Honors & Awards

  • School of Medicine Dean's Fellowship, School of Medicine, Stanford

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Phage-inclusive profiling of human gut microbiomes with Phanta. Nature biotechnology Pinto, Y., Chakraborty, M., Jain, N., Bhatt, A. S. 2023


    Due to technical limitations, most gut microbiome studies have focused on prokaryotes, overlooking viruses. Phanta, a virome-inclusive gut microbiome profiling tool, overcomes the limitations of assembly-based viral profiling methods by using customized k-mer-based classification tools and incorporating recently published catalogs of gut viral genomes. Phanta's optimizations consider the small genome size of viruses, sequence homology with prokaryotes and interactions with other gut microbes. Extensive testing of Phanta on simulated data demonstrates that it quickly and accurately quantifies prokaryotes and viruses. When applied to 245 fecal metagenomes from healthy adults, Phanta identifies ~200 viral species per sample, ~5× more than standard assembly-based methods. We observe a ~2:1 ratio between DNA viruses and bacteria, with higher interindividual variability of the gut virome compared to the gut bacteriome. In another cohort, we observe that Phanta performs equally well on bulk versus virus-enriched metagenomes, making it possible to study prokaryotes and viruses in a single experiment, with a single analysis.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41587-023-01799-4

    View details for PubMedID 37231259

    View details for PubMedCentralID 4290017

  • Gestational diabetes is driven by microbiota-induced inflammation months before diagnosis. Gut Pinto, Y., Frishman, S., Turjeman, S., Eshel, A., Nuriel-Ohayon, M., Shrossel, O., Ziv, O., Walters, W., Parsonnet, J., Ley, C., Johnson, E. L., Kumar, K., Schweitzer, R., Khatib, S., Magzal, F., Muller, E., Tamir, S., Tenenbaum-Gavish, K., Rautava, S., Salminen, S., Isolauri, E., Yariv, O., Peled, Y., Poran, E., Pardo, J., Chen, R., Hod, M., Borenstein, E., Ley, R. E., Schwartz, B., Louzoun, Y., Hadar, E., Koren, O. 2023


    OBJECTIVE: Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition in which women without diabetes are diagnosed with glucose intolerance during pregnancy, typically in the second or third trimester. Early diagnosis, along with a better understanding of its pathophysiology during the first trimester of pregnancy, may be effective in reducing incidence and associated short-term and long-term morbidities.DESIGN: We comprehensively profiled the gut microbiome, metabolome, inflammatory cytokines, nutrition and clinical records of 394women during the first trimester of pregnancy, before GDM diagnosis. We then built a model that can predict GDM onset weeks before it is typically diagnosed. Further, we demonstrated the role of the microbiome in disease using faecal microbiota transplant (FMT) of first trimester samples from pregnant women across three unique cohorts.RESULTS: We found elevated levels of proinflammatory cytokines in women who later developed GDM, decreased faecal short-chain fatty acids and altered microbiome. We next confirmed that differences in GDM-associated microbial composition during the first trimester drove inflammation and insulin resistance more than 10 weeks prior to GDM diagnosis using FMT experiments. Following these observations, we used a machine learning approach to predict GDM based on first trimester clinical, microbial and inflammatory markers with high accuracy.CONCLUSION: GDM onset can be identified in the first trimester of pregnancy, earlier than currently accepted. Furthermore, the gut microbiome appears to play a role in inflammation-induced GDM pathogenesis, with interleukin-6 as a potential contributor to pathogenesis. Potential GDM markers, including microbiota, can serve as targets for early diagnostics and therapeutic intervention leading to prevention.

    View details for DOI 10.1136/gutjnl-2022-328406

    View details for PubMedID 36627187

  • Diversity and functional landscapes in the microbiota of animals in the wild. Science (New York, N.Y.) Levin, D., Raab, N., Pinto, Y., Rothschild, D., Zanir, G., Godneva, A., Mellul, N., Futorian, D., Gal, D., Leviatan, S., Zeevi, D., Bachelet, I., Segal, E. 2021


    Animals in the wild are able to subsist on pathogen-infected and poisonous food and show immunity to various diseases. These may be due to their microbiota, yet we have a poor understanding of animal microbial diversity and function. We used metagenomics to analyze the gut microbiota of over 180 species in the wild, covering diverse classes, feeding behaviors, geographies, and traits. Using de novo metagenome assembly, we constructed and functionally annotated a database of over 5,000 genomes, comprising 1,209 bacterial species of which 75% are unknown. The microbial composition, diversity, and functional content exhibit associations with animal taxonomy, diet, activity, social structure and lifespan. We identify the gut microbiota of wild animals as a largely untapped resource for the discovery of therapeutics and biotechnology applications.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.abb5352

    View details for PubMedID 33766942

  • Computational approaches for detection and quantification of A-to-I RNA-editing. Methods (San Diego, Calif.) Pinto, Y., Levanon, E. Y. 2019; 156: 25-31


    Adenosine deaminases that act on RNA (ADARs) catalyze adenosine-to-inosine (A-to-I) RNA editing in double-stranded RNA. Such editing is important for protection against false activation of the immune system, but also confers plasticity on the transcriptome by generating several versions of a transcript from a single genomic locus. Recently, great efforts were made in developing computational methods for detecting editing events directly from RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) data. These efforts have led to an improved understanding of the makeup of the editome in various genomes. Here we review recent advances in editing detection based on the data available to the researcher, with emphasis on the principles underlying the various methods and the limitations they were designed to overcome. We also discuss the available various methods for analyzing and quantifying editing levels. This review collects and organizes the available approaches for analyzing RNA editing and discuss the current status of the different A-to-I detection methods with possible directions for extending these approaches.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ymeth.2018.11.011

    View details for PubMedID 30465820

  • Human cancer tissues exhibit reduced A-to-I editing of miRNAs coupled with elevated editing of their targets. Nucleic acids research Pinto, Y., Buchumenski, I., Levanon, E. Y., Eisenberg, E. 2018; 46 (1): 71-82


    A-to-I RNA editing is an important post-transcriptional modification, known to be altered in tumors. It targets dozens of sites within miRNAs, some of which impact miRNA biogenesis and function, as well as many miRNA recognition sites. However, the full extent of the effect of editing on regulation by miRNAs and its behavior in human cancers is still unknown. Here we systematically characterized miRNA editing in 10 593 human samples across 32 cancer types and normal controls. We find that the majority of previously reported sites show little to no evidence for editing in this dataset, compile a list of 58 reliable miRNA editing sites, and study them across normal and cancer samples. Edited miRNA versions tend to suppress expression of known oncogenes, and, consistently, we observe a clear global tendency for hypo-editing in tumors, in strike contrast to the behavior for mRNA editing, allowing an accurate classification of normal/tumor samples based on their miRNA editing profile. In many cancers this profile correlates with patients' survival. Finally, thousands of miRNA binding sites are differentially edited in cancer. Our study thus establishes the important effect of RNA editing on miRNA-regulation in the tumor cell, with prospects for diagnostic and prognostic applications.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/nar/gkx1176

    View details for PubMedID 29165639

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5758889

  • Clustered mutations in hominid genome evolution are consistent with APOBEC3G enzymatic activity. Genome research Pinto, Y., Gabay, O., Arbiza, L., Sams, A. J., Keinan, A., Levanon, E. Y. 2016; 26 (5): 579-87


    The gradual accumulation of mutations by any of a number of mutational processes is a major driving force of divergence and evolution. Here, we investigate a potentially novel mutational process that is based on the activity of members of the AID/APOBEC family of deaminases. This gene family has been recently shown to introduce-in multiple types of cancer-enzyme-induced clusters of co-occurring somatic mutations caused by cytosine deamination. Going beyond somatic mutations, we hypothesized that APOBEC3-following its rapid expansion in primates-can introduce unique germline mutation clusters that can play a role in primate evolution. In this study, we tested this hypothesis by performing a comprehensive comparative genomic screen for APOBEC3-induced mutagenesis patterns across different hominids. We detected thousands of mutation clusters introduced along primate evolution which exhibit features that strongly fit the known patterns of APOBEC3G mutagenesis. These results suggest that APOBEC3G-induced mutations have contributed to the evolution of all genomes we studied. This is the first indication of site-directed, enzyme-induced genome evolution, which played a role in the evolution of both modern and archaic humans. This novel mutational mechanism exhibits several unique features, such as its higher tendency to mutate transcribed regions and regulatory elements and its ability to generate clusters of concurrent point mutations that all occur in a single generation. Our discovery demonstrates the exaptation of an anti-viral mechanism as a new source of genomic variation in hominids with a strong potential for functional consequences.

    View details for DOI 10.1101/gr.199240.115

    View details for PubMedID 27056836

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4864454

  • Mammalian conserved ADAR targets comprise only a small fragment of the human editosome. Genome biology Pinto, Y., Cohen, H. Y., Levanon, E. Y. 2014; 15 (1): R5


    ADAR proteins are among the most extensively studied RNA binding proteins. They bind to their target and deaminate specific adenosines to inosines. ADAR activity is essential, and the editing of a subset of their targets is critical for viability. Recently, a huge number of novel ADAR targets were detected by analyzing next generation sequencing data. Most of these novel editing sites are located in lineage-specific genomic repeats, probably a result of overactivity of editing enzymes, thus masking the functional sites. In this study we aim to identify the set of mammalian conserved ADAR targets.We used RNA sequencing data from human, mouse, rat, cow, opossum, and platypus to define the conserved mammalian set of ADAR targets. We found that the conserved mammalian editing sites are surprisingly small in number and have unique characteristics that distinguish them from non-conserved ones. The sites that constitute the set have a distinct genomic distribution, tend to be located in genes encoding neurotransmitter receptors or other synapse related proteins, and have higher editing and expression levels. We also found a high consistency of editing levels of this set within mice strains and between human and mouse. Tight regulation of editing in these sites across strains and species implies their functional importance.Despite the discovery of numerous editing targets, only a small number of them are conserved within mammalian evolution. These sites are extremely highly conserved and exhibit unique features, such as tight regulation, and probably play a pivotal role in mammalian biology.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/gb-2014-15-1-r5

    View details for PubMedID 24393560

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4053846

  • Positive effects of diet-induced microbiome modification on GDM in mice following human faecal transfer. Gut Frishman, S., Nuriel-Ohayon, M., Turjeman, S., Pinto, Y., Yariv, O., Tenenbaum-Gavish, K., Peled, Y., Poran, E., Pardo, J., Chen, R., Muller, E., Borenstein, E., Hod, M., Louzoun, Y., Schwartz, B., Hadar, E., Collado, M. C., Koren, O. 2024

    View details for DOI 10.1136/gutjnl-2023-331456

    View details for PubMedID 38182136

  • "Residential greenness, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and microbiome diversity during pregnancy". International journal of hygiene and environmental health Avizemel, O., Frishman, S., Pinto, Y., Michael, Y., Turjeman, S., Tenenbaum-Gavish, K., Yariv, O., Peled, Y., Poran, E., Pardo, J., Chen, R., Hod, M., Schwartz, B., Hadar, E., Koren, O., Agay-Shay, K. 2023; 251: 114191


    Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is associated with reduced gut microbiota richness that was also reported to differ significantly between those living in rural compared to urban environments. Therefore, our aim was to examine the associations between greenness and maternal blood glucose levels and GDM, with microbiome diversity as a possible mediator in these associations.Pregnant women were recruited between January 2016 and October 2017. Residential greenness was evaluated as mean Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) within 100, 300 and 500 m buffers surrounding each maternal residential address. Maternal glucose levels were measured at 24-28 weeks of gestation and GDM was diagnosed. We estimated the associations between greenness and glucose levels and GDM using generalized linear models, adjusting for socioeconomic status and season at last menstrual period. Using causal mediation analysis, the mediation effects of four different indices of microbiome alpha diversity in first trimester stool and saliva samples were assessed.Of 269 pregnant women, 27 participants (10.04%) were diagnosed with GDM. Although not statistically significant, adjusted exposure to medium tertile levels of mean NDVI at 300 m buffer had lower odds of GDM (OR = 0.45, 95% CI: 0.16, 1.26, p = 0.13) and decreased change in mean glucose levels (β = -6.28, 95% CI: 14.91, 2.24, p = 0.15) compared to the lowest tertile levels of mean NDVI. Mixed results were observed at 100 and 500 m buffers, and when comparing highest tertile levels to lowest. No mediation effect of first trimester microbiome on the association between residential greenness and GDM was observed, and a small, possibly incidental, mediation effect on glucose levels was observed.Our study suggests possible associations between residential greenness and glucose intolerance and risk of GDM, though without sufficient evidence. Microbiome in the first trimester, while involved in GDM etiology, is not a mediator in these associations. Future studies in larger populations should further examine these associations.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ijheh.2023.114191

    View details for PubMedID 37290331

  • Dynamic regulation of N-6,2 '-O-dimethyladenosine (m(6)Am) in obesity NATURE COMMUNICATIONS Ben-Haim, M., Pinto, Y., Moshitch-Moshkovitz, S., Hershkovitz, V., Kol, N., Diamant-Levi, T., Beeri, M., Amariglio, N., Cohen, H. Y., Rechavi, G. 2021; 12 (1): 7185


    The prevalent m6Am mRNA cap modification was recently identified as a valid target for removal by the human obesity gene FTO along with the previously established m6A mRNA modification. However, the deposition and dynamics of m6Am in regulating obesity are unknown. Here, we investigate the liver m6A/m methylomes in mice fed on a high fat Western-diet and in ob/ob mice. We find that FTO levels are elevated in fat mice, and that genes which lost m6Am marking under obesity are overly downregulated, including the two fatty-acid-binding proteins FABP2, and FABP5. Furthermore, the cellular perturbation of FTO correspondingly affect protein levels of its targets. Notably, generally m6Am- but not m6A-methylated genes, are found to be highly enriched in metabolic processes. Finally, we deplete all m6A background via Mettl3 knockout, and unequivocally uncover the association of m6Am methylation with increased mRNA stability, translation efficiency, and higher protein expression. Together, these results strongly implicate a dynamic role for m6Am in obesity-related translation regulation.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-27421-2

    View details for Web of Science ID 000729179400004

    View details for PubMedID 34893620

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8664860

  • Identification of covalent inhibitors that disrupt M. tuberculosis growth by targeting multiple serine hydrolases involved in lipid metabolism. Cell chemical biology Babin, B. M., Keller, L. J., Pinto, Y., Li, V. L., Eneim, A. S., Vance, S. E., Terrell, S. M., Bhatt, A. S., Long, J. Z., Bogyo, M. 2021


    The increasing incidence of antibiotic-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis infections is a global health threat necessitating the development of new antibiotics. Serine hydrolases (SHs) are a promising class of targets because of their importance for the synthesis of the mycobacterial cell envelope. We screen a library of small molecules containing serine-reactive electrophiles and identify narrow-spectrum inhibitors of M. tuberculosis growth. Using these lead molecules, we perform competitive activity-based protein profiling and identify multiple SH targets, including enzymes with uncharacterized functions. Lipidomic analyses of compound-treated cultures reveal an accumulation of free lipids and a substantial decrease in lipooligosaccharides, linking SH inhibition to defects in cell envelope biogenesis. Mutant analysis reveals a path to resistance via the synthesis of mycocerates, but not through mutations to SH targets. Our results suggest that simultaneous inhibition of multiple SH enzymes is likely to be an effective therapeutic strategy for the treatment of M. tuberculosis infections.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chembiol.2021.08.013

    View details for PubMedID 34599874

  • Dysbiosis of Skin Microbiota in Psoriatic Patients: Co-occurrence of Fungal and Bacterial Communities. Frontiers in microbiology Stehlikova, Z., Kostovcik, M., Kostovcikova, K., Kverka, M., Juzlova, K., Rob, F., Hercogova, J., Bohac, P., Pinto, Y., Uzan, A., Koren, O., Tlaskalova-Hogenova, H., Jiraskova Zakostelska, Z. 2019; 10: 438


    Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease, whose pathogenesis involves dysregulated interplay among immune cells, keratinocytes and environmental triggers, including microbiota. Bacterial and fungal dysbiosis has been recently associated with several chronic immune-mediated diseases including psoriasis. In this comprehensive study, we investigated how different sampling sites and methods reflect the uncovered skin microbiota composition. After establishing the most suitable approach, we further examined correlations between bacteria and fungi on the psoriatic skin. We compared microbiota composition determined in the same sample by sequencing two distinct hypervariable regions of the 16S rRNA gene. We showed that using the V3V4 region led to higher species richness and evenness than using the V1V2 region. In particular, genera, such as Staphylococcus and Micrococcus were more abundant when using the V3V4 region, while Planococcaceae, on the other hand, were detected only by the V1V2 region. We performed a detailed analysis of skin microbiota composition of psoriatic lesions, unaffected psoriatic skin, and healthy control skin from the back and elbow. Only a few discriminative features were uncovered, mostly specific for the sampling site or method (swab, scraping, or biopsy). Swabs from psoriatic lesions on the back and the elbow were associated with increased abundance of Brevibacterium and Kocuria palustris and Gordonia, respectively. In the same samples from psoriatic lesions, we found a significantly higher abundance of the fungus Malassezia restricta on the back, while Malassezia sympodialis dominated the elbow mycobiota. In psoriatic elbow skin, we found significant correlation between occurrence of Kocuria, Lactobacillus, and Streptococcus with Saccharomyces, which was not observed in healthy skin. For the first time, we showed here a psoriasis-specific correlation between fungal and bacterial species, suggesting a link between competition for niche occupancy and psoriasis. However, it still remains to be elucidated whether observed microbial shift and specific inter-kingdom relationship pattern are of primary etiological significance or secondary to the disease.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00438

    View details for PubMedID 30949136

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6437110

  • Activation-Induced Cytidine Deaminase Links Ovulation-Induced Inflammation and Serous Carcinogenesis. Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.) Sapoznik, S., Bahar-Shany, K., Brand, H., Pinto, Y., Gabay, O., Glick-Saar, E., Dor, C., Zadok, O., Barshack, I., Zundelevich, A., Gal-Yam, E. N., Yung, Y., Hourvitz, A., Korach, J., Beiner, M., Jacob, J., Levanon, E. Y., Barak, M., Aviel-Ronen, S., Levanon, K. 2016; 18 (2): 90-9


    In recent years, the notion that ovarian carcinoma results from ovulation-induced inflammation of the fallopian tube epithelial cells (FTECs) has gained evidence. However, the mechanistic pathway for this process has not been revealed yet. In the current study, we propose the mutator protein activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) as a link between ovulation-induced inflammation in FTECs and genotoxic damage leading to ovarian carcinogenesis. We show that AID, previously shown to be functional only in B lymphocytes, is expressed in FTECs under physiological conditions, and is induced in vitro upon ovulatory-like stimulation and in vivo in carcinoma-associated FTECs. We also report that AID activity results in epigenetic, genetic and genomic damage in FTECs. Overall, our data provides new insights into the etiology of ovarian carcinogenesis and may set the ground for innovative approaches aimed at prevention and early detection.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neo.2015.12.003

    View details for PubMedID 26936395

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5005261

  • Stem cells. m6A mRNA methylation facilitates resolution of naïve pluripotency toward differentiation. Science (New York, N.Y.) Geula, S., Moshitch-Moshkovitz, S., Dominissini, D., Mansour, A. A., Kol, N., Salmon-Divon, M., Hershkovitz, V., Peer, E., Mor, N., Manor, Y. S., Ben-Haim, M. S., Eyal, E., Yunger, S., Pinto, Y., Jaitin, D. A., Viukov, S., Rais, Y., Krupalnik, V., Chomsky, E., Zerbib, M., Maza, I., Rechavi, Y., Massarwa, R., Hanna, S., Amit, I., Levanon, E. Y., Amariglio, N., Stern-Ginossar, N., Novershtern, N., Rechavi, G., Hanna, J. H. 2015; 347 (6225): 1002-6


    Naïve and primed pluripotent states retain distinct molecular properties, yet limited knowledge exists on how their state transitions are regulated. Here, we identify Mettl3, an N(6)-methyladenosine (m(6)A) transferase, as a regulator for terminating murine naïve pluripotency. Mettl3 knockout preimplantation epiblasts and naïve embryonic stem cells are depleted for m(6)A in mRNAs, yet are viable. However, they fail to adequately terminate their naïve state and, subsequently, undergo aberrant and restricted lineage priming at the postimplantation stage, which leads to early embryonic lethality. m(6)A predominantly and directly reduces mRNA stability, including that of key naïve pluripotency-promoting transcripts. This study highlights a critical role for an mRNA epigenetic modification in vivo and identifies regulatory modules that functionally influence naïve and primed pluripotency in an opposing manner.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1261417

    View details for PubMedID 25569111

  • Fmrp Interacts with Adar and Regulates RNA Editing, Synaptic Density and Locomotor Activity in Zebrafish. PLoS genetics Shamay-Ramot, A., Khermesh, K., Porath, H. T., Barak, M., Pinto, Y., Wachtel, C., Zilberberg, A., Lerer-Goldshtein, T., Efroni, S., Levanon, E. Y., Appelbaum, L. 2015; 11 (12): e1005702


    Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most frequent inherited form of mental retardation. The cause for this X-linked disorder is the silencing of the fragile X mental retardation 1 (fmr1) gene and the absence of the fragile X mental retardation protein (Fmrp). The RNA-binding protein Fmrp represses protein translation, particularly in synapses. In Drosophila, Fmrp interacts with the adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (Adar) enzymes. Adar enzymes convert adenosine to inosine (A-to-I) and modify the sequence of RNA transcripts. Utilizing the fmr1 zebrafish mutant (fmr1-/-), we studied Fmrp-dependent neuronal circuit formation, behavior, and Adar-mediated RNA editing. By combining behavior analyses and live imaging of single axons and synapses, we showed hyperlocomotor activity, as well as increased axonal branching and synaptic density, in fmr1-/- larvae. We identified thousands of clustered RNA editing sites in the zebrafish transcriptome and showed that Fmrp biochemically interacts with the Adar2a protein. The expression levels of the adar genes and Adar2 protein increased in fmr1-/- zebrafish. Microfluidic-based multiplex PCR coupled with deep sequencing showed a mild increase in A-to-I RNA editing levels in evolutionarily conserved neuronal and synaptic Adar-targets in fmr1-/- larvae. These findings suggest that loss of Fmrp results in increased Adar-mediated RNA editing activity on target-specific RNAs, which, in turn, might alter neuronal circuit formation and behavior in FXS.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005702

    View details for PubMedID 26637167

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4670233