Medical Biology - Research Publications

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    TERT structural rearrangements in metastatic pheochromocytomas
    Dwight, T ; Flynn, A ; Amarasinghe, K ; Benn, DE ; Lupat, R ; Li, J ; Cameron, DL ; Hogg, A ; Balachander, S ; Candiloro, ILM ; Wong, SQ ; Robinson, BG ; Papenfuss, AT ; Gill, AJ ; Dobrovic, A ; Hicks, RJ ; Clifton-Bligh, RJ ; Tothill, RW (BIOSCIENTIFICA LTD, 2018-01-01)
    Pheochromocytomas (PC) and paragangliomas (PGL) are endocrine tumors for which the genetic and clinicopathological features of metastatic progression remain incompletely understood. As a result, the risk of metastasis from a primary tumor cannot be predicted. Early diagnosis of individuals at high risk of developing metastases is clinically important and the identification of new biomarkers that are predictive of metastatic potential is of high value. Activation of TERT has been associated with a number of malignant tumors, including PC/PGL. However, the mechanism of TERT activation in the majority of PC/PGL remains unclear. As TERT promoter mutations occur rarely in PC/PGL, we hypothesized that other mechanisms - such as structural variations - may underlie TERT activation in these tumors. From 35 PC and four PGL, we identified three primary PCs that developed metastases with elevated TERT expression, each of which lacked TERT promoter mutations and promoter DNA methylation. Using whole genome sequencing, we identified somatic structural alterations proximal to the TERT locus in two of these tumors. In both tumors, the genomic rearrangements led to the positioning of super-enhancers proximal to the TERT promoter, that are likely responsible for the activation of the normally tightly repressed TERT expression in chromaffin cells.
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    Detection of clinically relevant early genomic lesions in B-cell malignancies from circulating tumour DNA using a single hybridisation-based next generation sequencing assay
    Blombery, PA ; Ryland, GL ; Markham, J ; Guinto, J ; Wall, M ; McBean, M ; Jones, K ; Thompson, ER ; Cameron, DL ; Papenfuss, AT ; Prince, MH ; Dickinson, M ; Westerman, DA (WILEY, 2018-10-01)
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    Gut microbiome dysbiosis and increased intestinal permeability in children with islet autoimmunity and type 1 diabetes: A prospective cohort study
    Harbison, JE ; Roth-Schulze, AJ ; Giles, LC ; Tran, CD ; Ngui, KM ; Penno, MA ; Thomson, RL ; Wentworth, JM ; Colman, PG ; Craig, ME ; Morahan, G ; Papenfuss, AT ; Barry, SC ; Harrison, LC ; Couper, JJ (WILEY, 2019-08-01)
    AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: To investigate the longitudinal relationship between the gut microbiome, circulating short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and intestinal permeability in children with islet autoimmunity or type 1 diabetes and controls. METHODS: We analyzed the gut bacterial microbiome, plasma SCFAs, small intestinal permeability and dietary intake in 47 children with islet autoimmunity or recent-onset type 1 diabetes and in 41 unrelated or sibling controls over a median (range) of 13 (2-34) months follow-up. RESULTS: Children with multiple islet autoantibodies (≥2 IA) or type 1 diabetes had gut microbiome dysbiosis. Anti-inflammatory Prevotella and Butyricimonas genera were less abundant and these changes were not explained by differences in diet. Small intestinal permeability measured by blood lactulose:rhamnose ratio was higher in type 1 diabetes. Children with ≥2 IA who progressed to type 1 diabetes (progressors), compared to those who did not progress, had higher intestinal permeability (mean [SE] difference +5.14 [2.0], 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.21, 9.07, P = .006), lower within-sample (alpha) microbial diversity (31.3 [11.2], 95% CI 9.3, 53.3, P = .005), and lower abundance of SCFA-producing bacteria. Alpha diversity (observed richness) correlated with plasma acetate levels in all groups combined (regression coefficient [SE] 0.57 [0.21], 95% CI 0.15, 0.99 P = .008). CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: Children with ≥2 IA who progress to diabetes, like those with recent-onset diabetes, have gut microbiome dysbiosis associated with increased intestinal permeability. Interventions that expand gut microbial diversity, in particular SCFA-producing bacteria, may have a role to decrease progression to diabetes in children at-risk.
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    Evolution of cnidarian trans-defensins: Sequence, structure and exploration of chemical space
    Mitchell, ML ; Shafee, T ; Papenfuss, AT ; Norton, RS (WILEY, 2019-07-01)
    Many of the small, cysteine-rich ion-channel modulatory peptides found in Cnidaria are distantly related to vertebrate defensins (of the trans-defensin superfamily). Transcriptomic and proteomic studies of the endemic Australian speckled sea anemone (Oulactis sp.) yielded homologous peptides to known defensin sequences. We extended these data using existing and custom-built hidden Markov models to extract defensin-like families from the transcriptomes of seven endemic Australian cnidarian species. Newly sequenced transcriptomes include three species of Actiniaria (true sea anemones); the speckled anemone (Oulactis sp.), Oulactis muscosa, Dofleinia cf. armata and a species of Corallimorpharia, Rhodactis sp. We analyzed these novel defensin-like sequences along with published homologues to study the evolution of their physico-chemical properties in vertebrate and invertebrate fauna. The cnidarian trans-defensins form a distinct cluster within the chemical space of the superfamily, with a unique set of motifs and biophysical properties. This cluster contains identifiable subgroups, whose distribution in chemical space also correlates with the divergent evolution of their structures. These sequences, currently restricted to cnidarians, form an evolutionarily distinct clade within the trans-defensin superfamily.
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    The inner ear proteome of fish
    Thomas, ORB ; Swearer, SE ; Kapp, EA ; Peng, P ; Tonkin-Hill, GQ ; Papenfuss, A ; Roberts, A ; Bernard, P ; Roberts, BR (WILEY, 2019-01-01)
    The mechanisms that underpin the formation, growth and composition of otoliths, the biomineralized stones in the inner ear of fish, are largely unknown, as only a few fish inner ear proteins have been reported. Using a partial transcriptome for the inner ear of black bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri), in conjunction with proteomic data, we discovered hundreds of previously unknown proteins in the otolith. This allowed us to develop hypotheses to explain the mechanisms of inorganic material supply and daily formation of growth bands. We further identified a likely protein mediator of crystal nucleation and an explanation for the apparent metabolic inertness of the otolith. Due to the formation of both daily and annual increments, otoliths are routinely employed as natural chronometers, being used for age and growth estimation, fisheries stock assessments, and the reconstruction of habitat use, movement, diet and the impacts of climate change. Our findings provide an unprecedented view of otolith molecular machinery, aiding in the interpretation of these essential archived data.
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    Transcriptome and proteome profiling reveals stress-induced expression signatures of imiquimod-treated Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease (DFTD) cells.
    Patchett, AL ; Wilson, R ; Charlesworth, JC ; Corcoran, LM ; Papenfuss, AT ; Lyons, BA ; Woods, GM ; Tovar, C (Impact Journals, LLC, 2018-03-23)
    As a topical cancer immunotherapy, the toll-like receptor 7 ligand imiquimod activates tumor regression via stimulation of immune cell infiltration and cytotoxic responses. Imiquimod also exerts direct pro-apoptotic effects on tumor cells in vitro, but a role for these effects in imiquimod-induced tumor regression remains undefined. We previously demonstrated that cell lines derived from devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), a transmissible cancer threatening the survival of the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), are sensitive to imiquimod-induced apoptosis. In this study, the pro-apoptotic effects of imiquimod in DFTD have been investigated using RNA-sequencing and label-free quantitative proteomics. This analysis revealed that changes to gene and protein expression in imiquimod treated DFTD cells are consistent with the onset of oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum stress responses, and subsequent activation of the unfolded protein response, autophagy, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Imiquimod also regulates the expression of oncogenic pathways, providing a direct mechanism by which this drug may increase tumor susceptibility to immune cytotoxicity in vivo. Our study has provided the first global analysis of imiquimod-induced effects in any tumor cell line. These findings have highlighted the potential of cell stress pathways as therapeutic targets in DFTD, and will allow for improved mechanistic use of imiquimod as a therapy in both the Tasmanian devil and human cancers.
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    Canary: an atomic pipeline for clinical amplicon assays
    Doig, KD ; Ellul, J ; Fellowes, A ; Thompson, ER ; Ryland, G ; Blombery, P ; Papenfuss, AT ; Fox, SB (BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2017-12-15)
    BACKGROUND: High throughput sequencing requires bioinformatics pipelines to process large volumes of data into meaningful variants that can be translated into a clinical report. These pipelines often suffer from a number of shortcomings: they lack robustness and have many components written in multiple languages, each with a variety of resource requirements. Pipeline components must be linked together with a workflow system to achieve the processing of FASTQ files through to a VCF file of variants. Crafting these pipelines requires considerable bioinformatics and IT skills beyond the reach of many clinical laboratories. RESULTS: Here we present Canary, a single program that can be run on a laptop, which takes FASTQ files from amplicon assays through to an annotated VCF file ready for clinical analysis. Canary can be installed and run with a single command using Docker containerization or run as a single JAR file on a wide range of platforms. Although it is a single utility, Canary performs all the functions present in more complex and unwieldy pipelines. All variants identified by Canary are 3' shifted and represented in their most parsimonious form to provide a consistent nomenclature, irrespective of sequencing variation. Further, proximate in-phase variants are represented as a single HGVS 'delins' variant. This allows for correct nomenclature and consequences to be ascribed to complex multi-nucleotide polymorphisms (MNPs), which are otherwise difficult to represent and interpret. Variants can also be annotated with hundreds of attributes sourced from MyVariant.info to give up to date details on pathogenicity, population statistics and in-silico predictors. CONCLUSIONS: Canary has been used at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne for the last 2 years for the processing of clinical sequencing data. By encapsulating clinical features in a single, easily installed executable, Canary makes sequencing more accessible to all pathology laboratories. Canary is available for download as source or a Docker image at https://github.com/PapenfussLab/Canary under a GPL-3.0 License.
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    Complementarity and redundancy of IL-22-producing innate lymphoid cells
    Rankin, LC ; Girard-Madoux, MJH ; Seillet, C ; Mielke, LA ; Kerdiles, Y ; Fenis, A ; Wieduwild, E ; Putoczki, T ; Mondot, S ; Lantz, O ; Demon, D ; Papenfuss, AT ; Smyth, GK ; Lamkanfi, M ; Carotta, S ; Renauld, J-C ; Shi, W ; Carpentier, S ; Soos, T ; Arendt, C ; Ugolini, S ; Huntington, ND ; Bez, GT ; Vivier, E (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2016-02-01)
    Intestinal T cells and group 3 innate lymphoid cells (ILC3 cells) control the composition of the microbiota and gut immune responses. Within the gut, ILC3 subsets coexist that either express or lack the natural cytoxicity receptor (NCR) NKp46. We identified here the transcriptional signature associated with the transcription factor T-bet-dependent differentiation of NCR(-) ILC3 cells into NCR(+) ILC3 cells. Contrary to the prevailing view, we found by conditional deletion of the key ILC3 genes Stat3, Il22, Tbx21 and Mcl1 that NCR(+) ILC3 cells were redundant for the control of mouse colonic infection with Citrobacter rodentium in the presence of T cells. However, NCR(+) ILC3 cells were essential for cecal homeostasis. Our data show that interplay between intestinal ILC3 cells and adaptive lymphocytes results in robust complementary failsafe mechanisms that ensure gut homeostasis.
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    The immune gene repertoire of an important viral reservoir, the Australian black flying fox
    Papenfuss, AT ; Baker, ML ; Feng, Z-P ; Tachedjian, M ; Crameri, G ; Cowled, C ; Ng, J ; Janardhana, V ; Field, HE ; Wang, L-F (BMC, 2012-06-20)
    BACKGROUND: Bats are the natural reservoir host for a range of emerging and re-emerging viruses, including SARS-like coronaviruses, Ebola viruses, henipaviruses and Rabies viruses. However, the mechanisms responsible for the control of viral replication in bats are not understood and there is little information available on any aspect of antiviral immunity in bats. Massively parallel sequencing of the bat transcriptome provides the opportunity for rapid gene discovery. Although the genomes of one megabat and one microbat have now been sequenced to low coverage, no transcriptomic datasets have been reported from any bat species. In this study, we describe the immune transcriptome of the Australian flying fox, Pteropus alecto, providing an important resource for identification of genes involved in a range of activities including antiviral immunity. RESULTS: Towards understanding the adaptations that have allowed bats to coexist with viruses, we have de novo assembled transcriptome sequence from immune tissues and stimulated cells from P. alecto. We identified about 18,600 genes involved in a broad range of activities with the most highly expressed genes involved in cell growth and maintenance, enzyme activity, cellular components and metabolism and energy pathways. 3.5% of the bat transcribed genes corresponded to immune genes and a total of about 500 immune genes were identified, providing an overview of both innate and adaptive immunity. A small proportion of transcripts found no match with annotated sequences in any of the public databases and may represent bat-specific transcripts. CONCLUSIONS: This study represents the first reported bat transcriptome dataset and provides a survey of expressed bat genes that complement existing bat genomic data. In addition, these data provide insight into genes relevant to the antiviral responses of bats, and form a basis for examining the roles of these molecules in immune response to viral infection.
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    Genomic Restructuring in the Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour: Chromosome Painting and Gene Mapping Provide Clues to Evolution of a Transmissible Tumour
    Deakin, JE ; Bender, HS ; Pearse, A-M ; Rens, W ; O'Brien, PCM ; Ferguson-Smith, MA ; Cheng, Y ; Morris, K ; Taylor, R ; Stuart, A ; Belov, K ; Amemiya, CT ; Murchison, EP ; Papenfuss, AT ; Graves, JAM ; O'Brien, SJ (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-02-01)
    Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) is a fatal, transmissible malignancy that threatens the world's largest marsupial carnivore, the Tasmanian devil, with extinction. First recognised in 1996, DFTD has had a catastrophic effect on wild devil numbers, and intense research efforts to understand and contain the disease have since demonstrated that the tumour is a clonal cell line transmitted by allograft. We used chromosome painting and gene mapping to deconstruct the DFTD karyotype and determine the chromosome and gene rearrangements involved in carcinogenesis. Chromosome painting on three different DFTD tumour strains determined the origins of marker chromosomes and provided a general overview of the rearrangement in DFTD karyotypes. Mapping of 105 BAC clones by fluorescence in situ hybridisation provided a finer level of resolution of genome rearrangements in DFTD strains. Our findings demonstrate that only limited regions of the genome, mainly chromosomes 1 and X, are rearranged in DFTD. Regions rearranged in DFTD are also highly rearranged between different marsupials. Differences between strains are limited, reflecting the unusually stable nature of DFTD. Finally, our detailed maps of both the devil and tumour karyotypes provide a physical framework for future genomic investigations into DFTD.