Cell research
The Lancet. Global health
The Lancet. Neurology
The Lancet. Oncology
Nat Struct Mol Biol
Chemical Society Reviews
JAMA Intern Med
Cancer discovery
Intensive Care Medicine
A paper-based assay for the colorimetric detection of SARS-CoV-2 variants at single-nucleotide resolution

The evolution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has highlighted the need for versatile diagnostic assays that can discriminate among emerging variants of the virus. Here we report the development and performance benchmarking of an inexpensive (approximately US$0.30 per test) assay for the rapid (sample-to-answer time within 30 min) colorimetric detection of SARS-CoV-2 variants. The assay, which we integrated into foldable paper strips, leverages nucleic acid strand-displacement reactions, the thermodynamic energy penalty associated with single-base-pair mismatches and the metal-ion-controlled enzymatic cleavage of urea to amplify the recognition of viral RNAs for the colorimetric readout of changes in pH via a smartphone. For 50 throat swab samples, the assay simultaneously detected the presence of SARS-CoV-2 and mutations specific to the SARS-CoV-2 variants Alpha, Beta and Gamma, with 100% concordance with real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction and RNA sequencing. Customizable and inexpensive paper-based assays for the detection of viruses and their variants may facilitate viral surveillance.


Nature Biomedical Engineering

West China Hospital, Sichuan University

KMT2C deficiency promotes small cell lung cancer metastasis through DNMT3A-mediated epigenetic reprogramming

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is notorious for its early and frequent metastases, which contribute to it as a recalcitrant malignancy. To understand the molecular mechanisms underlying SCLC metastasis, we generated SCLC mouse models with orthotopically transplanted genome-edited lung organoids and performed multiomics analyses. We found that a deficiency of KMT2C, a histone H3 lysine 4 methyltransferase frequently mutated in extensive-stage SCLC, promoted multiple-organ metastases in mice. Metastatic and KMT2C-deficient SCLC displayed both histone and DNA hypomethylation. Mechanistically, KMT2C directly regulated the expression of DNMT3A, a de novo DNA methyltransferase, through histone methylation. Forced DNMT3A expression restrained metastasis of KMT2C-deficient SCLC through repressing metastasis-promoting MEIS/HOX genes. Further, S-(5′-adenosyl)-L-methionine, the common cofactor of histone and DNA methyltransferases, inhibited SCLC metastasis. Thus, our study revealed a concerted epigenetic reprogramming of KMT2C- and DNMT3A-mediated histone and DNA hypomethylation underlying SCLC metastasis, which suggested a potential epigenetic therapeutic vulnerability.


Nature Cancer

West China Hospital, Sichuan University

Inhibition of calcium-triggered secretion by hydrocarbon-stapled peptides

Membrane fusion triggered by Ca2+ is orchestrated by a conserved set of proteins to mediate synaptic neurotransmitter release, mucin secretion and other regulated exocytic processes. For neurotransmitter release, the Ca2+ sensitivity is introduced by interactions between the Ca2+ sensor synaptotagmin and the SNARE complex, and sequence conservation and functional studies suggest that this mechanism is also conserved for mucin secretion. Disruption of Ca2+-triggered membrane fusion by a pharmacological agent would have therapeutic value for mucus hypersecretion as it is the major cause of airway obstruction in the pathophysiology of respiratory viral infection, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis. Here authors designed a hydrocarbon-stapled peptide that specifically disrupts Ca2+-triggered membrane fusion by interfering with the so-called primary interface between the neuronal SNARE complex and the Ca2+-binding C2B domain of synaptotagmin-1. In reconstituted systems with these neuronal synaptic proteins or with their airway homologues syntaxin-3, SNAP-23, VAMP8, synaptotagmin-2, along with Munc13-2 and Munc18-2, the stapled peptide strongly suppressed Ca2+-triggered fusion at physiological Ca2+ concentrations. Conjugation of cell-penetrating peptides to the stapled peptide resulted in efficient delivery into cultured human airway epithelial cells and mouse airway epithelium, where it markedly and specifically reduced stimulated mucin secretion in both systems, and substantially attenuated mucus occlusion of mouse airways. Taken together, peptides that disrupt Ca2+-triggered membrane fusion may enable the therapeutic modulation of mucin secretory pathways.



West China Hospital, Sichuan University

Structural basis for bacterial lipoprotein relocation by the transporter LolCDE

Lipoproteins in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria are involved in various vital physiological activities, including multidrug resistance. Synthesized in the cytoplasm and matured in the inner membrane, lipoproteins must be transported to the outer membrane through the Lol pathway mediated by the ATP-binding cassette transporter LolCDE in the inner membrane via an unknown mechanism. Here, we report cryo-EM structures of Escherichia coli LolCDE in apo, lipoprotein-bound, LolA-bound, ADP-bound and AMP-PNP-bound states at a resolution of 3.2–3.8 Å, covering the complete lipoprotein transport cycle. Mutagenesis and in vivo viability assays verify features of the structures and reveal functional residues and structural characteristics of LolCDE. The results provide insights into the mechanisms of sorting and transport of outer-membrane lipoproteins and may guide the development of novel therapies against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria.


Nat Struct Mol Biol

West China Hospital, SCU

Asymmetric organocatalysis: an enabling technology for medicinal chemistry

The efficacy and synthetic versatility of asymmetric organocatalysis have contributed enormously to the field of organic synthesis since the early 2000s. As asymmetric organocatalytic methods mature, they have extended beyond the academia and undergone scale-up for the production of chiral drugs, natural products, and enantiomerically enriched bioactive molecules. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the applications of asymmetric organocatalysis in medicinal chemistry. A general picture of asymmetric organocatalytic strategies in medicinal chemistry is firstly presented, and the specific applications of these strategies in pharmaceutical synthesis are systematically described, with a focus on the preparation of antiviral, anticancer, neuroprotective, cardiovascular, antibacterial, and antiparasitic agents, as well as several miscellaneous bioactive agents. The review concludes with a discussion of the challenges, limitations and future prospects for organocatalytic asymmetric synthesis of medicinally valuable compounds.


Chemical Society Reviews

Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine