Summary Precise gene editing in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) holds promise for treating genetic diseases. However, responses triggered by programmable nucleases in HSPCs are poorly characterized and may negatively impact HSPC engraftment and long-term repopulation capacity. Here, we induced either one or several DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs) with optimized zinc-finger and CRISPR/Cas9 nucleases and monitored DNA damage response (DDR) foci induction, cell-cycle progression, and transcriptional responses in HSPC subpopulations, with up to single-cell resolution. p53-mediated DDR pathway activation was the predominant response to even single-nuclease-induced DSBs across all HSPC subtypes analyzed. Excess DSB load and/or adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated delivery of DNA repair templates induced cumulative p53 pathway activation, constraining proliferation, yield, and engraftment of edited HSPCs. However, functional impairment was reversible when DDR burden was low and could be overcome by transient p53 inhibition. These findings provide molecular and functional evidence for feasible and seamless gene editing in HSPCs.
Targeted gene editing in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is a promising treatment for several diseases. However, the limited efficiency of homology-directed repair (HDR) in HSCs and the unknown impact of the procedure on clonal composition and dynamics upon transplantation have hampered clinical translation. Here, we apply a barcoding strategy to clonal tracking of edited cells (BAR-Seq) and show that editing activates p53, which significantly shrinks the HSC clonal repertoire in hematochimeric mice, although engrafted edited clones preserved multilineage and self-renewing capacity. Transient p53 inhibition restored polyclonal graft composition. We increased HDR efficiency by forcing cell cycle progression and upregulating components of the HDR machinery through transient expression of the Adenovirus 5 E4orf6/7 protein, which recruits the cell cycle controller E2F on its target genes. Combined E4orf6/7 expression and p53 inhibition resulted in HDR editing efficiencies of up to 50% in the long-term human graft, without perturbing repopulation and self-renewal of edited HSCs. This enhanced protocol should broaden applicability of HSC gene editing and pave its way to clinical translation.
HIV-1 insertions targeting BACH2 or MLK2 are enriched and persist for decades in hematopoietic cells from patients under combination antiretroviral therapy. However, it is unclear how these insertions provide such selective advantage to infected cell clones. Here, we show that in 30/87 (34%) patients under combination antiretroviral therapy, BACH2, and STAT5B are activated by insertions triggering the formation of mRNAs that contain viral sequences fused by splicing to their first protein-coding exon. These chimeric mRNAs, predicted to express full-length proteins, are enriched in T regulatory and T central memory cells, but not in other T lymphocyte subsets or monocytes. Overexpression of BACH2 or STAT5B in primary T regulatory cells increases their proliferation and survival without compromising their function. Hence, we provide evidence that HIV-1-mediated insertional activation of BACH2 and STAT5B favor the persistence of a viral reservoir in T regulatory cells in patients under combination antiretroviral therapy.
The explosion of the data both in the biomedical research and in the healthcare systems demands urgent solutions. In particular, the research in omics sciences is moving from a hypothesis-driven to a data-driven approach. Healthcare is additionally always asking for a tighter integration with biomedical data in order to promote personalized medicine and to provide better treatments. Efficient analysis and interpretation of Big Data opens new avenues to explore molecular biology, new questions to ask about physiological and pathological states, and new ways to answer these open issues. Such analyses lead to better understanding of diseases and development of better and personalized diagnostics and therapeutics. However, such progresses are directly related to the availability of new solutions to deal with this huge amount of information. New paradigms are needed to store and access data, for its annotation and integration and finally for inferring knowledge and making it available to researchers. Bioinformatics can be viewed as the “glue” for all these processes. A clear awareness of present high performance computing (HPC) solutions in bioinformatics, Big Data analysis paradigms for computational biology, and the issues that are still open in the biomedical and healthcare fields represent the starting point to win this challenge.
BackgroundBreast cancer is one of the most common cancer types. Due to the complexity of this disease, it is important to face its study with an integrated and multilevel approach, from genes, transcripts and proteins to molecular networks, cell populations and tissues. According to the systems biology perspective, the biological functions arise from complex networks: in this context, concepts like molecular pathways, protein-protein interactions (PPIs), mathematical models and ontologies play an important role for dissecting such complexity.ResultsIn this work we present the Genes-to-Systems Breast Cancer (G2SBC) Database, a resource which integrates data about genes, transcripts and proteins reported in literature as altered in breast cancer cells. Beside the data integration, we provide an ontology based query system and analysis tools related to intracellular pathways, PPIs, protein structure and systems modelling, in order to facilitate the study of breast cancer using a multilevel perspective. The resource is available at the URL http://www.itb.cnr.it/breastcancer.ConclusionsThe G2SBC Database represents a systems biology oriented data integration approach devoted to breast cancer. By means of the analysis capabilities provided by the web interface, it is possible to overcome the limits of reductionist resources, enabling predictions that can lead to new experiments.
Recombination signal sequences (RSSs) flanking V, D and J gene segments are recognized and cut by the VDJ recombinase during development of B and T lymphocytes. All RSSs are composed of seven conserved nucleotides, followed by a spacer (containing either 12 ± 1 or 23 ± 1 poorly conserved nucleotides) and a conserved nonamer. Errors in V(D)J recombination, including cleavage of cryptic RSS outside the immunoglobulin and T cell receptor loci, are associated with oncogenic translocations observed in some lymphoid malignancies. We present in this paper the RSSsite web server, which is available from the address http://www.itb.cnr.it/rss. RSSsite consists of a web-accessible database, RSSdb, for the identification of pre-computed potential RSSs, and of the related search tool, DnaGrab, which allows the scoring of potential RSSs in user-supplied sequences. This latter algorithm makes use of probability models, which can be recasted to Bayesian network, taking into account correlations between groups of positions of a sequence, developed starting from specific reference sets of RSSs. In validation laboratory experiments, we selected 33 predicted cryptic RSSs (cRSSs) from 11 chromosomal regions outside the immunoglobulin and TCR loci for functional testing.
Investigating ligand-regulated allosteric coupling between protein domains is fundamental to understand cell-life regulation. The Hsp70 family of chaperones represents an example of proteins in which ATP binding and hydrolysis at the Nucleotide Binding Domain (NBD) modulate substrate recognition at the Substrate Binding Domain (SBD). Herein, a comparative analysis of an allosteric (Hsp70-DnaK) and a non-allosteric structural homolog (Hsp110-Sse1) of the Hsp70 family is carried out through molecular dynamics simulations, starting from different conformations and ligand-states. Analysis of ligand-dependent modulation of internal fluctuations and local deformation patterns highlights the structural and dynamical changes occurring at residue level upon ATP-ADP exchange, which are connected to the conformational transition between closed and open structures. By identifying the dynamically responsive protein regions and specific cross-domain hydrogen-bonding patterns that differentiate Hsp70 from Hsp110 as a function of the nucleotide, we propose a molecular mechanism for the allosteric signal propagation of the ATP-encoded conformational signal.
The Hsp70 is an allosterically regulated family of molecular chaperones. They consist of two structural domains, NBD and SBD, connected by a flexible linker. ATP hydrolysis at the NBD modulates substrate recognition at the SBD, while peptide binding at the SBD enhances ATP hydrolysis. In this study we apply Molecular Dynamics (MD) to elucidate the molecular determinants underlying the allosteric communication from the NBD to the SBD and back. We observe that local structural and dynamical modulation can be coupled to large-scale rearrangements, and that different combinations of ligands at NBD and SBD differently affect the SBD domain mobility. Substituting ADP with ATP in the NBD induces specific structural changes involving the linker and the two NBD lobes. Also, a SBD-bound peptide drives the linker docking by increasing the local dynamical coordination of its C-terminal end: a partially docked DnaK structure is achieved by combining ATP in the NBD and peptide in the SBD. We propose that the MD-based analysis of the inter domain dynamics and structure modulation could be used as a tool to computationally predict the allosteric behaviour and functional response of Hsp70 upon introducing mutations or binding small molecules, with potential applications for drug discovery.
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