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PNAS Papers on Pancreatic Homeostasis, B Cell Vaccine Response, More

A University of Texas team outlines a role for the MEN1 gene in pancreatic stress response in mouse models, following stressors such as inflammation or oncogenic stress related to tumor development. Reasoning that clinical management of pancreatic diseases may be boosted by getting a better look at the molecular networks behind conditions such as pancreatitis and cancer, the researchers tracked stress responses in a transgenic mouse model with conditional MEN1 deficiency. There, they saw a key role for the gene in typical acute pancreatitis response in the pancreas, along with a rise in tumorigenesis in the absence of MEN1 when cancer-related genes such as KRAS are mutated. The authors note that these and other findings suggest Men1 is "an essential mediator of the normal pancreas response to pancreatitis, and encourage future studies to understand the potential of Men1 to function as a tumor suppressor in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas."

Investigators in the US, Sweden, and France follow human B immune cell responses to a yellow fever vaccine called 17D (YFV-17D) over time. Using high-throughput single B cell sorting, staining, and antibody cloning, the team assessed blood samples collected at baseline and again at seven time points in the year post-vaccination from two healthy individuals who got the YFV-17D vaccine, characterizing immunoglobulin patterns in memory B cells as the individuals mounted and maintained antibody responses to the vaccine. "Overall," they write, "our findings provide a framework for understanding the dynamics and complexity of human B cell responses elicited by infection and vaccination."

Researchers from the US, Iceland, the Netherlands, and the UK explore the possibility of developing a polygenic risk score (PRS) for thyroid cancer. Building on risk SNPs identified in a genome-wide association study of papillary thyroid cancer, the team put together a proposed PRS based on 10 cancer-related variants, testing its accuracy in cohorts from the US, Iceland, and the UK. "The 10 GWAS SNPs have additive effects on cancer predisposition, and the 10-SNP PRS has equally strong risk predictive power as a PRS with [more than] 500,000 common variants," the authors report, suggesting the small set of risk SNPs "have the potential to be applied in medicine to improve individualized cancer risk assessment."