Science & Nature Reviews, February 2022. Part II

Science & Nature Reviews, February 2022. Part II
ChemDiv shares reviews on Nature and Science Journal articles that we found the most exciting this month. Today we observe Neurophysiology, Molecular biology, Virology, COVID-19, Neurophysiology

Neurophysiology

Kelava, I., Chiaradia, I., Pellegrini, L. et al. Androgens increase excitatory neurogenic potential in human brain organoids. Nature 602, 112–116 (2022)

Sex-based brain difference between male and female is one of the main secret of neurophysiology. It is generally known that male individuals have on average a larger brain than female individuals, and new research on pages of Nature explain one of the mechanisms of these differences. The point is that sex steroids—namely androgens—lead to increased proliferation of precursors of excitatory nerve cells, whereas inhibitory neuronal progenitors are not increased. These findings represent a step towards understanding the origin of sex-related brain differences in humans, which is necessary for developing accurate diagnostic tools and effective drugs.

Molecular biology

Stein, K.C., Morales-Polanco, F., van der Lienden, J. et al. Ageing exacerbates ribosome pausing to disrupt cotranslational proteostasis. Nature 601, 637–642 (2022)

Proteostasis is the regulation of a balanced, functional proteome which includes the control of processes associated with protein synthesis in the cell. However, aging impairs proteostasis, and this fact underlies many age-related protein misfolding diseases. The mechanism of this phenomenon remains clear in a new issue of Nature. Scientists show that aging alters the kinetics of translation, which could help to drive the collapse of proteostasis. The ribosomes, minute particles  that function to synthesize proteins, make a significant pause. The prolonged slowing of can lead to ribosome collisions and degradation of the nascent polypeptide, which leads to aggregation of nascent proteins, impaired cellular fitness and neurodegeneration. Understanding the mechanisms of aging is essential for targeted therapies for age-related diseases.

Virology

Bjornevik, K., Cortese, M., Healy, B.C. et al. Longitudinal analysis reveals high prevalence of Epstein-Barr virus associated with multiple sclerosis. Science 375, 6578, 296-301 (2022)

Multiple sclerosis is the most common demyelinating disease, in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has long been postulated to trigger multiple sclerosis. However, most people infected with this common virus do not develop multiple sclerosis. On pages of this issue scientists analyzed EBV antibodies in serum from individuals who developed multiple sclerosis using data from millions of patients monitored over a 20-year period. They determined that Epstein-Barr virus infection greatly increased the risk of subsequent multiple sclerosis, supporting its potential role in the pathogenesis of disease. These data can be used to prevent multiple sclerosis.

COVID-19

Keeton, R., Tincho, M.B., Ngomti, A. et al. T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 spike cross-recognize Omicron. Nature (2022),

SARS-CoV-2 is constantly mutating and acquiring new properties, as any virus. The Omicron variant spreads more easily than the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Delta variant. Moreover, multiple mutations of this variant contribute to escape from antibody neutralization and reduce vaccine protection from infection. In new research scientists assessed the ability of special immune cells, called T cells, to react with Omicron in participants who were vaccinated or unvaccinated convalescent COVID-19 patients. In fact 70-80% of the T cell response to the virus was maintained across study groups. Thus, despite Omicron’s mutations, the majority of immune T cell responses, induced by vaccination or infection, recognize the virus and react to it.

Neurophysiology

Paredes, M. F., Mora, C., Flores-Ramirez, Q. et al. Nests of dividing neuroblasts sustain interneuron production for the developing human brain. Science 375, 6579 (2022)

The cerebral cortex is the biggest information processing center of the human brain. Interneurons are neurons that connect two brain regions, enabling communication between sensory or motor neurons and the central nervous system. Also interneurons are one of two major classes of neurons in the cortex. Balance between excitatory neuron and interneuron populations promotes normal brain function, however defects in interneuron production have been implicated in neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. In a new issue of Science researchers group looked closely at the structure called the medial ganglionic eminence, which is the birthplace of brain interneurons. Understanding of human cortical interneuron development provides a framework for studying human disease.

Reviewed by Maria Golubenko
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