparticle immunoassay (CMIA; n = 11,324): 426/906 (47%) reported anosmia/ageusia with a positive ELISA, 59/449 (13.1%) with high-negative and 326/7969 (4.1%) with low-negative readings. Similarly, by CMIA, 518/1093 (47.4%) with a positive result reported anosmia/ageusia, 106/686 (15.5%) with a high-negative and 358/9563 (3.7%) with a low-negative result. Adjusting for the proportion of staff reporting anosmia/ageusia suggests the sensitivity of both assays in mild infection is lower than previously reported: Oxford ELISA 89.8% (95%CI 86.6-92.8%) and Abbott CMIA 79.3% (75.9-82.7%). CONCLUSION: Following mild SARS-CoV-2 infection 10-30% of individuals may have negative immunoassay results. While lowered diagnostic thresholds may result in unacceptable specificity, our findings have implications for epidemiological analyses and result interpretation in individuals with a high pre-test probability. Samples from mild PCR-confirmed infections should be included in SARS-CoV-2 immunoassay evaluations.
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Thermal profiling (TP) has emerged as a promising experimental methodology for elucidating the molecular targets of drugs and metabolites on a proteome-wide scale. Here, we present the Thermal Profiling Meltome Analysis Program (TP-MAP) software package for the analysis and ranking of 1D and 2D thermal profiling datasets. TP-MAP provides a user-friendly interface to quickly identify hit candidates and further explore targets of interest via intersection and crosslinking to public databases.</jats:p>
Genome engineering using CRISPR/Cas9 technology enables simple, efficient and precise genomic modifications in human cells. Conventional immortalized cell lines can be easily edited or screened using genome-wide libraries with lentiviral transduction. However, cell types derived from the differentiation of induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC), which often represent more relevant, patient-derived models for human pathology, are much more difficult to engineer as CRISPR/Cas9 delivery to these differentiated cells can be inefficient and toxic. Here, we present an efficient, lentiviral transduction protocol for delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 to macrophages derived from human iPSC with efficiencies close to 100%. We demonstrate CRISPR/Cas9 knockouts for three nonessential proof-of-concept genes-HPRT1, PPIB and CDK4. We then scale the protocol and validate for a genome-wide pooled CRISPR/Cas9 loss-of-function screen. This methodology enables, for the first time, systematic exploration of macrophage involvement in immune responses, chronic inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer progression, using efficient genome editing techniques.
The Bloom syndrome complex senses RPA-coated single-stranded DNA to restart stalled replication forks
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>The Bloom syndrome helicase BLM interacts with topoisomerase IIIα (TOP3A), RMI1 and RMI2 to form the BTR complex, which dissolves double Holliday junctions to produce non-crossover homologous recombination (HR) products. BLM also promotes DNA-end resection, restart of stalled replication forks, and processing of ultra-fine DNA bridges in mitosis. How these activities of the BTR complex are regulated in cells is still unclear. Here, we identify multiple conserved motifs within the BTR complex that interact cooperatively with the single-stranded DNA (ssDNA)-binding protein RPA. Furthermore, we demonstrate that RPA-binding is required for stable BLM recruitment to sites of DNA replication stress and for fork restart, but not for its roles in HR or mitosis. Our findings suggest a model in which the BTR complex contains the intrinsic ability to sense levels of RPA-ssDNA at replication forks, which controls BLM recruitment and activation in response to replication stress.</jats:p>
Inflammasome activation controlled by the interplay between post-translational modifications: emerging drug target opportunities
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Controlling the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome by post-translational modifications (PTMs) of critical protein subunits has emerged as a key determinant in inflammatory processes as well as in pathophysiology. In this review, we put into context the kinases, ubiquitin processing and other PTM enzymes that modify NLRP3, ASC/PYCARD and caspase-1, leading to inflammasome regulation, activation and signal termination. Potential target therapeutic entry points for a number of inflammatory diseases focussed on PTM enzyme readers, writers and erasers, leading to the regulation of inflammasome function, are discussed.</jats:p>
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) is highly polymorphic and plays a key role in guiding adaptive immune responses by presenting foreign and self peptides to T cells. Each HLA variant selects a minor fraction of peptides that match a certain motif required for optimal interaction with the peptide-binding groove. These restriction rules define the landscape of peptides presented to T cells. Given these limitations, one might suggest that the choice of peptides presented by HLA is non-random and there is preferential presentation of an array of peptides that is optimal for distinguishing self and foreign proteins. In this study we explore these preferences with a comparative analysis of self peptides enriched and depleted in HLA ligands. We show that HLAs exhibit preferences towards presenting peptides from certain proteins while disfavoring others with specific functions, and highlight differences between various HLA genes and alleles in those preferences. We link those differences to HLA anchor residue propensities and amino acid composition of preferentially presented proteins. The set of proteins that peptides presented by a given HLA are most likely to be derived from can be used to distinguish between class I and class II HLAs and HLA alleles. Our observations can be extrapolated to explain the protective effect of certain HLA alleles in infectious diseases, and we hypothesize that they can also explain susceptibility to certain autoimmune diseases and cancers. We demonstrate that these differences lead to differential presentation of HIV, influenza virus, SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 proteins by various HLA alleles. Finally, we show that the reported self peptidome preferences of distinct HLA variants can be compensated by combinations of HLA-A/HLA-B and HLA-A/HLA-C alleles in frequent haplotypes.
The Kinase Chemogenomic Set (KCGS): An Open Science Resource for Kinase Vulnerability Identification
<jats:p>We describe the assembly and annotation of a chemogenomic set of protein kinase inhibitors as an open science resource for studying kinase biology. The set only includes inhibitors that show potent kinase inhibition and a narrow spectrum of activity when screened across a large panel of kinase biochemical assays. Currently, the set contains 187 inhibitors that cover 215 human kinases. The kinase chemogenomic set (KCGS), current Version 1.0, is the most highly annotated set of selective kinase inhibitors available to researchers for use in cell-based screens.</jats:p>
<jats:title>Summary</jats:title><jats:p>Cyclins are central engines of cell cycle progression when partnered with Cyclin Dependent Kinases (CDKs). Among the different cyclins controlling cell cycle progression, cyclin F does not partner with a CDK, but forms an E3 ubiquitin ligase, assembling through the F-box domain, an Skp1-Cul1-F-box (SCF) module. Although multiple substrates of cyclin F have been identified the vulnerabilities of cells lacking cyclin F are not known. Thus, we assessed viability of cells lacking cyclin F upon challenging cells with more than 200 kinase inhibitors. The screen revealed a striking synthetic lethality between Chk1 inhibition and cyclin F loss. Chk1 inhibition in cells lacking cyclin F leads to DNA replication catastrophe. The DNA replication catastrophe depends on the accumulation of E2F1 in cyclin F depleted cells. We observe that SCF<jats:sup>cyclin F</jats:sup> promotes E2F1 degradation after Chk1 inhibitors in a CDK dependent manner. Thus, Cyclin F restricts E2F1 activity during cell cycle and upon checkpoint inhibition to prevent DNA replication stress. Our findings pave the way for patient selection in the clinical use of checkpoint inhibitors.</jats:p>
Single-Molecule, Super-Resolution, and Functional Analysis of G Protein-Coupled Receptor Behavior Within the T Cell Immunological Synapse.
A central process in immunity is the activation of T cells through interaction of T cell receptors (TCRs) with agonistic peptide-major histocompatibility complexes (pMHC) on the surface of antigen presenting cells (APCs). TCR-pMHC binding triggers the formation of an extensive contact between the two cells termed the immunological synapse, which acts as a platform for integration of multiple signals determining cellular outcomes, including those from multiple co-stimulatory/inhibitory receptors. Contributors to this include a number of chemokine receptors, notably CXC-chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4), and other members of the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) family. Although best characterized as mediators of ligand-dependent chemotaxis, some chemokine receptors are also recruited to the synapse and contribute to signaling in the absence of ligation. How these and other GPCRs integrate within the dynamic structure of the synapse is unknown, as is how their normally migratory Gαi-coupled signaling is terminated upon recruitment. Here, we report the spatiotemporal organization of several GPCRs, focusing on CXCR4, and the G protein Gαi2 within the synapse of primary human CD4+ T cells on supported lipid bilayers, using standard- and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. We find that CXCR4 undergoes orchestrated phases of reorganization, culminating in recruitment to the TCR-enriched center. This appears to be dependent on CXCR4 ubiquitination, and does not involve stable interactions with TCR microclusters, as viewed at the nanoscale. Disruption of this process by mutation impairs CXCR4 contributions to cellular activation. Gαi2 undergoes active exclusion from the synapse, partitioning from centrally-accumulated CXCR4. Using a CRISPR-Cas9 knockout screen, we identify several diverse GPCRs with contributions to T cell activation, most significantly the sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor S1PR1, and the oxysterol receptor GPR183. These, and other GPCRs, undergo organization similar to CXCR4; including initial exclusion, centripetal transport, and lack of receptor-TCR interactions. These constitute the first observations of GPCR dynamics within the synapse, and give insights into how these receptors may contribute to T cell activation. The observation of broad GPCR contributions to T cell activation also opens the possibility that modulating GPCR expression in response to cell status or environment may directly regulate responsiveness to pMHC.
Fragment Binding to the Nsp3 Macrodomain of SARS-CoV-2 Identified Through Crystallographic Screening and Computational Docking.
The SARS-CoV-2 macrodomain (Mac1) within the non-structural protein 3 (Nsp3) counteracts host-mediated antiviral ADP-ribosylation signalling. This enzyme is a promising antiviral target because catalytic mutations render viruses non-pathogenic. Here, we report a massive crystallographic screening and computational docking effort, identifying new chemical matter primarily targeting the active site of the macrodomain. Crystallographic screening of diverse fragment libraries resulted in 214 unique macrodomain-binding fragments, out of 2,683 screened. An additional 60 molecules were selected from docking over 20 million fragments, of which 20 were crystallographically confirmed. X-ray data collection to ultra-high resolution and at physiological temperature enabled assessment of the conformational heterogeneity around the active site. Several crystallographic and docking fragment hits were validated for solution binding using three biophysical techniques (DSF, HTRF, ITC). Overall, the 234 fragment structures presented explore a wide range of chemotypes and provide starting points for development of potent SARS-CoV-2 macrodomain inhibitors.
Interleukin 17 (IL-17) is a proinflammatory cytokine that acts as an immune checkpoint for several autoimmune diseases. Therapeutic neutralizing antibodies that target this cytokine have demonstrated clinical efficacy in psoriasis. However, biologics have limitations such as their high cost and their lack of oral bioavailability. Thus, it is necessary to expand the therapeutic options for this IL-17A/IL-17RA pathway, applying novel drug discovery methods to find effective small molecules. In this work, we combined biophysical and cell-based assays with structure-based docking to find novel ligands that target this pathway. First, a virtual screening of our chemical library of 60000 compounds was used to identify 67 potential ligands of IL-17A and IL-17RA. We developed a biophysical label-free binding assay to determine interactions with the extracellular domain of IL-17RA. Two molecules (CBG040591 and CBG060392) with quinazolinone and pyrrolidinedione chemical scaffolds, respectively, were confirmed as ligands of IL-17RA with micromolar affinity. The anti-inflammatory activity of these ligands as cytokine-release inhibitors was evaluated in human keratinocytes. Both ligands inhibited the release of chemokines mediated by IL-17A, with an IC<sub>50</sub> of 20.9 ± 12.6 μM and 23.6 ± 11.8 μM for CCL20 and an IC<sub>50</sub> of 26.7 ± 13.1 μM and 45.3 ± 13.0 μM for CXCL8. Hence, they blocked IL-17A proinflammatory activity, which is consistent with the inhibition of the signalling of the IL-17A receptor by ligand CBG060392. Therefore, we identified two novel immunopharmacological ligands targeting the IL-17A/IL-17RA pathway with antiinflammatory efficacy that can be promising tools for a drug discovery program for psoriasis.
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Viral replication is defined by the cellular microenvironment and one key factor is local oxygen tension, where hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) regulate the cellular response to oxygen. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected cells within secondary lymphoid tissues exist in a low-oxygen or hypoxic environment in vivo. However, the majority of studies on HIV replication and latency are performed under laboratory conditions where HIFs are inactive. We show a role for HIF-2α in restricting HIV transcription via direct binding to the viral promoter. Hypoxia reduced tumor necrosis factor or histone deacetylase inhibitor, Romidepsin, mediated reactivation of HIV and inhibiting HIF signaling-pathways reversed this phenotype. Our data support a model where the low-oxygen environment of the lymph node may suppress HIV replication and promote latency. We identify a mechanism that may contribute to the limited efficacy of latency reversing agents in reactivating HIV and suggest new strategies to control latent HIV-1.</jats:p>
The ability to detect and respond to varying oxygen tension is an essential prerequisite to life. Several mechanisms regulate the cellular response to oxygen including the prolyl hydroxylase domain (PHD)/factor inhibiting HIF (FIH)-hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) pathway, cysteamine (2-aminoethanethiol) dioxygenase (ADO) system, and the lysine-specific demethylases (KDM) 5A and KDM6A. Using a systems-based approach we discuss the literature on oxygen sensing pathways in the context of virus replication in different tissues that experience variable oxygen tension. Current information supports a model where the PHD-HIF pathway enhances the replication of viruses infecting tissues under low oxygen, however, the reverse is true for viruses with a selective tropism for higher oxygen environments. Differences in oxygen tension and associated HIF signaling may play an important role in viral tropism and pathogenesis. Thus, pharmaceutical agents that modulate HIF activity could provide novel treatment options for viral infections and associated pathological conditions.
<jats:p>Chronic hepatitis B is one of the world’s unconquered diseases with more than 240 million infected subjects at risk of developing liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatitis B virus reverse transcribes pre-genomic RNA to relaxed circular DNA (rcDNA) that comprises the infectious particle. To establish infection of a naïve target cell, the newly imported rcDNA is repaired by host enzymes to generate covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA), which forms the transcriptional template for viral replication. SAMHD1 is a component of the innate immune system that regulates deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate levels required for host and viral DNA synthesis. Here, we show a positive role for SAMHD1 in regulating cccDNA formation, where KO of SAMHD1 significantly reduces cccDNA levels that was reversed by expressing wild-type but not a mutated SAMHD1 lacking the nuclear localization signal. The limited pool of cccDNA in infected<jats:italic>Samhd1</jats:italic>KO cells is transcriptionally active, and we observed a 10-fold increase in newly synthesized rcDNA-containing particles, demonstrating a dual role for SAMHD1 to both facilitate cccDNA genesis and to restrict reverse transcriptase-dependent particle genesis.</jats:p>