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

Journal: Cell


Drosophila melanogaster has a rich repertoire of innate and learned behaviors. Its 100,000-neuron brain is a large but tractable target for comprehensive neural circuit mapping. Only electron microscopy (EM) enables complete, unbiased mapping of synaptic connectivity; however, the fly brain is too large for conventional EM. We developed a custom high-throughput EM platform and imaged the entire brain of an adult female fly at synaptic resolution. To validate the dataset, we traced brain-spanning circuitry involving the mushroom body (MB), which has been extensively studied for its role in learning. All inputs to Kenyon cells (KCs), the intrinsic neurons of the MB, were mapped, revealing a previously unknown cell type, postsynaptic partners of KC dendrites, and unexpected clustering of olfactory projection neurons. These reconstructions show that this freely available EM volume supports mapping of brain-spanning circuits, which will significantly accelerate Drosophila neuroscience. VIDEO ABSTRACT.


Whereas domestication of livestock, pets, and crops is well documented, it is still unclear to what extent microbes associated with the production of food have also undergone human selection and where the plethora of industrial strains originates from. Here, we present the genomes and phenomes of 157 industrial Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeasts. Our analyses reveal that today’s industrial yeasts can be divided into five sublineages that are genetically and phenotypically separated from wild strains and originate from only a few ancestors through complex patterns of domestication and local divergence. Large-scale phenotyping and genome analysis further show strong industry-specific selection for stress tolerance, sugar utilization, and flavor production, while the sexual cycle and other phenotypes related to survival in nature show decay, particularly in beer yeasts. Together, these results shed light on the origins, evolutionary history, and phenotypic diversity of industrial yeasts and provide a resource for further selection of superior strains. PAPERCLIP.

Concepts: Gene, Natural selection, Evolution, Genome, Fungus, Phenotype, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Brewing


Induction of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) is a primary goal of HIV vaccine development. VRC01-class bnAbs are important vaccine leads because their precursor B cells targeted by an engineered priming immunogen are relatively common among humans. This priming immunogen has demonstrated the ability to initiate a bnAb response in animal models, but recall and maturation toward bnAb development has not been shown. Here, we report the development of boosting immunogens designed to guide the genetic and functional maturation of previously primed VRC01-class precursors. Boosting a transgenic mouse model expressing germline VRC01 heavy chains produced broad neutralization of near-native isolates (N276A) and weak neutralization of fully native HIV. Functional and genetic characteristics indicate that the boosted mAbs are consistent with partially mature VRC01-class antibodies and place them on a maturation trajectory that leads toward mature VRC01-class bnAbs. The results show how reductionist sequential immunization can guide maturation of HIV bnAb responses.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Genetics, Gene expression, Bacteria, Developmental biology, Vaccine, Antigen


The body-wide human microbiome plays a role in health, but its full diversity remains uncharacterized, particularly outside of the gut and in international populations. We leveraged 9,428 metagenomes to reconstruct 154,723 microbial genomes (45% of high quality) spanning body sites, ages, countries, and lifestyles. We recapitulated 4,930 species-level genome bins (SGBs), 77% without genomes in public repositories (unknown SGBs [uSGBs]). uSGBs are prevalent (in 93% of well-assembled samples), expand underrepresented phyla, and are enriched in non-Westernized populations (40% of the total SGBs). We annotated 2.85 M genes in SGBs, many associated with conditions including infant development (94,000) or Westernization (106,000). SGBs and uSGBs permit deeper microbiome analyses and increase the average mappability of metagenomic reads from 67.76% to 87.51% in the gut (median 94.26%) and 65.14% to 82.34% in the mouth. We thus identify thousands of microbial genomes from yet-to-be-named species, expand the pangenomes of human-associated microbes, and allow better exploitation of metagenomic technologies.


The bacteria Yersinia pestis is the etiological agent of plague and has caused human pandemics with millions of deaths in historic times. How and when it originated remains contentious. Here, we report the oldest direct evidence of Yersinia pestis identified by ancient DNA in human teeth from Asia and Europe dating from 2,800 to 5,000 years ago. By sequencing the genomes, we find that these ancient plague strains are basal to all known Yersinia pestis. We find the origins of the Yersinia pestis lineage to be at least two times older than previous estimates. We also identify a temporal sequence of genetic changes that lead to increased virulence and the emergence of the bubonic plague. Our results show that plague infection was endemic in the human populations of Eurasia at least 3,000 years before any historical recordings of pandemics.

Concepts: Bacteria, Europe, Yersinia pestis, Bubonic plague, Black Death, Plague, World population, Third Pandemic


In mammals, endogenous circadian clocks sense and respond to daily feeding and lighting cues, adjusting internal ∼24 h rhythms to resonate with, and anticipate, external cycles of day and night. The mechanism underlying circadian entrainment to feeding time is critical for understanding why mistimed feeding, as occurs during shift work, disrupts circadian physiology, a state that is associated with increased incidence of chronic diseases such as type 2 (T2) diabetes. We show that feeding-regulated hormones insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) reset circadian clocks in vivo and in vitro by induction of PERIOD proteins, and mistimed insulin signaling disrupts circadian organization of mouse behavior and clock gene expression. Insulin and IGF-1 receptor signaling is sufficient to determine essential circadian parameters, principally via increased PERIOD protein synthesis. This requires coincident mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) activation, increased phosphoinositide signaling, and microRNA downregulation. Besides its well-known homeostatic functions, we propose insulin and IGF-1 are primary signals of feeding time to cellular clocks throughout the body.


APS1/APECED patients are defined by defects in the autoimmune regulator (AIRE) that mediates central T cell tolerance to many self-antigens. AIRE deficiency also affects B cell tolerance, but this is incompletely understood. Here we show that most APS1/APECED patients displayed B cell autoreactivity toward unique sets of approximately 100 self-proteins. Thereby, autoantibodies from 81 patients collectively detected many thousands of human proteins. The loss of B cell tolerance seemingly occurred during antibody affinity maturation, an obligatorily T cell-dependent step. Consistent with this, many APS1/APECED patients harbored extremely high-affinity, neutralizing autoantibodies, particularly against specific cytokines. Such antibodies were biologically active in vitro and in vivo, and those neutralizing type I interferons (IFNs) showed a striking inverse correlation with type I diabetes, not shown by other anti-cytokine antibodies. Thus, naturally occurring human autoantibodies may actively limit disease and be of therapeutic utility.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Protein, Cytokine, Diabetes mellitus type 1, Immunology, Interferon, Somatic hypermutation


The melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) is a G protein-coupled receptor whose disruption causes obesity. We functionally characterized 61 MC4R variants identified in 0.5 million people from UK Biobank and examined their associations with body mass index (BMI) and obesity-related cardiometabolic diseases. We found that the maximal efficacy of β-arrestin recruitment to MC4R, rather than canonical Gαs-mediated cyclic adenosine-monophosphate production, explained 88% of the variance in the association of MC4R variants with BMI. While most MC4R variants caused loss of function, a subset caused gain of function; these variants were associated with significantly lower BMI and lower odds of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and coronary artery disease. Protective associations were driven by MC4R variants exhibiting signaling bias toward β-arrestin recruitment and increased mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway activation. Harnessing β-arrestin-biased MC4R signaling may represent an effective strategy for weight loss and the treatment of obesity-related cardiometabolic diseases.


Immune evasion is a hallmark of cancer. Losing the ability to present neoantigens through human leukocyte antigen (HLA) loss may facilitate immune evasion. However, the polymorphic nature of the locus has precluded accurate HLA copy-number analysis. Here, we present loss of heterozygosity in human leukocyte antigen (LOHHLA), a computational tool to determine HLA allele-specific copy number from sequencing data. Using LOHHLA, we find that HLA LOH occurs in 40% of non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) and is associated with a high subclonal neoantigen burden, APOBEC-mediated mutagenesis, upregulation of cytolytic activity, and PD-L1 positivity. The focal nature of HLA LOH alterations, their subclonal frequencies, enrichment in metastatic sites, and occurrence as parallel events suggests that HLA LOH is an immune escape mechanism that is subject to strong microenvironmental selection pressures later in tumor evolution. Characterizing HLA LOH with LOHHLA refines neoantigen prediction and may have implications for our understanding of resistance mechanisms and immunotherapeutic approaches targeting neoantigens. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Metastasis, Mutation, Lung cancer, Cancer staging, Immunology, Human leukocyte antigen


The Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) is the leading target for next-generation vaccines against the disease-causing blood-stage of malaria. However, little is known about how human antibodies confer functional immunity against this antigen. We isolated a panel of human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against PfRH5 from peripheral blood B cells from vaccinees in the first clinical trial of a PfRH5-based vaccine. We identified a subset of mAbs with neutralizing activity that bind to three distinct sites and another subset of mAbs that are non-functional, or even antagonistic to neutralizing antibodies. We also identify the epitope of a novel group of non-neutralizing antibodies that significantly reduce the speed of red blood cell invasion by the merozoite, thereby potentiating the effect of all neutralizing PfRH5 antibodies as well as synergizing with antibodies targeting other malaria invasion proteins. Our results provide a roadmap for structure-guided vaccine development to maximize antibody efficacy against blood-stage malaria.