Low-frequency variation near common germline susceptibility loci are associated with risk of Ewing

Ewing sarcoma (EwS) is a rare, aggressive solid tumor of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood associated with pathognomonic EWSR1-ETS fusion oncoproteins altering transcriptional regulation. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified 6 common germline susceptibility loci but have not investigated low-frequency inherited variants with minor allele frequencies below 5% due to limited genotyped cases of this rare tumor.

Neuroblastomas. Report From the SIOPEN Biology Group on the LNESG Trials and a COG Validation Group.

For localized, resectable neuroblastoma without amplification, surgery only is recommended even if incomplete. However, it is not known whether the genomic background of these tumors may influence outcome.

Frédérique Quignon

Phenotypic profiling with a living biobank of primary rhabdomyosarcoma unravels disease

Cancer therapy is currently shifting from broadly used cytotoxic drugs to patient-specific precision therapies. Druggable driver oncogenes, identified by molecular analyses, are present in only a subset of patients. Functional profiling of primary tumor cells could circumvent these limitations, but suitable platforms are unavailable for most cancer entities. Here, we describe an in vitro drug profiling platform for rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), using a living biobank composed of twenty RMS patient-derived xenografts (PDX) for high-throughput drug testing. Optimized in vitro conditions preserve phenotypic and molecular characteristics of primary PDX cells and are compatible with propagation of cells directly isolated from patient tumors. Besides a heterogeneous spectrum of responses of largely patient-specific vulnerabilities, profiling with a large drug library reveals a strong sensitivity towards AKT inhibitors in a subgroup of RMS. Overall, our study highlights the feasibility of in vitro drug profiling of primary RMS for patient-specific treatment selection in a co-clinical setting.

Cell-sized liposomes reveal how actin-myosin cortical tension drives shape change


Animal cells actively generate contractile stress in the actin cortex, a thin actin network beneath the cell membrane, to facilitate shape changes during processes like cytokinesis and motility. On the microscopic scale, this stress is generated by myosin molecular motors, which bind to actin cytoskeletal filaments and use chemical energy to exert pulling forces. To decipher the physical basis for the regulation of cell shape changes, here, we use a cell-like system with a cortex anchored to the outside or inside of a liposome membrane. This system enables us to dissect the interplay between motor pulling forces, cortex–membrane anchoring, and network connectivity. We show that cortices on the outside of liposomes either spontaneously rupture and relax built-up mechanical stress by peeling away around the liposome or actively compress and crush the liposome. The decision between peeling and crushing depends on the cortical tension determined by the amount of motors and also on the connectivity of the cortex and its attachment to the membrane. Membrane anchoring strongly affects the morphology of cortex contraction inside liposomes: cortices contract inward when weakly attached, whereas they contract toward the membrane when strongly attached. We propose a physical model based on a balance of active tension and mechanical resistance to rupture. Our findings show how membrane attachment and network connectivity are able to regulate actin cortex remodeling and membrane-shape changes for cell polarization.

Shape control of lipid bilayer membranes by confined actin bundles


In living cells, lipid membranes and biopolymers determine each other’s conformation in a delicate force balance. Cellular polymers such as actin filaments are strongly confined by the plasma membrane in cell protrusions such as lamellipodia and filopodia. Conversely, protrusion formation is facilitated by actin-driven membrane deformation and these protrusions are maintained by dense actin networks or bundles of actin filaments. Here we investigate the mechanical interplay between actin bundles and lipid bilayer membranes by reconstituting a minimal model system based on cell-sized liposomes with encapsulated actin filaments bundled by fascin. To address the competition between the deformability of the membrane and the enclosed actin bundles, we tune the bundle stiffness (through the fascin-to-actin molar ratio) and the membrane rigidity (through protein decoration). Using confocal microscopy and quantitative image analysis, we show that actin bundles deform the liposomes into a rich set of morphologies. For liposomes having a small membrane bending rigidity, the actin bundles tend to generate finger-like membrane protrusions that resemble cellular filopodia. Stiffer bundles formed at high crosslink density stay straight in the liposome body, whereas softer bundles formed at low crosslink density are bent and kinked. When the membrane has a large bending rigidity, membrane protrusions are suppressed. In this case, membrane enclosure forces the actin bundles to organize into cortical rings, to minimize the energy cost associated with filament bending. Our results highlight the importance of taking into account mechanical interactions between the actin cytoskeleton and the membrane to understand cell shape control.

Wu Zhi-Qian

Violla Bassim


Johan d’Humières

Competition of ligands and the 18-mer binding domain of the RHAU helicase for G-quadruplexes

Stabilizing particular DNA and RNA structures called G-quadruplexes (G4s) using specific ligands (L) is a strategy proposed to fight cancer. However, while G4:L interactions are often investigated, whether or not ligands are able to disrupt interactions between G4s and proteins (P) remains poorly studied. Here, using native mass spectrometry, we investigated ternary G4:L:P complexes formed by G4s, some of the highest affinity ligands, and the binding domain of the RHAU helicase. First, our results suggest that RHAU binds not only preferentially to parallel G4s but to free external G-quartets. We also found that, depending on the G4, ligands could prevent the binding of the peptide, either by direct competition for the binding sites (orthosteric inhibition) or by inducing conformational changes (allosteric inhibition). Notably, the ligand Cu-ttpy induced a conformational change that increased the binding of the peptide. This study illustrates that it is important to not only characterize drug-target interactions but also how the binding to other partners is affected.

Three-component C-H bond sulfonylation of imidazoheterocycles via visible-light organophotoredox

The first entirely visible-light photoredox catalyzed sulfonylation of imidazoheterocycles has been developed. This transformation demonstrates an efficient C-H functionalization for the straightforward synthesis of novel C-3 sulfonylated imidazoheterocycles from various imidazopyridines and diaryliodonium salts with different electronic and steric properties and easy handled DABCO- bis (sulfur dioxide). The reaction proceeds in moderate to good yields under mild conditions at room temperature using the inexpensive organophotocatalyst EosinY.Na 2 and shows a high functional group tolerance (37 examples).

Drice Challal

Amoeboid Swimming Is Propelled by Molecular Paddling in Lymphocytes.

Mammalian cells developed two main migration modes. The slow mesenchymatous mode, like crawling of fibroblasts, relies on maturation of adhesion complexes and actin fiber traction, whereas the fast amoeboid mode, observed exclusively for leukocytes and cancer cells, is characterized by weak adhesion, highly dynamic cell shapes, and ubiquitous motility on two-dimensional and in three-dimensional solid matrix. In both cases, interactions with the substrate by adhesion or friction are widely accepted as a prerequisite for mammalian cell motility, which precludes swimming. We show here experimental and computational evidence that leukocytes do swim, and that efficient propulsion is not fueled by waves of cell deformation but by a rearward and inhomogeneous treadmilling of the cell external membrane. Our model consists of a molecular paddling by transmembrane proteins linked to and advected by the actin cortex, whereas freely diffusing transmembrane proteins hinder swimming. Furthermore, continuous paddling is enabled by a combination of external treadmilling and selective recycling by internal vesicular transport of cortex-bound transmembrane proteins. This mechanism explains observations that swimming is five times slower than the retrograde flow of cortex and also that lymphocytes are motile in nonadherent confined environments. Resultantly, the ubiquitous ability of mammalian amoeboid cells to migrate in two dimensions or three dimensions and with or without adhesion can be explained for lymphocytes by a single machinery of heterogeneous membrane treadmilling.

Extracellular vesicles and chronic inflammation during HIV infection.

Inflammation is a hallmark of HIV infection. Among the multiple stimuli that can induce inflammation in untreated infection, ongoing viral replication is a primary driver. After initiation of effective combined antiretroviral therapy (cART), HIV replication is drastically reduced or halted. However, even virologically controlled patients may continue to have abnormal levels of inflammation. A number of factors have been proposed to cause inflammation in HIV infection: among others, residual (low-level) HIV replication, production of HIV protein or RNA in the absence of replication, microbial translocation from the gut to the circulation, co-infections, and loss of immunoregulatory responses. Importantly, chronic inflammation in HIV-infected individuals increases the risk for a number of non-infectious co-morbidities, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Thus, achieving a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of HIV-associated inflammation in the presence of cART is of utmost importance. Extracellular vesicles have emerged as novel actors in intercellular communication, involved in a myriad of physiological and pathological processes, including inflammation. In this review, we will discuss the role of extracellular vesicles in the pathogenesis of HIV infection, with particular emphasis on their role as inducers of chronic inflammation.

Extracellular vesicles or exosomes? On primacy, precision, and popularity influencing a choice of

Journal of extracellular vesicles: the seven year itch!

SnapShot: Extracellular Vesicles.

Cells release a variety of extracellular vesicles (EVs; including exosomes, microvesicles, and many others) into their environment. EVs can bud in endosomes or directly at the plasma membrane, carrying a selection of components from the cell and displaying various functional properties. Different techniques can be used to separate EV subtypes and EVs from co-isolated components, resulting in preparations of different abundance and purity.

Therapy statement on extracellular vesicles from mesenchymal stromal cells and other cells: considerations

The International Society for Cellular and Gene Therapies (ISCT) and the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV) recognize the potential of extracellular vesicles (EVs, including exosomes) from mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and possibly other cell sources as treatments for COVID-19. Research and trials in this area are encouraged. However, ISEV and ISCT do not currently endorse the use of EVs or exosomes for any purpose in COVID-19, including but not limited to reducing cytokine storm, exerting regenerative effects or delivering drugs, pending the generation of appropriate manufacturing and quality control provisions, pre-clinical safety and efficacy data, rational clinical trial design and proper regulatory oversight.