Epigenetic processes, including DNA methylation (DNAm), are among the mechanisms allowing integration of genetic and environmental factors to shape cellular function. While many studies have investigated either environmental or genetic contributions to DNAm, few have assessed their integrated effects. Here we examine the relative contributions of prenatal environmental factors and genotype on DNA methylation in neonatal blood at variably methylated regions (VMRs) in 4 independent cohorts (overall n = 2365). We use Akaike's information criterion to test which factors best explain variability of methylation in the cohort-specific VMRs: several prenatal environmental factors (E), genotypes in cis (G), or their additive (G + E) or interaction (GxE) effects. Genetic and environmental factors in combination best explain DNAm at the majority of VMRs. The CpGs best explained by either G, G + E or GxE are functionally distinct. The enrichment of genetic variants from GxE models in GWAS for complex disorders supports their importance for disease risk.
The incomplete identification of structural variants (SVs) from whole-genome sequencing data limits studies of human genetic diversity and disease association. Here, we apply a suite of long-read, short-read, strand-specific sequencing technologies, optical mapping, and variant discovery algorithms to comprehensively analyze three trios to define the full spectrum of human genetic variation in a haplotype-resolved manner. We identify 818,054 indel variants (<50 bp) and 27,622 SVs (≥50 bp) per genome. We also discover 156 inversions per genome and 58 of the inversions intersect with the critical regions of recurrent microdeletion and microduplication syndromes. Taken together, our SV callsets represent a three to sevenfold increase in SV detection compared to most standard high-throughput sequencing studies, including those from the 1000 Genomes Project. The methods and the dataset presented serve as a gold standard for the scientific community allowing us to make recommendations for maximizing structural variation sensitivity for future genome sequencing studies.
Deep understanding of the genomic and immunological differences between Chinese and Western lung cancer patients is of great importance for target therapy selection and development for Chinese patients. Here we report an extensive molecular and immune profiling study of 245 Chinese patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte estimated using immune cell signatures is found to be significantly higher in adenocarcinoma (ADC, 72.5%) compared with squamous cell carcinoma (SQCC, 54.4%). The correlation of genomic alterations with immune signatures reveals that low immune infiltration was associated with EGFR mutations in ADC samples, PI3K and/or WNT pathway activation in SQCC. While KRAS mutations are found to be significantly associated with T cell infiltration in ADC samples. The SQCC patients with high antigen presentation machinery and cytotoxic T cell signature scores are found to have a prolonged overall survival time.
Despite the importance of studying the instability of delithiated cathode materials, it remains difficult to underpin the degradation mechanism of lithium-rich cathode materials due to the complication of combined chemical and structural evolutions. Herein, we use state-of-the-art electron microscopy tools, in conjunction with synchrotron X-ray techniques and first-principle calculations to study a 4d-element-containing compound, Li2Ru0.5Mn0.5O3. We find surprisingly, after cycling, ruthenium segregates out as metallic nanoclusters on the reconstructed surface. Our calculations show that the unexpected ruthenium metal segregation is due to its thermodynamic insolubility in the oxygen deprived surface. This insolubility can disrupt the reconstructed surface, which explains the formation of a porous structure in this material. This work reveals the importance of studying the thermodynamic stability of the reconstructed film on the cathode materials and offers a theoretical guidance for choosing manganese substituting elements in lithium-rich as well as stoichiometric layer-layer compounds for stabilizing the cathode surface.
Ceramic fuel cells offer a clean and efficient means of producing electricity through a variety of fuels. However, miniaturization of cell dimensions for portable device application remains a challenge, as volumetric power densities generated by readily-available planar/tubular ceramic cells are limited. Here, we demonstrate a concept of 'micro-monolithic' ceramic cell design. The mechanical robustness and structural integrity of this design is thoroughly investigated with real-time, synchrotron X-ray diffraction computed tomography, suggesting excellent thermal cycling stability. The successful miniaturization results in an exceptional power density of 1.27 W cm-2 at 800 °C, which is among the highest reported. This holistic design incorporates both mechanical integrity and electrochemical performance, leading to mechanical property enhancement and representing an important step toward commercial development of portable ceramic devices with high volumetric power (>10 W cm-3), fast thermal cycling and marked mechanical reliability.
Transcriptional networks are critical for the establishment of tissue-specific cellular states in health and disease, including cancer. Yet, the transcriptional circuits that control carcinogenesis remain poorly understood. Here we report that Kruppel like factor 6 (KLF6), a transcription factor of the zinc finger family, regulates lipid homeostasis in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). We show that KLF6 supports the expression of lipid metabolism genes and promotes the expression of PDGFB, which activates mTOR signalling and the downstream lipid metabolism regulators SREBF1 and SREBF2. KLF6 expression is driven by a robust super enhancer that integrates signals from multiple pathways, including the ccRCC-initiating VHL-HIF2A pathway. These results suggest an underlying mechanism for high mTOR activity in ccRCC cells. More generally, the link between super enhancer-driven transcriptional networks and essential metabolic pathways may provide clues to the mechanisms that maintain the stability of cell identity-defining transcriptional programmes in cancer.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious threat to global public health, but obtaining representative data on AMR for healthy human populations is difficult. Here, we use metagenomic analysis of untreated sewage to characterize the bacterial resistome from 79 sites in 60 countries. We find systematic differences in abundance and diversity of AMR genes between Europe/North-America/Oceania and Africa/Asia/South-America. Antimicrobial use data and bacterial taxonomy only explains a minor part of the AMR variation that we observe. We find no evidence for cross-selection between antimicrobial classes, or for effect of air travel between sites. However, AMR gene abundance strongly correlates with socio-economic, health and environmental factors, which we use to predict AMR gene abundances in all countries in the world. Our findings suggest that global AMR gene diversity and abundance vary by region, and that improving sanitation and health could potentially limit the global burden of AMR. We propose metagenomic analysis of sewage as an ethically acceptable and economically feasible approach for continuous global surveillance and prediction of AMR.
The original version of this Article contained an error in the spelling of the author Manuela Gago-Dominguez, which was incorrectly given as Manuela G. Dominguez. This has now been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the Article.
Woody (lignocellulosic) plant biomass is an abundant renewable feedstock, rich in polysaccharides that are bound into an insoluble fiber composite with lignin. Marine crustacean woodborers of the genus Limnoria are among the few animals that can survive on a diet of this recalcitrant material without relying on gut resident microbiota. Analysis of fecal pellets revealed that Limnoria targets hexose-containing polysaccharides (mainly cellulose, and also glucomannans), corresponding with the abundance of cellulases in their digestive system, but xylans and lignin are largely unconsumed. We show that the limnoriid respiratory protein, hemocyanin, is abundant in the hindgut where wood is digested, that incubation of wood with hemocyanin markedly enhances its digestibility by cellulases, and that it modifies lignin. We propose that this activity of hemocyanins is instrumental to the ability of Limnoria to feed on wood in the absence of gut symbionts. These findings may hold potential for innovations in lignocellulose biorefining.
Chromosome 8q24 is a susceptibility locus for multiple cancers, including prostate cancer. Here we combine genetic data across the 8q24 susceptibility region from 71,535 prostate cancer cases and 52,935 controls of European ancestry to define the overall contribution of germline variation at 8q24 to prostate cancer risk. We identify 12 independent risk signals for prostate cancer (p
Satellite imagery reveals flowstripes on Foundation Ice Stream parallel to ice flow, and meandering features on the ice-shelf that cross-cut ice flow and are thought to be formed by water exiting a well-organised subglacial system. Here, ice-penetrating radar data show flow-parallel hard-bed landforms beneath the grounded ice, and channels incised upwards into the ice shelf beneath meandering surface channels. As the ice transitions to flotation, the ice shelf incorporates a corrugation resulting from the landforms. Radar reveals the presence of subglacial water alongside the landforms, indicating a well-organised drainage system in which water exits the ice sheet as a point source, mixes with cavity water and incises upwards into a corrugation peak, accentuating the corrugation downstream. Hard-bedded landforms influence both subglacial hydrology and ice-shelf structure and, as they are known to be widespread on formerly glaciated terrain, their influence on the ice-sheet-shelf transition could be more widespread than thought previously.
Dysregulation of the Hippo signaling pathway and the consequent YAP1 activation is a frequent event in human malignancies, yet the underlying molecular mechanisms are still poorly understood. A pancancer analysis of core Hippo kinases and their candidate regulating molecules revealed few alterations in the canonical Hippo pathway, but very frequent genetic alterations in the FAT family of atypical cadherins. By focusing on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), which displays frequent FAT1 alterations (29.8%), we provide evidence that FAT1 functional loss results in YAP1 activation. Mechanistically, we found that FAT1 assembles a multimeric Hippo signaling complex (signalome), resulting in activation of core Hippo kinases by TAOKs and consequent YAP1 inactivation. We also show that unrestrained YAP1 acts as an oncogenic driver in HNSCC, and that targeting YAP1 may represent an attractive precision therapeutic option for cancers harboring genomic alterations in the FAT1 tumor suppressor genes.
The incidence of Plasmodium vivax infection has declined markedly in Malaysia over the past decade despite evidence of high-grade chloroquine resistance. Here we investigate the genetic changes in a P. vivax population approaching elimination in 51 isolates from Sabah, Malaysia and compare these with data from 104 isolates from Thailand and 104 isolates from Indonesia. Sabah displays extensive population structure, mirroring that previously seen with the emergence of artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum founder populations in Cambodia. Fifty-four percent of the Sabah isolates have identical genomes, consistent with a rapid clonal expansion. Across Sabah, there is a high prevalence of loci known to be associated with antimalarial drug resistance. Measures of differentiation between the three countries reveal several gene regions under putative selection in Sabah. Our findings highlight important factors pertinent to parasite resurgence and molecular cues that can be used to monitor low-endemic populations at the end stages of P. vivax elimination.
The animal-pathogenic oomycete Saprolegnia parasitica causes serious losses in aquaculture by infecting and killing freshwater fish. Like plant-pathogenic oomycetes, S. parasitica employs similar infection structures and secretes effector proteins that translocate into host cells to manipulate the host. Here, we show that the host-targeting protein SpHtp3 enters fish cells in a pathogen-independent manner. This uptake process is guided by a gp96-like receptor and can be inhibited by supramolecular tweezers. The C-terminus of SpHtp3 (containing the amino acid sequence YKARK), and not the N-terminal RxLR motif, is responsible for the uptake into host cells. Following translocation, SpHtp3 is released from vesicles into the cytoplasm by another host-targeting protein where it degrades nucleic acids. The effector translocation mechanism described here, is potentially also relevant for other pathogen-host interactions as gp96 is found in both animals and plants.
Coral reefs can provide significant coastal protection benefits to people and property. Here we show that the annual expected damages from flooding would double, and costs from frequent storms would triple without reefs. For 100-year storm events, flood damages would increase by 91% to $US 272 billion without reefs. The countries with the most to gain from reef management are Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Mexico, and Cuba; annual expected flood savings exceed $400 M for each of these nations. Sea-level rise will increase flood risk, but substantial impacts could happen from reef loss alone without better near-term management. We provide a global, process-based valuation of an ecosystem service across an entire marine biome at (sub)national levels. These spatially explicit benefits inform critical risk and environmental management decisions, and the expected benefits can be directly considered by governments (e.g., national accounts, recovery plans) and businesses (e.g., insurance).
Prostate cancer is a polygenic disease with a large heritable component. A number of common, low-penetrance prostate cancer risk loci have been identified through GWAS. Here we apply the Bayesian multivariate variable selection algorithm JAM to fine-map 84 prostate cancer susceptibility loci, using summary data from a large European ancestry meta-analysis. We observe evidence for multiple independent signals at 12 regions and 99 risk signals overall. Only 15 original GWAS tag SNPs remain among the catalogue of candidate variants identified; the remainder are replaced by more likely candidates. Biological annotation of our credible set of variants indicates significant enrichment within promoter and enhancer elements, and transcription factor-binding sites, including AR, ERG and FOXA1. In 40 regions at least one variant is colocalised with an eQTL in prostate cancer tissue. The refined set of candidate variants substantially increase the proportion of familial relative risk explained by these known susceptibility regions, which highlights the importance of fine-mapping studies and has implications for clinical risk profiling.
A central question in stem cell biology is the relationship between stem cells and their niche. Although previous reports have uncovered how signaling molecules released by niche cells support stem cell function, the role of the extra-cellular matrix (ECM) within the niche is unclear. Here, we show that upon activation, skeletal muscle stem cells (satellite cells) induce local remodeling of the ECM and the deposition of laminin-α1 and laminin-α5 into the basal lamina of the satellite cell niche. Genetic ablation of laminin-α1, disruption of integrin-α6 signaling or blocking matrix metalloproteinase activity impairs satellite cell expansion and self-renewal. Collectively, our findings establish that remodeling of the ECM is an integral process of stem cell activity to support propagation and self-renewal, and may explain the effect laminin-α1-containing supports have on embryonic and adult stem cells, as well as the regenerative activity of exogenous laminin-111 therapy.
In 2020, 146,063 deaths due to pancreatic cancer are estimated to occur in Europe and the United States combined. To identify common susceptibility alleles, we performed the largest pancreatic cancer GWAS to date, including 9040 patients and 12,496 controls of European ancestry from the Pancreatic Cancer Cohort Consortium (PanScan) and the Pancreatic Cancer Case-Control Consortium (PanC4). Here, we find significant evidence of a novel association at rs78417682 (7p12/TNS3, P = 4.35 × 10-8). Replication of 10 promising signals in up to 2737 patients and 4752 controls from the PANcreatic Disease ReseArch (PANDoRA) consortium yields new genome-wide significant loci: rs13303010 at 1p36.33 (NOC2L, P = 8.36 × 10-14), rs2941471 at 8q21.11 (HNF4G, P = 6.60 × 10-10), rs4795218 at 17q12 (HNF1B, P = 1.32 × 10-8), and rs1517037 at 18q21.32 (GRP, P = 3.28 × 10-8). rs78417682 is not statistically significantly associated with pancreatic cancer in PANDoRA. Expression quantitative trait locus analysis in three independent pancreatic data sets provides molecular support of NOC2L as a pancreatic cancer susceptibility gene.
The original version of this Article contained an error in the third sentence of the abstract and incorrectly read "Here, using long-term plot monitoring records of up to half a century, we find that intact forests in Borneo gained 0.43 Mg C ha-1 year-1 (95% CI 0.14-0.72, mean period 1988-2010) above-ground live biomass", rather than the correct "Here, using long-term plot monitoring records of up to half a century, we find that intact forests in Borneo gained 0.43 Mg C ha-1 year-1 (95% CI 0.14-0.72, mean period 1988-2010) in above-ground live biomass carbon". This has now been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the Article.
Native species that forage in farmland may increase their local abundances thereby affecting adjacent ecosystems within their landscape. We used two decades of ecological data from a protected primary rainforest in Malaysia to illutrate how subsidies from neighboring oil palm plantations triggered powerful secondary 'cascading' effects on natural habitats located >1.3 km away. We found (i) oil palm fruit drove 100-fold increases in crop-raiding native wild boar (Sus scrofa), (ii) wild boar used thousands of understory plants to construct birthing nests in the pristine forest interior, and (iii) nest building caused a 62% decline in forest tree sapling density over the 24-year study period. The long-term, landscape-scale indirect effects from agriculture suggest its full ecological footprint may be larger in extent than is currently recognized. Cross-boundary subsidy cascades may be widespread in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems and present significant conservation challenges.