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Nature: Current issue

Cancer: Keeping it real to kill glioblastoma
The results of in vitro and in vivo screens to identify genes that are essential for the survival of a type of brain cancer show almost no overlap, underlining the need for caution when interpreting in vitro studies. See Letter p355.

Transcription elongation factors represent in vivo cancer dependencies in gli...
Glioblastoma is a universally lethal cancer with a median survival time of approximately 15 months. Despite substantial efforts to define druggable targets, there are no therapeutic options that notably extend the lifespan of patients with glioblastoma. While previous work has largely focused on in vitro cellular models, here we demonstrate a more physiologically relevant approach to target discovery in glioblastoma. We adapted pooled RNA interference (RNAi) screening technology for use in orthotopic patient-derived xenograft models, creating a high-throughput negative-selection screening platform in a functional in vivo tumour microenvironment. Using this approach, we performed parallel in vivo and in vitro screens and discovered that the chromatin and transcriptional regulators needed for cell survival in vivo are non-overlapping with those required in vitro. We identified transcription pause?release and elongation factors as one set of in vivo-specific cancer dependencies, and determined that these factors are necessary for enhancer-mediated transcriptional adaptations that enable cells to survive the tumour microenvironment. Our lead hit, JMJD6, mediates the upregulation of in vivo stress and stimulus response pathways through enhancer-mediated transcriptional pause?release, promoting cell survival specifically in vivo. Targeting JMJD6 or other identified elongation factors extends survival in orthotopic xenograft mouse models, suggesting that targeting transcription elongation machinery may be an effective therapeutic strategy for glioblastoma. More broadly, this study demonstrates the power of in vivo phenotypic screening to identify new classes of ?cancer dependencies? not identified by previous in vitro approaches, and could supply new opportunities for therapeutic intervention.


Nature Journals

Global forest loss disproportionately erodes biodiversity in intact landscapes
Global biodiversity loss is a critical environmental crisis, yet the lack of spatial data on biodiversity threats has hindered conservation strategies. Theory predicts that abrupt biodiversity declines are most likely to occur when habitat availability is reduced to very low levels in the landscape (10?30%). Alternatively, recent evidence indicates that biodiversity is best conserved by minimizing human intrusion into intact and relatively unfragmented landscapes. Here we use recently available forest loss data to test deforestation effects on International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List categories of extinction risk for 19,432 vertebrate species worldwide. As expected, deforestation substantially increased the odds of a species being listed as threatened, undergoing recent upgrading to a higher threat category and exhibiting declining populations. More importantly, we show that these risks were disproportionately high in relatively intact landscapes; even minimal deforestation has had severe consequences for vertebrate biodiversity. We found little support for the alternative hypothesis that forest loss is most detrimental in already fragmented landscapes. Spatial analysis revealed high-risk hot spots in Borneo, the central Amazon and the Congo Basin. In these regions, our model predicts that 121?219 species will become threatened under current rates of forest loss over the next 30 years. Given that only 17.9% of these high-risk areas are formally protected and only 8.9% have strict protection, new large-scale conservation efforts to protect intact forests are necessary to slow deforestation rates and to avert a new wave of global extinctions.

Corrigendum: Splicing factor 1 modulates dietary restriction and TORC1 pathwa...

Wanted: biotech for an aging population
Digital medicine's extraordinary ability to communicate with patients, especially in under-served communities, could help reorient the biotech industry to better address aging and its associated diseases.

Polygenic transmission disequilibrium confirms that common and rare variation...
Elise Robinson and colleagues present the polygenic transmission disequilibrium test (pTDT) for evaluating transmission of polygenic risk in family-based study designs. The authors apply pTDT to a cohort of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) families and find that common polygenic variation acts additively with de novo variants to contribute to ASD risk.

Fifteen new risk loci for coronary artery disease highlight arterial-wall-spe...
Joanna Howson and colleagues perform a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis for coronary artery disease in large, trans-ancestry cohorts. They identify 15 new loci and correlate these regions with cell-type-specific gene expression and plasma protein levels to find novel pathways and potential mechanisms of disease.

Polygenic burdens on cell-specific pathways underlie the risk of rheumatoid a...
Yuta Kochi and colleagues perform expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis on five subsets of immune cells individually sorted from blood from 105 individuals. They develop an integrated analysis pipeline of expression and epigenomic data along with gene association to identify cell-specific candidate causal genes and apply this to rheumatoid arthritis.

Identification of 19 new risk loci and potential regulatory mechanisms influe...
Clare Turnbull and colleagues report discovery of 19 new susceptibility loci for testicular germ cell tumor (TGCT) and provide evidence for a network of physical interactions between TGCT risk variants and candidate causal genes. Their findings implicate widespread disruption of developmental transcriptional regulators in TGCT susceptibility, consistent with failed primordial germ cell differentiation as an initiating step in oncogenesis.

Biallelic TRIP13 mutations predispose to Wilms tumor and chromosome missegreg...
Nazneen Rahman, Geert Kops and colleagues report the identification of biallelic loss-of-function mutations in TRIP13 in six individuals with Wilms tumor who presented with features of mosaic variegated aneuploidy. They show that TRIP13-mutant cells show spindle assembly checkpoint defects and suggest that mechanisms leading to aneuploidy may contribute directly to increased cancer risk.

Tissue-resident memory features are linked to the magnitude of cytotoxic T ce...
Vijayanand and colleagues use genome-wide RNA sequencing for transcriptional profiling of CD8+ T cells from tumors and adjacent uninvolved lung tissue from patients with early-stage lung cancer. A tissue-resident memory signature is associated with enhanced cytotoxicity and improved survival.

Thermoneutral housing exacerbates nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in mice an...
Current mouse models of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis are limited, making identification and preclinical testing of new treatments challenging. Housing mice at thermoneutrality leads to less stress, a stronger immune response and better modeling of this condition.


Nature Reviews

Melanoma: a global perspective
Most of our current knowledge of melanoma is derived from the study of patients from populations of European descent, for whom public health, sun protection initiatives and screening measures have appreciably decreased disease mortality. Notably, some melanoma subtypes that most commonly develop in other populations

T cells: Staying alive with S1P
Sphingosine 1-phosphate promotes naive T cell survival by supporting their mitochondrial function.

Unfolded protein response: Reacting to membrane stress
Changes in endoplasmic reticulum membrane composition induce the oligomerization of Ire1 and activate the unfolded protein response.

Psychiatric disorders: A sensitive window
In mice, postnatal stress leads to long-lasting changes in transcription in the ventral tegmental area, sensitizing the brain to stress later in life.