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The Jumonji domain–containing protein JMJD6 is a 2-oxoglutarate–dependent dioxygenase associated with a broad range of biological functions. Cellular studies have implicated the enzyme in chromatin biology, transcription, DNA repair, mRNA splicing, and cotranscriptional processing. Although not all studies agree, JMJD6 has been reported to catalyze both hydroxylation of lysine residues and demethylation of arginine residues. However, despite extensive study and indirect evidence for JMJD6 catalysis in many cellular processes, direct assignment of JMJD6 catalytic substrates has been limited. Examination of a reported site of proline hydroxylation within a lysine-rich region of the tandem bromodomain protein BRD4 led us to conclude that hydroxylation was in fact on lysine and catalyzed by JMJD6. This prompted a wider search for JMJD6-catalyzed protein modifications deploying mass spectrometric methods designed to improve the analysis of such lysine-rich regions. Using lysine derivatization with propionic anhydride to improve the analysis of tryptic peptides and nontryptic proteolysis, we report 150 sites of JMJD6-catalyzed lysine hydroxylation on 48 protein substrates, including 19 sites of hydroxylation on BRD4. Most hydroxylations were within lysine-rich regions that are predicted to be unstructured; in some, multiple modifications were observed on adjacent lysine residues. Almost all of the JMJD6 substrates defined in these studies have been associated with membraneless organelle formation. Given the reported roles of lysine-rich regions in subcellular partitioning by liquid–liquid phase separation, our findings raise the possibility that JMJD6 may play a role in regulating such processes in response to stresses, including hypoxia.
Successfully replacing damaged cartilage with tissue-engineered constructs requires integration with the host tissue and could benefit from leveraging the native tissue's intrinsic healing capacity; however, efforts are limited by a poor understanding of how cartilage repairs minor defects. Here, we investigated the conditions that foster natural cartilage tissue repair to identify strategies that might be exploited to enhance the integration of engineered/grafted cartilage with host tissue. We damaged porcine articular cartilage explants and using a combination of pulsed SILAC-based proteomics, ultrastructural imaging, and catabolic enzyme blocking strategies reveal that integration of damaged cartilage surfaces is not driven by neo-matrix synthesis, but rather local depletion of proteoglycans. ADAMTS4 expression and activity are upregulated in injured cartilage explants, but integration could be reduced by inhibiting metalloproteinase activity with TIMP3. These observations suggest that catabolic enzyme-mediated proteoglycan depletion likely allows existing collagen fibrils to undergo cross-linking, fibrillogenesis, or entanglement, driving integration. Catabolic enzymes are often considered pathophysiological markers of osteoarthritis. Our findings suggest that damage-induced upregulation of metalloproteinase activity may be a part of a healing response that tips towards tissue destruction under pathological conditions and in osteoarthritis, but could also be harnessed in tissue engineering strategies to mediate repair. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Cartilage tissue engineering strategies require graft integration with the surrounding tissue; however, how the native tissue repairs minor injuries is poorly understood. We applied pulsed SILAC-based proteomics, ultrastructural imaging, and catabolic enzyme blocking strategies to a porcine cartilage explant model and found that integration of damaged cartilage surfaces is driven by catabolic enzyme-mediated local depletion of proteoglycans. Although catabolic enzymes have been implicated in cartilage destruction in osteoarthritis, our findings suggest that damage-induced upregulation of metalloproteinase activity may be a part of a healing response that tips towards tissue destruction under pathological conditions. They also suggest that this natural cartilage tissue repair process could be harnessed in tissue engineering strategies to enhance the integration of engineered cartilage with host tissue.
Broad and strong memory CD4+and CD8+T cells induced by SARS-CoV-2 in UK convalescent COVID-19 patients
AbstractCOVID-19 is an ongoing global crisis in which the development of effective vaccines and therapeutics will depend critically on understanding the natural immunity to the virus, including the role of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells. We have conducted a study of 42 patients following recovery from COVID-19, including 28 mild and 14 severe cases, comparing their T cell responses to those of 16 control donors. We assessed the immune memory of T cell responses using IFNγ based assays with overlapping peptides spanning SARS-CoV-2 apart from ORF1. We found the breadth, magnitude and frequency of memory T cell responses from COVID-19 were significantly higher in severe compared to mild COVID-19 cases, and this effect was most marked in response to spike, membrane, and ORF3a proteins. Total and spike-specific T cell responses correlated with the anti-Spike, anti-Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) as well as anti-Nucleoprotein (NP) endpoint antibody titre (p<0.001, <0.001 and =0.002). We identified 39 separate peptides containing CD4+and/or CD8+epitopes, which strikingly included six immunodominant epitope clusters targeted by T cells in many donors, including 3 clusters in spike (recognised by 29%, 24%, 18% donors), two in the membrane protein (M, 32%, 47%) and one in the nucleoprotein (Np, 35%). CD8+ responses were further defined for their HLA restriction, including B*4001-restricted T cells showing central memory and effector memory phenotype. In mild cases, higher frequencies of multi-cytokine producing M- and NP-specific CD8+T cells than spike-specific CD8+T cells were observed. They furthermore showed a higher ratio of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+to CD4+T cell responses. Immunodominant epitope clusters and peptides containing T cell epitopes identified in this study will provide critical tools to study the role of virus-specific T cells in control and resolution of SARS-CoV-2 infections. The identification of T cell specificity and functionality associated with milder disease, highlights the potential importance of including non-spike proteins within future COVID-19 vaccine design.
Novel Starting Points for Human Glycolate Oxidase Inhibitors, Revealed by Crystallography-Based Fragment Screening.
Primary hyperoxaluria type I (PH1) is caused by AGXT gene mutations that decrease the functional activity of alanine:glyoxylate aminotransferase. A build-up of the enzyme's substrate, glyoxylate, results in excessive deposition of calcium oxalate crystals in the renal tract, leading to debilitating renal failure. Oxidation of glycolate by glycolate oxidase (or hydroxy acid oxidase 1, HAO1) is a major cellular source of glyoxylate, and siRNA studies have shown phenotypic rescue of PH1 by the knockdown of HAO1, representing a promising inhibitor target. Here, we report the discovery and optimization of six low-molecular-weight fragments, identified by crystallography-based fragment screening, that bind to two different sites on the HAO1 structure: at the active site and an allosteric pocket above the active site. The active site fragments expand known scaffolds for substrate-mimetic inhibitors to include more chemically attractive molecules. The allosteric fragments represent the first report of non-orthosteric inhibition of any hydroxy acid oxidase and hold significant promise for improving inhibitor selectivity. The fragment hits were verified to bind and inhibit HAO1 in solution by fluorescence-based activity assay and surface plasmon resonance. Further optimization cycle by crystallography and biophysical assays have generated two hit compounds of micromolar (44 and 158 µM) potency that do not compete with the substrate and provide attractive starting points for the development of potent and selective HAO1 inhibitors.
Inflammatory Gene Expression Associates with Hepatitis B Virus cccDNA- but Not Integrant-Derived Transcripts in HBeAg Negative Disease
Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a global health problem that presents as a spectrum of liver disease, reflecting an interplay between the virus and the host immune system. HBV genomes exist as episomal covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) or chromosomal integrants. The relative contribution of these genomes to the viral transcriptome in chronic hepatitis B (CHB) is not well-understood. We developed a qPCR method to estimate the abundance of HBV cccDNA- and integrant-derived viral transcripts and applied this to a cohort of patients diagnosed with CHB in the HBe antigen negative phase of disease. We noted a variable pattern of HBV transcripts from both DNA templates, with preS1/S2 mRNAs predominating and a significant association between increasing age and the expression of integrant-derived mRNAs, but not with inflammatory status. In contrast, cccDNA-derived transcripts were associated with markers of liver inflammation. Analysis of the inflammatory hepatic transcriptome identified 24 genes significantly associated with cccDNA transcriptional activity. Our study uncovers an immune gene signature that associates with HBV cccDNA transcription and increases our understanding of viral persistence.
Factor inhibiting HIF can catalyse two asparaginyl-hydroxylations in VNVN motifs of ankyrin fold proteins.
The aspariginyl-hydroxylase human Factor Inhibiting HIF (FIH) is an important regulator of the transcriptional activity of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF). FIH also catalyses the hydroxylation of asparaginyl and other residues in ankyrin repeat domain (ARD) containing proteins, including apoptosis stimulating of p53 protein (ASPP) family members. ASPP2 is reported to undergo a single FIH catalysed hydroxylation at Asn-986. We report biochemical and crystallographic evidence showing FIH catalyses the unprecedented post-translational hydroxylation of both asparaginyl-residues in "VNVN" and related motifs of ankyrin repeat domains in ASPP proteins (i.e. ASPP1, ASPP2 and iASPP) and the related ASB11 and p18-INK4C proteins. Our biochemical results extend the substrate scope of FIH catalysis and may have implications for its biological roles, including in the hypoxic response and ASPP family function.
Whole-genome long-read TAPS deciphers DNA methylation patterns at base resolution using PacBio SMRT sequencing technology
Long-read sequencing provides valuable information on difficult-to-map genomic regions, which can complement short-read sequencing to improve genome assembly, yet limited methods are available to accurately detect DNA methylation over long distances at a whole-genome scale. By combining our recently developed TET-assisted pyridine borane sequencing (TAPS) method, which enables direct detection of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), with PacBio SingleMolecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing, we present here whole-genome long-read TAPS (wglrTAPS). To evaluate the performance of wglrTAPS, we applied it to mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) as a proof-of-concept, and an N50 read length of 3.5 kb is achieved. By sequencing wglrTAPS to 8.2x depth, we discovered a significant proportion of CpG sites which were not covered in previous 27.5x short-read TAPS. Our results demonstrate that wglrTAPS facilitates methylation profiling on problematic genomic regions with repetitive elements or structural variations, and also in an allelic manner, all of which are extremely difficult for short-read sequencing methods to resolve. This method therefore enhances applications of third-generation sequencing technologies for DNA epigenetics.
Endonuclease enrichment TAPS for cost-effective genome-wide base-resolution DNA methylation detection.
Whole genome base-resolution methylome sequencing allows for the most comprehensive analysis of DNA methylation, however, the considerable sequencing cost often limits its applications. While reduced representation sequencing can be an affordable alternative, over 80% of CpGs in the genome are not covered. Building on our recently developed TET-assisted pyridine borane sequencing (TAPS) method, we here described endonuclease enrichment TAPS (eeTAPS), which utilizes dihydrouracil (DHU)-cleaving endonuclease digestion of TAPS-converted DNA to enrich methylated CpG sites (mCpGs). eeTAPS can accurately detect 87% of mCpGs in the mouse genome with a sequencing depth equivalent to 4× whole genome sequencing. In comparison, reduced representation TAPS (rrTAPS) detected less than 4% of mCpGs with 2.5× sequencing depth. Our results demonstrate eeTAPS to be a new strategy for cost-effective genome-wide methylation analysis at single-CpG resolution that can fill the gap between whole-genome and reduced representation sequencing.
Multimodal, genome-wide characterization of epigenetic and genetic information in circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) could enable more sensitive early cancer detection, but it is technologically challenging. Recently, we developed TET-assisted pyridine borane sequencing (TAPS), which is a mild, bisulfite-free method for base-resolution direct DNA methylation sequencing. Here, we optimized TAPS for cfDNA (cfTAPS) to provide high-quality and high-depth whole-genome cell-free methylomes. We applied cfTAPS to 85 cfDNA samples from patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and noncancer controls. From only 10 ng of cfDNA (1 to 3 ml of plasma), we generated the most comprehensive cfDNA methylome to date. We demonstrated that cfTAPS provides multimodal information about cfDNA characteristics, including DNA methylation, tissue of origin, and DNA fragmentation. Integrated analysis of these epigenetic and genetic features enables accurate identification of early HCC and PDAC.
Subtraction-free and bisulfite-free specific sequencing of 5-methylcytosine and its oxidized derivatives at base resolution
AbstractAlthough various methods have been developed for sequencing cytosine modifications, it is still challenging for specific and quantitative sequencing of individual modification at base-resolution. For example, to obtain both true 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and true 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) information, the two major epigenetic modifications, it usually requires subtraction of two methods, which increases noise and requires high sequencing depth. Recently, we developed TET-assisted pyridine borane sequencing (TAPS) for bisulfite-free direct sequencing of 5mC and 5hmC. Here we demonstrate that two sister methods, TAPSβ and chemical-assisted pyridine borane sequencing (CAPS), can be effectively used for subtraction-free and specific whole-genome sequencing of 5mC and 5hmC, respectively. We also demonstrate pyridine borane sequencing (PS) for whole-genome profiling of 5-formylcytosine and 5-carboxylcytosine, the further oxidized derivatives of 5mC and 5hmC. This work completes the set of versatile borane reduction chemistry-based methods as a comprehensive toolkit for direct and quantitative sequencing of all four cytosine epigenetic modifications.
Over 17 and 160 types of chemical modifications have been identified in DNA and RNA, respectively. The interest in understanding the various biological functions of DNA and RNA modifications has lead to the cutting-edged fields of epigenomics and epitranscriptomics. Developing chemical and biological tools to detect specific modifications in the genome or transcriptome has greatly facilitated their study. Here, we review the recent technological advances in this rapidly evolving field. We focus on high-throughput detection methods and biological findings for these modifications, and discuss questions to be addressed as well. We also summarize third-generation sequencing methods, which enable long-read and single-molecule sequencing of DNA and RNA modification.
Early Th2 inflammation in the upper respiratory mucosa as a predictor of severe COVID-19 and modulation by early treatment with inhaled corticosteroids: a mechanistic analysis.
Community-based clinical trials of the inhaled corticosteroid budesonide in early COVID-19 have shown improved patient outcomes. We aimed to understand the inflammatory mechanism of budesonide in the treatment of early COVID-19. The STOIC trial was a randomised, open label, parallel group, phase 2 clinical intervention trial where patients were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive usual care (as needed antipyretics were only available treatment) or inhaled budesonide at a dose of 800 μg twice a day plus usual care. For this experimental analysis, we investigated the nasal mucosal inflammatory response in patients recruited to the STOIC trial and in a cohort of SARS-CoV-2-negative healthy controls, recruited from a long-term observational data collection study at the University of Oxford. In patients with SARS-CoV-2 who entered the STOIC study, nasal epithelial lining fluid was sampled at day of randomisation (day 0) and at day 14 following randomisation, blood samples were also collected at day 28 after randomisation. Nasal epithelial lining fluid and blood samples were collected from the SARS-CoV-2 negative control cohort. Inflammatory mediators in the nasal epithelial lining fluid and blood were assessed for a range of viral response proteins, and innate and adaptive response markers using Meso Scale Discovery enzyme linked immunoassay panels. These samples were used to investigate the evolution of inflammation in the early COVID-19 disease course and assess the effect of budesonide on inflammation. 146 participants were recruited in the STOIC trial (n=73 in the usual care group; n=73 in the budesonide group). 140 nasal mucosal samples were available at day 0 (randomisation) and 122 samples at day 14. At day 28, whole blood was collected from 123 participants (62 in the budesonide group and 61 in the usual care group). 20 blood or nasal samples were collected from healthy controls. In early COVID-19 disease, there was an enhanced inflammatory airway response with the induction of an anti-viral and T-helper 1 and 2 (Th1/2) inflammatory response compared with healthy individuals. Individuals with COVID-19 who clinically deteriorated (ie, who met the primary outcome) showed an early blunted respiratory interferon response and pronounced and persistent Th2 inflammation, mediated by CC chemokine ligand (CCL)-24, compared with those with COVID-19 who did not clinically deteriorate. Over time, the natural course of COVID-19 showed persistently high respiratory interferon concentrations and elevated concentrations of the eosinophil chemokine, CCL-11, despite clinical symptom improvement. There was persistent systemic inflammation after 28 days following COVID-19, including elevated concentrations of interleukin (IL)-6, tumour necrosis factor-α, and CCL-11. Budesonide treatment modulated inflammation in the nose and blood and was shown to decrease IL-33 and increase CCL17. The STOIC trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04416399. An initial blunted interferon response and heightened T-helper 2 inflammatory response in the respiratory tract following SARS-CoV-2 infection could be a biomarker for predicting the development of severe COVID-19 disease. The clinical benefit of inhaled budesonide in early COVID-19 is likely to be as a consequence of its inflammatory modulatory effect, suggesting efficacy by reducing epithelial damage and an improved T-cell response. Oxford National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Centre and AstraZeneca.
T-cell trans-synaptic vesicles are distinct and carry greater effector content than constitutive extracellular vesicles.
The immunological synapse is a molecular hub that facilitates the delivery of three activation signals, namely antigen, costimulation/corepression and cytokines, from antigen-presenting cells (APC) to T cells. T cells release a fourth class of signaling entities, trans-synaptic vesicles (tSV), to mediate bidirectional communication. Here we present bead-supported lipid bilayers (BSLB) as versatile synthetic APCs to capture, characterize and advance the understanding of tSV biogenesis. Specifically, the integration of juxtacrine signals, such as CD40 and antigen, results in the adaptive tailoring and release of tSV, which differ in size, yields and immune receptor cargo compared with steadily released extracellular vesicles (EVs). Focusing on CD40L+ tSV as model effectors, we show that PD-L1 trans-presentation together with TSG101, ADAM10 and CD81 are key in determining CD40L vesicular release. Lastly, we find greater RNA-binding protein and microRNA content in tSV compared with EVs, supporting the specialized role of tSV as intercellular messengers.
Interactome screening of C9orf72 dipeptide repeats reveals VCP sequestration and functional impairment by polyGA.
Repeat expansions in the C9orf72 gene are a common cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration, two devastating neurodegenerative disorders. One of the proposed mechanisms of GGGGCC repeat expansion is their translation into non-canonical dipeptide repeats, which can then accumulate as aggregates and contribute to these pathologies. There are five different dipeptide repeat proteins (polyGA, polyGR, polyPR, polyPA and polyGP), some of which are known to be neurotoxic. In the present study, we used BioID2 proximity labelling to identify the interactomes of all five dipeptide repeat proteins consisting of 125 repeats each. We identified 113 interacting partners for polyGR, 90 for polyGA, 106 for polyPR, 25 for polyPA, and 27 for polyGP. Gene Ontology enrichment analysis of the proteomic data revealed that these target interaction partners are involved in a variety of functions, including protein translation, signal transduction pathways, protein catabolic processes, amide metabolic processes, and RNA-binding. Using autopsy brain tissue from patients with C9orf72 expansion complemented with cell culture analysis, we evaluated the interactions between polyGA and valosin-containing protein (VCP). Functional analysis of this interaction revealed sequestration of VCP with polyGA aggregates, altering levels of soluble VCP protein. VCP also functions in autophagy processes, and consistent with this, we observed altered autophagy in cells expressing polyGA. We also observed altered co-localisation of polyGA aggregates and p62 in cells depleted of the VCP protein. Altogether these data suggest that sequestration of VCP with polyGA aggregates contributes to the loss of VCP function, and consequently to alterations in autophagy processes in C9orf72 expansion disorders.