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See detailGigaSOM.jl: High-performance clustering and visualization of huge cytometry datasets
Kratochvil, Miroslav UL; Hunewald, Oliver; Heirendt, Laurent UL et al

in GigaScience (2020), 9(11),

Background: The amount of data generated in large clinical and phenotyping studies that use single-cell cytometry is constantly growing. Recent technological advances allow the easy generation of data ... [more ▼]

Background: The amount of data generated in large clinical and phenotyping studies that use single-cell cytometry is constantly growing. Recent technological advances allow the easy generation of data with hundreds of millions of single-cell data points with >40 parameters, originating from thousands of individual samples. The analysis of that amount of high-dimensional data becomes demanding in both hardware and software of high-performance computational resources. Current software tools often do not scale to the datasets of such size; users are thus forced to downsample the data to bearable sizes, in turn losing accuracy and ability to detect many underlying complex phenomena. Results: We present GigaSOM.jl, a fast and scalable implementation of clustering and dimensionality reduction for flow and mass cytometry data. The implementation of GigaSOM.jl in the high-level and high-performance programming language Julia makes it accessible to the scientific community and allows for efficient handling and processing of datasets with billions of data points using distributed computing infrastructures. We describe the design of GigaSOM.jl, measure its performance and horizontal scaling capability, and showcase the functionality on a large dataset from a recent study. Conclusions: GigaSOM.jl facilitates the use of commonly available high-performance computing resources to process the largest available datasets within minutes, while producing results of the same quality as the current state-of-art software. Measurements indicate that the performance scales to much larger datasets. The example use on the data from a massive mouse phenotyping effort confirms the applicability of GigaSOM.jl to huge-scale studies. [less ▲]

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See detailMitochondria interaction networks show altered topological patterns in Parkinson's disease.
Zanin, Massimiliano; Santos, Bruno F. R.; Antony, Paul UL et al

in NPJ systems biology and applications (2020), 6(1), 38

Mitochondrial dysfunction is linked to pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). However, individual mitochondria-based analyses do not show a uniform feature in PD patients. Since mitochondria interact ... [more ▼]

Mitochondrial dysfunction is linked to pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). However, individual mitochondria-based analyses do not show a uniform feature in PD patients. Since mitochondria interact with each other, we hypothesize that PD-related features might exist in topological patterns of mitochondria interaction networks (MINs). Here we show that MINs formed nonclassical scale-free supernetworks in colonic ganglia both from healthy controls and PD patients; however, altered network topological patterns were observed in PD patients. These patterns were highly correlated with PD clinical scores and a machine-learning approach based on the MIN features alone accurately distinguished between patients and controls with an area-under-curve value of 0.989. The MINs of midbrain dopaminergic neurons (mDANs) derived from several genetic PD patients also displayed specific changes. CRISPR/CAS9-based genome correction of alpha-synuclein point mutations reversed the changes in MINs of mDANs. Our organelle-interaction network analysis opens another critical dimension for a deeper characterization of various complex diseases with mitochondrial dysregulation. [less ▲]

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See detailPrevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the Luxembourgish population: the CON-VINCE study.
Snoeck, Chantal J.; Vaillant, Michel; Abdelrahman, Tamir et al

E-print/Working paper (2020)

BACKGROUND: After the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of coronavirus disease to be a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, the first SARS-CoV-2 infection ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: After the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of coronavirus disease to be a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, the first SARS-CoV-2 infection was detected in Luxembourg on February 29, 2020. Representative population-based data, including asymptomatic individuals for assessing the viral spread and immune response were, however, lacking worldwide. METHODS: Using a panel-based method, we implemented a representative sample of the Luxembourgish population based on age, gender and residency for testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection and antibody status in order to define prevalence irrespective of clinical symptoms. Participants were contacted via email to fill an online questionnaire before biosampling at local laboratories. All participants provided information related to clinical symptoms, epidemiology, socioeconomic and psychological assessments and underwent biosampling, rRT-PCR testing and serology for SARS-CoV-2. RESULTS: We included a total of 1862 individuals in our representative sample of the general Luxembourgish population. Of these, 5 individuals had a current positive result for infection with SARS-CoV-2 based on rRT-PCR. Four of these individuals were oligosymptomatic and one was asymptomatic. Overall we found a positive IgG antibody status in 35 individuals (1.97%), of which 11 reported to be tested positive by rRT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2 previously and showed in addition their IgG positive status also a positive status for IgA. Our data indicate a prevalence of 0.3% for active SARS-CoV-2 infection and an infection rate of 2.15% in the Luxembourgish population between 18 and 79 years of age. CONCLUSIONS: Luxembourgish residents show a low rate of acute infections after 7 weeks of confinement and present with an antibody profile indicative of a more recent immune response to SARS-CoV-2. All infected individuals were oligo- or asymptomatic. Bi-weekly follow-up visits over the next 2 months will inform about the viral spread by a- and oligosymptomatic carriers and the individual changes in the immune profile.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.Clinical TrialNCT04379297Funding StatementThe CON-VINCE Study is funded by the Research Fund Luxembourg (FNR; CON-VINCE) and the André Losch Foundation (Luxembourg).Author DeclarationsAll relevant ethical guidelines have been followed; any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained and details of the IRB/oversight body are included in the manuscript.YesAll necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.YesI understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as ClinicalTrials.gov. I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).Yes I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.YesDue to ethical concerns, supporting data cannot be made openly available. [less ▲]

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See detailGlutathione Restricts Serine Metabolism to Preserve Regulatory T Cell Function
Kurniawan, Henry; Franchina, Davide G.; Guerra, Luana UL et al

in Cell Metabolism (2020), 31(5), 920--9367

Regulatory T cells (Tregs) maintain immune homeostasis and prevent autoimmunity. Serine stimulates glutathione (GSH) synthesis and feeds into the one-carbon metabolic network (1CMet) essential for ... [more ▼]

Regulatory T cells (Tregs) maintain immune homeostasis and prevent autoimmunity. Serine stimulates glutathione (GSH) synthesis and feeds into the one-carbon metabolic network (1CMet) essential for effector T cell (Teff) responses. However, serine’s functions, linkage to GSH, and role in stress responses in Tregs are unknown. Here, we show, using mice with Treg-specific ablation of the catalytic subunit of glutamate cysteine ligase ( Gclc), that GSH loss in Tregs alters serine import and synthesis and that the integrity of this feedback loop is critical for Treg suppressive capacity. Although Gclc ablation does not impair Treg differentiation, mutant mice exhibit severe autoimmunity and enhanced anti-tumor responses. Gclc-deficient Tregs show increased serine metabolism, mTOR activation, and proliferation but downregulated FoxP3. Limitation of cellular serine in vitro and in vivo restores FoxP3 expression and suppressive capacity of Gclc-deficient Tregs. Our work reveals an unexpected role for GSH in restricting serine availability to preserve Treg functionality. [less ▲]

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See detailThe atypical chemokine receptor ACKR3/CXCR7 is a broad-spectrum scavenger for opioid peptides.
Meyrath, Max; Szpakowska, Martyna; Zeiner, Julian et al

in Nature communications (2020), 11(1), 3033

Endogenous opioid peptides and prescription opioid drugs modulate pain, anxiety and stress by activating opioid receptors, currently classified into four subtypes. Here we demonstrate that ACKR3/CXCR7 ... [more ▼]

Endogenous opioid peptides and prescription opioid drugs modulate pain, anxiety and stress by activating opioid receptors, currently classified into four subtypes. Here we demonstrate that ACKR3/CXCR7, hitherto known as an atypical scavenger receptor for chemokines, is a broad-spectrum scavenger of opioid peptides. Phylogenetically, ACKR3 is intermediate between chemokine and opioid receptors and is present in various brain regions together with classical opioid receptors. Functionally, ACKR3 is a scavenger receptor for a wide variety of opioid peptides, especially enkephalins and dynorphins, reducing their availability for the classical opioid receptors. ACKR3 is not modulated by prescription opioids, but we show that an ACKR3-selective subnanomolar competitor peptide, LIH383, can restrain ACKR3's negative regulatory function on opioid peptides in rat brain and potentiate their activity towards classical receptors, which may open alternative therapeutic avenues for opioid-related disorders. Altogether, our results reveal that ACKR3 is an atypical opioid receptor with cross-family ligand selectivity. [less ▲]

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See detailA roadmap towards personalized immunology.
Delhalle, Sylvie; Bode, Sebastian F. N.; Balling, Rudi UL et al

in NPJ systems biology and applications (2018), 4

Big data generation and computational processing will enable medicine to evolve from a "one-size-fits-all" approach to precise patient stratification and treatment. Significant achievements using "Omics ... [more ▼]

Big data generation and computational processing will enable medicine to evolve from a "one-size-fits-all" approach to precise patient stratification and treatment. Significant achievements using "Omics" data have been made especially in personalized oncology. However, immune cells relative to tumor cells show a much higher degree of complexity in heterogeneity, dynamics, memory-capability, plasticity and "social" interactions. There is still a long way ahead on translating our capability to identify potentially targetable personalized biomarkers into effective personalized therapy in immune-centralized diseases. Here, we discuss the recent advances and successful applications in "Omics" data utilization and network analysis on patients' samples of clinical trials and studies, as well as the major challenges and strategies towards personalized stratification and treatment for infectious or non-communicable inflammatory diseases such as autoimmune diseases or allergies. We provide a roadmap and highlight experimental, clinical, computational analysis, data management, ethical and regulatory issues to accelerate the implementation of personalized immunology. [less ▲]

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See detailSystems medicine disease maps: community-driven comprehensive representation of disease mechanisms.
Mazein, Alexander; Ostaszewski, Marek UL; Kuperstein, Inna et al

in NPJ systems biology and applications (2018), 4

The development of computational approaches in systems biology has reached a state of maturity that allows their transition to systems medicine. Despite this progress, intuitive visualisation and context ... [more ▼]

The development of computational approaches in systems biology has reached a state of maturity that allows their transition to systems medicine. Despite this progress, intuitive visualisation and context-dependent knowledge representation still present a major bottleneck. In this paper, we describe the Disease Maps Project, an effort towards a community-driven computationally readable comprehensive representation of disease mechanisms. We outline the key principles and the framework required for the success of this initiative, including use of best practices, standards and protocols. We apply a modular approach to ensure efficient sharing and reuse of resources for projects dedicated to specific diseases. Community-wide use of disease maps will accelerate the conduct of biomedical research and lead to new disease ontologies defined from mechanism-based disease endotypes rather than phenotypes. [less ▲]

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See detailGlutathione Primes T Cell Metabolism for Inflammation
Mak, Tak W.; Grusdat, Melanie; Duncan, Gordon S. et al

in Immunity (2017), 46(4), 675-689

Activated T cells produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), which trigger the antioxidative glutathione (GSH) response necessary to buffer rising ROS and prevent cellular damage. We report that GSH is ... [more ▼]

Activated T cells produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), which trigger the antioxidative glutathione (GSH) response necessary to buffer rising ROS and prevent cellular damage. We report that GSH is essential for T cell effector functions through its regulation of metabolic activity. Conditional gene targeting of the catalytic subunit of glutamate cysteine ligase (Gclc) blocked GSH production specifically in murine T cells. Gclc-deficient T cells initially underwent normal activation but could not meet their increased energy and biosynthetic requirements. GSH deficiency compromised the activation of mammalian target of rapamycin-1 (mTOR) and expression of NFAT and Myc transcription factors, abrogating the energy utilization and Myc-dependent metabolic reprogramming that allows activated T cells to switch to glycolysis and glutaminolysis. In vivo, T-cell-specific ablation of murine Gclc prevented autoimmune disease but blocked antiviral defense. The antioxidative GSH pathway thus plays an unexpected role in metabolic integration and reprogramming during inflammatory T cell responses. [less ▲]

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