Food choices are shifting globally in ways that are negatively affecting both human health and the environment. Here we consider how consuming an additional serving per day of each of 15 foods is associated with 5 health outcomes in adults and 5 aspects of agriculturally driven environmental degradation. We find that while there is substantial variation in the health outcomes of different foods, foods associated with a larger reduction in disease risk for one health outcome are often associated with larger reductions in disease risk for other health outcomes. Likewise, foods with lower impacts on one metric of environmental harm tend to have lower impacts on others. Additionally, of the foods associated with improved health (whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and fish), all except fish have among the lowest environmental impacts, and fish has markedly lower impacts than red meats and processed meats. Foods associated with the largest negative environmental impacts-unprocessed and processed red meat-are consistently associated with the largest increases in disease risk. Thus, dietary transitions toward greater consumption of healthier foods would generally improve environmental sustainability, although processed foods high in sugars harm health but can have relatively low environmental impacts. These findings could help consumers, policy makers, and food companies to better understand the multiple health and environmental implications of food choices.
Mechanical stimuli, such as wind, rain, and touch affect plant development, growth, pest resistance, and ultimately reproductive success. Using water spray to simulate rain, we demonstrate that jasmonic acid (JA) signaling plays a key role in early gene-expression changes, well before it leads to developmental changes in flowering and plant architecture. The JA-activated transcription factors MYC2/MYC3/MYC4 modulate transiently induced expression of 266 genes, most of which peak within 30 min, and control 52% of genes induced >100-fold. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing analysis indicates that MYC2 dynamically binds >1,300 promoters and trans-activation assays show that MYC2 activates these promoters. By mining our multiomic datasets, we identified a core MYC2/MYC3/MYC4-dependent "regulon" of 82 genes containing many previously unknown MYC2 targets, including transcription factors bHLH19 and ERF109. bHLH19 can in turn directly activate the ORA47 promoter, indicating that MYC2/MYC3/MYC4 initiate a hierarchical network of downstream transcription factors. Finally, we also reveal that rapid water spray-induced accumulation of JA and JA-isoleucine is directly controlled by MYC2/MYC3/MYC4 through a positive amplification loop that regulates JA-biosynthesis genes.
Drosophila CRYPTOCHROME (dCRY) mediates electrophysiological depolarization and circadian clock resetting in response to blue or ultraviolet (UV) light. These light-evoked biological responses operate at different timescales and possibly through different mechanisms. Whether electron transfer down a conserved chain of tryptophan residues underlies biological responses following dCRY light activation has been controversial. To examine these issues in in vivo and in ex vivo whole-brain preparations, we generated transgenic flies expressing tryptophan mutant dCRYs in the conserved electron transfer chain and then measured neuronal electrophysiological phototransduction and behavioral responses to light. Electrophysiological-evoked potential analysis shows that dCRY mediates UV and blue-light-evoked depolarizations that are long lasting, persisting for nearly a minute. Surprisingly, dCRY appears to mediate red-light-evoked depolarization in wild-type flies, absent in both cry-null flies, and following acute treatment with the flavin-specific inhibitor diphenyleneiodonium in wild-type flies. This suggests a previously unsuspected functional signaling role for a neutral semiquinone flavin state (FADH (R)) for dCRY. The W420 tryptophan residue located closest to the FAD-dCRY interaction site is critical for blue- and UV-light-evoked electrophysiological responses, while other tryptophan residues within electron transfer distance to W420 do not appear to be required for light-evoked electrophysiological responses. Mutation of the dCRY tryptophan residue W342, more distant from the FAD interaction site, mimics the cry-null behavioral light response to constant light exposure. These data indicate that light-evoked dCRY electrical depolarization and clock resetting are mediated by distinct mechanisms.
Apoptosis activation by cytochrome c release from mitochondria to cytosol is a normal cellular response to mitochondrial damage. Using cellular apoptosis assay, we have found small-molecule apoptosis inhibitors that protect cells from mitochondrial damage. Previously, we reported the discovery of a small molecule, Compound A, which blocks dopaminergic neuron death in a rat model of Parkinson's disease through targeting succinate dehydrogenase subunit B (SDHB) of complex II to protect the integrity of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. Here, we report a small molecule, Compound R6, which saves cells from apoptosis via mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-mediated induction of autophagy. Additionally, we show that Compound R6 protects mitochondrial integrity and respiration after induction of the intrinsic apoptosis pathway. Encouragingly, and supporting the potential further application of Compound R6 as a tool for basic and medicinal research, a pharmacokinetics (PK) profiling study showed that Compound R6 is metabolically stable and can pass the blood-brain barrier. Moreover, Compound R6 accumulates in the brain of test animals via intravenous and intraperitoneal administration. Finally, we found that Compound R6 confers significant neuroprotective effects on a rat cerebral ischemia/reperfusion model, demonstrating its potential as a promising drug candidate for neurodegenerative diseases.
Retinotopic specializations in the ventral visual stream, especially foveal adaptations, provide primates with high-acuity vision in the central visual field. However, visual field specializations have not been studied in the dorsal visual stream, dedicated to processing visual motion and visually guided behaviors. To investigate this, we injected retrograde neuronal tracers occupying the whole visuotopic representation of the middle temporal (MT) visual area in marmoset monkeys and studied the distribution and morphology of the afferent primary visual cortex (V1) projections. Contrary to previous reports, we found a heterogeneous population of V1-MT projecting neurons distributed in layers 3C and 6. In layer 3C, spiny stellate neurons were distributed mainly in foveal representations, while pyramidal morphologies were characteristic of peripheral eccentricities. This primate adaptation of the V1 to MT pathway is arranged in a way that we had not previously understood, with abundant stellate projection neurons in the high-resolution foveal portions, suggesting rapid relay of motion information to visual area MT. We also describe that the medial portion of the inferior pulvinar (PIm), which is the main thalamic input to area MT, shows a retinotopic organization, likely reflecting the importance of this pathway during development and the establishment of area MT topography.
Use-dependent long-term changes of neuronal response properties must be gated to prevent irrelevant activity from inducing inappropriate modifications. Here we test the hypothesis that local network dynamics contribute to such gating. As synaptic modifications depend on temporal contiguity between presynaptic and postsynaptic activity, we examined the effect of synchronized gamma (gamma) oscillations on stimulation-dependent modifications of orientation selectivity in adult cat visual cortex. Changes of orientation maps were induced by pairing visual stimulation with electrical activation of the mesencephalic reticular formation. Changes in orientation selectivity were assessed with optical recording of intrinsic signals and multiunit recordings. When conditioning stimuli were associated with strong gamma-oscillations, orientation domains matching the orientation of the conditioning grating stimulus became more responsive and expanded, because neurons with preferences differing by less than 30 degrees from the orientation of the conditioning grating shifted their orientation preference toward the conditioned orientation. When conditioning stimuli induced no or only weak gamma-oscillations, responsiveness of neurons driven by the conditioning stimulus decreased. These differential effects depended on the power of oscillations in the low gamma-band (20 Hz to 48 Hz) and not on differences in discharge rate of cortical neurons, because there was no correlation between the discharge rates during conditioning and the occurrence of changes in orientation preference. Thus, occurrence and polarity of use-dependent long-term changes of cortical response properties appear to depend on the occurrence of gamma-oscillations during induction and hence on the degree of temporal coherence of the change-inducing network activity.
The recycling of particulate organic matter (POM) by microbes is a key part of the global carbon cycle. This process is mediated by the extracellular hydrolysis of polysaccharides, which can trigger social behaviors in bacteria resulting from the production of public goods. Despite the potential importance of public good-mediated interactions, their relevance in the environment remains unclear. In this study, we developed a computational and experimental model system to address this challenge and studied how the POM depolymerization rate and its uptake efficiency (2 main ecosystem function parameters) depended on social interactions and spatial self-organization on particle surfaces. We found an emergent trade-off between rate and efficiency resulting from the competition between oligosaccharide diffusion and cellular uptake, with low rate and high efficiency being achieved through cell-to-cell cooperation between degraders. Bacteria co-operated by aggregating in cell clusters of similar to 10 to 20 mu m, in which cells were able to share public goods. This phenomenon, which was independent of any explicit group-level regulation, led to the emergence of critical cell concentrations below which degradation did not occur, despite all resources being available in excess. In contrast, when particles were labile and turnover rates were high, aggregation promoted competition and decreased the efficiency of carbon use. Our study shows how social interactions and cell aggregation determine the rate and efficiency of particulate carbon turnover in environmentally relevant scenarios.
The atmosphere is vastly underexplored as a habitable ecosystem for microbial organisms. In this study, we investigated 795 time-resolved metagenomes from tropical air, generating 2.27 terabases of data. Despite only 9 to 17% of the generated sequence data currently being assignable to taxa, the air harbored a microbial diversity that rivals the complexity of other planetary ecosystems. The airborne microbial organisms followed a clear diel cycle, possibly driven by environmental factors. Interday taxonomic diversity exceeded day-to-day and month-to-month variation. Environmental time series revealed the existence of a large core of microbial taxa that remained invariable over 13 mo, thereby underlining the long-term robustness of the airborne community structure. Unlike terrestrial or aquatic environments, where prokaryotes are prevalent, the tropical airborne biomass was dominated by DNA from eukaryotic phyla. Specific fungal and bacterial species were strongly correlated with temperature, humidity, and CO2 concentration, making them suitable biomarkers for studying the bioaerosol dynamics of the atmosphere.
The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a lethal yet energetically costly weapon in gram-negative bacteria. Through contraction of a long sheath, the T6SS ejects a few copies of effectors accompanied by hundreds of structural carrier proteins per delivery. The few ejected effectors, however, dictate T6SS functions. It remains elusive how the T6SS ensures effector loading and avoids futile ejection. Here, by systemically mutating the active sites of 3 Vibrio cholerae effectors, TseL, VasX, and VgrG3, we show that the physical presence but not their activities is crucial for T6SS assembly. We constructed catalytic mutants of TseL and VgrG3 and truncated VasX mutants. These mutations abolished the killing of the effector-cognate immunity mutants. We determined that the VasX-mediated antimicrobial activity is solely dependent on the C-terminal colicin domain. Removal of the colicin domain abolished VasX secretion and reduced T6SS assembly, while deletion of the colicin internal loop abolished its toxicity but had little effect on secretion and assembly. The triple effector-inactive mutant maintains an active T6SS that is capable of delivering chimeric VgrG, PAAR, and TseL proteins fused with a cargo nuclease, indicating effector activities are not required for T6SS assembly or penetration into the cytosol of recipient cells. Therefore, by recruiting effectors as critical components for T6SS assembly, it represents an effective onboard checking mechanism that ensures effectors are loaded in place to prevent futile secretion. Our study also demonstrates a detoxified secretion platform by inactivating native effector activities that could translocate engineered cargo proteins via multiple routes.
Antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) infections pose a major threat to global public health. Similar to other AMR pathogens, both historical and ongoing drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) epidemics are characterized by transmission of a limited number of predominant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) strains. Understanding how these predominant strains achieve sustained transmission, particularly during the critical period before they are detected via clinical or public health surveillance, can inform strategies for prevention and containment. In this study, we employ whole-genome sequence (WGS) data from TB clinical isolates collected in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa to examine the pre-detection history of a successful strain of extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB known as LAM4/KZN, first identified in a widely reported cluster of cases in 2005. We identify marked expansion of this strain concurrent with the onset of the generalized HIV epidemic 12 y prior to 2005, localize its geographic origin to a location in northeastern KwaZulu-Natal similar to 400 km away from the site of the 2005 outbreak, and use protein structural modeling to propose a mechanism for how strain-specific rpoB mutations offset fitness costs associated with rifampin resistance in LAM4/KZN. Our findings highlight the importance of HIV coinfection, high preexisting rates of drug-resistant TB, human migration, and pathoadaptive evolution in the emergence and dispersal of this critical public health threat. We propose that integrating wholegenome sequencing into routine public health surveillance can enable the early detection and local containment of AMR pathogens before they achieve widespread dispersal.
Reduced serum testosterone (T), or hypogonadism, affects millions of men and is associated with many pathologies, including infertility, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, and decreased libido and sexual function. Administering T-replacement therapy (TRT) reverses many of the symptoms associated with low T levels. However, TRT is linked to side effects such as infertility and increased risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Thus, there is a need to obtain T-producing cells that could be used to treat hypogonadism via transplantation and reestablishment of T-producing cell lineages in the body. T is synthesized by Leydig cells (LCs), proposed to derive from mesenchymal cells of mesonephric origin. Although mesenchymal cells have been successfully induced into LCs, the limited source and possible trauma to donors hinders their application to clinical therapies. Alternatively, human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), which are expandable in culture and have the potential to differentiate into all somatic cell types, have become the emerging source of autologous cell therapies. We have successfully induced the differentiation of hiPSCs into either human Leydig-like (hLLCs) or adrenal-like cells (hALCs) using chemically defined culture conditions. Factors critical for the development of LCs were added to both culture systems. hLLCs expressed all steroidogenic genes and proteins important for T biosynthesis, synthesized T rather than cortisol, secreted steroid hormones in response to dibutyryl-cAMP and 22(R)-hydroxy-cholesterol, and displayed ultrastructural features resembling LCs. By contrast, hALCs synthesized cortisol rather than T. The success in generating hiPSC-derived hLLCs with broad human LC (hLC) features supports the potential for hiPSC-based hLC regeneration.
Glycolytic enzyme phosphoglycerate mutase 1 (PGAM1) plays a critical role in cancer metabolism by coordinating glycolysis and biosynthesis. A well-validated PGAM1 inhibitor, however, has not been reported for treating pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), which is one of the deadliest malignancies worldwide. By uncovering the elevated PGAM1 expressions were statistically related to worse prognosis of PDAC in a cohort of 50 patients, we developed a series of allosteric PGAM1 inhibitors by structure-guided optimization. The compound KH3 significantly suppressed proliferation of various PDAC cells by down-regulating the levels of glycolysis and mitochondrial respiration in correlation with PGAM1 expression. Similar to PGAM1 depletion, KH3 dramatically hampered the canonic pathways highly involved in cancer metabolism and development. Additionally, we observed the shared expression profiles of several signature pathways at 12 h after treatment in multiple PDAC primary cells of which the matched patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models responded similarly to KH3 in the 2 wk treatment. The better responses to KH3 in PDXs were associated with higher expression of PGAM1 and longer/stronger suppressions of cancer metabolic pathways. Taken together, our findings demonstrate a strategy of targeting cancer metabolism by PGAM1 inhibition in PDAC. Also, this work provided "proof of concept" for the potential application of metabolic treatment in clinical practice.
Macrophage polarization is critical to inflammation and resolution of inflammation. We previously showed that high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) can engage receptor for advanced glycation end product (RAGE) to directmonocytes to a proinflammatory phenotype characterized by production of type 1 IFN and proinflammatory cytokines. In contrast, HMGB1 plus C1q form a tetramolecular complex cross-linking RAGE and LAIR-1 and directing monocytes to an antiinflammatory phenotype. Lipid mediators, as well as cytokines, help establish a milieu favoring either inflammation or resolution of inflammation. This study focuses on the induction of lipid mediators by HMGB1 and HMGB1 plus C1q and their regulation of IRF5, a transcription factor critical for the induction and maintenance of proinflammatory macrophages. Here, we show that HMGB1 induces leukotriene production through a RAGE-dependent pathway, while HMGB1 plus C1q induces specialized proresolving lipid mediators lipoxin A4, resolvin D1, and resolvin D2 through a RAGE- and LAIR-1-dependent pathway. Leukotriene exposure contributes to induction of IRF5 in a positive-feedback loop. In contrast, resolvins (at 20 nM) block IRF5 induction and prevent the differentiation of inflammatory macrophages. Finally, we have generated a molecular mimic of HMGB1 plus C1q, which crosslinks RAGE and LAIR-1 and polarizes monocytes to an antiinflammatory phenotype. These findings may provide a mechanism to control nonresolving inflammation in many pathologic conditions.
Short tandem repeats (STRs) and variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs) are important sources of natural and disease-causing variation, yet they have been problematic to resolve in reference genomes and genotype with short-read technology. We created a framework tomodel the evolution and instability of STRs and VNTRs in apes. We phased and assembled 3 ape genomes (chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan) using long-read and 10x Genomics linked-read sequence data for 21,442 human tandem repeats discovered in 6 haplotype-resolved assemblies of Yoruban, Chinese, and Puerto Rican origin. We define a set of 1,584 STRs/VNTRs expanded specifically in humans, including large tandem repeats affecting coding and noncoding portions of genes (e.g., MUC3A, CACNA1C). We show that short interspersed nuclear element-VNTR-Alu (SVA) retrotransposition is the main mechanism for distributing GC-rich human-specific tandem repeat expansions throughout the genome but with a bias against genes. In contrast, we observe that VNTRs not originating from retrotransposons have a propensity to cluster near genes, especially in the subtelomere. Using tissue-specific expression from human and chimpanzee brains, we identify genes where transcript isoform usage differs significantly, likely caused by cryptic splicing variation within VNTRs. Using single-cell expression from cerebral organoids, we observe a strong effect for genes associated with transcription profiles analogous to intermediate progenitor cells. Finally, we compare the sequence composition of some of the largest human-specific repeat expansions and identify 52 STRs/VNTRs with at least 40 uninterrupted pure tracts as candidates for genetically unstable regions associated with disease.