In This Issue
Comparative genomic tools and databases: providing insights into the human genome
The organization and consequences of eicosanoid signaling
Salt-sensitive hypertension: if only it were as simple as rocket science
The fractalkine receptor CX3CR1 is a key mediator of atherogenesis
Azathioprine: old drug, new actions
EGF amplifies the replacement of parvalbumin-expressing striatal interneurons after ischemia
Tetsuyuki Teramoto, Jianhua Qiu, Jean-Christophe Plumier, Michael A. MoskowitzAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1125)
EGF promotes proliferation and migration of stem/progenitor cells in the normal adult brain. The effect of epidermal growth factor on neurogenesis in ischemic brain is unknown, however. Here we show that intraventricular administration of EGF and albumin augments 100-fold neuronal replacement in the injured adult mouse striatum after cerebral ischemia. Newly born immature neurons migrate into the ischemic lesion and differentiate into mature parvalbumin-expressing neurons, replacing more than 20% of the interneurons lost by 13 weeks after ischemia and representing 2% of the total BrdU-labeled cells. These data suggest that administration of EGF and albumin could be used to manipulate endogenous neurogenesis in the injured brain and to promote brain self-repair.
CD28-dependent Rac1 activation is the molecular target of azathioprine in primary human CD4+ T lymphocytes
Imke Tiede, Gerhard Fritz, Susanne Strand, Daniela Poppe, Radovan Dvorsky, Dennis Strand, Hans Anton Lehr, Stefan Wirtz, Christoph Becker, Raja Atreya, Jonas Mudter, Kai Hildner, Brigitte Bartsch, Martin Holtmann, Richard Blumberg, Henning Walczak, Heiko Iven, Peter R. Galle, Mohammad Reza Ahmadian, Markus F. NeurathAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1133)
Azathioprine and its metabolite 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) are immunosuppressive drugs that are used in organ transplantation and autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn disease. However, their molecular mechanism of action is unknown. In the present study, we have identified a unique and unexpected role for azathioprine and its metabolites in the control of T cell apoptosis by modulation of Rac1 activation upon CD28 costimulation. We found that azathioprine and its metabolites induced apoptosis of T cells from patients with Crohn disease and control patients. Apoptosis induction required costimulation with CD28 and was mediated by specific blockade of Rac1 activation through binding of azathioprine-generated 6-thioguanine triphosphate (6-Thio-GTP) to Rac1 instead of GTP. The activation of Rac1 target genes such as mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK), NF-κB, and bcl-xL was suppressed by azathioprine, leading to a mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis. Azathioprine thus converts a costimulatory signal into an apoptotic signal by modulating Rac1 activity. These findings explain the immunosuppressive effects of azathioprine and suggest that 6-Thio-GTP derivates may be useful as potent immunosuppressive agents in autoimmune diseases and organ transplantation.
Increased islet apoptosis in Pdx1+/– mice
James D. Johnson, Noreen T. Ahmed, Dan S. Luciani, Zhiqiang Han, Hung Tran, Jun Fujita, Stanley Misler, Helena Edlund, Kenneth S. PolonskyAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1147)
Mice with 50% Pdx1, a homeobox gene critical for pancreatic development, had worsening glucose tolerance with age and reduced insulin release in response to glucose, KCl, and arginine from the perfused pancreas. Surprisingly, insulin secretion in perifusion or static incubation experiments in response to glucose and other secretagogues was similar in islets isolated from Pdx1+/– mice compared with Pdx1+/+ littermate controls. Glucose sensing and islet Ca2+ responses were also normal. Depolarization-evoked exocytosis and Ca2+ currents in single Pdx1+/– cells were not different from controls, arguing against a ubiquitous β cell stimulus-secretion coupling defect. However, isolated Pdx1+/– islets and dispersed β cells were significantly more susceptible to apoptosis at basal glucose concentrations than Pdx1+/+ islets. BclXL and Bcl-2 expression were reduced in Pdx1+/– islets. In vivo, increased apoptosis was associated with abnormal islet architecture, positive TUNEL, active caspase-3, and lymphocyte infiltration. Although similar in young mice, both β cell mass and islet number failed to increase with age and were approximately 50% less than controls by one year. These results suggest that an increase in apoptosis, with abnormal regulation of islet number and β cell mass, represents a key mechanism whereby partial PDX1 deficiency leads to an organ-level defect in insulin secretion and diabetes.
Nonredundant roles of antibody, cytokines, and perforin in the eradication of established Her-2/neu carcinomas
Claudia Curcio, Emma Di Carlo, Raphael Clynes, Mark J. Smyth, Katia Boggio, Elena Quaglino, Michela Spadaro, Mario P. Colombo, Augusto Amici, Pier-Luigi Lollini, Piero Musiani, Guido ForniAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1161)
Since the mechanisms by which specific immunity destroys Her-2/neu carcinoma cells are highly undetermined, these were assessed in BALB/c mice vaccinated with plasmids encoding extracellular and transmembrane domains of the protein product (p185neu) of the rat Her-2/neu oncogene shot into the skin by gene gun. Vaccinated mice rejected a lethal challenge of TUBO carcinoma cells expressing p185neu. Depletion of CD4 T cells during immunization abolished the protection, while depletion of CD8 cells during the effector phase halved it, and depletion of polymorphonuclear granulocytes abolished all protection. By contrast, Ig μ-chain gene KO mice, as well as Fcγ receptor I/III, β-2 microglobulin, CD1, monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP1), IFN-γ, and perforin gene KO mice were protected. Only mice with both IFN-γ and perforin gene KOs were not protected. Although immunization also cured all BALB/c mice bearing established TUBO carcinomas, it did not cure any of the perforin KO or perforin and IFN-γ KO mice. Few mice were cured that had knockouts of the gene for Ig μ-chain, Fcγ receptor I/III, IFN-γ, or β-2 microglobulin. Moreover, vaccination cured half of the CD1 and the majority of the MCP1 KO mice. The eradication of established p185neu carcinomas involves distinct mechanisms, each endowed with a different curative potential.
A humanized model of experimental autoimmune uveitis in HLA class II transgenic mice
Giuseppina Pennesi, Mary J. Mattapallil, Shu-Hui Sun, Dody Avichezer, Phyllis B. Silver, Zaruhi Karabekian, Chella S. David, Paul A. Hargrave, J. Hugh McDowell, W. Clay Smith, Barbara Wiggert, Larry A. Donoso, Chi-Chao Chan, Rachel R. CaspiAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1171)
Experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) is a disease of the neural retina induced by immunization with retinal antigens, such as interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP) and arrestin (retinal soluble antigen, S-Ag). EAU serves as a model for human autoimmune uveitic diseases associated with major histocompatibility complex (HLA) genes, in which patients exhibit immunological responses to retinal antigens. Here we report the development of a humanized EAU model in HLA transgenic (TG) mice. HLA-DR3, -DR4, -DQ6, and -DQ8 TG mice were susceptible to IRBP-induced EAU. Importantly, HLA-DR3 TG mice developed severe EAU with S-Ag, to which wild-type mice are highly resistant. Lymphocyte proliferation was blocked by anti-HLA antibodies, confirming that antigen is functionally presented by the human MHC molecules. Disease could be transferred by immune cells with a Th1-like cytokine profile. Antigen-specific T cell repertoire, as manifested by responses to overlapping peptides derived from S-Ag or IRBP, differed from that of wild-type mice. Interestingly, DR3 TG mice, but not wild-type mice, recognized an immunodominant S-Ag epitope between residues 291 and 310 that overlaps with a region of S-Ag recognized by uveitis patients. Thus, EAU in HLA TG mice offers a new model of uveitis that should represent human disease more faithfully than currently existing models.
Mutations in factor H reduce binding affinity to C3b and heparin and surface attachment to endothelial cells in hemolytic uremic syndrome
Tamara Manuelian, Jens Hellwage, Seppo Meri, Jessica Caprioli, Marina Noris, Stefan Heinen, Mihaly Jozsi, Hartmut P.H. Neumann, Giuseppe Remuzzi, Peter F. ZipfelAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1181)
Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a disease characterized by microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, and acute renal failure. Recent studies have identified a factor H–associated form of HUS, caused by gene mutations that cluster in the C-terminal region of the complement regulator factor H. Here we report how three mutations (E1172Stop, R1210C, and R1215G; each of the latter two identified in three independent cases from different, unrelated families) affect protein function. All three mutations cause reduced binding to the central complement component C3b/C3d to heparin, as well as to endothelial cells. These defective features of the mutant factor H proteins explain progression of endothelial cell and microvascular damage in factor H–associated genetic HUS and indicate a protective role of factor H for tissue integrity during thrombus formation.
Sensitizing antigen-specific CD8+ T cells for accelerated suicide causes immune incompetence
Christoph Wasem, Diana Arnold, Leslie Saurer, Nadia Corazza, Sabine Jakob, Simon Herren, Claudio Vallan, Christoph Mueller, Thomas BrunnerAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1191)
Death receptor–mediated activation-induced apoptosis of antigen-specific T cells is a major mechanism of peripheral tolerance induction and immune homeostasis. Failure to undergo activation-induced cell death (AICD) is an important underlying cause of many autoimmune diseases. Thus, enhancing the T cell’s own suicide mechanism may provide an efficient therapy for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Bisindolylmaleimide VIII (Bis VIII), a PKC inhibitor, can sensitize T cells for death receptor–induced apoptosis and thus can inhibit the development of T cell–mediated autoimmune disease in vivo. In this study, we have analyzed the functional consequences of accelerated suicide for a protective CD8+ T cell–mediated immune response. Our data indicate that CD8+ T cells are sensitized by Bis VIII to AICD, both in vitro and in vivo. The sensitizing effect of Bis VIII appears to be mediated by specific downmodulation of the antiapoptotic molecule cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein (cFLIPL). Importantly, Bis VIII administration during an acute lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection causes the depletion of virus-specific CD8+ T cells and subsequently impaired cytotoxicity and virus clearance. We conclude that resistance to death receptor–induced apoptosis is crucial for the efficient induction of a protective immune response, and that Bis VIII–based immunotherapies have to be applied under well-controlled conditions to avoid the induction of immune incompetence and the inability to respond to pathogen infection.
Oxidation of tetrahydrobiopterin leads to uncoupling of endothelial cell nitric oxide synthase in hypertension
Ulf Landmesser, Sergey Dikalov, S. Russ Price, Louise McCann, Tohru Fukai, Steven M. Holland, William E. Mitch, David G. HarrisonAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1201)
Tetrahydrobiopterin is a critical cofactor for the NO synthases, and in its absence these enzymes become “uncoupled,” producing reactive oxygen species (ROSs) rather than NO. In aortas of mice with deoxycorticosterone acetate–salt (DOCA-salt) hypertension, ROS production from NO synthase is markedly increased, and tetrahydrobiopterin oxidation is evident. Using mice deficient in the NADPH oxidase subunit p47phox and mice lacking either the endothelial or neuronal NO synthase, we obtained evidence that hypertension produces a cascade involving production of ROSs from the NADPH oxidase leading to oxidation of tetrahydrobiopterin and uncoupling of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS). This decreases NO production and increases ROS production from eNOS. Treatment of mice with oral tetrahydrobiopterin reduces vascular ROS production, increases NO production as determined by electron spin resonance measurements of nitrosyl hemoglobin, and blunts the increase in blood pressure due to DOCA-salt hypertension. Endothelium-dependent vasodilation is only minimally altered in vessels of mice with DOCA-salt hypertension but seems to be mediated by hydrogen peroxide released from uncoupled eNOS, since it is inhibited by catalase. Tetrahydrobiopterin oxidation may represent an important abnormality in hypertension. Treatment strategies that increase tetrahydrobiopterin or prevent its oxidation may prove useful in preventing vascular complications of this common disease.
A mutation in a CD44 variant of inflammatory cells enhances the mitogenic interaction of FGF with its receptor
Shlomo Nedvetzki, Itshak Golan, Nathalie Assayag, Erez Gonen, Dan Caspi, Micha Gladnikoff, Avner Yayon, David NaorAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1211)
Synovial fluid cells from joints of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients express a novel variant of CD44 (designated CD44vRA), encoding an extra trinucleotide (CAG) transcribed from intronic sequences flanking a variant exon. The CD44vRA mutant was detected in 23 out of 30 RA patients. CD44-negative Namalwa cells transfected with CD44vRA cDNA or with CD44v3-v10 (CD44vRA wild type) cDNA bound FGF-2 to an equal extent via their associated heparan sulfate chains. However, Namalwa cells, immobilizing FGF-2 via their cell surface CD44vRA, bound substantially more soluble FGF receptor-1 (FGFR-1) than did Namalwa cells immobilizing the same amount of FGF-2 via their cell surface CD44v3-v10. The former cells stimulated the proliferation of BaF-32 cells, bearing FGFR-1, more efficiently than did the latter cells. Finally, isolated primary synovial fluid cells from RA patients expressing CD44vRA bound more soluble FGFR-1 to their cell surface–associated FGF-2 than did corresponding synovial cells expressing CD44v3-v10 or synovial cells from osteoarthritis patients. The binding of soluble FGFR-1 to RA synovial cells could be specifically reduced by their preincubation with Ab’s against the v3 exon product of CD44. Hence, FGF-2 attached to the heparan sulfate moiety expressed by the novel CD44 variant of RA synovium cells exhibits an augmented ability to stimulate FGFR-1–mediated activities. A similar mechanism may foster the destructive inflammatory cascade not only in RA, but also in other autoimmune diseases.
Role of RANK ligand in mediating increased bone resorption in early postmenopausal women
Guitty Eghbali-Fatourechi, Sundeep Khosla, Arunik Sanyal, William J. Boyle, David L. Lacey, B. Lawrence RiggsAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1221)
Studies in rodents have implicated various cytokines as paracrine mediators of increased osteoclastogenesis during estrogen deficiency, but increases in RANKL, the final effector of osteoclastogenesis, have not been demonstrated. Thus, we isolated bone marrow mononuclear cells expressing RANKL on their surfaces by two-color flow cytometry using FITC-conjugated osteoprotegerin-Fc (OPG-Fc-FITC) as a probe. The cells were characterized as preosteoblastic marrow stromal cells (MSCs), T lymphocytes, or B lymphocytes by using Ab’s against bone alkaline phosphatase (BAP), CD3, and CD20, respectively, in 12 premenopausal women (Group A), 12 early postmenopausal women (Group B), and 12 age-matched, estrogen-treated postmenopausal women (Group C). Fluorescence intensity of OPG-Fc-FITC, an index of the surface concentration of RANKL per cell, was increased in Group B over Groups A and C by two- to threefold for MSCs, T cells, B cells, and total RANKL-expressing cells. Moreover, in the merged groups, RANKL expression per cell correlated directly with the bone resorption markers, serum C-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen and urine N-telopeptide of type I collagen, in all three cell types and inversely with serum 17β-estradiol for total RANKL-expressing cells. The data suggest that upregulation of RANKL on bone marrow cells is an important determinant of increased bone resorption induced by estrogen deficiency.
Immunoregulation of a viral model of multiple sclerosis using the synthetic cannabinoid R(+)WIN55,212
Theiler murine encephalomyelitis virus–induced demyelinating disease (TMEV-IDD) is a mouse model of chronic-progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) characterized by Th1-mediated CNS demyelination and spastic hindlimb paralysis. Existing MS therapies reduce relapse rates in 30% of relapsing-remitting MS patients, but are ineffective in chronic-progressive disease, and their effects on disability progression are unclear. Experimental studies demonstrate cannabinoids are useful for symptomatic treatment of spasticity and tremor in chronic-relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Cannabinoids, however, have reported immunosuppressive properties. We show that the cannabinoid receptor agonist, R(+)WIN55,212, ameliorates progression of clinical disease symptoms in mice with preexisting TMEV-IDD. Amelioration of clinical disease is associated with downregulation of both virus and myelin epitope-specific Th1 effector functions (delayed-type hypersensitivity and IFN-γ production) and the inhibition of CNS mRNA expression coding for the proinflammatory cytokines, TNF-α, IL1-β, and IL-6. Clinical trials investigating the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids for the symptomatic treatment of MS are ongoing, and this study demonstrates that they may also have potent immunoregulatory properties.
Chemokine receptor mutant CX3CR1-M280 has impaired adhesive function and correlates with protection from cardiovascular disease in humans
David H. McDermott, Alan M. Fong, Qiong Yang, Joan M. Sechler, L. Adrienne Cupples, Maya N. Merrell, Peter W.F. Wilson, Ralph B. D’Agostino, Christopher J. O’Donnell, Dhavalkumar D. Patel, Philip M. MurphyAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1241)
The chemokine receptor CX3CR1 is a proinflammatory leukocyte receptor specific for the chemokine fractalkine (FKN or CX3CL1). In two retrospective studies, CX3CR1 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD) based on statistical association of a common receptor variant named CX3CR1-M280 with lower prevalence of atherosclerosis, coronary endothelial dysfunction, and acute coronary syndromes. However, the general significance of CX3CR1-M280 and its putative mechanism of action have not previously been defined. Here we show that FKN-dependent cell-cell adhesion under conditions of physiologic shear is severely reduced in cells expressing CX3CR1-M280. This was associated with marked reduction in the kinetics of FKN binding as well as reduced FKN-induced chemotaxis of primary leukocytes from donors homozygous for CX3CR1-M280. We also show that CX3CR1-M280 is independently associated with a lower risk of CVD (adjusted odds ratio, 0.60, P = 0.008) in the Offspring Cohort of the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term prospective study of the risks and natural history of this disease. These data provide mechanism-based and consistent epidemiologic evidence that CX3CR1 may be involved in the pathogenesis of CVD in humans, possibly by supporting leukocyte entry into the coronary artery wall. Moreover, they suggest that CX3CR1-M280 is a genetic risk factor for CVD.
Genetic disruption of γ-melanocyte–stimulating hormone signaling leads to salt-sensitive hypertension in the mouse
Xi-Ping Ni, David Pearce, Andrew A. Butler, Roger D. Cone, Michael H. HumphreysAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1251)
The γ-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (γ-MSH) is a natriuretic peptide derived from the N-terminal region of proopiomelanocortin (POMC). Evidence suggests that it may be part of the coordinated response to a low-sodium diet (LSD). We tested the effect of the HSD (8% NaCl) compared with LSD (0.07%) on mean arterial pressure (MAP) in mice with targeted disruption of the PC2 gene (PC2–/–), necessary for processing of POMC into γ-MSH, or the melanocortin receptor 3 gene (Mc3r–/–; the receptor for MSH). In wild-type mice, HSD for 1 week did not alter MAP versus LSD mice, but plasma γ-MSH immunoreactivity was more than double the LSD value. In contrast, in PC2–/– mice, MAP on the LSD was not greater than in wild-type mice, but plasma γ-MSH was reduced to one-seventh the wild-type value. On the HSD, MAP rose to a markedly hypertensive level while plasma γ-MSH concentration remained severely depressed. Intravenous infusion of γ-MSH (0.2 pmol/min) for 30 min to PC2–/– mice after 1 week of HSD lowered MAP from hypertensive levels to normal; infusion of α-MSH at the same rate had no effect. Injection of 60 fmol of γ-MSH into the lateral cerebral ventricle of hypertensive mice also lowered MAP to normal. Administration of a stable analogue of γ-MSH intra-abdominally by microosmotic pump to PC2–/– mice prevented the development of hypertension when ingesting the HSD. In mice with targeted disruption of the Mc3r gene, the HSD also led to marked hypertension accompanied by elevated plasma levels of γ-MSH; infusion of exogenous γ-MSH to these mice had no effect on MAP. These results strongly suggest that PC2-dependent processing of POMC into γ-MSH is necessary for the normal response to the HSD. γ-MSH deficiency results in marked salt-sensitive hypertension that is rapidly improved with exogenous γ-MSH through a central site of action. α-MSH infused at the same rate had no effect on MAP, indicating that the hypertension is a specific consequence of impaired POMC processing into γ-MSH. Absence of Mc3r produces γ-MSH resistance and hypertension on the HSD. These findings demonstrate a novel pathway mediating salt-sensitivity of blood pressure.
Hypertension and prolonged vasoconstrictor signaling in RGS2-deficient mice