Publications by authors named "Alexis Blanchet-Cohen"

10 Publications

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Stalled developmental programs at the root of pediatric brain tumors.

Nat Genet 2019 12 25;51(12):1702-1713. Epub 2019 Nov 25.

Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Childhood brain tumors have suspected prenatal origins. To identify vulnerable developmental states, we generated a single-cell transcriptome atlas of >65,000 cells from embryonal pons and forebrain, two major tumor locations. We derived signatures for 191 distinct cell populations and defined the regional cellular diversity and differentiation dynamics. Projection of bulk tumor transcriptomes onto this dataset shows that WNT medulloblastomas match the rhombic lip-derived mossy fiber neuronal lineage and embryonal tumors with multilayered rosettes fully recapitulate a neuronal lineage, while group 2a/b atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors may originate outside the neuroectoderm. Importantly, single-cell tumor profiles reveal highly defined cell hierarchies that mirror transcriptional programs of the corresponding normal lineages. Our findings identify impaired differentiation of specific neural progenitors as a common mechanism underlying these pediatric cancers and provide a rational framework for future modeling and therapeutic interventions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0531-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6885128PMC
December 2019

[Loss of human ICOSLG results in combined immunodeficiency].

Med Sci (Paris) 2019 Aug-Sep;35(8-9):625-628. Epub 2019 Sep 18.

Le Programme en maladies infectieuses et immunité en santé mondiale, Centre universitaire de santé McGill, Institut de recherche, 1001 Decarie, H4A3J1 Montréal, Québec, Canada. - Laboratoire d'oncologie moléculaire, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada. - Département de médecine, Université McGill, Montréal, Québec, Canada. - Département de médecine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/medsci/2019126DOI Listing
April 2020

Loss of human ICOSL results in combined immunodeficiency.

J Exp Med 2018 12;215(12):3151-3164

Infectious Disease Susceptibility Program, McGill University Health Centre and Research Institute-McGill University Health Centre, Montréal, Québec, Canada

Primary immunodeficiencies represent naturally occurring experimental models to decipher human immunobiology. We report a patient with combined immunodeficiency, marked by recurrent respiratory tract and DNA-based viral infections, hypogammaglobulinemia, and panlymphopenia. He also developed moderate neutropenia but without prototypical pyogenic infections. Using whole-exome sequencing, we identified a homozygous mutation in the inducible T cell costimulator ligand gene (; c.657C>G; p.N219K). Whereas WT ICOSL is expressed at the cell surface, the ICOSL mutation abrogates surface localization: mutant protein is retained in the endoplasmic reticulum/Golgi apparatus, which is predicted to result from deleterious conformational and biochemical changes. ICOSL diminished B cell costimulation of T cells, providing a compelling basis for the observed defect in antibody and memory B cell generation. Interestingly, ICOSL also impaired migration of lymphocytes and neutrophils across endothelial cells, which normally express ICOSL. These defects likely contributed to the altered adaptive immunity and neutropenia observed in the patient, respectively. Our study identifies human deficiency as a novel cause of a combined immunodeficiency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1084/jem.20180668DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6279397PMC
December 2018

A Targetable EGFR-Dependent Tumor-Initiating Program in Breast Cancer.

Cell Rep 2017 Oct;21(5):1140-1149

Department of Human Genetics, McGill University, Montréal, QC H3A 0C7, Canada; McGill University and Genome Québec Innovation Centre, Montréal, QC H3A 1A4, Canada; Center of Innovation in Personalized Medicine, Cancer and Mutagen Unit, King Fahd Center for Medical Research, Department of Biochemistry, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Electronic address:

Therapies targeting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) have variable and unpredictable responses in breast cancer. Screening triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patient-derived xenografts (PDXs), we identify a subset responsive to EGFR inhibition by gefitinib, which displays heterogeneous expression of wild-type EGFR. Deep single-cell RNA sequencing of 3,500 cells from an exceptional responder identified subpopulations displaying distinct biological features, where elevated EGFR expression was significantly enriched in a mesenchymal/stem-like cellular cluster. Sorted EGFR subpopulations exhibited enhanced stem-like features, including ALDH activity, sphere-forming efficiency, and tumorigenic and metastatic potential. EGFR cells gave rise to EGFR and EGFR cells in primary and metastatic tumors, demonstrating an EGFR-dependent expansion and hierarchical state transition. Similar tumorigenic EGFR subpopulations were identified in independent PDXs, where heterogeneous EGFR expression correlated with gefitinib sensitivity. This provides new understanding for an EGFR-dependent hierarchy in TNBC and for patient stratification for therapeutic intervention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2017.10.015DOI Listing
October 2017

Transcriptome Analysis of Human Reninomas as an Approach to Understanding Juxtaglomerular Cell Biology.

Hypertension 2017 06 10;69(6):1145-1155. Epub 2017 Apr 10.

From the Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (A.G.M., E.C.H.F., A.H.v.d.M., A.H.J.D.); Laboratory of Molecular Biochemistry of Hypertension (L.K.X., M.-J.L., C.M., T.L.R.) and Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics (A.B.-C., B.H.-K.), Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montréal (IRCM), Quebec, Canada; Division of Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, Canada (L.K.X., T.L.R.); Department of Biochemistry (B.H.-K., T.L.R.) and Department of Medicine (T.L.R.), Université de Montréal, Quebec, Canada; Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY (K.W.G.); Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou, Centre d'Investigations Cliniques 1418, Paris, France (M.A.); Collège de France, Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology (CIRB), Paris, France (P.C., G.N.); and INSERM, U1050, Paris, France (G.N.).

Renin, a key component in the regulation of blood pressure in mammals, is produced by the rare and highly specialized juxtaglomerular cells of the kidney. Chronic stimulation of renin release results in a recruitment of new juxtaglomerular cells by the apparent conversion of adjacent smooth muscle cells along the afferent arterioles. Because juxtaglomerular cells rapidly dedifferentiate when removed from the kidney, their developmental origin and the mechanism that explains their phenotypic plasticity remain unclear. To overcome this limitation, we have performed RNA expression analysis on 4 human renin-producing tumors. The most highly expressed genes that were common between the reninomas were subsequently used for in situ hybridization in kidneys of 5-day-old mice, adult mice, and adult mice treated with captopril. From the top 100 genes, 10 encoding for ligands were selected for further analysis. Medium of human embryonic kidney 293 cells transfected with the mouse cDNA encoding these ligands was applied to (pro)renin-synthesizing As4.1 cells. Among the ligands, only platelet-derived growth factor B reduced the medium and cellular (pro)renin levels, as well as As4.1 renin gene expression. In addition, platelet-derived growth factor B-exposed As4.1 cells displayed a more elongated and aligned shape with no alteration in viability. This was accompanied by a downregulated expression of α-smooth muscle actin and an upregulated expression of interleukin-6, suggesting a phenotypic shift from myoendocrine to inflammatory. Our results add 36 new genes to the list that characterize renin-producing cells and reveal a novel role for platelet-derived growth factor B as a regulator of renin-synthesizing cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.117.09179DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5426967PMC
June 2017

A biochemical framework for eIF4E-dependent mRNA export and nuclear recycling of the export machinery.

RNA 2017 06 21;23(6):927-937. Epub 2017 Mar 21.

Institute of Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Université de Montréal, Pavillon Marcelle-Coutu, Chemin de Polytechnique, Montreal, Québec, H3T 1J4, Canada.

The eukaryotic translation initiation factor eIF4E acts in the nuclear export and translation of a subset of mRNAs. Both of these functions contribute to its oncogenic potential. While the biochemical mechanisms that underlie translation are relatively well understood, the molecular basis for eIF4E's role in mRNA export remains largely unexplored. To date, over 3000 transcripts, many encoding oncoproteins, were identified as potential nuclear eIF4E export targets. These target RNAs typically contain a ∼50-nucleotide eIF4E sensitivity element (4ESE) in the 3' UTR and a 7-methylguanosine cap on the 5' end. While eIF4E associates with the cap, an unknown factor recognizes the 4ESE element. We previously identified cofactors that functionally interacted with eIF4E in mammalian cell nuclei including the leucine-rich pentatricopeptide repeat protein LRPPRC and the export receptor CRM1/XPO1. LRPPRC simultaneously interacts with both eIF4E bound to the 5' mRNA cap and the 4ESE element in the 3' UTR. In this way, LRPPRC serves as a specificity factor to recruit 4ESE-containing RNAs within the nucleus. Further, we show that CRM1 directly binds LRPPRC likely acting as the export receptor for the LRPPRC-eIF4E-4ESE RNA complex. We also found that Importin 8, the nuclear importer for cap-free eIF4E, imports RNA-free LRPPRC, potentially providing both coordinated nuclear recycling of the export machinery and an important surveillance mechanism to prevent futile export cycles. Our studies provide the first biochemical framework for the eIF4E-dependent mRNA export pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1261/rna.060137.116DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435865PMC
June 2017

Comparative transcriptomic analysis of human and Drosophila extracellular vesicles.

Sci Rep 2016 06 10;6:27680. Epub 2016 Jun 10.

Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montréal (IRCM), Montréal, QC H2W 1R7, Canada.

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are membrane-enclosed nanoparticles containing specific repertoires of genetic material. In mammals, EVs can mediate the horizontal transfer of various cargos and signaling molecules, notably miRNA and mRNA species. Whether this form of intercellular communication prevails in other metazoans remains unclear. Here, we report the first parallel comparative morphologic and transcriptomic characterization of EVs from Drosophila and human cellular models. Electronic microscopy revealed that human and Drosophila cells release similar EVs with diameters ranging from 30 to 200 nm, which contain complex populations of transcripts. RNA-seq identified abundant ribosomal RNAs, related pseudogenes and retrotransposons in human and Drosophila EVs. Vault RNAs and Y RNAs abounded in human samples, whereas small nucleolar RNAs involved in pseudouridylation were most prevalent in Drosophila EVs. Numerous mRNAs were identified, largely consisting of exonic sequences displaying full-length read coverage and enriched for translation and electronic transport chain functions. By analogy with human systems, these sizeable similarities suggest that EVs could potentially enable RNA-mediated intercellular communication in Drosophila.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep27680DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4901365PMC
June 2016

Characterization of Conserved Toxicogenomic Responses in Chemically Exposed Hepatocytes across Species and Platforms.

Environ Health Perspect 2016 Mar 14;124(3):313-20. Epub 2015 Jul 14.

Integrative systems biology, Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Background: Genome-wide expression profiling is increasingly being used to identify transcriptional changes induced by drugs and environmental stressors. In this context, the Toxicogenomics Project-Genomics Assisted Toxicity Evaluation system (TG-GATEs) project generated transcriptional profiles from rat liver samples and human/rat cultured primary hepatocytes exposed to more than 100 different chemicals.

Objectives: To assess the capacity of the cell culture models to recapitulate pathways induced by chemicals in vivo, we leveraged the TG-GATEs data set to compare the early transcriptional responses observed in the liver of rats treated with a large set of chemicals with those of cultured rat and human primary hepatocytes challenged with the same compounds in vitro.

Methods: We developed a new pathway-based computational pipeline that efficiently combines gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) using pathways from the Reactome database with biclustering to identify common modules of pathways that are modulated by several chemicals in vivo and in vitro across species.

Results: We found that some chemicals induced conserved patterns of early transcriptional responses in in vitro and in vivo settings, and across human and rat genomes. These responses involved pathways of cell survival, inflammation, xenobiotic metabolism, oxidative stress, and apoptosis. Moreover, our results support the transforming growth factor beta receptor (TGF-βR) signaling pathway as a candidate biomarker associated with exposure to environmental toxicants in primary human hepatocytes.

Conclusions: Our integrative analysis of toxicogenomics data provides a comprehensive overview of biochemical perturbations affected by a large panel of chemicals. Furthermore, we show that the early toxicological response occurring in animals is recapitulated in human and rat primary hepatocyte cultures at the molecular level, indicating that these models reproduce key pathways in response to chemical stress. These findings expand our understanding and interpretation of toxicogenomics data from human hepatocytes exposed to environmental toxicants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1409157DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4786983PMC
March 2016

Impact of traumatic brain injury on sleep structure, electrocorticographic activity and transcriptome in mice.

Brain Behav Immun 2015 Jul 8;47:118-30. Epub 2015 Jan 8.

Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine and Research Center, Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal, 5400 Gouin West Blvd., Montreal, QC, H4J1C5, Canada; Department of Neuroscience, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montreal, QC, H3C3J7, Canada. Electronic address:

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), including mild TBI (mTBI), is importantly associated with vigilance and sleep complaints. Because sleep is required for learning, plasticity and recovery, we here evaluated the bidirectional relationship between mTBI and sleep with two specific objectives: (1) Test that mTBI rapidly impairs sleep-wake architecture and the dynamics of the electrophysiological marker of sleep homeostasis (i.e., non-rapid eye movement sleep delta (1-4Hz) activity); (2) evaluate the impact of sleep loss following mTBI on the expression of plasticity markers that have been linked to sleep homeostasis and on genome-wide gene expression. A closed-head injury model was used to perform a 48h electrocorticographic (ECoG) recording in mice submitted to mTBI or Sham surgery. mTBI was found to immediately decrease the capacity to sustain long bouts of wakefulness as well as the amplitude of the time course of ECoG delta activity during wakefulness. Significant changes in ECoG spectral activity during wakefulness, non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement sleep were observed mainly on the second recorded day. A second experiment was performed to measure gene expression in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus after a mTBI followed either by two consecutive days of 6h sleep deprivation (SD) or of undisturbed behavior (quantitative PCR and next-generation sequencing). mTBI modified the expression of genes involved in immunity, inflammation and glial function (e.g., chemokines, glial markers) and SD changed that of genes linked to circadian rhythms, synaptic activity/neuronal plasticity, neuroprotection and cell death and survival. SD appeared to affect gene expression in the cerebral cortex more importantly after mTBI than Sham surgery including that of the astrocytic marker Gfap, which was proposed as a marker of clinical outcome after TBI. Interestingly, SD impacted the hippocampal expression of the plasticity elements Arc and EfnA3 only after mTBI. Overall, our findings reveal alterations in spectral signature across all vigilance states in the first days after mTBI, and show that sleep loss post-mTBI reprograms the transcriptome in a brain area-specific manner and in a way that could be deleterious to brain recovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2014.12.023DOI Listing
July 2015

Transfer of clinically relevant gene expression signatures in breast cancer: from Affymetrix microarray to Illumina RNA-Sequencing technology.

BMC Genomics 2014 Nov 21;15:1008. Epub 2014 Nov 21.

Breast Cancer Translational Research Laboratory (BCTL), Institut Jules Bordet, Brussels, Belgium.

Background: Microarrays have revolutionized breast cancer (BC) research by enabling studies of gene expression on a transcriptome-wide scale. Recently, RNA-Sequencing (RNA-Seq) has emerged as an alternative for precise readouts of the transcriptome. To date, no study has compared the ability of the two technologies to quantify clinically relevant individual genes and microarray-derived gene expression signatures (GES) in a set of BC samples encompassing the known molecular BC's subtypes. To accomplish this, the RNA from 57 BCs representing the four main molecular subtypes (triple negative, HER2 positive, luminal A, luminal B), was profiled with Affymetrix HG-U133 Plus 2.0 chips and sequenced using the Illumina HiSeq 2000 platform. The correlations of three clinically relevant BC genes, six molecular subtype classifiers, and a selection of 21 GES were evaluated.

Results: 16,097 genes common to the two platforms were retained for downstream analysis. Gene-wise comparison of microarray and RNA-Seq data revealed that 52% had a Spearman's correlation coefficient greater than 0.7 with highly correlated genes displaying significantly higher expression levels. We found excellent correlation between microarray and RNA-Seq for the estrogen receptor (ER; rs = 0.973; 95% CI: 0.971-0.975), progesterone receptor (PgR; rs = 0.95; 0.947-0.954), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2; rs = 0.918; 0.912-0.923), while a few discordances between ER and PgR quantified by immunohistochemistry and RNA-Seq/microarray were observed. All the subtype classifiers evaluated agreed well (Cohen's kappa coefficients >0.8) and all the proliferation-based GES showed excellent Spearman correlations between microarray and RNA-Seq (all rs >0.965). Immune-, stroma- and pathway-based GES showed a lower correlation relative to prognostic signatures (all rs >0.6).

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study to report a systematic comparison of RNA-Seq to microarray for the evaluation of single genes and GES clinically relevant to BC. According to our results, the vast majority of single gene biomarkers and well-established GES can be reliably evaluated using the RNA-Seq technology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-15-1008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4289354PMC
November 2014
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