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PNAS Studies on Immune Gene Expression in Young Adults, Cytoskeletal Interactions, More

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and elsewhere describe immune gene expression differences appearing in the blood of young adults from a long-term population study in the US. The team analyzed RNA sequence data from blood samples for 1,069 participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Along with other data collected through Add Health, the transcriptomic profiles pointed to "pervasive sociodemographic differences in immune cell gene regulation that emerge by young adulthood," the authors report, arguing that early blood expression differences involving interferon type I and other immune genes "may help explain social disparities in the development of chronic illness and premature mortality at older ages."

A German team takes a look at molecular contributors behind the microtubule and actin network interactions that make up the cytoskeleton of mammalian cells. Using screening, recombinant protein experiments, computational modeling, and other strategies, researchers attempted to untangle molecular features behind the transport of organelles in cells from zebrafish and Xenopus frog model organisms, focusing in on a specific domain in the myosin motor protein called melanophilin, which was previously suspected of having roles in both actin and microtubule networks. "Collectively," they write, "our dissection provides a molecular framework for explaining the underpinnings of functional cross-talk and its potential to orchestrate the cell-wide redistribution of organelles on the cytoskeleton."

Investigators at Johns Hopkins explore nanoparticle-based approach aimed at making tumors and the microenvironment around them more responsive to checkpoint blockade immunotherapy. The proposed "in situ vaccination strategy" uses biodegradable nanoparticles to deliver molecules that boost tumor expression of genes targeted by the immune system, the team explains — a strategy it demonstrated in mouse models of melanoma or colorectal carcinoma. The method "causes a tumor-targeting response but does not require prior knowledge of a particular patient's gene expression profile," the authors suggest, adding that "local nanoparticle administration causes a systemic cellular immune response, which has the potential to lead to better outcomes in the context of recurrence or metastasis.