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Principles of Cell Circuits for Tissue Repair and Fibrosis

Tissue repair is a protective response after injury, but repetitive or prolonged injury can lead to fibrosis, a pathological state of excessive scarring. To pinpoint the dynamic mechanisms underlying fibrosis, it is important to understand the principles of the cell circuits that carry out tissue repair. In this study, we establish a cell-circuit framework for the myofibroblast-macrophage circuit in wound healing, including the accumulation of scar-forming extracellular matrix. We find that fibrosis results from multistability between three outcomes, which we term “hot fibrosis” characterized by many macrophages, “cold fibrosis” lacking macrophages, and normal wound healing. This framework clarifies several unexplained phenomena including the paradoxical effect of macrophage depletion, the limited time-window in which removing inflammation leads to healing, and why scar maturation takes months. We define key parameters that control the transition from healing to fibrosis, which may serve as potential targets for therapeutic reduction of fibrosis.

Team STORMing Cancer
Journal iScience
Authors Miri Adler et al
DATE 16 January 2020
Mutational signatures in tumours induced by high and low energy radiation in Trp53 deficient mice

Ionising radiation (IR) is a recognised carcinogen responsible for cancer development in patients previously treated using radiotherapy, and in individuals exposed as a result of accidents at nuclear energy plants. However, the mutational signatures induced by distinct types and doses of radiation are unknown. Here, we analyse the genetic architecture of mammary tumours, lymphomas and sarcomas induced by high (56Fe-ions) or low (gamma) energy radiation in mice carrying Trp53 loss of function alleles. In mammary tumours, high-energy radiation is associated with induction of focal structural variants, leading to genomic instability and Met amplification. Gamma-radiation is linked to large-scale structural variants and a point mutation signature associated with oxidative stress. The genomic architecture of carcinomas, sarcomas and lymphomas arising in the same animals are significantly different. Our study illustrates the complex interactions between radiation quality, germline Trp53 deficiency and tissue/cell of origin in shaping the genomic landscape of IR-induced tumours.

Team Mutographs
Journal Nature
Authors Yun Rose Li et al
DATE January 2020
Tobacco smoking and somatic mutations in human bronchial epithelium

Tobacco smoking causes lung cancer, a process that is driven by more than 60 carcinogens in cigarette smoke that directly damage and mutate DNA. The profound effects of tobacco on the genome of lung cancer cells are well-documented, but equivalent data for normal bronchial cells are lacking. Here we sequenced whole genomes of 632 colonies derived from single bronchial epithelial cells across 16 subjects. Tobacco smoking was the major influence on mutational burden, typically adding from 1,000 to 10,000 mutations per cell; massively increasing the variance both within and between subjects; and generating several distinct mutational signatures of substitutions and of insertions and deletions. A population of cells in individuals with a history of smoking had mutational burdens that were equivalent to those expected for people who had never smoked: these cells had less damage from tobacco-specific mutational processes, were fourfold more frequent in ex-smokers than current smokers and had considerably longer telomeres than their more-mutated counterparts. Driver mutations increased in frequency with age, affecting 4–14% of cells in middle-aged subjects who had never smoked. In current smokers, at least 25% of cells carried driver mutations and 0–6% of cells had two or even three drivers. Thus, tobacco smoking increases mutational burden, cell-to-cell heterogeneity and driver mutations, but quitting promotes replenishment of the bronchial epithelium from mitotically quiescent cells that have avoided tobacco mutagenesis.

Team Mutographs
Journal Nature
Authors Kenichi Yoshida et al
DATE January 2020
Association of autophagy status with amount of Fusobacterium nucleatum in colorectal cancer

Fusobacterium nucleatum (F. nucleatum), which has been associated with colorectal carcinogenesis, can impair anti-tumour immunity, and actively invade colon epithelial cells. Considering the critical role of autophagy in host defence against microorganisms, we hypothesised that autophagic activity of tumour cells might influence the amount of F. nucleatum in colorectal cancer tissue. Using 724 rectal and colon cancer cases within the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, we evaluated autophagic activity of tumour cells by immunohistochemical analyses of BECN1 (beclin 1), MAP1LC3 (LC3), and SQSTM1 (p62) expression. We measured the amount of F. nucleatum DNA in tumour tissue by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR). We conducted multivariable ordinal logistic regression analyses to examine the association of tumour BECN1, MAP1LC3, and SQSTM1 expression with the amount of F. nucleatum, adjusting for potential confounders, including microsatellite instability status; CpG island methylator phenotype; long-interspersed nucleotide element-1 methylation; and KRAS, BRAF, and PIK3CA mutations. Compared with BECN1-low cases, BECN1-intermediate and BECN1-high cases were associated with lower amounts of F. nucleatum with odds ratios (for a unit increase in three ordinal categories of the amount of F. nucleatum) of 0.54 (95% confidence interval, 0.29-0.99) and 0.31 (95% confidence interval, 0.16-0.60), respectively (Ptrend < 0.001 across ordinal BECN1 categories). Tumour MAP1LC3 and SQSTM1 levels were not significantly associated with the amount of F. nucleatum (Ptrend > 0.06). Tumour BECN1, MAP1LC3, and SQSTM1 levels were not significantly associated with patient survival (Ptrend > 0.10). In conclusion, tumour BECN1 expression is inversely associated with the amount of F. nucleatum in colorectal cancer tissue, suggesting a possible role of autophagy in the elimination of invasive microorganisms

Team OPTIMISTICC
Journal The Journal of Pathology
Authors Koichiro Haruki et al
DATE 27 December 2019
Calcification microstructure reflects breast tissue microenvironment

Microcalcifications are important diagnostic indicators of disease in breast tissue. Tissue microenvironments differ in many aspects between normal and cancerous cells, notably extracellular pH and glycolytic respiration. Hydroxyapatite microcalcification microstructure is also found to differ between tissue pathologies, including differential ion substitutions and the presence of additional crystallographic phases. Distinguishing between tissue pathologies at an early stage is essential to improve patient experience and diagnostic accuracy, leading to better disease outcome. This study explores the hypothesis that microenvironment features may become immortalised within calcification crystallite characteristics thus becoming indicators of tissue pathology. In total, 55 breast calcifications incorporating 3 tissue pathologies (benign – B2, ductal carcinoma in-situ - B5a and invasive malignancy - B5b) from archive formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded core needle breast biopsies were analysed using X-ray diffraction. Crystallite size and strain were determined from 548 diffractograms using Williamson-Hall analysis. There was an increased crystallinity of hydroxyapatite with tissue malignancy compared to benign tissue. Coherence length was significantly correlated with pathology grade in all basis crystallographic directions (P < 0.01), with a greater difference between benign and in situ disease compared to in-situ disease and invasive malignancy. Crystallite size and non-uniform strain contributed to peak broadening in all three pathologies. Furthermore, crystallite size and non-uniform strain normal to the basal planes increased significantly with malignancy (P < 0.05). Our findings support the view that tissue microenvironments can influence differing formation mechanisms of hydroxyapatite through acidic precursors, leading to differential substitution of carbonate into the hydroxide and phosphate sites, causing significant changes in crystallite size and non-uniform strain.

Team PRECISION
Journal Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia
Authors Sarah Gosling et al
DATE 05 December 2019