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The spatial organisation of cellular protein expression profiles within tissue determines cellular function and is key to understanding disease pathology. To define molecular phenotypes in the spatial context of tissue, there is a need for unbiased, quantitative technology capable of mapping proteomes within tissue structures. Here, we present a workflow for spatially-resolved, quantitative proteomics of tissue that generates maps of protein abundance across tissue slices derived from a human atypical teratoid-rhabdoid tumour at three spatial resolutions, the highest being 40 µm, to reveal distinct abundance patterns of thousands of proteins. We employ spatially-aware algorithms that do not require prior knowledge of the fine tissue structure to detect proteins and pathways with spatial abundance patterns and correlate proteins in the context of tissue heterogeneity and cellular features such as extracellular matrix or proximity to blood vessels. We identify PYGL, ASPH and CD45 as spatial markers for tumour boundary and reveal immune response-driven, spatially-organised protein networks of the extracellular tumour matrix. Overall, we demonstrate spatially-aware deep proteo-phenotyping of tissue heterogeneity, to re-define understanding tissue biology and pathology at the molecular level.
Chronic hepatitis B is a global health problem and current treatments only suppress hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, highlighting the need for new curative treatments. Oxygen levels influence HBV replication and we previously reported that hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) activate the basal core promoter to transcribe pre-genomic RNA. Application of a probe-enriched long-read sequencing method to map the HBV transcriptome showed an increased abundance of all viral RNAs under low oxygen or hypoxic conditions. Importantly, the hypoxic-associated increase in HBV transcripts was dependent on N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modifications and an m6A DRACH motif in the 5' stem loop of pre-genomic RNA defined transcript half-life under hypoxic conditions. Given the essential role of m6A modifications in the viral transcriptome we assessed the oxygen-dependent expression of RNA demethylases and bioinformatic analysis of published single cell RNA-seq of murine liver showed an increased expression of the RNA demethylase ALKBH5 in the peri-central low oxygen region. In vitro studies with a human hepatocyte derived HepG2 cell line showed increased ALKBH5 gene expression under hypoxic conditions. Silencing the demethylase reduced the levels of HBV pre-genomic RNA and host gene (CA9, NDRG1, VEGFA, BNIP3, FUT11, GAP and P4HA1) transcripts and this was mediated via reduced HIFα expression. In summary, our study highlights a previously unrecognized role for ALKBH5 in orchestrating viral and cellular transcriptional responses to low oxygen.
Discovery of FERM domain protein-protein interaction inhibitors for MSN and CD44 as a potential therapeutic approach for Alzheimer's disease.
Proteomic studies have identified moesin (MSN), a protein containing a FERM (four-point-one, ezrin, radixin, moesin) domain, and the receptor CD44 as hub proteins found within a co-expression module strongly linked to AD traits and microglia. These proteins are more abundant in Alzheimer's patient brains, and their levels are positively correlated with cognitive decline, amyloid plaque deposition and neurofibrillary tangle burden. The MSN FERM domain interacts with the phospholipid PIP2 and the cytoplasmic tail of CD44. Inhibiting the MSN-CD44 interaction may help limit AD-associated neuronal damage. Here, we investigated the feasibility of developing inhibitors that target this protein-protein interaction. We have employed structural, mutational and phage-display studies to examine how CD44 binds to the FERM domain of MSN. Interestingly, we have identified an allosteric site located close to the PIP2 binding pocket that influences CD44 binding. These findings suggest a mechanism in which PIP2 binding to the FERM domain stimulates CD44 binding through an allosteric effect, leading to the formation of a neighboring pocket capable of accommodating a receptor tail. Furthermore, high-throughput screening of a chemical library identified two compounds that disrupt the MSN-CD44 interaction. One compound series was further optimized for biochemical activity, specificity, and solubility. Our results suggest that the FERM domain holds potential as a drug development target. The small molecule preliminary leads generated from this study could serve as a foundation for additional medicinal chemistry efforts with the goal of controlling microglial activity in AD by modifying the MSN-CD44 interaction.
Persistence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies over 18 months following infection: UK Biobank COVID-19 Serology Study.
BackgroundLittle is known about the persistence of antibodies after the first year following SARS-CoV-2 infection. We aimed to determine the proportion of individuals that maintain detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies over an 18-month period following infection.MethodsPopulation-based prospective study of 20 000 UK Biobank participants and their adult relatives recruited in May 2020. The proportion of SARS-CoV-2 cases testing positive for immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies against the spike protein (IgG-S), and the nucleocapsid protein (IgG-N), was calculated at varying intervals following infection.ResultsOverall, 20 195 participants were recruited. Their median age was 56 years (IQR 39-68), 56% were female and 88% were of white ethnicity. The proportion of SARS-CoV-2 cases with IgG-S antibodies following infection remained high (92%, 95% CI 90%-93%) at 6 months after infection. Levels of IgG-N antibodies following infection gradually decreased from 92% (95% CI 88%-95%) at 3 months to 72% (95% CI 70%-75%) at 18 months. There was no strong evidence of heterogeneity in antibody persistence by age, sex, ethnicity or socioeconomic deprivation.ConclusionThis study adds to the limited evidence on the long-term persistence of antibodies following SARS-CoV-2 infection, with likely implications for waning immunity following infection and the use of IgG-N in population surveys.
Marine phytoplankton can interchange trace metals in various biochemical functions, particularly under metal-limiting conditions. Here, we investigate the stimulating and toxicity effect of chromium (Cr) on a marine Chlorophyceae Osetreococcus tauri under Fe-replete and Fe-deficient conditions. We determined the growth, photosynthesis, and proteome expressions of Osetreococcus tauri cultured under different Cr and Fe concentrations. In Fe-replete conditions, the presence of Cr(VI) stimulated significantly the growth rate and the maximum yield of photochemistry of photosystem II (Fv /Fm ) of the phytoplankton, while the functional absorption cross-section of photosystem II (σPSII ) did not change. Minor additions of Cr(VI) partially rescued phytoplankton growth under Fe-limited conditions. Proteomic analysis of this alga grown in Fe-replete normal and Fe-replete with Cr addition media (10 μM Cr) showed that the presence of Cr significantly decreased the expression of phosphate-transporting proteins and photosynthetic proteins, while increasing the expression of proteins related to carbon assimilation. Cr can stimulate the growth and photosynthesis of O. tauri, but the effects are dependent on both the Cr(VI) concentration and the availability of Fe. The proteomic results further suggest that Cr(VI) addition might significantly increase starch production and carbon fixation.
The mammalian family of basic helix-loop-helix-PER-ARNT-SIM (bHLH-PAS) transcription factors possess the ability to sense and respond to diverse environmental and physiological cues. These proteins all share a common structural framework, comprising a bHLH domain, two PAS domains, and transcriptional activation or repression domain. To function effectively as transcription factors, members of the family must form dimers, bringing together bHLH segments to create a functional unit that allows for DNA response element binding. The significance of bHLH-PAS family is underscored by their involvement in many major human diseases, offering potential avenues for therapeutic intervention. Notably, the clear identification of ligand-binding cavities within their PAS domains enables the development of targeted small molecules. Two examples are Belzutifan, targeting hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-2α, and Tapinarof, targeting the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), both of which have gained regulatory approval recently. Here, we focus on the HIF subfamily. The crystal structures of all three HIF-α proteins have been elucidated, revealing their bHLH and tandem PAS domains are used to engage their dimerization partner aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (ARNT, also called HIF-1β). A broad range of recent findings point to a shared allosteric modulation mechanism among these proteins, whereby small-molecules at the PAS-B domains exert direct influence over the HIF-α transcriptional functions. As our understanding of the architectural and allosteric mechanisms of bHLH-PAS proteins continues to advance, the possibility of discovering new therapeutic drugs becomes increasingly promising.
A multi-platform approach to identify a blood-based host protein signature for distinguishing between bacterial and viral infections in febrile children (PERFORM): a multi-cohort machine learning study
BACKGROUND: Differentiating between self-resolving viral infections and bacterial infections in children who are febrile is a common challenge, causing difficulties in identifying which individuals require antibiotics. Studying the host response to infection can provide useful insights and can lead to the identification of biomarkers of infection with diagnostic potential. This study aimed to identify host protein biomarkers for future development into an accurate, rapid point-of-care test that can distinguish between bacterial and viral infections, by recruiting children presenting to health-care settings with fever or a history of fever in the previous 72 h. METHODS: In this multi-cohort machine learning study, patient data were taken from EUCLIDS, the Swiss Pediatric Sepsis study, the GENDRES study, and the PERFORM study, which were all based in Europe. We generated three high-dimensional proteomic datasets (SomaScan and two via liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, referred to as MS-A and MS-B) using targeted and untargeted platforms (SomaScan and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry). Protein biomarkers were then shortlisted using differential abundance analysis, feature selection using forward selection-partial least squares (FS-PLS; 100 iterations), along with a literature search. Identified proteins were tested with Luminex and ELISA and iterative FS-PLS was done again (25 iterations) on the Luminex results alone, and the Luminex and ELISA results together. A sparse protein signature for distinguishing between bacterial and viral infections was identified from the selected proteins. The performance of this signature was finally tested using Luminex assays and by calculating disease risk scores. FINDINGS: 376 children provided serum or plasma samples for use in the discovery of protein biomarkers. 79 serum samples were collected for the generation of the SomaScan dataset, 147 plasma samples for the MS-A dataset, and 150 plasma samples for the MS-B dataset. Differential abundance analysis, and the first round of feature selection using FS-PLS identified 35 protein biomarker candidates, of which 13 had commercial ELISA or Luminex tests available. 16 proteins with ELISA or Luminex tests available were identified by literature review. Further evaluation via Luminex and ELISA and the second round of feature selection using FS-PLS revealed a six-protein signature: three of the included proteins are elevated in bacterial infections (SELE, NGAL, and IFN-γ), and three are elevated in viral infections (IL18, NCAM1, and LG3BP). Performance testing of the signature using Luminex assays revealed area under the receiver operating characteristic curve values between 89·4% and 93·6%. INTERPRETATION: This study has led to the identification of a protein signature that could be ultimately developed into a blood-based point-of-care diagnostic test for rapidly diagnosing bacterial and viral infections in febrile children. Such a test has the potential to greatly improve care of children who are febrile, ensuring that the correct individuals receive antibiotics. FUNDING: European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (EUCLIDS), Imperial Biomedical Research Centre of the National Institute for Health Research, the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Foundation, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Consorcio Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Respiratorias, Grupos de Refeencia Competitiva, Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation.
Modifications of histone tails, including lysine/arginine methylation, provide the basis of a 'chromatin or histone code'. Proteins that contain 'reader' domains can bind to these modifications and form specific effector complexes, which ultimately mediate chromatin function. The spindlin1 (SPIN1) protein contains three Tudor methyllysine/arginine reader domains and was identified as a putative oncogene and transcriptional co-activator. Here we report a SPIN1 chemical probe inhibitor with low nanomolar in vitro activity, exquisite selectivity on a panel of methyl reader and writer proteins, and with submicromolar cellular activity. X-ray crystallography showed that this Tudor domain chemical probe simultaneously engages Tudor domains 1 and 2 via a bidentate binding mode. Small molecule inhibition and siRNA knockdown of SPIN1, as well as chemoproteomic studies, identified genes which are transcriptionally regulated by SPIN1 in squamous cell carcinoma and suggest that SPIN1 may have a roll in cancer related inflammation and/or cancer metastasis.
The worldwide public health and socioeconomic consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the importance of increasing preparedness for viral disease outbreaks by providing rapid disease prevention and treatment strategies. The NSP3 macrodomain of coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2 is among the viral protein repertoire that was identified as a potential target for the development of antiviral agents, due to its critical role in viral replication and consequent pathogenicity in the host. By combining virtual and biophysical screening efforts, we discovered several experimental small molecules and FDA-approved drugs as inhibitors of the NSP3 macrodomain. Analogue characterisation of the hit matter and crystallographic studies confirming binding modes, including that of the antibiotic compound aztreonam, to the active site of the macrodomain provide valuable structure–activity relationship information that support current approaches and open up new avenues for NSP3 macrodomain inhibitor development.
A series of small-molecule YEATS4 binders have been discovered as part of an ongoing research effort to generate high-quality probe molecules for emerging and/or challenging epigenetic targets. Analogues such as 4d and 4e demonstrate excellent potency and selectivity for YEATS4 binding versus YEATS1,2,3 and exhibit good physical properties and in vitro safety profiles. A new X-ray crystal structure confirms direct binding of this chemical series to YEATS4 at the lysine acetylation recognition site of the YEATS domain. Multiple analogues engage YEATS4 with nanomolar potency in a whole-cell nanoluciferase bioluminescent resonance energy transfer assay. Rodent pharmacokinetic studies demonstrate the competency of several analogues as in vivo-capable binders.
We have produced graphene sheets decorated with a nonpercolating network of nanoscale tin clusters. These metal clusters both efficiently dope the graphene substrate and induce long-range superconducting correlations. We find that despite structural inhomogeneity on mesoscopic length scales (10-100 nm), this material behaves electronically as a homogenous dirty superconductor with a field-effect tuned Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition. Our facile self-assembly method establishes graphene as an ideal tunable substrate for studying induced two-dimensional electronic systems at fixed disorder and our technique can readily be extended to other order parameters such as magnetism.