The brain shows limited ability to repair itself, but neurogenesis in certain areas of the adult brain suggests that neural stem cells may be used for structural brain repair. It will be necessary to understand how neurogenesis in the adult brain is regulated to develop strategies that harness neural stem cells for therapeutic use.
Paracrine signaling via platelet-derived growth factor B (PDGFB), expressed by endothelial cells, and its receptor PDGFR-β, expressed by pericytes, plays a central role in blood vessel maturation. A new study reveals that it is not just the presence of PDGFB, but how it is presented to pericytes, that determines the quality of the endothelium-pericyte interaction.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) recognize microbial molecular signatures and can initiate innate immune responses against invading pathogens. A new study reports how TLR2 expression by endothelia is locally upregulated by the action of activated polymorphonuclear neutrophils via an unprecedented mechanism involving cell-cell interaction and NAD(P)H oxidase. The report reveals yet another way in which the primordial innate immune system is remarkably complex.
Uroguanylin is a peptide hormone that regulates sodium excretion by the kidney when excess NaCl is consumed. A new study demonstrates that mice deficient in uroguanylin have blunted urinary sodium excretion responses to oral sodium loads in addition to elevated blood pressure (see related article beginning on page 1244). A physiological role for uroguanylin is discussed, linking the intestine and kidney in an endocrine axis for the maintenance of sodium balance.
Tumor-infiltrating blood vessels deviate morphologically and biochemically from normal vessels, raising the prospect of selective pharmacological targeting. Current antiangiogenic approaches focus mainly on endothelial cells, but recent data imply that targeting pericytes may provide additional benefits. Further development of these concepts will require deeper insight into mechanisms of pericyte recruitment and function in tumors. Here, we applied genetic tools to decipher the function of PDGF-B and PDGF-Rβ in pericyte recruitment in a mouse fibrosarcoma model. In tumors transplanted into PDGF-B retention motif–deficient (pdgf-bret/ret) mice, pericytes were fewer and were partially detached from the vessel wall, coinciding with increased tumor vessel diameter and hemorrhaging. Transgenic PDGF-B expression in tumor cells was able to increase the pericyte density in both WT and pdgf-bret/ret mice but failed to correct the pericyte detachment in pdgf-bret/ret mice. Coinjection of exogenous pericytes and tumor cells showed that pericytes require PDGF-Rβ for recruitment to tumor vessels, whereas endothelial PDGF-B retention is indispensable for proper integration of pericytes in the vessel wall. Our data support the notion that pericytes serve an important function in tumor vessels and highlight PDGF-B and PDGF-Rβ as promising molecular targets for therapeutic intervention.
Embryo liver morphogenesis takes place after gastrulation and starts with a ventral foregut evagination that reacts to factor signaling from both cardiac mesoderm and septum transversum mesenchyme. Current knowledge of the progenitor stem cell populations involved in this early embryo liver development is scarce. We describe here a population of 11-day postcoitus c-Kitlow(CD45/TER119)– liver progenitors that selectively expressed hepatospecific genes and proteins in vivo, was self-maintained in vitro by long-term proliferation, and simultaneously differentiated into functional hepatocytes and bile duct cells. Purified c-Kitlow(CD45/TER119)– liver cells cocultured with cell-depleted fetal liver fragments engrafted and repopulated the hepatic cell compartments of the latter organoids, suggesting that they may include the embryonic stem cells responsible for liver development.
A protective role for antibodies has not previously been described for host defense against the pathogenic fungus Histoplasma capsulatum (Hc). Mouse mAb’s were generated from mice immunized with Hc yeast that binds the cell surface of Hc. Administration of mAb’s before Hc infection reduced fungal burden, decreased pulmonary inflammation, and prolonged survival in a murine infection model. Protection mediated by mAb’s was associated with enhanced levels of IL-4, IL-6, and IFN-γ in the lungs of infected mice. The mAb’s increased phagocytosis of yeast by J774.16 cells through a CR3-dependent process. Ingestion of mAb-opsonized Hc by J774.16 macrophage-like cells was associated with yeast cell growth inhibition and killing. The mAb’s bound to a 17-kDa antigen expressed on the surface of Hc. The antigen was identified as a histone H2B–like protein. This study establishes that mAb’s to a cell surface protein of Hc alter the intracellular fate of the fungus and mediate protection in a murine model of lethal histoplasmosis, and it suggests a new candidate antigen for vaccine development.
Atherosclerosis is now generally accepted as a chronic inflammatory condition. The transcription factor NF-κB is a key regulator of inflammation, immune responses, cell survival, and cell proliferation. To investigate the role of NF-κB activation in macrophages during atherogenesis, we used LDL receptor–deficient mice with a macrophage-restricted deletion of IκB kinase 2 (IKK2), which is essential for NF-κB activation by proinflammatory signals. These mice showed increased atherosclerosis as quantified by lesion area measurements. In addition, the lesions were more advanced and showed more necrosis and increased cell number in early lesions. Southern blotting revealed that deletion of IKK2 was approximately 65% in macrophages, coinciding with a reduction of 50% in NF-κB activation, as compared with controls. In both groups, the expression of differentiation markers, uptake of bacteria, and endocytosis of modified LDL was similar. Upon stimulation with LPS, production of TNF was reduced by approximately 50% in IKK2-deleted macrophages. Interestingly, we also found a major reduction in the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. Our data show that inhibition of the NF-κB pathway in macrophages leads to more severe atherosclerosis in mice, possibly by affecting the pro- and anti-inflammatory balance that controls the development of atherosclerosis.
CNS-resident cells, in particular microglia and macrophages, are a source of inflammatory cytokines during inflammation within the CNS. Expression of IL-23, a recently discovered cytokine, has been shown to be critical for the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in mice. Expression of the p40 subunit of IL-12 and IL-23 by microglia has been shown in situ and in vitro, but direct evidence for a functional significance of p40 expression by CNS cells during an immune response in vivo is still lacking. Here we report that p40 plays a critical role in maintaining encephalitogenicity during the disease course. By using irradiation bone marrow chimeras, we have generated mice in which p40 is deleted from the CNS parenchyma but not the systemic immune compartment. Our studies show that p40 expressed by CNS-endogenous cells is critical for the development of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein–induced EAE. In spite of the reduced clinical disease, the absence of p40 from the CNS has little impact on the degree of inflammation. Expression profiles of the CNS lesions show an increase in Th2 cytokines when compared with mice that develop EAE in the presence of CNS IL-12 and/or IL-23. Taken together, our data demonstrate that p40 expression by CNS-resident cells forms the basis for the Th1 bias of the CNS.
The paired-like homeobox gene expressed in embryonic stem cells Hesx1/HESX1 encodes a developmental repressor and is expressed in early development in a region fated to form the forebrain, with subsequent localization to Rathke’s pouch, the primordium of the anterior pituitary gland. Mutations within the gene have been associated with septo-optic dysplasia, a constellation of phenotypes including eye, forebrain, and pituitary abnormalities, or milder degrees of hypopituitarism. We identified a novel homozygous nonconservative missense mutation (I26T) in the critical Engrailed homology repressor domain (eh1) of HESX1, the first, to our knowledge, to be described in humans, in a girl with evolving combined pituitary hormone deficiency born to consanguineous parents. Neuroimaging revealed a thin pituitary stalk with anterior pituitary hypoplasia and an ectopic posterior pituitary, but no midline or optic nerve abnormalities. This I26T mutation did not affect the DNA-binding ability of HESX1 but led to an impaired ability to recruit the mammalian Groucho homolog/Transducin-like enhancer of split-1 (Gro/TLE1), a crucial corepressor for HESX1, thereby leading to partial loss of repression. Thus, the novel pituitary phenotype highlighted here appears to be a specific consequence of the inability of HESX1 to recruit Groucho-related corepressors, suggesting that other molecular mechanisms govern HESX1 function in the forebrain.
We studied the role of FGF-2 on regulation of neurogenesis and cell loss in the granule cell layer (GCL) of the hippocampal dentate gyrus after experimental traumatic brain injury (TBI). In both FGF-2–/– and FGF-2+/+ mice subjected to controlled cortical impact, the number of dividing cells labeled with BrdU, injected on posttrauma days 6 through 8, increased at 9 days after TBI, and the number of BrdU-positive cells colabeled with neuron-specific nuclear antigen significantly increased at 35 days. However, in injured FGF-2–/– mice, BrdU-positive cells and BrdU-positive neurons (days 9, 35) were fewer compared with FGF-2+/+ mice. There was also a decrease in the volume of the GCL and the number of GCL neurons after TBI in both FGF-2–/– and FGF-2+/+ mice, but the decrease in both was greater in FGF-2–/– mice at 35 days. Overexpression of FGF-2 by intracerebral injection of herpes simplex virus–1 amplicon vectors encoding this factor increased numbers of dividing cells (day 9) and BrdU-positive neurons (day 35) significantly in C57BL/6 mice. Furthermore, the decrease in GCL volume was also attenuated. These results suggest that FGF-2 upregulates neurogenesis and protects neurons against degeneration in the adult hippocampus after TBI, and that FGF-2 supplementation via gene transfer can reduce GCL degeneration after TBI.
In vivo treatment of mice with the natural killer T (NKT) cell ligand, α-galactosylceramide (αGalCer), ameliorates autoimmune diabetes and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) by shifting pathogenic Th1-type immune responses to nonpathogenic Th2-type responses. In the current study, in vivo activation of NKT cells in adult NZB/W mice by multiple injections of αGalCer induced an abnormal Th1-type immune response as compared with the Th2-type response observed in nonautoimmune C57BL/6 mice. This resulted in decreased serum levels of IgE, increased levels of IgG2a and IgG2a anti–double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) Ab’s, and exacerbated lupus. Conversely, treatment of NZB/W mice with blocking anti-CD1d mAb augmented Th2-type responses, increased serum levels of IgE, decreased levels of IgG2a and IgG2a anti-dsDNA Ab’s, and ameliorated lupus. While total CD4+ T cells markedly augmented in vitro IgM anti-dsDNA Ab secretion by splenic B cells, the non–CD1d-reactive (CD1d-αGalCer tetramer-negative) CD4+ T cells (accounting for 95% of all CD4+ T cells) failed to augment Ab secretion. The CD1d-reactive tetramer-positive CD4+ T cells augmented anti-dsDNA Ab secretion about tenfold. In conclusion, activation of NKT cells augments Th1-type immune responses and autoantibody secretion that contribute to lupus development in adult NZB/W mice, and anti-CD1d mAb might be useful for treating lupus.
Tuberous sclerosis (TSC) is a familial tumor syndrome due to mutations in TSC1 or TSC2, in which progression to malignancy is rare. Primary Tsc2–/– murine embryo fibroblast cultures display early senescence with overexpression of p21CIP1/WAF1 that is rescued by loss of TP53. Tsc2–/–TP53–/– cells, as well as tumors from Tsc2+/– mice, display an mTOR-activation signature with constitutive activation of S6K, which is reverted by treatment with rapamycin. Rapamycin also reverts a growth advantage of Tsc2–/–TP53–/– cells. Tsc1/Tsc2 does not bind directly to mTOR, however, nor does it directly influence mTOR kinase activity or cellular phosphatase activity. There is a marked reduction in Akt activation in Tsc2–/–TP53–/– and Tsc1–/– cells in response to serum and PDGF, along with a reduction in cell ruffling. PDGFRα and PDGFRβ expression is markedly reduced in both the cell lines and Tsc mouse renal cystadenomas, and ectopic expression of PDGFRβ in Tsc2-null cells restores Akt phosphorylation in response to serum, PDGF, EGF, and insulin. This activation of mTOR along with downregulation of PDGFR PI3K-Akt signaling in cells lacking Tsc1 or Tsc2 may explain why these genes are rarely involved in human cancer. This is in contrast to PTEN, which is a negative upstream regulator of this pathway.
Interactions of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) with endothelial cells may contribute to the activation of endothelial cell responses involved in innate immunity. We explored a novel function of PMN NADPH oxidase in the mechanism of Toll-like receptor-2 (TLR2) upregulation induced by LPS-TLR4 signaling in endothelial cells. We showed that LPS induced TLR2 up-regulation through TLR4- and MyD88-dependent signaling. In neutropenic mice, the LPS-induced NF-kB activation and TLR2 expression were significantly reduced, and both responses were restored upon repletion by PMN obtained from WT mice but not by PMNs from NADPH oxidase gp91phox–/– mice. These findings were recapitulated in mouse lung vascular endothelial cells cocultured with PMNs, indicating that the augmented NF-kB activation and the resultant TLR2 upregulation in endothelial cells were secondary to oxidant signaling generated by PMN NADPH oxidase. The functional relevance of NADPH oxidase in mediating TLR4-induced TLR2 expression in endothelial cells was evident by markedly elevated and stable ICAM-1 expression as well as augmented PMN migration in response to sequential challenge with LPS and peptidoglycan. Thus, PMN NADPH oxidase–derived oxidant signaling is an important determinant of the cross talk between TLR4 and TLR2 and the control of endothelial cell activation.
Guanylin and uroguanylin, peptides synthesized in the intestine and kidney, have been postulated to have both paracrine and endocrine functions, forming a potential enteric-renal link to coordinate salt ingestion with natriuresis. To explore the in vivo role of uroguanylin in the regulation of sodium excretion, we created gene-targeted mice in which uroguanylin gene expression had been ablated. Northern and Western analysis confirmed the absence of uroguanylin message and protein in knockout mice, and cGMP levels were decreased in the mucosa of the small intestine. Ussing chamber analysis of jejunum revealed that Na+/H+ exchanger–mediated Na+ absorption and tissue conductance was not altered in the knockout animals, but short-circuit current, an index of electrogenic anion secretion, was reduced. Renal clearance measurements showed that uroguanylin deficiency results in impaired ability to excrete an enteral load of NaCl, primarily due to an inappropriate increase in renal Na+ reabsorption. Finally, telemetric recordings of blood pressure demonstrated increased mean arterial pressure in uroguanylin knockout animals that was independent of the level of dietary salt intake. Together, these findings establish a role for uroguanylin in an enteric-renal communication axis as well as a fundamental principle of this axis in the maintenance of salt homeostasis in vivo.
Patients with pseudohypoparathyroidism type Ib (PHP-Ib) have hypocalcemia and hyperphosphatemia due to renal parathyroid hormone (PTH) resistance, but lack physical features of Albright hereditary osteodystrophy. PHP-Ib is thus distinct from PHP-Ia, which is caused by mutations in the GNAS exons encoding the G protein α subunit. However, an imprinted autosomal dominant form of PHP-Ib (AD-PHP-Ib) has been mapped to a region of chromosome 20q13.3 containing GNAS. Furthermore, loss of methylation at a differentially methylated region (DMR) of this locus, exon A/B, has been observed thus far in all investigated sporadic PHP-Ib cases and the affected members of multiple AD-PHP-Ib kindreds. We now report that affected members and obligate gene carriers of 12 unrelated AD-PHP-Ib kindreds and four apparently sporadic PHP-Ib patients, but not healthy controls, have a heterozygous approximately 3-kb microdeletion located approximately 220 kb centromeric of GNAS exon A/B. The deleted region, which is flanked by two direct repeats, includes three exons of STX16, the gene encoding syntaxin-16, for which no evidence of imprinting could be found. Affected individuals carrying the microdeletion show loss of exon A/B methylation but no epigenetic abnormalities at other GNAS DMRs. We therefore postulate that this microdeletion disrupts a putative cis-acting element required for methylation at exon A/B, and that this genetic defect underlies the renal PTH resistance in AD-PHP-Ib.
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