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Abstract

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is characterized by sustained high atrial activation rates and arrhythmogenic cellular Ca2+ signaling instability; however, it is not clear how a high atrial rate and Ca2+ instability may be related. Here, we characterized subcellular Ca2+ signaling after 5 days of high atrial rates in a rabbit model. While some changes were similar to those in persistent AF, we identified a distinct pattern of stabilized subcellular Ca2+ signaling. Ca2+ sparks, arrhythmogenic Ca2+ waves, sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ leak, and SR Ca2+ content were largely unaltered. Based on computational analysis, these findings were consistent with a higher Ca2+ leak due to PKA-dependent phosphorylation of SR Ca2+ channels (RyR2s), fewer RyR2s, and smaller RyR2 clusters in the SR. We determined that less Ca2+ release per [Ca2+]i transient, increased Ca2+ buffering strength, shortened action potentials, and reduced L-type Ca2+ current contribute to a stunning reduction of intracellular Na+ concentration following rapid atrial pacing. In both patients with AF and in our rabbit model, this silencing led to failed propagation of the [Ca2+]i signal to the myocyte center. We conclude that sustained high atrial rates alone silence Ca2+ signaling and do not produce Ca2+ signaling instability, consistent with an adaptive molecular and cellular response to atrial tachycardia.

Authors

Maura Greiser ... Dobromir Dobrev, Ulrich Schotten

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Abstract

There are 3 major sweat-producing glands present in skin; eccrine, apocrine, and apoeccrine glands. Due to the high rate of secretion, eccrine sweating is a vital regulator of body temperature in response to thermal stress in humans; therefore, an inability to sweat (anhidrosis) results in heat intolerance that may cause impaired consciousness and death. Here, we have reported 5 members of a consanguineous family with generalized, isolated anhidrosis, but morphologically normal eccrine sweat glands. Whole-genome analysis identified the presence of a homozygous missense mutation in ITPR2, which encodes the type 2 inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (InsP3R2), that was present in all affected family members. We determined that the mutation is localized within the pore forming region of InsP3R2 and abrogates Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum, which suggests that intracellular Ca2+ release by InsP3R2 in clear cells of the sweat glands is important for eccrine sweat production. Itpr2–/– mice exhibited a marked reduction in sweat secretion, and evaluation of sweat glands from Itpr2–/– animals revealed a decrease in Ca2+ response compared with controls. Together, our data indicate that loss of InsP3R2-mediated Ca2+ release causes isolated anhidrosis in humans and suggest that specific InsP3R inhibitors have the potential to reduce sweat production in hyperhidrosis.

Authors

Joakim Klar ... Katsuhiko Mikoshiba, Niklas Dahl

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Abstract

In patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), inflammatory axonal injury is a major determinant of disability; however, the drivers of this injury are incompletely understood. Here, we used the EAE model and determined that the extracellular matrix protein matrilin-2 (MATN2) is an endogenous neuronal molecule that is regulated in association with inflammatory axonal injury. Compared with WT mice, mice harboring a deletion of Matn2 exhibited reduced disease severity and axon damage following induction of EAE. Evaluation of neuron-macrophage cocultures revealed that exogenous MATN2 specifically signals through TLR4 and directly induces expression of proinflammatory genes in macrophages, promoting axonal damage. Moreover, the MATN2-induced proinflammatory response was attenuated greatly in macrophages from Myd88 KO mice. Examination of brain sections from patients with MS revealed that MATN2 is expressed in lesions but not in normal-appearing white matter. Together, our results indicate that MATN2 is a deleterious endogenous neuroaxonal injury response signal that activates innate immune cells and could contribute to early axonal damage in CNS inflammatory diseases like MS.

Authors

Anna Jonas ... Helmut Butzkueven, Melissa Gresle

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Abstract

Osteoclastogenesis requires activation of RANK signaling as well as costimulatory signals from immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif-containing (ITAM-containing) receptors/adaptors, predominantly tyrosine kinase–binding proteins DAP12 and FcRγ, in osteoclast precursors. It is not well understood how costimulatory signals are regulated and integrated with RANK signaling. Here, we found that osteopetrotic bone phenotypes in mice lacking DAP12 or DAP12 and FcRγ are mediated by the transcription factor RBP-J, as deletion of Rbpj in these mice substantially rescued the defects of bone remodeling. Using a TNF-α–induced model of inflammatory bone resorption, we determined that RBP-J deficiency enables TNF-α to induce osteoclast formation and bone resorption in DAP12-deficient animals. Thus, RBP-J imposes a requirement for ITAM-mediated costimulation of RANKL or TNF-α–induced osteoclastogenesis. Mechanistically, RBP-J suppressed induction of key osteoclastogenic factors NFATc1, BLIMP1, and c-FOS by inhibiting ITAM-mediated expression and function of PLCγ2 and activation of downstream calcium-CaMKK/PYK2 signaling. Moreover, RBP-J suppressed Plcg2 expression and downstream calcium oscillations indirectly by a TGF-β/PLCγ2/calcium axis. Together, our findings indicate that RBP-J suppresses ITAM-mediated costimulation, thereby limiting crosstalk between ITAM and RANK/TNFR signaling and allowing fine tuning of osteoclastogenesis during bone homeostasis and under inflammatory conditions. Furthermore, these data suggest that environmental cues that regulate RBP-J expression/function potentially modulate the requirement for costimulatory signaling for osteoclast differentiation and bone remodeling.

Authors

Susan Li, Christine H. Miller, Eugenia Giannopoulou, Xiaoyu Hu, Lionel B. Ivashkiv, Baohong Zhao

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Abstract

Various cytokines have been evaluated as potential anticancer drugs; however, most cytokine trials have shown relatively low efficacy. Here, we found that treatments with IL-12 and IL-18 or with a mutant form of IL-2 (the “superkine” called H9) provided substantial therapeutic benefit for mice specifically bearing MHC class I–deficient tumors, but these treatments were ineffective for mice with matched MHC class I+ tumors. Cytokine efficacy was linked to the reversal of the anergic state of NK cells that specifically occurred in MHC class I–deficient tumors, but not MHC class I+ tumors. NK cell anergy was accompanied by impaired early signal transduction and was locally imparted by the presence of MHC class I–deficient tumor cells, even when such cells were a minor population in a tumor mixture. These results demonstrate that MHC class I–deficient tumor cells can escape from the immune response by functionally inactivating NK cells, and suggest cytokine-based immunotherapy as a potential strategy for MHC class I–deficient tumors. These results suggest that such cytokine therapies would be optimized by stratification of patients. Moreover, our results suggest that such treatments may be highly beneficial in the context of therapies to enhance NK cell functions in cancer patients.

Authors

Michele Ardolino ... K. Christopher Garcia, David H. Raulet

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Abstract

Patients with BRAFV600E/K-driven melanoma respond to the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib due to subsequent deactivation of the proliferative RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway. In BRAF WT cells and those with mutations that activate or result in high levels of the BRAF activator RAS, BRAF inhibition can lead to ERK activation, resulting in tumorigenic transformation. We describe a patient with malignant melanoma who developed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in the absence of RAS mutations during vemurafenib treatment. BRAF inhibition promoted patient CLL proliferation in culture and in murine xenografts and activated MEK/ERK in primary CLL cells from additional patients. BRAF inhibitor–driven ERK activity and CLL proliferation required B cell antigen receptor (BCR) activation, as inhibition of the BCR-proximal spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) reversed ERK hyperactivation and proliferation of CLL cells from multiple patients, while inhibition of the BCR-distal Bruton tyrosine kinase had no effect. Additionally, the RAS-GTP/RAS ratio in primary CLL cells exposed to vemurafenib was reduced upon SYK inhibition. BRAF inhibition increased mortality and CLL expansion in mice harboring CLL xenografts; however, SYK or MEK inhibition prevented CLL proliferation and increased animal survival. Together, these results suggest that BRAF inhibitors promote B cell malignancies in the absence of obvious mutations in RAS or other receptor tyrosine kinases and provide a rationale for combined BRAF/MEK or BRAF/SYK inhibition.

Authors

Niuscha Yaktapour ... Tilman Brummer, Robert Zeiser

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Abstract

Patients with type 2 diabetes often present with cardiovascular complications; however, it is not clear how diabetes promotes cardiac dysfunction. In murine models, deletion of the gene encoding aryl hydrocarbon nuclear translocator (ARNT, also known as HIF1β) in the liver or pancreas leads to a diabetic phenotype; however, the role of ARNT in cardiac metabolism is unknown. Here, we determined that cardiac-specific deletion of Arnt in adult mice results in rapid development of cardiomyopathy (CM) that is characterized by accumulation of lipid droplets. Compared with hearts from ARNT-expressing mice, ex vivo analysis of ARNT-deficient hearts revealed a 2-fold increase in fatty acid (FA) oxidation as well as a substantial increase in the expression of PPARα and its target genes. Furthermore, deletion of both Arnt and Ppara preserved cardiac function, improved survival, and completely reversed the FA accumulation phenotype, indicating that PPARα mediates the detrimental effects of Arnt deletion in the heart. Finally, we determined that ARNT directly regulates Ppara expression by binding to its promoter and forming a complex with HIF2α. Together, these findings suggest that ARNT is a critical regulator of myocardial FA metabolism and that its deletion leads to CM and an increase in triglyceride accumulation through PPARα.

Authors

Rongxue Wu ... Gary Lopaschuk, Hossein Ardehali

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Abstract

There is strong evidence that overproduction of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFLT1) in the placenta is a major cause of vascular dysfunction in preeclampsia through sFLT1-dependent antagonism of VEGF. However, the cause of placental sFLT1 upregulation is not known. Here we demonstrated that in women with preeclampsia, sFLT1 is upregulated in placental trophoblasts, while VEGF is upregulated in adjacent maternal decidual cells. In response to VEGF, expression of sFlt1 mRNA, but not full-length Flt1 mRNA, increased in cultured murine trophoblast stem cells. We developed a method for transgene expression specifically in mouse endometrium and found that endometrial-specific VEGF overexpression induced placental sFLT1 production and elevated sFLT1 levels in maternal serum. This led to pregnancy losses, placental vascular defects, and preeclampsia-like symptoms, including hypertension, proteinuria, and glomerular endotheliosis in the mother. Knockdown of placental sFlt1 with a trophoblast-specific transgene caused placental vascular changes that were consistent with excess VEGF activity. Moreover, sFlt1 knockdown in VEGF-overexpressing animals enhanced symptoms produced by VEGF overexpression alone. These findings indicate that sFLT1 plays an essential role in maintaining vascular integrity in the placenta by sequestering excess maternal VEGF and suggest that a local increase in VEGF can trigger placental overexpression of sFLT1, potentially contributing to the development of preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications.

Authors

Xiujun Fan ... James C. Cross, Nihar R. Nayak

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Abstract

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia disease. Current drug- and surgical-based therapies are ineffective in about 40% to 50% of AF patients; therefore, there is a great need to better understand the underlying mechanisms of this disease and identify potential therapeutic targets. In this issue of the JCI, Greiser and coworkers discovered that atrial remodeling in response to sustained tachycardia silences Ca2+ signaling in isolated rabbit and human atrial myocytes. This Ca2+ release silencing was attributable to a failure of subcellular propagated Ca2+ release due to an increased cytosolic buffering strength. The results from this study challenge the current paradigm that Ca2+ release instability underlies AF. Instead, Ca2+ silencing could be protective against the massive cellular Ca2+ loading that occurs during chronic AF.

Authors

Nieves Gomez-Hurtado, Björn C. Knollmann

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Abstract

In healthy individuals, cells that lose expression of MHC class I molecules are quickly targeted for elimination by NK lymphocytes. A paradox in cancer immunology is the observation that many tumor cells often have a drastic reduction of MHC class I molecules, yet these cells are not eliminated by NK cells, as they should be. In this issue of the JCI, Ardolino et al. demonstrate that NK cells that infiltrate MHC class I–deficient tumors acquire an anergic state that can be reversed by particular combinations of exogenous cytokines. These results indicate that IL-12 plus IL-18 or a recombinant interleukin engineered to stimulate the IL-2 receptor β/γ heterodimer (but not the IL-2 receptor α/β/γ complex) have the potential to be used clinically to reinstate immunosurveillance against MHC class I–deficient tumors.

Authors

Laurence Zitvogel, Guido Kroemer

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Abstract

Preeclampsia, a life-threatening complication of human pregnancy, has a spectrum of clinical signs and is likely caused by an array of pathological mechanisms. However, elevated levels of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFLT1) in the placenta and in the maternal circulation has emerged as a common finding in women with preeclampsia and likely is a causative factor in this disorder. In this issue of the JCI, Fan and colleagues provide experimental evidence from both humans and mice that suggests placental trophoblast cells overexpress sFLT1 in self defense against excessive VEGFA produced by maternal decidual cells. The authors’ work thus implicates the decidual cells of the mother as the culprit responsible for increased placental expression of sFLT1, a VEGFA antagonist that enters the maternal circulation and consequently induces the clinical signs of preeclampsia.

Authors

S. Lee Adamson

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Abstract

Clinical vignette: A 49-year-old man with stage IV BRAFV600E-driven melanoma was initiated on twice-daily 960 mg of vemurafenib for treatment of progressive and recurrent subcutaneous metastatic disease of the left lower extremity. The patient’s melanoma responded well to targeted BRAF inhibition. At treatment onset, hematologic parameters were all within normal limits; however, within three months of initiating therapy, wbc were found to be elevated (to 20 K) with sustained lymphocytosis of mature phenotype. Immunophenotypic analysis was consistent with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and FISH results revealed presence of the CLL-associated deletion in chromosome 13q14 as well as in 2p33. Vemurafenib was withdrawn after approximately one year of therapy, and subsequently, his peripheral lymphocytosis resolved and CLL regressed. Nevertheless, a monoclonal B cell population persisted even 732 days after discontinuation of vemurafenib.

Authors

Catherine J. Wu

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October 2014


124-10-cover

October 2014 Issue

On the cover:
Celebrating 90 years of publishing scientific discoveries in medicine

This month, the JCI celebrates 90 years of publishing outstanding scientific discoveries in biomedical research. On page 4135, editor-in-chief Howard Rockman reflects on the spirit of the JCI that has endured since our inaugural issue in October 1924.

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Jci_impact_2014_10

October 2014 Impact

JCI Impact is a digest of the research, reviews, and other features published in each month's issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Review Series - More

Gut Microbiome

Series edited by Martin J. Blaser

The human gastrointestinal tract harbors approximately one hundred trillion microbial cells, collectively known as the gut microbiome. We have been aware of these friendly bacteria for around a century, but we are only now beginning to appreciate their influence in multiple aspects of human physiology and disease. Our understanding of the gut microbiome is constantly evolving and is currently being aided by new technologies and approaches that combine ecological principles with biomedical techniques. These new studies take into account both the pathological and commensal aspects of the microbes that inhabit our bodies. Reviews in this series explore how perturbation of the microbiome not only contributes to disease, but also helps to reveal its function; the impact of the microbiome on the metabolism of therapeutics and dietary nutrients; the contributions of commensal bacteria to disease, including cancer and cardiovascular disease; and the role of the microbiome in the development and maintenance of the immune system.

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