The DEK gene is highly expressed in a wide range of cancer cells, and a recurrent translocation partner in acute myeloid leukemia. While DEK has been identified as one of the most abundant proteins in human chromatin, its function and binding properties are not fully understood.
Molecular characterization of malignant plasma cells is increasingly important for diagnostic and therapeutic stratification in multiple myeloma. However, the malignant plasma cells represent a relatively small subset of bone marrow cells, and need to be enriched prior to analysis. Currently, the cell surface marker CD138 (SDC1) is used for this enrichment, but has an important limitation in that its expression decreases rapidly after sampling. Seeking alternatives to CD138, we performed a computational screen for myeloma plasma cell markers and systematically evaluated 7 candidates. Our results conclusively show that the markers CD319 (SLAMF7/CS1) and CD269 (TNFRSF17/BCMA) are considerably more robust than CD138 and enable isolation of myeloma plasma cells under more diverse conditions, including the samples that have been delayed or frozen. Our results form the basis of improved procedures for characterizing cases of multiple myeloma in clinical practice.
The causes for malignant progression of disseminated tumors and the reasons recurrence rates differ in women with different breast cancer subtypes are unknown. Here, we report novel mechanisms of tumor plasticity that are mandated by microenvironmental factors and show that recurrence rates are not strictly due to cell-intrinsic properties. Specifically, outgrowth of the same population of incipient tumors is accelerated in mice with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) relative to those with luminal breast cancer. Systemic signals provided by overt TNBCs cause the formation of a tumor-supportive microenvironment enriched for EGF and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) at distant indolent tumor sites. Bioavailability of EGF and IGF-I enhances the expression of transcription factors associated with pluripotency, proliferation, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Combinatorial therapy with EGF receptor and IGF-I receptor inhibitors prevents malignant progression. These results suggest that plasticity and recurrence rates can be dictated by host systemic factors and offer novel therapeutic potential for patients with TNBC.
The Vel antigen is present on red blood cells (RBCs) from all humans except rare Vel-negative individuals who can form antibodies to Vel in response to transfusion or pregnancy. These antibodies may cause severe hemolytic reactions in blood recipients. We combined SNP profiling and transcriptional network modeling to link the Vel-negative phenotype to SMIM1, located in a 97-kb haplotype block on chromosome 1p36. This gene encodes a previously undiscovered, evolutionarily conserved transmembrane protein expressed on RBCs. Notably, 35 of 35 Vel-negative individuals were homozygous for a frameshift deletion of 17 bp in exon 3. Functional studies using antibodies raised against SMIM1 peptides confirmed a null phenotype in RBC membranes, and SMIM1 overexpression induced Vel expression. Genotype screening estimated that ~1 of 17 Swedish blood donors is a heterozygous deletion carrier and ~1 of 1,200 is a homozygous deletion knockout and enabled identification of Vel-negative donors. Our results establish SMIM1 as a new erythroid gene and Vel as a new blood group system.
The transcription factor Wilms tumor gene 1 (WT1) is highly expressed in the majority of leukemias, suggesting a role in leukemogenesis. Acquired WT1 mutations are reported as an independent predictor of poor clinical outcome, and mutations resulting in deletion of the entire DNA-binding zinc-finger domain (WT1delZ), is the most common type. The aim of this study was to study cellular effects of WT1(delZ) that may contribute to an oncogenic phenotype. We found that expression of WT1(delZ) supported proliferation of human hematopoietic CD34(+) progenitor cells. Moreover, WT1(delZ) transduced cells expressed erythroid markers, including raised levels of STAT5, independently of addition of erythropoietin. At the global gene expression level, WT1(delZ) caused upregulation of genes related to cell division and genes associated with erythroid maturation, in the absence of added erythropoietin. Our results indicate that WT1(delZ) promotes cell proliferation and expansion of progenitor cells, consistent with a possible role in leukemogenesis.
Myelodysplastic syndromes are clinically heterogeneous disorders characterized by clonal hematopoiesis, impaired differentiation, peripheral-blood cytopenias, and a risk of progression to acute myeloid leukemia. Somatic mutations may influence the clinical phenotype but are not included in current prognostic scoring systems.
Xenograft studies indicate that some solid tumors and leukemias are organized as cellular hierarchies sustained by cancer stem cells (CSCs). Despite the promise of the CSC model, its relevance in humans remains uncertain. Here we show that acute myeloid leukemia (AML) follows a CSC model on the basis of sorting multiple populations from each of 16 primary human AML samples and identifying which contain leukemia stem cells (LSCs) using a sensitive xenograft assay. Analysis of gene expression from all functionally validated populations yielded an LSC-specific signature. Similarly, a hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gene signature was established. Bioinformatic analysis identified a core transcriptional program shared by LSCs and HSCs, revealing the molecular machinery underlying stemness properties. Both stem cell programs were highly significant independent predictors of patient survival and were found in existing prognostic signatures. Thus, determinants of stemness influence the clinical outcome of AML, establishing that LSCs are clinically relevant and not artifacts of xenotransplantation.
DNA copy number aberrations (CNAs) are a hallmark of cancer genomes. However, little is known about how such changes affect global gene expression. We develop a modeling framework, EPoC (Endogenous Perturbation analysis of Cancer), to (1) detect disease-driving CNAs and their effect on target mRNA expression, and to (2) stratify cancer patients into long- and short-term survivors. Our method constructs causal network models of gene expression by combining genome-wide DNA- and RNA-level data. Prognostic scores are obtained from a singular value decomposition of the networks. By applying EPoC to glioblastoma data from The Cancer Genome Atlas consortium, we demonstrate that the resulting network models contain known disease-relevant hub genes, reveal interesting candidate hubs, and uncover predictors of patient survival. Targeted validations in four glioblastoma cell lines support selected predictions, and implicate the p53-interacting protein Necdin in suppressing glioblastoma cell growth. We conclude that large-scale network modeling of the effects of CNAs on gene expression may provide insights into the biology of human cancer. Free software in MATLAB and R is provided.
X-ray lasers offer new capabilities in understanding the structure of biological systems, complex materials and matter under extreme conditions. Very short and extremely bright, coherent X-ray pulses can be used to outrun key damage processes and obtain a single diffraction pattern from a large macromolecule, a virus or a cell before the sample explodes and turns into plasma. The continuous diffraction pattern of non-crystalline objects permits oversampling and direct phase retrieval. Here we show that high-quality diffraction data can be obtained with a single X-ray pulse from a non-crystalline biological sample, a single mimivirus particle, which was injected into the pulsed beam of a hard-X-ray free-electron laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source. Calculations indicate that the energy deposited into the virus by the pulse heated the particle to over 100,000?K after the pulse had left the sample. The reconstructed exit wavefront (image) yielded 32-nm full-period resolution in a single exposure and showed no measurable damage. The reconstruction indicates inhomogeneous arrangement of dense material inside the virion. We expect that significantly higher resolutions will be achieved in such experiments with shorter and brighter photon pulses focused to a smaller area. The resolution in such experiments can be further extended for samples available in multiple identical copies.
X-ray crystallography provides the vast majority of macromolecular structures, but the success of the method relies on growing crystals of sufficient size. In conventional measurements, the necessary increase in X-ray dose to record data from crystals that are too small leads to extensive damage before a diffraction signal can be recorded. It is particularly challenging to obtain large, well-diffracting crystals of membrane proteins, for which fewer than 300 unique structures have been determined despite their importance in all living cells. Here we present a method for structure determination where single-crystal X-ray diffraction snapshots are collected from a fully hydrated stream of nanocrystals using femtosecond pulses from a hard-X-ray free-electron laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source. We prove this concept with nanocrystals of photosystem I, one of the largest membrane protein complexes. More than 3,000,000 diffraction patterns were collected in this study, and a three-dimensional data set was assembled from individual photosystem I nanocrystals (?200?nm to 2??m in size). We mitigate the problem of radiation damage in crystallography by using pulses briefer than the timescale of most damage processes. This offers a new approach to structure determination of macromolecules that do not yield crystals of sufficient size for studies using conventional radiation sources or are particularly sensitive to radiation damage.
Systemic instigation is a process by which endocrine signals sent from certain tumors (instigators) stimulate BM cells (BMCs), which are mobilized into the circulation and subsequently foster the growth of otherwise indolent carcinoma cells (responders) residing at distant anatomical sites. The identity of the BMCs and their specific contribution or contributions to responder tumor growth have been elusive. Here, we have demonstrated that Sca1+ cKit- hematopoietic BMCs of mouse hosts bearing instigating tumors promote the growth of responding tumors that form with a myofibroblast-rich, desmoplastic stroma. Such stroma is almost always observed in malignant human adenocarcinomas and is an indicator of poor prognosis. We then identified granulin (GRN) as the most upregulated gene in instigating Sca1+ cKit- BMCs relative to counterpart control cells. The GRN+ BMCs that were recruited to the responding tumors induced resident tissue fibroblasts to express genes that promoted malignant tumor progression; indeed, treatment with recombinant GRN alone was sufficient to promote desmoplastic responding tumor growth. Further, analysis of tumor tissues from a cohort of breast cancer patients revealed that high GRN expression correlated with the most aggressive triple-negative, basal-like tumor subtype and reduced patient survival. Our data suggest that GRN and the unique hematopoietic BMCs that produce it might serve as novel therapeutic targets.
Though many individual transcription factors are known to regulate hematopoietic differentiation, major aspects of the global architecture of hematopoiesis remain unknown. Here, we profiled gene expression in 38 distinct purified populations of human hematopoietic cells and used probabilistic models of gene expression and analysis of cis-elements in gene promoters to decipher the general organization of their regulatory circuitry. We identified modules of highly coexpressed genes, some of which are restricted to a single lineage but most of which are expressed at variable levels across multiple lineages. We found densely interconnected cis-regulatory circuits and a large number of transcription factors that are differentially expressed across hematopoietic states. These findings suggest a more complex regulatory system for hematopoiesis than previously assumed.
CD8(+) T cells in chronic viral infections such as HIV develop functional defects including loss of interleukin-2 (IL-2) secretion and decreased proliferative potential that are collectively termed exhaustion. Exhausted T cells express increased amounts of multiple inhibitory receptors, such as programmed death-1 (PD-1), that contribute to impaired virus-specific T cell function. Although reversing PD-1 inhibition is therefore an attractive therapeutic strategy, the cellular mechanisms by which PD-1 ligation results in T cell inhibition are not fully understood. PD-1 is thought to limit T cell activation by attenuating T cell receptor (TCR) signaling. It is not known whether PD-1 also acts by upregulating genes in exhausted T cells that impair their function. Here we analyzed gene expression profiles from HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells in individuals with HIV and show that PD-1 coordinately upregulates a program of genes in exhausted CD8(+) T cells from humans and mice. This program includes upregulation of basic leucine transcription factor, ATF-like (BATF), a transcription factor in the AP-1 family. Enforced expression of BATF was sufficient to impair T cell proliferation and cytokine secretion, whereas BATF knockdown reduced PD-1 inhibition. Silencing BATF in T cells from individuals with chronic viremia rescued HIV-specific T cell function. Thus, inhibitory receptors can cause T cell exhaustion by upregulating genes--such as BATF--that inhibit T cell function. Such genes may provide new therapeutic opportunities to improve T cell immunity to HIV.
Low intake of fish, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and vitamin D deficiency has been suggested to play a role in the development of schizophrenia. Our aim was to evaluate the association between the intake of different fish species, PUFA and vitamin D and the prevalence of psychotic-like symptoms in a population-based study among Swedish women.
The large diversity of cells that comprise the human immune system requires methods that can resolve the individual contributions of specific subsets to an immunological response. Microengraving is process that uses a dense, elastomeric array of microwells to generate microarrays of proteins secreted from large numbers of individual live cells (approximately 10(4)-10(5) cells/assay). In this paper, we describe an approach based on this technology to quantify the rates of secretion from single immune cells. Numerical simulations of the microengraving process indicated an operating regime between 30 min-4 h that permits quantitative analysis of the rates of secretion. Through experimental validation, we demonstrate that microengraving can provide quantitative measurements of both the frequencies and the distribution in rates of secretion for up to four cytokines simultaneously released from individual viable primary immune cells. The experimental limits of detection ranged from 0.5 to 4 molecules/s for IL-6, IL-17, IFNgamma, IL-2, and TNFalpha. These multidimensional measures resolve the number and intensities of responses by cells exposed to stimuli with greater sensitivity than single-parameter assays for cytokine release. We show that cells from different donors exhibit distinct responses based on both the frequency and magnitude of cytokine secretion when stimulated under different activating conditions. Primary T cells with specific profiles of secretion can also be recovered after microengraving for subsequent expansion in vitro. These examples demonstrate the utility of quantitative, multidimensional profiles of single cells for analyzing the diversity and dynamics of immune responses in vitro and for identifying rare cells from clinical samples.
The landscape-level and multiscale biodiversity monitoring program National Inventory of Landscapes in Sweden (NILS) was launched in 2003. NILS is conducted as a sample-based stratified inventory that acquires data across several spatial scales, which is accomplished by combining aerial photo interpretation with field inventory. A total of 631 sample units are distributed across the land base of Sweden, of which 20% are surveyed each year. By 2007 NILS completed the first 5-year inventory phase. As the reinventory in the second 5-year phase (2008-2012) proceeds, experiences and insights accumulate and reflections are made on the setup and accomplishment of the monitoring scheme. In this article, the emphasis is placed on background, scope, objectives, design, and experiences of the NILS program. The main objective to collect data for and perform analyses of natural landscape changes, degree of anthropogenic impact, prerequisites for natural biological diversity and ecological processes at landscape scale. Different environmental conditions that can have direct or indirect effects on biological diversity are monitored. The program provides data for national and international policy and offers an infrastructure for other monitoring program and research projects. NILS has attracted significant national and international interest during its relatively short time of existence; the number of stakeholders and cooperation partners steadily increases. This is constructive and strengthens the incentive for the multiscale monitoring approach.
We report successful treatment with electroconvulsive therapy of a comorbid condition including severe obsessive-compulsive symptoms and hypochondriacal delusions in a 38-year-old man with Asperger syndrome. His condition deteriorated into a severely disabled chronic state that was refractory to different pharmacological and psychological treatments but was completely reversed after electroconvulsive therapy. Although typical obsessive-compulsive symptoms were predominant, the case also exhibits differences compared with regular obsessive-compulsive disorder regarding onset and course that are discussed in the report.
Multimillion-probe microarrays allow detection of gains and losses of chromosomal material at unprecedented resolution. However, the data generated by these arrays are several-fold larger than data from earlier platforms, creating a need for efficient analysis tools that scale robustly with data size.
Graphical Gaussian models (GGMs) are a promising approach to identify gene regulatory networks. Such models can be robustly inferred by solving the sparse inverse covariance selection (SICS) problem. With the high dimensionality of genomics data, fast methods capable of solving large instances of SICS are needed. We developed a novel network modeling tool, Ultranet, that solves the SICS problem with significantly improved efficiency. Ultranet combines a range of mathematical and programmatical techniques, exploits the structure of the SICS problem and enables computation of genome-scale GGMs without compromising analytic accuracy. Availability and implementation: Ultranet is implemented in C++ and available at www.broadinstitute.org/ultranet.
Non-negative matrix factorization (NMF) condenses high-dimensional data into lower-dimensional models subject to the requirement that data can only be added, never subtracted. However, the NMF problem does not have a unique solution, creating a need for additional constraints (regularization constraints) to promote informative solutions. Regularized NMF problems are more complicated than conventional NMF problems, creating a need for computational methods that incorporate the extra constraints in a reliable way. We developed novel methods for regularized NMF based on block-coordinate descent with proximal point modification and a fast optimization procedure over the alpha simplex. Our framework has important advantages in that it (a) accommodates for a wide range of regularization terms, including sparsity-inducing terms like the L1 penalty, (b) guarantees that the solutions satisfy necessary conditions for optimality, ensuring that the results have well-defined numerical meaning, (c) allows the scale of the solution to be controlled exactly, and (d) is computationally efficient. We illustrate the use of our approach on in the context of gene expression microarray data analysis. The improvements described remedy key limitations of previous proposals, strengthen the theoretical basis of regularized NMF, and facilitate the use of regularized NMF in applications.
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