Intestinal transgene delivery with native E. coli chassis allows persistent physiological changes.
Live bacterial therapeutics (LBTs) could reverse diseases by engrafting in the gut and providing persistent beneficial functions in the host. However, attempts to functionally manipulate the gut microbiome of conventionally raised (CR) hosts have been unsuccessful because engineered microbial organisms (i.e., chassis) have difficulty in colonizing the hostile luminal environment. In this proof-of-concept study, we use native bacteria as chassis for transgene delivery to impact CR host physiology. Native Escherichia coli bacteria isolated from the stool cultures of CR mice were modified to express functional genes. The reintroduction of these strains induces perpetual engraftment in the intestine. In addition, engineered native E. coli can induce functional changes that affect physiology of and reverse pathology in CR hosts months after administration. Thus, using native bacteria as chassis to "knock in" specific functions allows mechanistic studies of specific microbial activities in the microbiome of CR hosts and enables LBT with curative intent.
Epigenetic reader SP140 loss of function drives Crohn's disease due to uncontrolled macrophage topoisomerases.
How mis-regulated chromatin directly impacts human immune disorders is poorly understood. Speckled Protein 140 (SP140) is an immune-restricted PHD and bromodomain-containing epigenetic "reader," and SP140 loss-of-function mutations associate with Crohn's disease (CD), multiple sclerosis (MS), and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). However, the relevance of these mutations and mechanisms underlying SP140-driven pathogenicity remains unexplored. Using a global proteomic strategy, we identified SP140 as a repressor of topoisomerases (TOPs) that maintains heterochromatin and macrophage fate. In humans and mice, SP140 loss resulted in unleashed TOP activity, de-repression of developmentally silenced genes, and ultimately defective microbe-inducible macrophage transcriptional programs and bacterial killing that drive intestinal pathology. Pharmacological inhibition of TOP1/2 rescued these defects. Furthermore, exacerbated colitis was restored with TOP1/2 inhibitors in Sp140 mice, but not wild-type mice, in vivo. Collectively, we identify SP140 as a TOP repressor and reveal repurposing of TOP inhibition to reverse immune diseases driven by SP140 loss.
Accurate de novo design of membrane-traversing macrocycles.
We use computational design coupled with experimental characterization to systematically investigate the design principles for macrocycle membrane permeability and oral bioavailability. We designed 184 6-12 residue macrocycles with a wide range of predicted structures containing noncanonical backbone modifications and experimentally determined structures of 35; 29 are very close to the computational models. With such control, we show that membrane permeability can be systematically achieved by ensuring all amide (NH) groups are engaged in internal hydrogen bonding interactions. 84 designs over the 6-12 residue size range cross membranes with an apparent permeability greater than 1 × 10 cm/s. Designs with exposed NH groups can be made membrane permeable through the design of an alternative isoenergetic fully hydrogen-bonded state favored in the lipid membrane. The ability to robustly design membrane-permeable and orally bioavailable peptides with high structural accuracy should contribute to the next generation of designed macrocycle therapeutics.
Deep mutational scanning identifies SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid escape mutations of currently available rapid antigen tests.
The effects of mutations in continuously emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 are a major concern for the performance of rapid antigen tests. To evaluate the impact of mutations on 17 antibodies used in 11 commercially available antigen tests with emergency use authorization, we measured antibody binding for all possible Nucleocapsid point mutations using a mammalian surface-display platform and deep mutational scanning. The results provide a complete map of the antibodies' epitopes and their susceptibility to mutational escape. Our data predict no vulnerabilities for detection of mutations found in variants of concern. We confirm this using the commercial tests and sequence-confirmed COVID-19 patient samples. The antibody escape mutational profiles generated here serve as a valuable resource for predicting the performance of rapid antigen tests against past, current, as well as any possible future variants of SARS-CoV-2, establishing the direct clinical and public health utility of our system.
Sublethal cytochrome c release generates drug-tolerant persister cells.
Drug-tolerant persister cells (persisters) evade apoptosis upon targeted and conventional cancer therapies and represent a major non-genetic barrier to effective cancer treatment. Here, we show that cells that survive treatment with pro-apoptotic BH3 mimetics display a persister phenotype that includes colonization and metastasis in vivo and increased sensitivity toward ferroptosis by GPX4 inhibition. We found that sublethal mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP) and holocytochrome c release are key requirements for the generation of the persister phenotype. The generation of persisters is independent of apoptosome formation and caspase activation, but instead, cytosolic cytochrome c induces the activation of heme-regulated inhibitor (HRI) kinase and engagement of the integrated stress response (ISR) with the consequent synthesis of ATF4, all of which are required for the persister phenotype. Our results reveal that sublethal cytochrome c release couples sublethal MOMP to caspase-independent initiation of an ATF4-dependent, drug-tolerant persister phenotype.
A Label-Free Cell Sorting Approach to Highlight the Impact of Intratumoral Cellular Heterogeneity and Cancer Stem Cells on Response to Therapies.
Cancer stem cells play a crucial role in tumor initiation, metastasis, and resistance to treatment. Cellular heterogeneity and plasticity complicate the isolation of cancer stem cells. The impact of intra-tumor cellular heterogeneity using a label-free approach remains understudied in the context of treatment resistance. Here, we use the sedimentation field-flow fractionation technique to separate, without labeling, cell subpopulations of colorectal cancer cell lines and primary cultures according to their biophysical properties. One of the three sorted cell subpopulations exhibits characteristics of cancer stem cells, including high tumorigenicity in vivo and a higher frequency of tumor-initiating cells compared to the other subpopulations. Due to its chemoresistance, two- and three-dimensional in vitro chemosensitivity assays highlight the therapeutic relevance of this cancer stem cell subpopulation. Thus, our results reveal the major implication of intra-tumor cellular heterogeneity, including cancer stem cells in treatment resistance, thanks to our label-free cell sorting approach. This approach enables-by breaking down the tumor-the study the individualized response of each sorted tumor cell subpopulation and to identify chemoresistance, thus offering new perspectives for personalized therapy.