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Last Modified, June 20, 2021
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Gametic specialization of centromeric histone paralogs in Drosophila virilis

Life Sci Alliance

2021 Harmit Malik; Hannah McConnell; Aida de la Cruz; Lisa Kursel

In most eukaryotes, centromeric histone (CenH3) proteins mediate mitosis and meiosis and ensure epigenetic inheritance of centromere identity. We hypothesized that disparate chromatin environments in soma versus germline might impose divergent functional requirements on single CenH3 genes, which could be ameliorated by gene duplications and subsequent specialization. Here, we analyzed the cytological localization of two recently identified CenH3 paralogs, Cid1 and Cid5, in Drosophila virilis using specific antibodies and epitope-tagged transgenic strains. We find that only ancestral Cid1 is present in somatic cells, whereas both Cid1 and Cid5 are expressed in testes and ovaries. However, Cid1 is lost in male meiosis but retained throughout oogenesis, whereas Cid5 is lost during female meiosis but retained in mature sperm. Following fertilization, only Cid1 is detectable in the early embryo, suggesting that maternally deposited Cid1 is rapidly loaded onto paternal centromeres during the protamine-to-histone transition. Our studies reveal mutually exclusive gametic specialization of divergent CenH3 paralogs. Duplication and divergence might allow essential centromeric genes to resolve an intralocus conflict between maternal and paternal centromeric requirements in many animal species.

Protocol for detecting introgressed archaic variants with SPrime

STAR Protoc

2021 Ying Zhou

The SPrime program detects the variants in current-day populations that were introgressed from an archaic source in the past. It is optimized for detecting introgression from Neanderthals and Denisovans in modern humans. We provide a protocol for detecting Neanderthal and Denisovan introgression in 1000 Genomes Project data, specifically focusing on the CHB (Han Chinese in Beijing) population. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Browning et al. (2018).

Germinal center-dependent and -independent memory B cells produced throughout the immune response

J Exp Med

2021 Leonidas Stamatatos

Memory B cells comprise a heterogenous group of cells that differ in origin and phenotype. During the early phases of the immune response, activated B cells can differentiate into IgM-expressing memory cells, short-lived plasma cells, or seed germinal centers (GCs). The memory compartment is subsequently enriched by B cells that have been through several rounds of division and selection in the GC. Here, we report on the use of an unbiased lineage-tracking approach to explore the origins and properties of memory B cell subsets in mice with an intact immune system. We find that activated B cells continue to differentiate into memory B cells throughout the immune response. When defined on the basis of their origins, the memory B cells originating from activated B cells or GCs differ in isotype and overall gene expression, somatic hypermutation, and their affinity for antigen.

Distinguishing AML from MDS: A fixed blast percentage may no longer be optimal


2021 Elihu Estey

Patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have conventionally received more "intense" therapy than patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Although less intense therapies are being used more often in AML, the AML-MDS dichotomy remains, with the presence of ≥ 20% myeloblasts in marrow or peripheral blood generally regarded as defining AML. Consequently, patients with 19% blasts are typically ineligible for AML studies, with patients with 21% blasts ineligible for MDS studies. Here we cite biologic and clinical data to question this practice. Biologically, abnormalities in chromosome 3q26,and mutations in NPM1, and FLT3, regarded as AML-associated, also occur in MDS. The genetic signatures of MDS, particularly cases with 10-19% blasts (MDS-EB2), resemble those of AML following a preceding MDS ("secondary AML"). Mutationally, secondary AML appears at least as similar to MDS-EB2 as to de novo AML. Patients presenting with de novo AML but with secondary-type AML mutations, appear to have the same poor prognoses associated with clinically defined secondary AML. Seattle data indicate that after accounting for European LeukemiaNet (ELN) 2017 risk, age, performance status, clinically secondary AML, and treatment including allogeneic transplant, patients with WHO-defined AML (n=769) have similar rates of OS, EFS and CR/CRi as patients with MDS-EB2 (n=202). We suggest defining patients with 10-30% blasts ("AML/MDS") as eligible for either AML or MDS studies. This would permit empirical testing of the independent effect of blast percentage on outcome, allow patients access to more therapies, and potentially simplify the regulatory approval process.

Biologic Assignment Trial of Reduced-Intensity Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation Based on Donor Availability in Patients 50-75 Years of Age With Advanced Myelodysplastic Syndrome

J Clin Oncol

2021 Fred Appelbaum; Bart Scott

PURPOSE: Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is the only potentially curative therapy for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), although it is infrequently offered to older patients. The relative benefits of HCT over non-HCT therapy in older patients with higher-risk MDS have not been defined. METHODS: We conducted a multicenter biologic assignment trial comparing reduced-intensity HCT to hypomethylating therapy or best supportive care in subjects 50-75 years of age with intermediate-2 or high-risk de novo MDS. The primary outcome was overall survival probability at 3 years. Between January 2014 and November 2018, we enrolled 384 subjects at 34 centers. Subjects were assigned to the Donor or No-Donor arms according to the availability of a matched donor within 90 days of study registration. RESULTS: The median follow-up time for surviving subjects was 34.2 months (range: 2.3-38 months) in the Donor arm and 26.9 months (range: 2.4-37.2 months) in the No-Donor arm. In an intention-to-treat analysis, the adjusted overall survival rate at 3 years in the Donor arm was 47.9% (95% CI, 41.3 to 54.1) compared with 26.6% (95% CI, 18.4 to 35.6) in the No-Donor arm (P = .0001) with an absolute difference of 21.3% (95% CI, 10.2 to 31.8). Leukemia-free survival at 3 years was greater in the Donor arm (35.8%; 95% CI, 29.8 to 41.8) compared with the No-Donor arm (20.6%; 95% CI, 13.3 to 29.1; P = .003). The survival benefit was seen across all subgroups examined. CONCLUSION: We observed a significant survival advantage in older subjects with higher-risk MDS who have a matched donor identified and underwent reduced-intensity HCT, when compared with those without a donor. HCT should be included as an integral part of MDS management plans in fit older adults with higher-risk MDS.

Barriers to Physician-Based Skin Examinations for Adolescent and Young Adult Survivors of Melanoma in the Project Forward Study

JAMA Dermatol

2021 Katherine Wojcik


SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Interest and Concern naming scheme conducive for global discourse

Nat Microbiol

2021 Trevor Bedford


HP1a is a chromatin crosslinker that controls nuclear and mitotic chromosome mechanics


2021 Mark Groudine; Joan Ritland; David Scalzo; Leah Tait; Agnes Telling

Chromatin, which consists of DNA and associated proteins, contains genetic information and is a mechanical component of the nucleus. Heterochromatic histone methylation controls nucleus and chromosome stiffness, but the contribution of heterochromatin protein HP1α (CBX5) is unknown. We used a novel HP1α auxin-inducible degron human cell line to rapidly degrade HP1α. Degradation did not alter transcription, local chromatin compaction, or histone methylation, but did decrease chromatin stiffness. Single-nucleus micromanipulation reveals that HP1α is essential to chromatin-based mechanics and maintains nuclear morphology, separate from histone methylation. Further experiments with dimerization-deficient HP1αI165E indicate that chromatin crosslinking via HP1α dimerization is critical, while polymer simulations demonstrate the importance of chromatin-chromatin crosslinkers in mechanics. In mitotic chromosomes, HP1α similarly bolsters stiffness while aiding in mitotic alignment and faithful segregation. HP1α is therefore a critical chromatin-crosslinking protein that provides mechanical strength to chromosomes and the nucleus throughout the cell cycle and supports cellular functions.

Immunogenicity of Ad26.COV2.S vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 variants in humans


2021 Harlan Robins

The Ad26.COV2.S vaccine1-3 has demonstrated clinical efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19, including against the B.1.351 variant that is partially resistant to neutralizing antibodies1. However, the immunogenicity of this vaccine in humans against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern remains unclear. Here we report humoral and cellular immune responses from 20 Ad26.COV2.S vaccinated individuals from the COV1001 phase 1/2 clinical trial2 against the original SARS-CoV-2 strain WA1/2020 as well as against the B.1.1.7, CAL.20C, P.1., and B.1.351 variants of concern. Ad26.COV2.S induced median pseudovirus neutralizing antibody titers that were 5.0- and 3.3-fold lower against the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, respectively, as compared with WA1/2020 on day 71 following vaccination. Median binding antibody titers were 2.9- and 2.7-fold lower against the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, respectively, as compared with WA1/2020. Antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis, complement deposition, and NK cell activation responses were largely preserved against the B.1.351 variant. CD8 and CD4 T cell responses, including central and effector memory responses, were comparable among the WA1/2020, B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1, and CAL.20C variants. These data show that neutralizing antibody responses induced by Ad26.COV2.S were reduced against the B.1.351 and P.1 variants, but functional non-neutralizing antibody responses and T cell responses were largely preserved against SARS-CoV-2 variants. These findings have implications for vaccine protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.

Multi-ethnic genome-wide association analyses of white blood cell and platelet traits in the Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) study

BMC Genomics

2021 Yao Hu; Stephanie Bien; Charles Kooperberg; Katherine Nishimura; Jeffrey Haessler

BACKGROUND: Circulating white blood cell and platelet traits are clinically linked to various disease outcomes and differ across individuals and ancestry groups. Genetic factors play an important role in determining these traits and many loci have been identified. However, most of these findings were identified in populations of European ancestry (EA), with African Americans (AA), Hispanics/Latinos (HL), and other races/ethnicities being severely underrepresented. RESULTS: We performed ancestry-combined and ancestry-specific genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for white blood cell and platelet traits in the ancestrally diverse Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) Study, including 16,201 AA, 21,347 HL, and 27,236 EA participants. We identified six novel findings at suggestive significance (P < 5E-8), which need confirmation, and independent signals at six previously established regions at genome-wide significance (P < 2E-9). We confirmed multiple previously reported genome-wide significant variants in the single variant association analysis and multiple genes using PrediXcan. Evaluation of loci reported from a Euro-centric GWAS indicated attenuation of effect estimates in AA and HL compared to EA populations. CONCLUSIONS: Our results highlighted the potential to identify ancestry-specific and ancestry-agnostic variants in participants with diverse backgrounds and advocate for continued efforts in improving inclusion of racially/ethnically diverse populations in genetic association studies for complex traits.

Last Modified, February 20, 2020