Sertoli cells are essential nurse cells in the testis that regulate the process of spermatogenesis and establish the immune-privileged environment of the blood-testis-barrier (BTB). Here, we report the in vitro reprogramming of fibroblasts to human induced Sertoli-like cells (hiSCs). Initially, five transcriptional factors and a gene reporter carrying the AMH promoter were utilized to obtain the hiSCs. We further reduce the number of reprogramming factors to two, NR5A1 and GATA4, and show that these hiSCs have transcriptome profiles and cellular properties that are similar to those of primary human Sertoli cells. Moreover, hiSCs can sustain the viability of spermatogonia cells harvested from mouse seminiferous tubules. hiSCs suppress the proliferation of human T lymphocytes and protect xenotransplanted human cells in mice with normal immune systems. hiSCs also allow us to determine a gene associated with Sertoli cell only syndrome (SCO), CX43, is indeed important in regulating the maturation of Sertoli cells.
Extrinsic cues trigger the local translation of specific mRNAs in growing axons via cell surface receptors. The coupling of ribosomes to receptors has been proposed as a mechanism linking signals to local translation but it is not known how broadly this mechanism operates, nor whether it can selectively regulate mRNA translation. We report that receptor-ribosome coupling is employed by multiple guidance cue receptors and this interaction is mRNA-dependent. We find that different receptors associate with distinct sets of mRNAs and RNA-binding proteins. Cue stimulation of growing Xenopus retinal ganglion cell axons induces rapid dissociation of ribosomes from receptors and the selective translation of receptor-specific mRNAs. Further, we show that receptor-ribosome dissociation and cue-induced selective translation are inhibited by co-exposure to translation-repressive cues, suggesting a novel mode of signal integration. Our findings reveal receptor-specific interactomes and suggest a generalizable model for cue-selective control of the local proteome.
Multiple subtypes of dopamine receptors within the GPCR superfamily regulate neurological processes through various downstream signaling pathways. A crucial question about the dopamine receptor family is what structural features determine the subtype-selectivity of potential drugs. Here, we report the 3.5-angstrom crystal structure of mouse dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) complexed with a subtype-selective antagonist, L745870. Our structure reveals a secondary binding pocket extended from the orthosteric ligand-binding pocket to a DRD4-specific crevice located between transmembrane helices 2 and 3. Additional mutagenesis studies suggest that the antagonist L745870 prevents DRD4 activation by blocking the relative movement between transmembrane helices 2 and 3. These results expand our knowledge of the molecular basis for the physiological functions of DRD4 and assist new drug design.
Immunotherapy, represented by immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI), is transforming the treatment of cancer. However, only a small percentage of patients show response to ICI, and there is an unmet need for biomarkers that will identify patients who are more likely to respond to immunotherapy. The fundamental basis for ICI response is the immunogenicity of a tumor, which is primarily determined by tumor antigenicity and antigen presentation efficiency. Here, we propose a method to measure tumor immunogenicity score (TIGS), which combines tumor mutational burden (TMB) and an expression signature of the antigen processing and presenting machinery (APM). In both correlation with pan-cancer ICI objective response rates (ORR) and ICI clinical response prediction for individual patients, TIGS consistently showed improved performance compared to TMB and other known prediction biomarkers for ICI response. This study suggests that TIGS is an effective tumor-inherent biomarker for ICI-response prediction.
Changes of body color have important effects for animals in adapting to variable environments. The migratory locust exhibits body color polyphenism between solitary and gregarious individuals, with the former displaying a uniform green coloration and the latter having a prominent pattern of black dorsal and brown ventral surface. However, the molecular mechanism underlying the density-dependent body color changes of conspecific locusts remain largely unknown. Here, we found that upregulation of beta-carotene-binding protein promotes the accumulation of red pigment, which added to the green color palette present in solitary locusts changes it from green to black, and that downregulation of this protein led to the reverse, changing the color of gregarious locusts from black to green. Our results provide insight that color changes of locusts are dependent on variation in the red beta-carotene pigment binding to beta CBP. This finding of animal coloration corresponds with trichromatic theory of color vision.
In a group of 831 participants from the general population in the Human Connectome Project, smokers exhibited low overall functional connectivity, and more specifically of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex which is associated with non-reward mechanisms, the adjacent inferior frontal gyrus, and the precuneus. Participants who drank a high amount had overall increases in resting state functional connectivity, and specific increases in reward-related systems including the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the cingulate cortex. Increased impulsivity was found in smokers, associated with decreased functional connectivity of the non-reward-related lateral orbitofrontal cortex; and increased impulsivity was found in high amount drinkers, associated with increased functional connectivity of the reward-related medial orbitofrontal cortex. The main findings were cross-validated in an independent longitudinal dataset with 1176 participants, IMAGEN. Further, the functional connectivities in 14-year-old non-smokers (and also in female low-drinkers) were related to who would smoke or drink at age 19. An implication is that these differences in brain functional connectivities play a role in smoking and drinking, together with other factors.
Cell-cell communication via gap junctions regulates a wide range of physiological processes by enabling the direct intercellular electrical and chemical coupling. However, the in vivo distribution and function of gap junctions remain poorly understood, partly due to the lack of noninvasive tools with both cell-type specificity and high spatiotemporal resolution. Here, we developed PARIS (pairing actuators and receivers to optically isolate gap junctions), a new fully genetically encoded tool for measuring the cell-specific gap junctional coupling (GJC). PARIS successfully enabled monitoring of GJC in several cultured cell lines under physiologically relevant conditions and in distinct genetically defined neurons in Drosophila brain, with similar to 10 s temporal resolution and sub-cellular spatial resolution. These results demonstrate that PARIS is a robust, highly sensitive tool for mapping functional gap junctions and study their regulation in both health and disease.
Animals respond to mitochondrial stress with the induction of mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt). A cascade of events occur upon UPRmt activation, ultimately triggering a transcriptional response governed by two transcription factors: DVE-1 and ATFS-1. Here we identify SUMO-specific peptidase ULP-4 as a positive regulator of C. elegans UPRmt to control SUMOylation status of DVE-1 and ATFS-1. SUMOylation affects these two axes in the transcriptional program of UPRmt with distinct mechanisms: change of DVE-1 subcellular localization vs. change of ATFS-1 stability and activity. Our findings reveal a post-translational modification that promotes immune response and lifespan extension during mitochondrial stress.
Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1) is a conserved chromosomal protein in eukaryotic cells that has a major role in directing heterochromatin formation, a process that requires co-transcriptional gene silencing mediated by small RNAs and their associated argonaute proteins. Heterochromatin formation requires erasing the active epigenetic mark, such as H3K4me2, but the molecular link between HP1 and H3K4 demethylation remains unclear. In a fertility screen in female Drosophila, we identified ovaries absent (ova), which functions in the stem cell niche, downstream of Piwi, to support germline stem cell differentiation. Moreover, ova acts as a suppressor of position effect variegation, and is required for silencing telomeric transposons in the germline. Biochemically, Ova acts to link the H3K4 demethylase dLsd1 to HP1a for local histone modifications. Therefore, our study provides a molecular connection between HP1a and local H3K4 demethylation during HP1a-mediated gene silencing that is required for ovary development, transposon silencing, and heterochromatin formation.
Comprehensively elucidating the molecular mechanisms of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) latency is a priority to achieve a functional cure. As current 'shock' agents failed to efficiently reactivate the latent reservoir, it is important to discover new targets for developing more efficient latency-reversing agents (LRAs). Here, we found that TRIM28 potently suppresses HIV-1 expression by utilizing both SUMO E3 ligase activity and epigenetic adaptor function. Through global site-specific SUMO-MS study and serial SUMOylation assays, we identified that P-TEFb catalytic subunit CDK9 is significantly SUMOylated by TRIM28 with SUMO4. The Lys44, Lys56 and Lys68 residues on CDK9 are SUMOylated by TRIM28, which inhibits CDK9 kinase activity or prevents P-TEFb assembly by directly blocking the interaction between CDK9 and Cyclin T1, subsequently inhibits viral transcription and contributes to HIV-1 latency. The manipulation of TRIM28 and its consequent SUMOylation pathway could be the target for developing LRAs.
Practice makes perfect. In human olfaction, such plasticity is generally assumed to occur at the level of cortical synthetic processing that shares information from both nostrils. Here we present findings that challenge this view. In two experiments, we trained human adults unirhinally for the discrimination between odor enantiomers over a course of about 10 to 11 days. Results showed that training-induced perceptual gain was restricted to the trained nostril yet partially generalized to untrained odor enantiomers in a structure-rather than quality-based manner. In other words, learning enhanced the differentiation of chirality (molecular configuration) as opposed to overall odor quality (odor object) per se. These findings argue that, unlike earlier beliefs, one nostril does not readily know what the other learns. Moreover, the initial analytical processing of the structural features of uninarial olfactory input remains plastic in human adults.
Intergroup conflict contributes to human discrimination and violence, but persists because individuals make costly contributions to their group's fighting capacity. Yet, how group members effectively coordinate their contributions during intergroup conflict remains poorly understood. Here, we examine the role of oxytocin for (the coordination of) contributions to group attack or defense in multi-round, real-time feedback intergroup contests. In a double-blind placebo-controlled study with N = 480 males in Intergroup Attacker-Defender Contests, we found that oxytocin reduced contributions to attack and over time increased attacker's within-group coordination of contributions. However, rather than becoming peaceful, attackers given oxytocin better tracked their rival's historical defense and coordinated their contributions into well-timed and hence more profitable attacks. Our results reveal coordination of contributions as a critical component of successful attacks and subscribe to the possibility that oxytocin enables individuals to contribute to in-group efficiency and prosperity even when doing so implies outsiders are excluded or harmed.
Transcription by RNA polymerase II requires assembly of a preinitiation complex (PIC) composed of general transcription factors (GTFs) bound at the promoter. In vitro, some GTFs are essential for transcription, whereas others are not required under certain conditions. PICs are stable in the absence of nucleotide triphosphates, and subsets of GTFs can form partial PICs. By depleting individual GTFs in yeast cells, we show that all GTFs are essential for TBP binding and transcription, suggesting that partial PICs do not exist at appreciable levels in vivo. Depletion of FACT, a histone chaperone that travels with elongating Pol II, strongly reduces PIC formation and transcription. In contrast, TBP-associated factors (TAFs) contribute to transcription of most genes, but TAF-independent transcription occurs at substantial levels, preferentially at promoters containing TATA elements. PICs are absent in cells deprived of uracil, and presumably UTP, suggesting that transcriptionally inactive PICs are removed from promoters in vivo.
How pancreatic beta-cells acquire function in vivo is a long-standing mystery due to the lack of technology to visualize beta-cell function in living animals. Here, we applied a high-resolution two-photon light-sheet microscope for the first in vivo imaging of Ca2+ activity of every beta-cell in Tg (ins:Rcamp1.07) zebrafish. We reveal that the heterogeneity of beta-cell functional development in vivo occurred as two waves propagating from the islet mantle to the core, coordinated by islet vascularization. Increasing amounts of glucose induced functional acquisition and enhancement of beta-cells via activating calcineurin/nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) signaling. Conserved in mammalians, calcineurin/NFAT prompted high-glucose-stimulated insulin secretion of neonatal mouse islets cultured in vitro. However, the reduction in low-glucose-stimulated insulin secretion was dependent on optimal glucose but independent of calcineurin/NFAT. Thus, combination of optimal glucose and calcineurin activation represents a previously unexplored strategy for promoting functional maturation of stem cell-derived beta-like cells in vitro.
Individual differences in delay-discounting correlate with important real world outcomes, for example education, income, drug use, and criminality. As such, delay-discounting has been extensively studied by economists, psychologists and neuroscientists to reveal its behavioral and biological mechanisms in both human and non-human animal models. However, two major methodological differences hinder comparing results across species. Human studies present long time-horizon options verbally, whereas animal studies employ experiential cues and short delays. To bridge these divides, we developed a novel language-free experiential task inspired by animal decision-making studies. We found that the ranks of subjects' time-preferences were reliable across both verbal/experiential and second/day differences. Yet, discount factors scaled dramatically across the tasks, indicating a strong effect of temporal context. Taken together, this indicates that individuals have a stable, but context-dependent, time-preference that can be reliably assessed using different methods, providing a foundation to bridge studies of time-preferences across species. Editorial note: This article has been through an editorial process in which the authors decide how to respond to the issues raised during peer review. The Reviewing Editor's assessment is that all the issues have been addressed (see decision letter).