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COVID-19 Severity Clues Gleaned From Single-Cell Immune Transcriptomes

In Nature Genetics, researchers at Osaka University and other centers in Japan report on findings from a single-cell transcriptome and host immune cell receptor study of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infections, searching for features corresponding to disease severity. Based on RNA sequencing data for more than 895,000 individual blood mononuclear cells from 73 individuals with COVID-19 and 75 infection-free controls, together with host T cell and B cell receptor profiles and available genome-wide association study data, the team flagged B cell receptor expansions and a group of so-called nonclassical monocyte immune cells in individuals with COVID-19. This, it says, suggests that transitions to this innate immune cell state tend to be altered in severe cases. "The proportion of nonclassical monocytes (ncMono) decreased in COVID-19 patients and RNA velocity analysis revealed the downregulation of the cellular transitions from classical monocytes (cMono) to ncMono in COVID-19 patients," the authors report, noting that the current findings "motivate us for a detailed examination of ncMono function in the context of COVID-19, as well as to increase sample size to perform integrated analysis with genetic data on a larger scale."

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.