Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Cell nucleus


Sperm are highly differentiated and the activities that reprogram them for embryonic development during fertilization have historically been considered unique to the oocyte. We here challenge this view and demonstrate that mouse embryos in the mitotic cell cycle can also directly reprogram sperm for full-term development. Developmentally incompetent haploid embryos (parthenogenotes) injected with sperm developed to produce healthy offspring at up to 24% of control rates, depending when in the embryonic cell cycle injection took place. This implies that most of the first embryonic cell cycle can be bypassed in sperm genome reprogramming for full development. Remodelling of histones and genomic 5'-methylcytosine and 5'-hydroxymethylcytosine following embryo injection were distinct from remodelling in fertilization and the resulting 2-cell embryos consistently possessed abnormal transcriptomes. These studies demonstrate plasticity in the reprogramming of terminally differentiated sperm nuclei and suggest that different epigenetic pathways or kinetics can establish totipotency.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Embryo, Developmental biology, Embryology, Meiosis, Zygote


We employed an RNA-guided CRISPR/Cas9 DNA editing system to precisely remove the entire HIV-1 genome spanning between 5' and 3' LTRs of integrated HIV-1 proviral DNA copies from latently infected human CD4+ T-cells. Comprehensive assessment of whole-genome sequencing of HIV-1 eradicated cells ruled out any off-target effects by our CRISPR/Cas9 technology that might compromise the integrity of the host genome and further showed no effect on several cell health indices including viability, cell cycle and apoptosis. Persistent co-expression of Cas9 and the specific targeting guide RNAs in HIV-1-eradicated T-cells protected them against new infection by HIV-1. Lentivirus-delivered CRISPR/Cas9 significantly diminished HIV-1 replication in infected primary CD4+ T-cell cultures and drastically reduced viral load in ex vivo culture of CD4+ T-cells obtained from HIV-1 infected patients. Thus, gene editing using CRISPR/Cas9 may provide a new therapeutic path for eliminating HIV-1 DNA from CD4+ T-cells and potentially serve as a novel and effective platform toward curing AIDS.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Bacteria, Organism, Virus, Chromosome


Circadian organization of the mammalian transcriptome is achieved by rhythmic recruitment of key modifiers of chromatin structure and transcriptional and translational processes. These rhythmic processes, together with posttranslational modification, constitute circadian oscillators in the brain and peripheral tissues, which drive rhythms in physiology and behavior, including the sleep-wake cycle. In humans, sleep is normally timed to occur during the biological night, when body temperature is low and melatonin is synthesized. Desynchrony of sleep-wake timing and other circadian rhythms, such as occurs in shift work and jet lag, is associated with disruption of rhythmicity in physiology and endocrinology. However, to what extent mistimed sleep affects the molecular regulators of circadian rhythmicity remains to be established. Here, we show that mistimed sleep leads to a reduction of rhythmic transcripts in the human blood transcriptome from 6.4% at baseline to 1.0% during forced desynchrony of sleep and centrally driven circadian rhythms. Transcripts affected are key regulators of gene expression, including those associated with chromatin modification (methylases and acetylases), transcription (RNA polymerase II), translation (ribosomal proteins, initiation, and elongation factors), temperature-regulated transcription (cold inducible RNA-binding proteins), and core clock genes including CLOCK and ARNTL (BMAL1). We also estimated the separate contribution of sleep and circadian rhythmicity and found that the sleep-wake cycle coordinates the timing of transcription and translation in particular. The data show that mistimed sleep affects molecular processes at the core of circadian rhythm generation and imply that appropriate timing of sleep contributes significantly to the overall temporal organization of the human transcriptome.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Transcription, RNA, Circadian rhythm


The unicellular eukaryote Tetrahymena thermophila has seven mating types. Cells can mate only when they recognize cells of a different mating type as non-self. As a ciliate, Tetrahymena separates its germline and soma into two nuclei. During growth the somatic nucleus is responsible for all gene transcription while the germline nucleus remains silent. During mating, a new somatic nucleus is differentiated from a germline nucleus and mating type is decided by a stochastic process. We report here that the somatic mating type locus contains a pair of genes arranged head-to-head. Each gene encodes a mating type-specific segment and a transmembrane domain that is shared by all mating types. Somatic gene knockouts showed both genes are required for efficient non-self recognition and successful mating, as assessed by pair formation and progeny production. The germline mating type locus consists of a tandem array of incomplete gene pairs representing each potential mating type. During mating, a complete new gene pair is assembled at the somatic mating type locus; the incomplete genes of one gene pair are completed by joining to gene segments at each end of germline array. All other germline gene pairs are deleted in the process. These programmed DNA rearrangements make this a fascinating system of mating type determination.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Archaea, Bacteria, Chromosome


Mobile phone microscopes are a natural platform for point-of-care imaging, but current solutions require an externally powered illumination source, thereby adding bulk and cost. We present a mobile phone microscope that uses the internal flash or sunlight as the illumination source, thereby reducing complexity whilst maintaining functionality and performance. The microscope is capable of both brightfield and darkfield imaging modes, enabling microscopic visualisation of samples ranging from plant to mammalian cells. We describe the microscope design principles, assembly process, and demonstrate its imaging capabilities through the visualisation of unlabelled cell nuclei to observing the motility of cattle sperm and zooplankton.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Cell, Optics, Light, Microscope, Mobile phone, Optical microscope


Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is a unique technology that produces cloned animals from single cells. It is desirable from a practical viewpoint that donor cells can be collected noninvasively and used readily for nuclear transfer. The present study was undertaken to determine whether peripheral blood cells freshly collected from living mice could be used for SCNT. We collected a drop of peripheral blood (15-45 µl) from the tail of a donor. A nucleated cell (leukocyte) suspension was prepared by lysing the red blood cells. Following SCNT using randomly selected leukocyte nuclei, cloned offspring were born at a 2.8% birth rate. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting revealed that granulocytes/monocytes and lymphocytes could be roughly distinguished by their sizes, the former being significantly larger. We then cloned putative granulocytes/monocytes and lymphocytes separately, and obtained 2.1% and 1.7% birth rates, respectively (P > 0.05). Because the use of lymphocyte nuclei inevitably results in the birth of offspring with DNA rearrangements, we applied granulocyte/monocyte cloning to two genetically modified strains and two recombinant inbred strains. Normal-looking offspring were obtained from all four strains tested. The present study clearly indicated that genetic copies of mice could be produced using a drop of peripheral blood from living donors. This strategy will be applied to the rescue of infertile founder animals or a “last-of-line” animal possessing invaluable genetic resources.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Blood, Red blood cell, Cloning, Somatic cell nuclear transfer


Signals controlling the generation of regulatory B (Breg) cells remain ill-defined. Here we report an “auto”-regulatory feedback mechanism between plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) and Breg cells. In healthy individuals, pDCs drive the differentiation of CD19(+)CD24(hi)CD38(hi) (immature) B cells into IL-10-producing CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cells and plasmablasts, via the release of IFN-α and CD40 engagement. CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cells conversely restrained IFN-α production by pDCs via IL-10 release. In systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), this cross-talk was compromised; pDCs promoted plasmablast differentiation but failed to induce Breg cells. This defect was recapitulated in healthy B cells upon exposure to a high concentration of IFN-α. Defective pDC-mediated expansion of CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cell numbers in SLE was associated with altered STAT1 and STAT3 activation. Both altered pDC-CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cell interactions and STAT1-STAT3 activation were normalized in SLE patients responding to rituximab. We propose that alteration in pDC-CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cell interaction contributes to the pathogenesis of SLE.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Lupus erythematosus


One of the most common integrative medicine (IM) modalities is yoga and related practices. Previous work has shown that yoga may improve wellness in healthy people and have benefits for patients. However, the mechanisms of how yoga may positively affect the mind-body system are largely unknown. Here we have assessed possible rapid changes in global gene expression profiles in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in healthy people that practiced either a comprehensive yoga program or a control regimen. The experimental sessions included gentle yoga postures, breathing exercises, and meditation (Sudarshan Kriya and Related Practices - SK&P) compared with a control regimen of a nature walk and listening to relaxing music. We show that the SK&P program has a rapid and significantly greater effect on gene expression in PBMCs compared with the control regimen. These data suggest that yoga and related practices result in rapid gene expression alterations which may be the basis for their longer term cell biological and higher level health effects.

Concepts: DNA, Medicine, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Organism, PBMC


Here we report the discovery of two Tupanvirus strains, the longest tailed Mimiviridae members isolated in amoebae. Their genomes are 1.44-1.51 Mb linear double-strand DNA coding for 1276-1425 predicted proteins. Tupanviruses share the same ancestors with mimivirus lineages and these giant viruses present the largest translational apparatus within the known virosphere, with up to 70 tRNA, 20 aaRS, 11 factors for all translation steps, and factors related to tRNA/mRNA maturation and ribosome protein modification. Moreover, two sequences with significant similarity to intronic regions of 18 S rRNA genes are encoded by the tupanviruses and highly expressed. In this translation-associated gene set, only the ribosome is lacking. At high multiplicity of infections, tupanvirus is also cytotoxic and causes a severe shutdown of ribosomal RNA and a progressive degradation of the nucleus in host and non-host cells. The analysis of tupanviruses constitutes a new step toward understanding the evolution of giant viruses.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell nucleus, Virus, Genome, RNA, Ribosome


Parallel single-cell sequencing protocols represent powerful methods for investigating regulatory relationships, including epigenome-transcriptome interactions. Here, we report a single-cell method for parallel chromatin accessibility, DNA methylation and transcriptome profiling. scNMT-seq (single-cell nucleosome, methylation and transcription sequencing) uses a GpC methyltransferase to label open chromatin followed by bisulfite and RNA sequencing. We validate scNMT-seq by applying it to differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells, finding links between all three molecular layers and revealing dynamic coupling between epigenomic layers during differentiation.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Molecular biology, Histone, Stem cell, Embryonic stem cell