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Cell Studies on MIS-C, Enteric Nervous System Profiling, Comparative Tick Genomics

For a journal pre-proof paper in Cell, researchers in Sweden and Italy report on immunological features found using a system biology-based analysis of "multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children" (MIS-C), a rare inflammatory complication identified in a small subset of children with COVID-19. Because MIS-C is suspected of sharing some autoimmune- and vasculitis-related features with Kawasaki disease, the team used available assay and array approaches to profile blood immune cell, cytokine immune cells, autoantibody, and more in blood samples from dozens of SARS-CoV-2-infected children with or without MIS-C symptoms, along with Kawasaki disease patients and healthy children. "We find that the inflammatory response in MIS-C differs from the cytokine storm of severe acute COVID-19 [and] shares several features with Kawasaki disease," the authors write, "but also differs from this condition with respect to T-cell subsets, IL-17A, and biomarkers associated with arterial damage."

A team led by investigators at the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital presents a pair of single-cell RNA sequencing strategies for profiling enteric nervous system components in mice and humans. The RAISIN-RNA-seq is designed to take a look at single-cell nuclei, along with messenger RNA bound to ribosomes, the researchers say, while MIRACL-seq relies on droplet-based approaches to assess rare cell types without labeling. For their proof-of-principle applications, the authors turned to these methods while developing nuclei-based atlases of mouse and human cells, identifying features found in neuronal cell subsets in different parts of the body. From the comparative atlas data, for example, they conclude that the human enteric nervous system "expresses risk genes for neuropathic, inflammatory, and extra-intestinal diseases, suggesting neuronal contributions to disease."

Investigators from the Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and elsewhere share findings from a comparative genome analysis of tick genomes and tick-borne pathogens, including half a dozen high-quality genome sequences from ticks in the Ixodidae family and almost 700 re-sequenced tick samples. Along with insights into the genetic diversity and population structure of the ixodid ticks, the team explains, the genomic analyses provided a peek at the genetic underpinnings for ticks' ability to use host blood meals — from iron metabolism to hemoglobin digestion. In addition, the results "unveiled for the first time that genetic structure and pathogen composition in different tick species are mainly shaped by ecological and geographic factors," the authors write, calling these and other new insights "an invaluable resource for research and control of ticks and tick-borne diseases."