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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


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


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common hematological cancer in children. Although risk-adaptive therapy, CNS-directed chemotherapy, and supportive care have improved the survival of ALL patients, disease relapse is still the leading cause of cancer-related death in children. Therefore, new drugs are needed as frontline treatments in high-risk disease and as salvage agents in relapsed ALL. In this study, we report that purified sulforaphane, a natural isothiocyanate found in cruciferous vegetables, has anti-leukemic properties in a broad range of ALL cell lines and primary lymphoblasts from pediatric T-ALL and pre-B ALL patients. The treatment of ALL leukemic cells with sulforaphane resulted in dose-dependent apoptosis and G2/M cell cycle arrest, which was associated with the activation of caspases (3, 8, and 9), inactivation of PARP, p53-independent upregulation of p21(CIP1/WAF1), and inhibition of the Cdc2/Cyclin B1 complex. Interestingly, sulforaphane also inhibited the AKT and mTOR survival pathways in most of the tested cell lines by lowering the levels of both total and phosphorylated proteins. Finally, the administration of sulforaphane to the ALL xenograft models resulted in a reduction of tumor burden, particularly following oral administration, suggesting a potential role as an adjunctive agent to improve the therapeutic response in high-risk ALL patients with activated AKT signaling.

Concepts: Protein, Cell nucleus, Cancer, Cell biology, Chemotherapy, Cell cycle, Leukemia, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Eukaryotes have two types of spliceosomes, comprised of either major (U1, U2, U4, U5, U6) or minor (U11, U12, U4atac, U6atac; <1%) snRNPs. The high conservation of minor introns, typically one amidst many major introns in several hundred genes, despite their poor splicing, has been a long-standing enigma. Here, we discovered that the low abundance minor spliceosome's catalytic snRNP, U6atac, is strikingly unstable (t½<2 hr). We show that U6atac level depends on both RNA polymerases II and III and can be rapidly increased by cell stress-activated kinase p38MAPK, which stabilizes it, enhancing mRNA expression of hundreds of minor intron-containing genes that are otherwise suppressed by limiting U6atac. Furthermore, p38MAPK-dependent U6atac modulation can control minor intron-containing tumor suppressor PTEN expression and cytokine production. We propose that minor introns are embedded molecular switches regulated by U6atac abundance, providing a novel post-transcriptional gene expression mechanism and a rationale for the minor spliceosome's evolutionary conservation. DOI:

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, RNA, Messenger RNA, Spliceosome, RNA splicing


Ki-67 and RepoMan have key roles during mitotic exit. Previously, we showed that Ki-67 organizes the mitotic chromosome periphery and recruits protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) to chromatin at anaphase onset, in a similar manner as RepoMan (Booth et al., 2014). Here we show how Ki-67 and RepoMan form mitotic exit phosphatases by recruiting PP1, how they distinguish between distinct PP1 isoforms and how the assembly of these two holoenzymes are dynamically regulated by Aurora B kinase during mitosis. Unexpectedly, our data also reveal that Ki-67 and RepoMan bind PP1 using an identical, yet novel mechanism, interacting with a PP1 pocket that is engaged only by these two PP1 regulators. These findings not only show how two distinct mitotic exit phosphatases are recruited to their substrates, but also provide immediate opportunities for the design of novel cancer therapeutics that selectively target the Ki-67:PP1 and RepoMan:PP1 holoenzymes.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Enzyme, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Kinase, Mitosis, Chromatin, Phosphatase


Nuclear pore complexes form a selective filter that allows the rapid passage of transport factors (TFs) and their cargoes across the nuclear envelope, while blocking the passage of other macromolecules. Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) containing phenylalanyl-glycyl (FG) rich repeats line the pore and interact with TFs. However, the reason that transport can be both fast and specific remains undetermined, through lack of atomic-scale information on the behavior of FGs and their interaction with TFs. We used NMR spectroscopy to address these issues. We show that FG repeats are highly dynamic IDPs, stabilized by the cellular environment. Fast transport of TFs is supported because the rapid motion of FG motifs allows them to exchange on and off TFs extremely quickly through transient interactions. Because TFs uniquely carry multiple pockets for FG repeats, only they can form the many frequent interactions needed for specific passage between FG repeats to cross the NPC.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Cell nucleus, Nuclear magnetic resonance, NMR spectroscopy, Interaction, Nuclear pore, Nuclear envelope, The Passage