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Central IRBs: Enhanced Protections for Research Participants

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 9:14am

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) play a critical role in research, and assure safety and fairness to participants enrolled in research studies. Multisite studies are often reviewed by multiple IRBs (an IRB review at each site participating in the study), which can slow down study approval, result in duplication of effort, and occasionally produce contradictory decisions by different IRBs. To address these problems, the federal government has promoted the use of single IRBs (referred to as Central IRBs or CIRBs), where a single IRB is responsible for the review of all sites where the research study is conducted. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recently announced that beginning in 2017 all research conducted at multiple sites must be reviewed by a CIRB. This CIRB process is new and requires careful study to understand its pitfalls and benefits. As such, UMass Medical School and Columbia University received a (NIH) grant to study how different institutions conduct reviews of research involving multiple sites.

Insulin Receptor Substrate Adaptor Proteins Mediate Prognostic Gene Expression Profiles in Breast Cancer

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:43pm

Therapies targeting the type I insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-1R) have not been developed with predictive biomarkers to identify tumors with receptor activation. We have previously shown that the insulin receptor substrate (IRS) adaptor proteins are necessary for linking IGF1R to downstream signaling pathways and the malignant phenotype in breast cancer cells. The purpose of this study was to identify gene expression profiles downstream of IGF1R and its two adaptor proteins. IRS-null breast cancer cells (T47D-YA) were engineered to express IRS-1 or IRS-2 alone and their ability to mediate IGF ligand-induced proliferation, motility, and gene expression determined. Global gene expression signatures reflecting IRS adaptor specific and primary vs. secondary ligand response were derived (Early IRS-1, Late IRS-1, Early IRS-2 and Late IRS-2) and functional pathway analysis examined. IRS isoforms mediated distinct gene expression profiles, functional pathways, and breast cancer subtype association. For example, IRS-1/2-induced TGFb2 expression and blockade of TGFb2 abrogated IGF-induced cell migration. In addition, the prognostic value of IRS proteins was significant in the luminal B breast tumor subtype. Univariate and multivariate analyses confirmed that IRS adaptor signatures correlated with poor outcome as measured by recurrence-free and overall survival. Thus, IRS adaptor protein expression is required for IGF ligand responses in breast cancer cells. IRS-specific gene signatures represent accurate surrogates of IGF activity and could predict response to anti-IGF therapy in breast cancer.

Accurate Prediction of Transposon-Derived piRNAs by Integrating Various Sequential and Physicochemical Features

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:42pm

BACKGROUND: Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) is the largest class of small non-coding RNA molecules. The transposon-derived piRNA prediction can enrich the research contents of small ncRNAs as well as help to further understand generation mechanism of gamete.

METHODS: In this paper, we attempt to differentiate transposon-derived piRNAs from non-piRNAs based on their sequential and physicochemical features by using machine learning methods. We explore six sequence-derived features, i.e. spectrum profile, mismatch profile, subsequence profile, position-specific scoring matrix, pseudo dinucleotide composition and local structure-sequence triplet elements, and systematically evaluate their performances for transposon-derived piRNA prediction. Finally, we consider two approaches: direct combination and ensemble learning to integrate useful features and achieve high-accuracy prediction models.

RESULTS: We construct three datasets, covering three species: Human, Mouse and Drosophila, and evaluate the performances of prediction models by 10-fold cross validation. In the computational experiments, direct combination models achieve AUC of 0.917, 0.922 and 0.992 on Human, Mouse and Drosophila, respectively; ensemble learning models achieve AUC of 0.922, 0.926 and 0.994 on the three datasets.

CONCLUSIONS: Compared with other state-of-the-art methods, our methods can lead to better performances. In conclusion, the proposed methods are promising for the transposon-derived piRNA prediction. The source codes and datasets are available in S1 File.

Glucose Metabolism Disorder Is Associated with Pulmonary Tuberculosis in Individuals with Respiratory Symptoms from Brazil

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:42pm

BACKGROUND: Diabetes mellitus (DM) has been associated with increased risk for pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) in endemic settings but it is unknown whether PTB risk is also increased by pre-DM. Here, we prospectively examined the association between glucose metabolism disorder (GMD) and PTB in patients with respiratory symptoms at a tuberculosis primary care reference center in Brazil.

METHODS: Oral glucose tolerance test was performed and levels of fasting plasma glucose and glycohemoglobin (HbA1c) were measured in a cohort of 892 individuals presenting with respiratory symptoms of more than two weeks duration. Patients were also tested for PTB with sputum cultures. Prevalence of pre-DM and DM (based on HbA1c) was estimated and tested for association with incident PTB. Other TB risk factors including smoking history were analyzed.

RESULTS: The majority of the study population (63.1%) exhibited GMD based on HbA1c > /=5.7%. Patients with GMD had higher prevalence of PTB compared to normoglycemic patients. Individuals with DM exhibited increased frequency of TB-related symptoms and detection of acid-fast bacilli in sputum smears. Among patients with previous DM diagnosis, sustained hyperglycemia (HbA1c > /=7.0%) was associated with increased TB prevalence. Smoking history alone was not significantly associated with TB in our study population but the combination of smoking and HbA1c > /=7.0% was associated with 6 times higher odds for PTB.

CONCLUSIONS: Sustained hyperglycemia and pre-DM are independently associated with active PTB. This evidence raises the question whether improving glycemic control in diabetic TB patients would reduce the risk of TB transmission and simultaneously reduce the clinical burden of disease. A better understanding of mechanisms underlying these associations, especially those suggesting that pre-DM may be a factor driving susceptibility to TB is warranted.

Early Combination Antiretroviral Therapy Limits Exposure to HIV-1 Replication and Cell-Associated HIV-1 DNA Levels in Infants

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:42pm

The primary aim of this study was to measure HIV-1 persistence following combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) in infants and children. Peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) HIV-1 DNA was quantified prior to and after 1 year of cART in 30 children, stratified by time of initiation (early, age < 3 months, ET; late, age > 3 months-2 years, LT). Pre-therapy PBMC HIV-1 DNA levels correlated with pre-therapy plasma HIV-1 levels (r = 0.59, p < 0.001), remaining statistically significant (p = 0.002) after adjustment for prior perinatal antiretroviral exposure and age at cART initiation. PBMC HIV-1 DNA declined significantly after 1 year of cART (Overall: -0.91+/-0.08 log10 copies per million PBMC, p < 0.001; ET: -1.04+/-0.11 log10 DNA copies per million PBMC, p < 0.001; LT: -0.74 +/-0.13 log10 DNA copies per million PBMC, p < 0.001) but rates of decline did not differ significantly between ET and LT. HIV-1 replication exposure over the first 12 months of cART, estimated as area-under-the-curve (AUC) of circulating plasma HIV-1 RNA levels, was significantly associated with PBMC HIV-1 DNA at one year (r = 0.51, p = 0.004). In 21 children with sustained virologic suppression after 1 year of cART, PBMC HIV-1 DNA levels continued to decline between years 1 and 4 (slope -0.21 log10 DNA copies per million PBMC per year); decline slopes did not differ significantly between ET and LT. PBMC HIV-1 DNA levels at 1 year and 4 years of cART correlated with age at cART initiation (1 year: p = 0.04; 4 years: p = 0.03) and age at virologic control (1 and 4 years, p = 0.02). Altogether, these data indicate that reducing exposure to HIV-1 replication and younger age at cART initiation are associated with lower HIV-1 DNA levels at and after one year of age, supporting the concept that HIV-1 diagnosis and cART initiation in infants should occur as early as possible.

Association between Responsible Pet Ownership and Glycemic Control in Youths with Type 1 Diabetes

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:41pm

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) a chronic characterized by an absolute insulin deficiency requires conscientious patient self-management to maintain glucose control within a normal range. Family cohesion and adaptability, positive coping strategies, social support and adequate self-regulatory behavior are found to favorably influence glycemic control. Our hypothesis was that the responsible care of a companion animal is associated with these positive attributes and correlated with the successful management of a chronic illness such as type 1 diabetes. We recruited 223 youths between 9 and 19 years of age from the Pediatric Diabetes clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, reviewed the status of their glycemic control (using three consecutive A1c values) and asked them questions about the presence of a pet at home, and their level of involvement with its care. Multivariate analyses show that children who care actively for one or more pets at home are 2.5 times more likely to have control over their glycemic levels than children who do not care for a pet, adjusting for duration of disease, socio-economic status, age and self-management [1.1 to 5.8], pWald = 0.032. A separate model involving the care of a pet dog only yielded comparable results (ORa = 2.6 [1.1 to 5.9], pWald = 0.023).

Discordant Expression of Circulating microRNA from Cellular and Extracellular Sources

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:41pm

MicroRNA (miRNA) expression has rapidly grown into one of the largest fields for disease characterization and development of clinical biomarkers. Consensus is lacking in regards to the optimal sample source or if different circulating sources are concordant. Here, using miRNA measurements from contemporaneously obtained whole blood- and plasma-derived RNA from 2391 individuals, we demonstrate that plasma and blood miRNA levels are divergent and may reflect different biological processes and disease associations.

Utilizing a TLR5-Adjuvanted Cytomegalovirus as a Lentiviral Vaccine in the Nonhuman Primate Model for AIDS

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:41pm

Despite tremendous progress in our understanding of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) natural history and advances in HIV treatment, there is neither an approved vaccine nor a cure for infection. Here, we describe the development and characterization of a novel replicating vaccine vector utilizing Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and a TLR5 adjuvant. After partial truncation of the central, immunodominant hypervariable domain, flagellin (fliC) from Salmonella was cloned downstream of a codon optimized gag gene from simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and transiently expressed in telomerized rhesus fibroblast (TeloRF) cells in culture. Lysates generated from these transfected cells induced the tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), in a mouse macrophage cell line, in a TLR5-dependent manner. The Gag/FliC expression construct was cloned into a bacterial artificial chromosome encoding the rhesus CMV (RhCMV) genome, and infectious RhCMV was generated following transfection of TeloRF cells. This virus stably expressed an SIV Gag/FliC fusion protein through four serial passages. Lysates generated from infected cells induced TNF-alpha in a TLR5-dependent manner. Western blot analysis of infected cell lysates verified expression of a Gag/FliC fusion protein using a SIV p27 capsid monoclonal antibody. Lastly, rhesus macaques inoculated with this novel RhCMV virus demonstrated increased inflammatory responses at the site of inoculation seven days post-infection when compared to the parental RhCMV. These results demonstrate that an artificially constructed replicating RhCMV expressing an SIV Gag/FliC fusion protein is capable of activating TLR5 in a macrophage cell line in vitro and induction of an altered inflammatory response in vivo. Ongoing animals studies are aimed at determining vaccine efficacy, including subsequent challenge with pathogenic SIV.

Prevalence, Predictors, and Same Day Treatment of Positive VIA Enhanced by Digital Cervicography and Histopathology Results in a Cervical Cancer Prevention Program in Cameroon

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:40pm

BACKGROUND: In 2007, the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS) implemented a screen-and-treat cervical cancer prevention program using visual inspection with acetic acid enhanced by digital cervicography (VIA-DC).

METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed 46,048 medical records of women who received care through the CBCHS Women's Health Program from 2007 through 2014 to determine the prevalence and predictors of positive VIA-DC, rates of same day treatment, and cohort prevalence of invasive cervical cancer (ICC).

RESULTS: Of the 44,979 women who were screened for cervical cancer, 9.0% were VIA-DC-positive, 66.8% were VIA-DC-negative, 22.0% were VIA-DC-inadequate (normal ectocervix, but portions of the transformation zone were obscured), and 2.2% were VIA-DC-uncertain (cervical abnormalities confounding VIA-DC interpretation). Risk factors significantly associated with VIA-DC-positive screen were HIV-positivity, young age at sexual debut, higher lifetime number of sexual partners, low education status and higher gravidity. In 2014, 31.1% of women eligible for cryotherapy underwent same day treatment. Among the 32,788 women screened from 2007 through 2013, 201 cases of ICC were identified corresponding to a cohort prevalence of 613 per 100,000.

CONCLUSIONS: High rate of VIA-DC-positive screens suggests a significant burden of potential cervical cancer cases and highlights the need for expansion of cervical cancer screening and prevention throughout the 10 regions of Cameroon. VIA-DC-inadequate rates were also high, especially in older women, and additional screening methods are needed to confirm whether these results are truly negative. In comparison to similar screening programs in sub-Saharan Africa there was low utilization of same day cryotherapy treatment. Further studies are required to characterize possible program specific barriers to treatment, for example cultural demands, health system challenges and cost of procedure. The prevalence of ICC among women who presented for screening was high and requires further investigation.

Recombinant AAV Vectors for Enhanced Expression of Authentic IgG

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:40pm

Adeno-associated virus (AAV) has become a vector of choice for the treatment of a variety of genetic diseases that require safe and long-term delivery of a missing protein. Muscle-directed gene transfer for delivery of protective antibodies against AIDS viruses and other pathogens has been used experimentally in mice and monkeys. Here we examined a number of variations to AAV vector design for the ability to produce authentic immunoglobulin G (IgG) molecules. Expression of rhesus IgG from a single single-stranded AAV (ssAAV) vector (one vector approach) was compared to expression from two self-complementary AAV (scAAV) vectors, one for heavy chain and one for light chain (two vector approach). Both the one vector and the two vector approaches yielded considerable levels of expressed full-length IgG. A number of modifications to the ssAAV expression system were then examined for their ability to increase the efficiency of IgG expression. Inclusion of a furin cleavage sequence with a linker peptide just upstream of the 2A self-cleaving sequence from foot-and-mouth disease virus (F2A) increased IgG expression approximately 2 fold. Inclusion of these sequences also helped to ensure a proper sequence at the C-terminal end of the heavy chain. Inclusion of the post-transcriptional regulatory element from woodchuck hepatitis virus (WPRE) further increased IgG expression 1.5-2.0 fold. IgG1 versions of the two rhesus IgGs that were examined consistently expressed better than the IgG2 forms. In contrast to what has been reported for AAV2-mediated expression of other proteins, introduction of capsid mutations Y445F and Y731F did not increase ssAAV1-mediated expression of IgG as determined by transduction experiments in cell culture. Our findings provide a rational basis for AAV vector design for expression of authentic IgG.

Newer Oral Anticoagulants: Stroke Prevention and Pitfalls

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:39pm

Warfarin is very effective in preventing stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. However, its use is limited due to fear of hemorrhagic complications, unpredictable anticoagulant effects related to multiple drug interactions and dietary restrictions, a narrow therapeutic window, frequent difficulty maintaining the anticoagulant effect within a narrow therapeutic window, and the need for inconvenient monitoring. Several newer oral anticoagulants have been approved for primary and secondary prevention of stroke in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. These agents have several advantages relative to warfarin therapy. As a group, these direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC), which include the direct thrombin inhibitor, dabigatran, and the factor Xa inhibitors (rivaroxaban, apixaban, and edoxaban), are more effective than dose adjusted warfarin for prevention of all-cause stroke (including both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke), and have an overall more favorable safety profile. Nevertheless, an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding (with the exception of apixaban), increased risk for thrombotic complication with sudden discontinuation, and inability to accurately assess and reverse anticoagulant effect require consideration prior to therapy initiation, and pose a challenge for decision making in acute stroke therapy.

Impact of a family medicine resident wellness curriculum: a feasibility study

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:39pm

BACKGROUND: Up to 60% of practicing physicians report symptoms of burnout, which often peak during residency. Residency is also a relevant time for habits of self-care and resiliency to be emphasized. A growing literature underscores the importance of this; however, evidence about effective burnout prevention curriculum during residency remains limited.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this project is to evaluate the impact of a new, 1-month wellness curriculum for 12 second-year family medicine residents on burnout, empathy, stress, and self-compassion.

METHODS: The pilot program, introduced during a new rotation emphasizing competencies around leadership, focused on teaching skills to cultivate mindfulness and self-compassion in order to enhance empathy and reduce stress. Pre-assessments and 3-month follow-up assessments on measures of burnout, empathy, self-compassion, and perceived stress were collected to evaluate the impact of the curriculum. It was hypothesized that this curriculum would enhance empathy and self-compassion as well as reduce stress and burnout among family medicine residents.

RESULTS: Descriptive statistics revealed positive trends on the mean scores of all the measures, particularly the Mindfulness Scale of the Self-Compassion Inventory and the Jefferson Empathy Scale. However, the small sample size and lack of sufficient power to detect meaningful differences limited the use of inferential statistics.

CONCLUSIONS: This feasibility study demonstrates how a residency wellness curriculum can be developed, implemented, and evaluated with promising results, including high participant satisfaction.

The Effect of Parathion on Red Blood Cell Acetylcholinesterase in the Wistar Rat

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:38pm

Organophosphorus (OP) pesticide poisoning is a significant problem worldwide. Research into new antidotes for these acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, and even optimal doses for current therapies, is hindered by a lack of standardized animal models. In this study, we sought to characterize the effects of the OP pesticide parathion on acetylcholinesterase in a Wistar rat model that included comprehensive medical care. Methods. Male Wistar rats were intubated and mechanically ventilated and then poisoned with between 20 mg/kg and 60 mg/kg of intravenous parathion. Upon developing signs of poisoning, the rats were treated with standard critical care, including atropine, pralidoxime chloride, and midazolam, for up to 48 hours. Acetylcholinesterase activity was determined serially for up to 8 days after poisoning. Results. At all doses of parathion, maximal depression of acetylcholinesterase occurred at 3 hours after poisoning. Acetylcholinesterase recovered to nearly 50% of baseline activity by day 4 in the 20 mg/kg cohort and by day 5 in the 40 and 60 mg/kg cohorts. At day 8, most rats' acetylcholinesterase had recovered to roughly 70% of baseline. These data should be useful in developing rodent models of acute OP pesticide poisoning.

Scaffolded Antigens in Yeast Cell Particle Vaccines Provide Protection against Systemic Polyoma Virus Infection

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:38pm

Background. U65, a self-aggregating peptide scaffold, traps fused protein antigens in yeast cells. Conversion to Yeast Cell Particle (YCP) vaccines by partial removal of surface mannoproteins exposes beta-glucan, mediating efficient uptake by antigen-presenting cells (APCs). YCP vaccines are inexpensive, capable of rapid large-scale production and have potential for both parenteral and oral use. Results. YCP processing by alkaline hydrolysis exposes up to 20% of the glucan but converts scaffolded antigen and internal yeast proteins into a common aggregate, preventing selective yeast protein removal. For U65-green fluorescent protein (GFP) or U65-Apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1) subcutaneous vaccines, maximal IgG responses in mice required 10% glucan exposure. IgG responses to yeast proteins were 5-fold lower. Proteolytic mannoprotein removal produced YCPs with only 6% glucan exposure, insufficiently porous for selective removal of even native yeast proteins. Vaccine efficacy was reduced 10-fold. Current YCP formulations, therefore, are not suitable for human use but have considerable potential for use in feed animal vaccines. Significantly, a YCP vaccine expressing a GFP fusion to VP1, the murine polyoma virus major capsid protein, after either oral or subcutaneous administration, protected mice against an intraperitoneal polyoma virus challenge, reducing viral DNA levels in spleen and liver by > 98%.

NEAT1 is Required for Survival of Breast Cancer Cells Through FUS and miR-548

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:37pm

Increasing evidence shows that long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have important roles in the regulation of multiple cellular processes, including cell division, cell growth, and apoptosis, as well as cancer metastasis and neurological disease progression; however, the mechanism of how lncRNAs regulate these processes is not well established. In this study, we demonstrated that downregulating the expression of the lncRNA nuclear paraspeckle assembly transcript 1 (NEAT1) in breast cancer cells inhibited cell growth and induced cell apoptosis. In addition, the RNA-binding protein fused in sarcoma/translocated in liposarcoma (FUS/TLS) physically interacted with NEAT1, and reducing the expression of FUS/TLS also induced cell apoptosis. Multiple miRNAs were identified as regulators of NEAT1, but only overexpression of miR-548ar was able to decrease NEAT1 expression and promote apoptosis. These results indicate a novel interaction between NEAT1, miR-548ar-3p, and FUS and their role in the regulation of breast cancer cell apoptosis.

New Insights into the Generation of CD4 Memory May Shape Future Vaccine Strategies for Influenza

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:36pm

Influenza viral evolution presents a formidable challenge to vaccination due to the virus' ability to rapidly mutate to evade immune responses. Live influenza infections generate large and diverse CD4 effector T cell responses that yield highly protective, long-lasting CD4 T cell memory that can target conserved viral epitopes. We review advances in our understanding of mechanisms involved in generating CD4 T cell responses against the influenza A virus (IAV), focusing on specialized follicular helper (TFH) and CD4 cytotoxic (ThCTL) effector subsets and on CD4 T cell memory. We also discuss two recent findings in context of enhancing vaccine responses. First, helper T cells require priming with APC secreting high levels of IL-6. Second, the transition of IAV-generated effectors to memory depends on IL-2, costimulation and antigen signals, just before effectors reach peak numbers, defined as the "memory checkpoint." The need for these signals during the checkpoint could explain why many current influenza vaccines are poorly effective and elicit poor cellular immunity. We suggest that CD4 memory generation can be enhanced by re-vaccinating at this time. Our best hope lies in a universal vaccine that will not need to be formulated yearly against seasonal antigenically novel influenza strains and will also be protective against a pandemic strain. We suggest a vaccine approach that elicits a powerful T cell response, by initially inducing high levels of APC activation and later providing antigen at the memory checkpoint, may take us a step closer to such a universal influenza vaccine.

Defining the Binding Region in Factor H to Develop a Therapeutic Factor H-Fc Fusion Protein against Non-Typeable Haemophilus influenzae

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:36pm

Non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) cause a range of illnesses including otitis media, sinusitis, and exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, infections that contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistance and are themselves often intractable to standard antibiotic treatment regimens. We investigated a strategy to exploit binding of the complement inhibitor Factor H (FH) to NTHi as a functional target for an immunotherapeutic containing the NTHi binding domain of FH fused to the Fc domain of IgG1. Chimeric proteins containing the regions that most FH-binding bacteria use to engage human FH, domains 6 and 7 (FH6,7/Fc) and/or 18 through 20 (FH18-20/Fc), were evaluated for binding to NTHi. FH6,7/Fc bound strongly to each of seven NTHi clinical isolates tested and efficiently promoted complement-mediated killing by normal human serum. FH18-20/Fc bound weakly to three of the strains but did not promote complement dependent killing. Outer-membrane protein P5 has been implicated in FH binding by NTHi, and FH6,7/Fc binding was greatly diminished in five of seven P5 deficient isogenic mutant strains tested, implicating an alternative FH binding protein in some strains. Binding of FH18-20/Fc was decreased in the P5 mutant of one strain. A murine model was used to evaluate potential therapeutic application of FH6,7/Fc. FH6,7/Fc efficiently promoted binding of C3 to NTHi exposed to mouse serum, and intranasal delivery of FH6,7/Fc resulted in significantly enhanced clearance of NTHi from the lung. Moreover, a P5 deficient mutant was attenuated for survival in the lung model, suggesting that escape mutants lacking P5 would be less likely to replace strains susceptible to FH6,7/Fc. These results provide evidence for the potential utility of FH6,7/Fc as a therapeutic against NTHi lung infection. FH binding is a common property of many respiratory tract pathogens and FH/Fc chimeras may represent promising alternative or adjunctive therapeutics against such infections, which are often polymicrobial.

The Secret Life of Tethers: The Role of Tethering Factors in SNARE Complex Regulation

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:35pm

Trafficking in eukaryotic cells is a tightly regulated process to ensure correct cargo delivery to the proper destination organelle or plasma membrane. In this review, we focus on how the vesicle fusion machinery, the SNARE complex, is regulated by the interplay of the multisubunit tethering complexes (MTC) with the SNAREs and Sec1/Munc18 (SM) proteins. Although these factors are used in different stages of membrane trafficking, e.g., Golgi to plasma membrane transport vs. vacuolar fusion, and in a variety of diverse eukaryotic cell types, many commonalities between their functions are being revealed. We explore the various protein-protein interactions and findings from functional reconstitution studies in order to highlight both their common features and the differences in their modes of regulation. These studies serve as a starting point for mechanistic explorations in other systems.

Border Security: The Role of RIPK3 in Epithelium Homeostasis

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:35pm

Receptor interacting protein kinase 3 (RIPK3) is a crucial inducer of necroptosis. Its activity is controlled by interaction with other signal adaptors through the "RIP homotypic interaction motif" (RHIM). Recent studies revealed a critical function for RIPK3 in the maintenance of epithelial tissue integrity. In mice with genetic deficiency of the apoptosis adaptors FADD or caspase 8, RIPK3 promotes necroptotic cell death of epithelial cells, leading to excessive and lethal inflammation. In contrast, when FADD and caspase 8 functions are intact, RIPK3 serves as a protector of intestinal epithelial integrity by promoting injury-induced wound repair. In the latter case, RIPK3 promotes optimal cytokine expression by cells of hematopoietic origin. Specifically, bone marrow derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) have an obligate requirement for RIPK3 for optimal secretion of mature IL-1beta and other inflammatory cytokines in response to toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) stimulation. RIPK3 promotes cytokine expression through two complementary mechanisms: NF-kappaB dependent gene transcription and processing of pro-IL-1beta. We propose that RIPK3 functions in different cell compartments to mediate inflammation through distinct mechanisms.

Regulation of chaperone binding and nucleosome dynamics by key residues within the globular domain of histone H3

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:34pm

BACKGROUND: Nucleosomes have an important role in modulating access of DNA by regulatory factors. The role specific histone residues have in this process has been shown to be an important mechanism of transcription regulation. Previously, we identified eight amino acids in histones H3 and H4 that are required for nucleosome occupancy over highly transcribed regions of the genome.

RESULTS: We investigate the mechanism through which three of these previously identified histone H3 amino acids regulate nucleosome architecture. We find that histone H3 K122, Q120, and R49 are required for Spt2, Spt6, and Spt16 occupancies at genomic locations where transcription rates are high, but not over regions of low transcription rates. Furthermore, substitution at one residue, K122, located on the dyad axis of the nucleosome, results in improper reassembly and disassembly of nucleosomes, likely accounting for the transcription rate-dependent regulation by these mutant histones.

CONCLUSIONS: These data show that when specific amino acids of histone proteins are substituted, Spt2, Spt6, and Spt16 occupancies are reduced and nucleosome dynamics are altered. Therefore, these data support a mechanism for histone chaperone binding where these factors interact with histone proteins to promote their activities during transcription.