Matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1), or interstitial collagenase, has been hypothesized to contribute to the progression of the human atherosclerotic lesions by digesting the fibrillar collagens of the neointimal ECM. The apolipoprotein E knockout (apoE0) mouse model develops complex atherosclerotic lesions, but mice do not possess a homologue for MMP-1. To provide an in vivo evaluation of the role of MMP-1 in atherogenesis, we created a transgenic mouse model that expresses this enzyme specifically in the macrophage, under the control of the scavenger receptor A (SCAV) enhancer/promoter. The MMP-1 transgenic mice were crossed into the apoE0 background and fed an atherogenic diet for 16–25 weeks. Surprisingly, the transgenic mice demonstrated decreased lesion size compared with control littermates. The lesions of the transgenic animals were less extensive and immature, with fewer cellular layers and a diminished content of fibrillar collagen. There was no evidence of plaque rupture. Our data suggest that remodeling of the neointimal extracellular matrix by MMP-1 is beneficial in the progression of lesions.
Prostate cancer (CaP) forms osteoblastic skeletal metastases with an underlying osteoclastic component. However, the importance of osteoclastogenesis in the development of CaP skeletal lesions is unknown. In the present study, we demonstrate that CaP cells directly induce osteoclastogenesis from osteoclast precursors in the absence of underlying stroma in vitro. CaP cells produced a soluble form of receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL), which accounted for the CaP-mediated osteoclastogenesis. To evaluate for the importance of osteoclastogenesis on CaP tumor development in vivo, CaP cells were injected both intratibially and subcutaneously in the same mice, followed by administration of the decoy receptor for RANKL, osteoprotegerin (OPG). OPG completely prevented the establishment of mixed osteolytic/osteoblastic tibial tumors, as were observed in vehicle-treated animals, but it had no effect on subcutaneous tumor growth. Consistent with the role of osteoclasts in tumor development, osteoclast numbers were elevated at the bone/tumor interface in the vehicle-treated mice compared with the normal values in the OPG-treated mice. Furthermore, OPG had no effect on CaP cell viability, proliferation, or basal apoptotic rate in vitro. These results emphasize the important role that osteoclast activity plays in the establishment of CaP skeletal metastases, including those with an osteoblastic component.
The expression of calreticulin, a Ca2+-binding chaperone of the endoplasmic reticulum, is elevated in the embryonic heart, and because of impaired cardiac development, knockout of the Calreticulin gene is lethal during embryogenesis. The elevated expression is downregulated after birth. Here we have investigated the physiological consequences of continued high expression of calreticulin in the postnatal heart, by producing transgenic mice that overexpress the protein in the heart. These transgenic animals exhibit decreased systolic function and inward ICa,L, low levels of connexin43 and connexin40, sinus bradycardia, and prolonged atrioventricular (AV) node conduction followed by complete heart block and sudden death. We conclude that postnatal downregulation of calreticulin is essential in the development of the cardiac conductive system, in particular in the sinus and AV nodes, when an inward Ca2+ current is required for activation. This work identifies a novel pathway of events, leading to complete heart block and sudden cardiac death, which involves high expression of calreticulin in the heart.
VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 are endothelial adhesion molecules of the Ig gene superfamily that may participate in atherogenesis by promoting monocyte accumulation in the arterial intima. Both are expressed in regions predisposed to atherosclerosis and at the periphery of established lesions, while ICAM-1 is also expressed more broadly. To evaluate functions of VCAM-1 in chronic disease, we disrupted its fourth Ig domain, producing the murine Vcam1D4D allele. VCAM-1D4D mRNA and protein were reduced to 2–8% of wild-type allele (Vcam1+) levels but were sufficient to partially rescue the lethal phenotype of VCAM-1–null embryos. After crossing into the LDL receptor–null background, Vcam1+/+ and Vcam1D4D/D4D paired littermates were generated from heterozygous intercrosses and fed a cholesterol-enriched diet for 8 weeks. The area of early atherosclerotic lesions in the aorta, quantified by en face oil red O staining, was reduced significantly in Vcam1D4D/D4D mice, although cholesterol levels, lipoprotein profiles, and numbers of circulating leukocytes were comparable to wild-type. In contrast, deficiency of ICAM-1 either alone or in combination with VCAM-1 deficiency did not alter nascent lesion formation. Therefore, although expression of both VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 is upregulated in atherosclerotic lesions, our data indicate that VCAM-1 plays a dominant role in the initiation of atherosclerosis.
Hepatic steatosis is common in patients having severe hyperhomocysteinemia due to deficiency for cystathionine β-synthase. However, the mechanism by which homocysteine promotes the development and progression of hepatic steatosis is unknown. We report here that homocysteine-induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress activates both the unfolded protein response and the sterol regulatory element–binding proteins (SREBPs) in cultured human hepatocytes as well as vascular endothelial and aortic smooth muscle cells. Activation of the SREBPs is associated with increased expression of genes responsible for cholesterol/triglyceride biosynthesis and uptake and with intracellular accumulation of cholesterol. Homocysteine-induced gene expression was inhibited by overexpression of the ER chaperone, GRP78/BiP, thus demonstrating a direct role of ER stress in the activation of cholesterol/triglyceride biosynthesis. Consistent with these in vitro findings, cholesterol and triglycerides were significantly elevated in the livers, but not plasmas, of mice having diet-induced hyperhomocysteinemia. This effect was not due to impaired hepatic export of lipids because secretion of VLDL-triglyceride was increased in hyperhomocysteinemic mice. These findings suggest a mechanism by which homocysteine-induced ER stress causes dysregulation of the endogenous sterol response pathway, leading to increased hepatic biosynthesis and uptake of cholesterol and triglycerides. Furthermore, this mechanism likely explains the development and progression of hepatic steatosis and possibly atherosclerotic lesions observed in hyperhomocysteinemia.
Dendritic cells (DCs) are specialized antigen-presenting cells that migrate from the periphery to lymphoid tissues, where they activate and regulate T cells. Genetic modification of DCs to express immunoregulatory molecules would provide a new immunotherapeutic strategy for autoimmune and other diseases. We have engineered bone marrow–derived DCs that express IL-4 and tested the ability of these cells to control murine collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), a model for rheumatoid arthritis in which Th1 cells play a critical role. IL-4–transduced DCs inhibited Th1 responses to collagen type II in vitro. A single injection of IL-4–transduced DCs reduced the incidence and severity of CIA and suppressed established Th1 responses and associated humoral responses, despite only transient persistence of injected DCs in the spleen. In contrast, control DCs and IL-4–transduced T cells or fibroblastic cells failed to alter the course of the disease. The functional effects correlated well with the differential efficiency of DC migration from various sites of injection to lymphoid organs, especially the spleen. The ability of splenic T cells to produce IL-4 in response to anti-CD3 was enhanced after the administration of IL-4–transduced DCs. These results support the feasibility of using genetically modified DCs for the treatment of autoimmune disease.
The cytokines TNF and IL-6 play a critical role early in liver regeneration following partial hepatectomy (PH). Since IL-6 activates signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs), we examined whether the suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) may be involved in terminating IL-6 signaling. We show here that SOCS-3 mRNA is induced 40-fold 2 hours after surgery. SOCS-2 and CIS mRNA are only weakly induced, and SOCS-1 is not detectable. SOCS-3 induction after PH is transient and correlates with a decrease in STAT-3 DNA binding and a loss of tyrosine 705 phosphorylation. This response is markedly reduced in IL-6 knockout (KO) mice. TNF injection induces SOCS-3 mRNA in wild-type mice (albeit weakly compared with the increase observed after PH) but not in TNF receptor 1 or IL-6 KO mice. In contrast, IL-6 injection induces SOCS-3 in these animals, demonstrating a requirement for IL-6 in SOCS-3 induction. IL-6 injection into wild-type mice also induces SOCS-1, -2, and CIS mRNA, in addition to SOCS-3. Together, these results suggest that SOCS-3 may be a key component in downregulating STAT-3 signaling after PH and that SOCS-3 mRNA levels in the regenerating liver are regulated by IL-6.
Autoantigen-specific T cells have tissue-specific homing properties, suggesting that these cells may be ideal vehicles for the local delivery of immunoregulatory molecules. We tested this hypothesis by using type II collagen–specific (CII-specific) CD4+ T hybridomas or primary CD4+ T cells after gene transfer, as vehicles to deliver an immunoregulatory protein for the treatment of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). CII-specific T cells or hybridomas were transduced using retroviral vectors to constitutively express the IL-12 antagonist, IL-12 p40. Transfer of engineered CD4+ T cells after immunization significantly inhibited the development of CIA, while cells transduced with vector control had no effect. The beneficial effect on CIA of IL-12 p40-transduced T cells required TCR specificity against CII, since transfer of T cells specific for another antigen producing equivalent amounts of IL-12 p40 had no effect. In vivo cell detection using bioluminescent labels and RT-PCR showed that transferred CII-reactive T-cell hybridomas accumulated in inflamed joints in mice with CIA. These results indicate that the local delivery of IL-12 p40 by T cells inhibited CIA by suppressing autoimmune responses at the site of inflammation. Modifying antigen-specific T cells by retroviral transduction for local expression of immunoregulatory proteins thus offers a promising strategy for treating RA.
HIV-1–specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses have been detected at a low frequency in many HIV-1–exposed, persistently seronegative (HEPS) subjects. However, it is unclear how CTLs could protect against HIV acquisition in HEPS subjects, when high levels of circulating CTL fail to prevent disease progression in most seropositive subjects. To address this issue we studied CD8+ lymphocyte responses to a panel of HIV-1 CTL epitopes in 91 HEPS and 87 HIV-1–infected Nairobi sex workers. HIV-specific responses in seropositive women focused strongly on epitopes rarely or never recognized in HEPS subjects, who targeted epitopes that were subdominant or unrecognized in infected women. These differences in epitope specificity were restricted by only those HLA class I alleles that are associated with a reduced risk of HIV-1 infection in this cohort. Late seroconversion in HEPS donors was associated with a switch in epitope specificity and/or immunodominance to those epitopes preferentially recognized by HIV-1–infected women. The likelihood of detecting HIV-1–specific responses in HEPS women increased with the duration of viral exposure, suggesting that HIV-1–specific CD8+ responses are acquired over time. The association between differential recognition of distinct CTL epitopes and protection from HIV-1 infection may have significant implications for vaccine design.
To investigate the physiological function of syntaxin 4 in the regulation of GLUT4 vesicle trafficking, we used homologous recombination to generate syntaxin 4–knockout mice. Homozygotic disruption of the syntaxin 4 gene results in early embryonic lethality, whereas heterozygous knockout mice, Syn4+/–, had normal viability with no significant impairment in growth, development, or reproduction. However, the Syn4+/– mice manifested impaired glucose tolerance with a 50% reduction in whole-body glucose uptake. This defect was attributed to a 50% reduction in skeletal muscle glucose transport determined by 2-deoxyglucose uptake during hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp procedures. In parallel, insulin-stimulated GLUT4 translocation in skeletal muscle was also significantly reduced in these mice. In contrast, Syn4+/– mice displayed normal insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and metabolism in adipose tissue and liver. Together, these data demonstrate that syntaxin 4 plays a critical physiological role in insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in skeletal muscle. Furthermore, reduction in syntaxin 4 protein levels in this tissue can account for the impairment in whole-body insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism in this animal model.
Tight junctions regulate paracellular conductance and ionic selectivity. These properties vary among epithelia but the molecular basis of this variation remains unknown. To test whether members of the claudin family of tight junction proteins influence paracellular ionic selectivity, we expressed human claudin-4 in cultured MDCK cells using an inducible promoter. Overexpression increased the complexity of tight junction strands visible by freeze-fracture microscopy without affecting the levels of claudin-1, -2, or -3, occludin, or ZO-1. A decrease in conductance correlated directly with the kinetics of claudin-4 induction. Dilution potentials revealed that the decrease in paracellular conductance resulted from a selective decrease in Na+ permeability without a significant effect on Cl– permeability. Flux for an uncharged solute, mannitol, and the rank order of permeabilities for the alkali metal cations were unchanged. A paracellular site for these effects was supported by the lack of apical/basal directionality of the dilution potentials, the linearity of current-voltage relationships, and the lack of influence of inhibitors of major transcellular transporters. These results provide, to our knowledge, the first direct demonstration of the ability of a claudin to influence paracellular ion selectivity and support a role for the claudins in creating selective channels through the tight-junction barrier.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation