Lithium is widely used in contemporary energy applications, but its isolation from natural reserves is plagued by time-consuming and costly processes. While polymer membranes could, in principle, circumvent these challenges by efficiently extracting lithium from aqueous solutions, they usually exhibit poor ion-specific selectivity. Toward this end, we have incorporated host–guest interactions into a tunable polynorbornene network by copolymerizing 1) 12-crown-4 ligands to impart ion selectivity, 2) poly(ethylene oxide) side chains to control water content, and 3) a crosslinker to form robust solids at room temperature. Single salt transport measurements indicate these materials exhibit unprecedented reverse permeability selectivity (∼2.3) for LiCl over NaCl—the highest documented to date for a dense, water-swollen polymer. As demonstrated by molecular dynamics simulations, this behavior originates from the ability of 12-crown-4 to bind Na+ ions more strongly than Li+ in an aqueous environment, which reduces Na+ mobility (relative to Li+) and offsets the increase in Na+ solubility due to binding with crown ethers. Under mixed salt conditions, 12-crown-4 functionalized membranes showed identical solubility selectivity relative to single salt conditions; however, the permeability and diffusivity selectivity of LiCl over NaCl decreased, presumably due to flux coupling. These results reveal insights for designing advanced membranes with solute-specific selectivity by utilizing host–guest interactions.
Early life stress has been linked to increased methylation of the Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 3 Group C Member 1 (NR3C1) gene, which codes for the glucocorticoid receptor. Moreover, early life stress has been associated with substance use initiation at a younger age, a risk factor for developing substance use disorders. However, no studies to date have investigated whether NR3C1 methylation can predict substance use in young individuals. This study included adolescents 13–14 years of age that reported no history of substance use at baseline, (N = 1041; males = 46%). Participants contributed saliva DNA samples and were followed in middle adolescence as part of KUPOL, a prospective cohort study of 7th-grade students in Sweden. Outcome variables were self-reports of (i) recent use, (ii) lifetime use, and (iii) use duration of (a) alcohol, (b) tobacco products, (c) cannabis, or (d) any substance. Outcomes were measured annually for three consecutive years. The predictor variable was DNA methylation at the exon 1 F locus of NR3C1. Risk and rate ratios were calculated as measures of association, with or without adjustment for internalizing symptoms and parental psychiatric disorders. For a subset of individuals (N = 320), there were also morning and afternoon salivary cortisol measurements available that were analyzed in relation to NR3C1 methylation levels. Baseline NR3C1 hypermethylation associated with future self-reports of recent use and use duration of any substance, before and after adjustment for potential confounders. The overall estimates were attenuated when considering lifetime use. Sex-stratified analyses revealed the strongest association for cigarette use in males. Cortisol analyses revealed associations between NR3C1 methylation and morning cortisol levels. Findings from this study suggest that saliva NR3C1 hypermethylation can predict substance use in middle adolescence. Additional longitudinal studies are warranted to confirm these findings.
DeepMind presented remarkably accurate predictions at the recent CASP14 protein structure prediction assessment conference. We explored network architectures incorporating related ideas and obtained the best performance with a three-track network in which information at the 1D sequence level, the 2D distance map level, and the 3D coordinate level is successively transformed and integrated. The three-track network produces structure predictions with accuracies approaching those of DeepMind in CASP14, enables the rapid solution of challenging X-ray crystallography and cryo-EM structure modeling problems, and provides insights into the functions of proteins of currently unknown structure. The network also enables rapid generation of accurate protein-protein complex models from sequence information alone, short circuiting traditional approaches which require modeling of individual subunits followed by docking. We make the method available to the scientific community to speed biological research.
Genome-embedded ribonucleotides arrest replicative DNA polymerases (Pols) and cause DNA breaks. Whether mammalian DNA repair Pols efficiently use template ribonucleotides and promote RNA-templated DNA repair synthesis remains unknown. We find that human Polθ reverse transcribes RNA, similar to retroviral reverse transcriptases (RTs). Polθ exhibits a significantly higher velocity and fidelity of deoxyribonucleotide incorporation on RNA versus DNA. The 3.2-Å crystal structure of Polθ on a DNA/RNA primer-template with bound deoxyribonucleotide reveals that the enzyme undergoes a major structural transformation within the thumb subdomain to accommodate A-form DNA/RNA and forms multiple hydrogen bonds with template ribose 2′-hydroxyl groups like retroviral RTs. Last, we find that Polθ promotes RNA-templated DNA repair in mammalian cells. These findings suggest that Polθ was selected to accommodate template ribonucleotides during DNA repair. Polθ reverse transcribes RNA by undergoing a significant conformational change and promotes RNA-templated DNA repair. Polθ reverse transcribes RNA by undergoing a significant conformational change and promotes RNA-templated DNA repair.
Oral cancer is among the deadliest types of malignancy due to the late stage at which it is usually diagnosed, leaving the patient with an average five-year survival rate of less than 50%. The booming field of biosensing and point of care diagnostics can, in this regard, play a major role in the early detection of oral cancer. Saliva is gaining interest as an alternative biofluid for non-invasive diagnostics, and many salivary biomarkers of oral cancer have been proposed. While these findings are promising for the application of salivaomics tools in routine practice, studies on larger cohorts are still needed for clinical validation. This review aims to summarize the most recent development in the field of biosensing related to the detection of salivary biomarkers commonly associated with oral cancer. An introduction to oral cancer diagnosis, prognosis and treatment is given to define the clinical problem clearly, then saliva as an alternative biofluid is presented, along with its advantages, disadvantages, and collection procedures. Finally, a brief paragraph on the most promising salivary biomarkers introduces the sensing technologies commonly exploited to detect oral cancer markers in saliva. Hence this review provides a comprehensive overview of both the clinical and technological advantages and challenges associated with oral cancer detection through salivary biomarkers.
Cholesterol is an essential component for neuronal physiology not only during development stage but also in the adult life. Cholesterol metabolism in brain is independent from that in peripheral tissues due to blood-brain barrier. The content of cholesterol in brain must be accurately maintained in order to keep brain function well. Defects in brain cholesterol metabolism has been shown to be implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Huntington’s disease (HD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), and some cognitive deficits typical of the old age. The brain contains large amount of cholesterol, but the cholesterol metabolism and its complex homeostasis regulation are currently poorly understood. This review will seek to integrate current knowledge about the brain cholesterol metabolism with molecular mechanisms.
Background We have shown previously that low‐density lipoprotein (LDL) can be oxidized in the lysosomes of macrophages, that this oxidation can be inhibited by cysteamine, an antioxidant that accumulates in lysosomes, and that this drug decreases atherosclerosis in LDL receptor–deficient mice fed a high‐fat diet. We have now performed a regression study with cysteamine, which is of more relevance to the treatment of human disease. Methods and Results LDL receptor–deficient mice were fed a high‐fat diet to induce atherosclerotic lesions. They were then reared on chow diet and drinking water containing cysteamine or plain drinking water. Aortic atherosclerosis was assessed, and samples of liver and skeletal muscle were analyzed. There was no regression of atherosclerosis in the control mice, but cysteamine caused regression of between 32% and 56% compared with the control group, depending on the site of the lesions. Cysteamine substantially increased markers of lesion stability, decreased ceroid, and greatly decreased oxidized phospholipids in the lesions. The liver lipid levels and expression of cluster of differentiation 68, acetyl–coenzyme A acetyltransferase 2, cytochromes P450 (CYP)27, and proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines were decreased by cysteamine. Skeletal muscle function and oxidative fibers were increased by cysteamine. There were no changes in the plasma total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, high‐density lipoprotein cholesterol, or triacylglycerol concentrations attributable to cysteamine. Conclusions Inhibiting the lysosomal oxidation of LDL in atherosclerotic lesions by antioxidants targeted at lysosomes causes the regression of atherosclerosis and improves liver and muscle characteristics in mice and might be a promising novel therapy for atherosclerosis in patients.
Many DNA-hypermethylated cancer genes are occupied by the Polycomb (PcG) repressor complex in embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Their prevalence in the full spectrum of cancers, the exact context of chromatin involved, and their status in adult cell renewal systems are unknown. Using a genome-wide analysis, we demonstrate that ∼75% of hypermethylated genes are marked by PcG in the context of bivalent chromatin in both ESCs and adult stem/progenitor cells. A large number of these genes are key developmental regulators, and a subset, which we call the “DNA hypermethylation module,” comprises a portion of the PcG target genes that are down-regulated in cancer. Genes with bivalent chromatin have a low, poised gene transcription state that has been shown to maintain stemness and self-renewal in normal stem cells. However, when DNA-hypermethylated in tumors, we find that these genes are further repressed. We also show that the methylation status of these genes can cluster important subtypes of colon and breast cancers. By evaluating the subsets of genes that are methylated in different cancers with consideration of their chromatin status in ESCs, we provide evidence that DNA hypermethylation preferentially targets the subset of PcG genes that are developmental regulators, and this may contribute to the stem-like state of cancer. Additionally, the capacity for global methylation profiling to cluster tumors by phenotype may have important implications for further refining tumor behavior patterns that may ultimately aid therapeutic interventions.
All cellular functions are governed by complex molecular machines that assemble through protein-protein interactions. Their atomic details are critical to the study of their molecular mechanisms but fewer than 5% of hundreds of thousands of human interactions have been structurally characterized. Here, we test the potential and limitations of recent progress in deep-learning methods using AlphaFold2 to predict structures for 65,484 human interactions. We show that higher confidence models are enriched in interactions supported by affinity or structure based methods and can be orthogonally confirmed by spatial constraints defined by cross-link data. We identify 3,137 high confidence models, of which 1,371 have no homology to a known structure, from which we identify interface residues harbouring disease mutations, suggesting potential mechanisms for pathogenic variants. We find groups of interface phosphorylation sites that show patterns of co-regulation across conditions, suggestive of coordinated tuning of multiple interactions as signalling responses. Finally, we provide examples of how the predicted binary complexes can be used to build larger assemblies. Accurate prediction of protein complexes promises to greatly expand our understanding of the atomic details of human cell biology in health and disease.
BACKGROUND Transthyretin amyloidosis, also called ATTR amyloidosis, is a life-threatening disease characterized by progressive accumulation of misfolded transthyretin (TTR) protein in tissues, predominantly the nerves and heart. NTLA-2001 is an in vivo gene-editing therapeutic agent that is designed to treat ATTR amyloidosis by reducing the concentration of TTR in serum. It is based on the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and associated Cas9 endonuclease (CRISPR-Cas9) system and comprises a lipid nanoparticle encapsulating messenger RNA for Cas9 protein and a single guide RNA targeting TTR. METHODS After conducting preclinical in vitro and in vivo studies, we evaluated the safety and pharmacodynamic effects of single escalating doses of NTLA-2001 in six patients with hereditary ATTR amyloidosis with polyneuropathy, three in each of the two initial dose groups (0.1 mg per kilogram and 0.3 mg per kilogram), within an ongoing phase 1 clinical study. RESULTS Preclinical studies showed durable knockout of TTR after a single dose. Serial assessments of safety during the first 28 days after infusion in patients revealed few adverse events, and those that did occur were mild in grade. Dose-dependent pharmacodynamic effects were observed. At day 28, the mean reduction from baseline in serum TTR protein concentration was 52% (range, 47 to 56) in the group that received a dose of 0.1 mg per kilogram and was 87% (range, 80 to 96) in the group that received a dose of 0.3 mg per kilogram. CONCLUSIONS In a small group of patients with hereditary ATTR amyloidosis with polyneuropathy, administration of NTLA-2001 was associated with only mild adverse events and led to decreases in serum TTR protein concentrations through targeted knockout of TTR. (Funded by Intellia Therapeutics and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04601051. opens in new tab.)