Medical Biology - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 346
Connexin-Dependent Transfer of cGAMP to Phagocytes Modulates Antiviral Responses
(AMER SOC MICROBIOLOGY, 2020-01-01)
Activation of cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP) synthase (cGAS) plays a critical role in antiviral responses to many DNA viruses. Sensing of cytosolic DNA by cGAS results in synthesis of the endogenous second messenger cGAMP that activates stimulator of interferon genes (STING) in infected cells. Critically, cGAMP can also propagate antiviral responses to uninfected cells through intercellular transfer, although the modalities of this transfer between epithelial and immune cells remain poorly defined. We demonstrate here that cGAMP-producing epithelial cells can transactivate STING in cocultured macrophages through direct cGAMP transfer. cGAMP transfer was reliant upon connexin expression by epithelial cells and pharmacological inhibition of connexins blunted STING-dependent transactivation of the macrophage compartment. Macrophage transactivation by cGAMP contributed to a positive-feedback loop amplifying antiviral responses, significantly protecting uninfected epithelial cells against viral infection. Collectively, our findings constitute the first direct evidence of a connexin-dependent cGAMP transfer to macrophages by epithelial cells, to amplify antiviral responses.IMPORTANCE Recent studies suggest that extracellular cGAMP can be taken up by macrophages to engage STING through several mechanisms. Our work demonstrates that connexin-dependent communication between epithelial cells and macrophages plays a significant role in the amplification of antiviral responses mediated by cGAMP and suggests that pharmacological strategies aimed at modulating connexins may have therapeutic applications to control antiviral responses in humans.
Microsatellites for next-generation ecologists: a post-sequencing bioinformatics pipeline.
(Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2013)
Microsatellites are the markers of choice for a variety of population genetic studies. The recent advent of next-generation pyrosequencing has drastically accelerated microsatellite locus discovery by providing a greater amount of DNA sequencing reads at lower costs compared to other techniques. However, laboratory testing of PCR primers targeting potential microsatellite markers remains time consuming and costly. Here we show how to reduce this workload by screening microsatellite loci via bioinformatic analyses prior to primer design. Our method emphasizes the importance of sequence quality, and we avoid loci associated with repetitive elements by screening with repetitive sequence databases available for a growing number of taxa. Testing with the Yellowstripe Goatfish Mulloidichthys flavolineatus and the marine planktonic copepod Pleuromamma xiphias we show higher success rate of primers selected by our pipeline in comparison to previous in silico microsatellite detection methodologies. Following the same pipeline, we discover and select microsatellite loci in nine additional species including fishes, sea stars, copepods and octopuses.
Depth as an organizing force in Pocillopora damicornis: intra-reef genetic architecture.
(Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2015)
Relative to terrestrial plants, and despite similarities in life history characteristics, the potential for corals to exhibit intra-reef local adaptation in the form of genetic differentiation along an environmental gradient has received little attention. The potential for natural selection to act on such small scales is likely increased by the ability of coral larval dispersal and settlement to be influenced by environmental cues. Here, we combine genetic, spatial, and environmental data for a single patch reef in Kāne'ohe Bay, O'ahu, Hawai'i, USA in a landscape genetics framework to uncover environmental drivers of intra-reef genetic structuring. The genetic dataset consists of near-exhaustive sampling (n = 2352) of the coral, Pocillopora damicornis at our study site and six microsatellite genotypes. In addition, three environmental parameters - depth and two depth-independent temperature indices - were collected on a 4 m grid across 85 locations throughout the reef. We use ordinary kriging to spatially interpolate our environmental data and estimate the three environmental parameters for each colony. Partial Mantel tests indicate a significant correlation between genetic relatedness and depth while controlling for space. These results are also supported by multi-model inference. Furthermore, spatial Principle Component Analysis indicates a statistically significant genetic cline along a depth gradient. Binning the genetic dataset based on size-class revealed that the correlation between genetic relatedness and depth was significant for new recruits and increased for larger size classes, suggesting a possible role of larval habitat selection as well as selective mortality in structuring intra-reef genetic diversity. That both pre- and post-recruitment processes may be involved points to the adaptive role of larval habitat selection in increasing adult survival. The conservation importance of uncovering intra-reef patterns of genetic diversity is discussed.
Circulating gluten-specific, but not CMV-specific, CD39(+) regulatory T cells have an oligoclonal TCR repertoire
Objectives: Understanding the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire of regulatory CD4+ T-cell (Treg) populations is important for strategies aiming to re-establish tolerance in autoimmune diseases. We studied circulating deamidated gluten-epitope-specific CD39+ Tregs in patients with coeliac disease following an oral gluten challenge, and we used cytomegalovirus (CMV)-specific CD39+ Tregs from healthy controls as a comparator population. Methods: We used the OX40 assay to isolate antigen-specific Tregs by induced surface co-expression of CD25, OX40 and CD39. RACE PCR amplification and Sanger sequencing of the TCR β chain were used to analyse repertoire diversity. Results: We found that, following oral gluten challenge, circulating gluten-specific CD39+ Tregs had an oligoclonal TCR repertoire that contained public clonotypes. Conversely, the TCR repertoire of CMV-epitope-specific CD39+ Tregs from healthy controls was polyclonal. Discussion: These data indicate that a biased TCR repertoire is not inherent to CD39+ Tregs, and, in this case, is apparently driven by the HLA-DQ2.5-restricted deamidated gluten peptide in coeliac disease patients. Conclusion: This is the first assessment of the TCR repertoire within circulating human Tregs specific for foreign antigen. These data enhance our understanding of antigen-specific CD4+ responses in the settings of chronic inflammation and infection and may help guide immunomonitoring strategies for CD4+ T cell-based therapies, particularly for coeliac disease.
Retrospective study on the usefulness of pulse oximetry for the identification of young children with severe illnesses and severe pneumonia in a rural outpatient clinic of Papua New Guinea
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2019-04-15)
OBJECTIVE: This secondary analysis of data of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) retrospectively investigated the performance of pulse oximetry in identifying children with severe illnesses, with and without respiratory signs/symptoms, in a cohort of children followed for morbid episodes in an intervention trial assessing the efficacy of Intermittent Preventive Treatment for malaria in infants (IPTi) in Papua New Guinea (PNG) from June 2006 to May 2010. SETTING: The IPTi study was conducted in a paediatric population visiting two health centres on the north coast of PNG in the Mugil area of the Sumkar District. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 669 children visited the clinic and a total of 1921 illness episodes were recorded. Inclusion criteria were: age between 3 and 27 months, full clinical record (signs/symptoms) and pulse oximetry used systematically to assess sick children at all visits. Children were excluded if they visited the clinic in the previous 14 days. OUTCOMES: The outcome measures were severe illness, severe pneumonia, pneumonia, defined by the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) definitions, and hospitalization. RESULTS: Out of 1921 illness episodes, 1663 fulfilled the inclusion criteria. A total of 139 severe illnesses were identified, of which 93 were severe pneumonia. The ROC curves of pulse oximetry (continuous variable) showed an AUC of 0.63, 0.68 and 0.65 for prediction of severe illness, severe pneumonia and hospitalization, respectively. Pulse oximetry allowed better discrimination between severe and non-severe illness, severe and non-severe pneumonia, admitted and non-admitted patients, in children ≤12-months of age relative to older patients. For the threshold of peripheral arterial oxygen saturation ≤ 94% measured by pulse oximetry (SpO2), unadjusted odds ratios for severe illness, severe pneumonia and hospitalization were 6.1 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 3.9-9.8), 8.5 (4.9-14.6) and 5.9 (3.4-10.3), respectively. CONCLUSION: Pulse oximetry was helpful in identifying children with severe illness in outpatient facilities in PNG. A SpO2 of 94% seems the most discriminative threshold. Considering its affordability and ease of use, pulse oximetry could be a valuable additional tool assisting the decision to admit for treatment.
miR-181a/b-1 controls thymic selection of Treg cells and tunes their suppressive capacity
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2019-03-01)
The interdependence of selective cues during development of regulatory T cells (Treg cells) in the thymus and their suppressive function remains incompletely understood. Here, we analyzed this interdependence by taking advantage of highly dynamic changes in expression of microRNA 181 family members miR-181a-1 and miR-181b-1 (miR-181a/b-1) during late T-cell development with very high levels of expression during thymocyte selection, followed by massive down-regulation in the periphery. Loss of miR-181a/b-1 resulted in inefficient de novo generation of Treg cells in the thymus but simultaneously permitted homeostatic expansion in the periphery in the absence of competition. Modulation of T-cell receptor (TCR) signal strength in vivo indicated that miR-181a/b-1 controlled Treg-cell formation via establishing adequate signaling thresholds. Unexpectedly, miR-181a/b-1-deficient Treg cells displayed elevated suppressive capacity in vivo, in line with elevated levels of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated 4 (CTLA-4) protein, but not mRNA, in thymic and peripheral Treg cells. Therefore, we propose that intrathymic miR-181a/b-1 controls development of Treg cells and imposes a developmental legacy on their peripheral function.
The impact of translated reminder letters and phone calls on mammography screening booking rates: Two randomised controlled trials
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2020-01-10)
INTRODUCTION: Participation in mammographic screening for breast cancer in Australia is approximately 54% among the general population, but screening among women from some culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds is lower. BreastScreen Victoria apply strategies to increase screening including reminder letters and phone calls; however, these are usually provided in English. Using intervention strategies generated from the Ophelia (OPtimise HEalth LIteracy and Access) community co-design process, translated mammography reminder letters and in-language phone calls were tested within two randomised control trials (RCTs). METHODS AND ANALYSIS: Women aged 50-75 years who were due for their 2-yearly screening mammography (for RCT#1) or were under-screened, i.e. ≥27 months since last screen (for RCT#2) were randomised into intervention or control groups. RCT#1 compared sending women routine reminder letters (English only) with translated (Arabic or Italian) letters. RCT#2 compared reminder telephone calls to women in their preferred language (Arabic or Italian) to no telephone call. The primary outcome for each trial was screening booking rates within 14-days. Primary outcomes were tested using Pearson's chi-square test. Rates within language group (incidence ratio: IR) were compared using the Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test. RESULTS: For RCT#1 (letters) 1,032 women were randomised into the intervention arm or to usual care. Uptake of screening bookings was similar between both groups, with no differences observed by language group. For RCT#2 (phone calls), 195 women were randomised to the intervention group or to usual care. Overall, 64.2% of women in the intervention arm and 6% in the control arm booked a screening appointment within 14 days (p<0.0001). The IR (95%CI) of booking was 10.1 (3.9, 26.3) times higher among Italian women, and 11.6 (2.9, 46.5) times higher among Arabic women in the intervention compared to usual care groups. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: A service improvement initiative derived from community members and breast screen providers was found to be highly effective. This evidence informed the service provider, BreastScreen Victoria, who have implemented these improvements into routine practice to improve screening among CALD groups and reduce health inequalities.
qtQDA: quantile transformed quadratic discriminant analysis for high-dimensional RNA-seq data
(PEERJ INC, 2019-12-18)
Classification on the basis of gene expression data derived from RNA-seq promises to become an important part of modern medicine. We propose a new classification method based on a model where the data is marginally negative binomial but dependent, thereby incorporating the dependence known to be present between measurements from different genes. The method, called qtQDA, works by first performing a quantile transformation (qt) then applying Gaussian quadratic discriminant analysis (QDA) using regularized covariance matrix estimates. We show that qtQDA has excellent performance when applied to real data sets and has advantages over some existing approaches. An R package implementing the method is also available on https://github.com/goknurginer/qtQDA.
Neutralising antibodies block the function of Rh5/Ripr/CyRPA complex during invasion of Plasmodium falciparum into human erythrocytes
An effective vaccine is a priority for malaria control and elimination. The leading candidate in the Plasmodium falciparum blood stage is PfRh5. PfRh5 assembles into trimeric complex with PfRipr and PfCyRPA in the parasite, and this complex is essential for erythrocyte invasion. In this study, we show that antibodies specific for PfRh5 and PfCyRPA prevent trimeric complex formation. We identify the EGF-7 domain on PfRipr as a neutralising epitope and demonstrate that antibodies against this region act downstream of complex formation to prevent merozoite invasion. Antibodies against the C-terminal region of PfRipr were more inhibitory than those against either PfRh5 or PfCyRPA alone, and a combination of antibodies against PfCyRPA and PfRipr acted synergistically to reduce invasion. This study supports prioritisation of PfRipr for development as part of a next-generation antimalarial vaccine.
Latest techniques to study DNA methylation
(PORTLAND PRESS LTD, 2019-01-01)
Bisulfite sequencing is a powerful technique to detect 5-methylcytosine in DNA that has immensely contributed to our understanding of epigenetic regulation in plants and animals. Meanwhile, research on other base modifications, including 6-methyladenine and 4-methylcytosine that are frequent in prokaryotes, has been impeded by the lack of a comparable technique. Bisulfite sequencing also suffers from a number of drawbacks that are difficult to surmount, among which DNA degradation, lack of specificity, or short reads with low sequence diversity. In this review, we explore the recent refinements to bisulfite sequencing protocols that enable targeting genomic regions of interest, detecting derivatives of 5-methylcytosine, and mapping single-cell methylomes. We then present the unique advantage of long-read sequencing in detecting base modifications in native DNA and highlight the respective strengths and weaknesses of PacBio and Nanopore sequencing for this application. Although analysing epigenetic data from long-read platforms remains challenging, the ability to detect various modified bases from a universal sample preparation, in addition to the mapping and phasing advantages of the longer read lengths, provide long-read sequencing with a decisive edge over short-read bisulfite sequencing for an expanding number of applications across kingdoms.
Recommendations for the collection and use of multiplexed functional data for clinical variant interpretation
Variants of uncertain significance represent a massive challenge to medical genetics. Multiplexed functional assays, in which the functional effects of thousands of genomic variants are assessed simultaneously, are increasingly generating data that can be used as additional evidence for or against variant pathogenicity. Such assays have the potential to resolve variants of uncertain significance, thereby increasing the clinical utility of genomic testing. Existing standards from the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG)/Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) and new guidelines from the Clinical Genome Resource (ClinGen) establish the role of functional data in variant interpretation, but do not address the specific challenges or advantages of using functional data derived from multiplexed assays. Here, we build on these existing guidelines to provide recommendations to experimentalists for the production and reporting of multiplexed functional data and to clinicians for the evaluation and use of such data. By following these recommendations, experimentalists can produce transparent, complete, and well-validated datasets that are primed for clinical uptake. Our recommendations to clinicians and diagnostic labs on how to evaluate the quality of multiplexed functional datasets, and how different datasets could be incorporated into the ACMG/AMP variant-interpretation framework, will hopefully clarify whether and how such data should be used. The recommendations that we provide are designed to enhance the quality and utility of multiplexed functional data, and to promote their judicious use.