• MinireviewMay 31, 2021

    24 1574 1008

    Regulatory Role of Zinc in Immune Cell Signaling

    Bonah Kim and Won-Woo Lee

    Mol. Cells 2021; 44(5): 335-341

    Abstract : Zinc is an essential micronutrient with crucial roles in multiple facets of biological processes. Dysregulated zinc homeostasis impairs overall immune function and resultantly increases susceptibility to infection. Clinically, zinc supplementation is practiced for treatment of several infectious diseases, such as diarrhea and malaria. Recent focus on zinc as a beneficial element for immune system support has resulted in investigation of the immunomodulatory roles of zinc in a variety of immune cells. Besides its classical role as a cofactor that regulates the structural function of thousands of proteins, accumulating evidence suggests that zinc also acts, in a manner similar to calcium, as an ionic regulator of immune responses via participation as an intracellular messenger in signaling pathways. In this review, we focus on the role of zinc as a signaling molecule in major pathways such as those downstream of Toll-like receptors-, T cell receptor-, and cytokine-mediated signal transduction that regulate the activity and function of monocytes/macrophages and T cells, principal players in the innate and adaptive immune systems.

  • MinireviewMay 31, 2021

    7 1142 924

    Abstract : Immune checkpoint inhibitors have changed the paradigm of treatment options for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Monoclonal antibodies targeting programmed death-1 (PD-1) and programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) have gained wide attention for their application, which has been shown to result in prolonged survival. Nevertheless, only a limited subset of patients show partial or complete response to PD-1 therapy, and patients who show a response eventually develop resistance to immunotherapy. This article aims to provide an overview of the mechanisms of acquired resistance to anti–PD-1/PD-L1 therapy from the perspective of tumor cells and the surrounding microenvironment. In addition, we address the potential therapeutic targets and ongoing clinical trials, focusing mainly on NSCLC.

  • MinireviewApril 30, 2021

    10 921 649

    Inositol Polyphosphate Multikinase Signaling: Multifaceted Functions in Health and Disease

    Boah Lee , Seung Ju Park , Sehoon Hong , Kyunghan Kim , and Seyun Kim

    Mol. Cells 2021; 44(4): 187-194

    Abstract : Inositol phosphates are water-soluble intracellular signaling molecules found in eukaryotes from yeasts to mammals, which are synthesized by a complex network of enzymes including inositol phosphate kinases. Among these, inositol polyphosphate multikinase (IPMK) is a promiscuous enzyme with broad substrate specificity, which phosphorylates multiple inositol phosphates, as well as phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate. In addition to its catalytic actions, IPMK is known to non-catalytically control major signaling events via direct protein-protein interactions. In this review, we describe the general characteristics of IPMK, highlight its pleiotropic roles in various physiological and pathological conditions, and discuss future challenges in the field of IPMK signaling pathways.

  • MinireviewMarch 31, 2021

    5 1544 1249

    Single-Cell Toolkits Opening a New Era for Cell Engineering

    Sean Lee , Jireh Kim , and Jong-Eun Park

    Mol. Cells 2021; 44(3): 127-135

    Abstract : Since the introduction of RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) as a high-throughput mRNA expression analysis tool, this procedure has been increasingly implemented to identify cell-level transcriptome changes in a myriad of model systems. However, early methods processed cell samples in bulk, and therefore the unique transcriptomic patterns of individual cells would be lost due to data averaging. Nonetheless, the recent and continuous development of new single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) toolkits has enabled researchers to compare transcriptomes at a single-cell resolution, thus facilitating the analysis of individual cellular features and a deeper understanding of cellular functions. Nonetheless, the rapid evolution of high throughput single-cell “omics” tools has created the need for effective hypothesis verification strategies. Particularly, this issue could be addressed by coupling cell engineering techniques with single-cell sequencing. This approach has been successfully employed to gain further insights into disease pathogenesis and the dynamics of differentiation trajectories. Therefore, this review will discuss the current status of cell engineering toolkits and their contributions to single-cell and genome-wide data collection and analyses.

  • MinireviewMarch 31, 2021

    6 1677 1127

    Abstract : Senescent cells that gradually accumulate during aging are one of the leading causes of aging. While senolytics can improve aging in humans as well as mice by specifically eliminating senescent cells, the effect of the senolytics varies in different cell types, suggesting variations in senescence. Various factors can induce cellular senescence, and the rate of accumulation of senescent cells differ depending on the organ. In addition, since the heterogeneity is due to the spatiotemporal context of senescent cells, in vivo studies are needed to increase the understanding of senescent cells. Since current methods are often unable to distinguish senescent cells from other cells, efforts are being made to find markers commonly expressed in senescent cells using bulk RNA-sequencing. Moreover, single-cell RNA (scRNA) sequencing, which analyzes the transcripts of each cell, has been utilized to understand the in vivo characteristics of the rare senescent cells. Recently, transcriptomic cell atlases for each organ using this technology have been published in various species. Novel senescent cells that do not express previously established marker genes have been discovered in some organs. However, there is still insufficient information on senescent cells due to the limited throughput of the scRNA sequencing technology. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the throughput of the scRNA sequencing technology or develop a way to enrich the rare senescent cells. The in vivo senescent cell atlas that is established using rapidly developing single-cell technologies will contribute to the precise rejuvenation by specifically removing senescent cells in each tissue and individual.

  • MinireviewFebruary 28, 2021

    6 1059 1201

    Abstract : The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST)—a key part of the extended amygdala—has been implicated in the regulation of diverse behavioral states, ranging from anxiety and reward processing to feeding behavior. Among the host of distinct types of neurons within the BNST, recent investigations employing cell type- and projection-specific circuit dissection techniques (such as optogenetics, chemogenetics, deep-brain calcium imaging, and the genetic and viral methods for targeting specific types of cells) have highlighted the key roles of glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons and their axonal projections. As anticipated from their primary roles in excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission, these studies established that the glutamatergic and GABAergic subpopulations of the BNST oppositely regulate diverse behavioral states. At the same time, these studies have also revealed unexpected functional specificity and heterogeneity within each subpopulation. In this Minireview, we introduce the body of studies that investigated the function of glutamatergic and GABAergic BNST neurons and their circuits. We also discuss unresolved questions and future directions for a more complete understanding of the cellular diversity and functional heterogeneity within the BNST.

  • MinireviewNovember 30, 2020

    8 686 853

    Mechanisms of Macromolecular Interactions Mediated by Protein Intrinsic Disorder

    Sunghyun Hong , Sangmin Choi , Ryeonghyeon Kim , and Junseock Koh

    Mol. Cells 2020; 43(11): 899-908

    Abstract : Intrinsically disordered proteins or regions (IDPs or IDRs) are widespread in the eukaryotic proteome. Although lacking stable three-dimensional structures in the free forms, IDRs perform critical functions in various cellular processes. Accordingly, mutations and altered expression of IDRs are associated with many pathological conditions. Hence, it is of great importance to understand at the molecular level how IDRs interact with their binding partners. In particular, discovering the unique interaction features of IDRs originating from their dynamic nature may reveal uncharted regulatory mechanisms of specific biological processes. Here we discuss the mechanisms of the macromolecular interactions mediated by IDRs and present the relevant cellular processes including transcription, cell cycle progression, signaling, and nucleocytoplasmic transport. Of special interest is the multivalent binding nature of IDRs driving assembly of multicomponent macromolecular complexes. Integrating the previous theoretical and experimental investigations, we suggest that such IDR-driven multiprotein complexes can function as versatile allosteric switches to process diverse cellular signals. Finally, we discuss the future challenges and potential medical applications of the IDR research.

  • MinireviewOctober 31, 2020

    0 872 734

    Abstract : Histone acetylation and deacetylation play central roles in the regulation of chromatin structure and transcription by RNA polymerase II (RNA Pol II). Although Hda1 histone deacetylase complex (Hda1C) is known to selectively deacetylate histone H3 and H2B to repress transcription, previous studies have suggested its potential roles in histone H4 deacetylation. Recently, we have shown that Hda1C has two distinct functions in histone deacetylation and transcription. Histone H4-specific deacetylation at highly transcribed genes negatively regulates RNA Pol II elongation and H3 deacetylation at inactive genes fine-tunes the kinetics of gene induction upon environmental changes. Here, we review the recent understandings of transcriptional regulation via histone deacetylation by Hda1C. In addition, we discuss the potential mechanisms for histone substrate switching by Hda1C, depending on transcriptional frequency and activity.

  • MinireviewSeptember 30, 2020

    0 981 1244

    Classifying the Linkage between Adipose Tissue Inflammation and Tumor Growth through Cancer-Associated Adipocytes

    Yae Chan Song , Seung Eon Lee , Young Jin , Hyun Woo Park , Kyung-Hee Chun , and Han-Woong Lee

    Mol. Cells 2020; 43(9): 763-773

    Abstract : Recently, tumor microenvironment (TME) and its stromal constituents have provided profound insights into understanding alterations in tumor behavior. After each identification regarding the unique roles of TME compartments, non-malignant stromal cells are found to provide a sufficient tumorigenic niche for cancer cells. Of these TME constituents, adipocytes represent a dynamic population mediating endocrine effects to facilitate the crosstalk between cancer cells and distant organs, as well as the interplay with nearby tumor cells. To date, the prevalence of obesity has emphasized the significance of metabolic homeostasis along with adipose tissue (AT) inflammation, cancer incidence, and multiple pathological disorders. In this review, we summarized distinct characteristics of hypertrophic adipocytes and cancer to highlight the importance of an individual's metabolic health during cancer therapy. As AT undergoes inflammatory alterations inducing tissue remodeling, immune cell infiltration, and vascularization, these features directly influence the TME by favoring tumor progression. A comparison between inflammatory AT and progressing cancer could potentially provide crucial insights into delineating the complex communication network between uncontrolled hyperplastic tumors and their microenvironmental components. In turn, the comparison will unravel the underlying properties of dynamic tumor behavior, advocating possible therapeutic targets within TME constituents.

  • MinireviewSeptember 30, 2020

    0 1460 1733

    WNT Signaling in Lung Repair and Regeneration

    Ahmed A. Raslan and Jeong Kyo Yoon

    Mol. Cells 2020; 43(9): 774-783

    Abstract : The lung has a vital function in gas exchange between the blood and the external atmosphere. It also has a critical role in the immune defense against external pathogens and environmental factors. While the lung is classified as a relatively quiescent organ with little homeostatic turnover, it shows robust regenerative capacity in response to injury, mediated by the resident stem/progenitor cells. During regeneration, regionally distinct epithelial cell populations with specific functions are generated from several different types of stem/progenitor cells localized within four histologically distinguished regions: trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, and alveoli. WNT signaling is one of the key signaling pathways involved in regulating many types of stem/progenitor cells in various organs. In addition to its developmental role in the embryonic and fetal lung, WNT signaling is critical for lung homeostasis and regeneration. In this minireview, we summarize and discuss recent advances in the understanding of the role of WNT signaling in lung regeneration with an emphasis on stem/progenitor cells.

  • MinireviewAugust 31, 2020

    0 1413 1896

    Abstract : The regulator of calcineurin (RCAN) was first reported as a novel gene called DSCR1, encoded in a region termed the Down syndrome critical region (DSCR) of human chromosome 21. Genome sequence comparisons across species using bioinformatics revealed three members of the RCAN gene family, RCAN1, RCAN2, and RCAN3, present in most jawed vertebrates, with one member observed in most invertebrates and fungi. RCAN is most highly expressed in brain and striated muscles, but expression has been reported in many other tissues, as well, including the heart and kidneys. Expression levels of RCAN homologs are responsive to external stressors such as reactive oxygen species, Ca2+, amyloid β, and hormonal changes and upregulated in pathological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cardiac hypertrophy, diabetes, and degenerative neuropathy. RCAN binding to calcineurin, a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent phosphatase, inhibits calcineurin activity, thereby regulating different physiological events via dephosphorylation of important substrates. Novel functions of RCANs have recently emerged, indicating involvement in mitochondria homeostasis, RNA binding, circadian rhythms, obesity, and thermogenesis, some of which are calcineurin-independent. These developments suggest that besides significant contributions to DS pathologies and calcineurin regulation, RCAN is an important participant across physiological systems, suggesting it as a favorable therapeutic target.

  • MinireviewAugust 31, 2020

    0 1919 2412

    Abstract : Autophagy is an intracellular degradation system that breaks down damaged organelles or damaged proteins using intracellular lysosomes. Recent studies have also revealed that various forms of selective autophagy play specific physiological roles under different cellular conditions. Lipid droplets, which are mainly found in adipocytes and hepatocytes, are dynamic organelles that store triglycerides and are critical to health. Lipophagy is a type of selective autophagy that targets lipid droplets and is an essential mechanism for maintaining homeostasis of lipid droplets. However, while processes that regulate lipid droplets such as lipolysis and lipogenesis are relatively well known, the major factors that control lipophagy remain largely unknown. This review introduces the underlying mechanism by which lipophagy is induced and regulated, and the current findings on the major roles of lipophagy in physiological and pathological status. These studies will provide basic insights into the function of lipophagy and may be useful for the development of new therapies for lipophagy dysfunction-related diseases.

Mol. Cells
Feb 28, 2023 Vol.46 No.2, pp. 69~129
The bulk tissue is a heterogeneous mixture of various cell types, which is depicted as a skein of intertwined threads with diverse colors each of which represents a unique cell type. Single-cell omics analysis untangles efficiently the skein according to the color by providing information of molecules at individual cells and interpretation of such information based on different cell types. The molecules that can be profiled at the individual cell by single-cell omics analysis includes DNA (bottom middle), RNA (bottom right), and protein (bottom left). This special issue reviews single-cell technologies and computational methods that have been developed for the single-cell omics analysis and how they have been applied to improve our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of biological and pathological phenomena at the single-cell level.

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