Journal: Protein & cell
Genome editing tools such as the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-associated system (Cas) have been widely used to modify genes in model systems including animal zygotes and human cells, and hold tremendous promise for both basic research and clinical applications. To date, a serious knowledge gap remains in our understanding of DNA repair mechanisms in human early embryos, and in the efficiency and potential off-target effects of using technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 in human pre-implantation embryos. In this report, we used tripronuclear (3PN) zygotes to further investigate CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in human cells. We found that CRISPR/Cas9 could effectively cleave the endogenous β-globin gene (HBB). However, the efficiency of homologous recombination directed repair (HDR) of HBB was low and the edited embryos were mosaic. Off-target cleavage was also apparent in these 3PN zygotes as revealed by the T7E1 assay and whole-exome sequencing. Furthermore, the endogenous delta-globin gene (HBD), which is homologous to HBB, competed with exogenous donor oligos to act as the repair template, leading to untoward mutations. Our data also indicated that repair of the HBB locus in these embryos occurred preferentially through the non-crossover HDR pathway. Taken together, our work highlights the pressing need to further improve the fidelity and specificity of the CRISPR/Cas9 platform, a prerequisite for any clinical applications of CRSIPR/Cas9-mediated editing.
Blastocyst complementation by pluripotent stem cell (PSC) injection is believed to be the most promising method to generate xenogeneic organs. However, ethical issues prevent the study of human chimeras in the late embryonic stage of development. Primate embryonic stem cells (ESCs), which have similar pluripotency to human ESCs, are a good model for studying interspecies chimerism and organ generation. However, whether primate ESCs can be used in xenogenous grafts remains unclear. In this study, we evaluated the chimeric ability of cynomolgus monkey (Macaca fascicularis) ESCs (cmESCs) in pigs, which are excellent hosts because of their many similarities to humans. We report an optimized culture medium that enhanced the anti-apoptotic ability of cmESCs and improved the development of chimeric embryos, in which domesticated cmESCs (D-ESCs) injected into pig blastocysts differentiated into cells of all three germ layers. In addition, we obtained two neonatal interspecies chimeras, in which we observed tissue-specific D-ESC differentiation. Taken together, the results demonstrate the capability of D-ESCs to integrate and differentiate into functional cells in a porcine model, with a chimeric ratio of 0.001-0.0001 in different neonate tissues. We believe this work will facilitate future developments in xenogeneic organogenesis, bringing us one step closer to producing tissue-specific functional cells and organs in a large animal model through interspecies blastocyst complementation.
Irreversible destruction of bronchi and alveoli can lead to multiple incurable lung diseases. Identifying lung stem/progenitor cells with regenerative capacity and utilizing them to reconstruct functional tissue is one of the biggest hopes to reverse the damage and cure such diseases. Here we showed that a rare population of SOX9+ basal cells (BCs) located at airway epithelium rugae can regenerate adult human lung. Human SOX9+ BCs can be readily isolated by bronchoscopic brushing and indefinitely expanded in feeder-free condition. Expanded human SOX9+ BCs can give rise to alveolar and bronchiolar epithelium after being transplanted into injured mouse lung, with air-blood exchange system reconstructed and recipient’s lung function improved. Manipulation of lung microenvironment with Pirfenidone to suppress TGF-β signaling could further boost the transplantation efficiency. Moreover, we conducted the first autologous SOX9+ BCs transplantation clinical trial in two bronchiectasis patients. Lung tissue repair and pulmonary function enhancement was observed in patients 3-12 months after cell transplantation. Altogether our current work indicated that functional adult human lung structure can be reconstituted by orthotopic transplantation of tissue-specific stem/progenitor cells, which could be translated into a mature regenerative therapeutic strategy in near future.
Detection of protein-protein interaction can provide valuable information for investigating the biological function of proteins. The current methods that applied in protein-protein interaction, such as co-immunoprecipitation and pull down etc., often cause plenty of working time due to the burdensome cloning and purification procedures. Here we established a system that characterization of protein-protein interaction was accomplished by co-expression and simply purification of target proteins from one expression cassette within E. coli system. We modified pET vector into co-expression vector pInvivo which encoded PPV NIa protease, two cleavage site F and two multiple cloning sites that flanking cleavage sites. The target proteins (for example: protein A and protein B) were inserted at multiple cloning sites and translated into polyprotein in the order of MBP tag-protein A-site F-PPV NIa protease-site F-protein B-His(6) tag. PPV NIa protease carried out intracellular cleavage along expression, then led to the separation of polyprotein components, therefore, the interaction between protein A-protein B can be detected through one-step purification and analysis. Negative control for protein B was brought into this system for monitoring interaction specificity. We successfully employed this system to prove two cases of reported protien-protein interaction: RHA2a/ANAC and FTA/FTB. In conclusion, a convenient and efficient system has been successfully developed for detecting protein-protein interaction.
Inflammasomes are multiprotein complexes that serve as a platform for caspase-1 activation and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) maturation as well as pyroptosis. Though a number of inflammasomes have been described, the NLRP3 inflammasome is the most extensively studied. NLRP3 inflammasome is triggered by a variety of stimuli, including infection, tissue damage and metabolic dysregulation, and then activated through an integrated cellular signal. Many regulatory mechanisms have been identified to attenuate NLRP3 inflammasome signaling at multiple steps. Here, we review the developments in the negative regulation of NLRP3 inflammasome that protect host from inflammatory damage.
β-Thalassemia is a global health issue, caused by mutations in the HBB gene. Among these mutations, HBB -28 (A>G) mutations is one of the three most common mutations in China and Southeast Asia patients with β-thalassemia. Correcting this mutation in human embryos may prevent the disease being passed onto future generations and cure anemia. Here we report the first study using base editor (BE) system to correct disease mutant in human embryos. Firstly, we produced a 293T cell line with an exogenous HBB -28 (A>G) mutant fragment for gRNAs and targeting efficiency evaluation. Then we collected primary skin fibroblast cells from a β-thalassemia patient with HBB -28 (A>G) homozygous mutation. Data showed that base editor could precisely correct HBB -28 (A>G) mutation in the patient’s primary cells. To model homozygous mutation disease embryos, we constructed nuclear transfer embryos by fusing the lymphocyte or skin fibroblast cells with enucleated in vitro matured (IVM) oocytes. Notably, the gene correction efficiency was over 23.0% in these embryos by base editor. Although these embryos were still mosaic, the percentage of repaired blastomeres was over 20.0%. In addition, we found that base editor variants, with narrowed deamination window, could promote G-to-A conversion at HBB -28 site precisely in human embryos. Collectively, this study demonstrated the feasibility of curing genetic disease in human somatic cells and embryos by base editor system.
The BCCIP (BRCA2- and CDKN1A-interacting protein) is an important cofactor for BRCA2 in tumor suppression. Although the low expression of BCCIP is observed in multiple clinically diagnosed primary tumor tissues such as ovarian cancer, renal cell carcinoma and colorectal carcinoma, the mechanism of how BCCIP is regulated in cells is still unclear. The human INO80/YY1 chromatin remodeling complex composed of 15 subunits catalyzes ATP-dependent sliding of nucleosomes along DNA. Here, we first report that BCCIP is a novel target gene of the INO80/YY1 complex by presenting a series of experimental evidence. Gene expression studies combined with siRNA knockdown data locked candidate genes including BCCIP of the INO80/YY1 complex. Silencing or over-expressing the subunits of the INO80/YY1 complex regulates the expression level of BCCIP both in mRNA and proteins in cells. Also, the functions of INO80/YY1 complex in regulating the transactivation of BCCIP were confirmed by luciferase reporter assays. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) experiments clarify the enrichment of INO80 and YY1 at +0.17 kb downstream of the BCCIP transcriptional start site. However, this enrichment is significantly inhibited by either knocking down INO80 or YY1, suggesting the existence of both INO80 and YY1 is required for recruiting the INO80/YY1 complex to BCCIP promoter region. Our findings strongly indicate that BCCIP is a potential target gene of the INO80/YY1 complex.
Emerging and re-emerging RNA viruses occasionally cause epidemics and pandemics worldwide, such as the on-going outbreak of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Herein, we identified two potent inhibitors of human DHODH, S312 and S416, with favorable drug-likeness and pharmacokinetic profiles, which all showed broad-spectrum antiviral effects against various RNA viruses, including influenza A virus, Zika virus, Ebola virus, and particularly against SARS-CoV-2. Notably, S416 is reported to be the most potent inhibitor so far with an EC50 of 17 nmol/L and an SI value of 10,505.88 in infected cells. Our results are the first to validate that DHODH is an attractive host target through high antiviral efficacy in vivo and low virus replication in DHODH knock-out cells. This work demonstrates that both S312/S416 and old drugs (Leflunomide/Teriflunomide) with dual actions of antiviral and immuno-regulation may have clinical potentials to cure SARS-CoV-2 or other RNA viruses circulating worldwide, no matter such viruses are mutated or not.
Ebola virus (EBOV) is a key member of Filoviridae family and causes severe human infectious diseases with high morbidity and mortality. As a typical negative-sense single-stranded RNA (-ssRNA) viruses, EBOV possess a nucleocapsid protein (NP) to facilitate genomic RNA encapsidation to form viral ribonucleoprotein complex (RNP) together with genome RNA and polymerase, which plays the most essential role in virus proliferation cycle. However, the mechanism of EBOV RNP formation remains unclear. In this work, we solved the high resolution structure of core domain of EBOV NP. The polypeptide of EBOV NP core domain (NPcore) possesses an N-lobe and C-lobe to clamp a RNA binding groove, presenting similarities with the structures of the other reported viral NPs encoded by the members from Mononegavirales order. Most strikingly, a hydrophobic pocket at the surface of the C-lobe is occupied by an α-helix of EBOV NPcore itself, which is highly conserved among filoviridae family. Combined with other biochemical and biophysical evidences, our results provides great potential for understanding the mechanism underlying EBOV RNP formation via the mobility of EBOV NP element and enables the development of antiviral therapies targeting EBOV RNP formation.
Epigenetic modifications, including those on DNA and histones, have been shown to regulate cellular metabolism by controlling expression of enzymes involved in the corresponding metabolic pathways. In turn, metabolic flux influences epigenetic regulation by affecting the biosynthetic balance of enzyme cofactors or donors for certain chromatin modifications. Recently, non-enzymatic covalent modifications (NECMs) by chemically reactive metabolites have been reported to manipulate chromatin architecture and gene transcription through multiple mechanisms. Here, we summarize these recent advances in the identification and characterization of NECMs on nucleic acids, histones, and transcription factors, providing an additional mechanistic link between metabolism and epigenetics.