Transcriptome-based repurposing of apigenin as a potential anti-fibrotic agent targeting hepatic stellate cells.

Abstract We have used a computational approach to identify anti-fibrotic therapies by querying a transcriptome. A transcriptome signature of activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), the primary collagen-secreting cell in liver, and queried against a transcriptomic database that quantifies changes in gene expression in response to 1,309 FDA-approved drugs and bioactives (CMap). The flavonoid apigenin was among 9 top-ranked compounds predicted to have anti-fibrotic activity; indeed, apigenin dose-dependently reduced collagen I in the human HSC line, TWNT-4. To identify proteins mediating apigenin’s effect, we next overlapped a 122-gene signature unique to HSCs with a list of 160 genes encoding proteins that are known to interact with apigenin, which identified C1QTNF2, encoding for Complement C1q tumor necrosis factor-related protein 2, a secreted adipocytokine with metabolic effects in liver. To validate its disease relevance, C1QTNF2 expression is reduced during hepatic stellate cell activation in culture and in a mouse model of alcoholic liver injury in vivo, and its expression correlates with better clinical outcomes in patients with hepatitis C cirrhosis (nā€‰=ā€‰216), suggesting it may have a protective role in cirrhosis progression.These findings reinforce the value of computational approaches to drug discovery for hepatic fibrosis, and identify C1QTNF2 as a potential mediator of apigenin’s anti-fibrotic activity. Full PDF...

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Accelerators: Sparking Innovation and Transdisciplinary Team Science in Disparities Research.

Abstract Development and implementation of effective, sustainable, and scalable interventions that advance equity could be propelled by innovative and inclusive partnerships. Readied catalytic frameworks that foster communication, collaboration, a shared vision, and transformative translational research across scientific and non-scientific divides are needed to foster rapid generation of novel solutions to address and ultimately eliminate disparities. To achieve this, we transformed and expanded a community-academic board into a translational science board with members from public, academic and private sectors. Rooted in team science, diverse board experts formed topic-specific “accelerators”, tasked with collaborating to rapidly generate new ideas, questions, approaches, and projects comprising patients, advocates, clinicians, researchers, funders, public health and industry leaders. We began with four accelerators-digital health, big data, genomics and environmental health-and were rapidly able to respond to funding opportunities, transform new ideas into clinical and community programs, generate new, accessible, actionable data, and more efficiently and effectively conduct research. This innovative model has the power to maximize research quality and efficiency, improve patient care and engagement, optimize data democratization and dissemination among target populations, contribute to policy, and lead to systems changes needed to address the root causes of disparities. Full PDF...

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Systematic analyses of drugs and disease indications in RepurposeDB reveal pharmacological, biological and epidemiological factors influencing drug repositioning.

Abstract Increase in global population and growing disease burden due to the emergence of infectious diseases (Zika virus), multidrug-resistant pathogens, drug-resistant cancers (cisplatin-resistant ovarian cancer) and chronic diseases (arterial hypertension) necessitate effective therapies to improve health outcomes. However, the rapid increase in drug development cost demands innovative and sustainable drug discovery approaches. Drug repositioning, the discovery of new or improved therapies by reevaluation of approved or investigational compounds, solves a significant gap in the public health setting and improves the productivity of drug development. As the number of drug repurposing investigations increases, a new opportunity has emerged to understand factors driving drug repositioning through systematic analyses of drugs, drug targets and associated disease indications. However, such analyses have so far been hampered by the lack of a centralized knowledgebase, benchmarking data sets and reporting standards. To address these knowledge and clinical needs, here, we present RepurposeDB, a collection of repurposed drugs, drug targets and diseases, which was assembled, indexed and annotated from public data. RepurposeDB combines information on 253 drugs [small molecules (74.30%) and protein drugs. Full PDF...

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Automated cell type discovery and classification through knowledge transfer.

Abstract Motivation: Recent advances in mass cytometry allow simultaneous measurements of up to 50 markers at single-cell resolution. However, the high dimensionality of mass cytometry data introduces computational challenges for automated data analysis and hinders translation of new biological understanding into clinical applications. Previous studies have applied machine learning to facilitate processing of mass cytometry data. However, manual inspection is still inevitable and becoming the barrier to reliable large-scale analysis. Results: We present a new algorithm called Automated Cell-type Discovery and Classification (ACDC) that fully automates the classification of canonical cell populations and highlights novel cell types in mass cytometry data. Evaluations on real-world data show ACDC provides accurate and reliable estimations compared to manual gating results. Additionally, ACDC automatically classifies previously ambiguous cell types to facilitate discovery. Our findings suggest that ACDC substantially improves both reliability and interpretability of results obtained from high-dimensional mass cytometry profiling data. Availability: A Python package (Python 3) and analysis scripts for reproducing the results are availability on https://bitbucket.org/dudleylab/acdc. Full PDF...

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High-Throughput Characterization of Blood Serum Proteomics of IBD Patients with Respect to Aging and Genetic Factors.

Abstract To date, no large scale, systematic description of the blood serum proteome has been performed in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. By using microarray technology, a more complete description of the blood proteome of IBD patients is feasible. It may help to achieve a better understanding of the disease. We analyzed blood serum profiles of 1128 proteins in IBD patients of European descent (84 Crohn’s Disease (CD) subjects and 88 Ulcerative Colitis (UC) subjects) as well as 15 healthy control subjects, and linked protein variability to patient age (all cohorts) and genetic components (genotype data generated from CD patients). We discovered new, previously unreported aging-associated proteomic traits (such as serum Albumin level), confirmed previously reported results from different tissues (i.e., upregulation of APOE with aging), and found loss of regulation of MMP7 in CD patients. In carrying out a genome wide genotype-protein association study (proteomic Quantitative Trait Loci, pQTL) within the CD patients, we identified 41 distinct proteomic traits influenced by cis pQTLs (underlying SNPs are referred to as pSNPs). Significant overlaps between pQTLs and cis eQTLs corresponding to the same gene were observed and in some cases the QTL were related to inflammatory disease susceptibility. Importantly, we discovered that serum protein levels of MST1 (Macrophage Stimulating 1) were regulated by SNP rs3197999 (p = 5.96E-10, FDR<5%), an accepted GWAS locus for IBD. Filling the knowledge gap of molecular mechanisms between GWAS hits and disease susceptibility requires systematically dissecting the impact of the locus at the cell, mRNA expression, and protein levels. The technology and analysis tools that are now available for large-scale molecular studies can elucidate how alterations in the proteome driven by genetic polymorphisms cause or provide protection against disease. Herein, we demonstrated this directly by integrating proteomic and pQTLs with existing GWAS, mRNA expression, and eQTL datasets to provide insights into the biological processes underlying IBD and pinpoint causal genetic variants along with their downstream molecular consequences. Full PDF...

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