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Archive for the ‘Genome Biology’ Category


Dysregulation of ncRNAs in association with Neurodegenerative Disorders

Curator: Amandeep Kaur

Research over the years has added evidences to the hypothesis of “RNA world” which explains the evolution of DNA and protein from a simple RNA molecule. Our understanding of RNA biology has dramatically changed over the last 50 years and rendered the scientists with the conclusion that apart from coding for protein synthesis, RNA also plays an important role in regulation of gene expression.

Figure: Overall Taxonomy of ncRNAs
Figure: Overall Taxonomy of ncRNAs
https://www.nature.com/articles/s42256-019-0051-2

The universe of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) is transcending the margins of preconception and altered the traditional thought that the coding RNAs or messenger RNAs (mRNAs) are more prevalent in our cells. Research on the potential use of ncRNAs in therapeutic relevance increased greatly after the discovery of RNA interference (RNAi) and provided important insights into our further understanding of etiology of complex disorders.

Figure: Atomic Structure of Non-coding RNA
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-coding_RNA

Latest research on neurodegenerative disorders has shown the perturbed expression of ncRNAs which provides the functional association between neurodegeneration and ncRNAs dysfunction. Due to the diversity of functions and abundance of ncRNAs, they are classified into Housekeeping RNAs and Regulatory ncRNAs.

The best known classes of ncRNAs are the microRNAs (miRNAs) which are extensively studied and are of research focus. miRNAs are present in both intronic and exonic regions of matured RNA (mRNA) and are crucial for development of CNS. The reduction of Dicer-1, a miRNA biogenesis-related protein affects neural development and the elimination of Dicer in specifically dopaminergic neurons causes progressive degeneration of these neuronal cells in striatum of mice.

A new class of regulatory ncRNAs, tRNAs-derived fragments (tRFs) is superabundantly present in brain cells. tRFs are considered as risk factors in conditions of neural degeneration because of accumulation with aging. tRFs have heterogenous functions with regulation of gene expression at multiple layers including regulation of mRNA processing and translation, inducing the activity of silencing of target genes, controlling cell growth and differentiation processes.

The existence of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) was comfirmed by the ENCODE project. Numerous studies reported that approximately 40% of lncRNAs are involved in gene expression, imprinting and pluripotency regulation in the CNS. lncRNA H19 is of paramount significance in neural viability and contribute in epilepsy condition by activating glial cells. Other lncRNAs are highly bountiful in neurons including Evf2 and MALAT1 which play important function in regulating neural differentiation and synapse formation and development of dendritic cells respectively.

Recently, a review article in Nature mentioned about the complex mechanisms of ncRNAs contributing to neurodegenerative conditions. The ncRNA-mediated mechanisms of regulation are as follows:

  • Epigenetic regulation: Various lncRNAs such as BDNF-AS, TUG1, MEG3, NEAT1 and TUNA are differentially expressed in brain tissue and act as epigenetic regulators.
  • RNAi: RNA interference includes post-transcriptional repression by small-interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and binding of miRNAs to target genes. In a wide spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease, Huntington’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Fragile X syndrome, Frontotemporal dementia, and Spinocerebellar ataxia, have shown perturbed expression of miRNA.
  • Alternative splicing: Variation in splicing of transcripts of ncRNAs has shown adverse affects in neuropathology of degenerative diseases.
  • mRNA stability: The stability of mRNA may be affected by RNA-RNA duplex formation which leads to the degradation of sense mRNA or blocking the access to proteins involved in RNA turnover and modify the progression of neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Translational regulation: Numerous ncRNAs including BC200 directly control the translational process of transcripts of mRNAs and effect human brain of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Molecular decoys: Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) dilute the expression of other RNAs by molecular trapping, also known as competing endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs) which hinder the normal functioning of RNAs. The ceRNAs proportion must be equivalent to the number of target miRNAs that can be sequestered by each ncRNAs in order to induce consequential de-repression of the target molecules.
Table: ncRNAs and related processes involved in neurodegenerative disorders
https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn.2017.90

The unknown functions of numerous annotated ncRNAs may explain the underlying complexity in neurodegenerative disorders. The profiling of ncRNAs of patients suffering from neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative conditions are required to outline the changes in ncRNAs and their role in specific regions of brain and cells. Analysis of Large-scale gene expression and functional studies of ncRNAs may contribute to our understanding of these diseases and their remarkable connections. Therefore, targeting ncRNAs may provide effective therapeutic perspective for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

References https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/rna-functions-352/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6035743/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7695195/ https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13670-012-0023-4 https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn.2017.90

 

Other related articles were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal, including the following:

RNA in synthetic biology

Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/03/26/rna-in-synthetic-biology/

mRNA Data Survival Analysis

Curators: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/06/18/mrna-data-survival-analysis/

Recent progress in neurodegenerative diseases and gliomas

Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/05/28/recent-progress-in-neurodegenerative-diseases-and-gliomas/

Genomic Promise for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Dementias, Autism Spectrum, Schizophrenia, and Serious Depression

Reporter and writer: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/02/19/genomic-promise-for-neurodegenerative-diseases-dementias-autism-spectrum-schizophrenia-and-serious-depression/

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Cancer treatment using CRISPR-based Genome Editing System 

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

CRISPR, stands for “clusters of regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats” is one of the biggest accomplishments in science of this decade and it is the simplest tool for altering DNA sequences and modifying gene functions. The technology is adapted form the natural defense mechanism of bacteria. Bacteria uses CRISPR-derived RNA and different Cas proteins to foil attacks by viruses and foreign bodies.

Scientists in the laboratory of Prof. Dan Peer, VP for R&D and Head of the Laboratory of Precision Nanomedicine at the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research at TAU  have shown that CRISPR/Cas9 system is efficient in treating metastatic cancer. They developed a novel lipid nanoparticle-based delivery system that targets cancer cells and ends them by genetic manipulation, called CRISPR-LNPs, which were published in published in November 2020 in Science Advances.

Professor Peer and his team of scientists chose two of the deadliest cancers: glioblastoma and metastatic ovarian cancer to prove that CRISPR genome editing system can be used to treat cancer effectively in a living animal. Since, glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of brain cancer with a life expectancy of 15 months after diagnosis, the researchers showed that the single treatment with CRISPR-LNPs doubled the average life expectancy of mice with glioblastoma tumors.  At the same time, ovarian cancer is the most lethal cancer of female reproductive system and many patients are usually diagnosed at the advance stage of the disease. Treatment with CRISPR-LNPs in a metastatic ovarian cancer mice model increased their overall survival rate by 80%.

Despite CRISPR genome editing technology being capable of identifying and altering  any genetic segment, clinical implementation is still in its infancy because the inability to accurately deliver the CRISPR to the target cells.  In order to solve the issue, Professor Peer developed a delivery system that targets the DNA responsible for the cancer cells.

By demonstrating that the technology can treat two aggressive cancers, researchers open the technology to numerous new possibilities for treating other types of cancer. They intend to go on to experiments with blood cancers which are very interesting genetically.

SOURCE

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Nanoparticles can turn off genes in bone marrow cells

Reporter : Irina Robu, PhD

MIT engineers developed an alternative to turn off specific genes which play a vital role in producing blood cells of the bone marrow using specialized nanoparticles. These nanoparticles can be made-to-order to treat heart disease or increase the yield of stem cells in patience who need stem cell transplants. The particles are coated with lipids that help stabilize them, and they can target organs such as the lungs, heart, and spleen, depending on the particles’ composition and molecular weight. This genetic therapy, also known as RNA interference is difficult to target organs other than the liver, where most of the nanoparticles tend to collect.

RNA interference is an approach that could theoretically be used to treat a variety of diseases by delivering short strands of RNA that block specific genes from being turned on in a cell. Yet, the main obstacle to this kind of therapy has been  delivering it to the right part of the body. When injected into the bloodstream, nanoparticles carrying RNA tend to accrue in the liver, which various biotech companies have taken advantage of to develop new experimental treatments for liver disease.

In their recent study, scientists set out to adapt the nanoparticles so that they could reach the bone marrow which contains stem cells that produce different types of blood cells. Stimulating the process , they could enhance the yield of hematopoietic stem cells for stem cell transplantation and they created variants that have different arrangements of surface coating, polyethylene glycol. They were able to test 15 particles and determined one that was able to avoid being caught in the liver or the lungs, and that could effectively accumulate in endothelial cells of the bone marrow. They also showed that RNA carried by this particle could reduce the expression of a target gene by up to 80 percent.

The scientists then tested this approach with two genes. The first gene, SDF1 is a molecule that normally prevents hematopoietic stem cells from leaving the bone marrow. They realized that turning off the SDF1 gene could have the same effect as the drugs that are being used to induce hematopoietic stem cell release in patients who need undergo radiation treatments for blood cancers. These stem cells are later transplanted to repopulate the patient’s blood cells. By knocking down SDF1, they could boost the release of hematopoietic cells fivefold which is comparable to the levels achieved by the drugs that are now used to enhance stem cell release.

The second gene researchers use is MCP1, a molecule that plays a key role in heart disease.  They realized that when MCP1 is released by bone marrow cells after a heart attack, it stimulates a flood of immune cells to leave the bone marrow and travel to the heart. Researchers realize that by delivering RNA that targets MCP1 reduced the number of immune cells that went to the heart after a heart attack.

Using these new particles, researchers hypothesized that they could further develop treatments for heart disease and other conditions.

SOURCE

https://news.mit.edu/2020/nanoparticles-bone-marrow-rnai-1005

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Biomolecular Condensates: A new approach to biology originated @MIT – Drug Discovery at DewPoint Therapeutics, Cambridge, MA gets new leaders, Ameet Nathwani, MD (ex-Sanofi, ex-Novartis) as Chief Executive Officer and Arie Belldegrun, PhD (ex-Kite Therapeutics) on R&D

Curator & Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

Hooked by the science, Arie Belldegrun joins a group of influentials who believe Dewpoint may have the key to the next big thing in biotech

A new approach to biology

“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

Starting with the study of P granules in C.elegans embryos in 2009, Tony Hyman, working with his collaborators like Frank Julicher, Cliff Brangwynne, Simon Alberti, Mike Rosen, and Rohit Pappu, began to unravel the mysteries of biomolecular condensates. These scientists realized that P granules behave like liquid droplets that form by phase separation (think of oil droplets in salad dressing) and called them condensates.

In subsequent studies, they found to their surprise that many compartments inside cells had the behavior of condensates: they are liquid-like and form by phase separation.

Inspired by the work of Tony and his colleagues, Richard Young, Phillip Sharp, and Arup Chakraborty at MIT applied these approaches to the study of gene expression, similarly shedding light on many important questions in gene control.

a video thumbnail

 

Press releases and Dewpoint in the news

 
  • Dewpoint Therapeutics Appoints Ameet Nathwani as Chief Executive Officer

    Dewpoint

  • New York Times interviews Rick Young and Amy Gladfelter on the role of condensate “droplets” in COVID-19

    New York Times

  • Dewpoint Therapeutics raises $77 million to go after ‘undruggable’ diseases

    Boston Globe

  • Hooked by the science, Arie Belldegrun joins a group of influentials who believe Dewpoint may have the key to the next big thing in biotech

    Endpoint News

  • Dewpoint Therapeutics to put ‘pedal to the metal’ with $77M round

    FierceBiotech

  • Dewpoint Therapeutics Raises $77M Series B Financing to Advance the Development of Drugs That Target Biomolecular Condensates

    Dewpoint

  • 21 biotech startups that are set to take off, according to top VCs

    Business Insider

  • Proteins — and labs — coming together to prevent Rett Syndrome

    Whitehead Institute

  • Dewpoint Therapeutics Collaborates with Merck to Evaluate Novel Approach for the Treatment of HIV

    Dewpoint

  • Discovery of how cancer drugs find their targets could lead to a new toolset for drug development

    Whitehead Institute

SOURCE

https://dewpointx.com/news/

Other related article published in this Online Open Access Scientific Journal include: 

Economic Potential of a Drug Invention (Prof. Zelig Eshhar, Weitzman Institute, registered the patent) versus a Cancer Drug in Clinical Trials: CAR-T as a Case in Point, developed by Kite Pharma, under Arie Belldegrun, CEO, acquired by Gilead for $11.9 billion, 8/2017.

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2017/10/04/economic-potential-of-a-drug-invention-prof-zelig-eshhar-weitzman-institute-registered-the-patent-versus-a-cancer-drug-in-clinical-trials-car-t-as-a-case-in-point-developed-by-kite-pharma-unde/

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The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020: Emmanuelle Charpentier & Jennifer A. Doudna

Reporters: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D. and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

UPDATED on 11/12/2020

Harvard’s Jack Szostak congratulates former advisee Jennifer Doudna

It was a toast from one Nobel laureate to another, sweetened by the pride of a mentor to a prized student.

When Jennifer Doudna Ph.D. ’89 was honored on Wednesday with the Nobel Prize in chemistry for her work on the CRISPR gene-editing technique, she became the second person to gain such an honor from the lab of Jack Szostak, a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Szostak, who won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 2009 for work on how telomere caps keep the body’s chromosomes from breaking down, advised Doudna’s doctoral work on RNA and on Wednesday raised a glass in honor of Doudna, now at the University of California, Berkeley. In a tweet, Szostak expressed his delight at seeing someone he once guided through her early scientific steps soar to science’s highest reaches:

Doudna received the prize together with Emmanuelle Charpentier, for their work discovering and developing CRISPR as a precise gene-editing tool. In just the eight years since the pair announced their discovery the use of the technique has rapidly spread to a host of fields, allowing researchers to alter the code of life and develop resistant crops, new medical therapies, and even anticipate curing inherited diseases.

 

UPDADTED on 11/2/2020

 

Announcement of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020

Live webcast from the press conference where the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will announce the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020.

 

 

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 to

Emmanuelle Charpentier
Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin, Germany

Jennifer A. Doudna
University of California, Berkeley, USA

“for the development of a method for genome editing”

Genetic scissors: a tool for rewriting the code of life

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna have discovered one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. Using these, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision. This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true.

Researchers need to modify genes in cells if they are to find out about life’s inner workings. This used to be time-consuming, difficult and sometimes impossible work. Using the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors, it is now possible to change the code of life over the course of a few weeks.

“There is enormous power in this genetic tool, which affects us all. It has not only revolutionised basic science, but also resulted in innovative crops and will lead to ground-breaking new medical treatments,” says Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.

As so often in science, the discovery of these genetic scissors was unexpected. During Emmanuelle Charpentier’s studies of Streptococcus pyogenes, one of the bacteria that cause the most harm to humanity, she discovered a previously unknown molecule, tracrRNA. Her work showed that tracrRNA is part of bacteria’s ancient immune system, CRISPR/Cas, that disarms viruses by cleaving their DNA.

Charpentier published her discovery in 2011. The same year, she initiated a collaboration with Jennifer Doudna, an experienced biochemist with vast knowledge of RNA. Together, they succeeded in recreating the bacteria’s genetic scissors in a test tube and simplifying the scissors’ molecular components so they were easier to use.

In an epoch-making experiment, they then reprogrammed the genetic scissors. In their natural form, the scissors recognise DNA from viruses, but Charpentier and Doudna proved that they could be controlled so that they can cut any DNA molecule at a predetermined site. Where the DNA is cut it is then easy to rewrite the code of life.

Since Charpentier and Doudna discovered the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors in 2012 their use has exploded. This tool has contributed to many important discoveries in basic research, and plant researchers have been able to develop crops that withstand mould, pests and drought. In medicine, clinical trials of new cancer therapies are underway, and the dream of being able to cure inherited diseases is about to come true. These genetic scissors have taken the life sciences into a new epoch and, in many ways, are bringing the greatest benefit to humankind.

Illustrations

The illustrations are free to use for non-commercial purposes. Attribute ”© Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences”

Illustration: Using the genetic scissors (pdf)
Illustration: Streptococcus’ natural immune system against viruses:CRISPR/Cas9 pdf)
Illustration: CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors (pdf)

Read more about this year’s prize

Popular information: Genetic scissors: a tool for rewriting the code of life (pdf)
Scientific Background: A tool for genome editing (pdf)

Emmanuelle Charpentier, born 1968 in Juvisy-sur-Orge, France. Ph.D. 1995 from Institut Pasteur, Paris, France. Director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin, Germany.

Jennifer A. Doudna, born 1964 in Washington, D.C, USA. Ph.D. 1989 from Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA. Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, USA and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

SOURCE

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2020/press-release/

 

Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to scientists who discovered CRISPR gene editing tool for ‘rewriting the code of life’

(CNN)The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for the development of a method for genome editing.

They discovered one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. Using these, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and micro-organisms with extremely high precision.
Before announcing the winners on Wednesday, Göran K. Hansson, secretary-general for the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, said that this year’s prize was about “rewriting the code of life.”
The American biochemist Jennifer A. Doudna (left) and French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier, pictured together in 2016.
 
The CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tools have revolutionized the molecular life sciences, brought new opportunities for plant breeding, are contributing to innovative cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true, according to a press release from the Nobel committee.
 
 
There have also been some ethical concerns around the CRISPR technology, however.
Charpentier, a French microbiologist, and Doudna, an American biochemist, are the first women to jointly win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and the sixth and seventh women to win the chemistry prize.
close dialog

 

Jennifer Doudna wins 2020 Nobel Prize in chemistry

 

First Day in a Nobel Life: Jennifer Doudna

12,365 views
Oct 7, 2020
 
Scenes from day that UC Berkeley Professor Jennifer Doudna won the Nobel Prize For the full story, visit: https://news.berkeley.edu/2020/10/07/… University of California, Berkeley, biochemist Jennifer Doudna today won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, sharing it with colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier for the co-development of CRISPR-Cas9, a genome editing breakthrough that has revolutionized biomedicine. CRISPR-Cas9 allows scientists to rewrite DNA — the code of life — in any organism, including human cells, with unprecedented efficiency and precision. The groundbreaking power and versatility of CRISPR-Cas9 has opened up new and wide-ranging possibilities across biology, agriculture and medicine, including the treatment of thousands of intractable diseases. Doudna and Charpentier, director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, will share the 10 million Swedish krona (more than $1 million) prize. “This great honor recognizes the history of CRISPR and the collaborative story of harnessing it into a profoundly powerful engineering technology that gives new hope and possibility to our society,” said Doudna. “What started as a curiosity‐driven, fundamental discovery project has now become the breakthrough strategy used by countless researchers working to help improve the human condition. I encourage continued support of fundamental science as well as public discourse about the ethical uses and responsible regulation of CRISPR technology.” Video by Clare Major & Roxanne Makasdjian
SOURCE

 

Jennifer Doudna wins 2020 Nobel Prize in chemistry

 

Jennifer Doudna in the PBS Movie CRISPR

Our critically-acclaimed documentary HUMAN NATURE is now streaming on NETFLIX. #HumanNatureFilm. Find out more about the film on our website.

 

Other Articles on the Nobel Prize in this Open Access Journal Include:

2020 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for Hepatitis C Discovery goes to British scientist Michael Houghton and US researchers Harvey Alter and Charles Rice

CONTAGIOUS – About Viruses, Pandemics and Nobel Prizes at the Nobel Prize Museum, Stockholm, Sweden 

AACR Congratulates Dr. William G. Kaelin Jr., Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe, and Dr. Gregg L. Semenza on 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for contributions to Cancer Immunotherapy to James P. Allison, Ph.D., of the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. Dr. Allison shares the prize with Tasuku Honjo, M.D., Ph.D., of Kyoto University Institute, Japan

2017 Nobel prize in chemistry given to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson  for developing cryo-electron microscopy

2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded for development of molecular machines, the world’s smallest mechanical devices, the winners: Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa

Correspondence on Leadership in Genomics and other Gene Curations: Dr. Williams with Dr. Lev-Ari

Programming life: An interview with Jennifer Doudna by Michael Chui, a partner of the McKinsey Global Institute

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Coronavirus mutation-does it matter?

Reporter : Irina Robu, PhD

Soon after SARS-CoV-2 was detected in China, scientists began analyzing viral sample and posting the genetic codes online. Mutations allowed researchers to track the spread by linking closely related viruses to understand how SARS-CoV-2 infects humans.  They recognized that SARS-CoV-2 encode their genome in RNA and tends to pick up mutations quickly as they are copied inside their hosts.  Yet,  sequencing data suggest that coronaviruses change more slowly than most RNA viruses, probably because of a proofreading enzyme that corrects fatal copying mutations.  In spite of the virus slow mutation rate, scientists have been able to classified more than 12,000 mutations in SARS-CoV-2 genomes.

Many scientists such as David Montefiori, a virologist who spent much of his career studying how chance mutations in HIV helps it evade the immune system thought that COVID-19 might cause the same thing.  His laboratory in collaboration with Dr. Bette Korber investigated several thousands of coronavirus sequences for mutations that might have changed virus properties around the world.

Compared to HIV, SARS-CoV-2 seems to be changing slower than it spreads, but one mutation is obvious. That mutation  includes a gene encoding the spike protein, which helps the virus particles penetrate cells. According to Korber, the 614th amino acid position of the spike protein, the amino acid aspartate was replaced by glycine, because of a mutation, D614G that altered a single nucleotide in the virus’s 29,903-letter RNA code.

To observe whether D614G  mutation made the virus more transmissible, Montefiori evaluated its effects under laboratory conditions but he couldn’t study the natural SARS-CoV-2 virus in his lab, because of the biosafety containment required. So, he studied a genetically modified form of HIV that used the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to infect cells. Such ‘pseudo virus’ particles are a workhorse of virology labs: they enable the safe study of deadly pathogens such as the Ebola virus, and they make it simpler to test the effects of mutations.

The strongest sign that D614G has a consequence on the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in humans comes from an ambitious UK effort called the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium, which has analyzed genomes of around 25,000 viral samples. From these data, researchers have identified more than 1,300 instances in which a virus entered the United Kingdom and spread, including examples of D- and G-type viruses.

What is clearly known is that D614G is an adaptation that helps the virus infect cells or compete with viruses that don’t carry the change, while at the same time altering a bit of information about how SARS-CoV-2 spreads between people and through a population.  Some scientists believe that D614G mutation should explain how SARS-CoV-2 fuses with cells and can use that process to develop a more efficient vaccine. 

At the present time, the evidence suggests that D614G doesn’t stop the immune system’s neutralizing antibodies from recognizing SARS-CoV-2, partly because the mutation is not in the spike protein’s receptor-binding domain.

SOURCE

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02544-6?utm_source=Nature+Briefing

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Precision Cardiology to Benefit from New Atlas of Cells of the Adult Human Heart

Reporters: Justin D. Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

The Voice of Dr. Pearlman on potential clinical implications of the New Atlas:

 

Published on 9/24/2020 in Nature

Litviňuková, M., Talavera-López, C., Maatz, H. et al. Cells of the adult human heart. Nature (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2797-4

 

Abstract

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Advanced insights into disease mechanisms and therapeutic strategies require deeper understanding of the healthy heart’s molecular processes. Knowledge of the full repertoire of cardiac cells and their gene expression profiles is a fundamental first step in this endeavor. Here, using state-of-the-art analyses of large-scale single-cell and nuclei transcriptomes, we characterise six anatomical adult heart regions. Our results highlight the cellular heterogeneity of cardiomyocytes, pericytes, and fibroblasts, revealing distinct atrial and ventricular subsets with diverse developmental origins and specialized properties. We define the complexity of the cardiac vasculature and its changes along the arterio-venous axis. In the immune compartment we identify cardiac resident macrophages with inflammatory and protective transcriptional signatures. Further, inference of cell-cell interactions highlight different macrophage-fibroblast-cardiomyocyte networks between atria and ventricles that are distinct from skeletal muscle. Our human cardiac cell atlas improves our understanding of the human heart and provides a healthy reference for future studies.

Author information

Affiliations

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to J. G. Seidman or Christine E. Seidman or Michela Noseda or Norbert Hubner or Sarah A. Teichmann.

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Double Mutant PI3KA Found to Lead to Higher Oncogenic Signaling in Cancer Cells

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

PIK3CA (Phosphatidylinsitol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) 3-kinase catalytic subunit α) is one of the most frequently mutated oncogenes in various tumor types ([1] and http://www.sanger.ac.uk/genetics/CGP/cosmic). Oncogenic mutations leading to the overactivation of PIK3CA, especially in context in of inactivating PTEN mutations, result in overtly high signaling activity and associated with the malignant phenotype.

In a Perspective article (Double trouble for cancer gene: Double mutations in an oncogene enhance tumor growth) in the journal Science[2], Dr. Alex Toker discusses the recent results of Vasan et al. in the same issue of Science[3] on the finding that double mutations in the same allele of PIK3CA are more frequent in cancer genomes than previously identified and these double mutations lead to increased PI3K pathway activation, increased tumor growth, and increased sensitivity to PI3K inhibitors in human breast cancer.

 

 

From Dr. Melvin Crasto blog NewDrugApprovals.org

Alpelisib: PIK3CA inhibitor:

Alpelisib: New PIK3CA inhibitor approved for HER2 negative metastatic breast cancer

 

FDA approves first PI3K inhibitor for breast cancer

syn https://newdrugapprovals.org/2018/06/25/alpelisib-byl-719/

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Piqray (alpelisib) tablets, to be used in combination with the FDA-approved endocrine therapy fulvestrant, to treat postmenopausal women, and men, with hormone receptor (HR)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative, PIK3CA-mutated, advanced or metastatic breast cancer (as detected by an FDA-approved test) following progression on or after an endocrine-based regimen.

The FDA also approved the companion diagnostic test, therascreen PIK3CA RGQ PCR Kit, to detect the PIK3CA mutation in a tissue and/or a liquid biopsy. Patients who are negative by

May 24, 2019

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Piqray (alpelisib) tablets, to be used in combination with the FDA-approved endocrine therapy fulvestrant, to treat postmenopausal women, and men, with hormone receptor (HR)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative, PIK3CA-mutated, advanced or metastatic breast cancer (as detected by an FDA-approved test) following progression on or after an endocrine-based regimen.

The FDA also approved the companion diagnostic test, therascreen PIK3CA RGQ PCR Kit, to detect the PIK3CA mutation in a tissue and/or a liquid biopsy. Patients who are negative by the therascreen test using the liquid biopsy should undergo tumor biopsy for PIK3CA mutation testing.

“Piqray is the first PI3K inhibitor to demonstrate a clinically meaningful benefit in treating patients with this type of breast cancer. The ability to target treatment to a patient’s specific genetic mutation or biomarker is becoming increasingly common in cancer treatment, and companion diagnostic tests assist oncologists in selecting patients who may benefit from these targeted treatments,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence and acting director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “For this approval, we employed some of our newer regulatory tools to streamline reviews without compromising the quality of our assessment. This drug is the first novel drug approved under the Real-Time Oncology Review pilot program. We also used the updated Assessment Aid, a multidisciplinary review template that helps focus our written review on critical thinking and consistency and reduces time spent on administrative tasks.”

Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body (most often the bones, lungs, liver or brain). When breast cancer is hormone-receptor positive, patients may be treated with anti-hormonal treatment (also called endocrine therapy), alone or in combination with other medicines, or chemotherapy.

The efficacy of Piqray was studied in the SOLAR-1 trial, a randomized trial of 572 postmenopausal women and men with HR-positive, HER2-negative, advanced or metastatic breast cancer whose cancer had progressed while on or after receiving an aromatase inhibitor. Results from the trial showed the addition of Piqray to fulvestrant significantly prolonged progression- free survival (median of 11 months vs. 5.7 months) in patients whose tumors had a PIK3CA mutation.

Common side effects of Piqray are high blood sugar levels, increase in creatinine, diarrhea, rash, decrease in lymphocyte count in the blood, elevated liver enzymes, nausea, fatigue, low red blood cell count, increase in lipase (enzymes released by the pancreas), decreased appetite, stomatitis, vomiting, weight loss, low calcium levels, aPTT prolonged (blood clotting taking longer to occur than it should), and hair loss.

Health care professionals are advised to monitor patients taking Piqray for severe hypersensitivity reactions (intolerance). Patients are warned of potentially severe skin reactions (rashes that may result in peeling and blistering of skin or mucous membranes like the lips and gums). Health care professionals are advised not to initiate treatment in patients with a history of severe skin reactions such as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, erythema multiforme, or toxic epidermal necrolysis. Patients on Piqray have reported severe hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), and the safety of Piqray in patients with Type 1 or uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes has not been established. Before initiating treatment with Piqray, health care professionals are advised to check fasting glucose and HbA1c, and to optimize glycemic control. Patients should be monitored for pneumonitis/interstitial lung disease (inflammation of lung tissue) and diarrhea during treatment. Piqray must be dispensed with a patient Medication Guide that describes important information about the drug’s uses and risks.

Piqray is the first new drug application (NDA) for a new molecular entity approved under the Real-Time Oncology Review (RTOR) pilot program, which permits the FDA to begin analyzing key efficacy and safety datasets prior to the official submission of an application, allowing the review team to begin their review and communicate with the applicant earlier. Piqray also used the updated Assessment Aid (AAid), a multidisciplinary review template intended to focus the FDA’s written review on critical thinking and consistency and reduce time spent on administrative tasks. With these two pilot programs, today’s approval of Piqray comes approximately three months ahead of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) VI deadline of August 18, 2019.

The FDA granted this application Priority Review designation. The FDA granted approval of Piqray to Novartis. The FDA granted approval of the therascreen PIK3CA RGQ PCR Kit to QIAGEN Manchester, Ltd.

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-pi3k-inhibitor-breast-cancer?utm_campaign=052419_PR_FDA%20approves%20first%20PI3K%20inhibitor%20for%20breast%20cancer&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua

 

Alpelisib

(2S)-1-N-[4-methyl-5-[2-(1,1,1-trifluoro-2-methylpropan-2-yl)pyridin-4-yl]-1,3-thiazol-2-yl]pyrrolidine-1,2-dicarboxamide

PDT PAT WO 2010/029082

CHEMICAL NAMES: Alpelisib; CAS 1217486-61-7; BYL-719; BYL719; UNII-08W5N2C97Q; BYL 719
MOLECULAR FORMULA: C19H22F3N5O2S
MOLECULAR WEIGHT: 441.473 g/mol
  1. alpelisib
  2. 1217486-61-7
  3. BYL-719
  4. BYL719
  5. UNII-08W5N2C97Q
  6. BYL 719
  7. Alpelisib (BYL719)
  8. (S)-N1-(4-Methyl-5-(2-(1,1,1-trifluoro-2-methylpropan-2-yl)pyridin-4-yl)thiazol-2-yl)pyrrolidine-1,2-dicarboxamide
  9. NVP-BYL719

Alpelisib is an orally bioavailable phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor with potential antineoplastic activity. Alpelisib specifically inhibits PI3K in the PI3K/AKT kinase (or protein kinase B) signaling pathway, thereby inhibiting the activation of the PI3K signaling pathway. This may result in inhibition of tumor cell growth and survival in susceptible tumor cell populations. Activation of the PI3K signaling pathway is frequently associated with tumorigenesis. Dysregulated PI3K signaling may contribute to tumor resistance to a variety of antineoplastic agents.

Alpelisib has been used in trials studying the treatment and basic science of Neoplasms, Solid Tumors, BREAST CANCER, 3rd Line GIST, and Rectal Cancer, among others.

 

SYN 2

POLYMORPHS

https://patents.google.com/patent/WO2012175522A1/en

(S)-pyrrolidine-l,2-dicarboxylic acid 2-amide l-(4-methyl-5-[2-(2,2,2-trifluoro-l,l- dimethyl-ethyl)-pyridin-4-yl]-thiazol-2-yl)-amidei hereafter referred to as compound I,

is an alpha-selective phosphatidylinositol 3 -kinase (PI3K) inhibitor. Compound I was originally described in WO 2010/029082, wherein the synthesis of its free base form was described. There is a need for additional solid forms of compound I, for use in drug substance and drug product development. It has been found that new solid forms of compound I can be prepared as one or more polymorph forms, including solvate forms. These polymorph forms exhibit new physical properties that may be exploited in order to obtain new pharmacological properties, and that may be utilized in drug substance and drug product development. Summary of the Invention

In one aspect, provided herein is a crystalline form of the compound of formula I, or a solvate of the crystalline form of the compound of formula I, or a salt of the crystalline form of the compound of formula I, or a solvate of a salt of the crystalline form of the compound of formula I. In one embodiment, the crystalline form of the compound of formula I has the polymorph form SA, SB, Sc, or SD.

In another aspect, provided herein is a pharmaceutical composition comprising a crystalline compound of formula I. In one embodiment of the pharmaceutical composition, the crystalline compound of formula I has the polymorph form SA, SB,Sc, or So.

In another aspect, provided herein is a method for the treatment of disorders mediated by PI3K, comprising administering to a patient in need of such treatment an effective amount of a crystalline compound of formula I, particularly SA, SB, SC,or SD .

In yet another aspect, provided herein is the use of a crystalline compound of formula I, particularly SA, SB, SC, or SD, for the preparation of a medicament for the treatment of disorders mediated by PI3K.

 

Source: https://newdrugapprovals.org/?s=alpelisib&submit=

 

Pharmacology and Toxicology from drugbank.ca

Indication

Alpelisib is indicated in combination with fulvestrant to treat postmenopausal women, and men, with advanced or metastatic breast cancer.Label This cancer must be hormone receptor (HR)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative, and PIK3CA­ mutated.Label The cancer must be detected by an FDA-approved test following progression on or after an endocrine-based regimen.Label

Associated Conditions

Contraindications & Blackbox Warnings

Learn about our commercial Contraindications & Blackbox Warnings data.

LEARN MORE

 

Pharmacodynamics

Alpelisib does not prolong the QTcF interval.Label Patients taking alpelisib experience a dose dependent benefit from treatment with a 51% advantage of a 200mg daily dose over a 100mg dose and a 22% advantage of 300mg once daily over 150mg twice daily.6 This suggests patients requiring a lower dose may benefit from twice daily dosing.6

Mechanism of action

Phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase-α (PI3Kα) is responsible for cell proliferation in response to growth factor-tyrosine kinase pathway activation.3 In some cancers PI3Kα’s p110α catalytic subunit is mutated making it hyperactive.3 Alpelisib inhibits (PI3K), with the highest specificity for PI3Kα.Label

TARGET ACTIONS ORGANISM
APhosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase catalytic subunit alpha isoform inhibitor Humans

Absorption

Alpelisib reached a peak concentration in plasma of 1320±912ng/mL after 2 hours.4 Alpelisib has an AUClast of 11,100±3760h ng/mL and an AUCINF of 11,100±3770h ng/mL.4 A large, high fat meal increases the AUC by 73% and Cmax by 84% while a small, low fat meal increases the AUC by 77% and Cmax by 145%.Label

Volume of distribution

The apparent volume of distribution at steady state is 114L.Label

Protein binding

Alpelisib is 89% protein bound.Label

Metabolism

Alpelisib is metabolized by hydrolysis reactions to form the primary metabolite.Label It is also metabolized by CYP3A4.Label The full metabolism of Alpelisib has yet to be determined but a series of reactions have been proposed.4,5 The main metabolic reaction is the substitution of an amine group on alpelisib for a hydroxyl group to form a metabolite known as M44,5 or BZG791.Label Alpelisib can also be glucuronidated to form the M1 and M12 metabolites.4,5

Hover over products below to view reaction partners

Route of elimination

36% of an oral dose is eliminated as unchanged drug in the feces and 32% as the primary metabolite BZG791 in the feces.Label 2% of an oral dose is eliminated in the urine as unchanged drug and 7.1% as the primary metabolite BZG791.Label In total 81% of an oral dose is eliminated in the feces and 14% is eliminated in the urine.Label

Half-life

The mean half life of alprelisib is 8 to 9 hours.Label

Clearance

The mean apparent oral clearance was 39.0L/h.4 The predicted clearance is 9.2L/hr under fed conditions.Label

Adverse Effects

Learn about our commercial Adverse Effects data.

LEARN MORE

 

Toxicity

LD50 and Overdose

Patients experiencing an overdose may present with hyperglycemia, nausea, asthenia, and rash.Label There is no antidote for an overdose of alpelisib so patients should be treated symptomatically.Label Data regarding an LD50 is not readily available.MSDS In clinical trials, patients were given doses of up to 450mg once daily.Label

Pregnancy, Lactation, and Fertility

Following administration in rats and rabbits during organogenesis, adverse effects on the reproductive system, such as embryo-fetal mortality, reduced fetal weights, and increased incidences of fetal malformations, were observed.Label Based on these findings of animals studies and its mechanism of action, it is proposed that alpelisib may cause embryo-fetal toxicity when administered to pregnant patients.Label There is no data available regarding the presence of alpelisib in breast milk so breast feeding mothers are advised not to breastfeed while taking this medication and for 1 week after their last dose.Label Based on animal studies, alpelisib may impair fertility of humans.Label

Carcinogenicity and Mutagenicity

Studies of carcinogenicity have yet to be performed.Label Alpelisib has not been found to be mutagenic in the Ames test.Label It is not aneugenic, clastogenic, or genotoxic in further assays.Label

Affected organisms

Not Available

Pathways

Not Available

Pharmacogenomic Effects/ADRs 

 

Not Available

 

Source: https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB12015

References

  1. Yuan TL, Cantley LC: PI3K pathway alterations in cancer: variations on a theme. Oncogene 2008, 27(41):5497-5510.
  2. Toker A: Double trouble for cancer gene. Science 2019, 366(6466):685-686.
  3. Vasan N, Razavi P, Johnson JL, Shao H, Shah H, Antoine A, Ladewig E, Gorelick A, Lin TY, Toska E et al: Double PIK3CA mutations in cis increase oncogenicity and sensitivity to PI3Kalpha inhibitors. Science 2019, 366(6466):714-723.

 

 

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Prime Editing as a New CRISPR Tool to Enhance Precision and Versatility

 

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

 

CRISPR has become a powerful molecular for the editing of genomes tool in research, drug discovery, and the clinic

(see posts and ebook on this site below)

 

however, as discussed on this site

(see posts below)

there have been many instances of off-target effects where genes, other than the selected target, are edited out.  This ‘off-target’ issue has hampered much of the utility of CRISPR in gene-therapy and CART therapy

see posts

 

However, an article in Science by Jon Cohen explains a Nature paper’s finding of a new tool in the CRISPR arsenal called prime editing, meant to increase CRISPR specificity and precision editing capabilities.

PRIME EDITING PROMISES TO BE A CUT ABOVE CRISPR

By Jon Cohen | Oct 25th, 2019

Prime editing promises to be a cut above CRISPR Jon Cohen CRISPR, an extraordinarily powerful genome-editing tool invented in 2012, can still be clumsy. … Prime editing steers around shortcomings of both techniques by heavily modifying the Cas9 protein and the guide RNA. … ” Prime editing “well may become the way that disease-causing mutations are repaired,” he says.

Science Vol. 366, No. 6464; DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6464.406

The effort, led by Drs. David Liu and Andrew Anzalone at the Broad Institute (Cambridge, MA), relies on the modification of the Cas9 protein and guide RNA, so that there is only a nick in a single strand of the double helix.  The canonical Cas9 cuts both strands of DNA, and so relies on an efficient gap repair activity of the cell.  The second part, a new type of guide RNA called a pegRNA, contains an RNA template for a new DNA sequence to be added at the target location.  This pegRNA-directed synthesis of the new template requires the attachment of a reverse transcriptase enzymes to the Cas9.  So far Liu and his colleagues have tested the technology on over 175 human and rodent cell lines with great success.  In addition, they had also corrected mutations which cause Tay Sachs disease, which previous CRISPR systems could not do.  Liu claims that this technology could correct over 89% of pathogenic variants in human diseases.

A company Prime Medicine has been formed out of this effort.

Source: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/366/6464/406.abstract

 

Read an article on Dr. Liu, prime editing, and the companies that Dr. Liu has initiated including Editas Medicine, Beam Therapeutics, and Prime Medicine at https://www.statnews.com/2019/11/06/questions-david-liu-crispr-prime-editing-answers/

(interview by StatNews  SHARON BEGLEY @sxbegle)

As was announced, prime editing for human therapeutics will be jointly developed by both Prime Medicine and Beam Therapeutics, each focusing on different types of edits and distinct disease targets, which will help avoid redundancy and allow us to cover more disease territory overall. The companies will also share knowledge in prime editing as well as in accompanying technologies, such as delivery and manufacturing.

Reader of StatNews.: Can you please compare the pros and cons of prime editing versus base editing?

The first difference between base editing and prime editing is that base editing has been widely used for the past 3 1/2 years in organisms ranging from bacteria to plants to mice to primates. Addgene tells me that the DNA blueprints for base editors from our laboratory have been distributed more than 7,500 times to more than 1,000 researchers around the world, and more than 100 research papers from many different laboratories have been published using base editors to achieve desired gene edits for a wide variety of applications. While we are very excited about prime editing, it’s brand-new and there has only been one paper published thus far. So there’s much to do before we can know if prime editing will prove to be as general and robust as base editing has proven to be.

We directly compared prime editors and base editors in our study, and found that current base editors can offer higher editing efficiency and fewer indel byproducts than prime editors, while prime editors offer more targeting flexibility and greater editing precision. So when the desired edit is a transition point mutation (C to T, T to C, A to G, or G to A), and the target base is well-positioned for base editing (that is, a PAM sequence exists approximately 15 bases from the target site), then base editing can result in higher editing efficiencies and fewer byproducts. When the target base is not well-positioned for base editing, or when other “bystander” C or A bases are nearby that must not be edited, then prime editing offers major advantages since it does not require a precisely positioned PAM sequence and is a true “search-and-replace” editing capability, with no possibility of unwanted bystander editing at neighboring bases.

Of course, for classes of mutations other than the four types of point mutations that base editors can make, such as insertions, deletions, and the eight other kinds of point mutations, to our knowledge prime editing is currently the only approach that can make these mutations in human cells without requiring double-stranded DNA cuts or separate DNA templates.

Nucleases (such as the zinc-finger nucleases, TALE nucleases, and the original CRISPR-Cas9), base editors, and prime editors each have complementary strengths and weaknesses, just as scissors, pencils, and word processors each have unique and useful roles. All three classes of editing agents already have or will have roles in basic research and in applications such as human therapeutics and agriculture.

Nature Paper on Prime Editing CRISPR

Search-and-replace genome editing without double-strand breaks or donor DNA (6)

 

Andrew V. Anzalone,  Peyton B. Randolph, Jessie R. Davis, Alexander A. Sousa,

Luke W. Koblan, Jonathan M. Levy, Peter J. Chen, Christopher Wilson,

Gregory A. Newby, Aditya Raguram & David R. Liu

 

Nature volume 576, pages149–157(2019)

 

Abstract

Most genetic variants that contribute to disease1 are challenging to correct efficiently and without excess byproducts2,3,4,5. Here we describe prime editing, a versatile and precise genome editing method that directly writes new genetic information into a specified DNA site using a catalytically impaired Cas9 endonuclease fused to an engineered reverse transcriptase, programmed with a prime editing guide RNA (pegRNA) that both specifies the target site and encodes the desired edit. We performed more than 175 edits in human cells, including targeted insertions, deletions, and all 12 types of point mutation, without requiring double-strand breaks or donor DNA templates. We used prime editing in human cells to correct, efficiently and with few byproducts, the primary genetic causes of sickle cell disease (requiring a transversion in HBB) and Tay–Sachs disease (requiring a deletion in HEXA); to install a protective transversion in PRNP; and to insert various tags and epitopes precisely into target loci. Four human cell lines and primary post-mitotic mouse cortical neurons support prime editing with varying efficiencies. Prime editing shows higher or similar efficiency and fewer byproducts than homology-directed repair, has complementary strengths and weaknesses compared to base editing, and induces much lower off-target editing than Cas9 nuclease at known Cas9 off-target sites. Prime editing substantially expands the scope and capabilities of genome editing, and in principle could correct up to 89% of known genetic variants associated with human diseases.

 

 

From Anzolone et al. Nature 2019 Figure 1.

Prime editing strategy

Cas9 targets DNA using a guide RNA containing a spacer sequence that hybridizes to the target DNA site. We envisioned the generation of guide RNAs that both specify the DNA target and contain new genetic information that replaces target DNA nucleotides. To transfer information from these engineered guide RNAs to target DNA, we proposed that genomic DNA, nicked at the target site to expose a 3′-hydroxyl group, could be used to prime the reverse transcription of an edit-encoding extension on the engineered guide RNA (the pegRNA) directly into the target site (Fig. 1b, cSupplementary Discussion).

These initial steps result in a branched intermediate with two redundant single-stranded DNA flaps: a 5′ flap that contains the unedited DNA sequence and a 3′ flap that contains the edited sequence copied from the pegRNA (Fig. 1c). Although hybridization of the perfectly complementary 5′ flap to the unedited strand is likely to be thermodynamically favoured, 5′ flaps are the preferred substrate for structure-specific endonucleases such as FEN122, which excises 5′ flaps generated during lagging-strand DNA synthesis and long-patch base excision repair. The redundant unedited DNA may also be removed by 5′ exonucleases such as EXO123.

  • The authors reasoned that preferential 5′ flap excision and 3′ flap ligation could drive the incorporation of the edited DNA strand, creating heteroduplex DNA containing one edited strand and one unedited strand (Fig. 1c).
  • DNA repair to resolve the heteroduplex by copying the information in the edited strand to the complementary strand would permanently install the edit (Fig. 1c).
  • They had hypothesized that nicking the non-edited DNA strand might bias DNA repair to preferentially replace the non-edited strand.

Results

  • The authors evaluated the eukaryotic cell DNA repair outcomes of 3′ flaps produced by pegRNA-programmed reverse transcription in vitro, and performed in vitro prime editing on reporter plasmids, then transformed the reaction products into yeast cells (Extended Data Fig. 2).
  • Reporter plasmids encoding EGFP and mCherry separated by a linker containing an in-frame stop codon, +1 frameshift, or −1 frameshift were constructed and when plasmids were edited in vitro with Cas9 nickase, RT, and 3′-extended pegRNAs encoding a transversion that corrects the premature stop codon, 37% of yeast transformants expressed both GFP and mCherry (Fig. 1f, Extended Data Fig. 2).
  • They fused a variant of M—MLV-RT (reverse transcriptase) to Cas9 with an extended linker and this M-MLV RT fused to the C terminus of Cas9(H840A) nickase was designated as PE1. This strategy allowed the authors to generate a cell line containing all the required components of the primer editing system. They constructed 19 variants of PE1 containing a variety of RT mutations to evaluate their editing efficiency in human cells
  • Generated a pentamutant RT incorporated into PE1 (Cas9(H840A)–M-MLV RT(D200N/L603W/T330P/T306K/W313F)) is hereafter referred to as prime editor 2 (PE2).  These were more thermostable versions of RT with higher efficiency.
  • Optimized the guide (pegRNA) using a series of permutations and  recommend starting with about 10–16 nt and testing shorter and longer RT templates during pegRNA optimization.
  • In the previous attempts (PE1 and PE2 systems), mismatch repair resolves the heteroduplex to give either edited or non-edited products. So they next developed an optimal editing system (PE3) to produce optimal nickase activity and found nicks positioned 3′ of the edit about 40–90 bp from the pegRNA-induced nick generally increased editing efficiency (averaging 41%) without excess indel formation (6.8% average indels for the sgRNA with the highest editing efficiency) (Fig. 3b).
  • The cell line used to finalize and validate the system was predominantly HEK293T immortalized cell line
  • Together, their findings establish that PE3 systems improve editing efficiencies about threefold compared with PE2, albeit with a higher range of indels than PE2. When it is possible to nick the non-edited strand with an sgRNA that requires editing before nicking, the PE3b system offers PE3-like editing levels while greatly reducing indel formation.
  • Off Target Effects: Strikingly, PE3 or PE2 with the same 16 pegRNAs containing these four target spacers resulted in detectable off-target editing at only 3 out of 16 off-target sites, with only 1 of 16 showing an off-target editing efficiency of 1% or more (Extended Data Fig. 6h). Average off-target prime editing for pegRNAs targeting HEK3HEK4EMX1, and FANCFat the top four known Cas9 off-target sites for each protospacer was <0.1%, <2.2 ± 5.2%, <0.1%, and <0.13 ± 0.11%, respectively (Extended Data Fig. 6h).
  • The PE3 system was very efficient at editing the most common mutation that causes Tay-Sachs disease, a 4-bp insertion in HEXA(HEXA1278+TATC).

References

  1. Landrum, M. J. et al. ClinVar: public archive of interpretations of clinically relevant variants. Nucleic Acids Res44, D862–D868 (2016).
  2. Jinek, M. et al. A programmable dual-RNA-guided DNA endonuclease in adaptive bacterial immunity. Science337, 816–821 (2012).
  3. Cong, L. et al. Multiplex genome engineering using CRISPR/Cas systems. Science339, 819–823 (2013).

 

  1. Mali, P. et al. RNA-guided human genome engineering via Cas9. Science339, 823–826 (2013).
  2. Kosicki, M., Tomberg, K. & Bradley, A. Repair of double-strand breaks induced by CRISPR–Cas9 leads to large deletions and complex rearrangements.  Biotechnol. 36, 765–771 (2018).
  3. Anzalone, A.V., Randolph, P.B., Davis, J.R. et al.Search-and-replace genome editing without double-strand breaks or donor DNA. Nature576, 149–157 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1711-4

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Most significant article published in the Society of Evolution, Medicine and Public Health won Prize: polygenic scores, polygenic adaptation, and human phenotypic differences

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN 

 

UPDATED on 8/30/2020

Analysis of polygenic risk score usage and performance in diverse human populations

Abstract

A historical tendency to use European ancestry samples hinders medical genetics research, including the use of polygenic scores, which are individual-level metrics of genetic risk. We analyze the first decade of polygenic scoring studies (2008–2017, inclusive), and find that 67% of studies included exclusively European ancestry participants and another 19% included only East Asian ancestry participants. Only 3.8% of studies were among cohorts of African, Hispanic, or Indigenous peoples. We find that predictive performance of European ancestry-derived polygenic scores is lower in non-European ancestry samples (e.g. African ancestry samples: t = −5.97, df = 24, p = 3.7 × 10−6), and we demonstrate the effects of methodological choices in polygenic score distributions for worldwide populations. These findings highlight the need for improved treatment of linkage disequilibrium and variant frequencies when applying polygenic scoring to cohorts of non-European ancestry, and bolster the rationale for large-scale GWAS in diverse human populations.

SOURCE

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-11112-0

The Voice of Prof. Marcus W. Feldman

You might be interested in the paper “interpreting polygenic scores, polygenic adaptation, and human phenotypic differences” by N. Rosenberg, M. Edge, J. Pritchard, and M. Feldman, published in Evolution, Medicine and Public Health  (2019).    Rosenberg and Pritchard are my former PhD students, both full professors at Stanford, and M.Edge is a student of Rosenberg.

 

On Aug 28, 2020, at 4:36 PM, Horowitz, Barbara Natterson <natterson-horowitz@fas.harvard.edu> wrote:

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

It is my pleasure in my role as President of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine and Public Health to inform you that your 2019 EMPH article, “Interpreting polygenic scores, polygenic adaptation, and human phenotypic differences” has won The George C. Williams Prize which is awarded each year to the first author of the most significant article published in the Society’s flagship journal, Evolution, Medicine and Public Health.  

The Prize recognizes the contributions of George C. Williams to evolutionary medicine and aims to encourage and highlight important research in this growing field. It includes $5,000 and an invitation to present at the online lecture series, Club EvMed. The Prize is made possible by donations from Doris Williams, Randolph Nesse, and other supporters of EMPH.

The winning article:

 

Interpreting polygenic scores, polygenic adaptation, and human phenotypic differences

Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, Volume 2019, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 26–34, https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoy036
Published:
27 December 2018

Article history

SOURCE

Abstract

Recent analyses of polygenic scores have opened new discussions concerning the genetic basis and evolutionary significance of differences among populations in distributions of phenotypes. Here, we highlight limitations in research on polygenic scores, polygenic adaptation and population differences. We show how genetic contributions to traits, as estimated by polygenic scores, combine with environmental contributions so that differences among populations in trait distributions need not reflect corresponding differences in genetic propensity. Under a null model in which phenotypes are selectively neutral, genetic propensity differences contributing to phenotypic differences among populations are predicted to be small. We illustrate this null hypothesis in relation to health disparities between African Americans and European Americans, discussing alternative hypotheses with selective and environmental effects. Close attention to the limitations of research on polygenic phenomena is important for the interpretation of their relationship to human population differences.

INTRODUCTION

We are currently witnessing a surge in public interest in the intersection of evolutionary genetics with such topics as cognitive phenotypes, disease, race and heritability of human traits [1–7]. This attention emerges partly from recent advances in genomics, including the introduction of polygenic scores—the aggregation of estimated effects of genome-wide variants to predict the contribution of a person’s genome to a phenotypic trait [8–10]—and a new focus on polygenic adaptations, namely adaptations that have occurred by natural selection on traits influenced by many genes [11–13].

Theories involving natural selection have long been applied in the scientific literature to explain mean phenotypic differences among human populations [14–16]. Although new tools for statistical analysis of polygenic variation and polygenic adaptation provide opportunities for studying human evolution and the genetic basis of traits, they also generate potential for misinterpretation. In the past, public attention to research on human variation and its possible evolutionary basis has often been accompanied by claims that are not justified by the research findings [17]. Recognizing pitfalls in the interpretation of new research on human variation is therefore important for advancing discussions on associated sensitive and controversial topics.

The contribution of polygenic score distributions to phenotype distributions. Two populations are considered, populations 1 (red) and 2 (blue). Each population has a distribution of genetic propensities, which are treated as accurately estimated in the form of polygenic scores (left). The genetic propensity distribution and an environment distribution sum to produce a phenotype distribution (right). All plots have the same numerical scale. (A) Environmental differences amplify an underlying difference in genetic propensities. (B) Populations differ in their phenotypes despite having no differences in genetic propensity distributions. (C) Environmental differences obscure a difference in genetic propensities opposite in direction to the difference in phenotype means. (D) Similarity in phenotype distributions is achieved despite a difference in genetic propensity distributions by an intervention that reduces the environmental contribution for individuals with polygenic scores above a threshold. (E) Within populations, heritability is high, so that genetic variation explains the majority of phenotypic variation; however, the difference between populations is explained by an environmental difference. Panels (A–C and E) present independent normal distributions for genotype and environment that sum to produce normal distributions for phenotype. In (D), (genotype, environment) pairs are simulated from independent normal distributions and a negative constant—reflecting the effect of a medication or other intervention—is added to environmental contributions associated with simulated genotypic values that exceed a threshold

Summary

These limitations illustrate that much of the complexity embedded in use of polygenic scores—the effects of the environment on phenotype and its relationship to genotype, the proportion of variance explained, and the peculiarities of the underlying GWAS data that have been used to estimate effect sizes—is obscured by the apparent simplicity of the single values computed for each individual for each phenotype. Consequently, in using polygenic scores to describe genomic contributions to traits, particularly traits for which the total contribution of genetic variation to trait variation, as measured by heritability, is low—but even if it is high (Fig. 1E)—a difference in polygenic scores between populations provides little information about potential genetic bases for trait differences between those populations.

Unlike heritability, which ranges from 0 to 1 and therefore makes it obvious that the remaining contribution to phenotypic variation is summarized by its difference from 1, the limited explanatory role of genetics is not embedded in the nature of the polygenic scores themselves. Although polygenic scores encode knowledge about specific genetic correlates of trait variation, they do not change the conceptual framework for genetic and environmental contribution to population differences. Attributions of phenotypic differences among populations to genetic differences should therefore be treated with as much caution as similar genetic attributions from heritability in the pre-genomic era.

 

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