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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>
<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>
The CCCTC-binding factor CTCF represses hepatitis B virus enhancer I and regulates viral transcription.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is of global importance with over 2 billion people exposed to the virus during their lifetime and at risk of progressive liver disease, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. HBV is a member of the Hepadnaviridae family that replicates via episomal copies of a covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) genome. The chromatinization of this small viral genome, with overlapping open reading frames and regulatory elements, suggests an important role for epigenetic pathways to regulate viral transcription. The chromatin-organising transcriptional insulator protein, CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF), has been reported to regulate transcription in a diverse range of viruses. We identified two conserved CTCF binding sites in the HBV genome within enhancer I and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analysis demonstrated an enrichment of CTCF binding to integrated or episomal copies of the viral genome. siRNA knock-down of CTCF results in a significant increase in pre-genomic RNA levels in de novo infected HepG2 cells and those supporting episomal HBV DNA replication. Furthermore, mutation of these sites in HBV DNA minicircles abrogated CTCF binding and increased pre-genomic RNA levels, providing evidence of a direct role for CTCF in repressing HBV transcription.
Viruses and bacteria colonize hosts by invading epithelial barriers. Recent studies have shown that interactions between the microbiota, pathogens and the host can potentiate infection through poorly understood mechanisms. Here, we investigated whether diverse bacterial species could modulate virus internalization into host cells, often a rate-limiting step in establishing infections. Lentiviral pseudoviruses expressing influenza, measles, Ebola, Lassa or vesicular stomatitis virus envelope glycoproteins enabled us to study entry of viruses that exploit diverse internalization pathways. Salmonella Typhimurium, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa significantly increased viral uptake, even at low bacterial frequencies. This did not require bacterial contact with or invasion of host cells. Studies determined that the bacterial antigen responsible for this pro-viral activity was the Toll-Like Receptor 5 (TLR5) agonist flagellin. Exposure to flagellin increased virus attachment to epithelial cells in a temperature-dependent manner via TLR5-dependent activation of NF-ΚB. Importantly, this phenotype was both long lasting and detectable at low multiplicities of infection. Flagellin is shed from bacteria and our studies uncover a new bystander role for this protein in regulating virus entry. This highlights a new aspect of viral-bacterial interplay with significant implications for our understanding of polymicrobial-associated pathogenesis.
Germline and somatic genetic variants in the p53 pathway interact to affect cancer risk, progression, and drug response.
Insights into oncogenesis derived from cancer susceptibility loci (single nucleotide polymorphisms, SNP) hold the potential to facilitate better cancer management and treatment through precision oncology. However, therapeutic insights have thus far been limited by our current lack of understanding regarding both interactions of these loci with somatic cancer driver mutations and their influence on tumorigenesis. For example, while both germline and somatic genetic variation to the p53 tumor suppressor pathway are known to promote tumorigenesis, little is known about the extent to which such variants cooperate to alter pathway activity. Here we hypothesize that cancer risk-associated germline variants interact with somatic TP53 mutational status to modify cancer risk, progression, and response to therapy. Focusing on a cancer risk SNP (rs78378222) with a well-documented ability to directly influence p53 activity as well as integration of germline datasets relating to cancer susceptibility with tumor data capturing somatically-acquired genetic variation provided supportive evidence for this hypothesis. Integration of germline and somatic genetic data enabled identification of a novel entry point for therapeutic manipulation of p53 activities. A cluster of cancer risk SNPs resulted in increased expression of pro-survival p53 target gene KITLG and attenuation of p53-mediated responses to genotoxic therapies, which were reversed by pharmacological inhibition of the pro-survival c-KIT signal. Together, our results offer evidence of how cancer susceptibility SNPs can interact with cancer driver genes to affect cancer progression and identify novel combinatorial therapies.
Hypoxia drives glucose transporter 3 expression through hypoxia-inducible transcription factor (HIF)-mediated induction of the long noncoding RNA NICI.
Hypoxia-inducible transcription factors (HIFs) directly dictate the expression of multiple RNA species including novel and as yet uncharacterized long noncoding transcripts with unknown function. We used pan-genomic HIF-binding and transcriptomic data to identify a novel long noncoding RNA Noncoding Intergenic Co-Induced transcript (NICI) on chromosome 12p13.31 which is regulated by hypoxia via HIF-1 promoter-binding in multiple cell types. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated deletion of the hypoxia-response element revealed co-regulation of NICI and the neighboring protein-coding gene, solute carrier family 2 member 3 (SLC2A3) which encodes the high-affinity glucose transporter 3 (GLUT3). Knockdown or knockout of NICI attenuated hypoxic induction of SLC2A3, indicating a direct regulatory role of NICI in SLC2A3 expression, which was further evidenced by CRISPR/Cas9-VPR-mediated activation of NICI expression. We also demonstrate that regulation of SLC2A3 is mediated through transcriptional activation rather than posttranscriptional mechanisms because knockout of NICI leads to reduced recruitment of RNA polymerase 2 to the SLC2A3 promoter. Consistent with this we observe NICI-dependent regulation of glucose consumption and cell proliferation. Furthermore, NICI expression is regulated by the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor and is highly expressed in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC), where SLC2A3 expression is associated with patient prognosis, implying an important role for the HIF/NICI/SLC2A3 axis in this malignancy.
A CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing pipeline in the EndoC-βH1 cell line to study genes implicated in beta cell function.
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a global pandemic with a strong genetic component, but most causal genes influencing the disease risk remain unknown. It is clear, however, that the pancreatic beta cell is central to T2D pathogenesis. <i>In vitro</i> gene-knockout (KO) models to study T2D risk genes have so far focused on rodent beta cells. However, there are important structural and functional differences between rodent and human beta cell lines. With that in mind, we have developed a robust pipeline to create a stable CRISPR/Cas9 KO in an authentic human beta cell line (EndoC-βH1). The KO pipeline consists of a dual lentiviral sgRNA strategy and we targeted three genes ( <i>INS</i>, <i>IDE</i>, <i>PAM</i>) as a proof of concept. We achieved a significant reduction in mRNA levels and complete protein depletion of all target genes. Using this dual sgRNA strategy, up to 94 kb DNA were cut out of the target genes and the editing efficiency of each sgRNA exceeded >87.5%. Sequencing of off-targets showed no unspecific editing. Most importantly, the pipeline did not affect the glucose-responsive insulin secretion of the cells. Interestingly, comparison of KO cell lines for <i>NEUROD1</i> and <i>SLC30A8</i> with siRNA-mediated knockdown (KD) approaches demonstrate phenotypic differences. <i>NEUROD1-</i>KO cells were not viable and displayed elevated markers for ER stress and apoptosis. <i>NEUROD1</i>-KD, however, only had a modest elevation, by 34%, in the pro-apoptotic transcription factor CHOP and a gene expression profile indicative of chronic ER stress without evidence of elevated cell death. On the other hand, <i>SLC30A8</i>-KO cells demonstrated no reduction in K <sub>ATP</sub> channel gene expression in contrast to siRNA silencing. Overall, this strategy to efficiently create stable KO in the human beta cell line EndoC-βH1 will allow for a better understanding of genes involved in beta cell dysfunction, their underlying functional mechanisms and T2D pathogenesis.
Seminal fluid contains some of the fastest evolving proteins currently known. These seminal fluid proteins (Sfps) play crucial roles in reproduction, such as supporting sperm function, and particularly in insects, modifying female physiology and behavior. Identification of Sfps in small animals is challenging, and often relies on samples taken from the female reproductive tract after mating. A key pitfall of this method is that it might miss Sfps that are of low abundance because of dilution in the female-derived sample or rapid processing in females. Here we present a new and complementary method, which provides added sensitivity to Sfp identification. We applied label-free quantitative proteomics to Drosophila melanogaster, male reproductive tissue - where Sfps are unprocessed, and highly abundant - and quantified Sfps before and immediately after mating, to infer those transferred during copulation. We also analyzed female reproductive tracts immediately before and after copulation to confirm the presence and abundance of known and candidate Sfps, where possible. Results were cross-referenced with transcriptomic and sequence databases to improve confidence in Sfp detection. Our data were consistent with 125 previously reported Sfps. We found nine high-confidence novel candidate Sfps, which were both depleted in mated versus, unmated males and identified within the reproductive tract of mated but not virgin females. We also identified 42 more candidates that are likely Sfps based on their abundance, known expression and predicted characteristics, and revealed that four proteins previously identified as Sfps are at best minor contributors to the ejaculate. The estimated copy numbers for our candidate Sfps were lower than for previously identified Sfps, supporting the idea that our technique provides a deeper analysis of the Sfp proteome than previous studies. Our results demonstrate a novel, high-sensitivity approach to the analysis of seminal fluid proteomes, whose application will further our understanding of reproductive biology.