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Journal: Communications biology


Understanding the age structure and population dynamics of harvested species is crucial for sustainability, especially in fisheries. The Bigmouth Buffalo (Ictiobus cyprinellus) is a fish endemic to the Mississippi and Hudson Bay drainages. A valued food-fish for centuries, they are now a prized sportfish as night bowfishing has become a million-dollar industry in the past decade. All harvest is virtually unregulated and unstudied, and Bigmouth Buffalo are declining while little is known about their biology. Using thin-sectioned otoliths and bomb-radiocarbon dating, we find Bigmouth Buffalo can reach 112 years of age, more than quadrupling previous longevity estimates, making this the oldest known freshwater teleost (~12,000 species). We document numerous populations that are comprised largely (85-90%) of individuals over 80 years old, suggesting long-term recruitment failure since dam construction in the 1930s. Our findings indicate Bigmouth Buffalo require urgent attention, while other understudied fishes may be threatened by similar ecological neglect.


Glioblastoma (GBM) is an aggressive primary human brain tumour that has resisted effective therapy for decades. Although glucose and glutamine are the major fuels that drive GBM growth and invasion, few studies have targeted these fuels for therapeutic management. The glutamine antagonist, 6-diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine (DON), was administered together with a calorically restricted ketogenic diet (KD-R) to treat late-stage orthotopic growth in two syngeneic GBM mouse models: VM-M3 and CT-2A. DON targets glutaminolysis, while the KD-R reduces glucose and, simultaneously, elevates neuroprotective and non-fermentable ketone bodies. The diet/drug therapeutic strategy killed tumour cells while reversing disease symptoms, and improving overall mouse survival. The therapeutic strategy also reduces edema, hemorrhage, and inflammation. Moreover, the KD-R diet facilitated DON delivery to the brain and allowed a lower dosage to achieve therapeutic effect. The findings support the importance of glucose and glutamine in driving GBM growth and provide a therapeutic strategy for non-toxic metabolic management.


Tumor organoids maintain cell-cell interactions, heterogeneity, microenvironment, and drug response of the sample they originate from. Thus, there is increasing interest in developing tumor organoid models for drug development and personalized medicine applications. Although organoids are in principle amenable to high-throughput screenings, progress has been hampered by technical constraints and extensive manipulations required by current methods. Here we introduce a miniaturized method that uses a simplified geometry by seeding cells around the rim of the wells (mini-rings). This allows high-throughput screenings in a format compatible with automation as shown using four patient-derived tumor organoids established from two ovarian and one peritoneal high-grade serous carcinomas and one carcinosarcoma of the ovary. Using our automated screening platform, we identified personalized responses by measuring viability, number, and size of organoids after exposure to 240 kinase inhibitors. Results are available within a week from surgery, a timeline compatible with therapeutic decision-making.


Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) constitute promising alternatives to classical antibiotics for the treatment of drug-resistant infections, which are a rapidly emerging global health challenge. However, our understanding of the structure-function relationships of AMPs is limited, and we are just beginning to rationally engineer peptides in order to develop them as therapeutics. Here, we leverage a physicochemical-guided peptide design strategy to identify specific functional hotspots in the wasp-derived AMP polybia-CP and turn this toxic peptide into a viable antimicrobial. Helical fraction, hydrophobicity, and hydrophobic moment are identified as key structural and physicochemical determinants of antimicrobial activity, utilized in combination with rational engineering to generate synthetic AMPs with therapeutic activity in a mouse model. We demonstrate that, by tuning these physicochemical parameters, it is possible to design nontoxic synthetic peptides with enhanced sub-micromolar antimicrobial potency in vitro and anti-infective activity in vivo. We present a physicochemical-guided rational design strategy to generate peptide antibiotics.


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that currently affects 36 million people worldwide with no effective treatment available. Development of AD follows a distinctive pattern in the brain and is poorly modelled in animals. Therefore, it is vital to widen the spatial scope of the study of AD and prioritise the study of human brains. Here we show that functionally distinct human brain regions display varying and region-specific changes in protein expression. These changes provide insights into the progression of disease, novel AD-related pathways, the presence of a gradient of protein expression change from less to more affected regions and a possibly protective protein expression profile in the cerebellum. This spatial proteomics analysis provides a framework which can underpin current research and open new avenues to enhance molecular understanding of AD pathophysiology, provide new targets for intervention and broaden the conceptual frameworks for future AD research.


Restoration of cognitive function in old mice by transfer of blood or plasma from young mice has been attributed to reduced C-C motif chemokine ligand 11 (CCL11) and β2-microglobulin, which are thought to suppress neurogenesis in the aging brain. However, the specific role of the hematopoietic system in this rejuvenation has not been defined and the importance of neurogenesis in old mice is unclear. Here we report that transplantation of young bone marrow to rejuvenate the hematopoietic system preserved cognitive function in old recipient mice, despite irradiation-induced suppression of neurogenesis, and without reducing β2-microglobulin. Instead, young bone marrow transplantation preserved synaptic connections and reduced microglial activation in the hippocampus. Circulating CCL11 levels were lower in young bone marrow recipients, and CCL11 administration in young mice had the opposite effect, reducing synapses and increasing microglial activation. In conclusion, young blood or bone marrow may represent a future therapeutic strategy for neurodegenerative disease.


Presence of the integrated endogenous banana streak virus (eBSV) in the B genome of plantain (AAB) is a major challenge for breeding and dissemination of hybrids. As the eBSV activates into infectious viral particles under stress, the progenitor Musa balbisiana and its derivants, having at least one B genome, cannot be used as parents for crop improvement. Here, we report a strategy to inactivate the eBSV by editing the virus sequences. The regenerated genome-edited events of Gonja Manjaya showed mutations in the targeted sites with the potential to prevent proper transcription or/and translational into functional viral proteins. Seventy-five percent of the edited events remained asymptomatic in comparison to the non-edited control plants under water stress conditions, confirming inactivation of eBSV into infectious viral particles. This study paves the way for the improvement of B genome germplasm and its use in breeding programs to produce hybrids that can be globally disseminated.


With the advent of polymyxin B (PmB) resistance in bacteria, the mechanisms for mcr-1 resistance are of crucial importance in the design of novel therapeutics. The mcr-1 phenotype is known to decrease membrane charge and increase membrane packing by modification of the bacterial outer membrane. We used X-ray diffraction, Molecular Dynamics simulations, electrochemistry, and leakage assays to determine the location of PmB in different membranes and assess membrane damage. By varying membrane charge and lipid tail packing independently, we show that increasing membrane surface charge promotes penetration of PmB and membrane damage, whereas increasing lipid packing decreases penetration and damage. The penetration of the PmB molecules is well described by a phenomenological model that relates an attractive electrostatic and a repulsive force opposing insertion due to increased membrane packing. The model applies well to several gram-negative bacterial strains and may be used to predict resistance strength.


Aircraft emissions contribute to local and global air pollution. Health effects of particulate matter (PM) from aircraft engines are largely unknown, since controlled cell exposures at relevant conditions are challenging. We examined the toxicity of non-volatile PM (nvPM) emissions from a CFM56-7B26 turbofan, the world’s most used aircraft turbine using an unprecedented exposure setup. We combined direct turbine-exhaust sampling under realistic engine operating conditions and the Nano-Aerosol Chamber for In vitro Toxicity to deposit particles onto air-liquid-interface cultures of human bronchial epithelial cells (BEAS-2B) at physiological conditions. We evaluated acute cellular responses after 1-h exposures to diluted exhaust from conventional or alternative fuel combustion. We show that single, short-term exposures to nvPM impair bronchial epithelial cells, and PM from conventional fuel at ground-idle conditions is the most hazardous. Electron microscopy of soot reveals varying reactivity matching the observed cellular responses. Stronger responses at lower mass concentrations suggest that additional metrics are necessary to evaluate health risks of this increasingly important emission source.


Aging populations face diminishing quality of life due to increased disease and morbidity. These challenges call for longevity research to focus on understanding the pathways controlling healthspan. We use the data from the UK Biobank (UKB) cohort and observe that the risks of major chronic diseases increased exponentially and double every eight years, i.e., at a rate compatible with the Gompertz mortality law. Assuming that aging drives the acceleration in morbidity rates, we build a risk model to predict the age at the end of healthspan depending on age, gender, and genetic background. Using the sub-population of 300,447 British individuals as a discovery cohort, we identify 12 loci associated with healthspan at the whole-genome significance level. We find strong genetic correlations between healthspan and all-cause mortality, life-history, and lifestyle traits. We thereby conclude that the healthspan offers a promising new way to interrogate the genetics of human longevity.