Genome editing tools such as the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat （CRISPR）-associated system （Cas） have been widely used to modify genes in model systems including animal zygotes and human cells, and hold tremendous promise for both basic research and clinical applications. To date, a serious knowledge gap remains in our understanding of DNA repair mechanisms in human early embryos, and in the efficiency and potential off-target effects of using technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 in human pre-implantation embryos. In this report, we used tripronuclear （3PN） zygotes to further investigate CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in human cells. We found that CRISPR/Cas9 could effectively cleave the endogenous β-globin gene （HBB）. However, the efficiency of homologous recombination directed repair （HDR） of HBB was low and the edited embryos were mosaic. Off-target cleavage was also apparent in these 3PN zygotes as revealed by the T7E1 assay and whole-exome sequencing. Furthermore, the endogenous delta-globin gene （HBD）, which is homologous to HBB, competed with exogenous donor oligos to act as the repair template, leading to untoward mutations. Our data also indicated that repair of the HBB locus in these embryos occurred preferentially through the non-crossover HDR pathway. Taken together, our work highlights the pressing need to further improve the fidelity and specificity of the CRISPR/Cas9 platform, a prerequisite for any clinical applications of CRSIPR/Cas9-mediated editing.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes severe and persistent infections in immune compromised individuals and cystic fibrosis sufferers. The infection is hard to eradicate as P. aeruginosa has developed strong resistance to most conventional antibiotics. The problem is further compounded by the ability of the pathogen to form biofilm matrix, which provides bacterial cells a protected environment withstanding various stresses including antibiotics. Quorum sensing (QS), a cell density-based intercellular communication system, which plays a key role in regulation of the bacterial virulence and biofilm formation, could be a promising target for developing new strategies against P. aeruginosa infection. The QS network of P. aeruginosa is organized in a multi-layered hierarchy consisting of at least four interconnected signaling mechanisms. Evidence is accumulating that the QS regulatory network not only responds to bacterial population changes but also could react to environmental stress cues. This plasticity should be taken into consideration during exploration and development of anti-QS therapeutics.
The antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), a humanized or human monoclonal antibody conjugated with highly cytotoxic small molecules (payloads) through chemical linkers, is a novel therapeutic format and has great potential to make a paradigm shift in cancer chemotherapy. This new antibody-based molecular platform enables selective delivery of a potent cytotoxic payload to target cancer cells, resulting in improved efficacy, reduced systemic toxicity, and preferable pharmacokinetics (PK)/pharmacodynamics (PD) and biodistribution compared to traditional chemotherapy. Boosted by the successes of FDA-approved Adcetris® and Kadcyla®, this drug class has been rapidly growing along with about 60 ADCs currently in clinical trials. In this article, we briefly review molecular aspects of each component (the antibody, payload, and linker) of ADCs, and then mainly discuss traditional and new technologies of the conjugation and linker chemistries for successful construction of clinically effective ADCs. Current efforts in the conjugation and linker chemistries will provide greater insights into molecular design and strategies for clinically effective ADCs from medicinal chemistry and pharmacology standpoints. The development of site-specific conjugation methodologies for constructing homogeneous ADCs is an especially promising path to improving ADC design, which will open the way for novel cancer therapeutics.
As of May 1, 2017, 74 antibody-based molecules have been approved by a regulatory authority in a major market. Additionally, there are 70 and 575 antibody-based molecules in phase III and phase I/II clinical trials, respectively. These total 719 antibody-based clinical stage molecules include 493 naked IgGs, 87 antibody-drug conjugates, 61 bispecific antibodies, 37 total Fc fusion proteins, 17 radioimmunoglobulins, 13 antibody fragments, and 11 immunocytokines. New uses for these antibodies are being discovered each year. For oncology, many of the exciting new approaches involve antibody modulation of T-cells. There are over 80 antibodies in clinical trials targeting T cell checkpoints, 26 T-cell-redirected bispecific antibodies, and 145 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) cell-based candidates (all currently in phase I or II clinical trials), totaling more than 250 T cell interacting clinical stage antibody-based candidates. Finally, significant progress has been made recently on routes of delivery, including delivery of proteins across the blood-brain barrier, oral delivery to the gut, delivery to the cellular cytosol, and gene- and viral-based delivery of antibodies. Thus, there are currently at least 864 antibody-based clinical stage molecules or cells, with incredible diversity in how they are constructed and what activities they impart. These are followed by a next wave of novel molecules, approaches, and new methods and routes of delivery, demonstrating that the field of antibody-based biologics is very innovative and diverse in its approaches to fulfill their promise to treat unmet medical needs.
The mitochondria-mediated caspase activation pathway is a major apoptotic pathway characterized by mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP) and subsequent release of cytochrome c into the cytoplasm to activate caspases. MOMP is regulated by the Bcl-2 family of proteins. This pathway plays important roles not only in normal development, maintenance of tissue homeostasis and the regulation of immune system, but also in human diseases such as immune disorders, neurodegeneration and cancer. In the past decades the molecular basis of this pathway and the regulatory mechanism have been comprehensively studied, yet a great deal of new evidence indicates that cytochrome c release from mitochondria does not always lead to irreversible cell death, and that caspase activation can also have non-death functions. Thus, many unsolved questions and new challenges are still remaining. Furthermore, the dysfunction of this pathway involved in cancer development is obvious, and targeting the pathway as a therapeutic strategy has been extensively explored, but the efficacy of the targeted therapies is still under development. In this review we will discuss the mitochondria-mediated apoptosis pathway and its physiological roles and therapeutic implications.
Although links between cancer and inflammation were firstly proposed in the nineteenth century, the molecular mechanism has not yet been clearly understood. Epidemiological studies have identified chronic infections and inflammation as major risk factors for various types of cancer. NF-κB transcription factors and the signaling pathways are central coordinators in innate and adaptive immune responses. STAT3 regulates the expression of a variety of genes in response to cellular stimuli, and thus plays a key role in cell growth and apoptosis. Recently, roles of NF-κB and STAT3 in colon, gastric and liver cancers have been extensively investigated. The activation and interaction between STAT3 and NF-κB play vital roles in control of the communication between cancer cells and inflammatory cells. NF-κB and STAT3 are two major factors controlling the ability of pre-neoplastic and malignant cells to resist apoptosis-based tumor-surveillance and regulating tumor angiogenesis and invasiveness. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of NF-κB and STAT3 cooperation in cancer will offer opportunities for the design of new chemo-preventive and chemotherapeutic approaches.
Cholesterol is an essential component for neuronal physiology not only during development stage but also in the adult life. Cholesterol metabolism in brain is in- dependent 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 metabo- lism with molecular mechanisms.
β-Thalassemia is a global health issue, caused by mutations in the HBB gene. Among these mutations, HBB -28 （A〉G） mutations is one of the three most common mutations in China and Southeast Asia patients with β-thalassemia. Correcting this mutation in human embryos may prevent the disease being passed onto future generations and cure anemia. Here we report the first study using base editor （BE） system to correct disease mutant in human embryos. Firstly, we produced a 293T cell line with an exogenous HBB -28 （A〉G） mutant fragment for gRNAs and targeting efficiency evaluation. Then we collected primary skin fibroblast cells from a β-thalassemia patient with HBB -28 （A〉G） homozygous mutation. Data showed that base editor could precisely correct HBB -28 （A〉G） mutation in the patient＇s primary cells. To model homozygous mutation disease embryos, we consb＇ucted nuclear transfer embryos by fusing the lymphocyte or skin fibroblast cells with enucleated in vitro matured （IVM） oocytes.Notably, the gene correction efficiency was over 23.0% in these embryos by base editor. Although these embryos were still mosaic, the percentage of repaired blastomeres was over 20.0%. In addition, we found that base editor variants, with narrowed deamination window, could promote G-to-A conversion at HBB -28 site precisely in human embryos. Collectively, this study demonstrated the feasibility of curing genetic disease in human somatic cells and embryos by base editor system.
The WD40 domain exhibits a β-propeller architecture, often comprising seven blades. The WD40 domain is one of the most abundant domains and also among the top interacting domains in eukaryotic genomes. In this review, we will discuss the identification, definition and architecture of the WD40 domains. WD40 domain proteins are involved in a large variety of cellular processes, in which WD40 domains function as a protein-protein or protein-DNA interaction platform. WD40 domain mediates molecular recognition events mainly through the smaller top surface, but also through the bottom surface and sides. So far, no WD40 domain has been found to display enzymatic activity. We will also discuss the different binding modes exhibited by the large versatile family of WD40 domain proteins. In the last part of this review, we will discuss how post-translational modifications are recognized by WD40 domain proteins.
Recent advances in the understanding of the molecular processes contributing to autophagy have provided insight into the relationship between autophagy and apoptosis. In contrast to the concept of “autophagic cell death,” accumulating evidence suggests that autophagy serves a largely cytoprotective role in physiologically relevant conditions. The cytoprotective function of autophagy is mediated in many circumstances by negative modulation of apoptosis. Apoptotic signaling, in turn, serves to inhibit autophagy. While the mechanisms mediating the complex counter-regulation of apoptosis and autophagy are not yet fully understood, important points of crosstalk include the interactions between Beclin-1 and Bcl-2/Bcl-xL and between FADD and Atg5, caspase- and calpain-mediated cleavage of autophagy-related proteins, and autophagic degradation of caspases. Continued investigation of these and other means of crosstalk between apoptosis and autophagy is necessary to elucidate the mechanisms controlling the balance between survival and death both under normal conditions and in diseases including cancer.
The histone methyltransferase EZH2 has been in the limelight of the field of cancer epigenetics for a decade now since it was first discovered to exhibit an elevated expression in metastatic prostate cancer. It persists to attract much scientific attention due to its important role in the process of cancer development and its potential of being an effective therapeutic target. Thus here we review the dysregulation of EZH2 in prostate cancer, its function, upstream regulators, downstream effectors, and current status of EZH2-targeting approaches. This review therefore provides a comprehensive overview of EZH2 in the context of prostate cancer.
Energy metabolism is significantly reprogrammed in many human cancers, and these alterations confer many advantages to cancer cells, including the pro- motion of biosynthesis, ATP generation, detoxification and support of rapid proliferation. The pentose phos- phate pathway （PPP） is a major pathway for glucose catabolism. The PPP directs glucose flux to its oxi- dative branch and produces a reduced form of nico- tinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate （NADPH）, an essential reductant in anabolic processes. It has become clear that the PPP plays a critical role in regulating cancer cell growth by supplying cells with not only ribose-5-phosphate but also NADPH for detoxification of intracellular reactive oxygen species, reductive biosynthesis and ribose biogenesis. Thus, alteration of the PPP contributes directly to cell pro- liferation, survival and senescence. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that the PPP is regulated oncogenically and/or metabolically by numerous fac- tors, including tumor suppressors, oncoproteins and intracellular metabolites. Dysregulation of PPP flux dramatically impacts cancer growth and survival. Therefore, a better understanding of how the PPP is reprogrammed and the mechanism underlying the balance between glycolysis and PPP flux in cancer will be valuable in developing therapeutic strategies targeting this pathway.
A new class of RNA regulatory genes known as microRNAs (miRNAs) has been found to introduce a whole new layer of gene regulation in eukaryotes. The intensive studies of the past several years have demonstrated that miRNAs are not only found intracellularly, but are also detectable outside cells, including in various body fluids (e.g. serum, plasma, saliva, urine and milk). This phenomenon raises questions about the biological function of such extracellular miRNAs. Substantial amounts of extracellular miRNAs are enclosed in small membranous vesicles (e.g. exosomes, shedding vesicles and apoptotic bodies) or packaged with RNA-binding proteins (e.g. high-density lipoprotein, Argonaute 2 and nucleophosmin 1). These miRNAs may function as secreted signaling molecules to influence the recipient cell phenotypes. Furthermore, secreted extracellular miRNAs may reflect molecular changes in the cells from which they are derived and can therefore potentially serve as diagnostic indicators of disease. Several studies also point to the potential application of siRNA/miRNA delivery as a new therapeutic strategy for treating diseases. In this review, we summarize what is known about the mechanism of miRNA secretion. In addition, we describe the pathophysiological roles of secreted miRNAs and their clinical potential as diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic drugs. We believe that miRNA transfer between cells will have a significant impact on biological research in the coming years.
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), with their extraordinary properties, such as broad-spectrum activity, rapid action and difficult development of resistance, have become promising molecules as new antibiotics. Despite their various mechanisms of action, the interaction of AMPs with the bacterial cell membrane is the key step for their mode of action. Moreover, it is generally accepted that the membrane is the primary target of most AMPs, and the interaction between AMPs and eukaryotic cell membranes (causing toxicity to host cells) limits their clinical application. Therefore, researchers are engaged in reforming or de novo designing AMPs as a ‘singleedged sword’ that contains high antimicrobial activity yet low cytotoxicity against eukaryotic cells. To improve the antimicrobial activity of AMPs, the relationship between the structure and function of AMPs has been rigorously pursued. In this review, we focus on the current knowledge of α-helical cationic antimicrobial peptides, one of the most common types of AMPs in nature.
There are many factors that can influence the pharmacokinetics (PK) of a mAb or Fc-fusion molecule with the primary determinant being FcRn-mediated recycling. Through Fab or Fc engineering, IgG-FcRn interaction can be used to generate a variety of therapeutic antibodies with significantly enhanced half-life or ability to remove unwanted antigen from circulation. Glycosylation of a mAb or Fc-fusion protein can have a significant impact on the PK of these molecules. mAb charge can be important and variants with pI values of 1–2 unit difference are likely to impact PK with lower pI values being favorable for a longer half-life. Most mAbs display target mediated drug disposition (TMDD), which can have significant consequences on the study designs of preclinical and clinical studies. The PK of mAb can also be influenced by anti-drug antibody (ADA) response and off-target binding, which require careful consideration during the discovery stage. mAbs are primarily absorbed through the lymphatics via convection and can be conveniently administered by the subcutaneous (sc) route in large doses/volumes with co-formulation of hyaluronidase. The human PK of a mAb can be reasonably estimated using cynomolgus monkey data and allometric scaling methods.
The recent human infection with avian influenza virus revealed that H9N2 influenza virus is the gene donor for H7N9 and H10N8 viruses infecting humans. The crucial role of H9N2 viruses at the animal-human interface might be due to the wide host range, adaptation in both poultry and mammalian, and extensive gene reassortment. As the most prevalent subtype of influenza viruses in chickens in China, H9N2 also causes a great economic loss for the poultry industry, even under the long-term vaccination programs. The history, epidemiology, bio- logical characteristics, and molecular determinants of H9N2 influenza virus are reviewed in this paper. The contribution of H9N2 genes, especially RNP genes, to the infection of humans needs to be investigated in the future.
The p53 tumor suppressor is a sequence-specific transcription factor that undergoes an abundance of post-translational modifications for its regulation and activation. Acetylation of p53 is an important reversible enzymatic process that occurs in response to DNA damage and genotoxic stress and is indispensible for p53 transcriptional activity. p53 was the first non-histone protein shown to be acetylated by histone acetyl transferases, and a number of more recent in vivo models have underscored the importance of this type of modification for p53 activity. Here, we review the current knowledge and recent findings of p53 acetylation and deacetylation and discuss the implications of these processes for the p53 pathway.
Cutaneous neurogenic inflammation （CNI） is inflammation that is induced （or enhanced） in the skin by the release of neuropeptides from sensory nerve endings. Clinical manifestations are mainly sensory and vascular disorders such as pruritus and erythema. Transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 and ankyrin 1 （TRPV1 and TRPA1, respectively） are non-selective cation channels known to specifically participate in pain and CNI. Both TRPV1 and TRPA1 are co-expressed in a large subset of sensory nerves, where they integrate numerous noxious stimuli. It is now clear that the expression of both channels also extends far beyond the sensory nerves in the skin, occuring also in keratinocytes, mast cells, dendritic cells, and endothelial cells. In these non-neu- ronal cells, TRPV1 and TRPA1 also act as nociceptive sensors and potentiate the inflammatory process. This review discusses the role of TRPV1 and TRPA1 in the modulation of inflammatory genes that leads to or maintains CNI in sensory neurons and non-neuronal skin cells. In addition, this review provides a summary of current research on the intracellular sensitization pathways of both TRP channels by other endogenous inflammatory mediators that promote the self-maintenance of CNI.
Glycosylation of the Fc region of IgG has a profound impact on the safety and clinical efficacy of therapeutic antibodies. While the biantennary complex-type oligosaccharide attached to Asn297 of the Fc is essential for antibody effector functions, fucose and outer-arm sugars attached to the core heptasaccharide that generate structural heterogeneity (glycoforms) exhibit unique biological activities. Hence, efficient and quantitative glycan analysis techniques have been increasingly important for the development and quality control of therapeutic antibodies, and glycan profiles of the Fc are recognized as critical quality attributes. In the past decade our understanding of the influence of glycosylation on the structure/function of IgG-Fc has grown rapidly through X-ray crystallographic and nuclear magnetic resonance studies, which provides possibilities for the design of novel antibody therapeutics. Furthermore, the chemoenzymatic glycoengineering approach using endoglycosidase-based glycosynthases may facilitate the development of homogeneous IgG glycoforms with desirable functionality as next-generation therapeutic antibodies. Thus, the Fc glycans are fertile ground for the improvement of the safety, functionality, and efficacy of therapeutic IgG antibodies in the era of precision medicine.