Ciguatera poisoning (CP) is a syndrome caused by the bioaccumulation of lipophilic ciguatoxins in coral reef fish and invertebrates, and their subsequent consumption by humans. These phycotoxins are produced by Gambierdiscus spp., tropical epiphytic dinoflagellates that live on a variety of macrophytes, as well as on dead corals and sand. Recent taxonomic studies have identified novel diversity within the Gambierdiscus genus, with at least 18 species and several sub-groups now identified, many of which co-occur and differ significantly in toxicity.
The ability to accurately and quickly distinguish Gambierdiscus species in field samples and determine community composition and abundance is central to assessing CP risk, yet most Gambierdiscus species are indistinguishable using light microscopy, and other enumeration methods are semi-quantitative. In order to investigate the spatial and temporal dynamics of Gambierdiscus species and community toxicity, new tools for species identification and enumeration in field samples are needed.
Here, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) probes were designed for seven species commonly found in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, permitting their enumeration in field samples using epifluorescence microscopy. This technique enables the assessment of community composition and accurate determination of cell abundances of individual species. Molecular probes detecting G. australes, G. belizeanus, G. caribaeus, G. carolinianus, G. carpenteri, and the G. silvae/G. polynesiensis clade were designed using alignments of large subunit ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequences.
These probes were tested for specificity and cross-reactivity through experiments in which field samples were spiked with known concentrations of Gambierdiscus cultures, and analyzed to confirm that Gambierdiscus can be successfully detected and enumerated by FISH in the presence of detritus and other organisms. These probes were then used to characterize Gambierdiscus community structure in field samples collected from the Florida Keys and Hawai’i, USA. The probes revealed the co-occurrence of multiple species at each location.
Time-series FISH analyses of samples collected from the Florida Keys quantified seasonal shifts in community composition as well as fluctuations in overall Gambierdiscus cell abundance. Application of species-specific FISH probes provides a powerful new tool to those seeking to target individual Gambierdiscus species, including significant toxin-producers, in field populations. Moving forward, analysis of Gambierdiscus community composition across multiple environments and over time will also allow species dynamics to be linked to environmental parameters, improving our ability to understand and manage the current and changing risks of CP worldwide.
The degree of immune infiltration in tumors, especially CD8+ T cells, greatly impacts patient disease course and response to interventional immunotherapy. Enhancement of tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) is a critical element of efficacious therapy and one that may be achieved via administration of agents that promote tumor vascular normalization (VN) and/or induce the development of tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS) within the tumor microenvironment (TME).
Low-dose stimulator of interferon genes (STING) agonist ADU S-100 (5 µg/mouse) was delivered intratumorally to established subcutaneous B16.F10 melanomas on days 10, 14 and 17 post-tumor inoculation. Treated and control tumors were isolated at various time points to assess transcriptional changes associated with VN and TLS formation via quantitative PCR (qPCR), with corollary immune cell composition changes in isolated tissues determined using flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy.
In vitro assays were performed on CD11c+ BMDCs treated with 2.5 µg/mL ADU S-100 or CD11c+ DCs isolated from tumor digests and associated transcriptional changes analyzed via qPCR or profiled using DNA microarrays. For T cell repertoireβ-CDR3 analyses, T cell CDR3 was sequenced from gDNA isolated from splenocytes and enzymatically digested tumors.
We report that activation of STING within the TME leads to slowed melanoma growth in association with increased production of antiangiogenic factors including Tnfsf15 (Vegi) and Cxcl10, and TLS-inducing factors including Ccl19, Ccl21, Lta, Ltb and Light. Therapeutic responses resulting from intratumoral STING activation were characterized by improved VN, enhanced tumor infiltration by CD8+ T cells and CD11c+ DCs and local TLS neogenesis, all of which were dependent on host expression of STING.
Consistent with a central role for DC in TLS formation, ADU S-100-activated mCD11c+ DCs also exhibited upregulated expression of TLS promoting factors including lymphotoxin-α (LTA), interleukin (IL)-36, inflammatory chemokines and type I interferons in vitro and in vivo.
TLS formation in ADU S-100-treated mice was associated with the development of a highly oligoclonal TIL repertoire enriched in expanded T cell clonotypes unique to the TME and not detected in the periphery.Our data support the premise that i.t. delivery of low-dose STING agonist promotes VN and a proinflammatory TME supportive of TLS formation, enrichment in the TIL repertoire and tumor growth control.
Multiscale Electron Microscopy for the Study of Viral Replication Organelles
During infection with positive-strand RNA viruses, viral RNA synthesis associates with modified intracellular membranes that form unique and captivating structures in the cytoplasm of the infected cell. These viral replication organelles (ROs) play a key role in the replicative cycle of important human pathogens like coronaviruses, enteroviruses, or flaviviruses. From their discovery to date, progress in our understanding of viral ROs has closely followed new developments in electron microscopy (EM). This review gives a chronological account of this progress and an introduction to the different EM techniques that enabled it. With an ample repertoire of imaging modalities, EM is nowadays a versatile technique that provides structural and functional information at a wide range of scales. Together with well-established approaches like electron tomography or labeling methods, we examine more recent developments, such as volume scanning electron microscopy (SE