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Cell Papers on Viruses in Chinese Game Animals, Perturb-map, Tumor-Associated Macrophages

Investigators in China, Australia, and the US describes viruses identified in more than 1,900 game animals from 18 mammalian species in China using a meta-transcriptomic sequencing approach. The researchers tracked down 102 mammal-infecting viruses, including more than five dozen previously undescribed viruses, in samples from pangolin, civets, porcupines, raccoon dogs, and other game animals tested from 2017 to 2021 — findings validated with RT-PCR and Sanger sequencing. "Our goal was to reveal the diversity and abundance of vertebrate-associated viruses in these game animals and assess which species have the greatest potential to carry viruses that could eventually emerge in human populations," they explain, noting that their findings "show that these viruses were present in seemingly healthy animals and that there is ongoing transmission among different species of game animals."

An Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai-led team presents findings from a tumor microenvironment study in a mouse lung cancer model that relied on a CRISPR-based approach known as Perturb-map. "We applied Perturb-map to knock out dozens of genes in parallel in a mouse model of lung cancer and simultaneously assessed how each knockout influenced tumor growth, histopathology, and immune composition," the researchers write. When used Perturb-map in combination with spatial transcriptomics to look at the microenvironment of tumors missing a TGF-beta receptor-coding gene, for example, the author saw immunosuppressive features such as T cell exclusion, along with enhanced activation of TGF-beta-mediated fibroblast cells.

An international team describes FOLR2-positive macrophage cells that seem to coincide with increased survival times for individuals with breast cancer. Using single-cell RNA sequencing and other approaches, the investigators identified tissue-resident FOLR2-positive macrophages in both healthy mammary gland tissue and in primary breast cancer tumors, uncovering interactions between the FOLR2-positive macrophages and CD8+ T cells in perivascular tumor stroma sites. Their follow-up analyses suggest that survival is stretched out in cases with robust representation of these macrophages in the tumor, perhaps owing in part to enhanced CD8+ T cell activity. These and other results from the study "highlight specific roles for tumor-associated macrophage subsets," the authors report, "and paves the way for subset-targeted therapeutic interventions in macrophages-based cancer therapies."