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This Week in PNAS: Dec 18, 2018

In the early, online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the US and Kenya explore immune cell activity in wild baboons from different rungs of the animal's social hierarchy. The team used RNA sequencing, cytokine measurements, and cell sorting to profile immune cell features and expression in 35 adult male and 26 adult female individuals, tracking down more than 2,000 genes from innate immune and other pathways that show apparent ties to baboon rank. "Together, our work provides a test of the relationship between social status and immune gene regulation in wild primates," the authors write, noting that the work "emphasizes the importance of social context in shaping the relationship between social status and immune function."

A Salk Institute for Biological Studies and University of California, San Diego, team describes transcriptional responses to DNA damage in the Arabidopsis plant model. Using RNA sequencing experiments, the researchers tracked transcriptional networks over time in gamma irradiated seedlings with or without SOG1, a transcription factor related to the mammalian tumor suppressor p53. Their experiments pointed to 11 co-expressed gene sets within a larger network marked by SOG1 activator activity and repressive MYB3R transcription factors.

Chinese researchers report on metabolomic features found in and around tumor tissues in spatially resolved samples from 256 individuals with esophageal cancer, profiled using in situ metabolomics and an approach called airflow-assisted desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry imaging. In the process, the team saw shifts in specific metabolic pathways, along with altered representation by half a dozen metabolic enzymes. "The spatially resolved metabolomics reveal what occurs in cancer at the molecular level, from metabolites to enzymes, and thus provide insights into the understanding of cancer metabolic reprogramming," the authors write.