Cytokines secreted by cells that mediate the innate and adaptive immune responses play a critical role in regulating the synthesis of ECM components by fibroblasts. Overexpression and deposition of ECM components are dominant features of fibrotic diseases, including hepatic fibrosis. The contribution of CD4+ Th2 cells to hepatic fibrosis has been well described. Now, in this issue of the JCI, Novobrantseva et al. provide data to suggest that hepatic B cells also play a role in liver injury. In a carbon tetrachloride–induced mouse model of hepatic fibrosis, T cell–deficient mice developed severe liver fibrosis; however, in B cell–deficient animals, hepatic fibrosis was attenuated. This study provides new insight into our understanding of the cells involved in mediating the adaptive immune response that leads to hepatic fibrosis.
There is a strong link between high fat intake and obesity. In addition to its high caloric density, dietary fat has a hyperphagic effect, in part as a result of its high palatability. The recent identification by Laugerette et al. of CD36 as a taste receptor for fatty acids provides insight into the molecular basis of our preference for fat. As we gain more information regarding the function of this receptor, we may be able to devise better strategies to address the addictive potential of dietary fat.
Autosomal-dominant pure hereditary spastic paraplegia (AD-HSP) is characterized by the degeneration of long axons in corticospinal tracts and dorsal columns, resulting in spasticity and difficulty walking. Mutations in the SPG4 gene product spastin are the predominant genetic lesions associated with this inherited disease. In this issue, Orso et al. examine and reconcile existing Drosophila mutants of spastin and generate a new model for HSP by overexpression of a fly spastin transgene that carries a mutation prevalent in human AD-HSP. Expression of this mutant spastin protein produces pathology in flies reminiscent of the human disease, including adult locomotion defects, in addition to causing aberrant synaptic morphology and altered microtubule stability. Both movement and synaptic defects in fly mutants were ameliorated by treatment with the microtubule-modifying agent vinblastine. The results are consistent with disease-causing mutations in human spastin producing dominant-negative proteins and confirm the usefulness of Drosophila genetic techniques to understand HSP and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Classically, 7 transmembrane receptors transduce extracellular signals by coupling to heterotrimeric G proteins, although recent in vitro studies have clearly demonstrated that they can also signal via G protein–independent mechanisms. However, the physiologic consequences of this unconventional signaling, particularly in vivo, have not been explored. In this issue of the JCI, Zhai et al. demonstrate in vivo effects of G protein–independent signaling by the angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R). In studies of the mouse heart, they compare the physiologic and biochemical consequences of transgenic cardiac-specific overexpression of a mutant AT1R incapable of G protein coupling with those of a wild-type receptor. Their results not only provide the first glimpse of the physiologic effects of this newly appreciated mode of signaling but also provide important and previously unappreciated clues as to the underlying molecular mechanisms.
Discovery of mutated genes that cause various types of primary immunodeficiencies has significantly advanced our understanding of the pathogenesis of these diseases and of the functions of normal gene products. However, it is becoming abundantly clear that the phenotypic presentation of mutations in a given gene can be quite different, depending upon the location and type of mutation but also probably upon other genetic factors and environmental influences. In this issue of the JCI, de Villartay et al. describe a third phenotype for mutations in recombination activating gene 1 (RAG1), in addition to the already known phenotypes of SCID and Omenn syndrome.
An important physiological response to changes in local or systemic oxygenation is the modulation of vascular tone, which is mediated in part by changes in the activities of the 3 NO synthase (NOS) isoforms. In arterial smooth muscle cells, acute hypoxia induces increased vascular tone, which is attenuated if hypoxia persists. In this issue of the JCI, Ward et al. demonstrate that changes in O2 concentration have effects on neuronal NOS enzymatic activity and gene expression that contribute to vascular homeostasis under conditions of acute and chronic hypoxia.
Inflammatory angiogenesis is a critical process in tumor progression and other diseases. The inflammatory cytokine IL-1β promotes angiogenesis, tumor growth, and metastasis, but its mechanisms remain unclear. We examined the association between IL-1β–induced angiogenesis and cell inflammation. IL-1β induced neovascularization in the mouse cornea at rates comparable to those of VEGF. Neutrophil infiltration occurred on day 2. Macrophage infiltration occurred on days 4 and 6. The anti–Gr-1 Ab-induced depletion of infiltrating neutrophils did not affect IL-1β– or VEGF-induced angiogenesis. The former was reduced in monocyte chemoattractant protein-1–deficient (MCP-1–/–) mice compared with wild-type mice. After day 4, clodronate liposomes, which kill macrophages, reduced IL-1β–induced angiogenesis and partially inhibited VEGF-induced angiogenesis. Infiltrating macrophages near the IL-1β–induced neovasculature were COX-2 positive. Lewis lung carcinoma cells expressing IL-1β (LLC/IL-1β) developed neovasculature with macrophage infiltration and enhanced tumor growth in wild-type but not MCP-1–/– mice. A COX-2 inhibitor reduced tumor growth, angiogenesis, and macrophage infiltration in LLC/IL-1β. Thus, macrophage involvement might be a prerequisite for IL-1β–induced neovascularization and tumor progression.
The molecular and cellular pathways that support the maintenance and stability of tumor neovessels are not well defined. The efficacy of microtubule-disrupting agents, such as combretastatin A4 phosphate (CA4P), in inducing rapid regression of specific subsets of tumor neovessels has opened up new avenues of research to identify factors that support tumor neoangiogenesis. Herein, we show that CA4P selectively targeted endothelial cells, but not smooth muscle cells, and induced regression of unstable nascent tumor neovessels by rapidly disrupting the molecular engagement of the endothelial cell–specific junctional molecule vascular endothelial-cadherin (VE-cadherin) in vitro and in vivo in mice. CA4P increases endothelial cell permeability, while inhibiting endothelial cell migration and capillary tube formation predominantly through disruption of VE-cadherin/β-catenin/Akt signaling pathway, thereby leading to rapid vascular collapse and tumor necrosis. Remarkably, stabilization of VE-cadherin signaling in endothelial cells with adenovirus E4 gene or ensheathment with smooth muscle cells confers resistance to CA4P. CA4P synergizes with low and nontoxic doses of neutralizing mAbs to VE-cadherin by blocking assembly of neovessels, thereby inhibiting tumor growth. These data suggest that the microtubule-targeting agent CA4P selectively induces regression of unstable tumor neovessels, in part through disruption of VE-cadherin signaling. Combined treatment with anti–VE-cadherin agents in conjunction with microtubule-disrupting agents provides a novel synergistic strategy to selectively disrupt assembly and induce regression of nascent tumor neovessels, with minimal toxicity and without affecting normal stabilized vasculature.
Hemin upregulates heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a stress-induced enzyme implicated in protection from a variety of injuries while its related isoform HO-2 is constitutively expressed. The role of hemin or HO-1 in the pancreas and their potential modulation of pancreatic injury are unknown. We show that HO-1 is induced in pancreatitis caused by caerulein and more prominently in severe pancreatitis caused by feeding a choline-deficient diet (CDD). Intraperitoneal hemin administration dramatically increases peritoneal and pancreas macrophages that overexpress HO-1 in association with pancreatic induction of the chemoattractants monocyte chemotactic protein-1 and macrophage inflammatory protein-1α but not RANTES or macrophage inflammatory protein-2. Hemin administration before CDD feeding protected 8 of 8 mice from lethality while 7 of 16 controls died. Protection is mediated by HO-1–overexpressing macrophages since hemin-primed macrophages home to the pancreas after transfer to naive mice and protect from CDD-induced pancreatitis. Suppression of hemin-primed peritoneal cell HO-1 using HO-1–specific small interfering RNA prior to cell transfer abolishes protection from CDD-induced pancreatitis. Similarly, hemin pretreatment in caerulein-induced pancreatitis reduces serum amylase and lipase, decreases pancreatic trypsin generation, and protects from lung injury. Therefore, hemin-like compounds or hemin-activated macrophages may offer novel therapeutic approaches for preventing acute pancreatitis and its pulmonary complication via upregulation of HO-1.
The molecular anatomy of cancer cells is being explored through unbiased approaches aimed at the identification of cancer-specific transcriptional signatures. An alternative biased approach is exploitation of molecular tools capable of inducing cellular transformation. Transcriptional signatures thus identified can be readily validated in real cancers and more easily reverse-engineered into signaling pathways, given preexisting molecular knowledge. We exploited the ability of the adenovirus early region 1 A protein (E1A) oncogene to force the reentry into the cell cycle of terminally differentiated cells in order to identify and characterize genes whose expression is upregulated in this process. A subset of these genes was activated through a retinoblastoma protein/E2 viral promoter required factor–independent (pRb/E2F-independent) mechanism and was overexpressed in a fraction of human cancers. Furthermore, this overexpression correlated with tumor progression in colon cancer, and 2 of these genes predicted unfavorable prognosis in breast cancer. A proof of principle biological validation was performed on one of the genes of the signature, skeletal muscle cell reentry-induced (SKIN) gene, a previously undescribed gene. SKIN was found overexpressed in some primary tumors and tumor cell lines and was amplified in a fraction of colon adenocarcinomas. Furthermore, knockdown of SKIN caused selective growth suppression in overexpressing tumor cell lines but not in tumor lines expressing physiological levels of the transcript. Thus, SKIN is a candidate oncogene in human cancer.
Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are a group of neurodegenerative diseases characterized by progressive weakness and spasticity of the lower limbs. Dominant mutations in the human SPG4 gene, encoding spastin, are responsible for the most frequent form of HSP. Spastin is an ATPase that binds microtubules and localizes to the spindle pole and distal axon in mammalian cell lines. Furthermore, its Drosophila homolog, Drosophila spastin (Dspastin), has been recently shown to regulate microtubule stability and synaptic function at the Drosophila larval neuromuscular junction. Here we report the generation of a spastin-linked HSP animal model and show that in Drosophila, neural knockdown of Dspastin and, conversely, neural overexpression of Dspastin containing a conserved pathogenic mutation both recapitulate some phenotypic aspects of the human disease, including adult onset, locomotor impairment, and neurodegeneration. At the subcellular level, neuronal expression of both Dspastin RNA interference and mutant Dspastin cause an excessive stabilization of microtubules in the neuromuscular junction synapse. In addition, we provide evidence that administration of the microtubule targeting drug vinblastine significantly attenuates these phenotypes in vivo. Our findings demonstrate that loss of spastin function elicits HSP-like phenotypes in Drosophila, provide novel insights into the molecular mechanism of spastin mutations, and raise the possibility that therapy with Vinca alkaloids may be efficacious in spastin-associated HSP and other disorders related to microtubule dysfunction.
Many proinflammatory cytokines, such as leptin, play key roles in dynamic regulation of energy expenditure and food intake. The present work tested a role for the proinflammatory cytokine GM-CSF. Central but not peripheral administration of GM-CSF to adult rats significantly decreased food intake and body weight for at least 48 hours. Similar results were observed following central administration of GM-CSF in mice. GM-CSF receptor immunoreactivity was found on neurons within the paraventricular and arcuate nuclei of the hypothalamus. GM-CSF–deficient (GM–/–) mice weighed more and had significantly higher total body fat than wild-type (GM+/+) mice. Energy expenditure in GM–/– mice was decreased compared with that in GM+/+ mice. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that GM-CSF signaling in the CNS can regulate energy homeostasis.
Ang II type 1 (AT1) receptors activate both conventional heterotrimeric G protein–dependent and unconventional G protein–independent mechanisms. We investigated how these different mechanisms activated by AT1 receptors affect growth and death of cardiac myocytes in vivo. Transgenic mice with cardiac-specific overexpression of WT AT1 receptor (AT1-WT; Tg-WT mice) or an AT1 receptor second intracellular loop mutant (AT1-i2m; Tg-i2m mice) selectively activating Gαq/Gαi-independent mechanisms were studied. Tg-i2m mice developed more severe cardiac hypertrophy and bradycardia coupled with lower cardiac function than Tg-WT mice. In contrast, Tg-WT mice exhibited more severe fibrosis and apoptosis than Tg-i2m mice. Chronic Ang II infusion induced greater cardiac hypertrophy in Tg-i2m compared with Tg-WT mice whereas acute Ang II administration caused an increase in heart rate in Tg-WT but not in Tg-i2m mice. Membrane translocation of PKCε, cytoplasmic translocation of Gαq, and nuclear localization of phospho-ERKs were observed only in Tg-WT mice while activation of Src and cytoplasmic accumulation of phospho-ERKs were greater in Tg-i2m mice, consistent with the notion that Gαq/Gαi-independent mechanisms are activated in Tg-i2m mice. Cultured myocytes expressing AT1-i2m exhibited a left and upward shift of the Ang II dose-response curve of hypertrophy compared with those expressing AT1-WT. Thus, the AT1 receptor mediates downstream signaling mechanisms through Gαq/Gαi-dependent and -independent mechanisms, which induce hypertrophy with a distinct phenotype.
The Th1 and Th2 T cell responses that underlie inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are likely to depend on NF-κB transcriptional activity. We explored this possibility in studies in which we determined the capacity of NF-κB decoy oligodeoxynucleotides (decoy ODNs) to treat various murine models of IBD. In initial studies, we showed that i.r. (intrarectal) or i.p. administration of decoy ODNs encapsulated in a viral envelope prevented and treated a model of acute trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid–induced (TNBS-induced) colitis, as assessed by clinical course and effect on Th1 cytokine production. In further studies, we showed that NF-κB decoy ODNs were also an effective treatment of a model of chronic TNBS-colitis, inhibiting both the production of IL-23/IL-17 and the development of fibrosis that characterizes this model. Treatment of TNBS-induced inflammation by i.r. administration of NF-κB decoy ODNs did not inhibit NF-κB in extraintestinal organs and resulted in CD4+ T cell apoptosis, suggesting that such treatment is highly focused and durable. Finally, we showed that NF-κB decoy ODNs also prevented and treated oxazolone-colitis and thus affect a Th2-mediated inflammatory process. In each case, decoy administration led to inflammation-clearing effects, suggesting a therapeutic potency applicable to human IBD.
Analysis of mononuclear cells in the adult mouse liver revealed that B cells represent as much as half of the intrahepatic lymphocyte population. Intrahepatic B cells (IHB cells) are phenotypically similar to splenic B2 cells but express lower levels of CD23 and CD21 and higher levels of CD5. IHB cells proliferate as well as splenic B cells in response to anti-IgM and LPS stimulation in vitro. VDJ gene rearrangements in IHB cells contain insertions of N,P region nucleotides characteristic of B cells maturing in the adult bone marrow rather than in the fetal liver. To evaluate whether B cells can have an impact on liver pathology, we compared CCl4-induced fibrosis development in B cell–deficient and wild-type mice. CCl4 caused similar acute liver injury in mutant and wild-type mice. However, following 6 weeks of CCl4 treatment, histochemical analyses showed markedly reduced collagen deposition in B cell–deficient as compared with wild-type mice. By analyzing mice that have normal numbers of B cells but lack either T cells or immunoglobulin in the serum, we established that B cells have an impact on fibrosis in an antibody- and T cell–independent manner.
The cytokines B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS) and a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL) enhance autoimmune disease by sustaining B cell activation. In RA, B cells contribute to the formation of 3 functionally distinct types of lymphoid microarchitectures in the inflamed synovium: ectopic GCs; T cell–B cell aggregates lacking GC reactions; and unorganized, diffuse infiltrates. We examined 72 tissues representing the 3 types of synovitis for BLyS and APRIL production and for expression of APRIL/BLyS receptors. Biologic effects of BLyS and APRIL were explored by treating human synovium–SCID mouse chimeras with the APRIL and BLyS decoy receptor transmembrane activator and CAML interactor:Fc (TACI:Fc). GC+ synovitis had the highest levels of APRIL, produced exclusively by CD83+ DCs. BLyS was present in similar levels in all tissue types and derived exclusively from CD68+ macrophages. In GC+ synovitis, treatment with TACI:Fc resulted in GC destruction and marked inhibition of IFN-γ and Ig transcription. In contrast, inhibition of APRIL and BLyS in aggregate and diffuse synovitis left Ig levels unaffected and enhanced IFN-γ production. These differential immunomodulatory effects correlated with the presence of TACI+ T cells in aggregate and diffuse synovitis and their absence in GC+ synovitis. We propose that BLyS and APRIL regulate B cell as well as T cell function and have pro- and antiinflammatory activities in RA.
NKT cells have pivotal roles in immune regulation and tumor immunosurveillance. We report that the G-CSF and FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt-3L) chimeric cytokine, progenipoietin-1, markedly expands the splenic and hepatic NKT cell population and enhances functional responses to α-galactosylceramide. In a murine model of allogeneic stem cell transplantation, donor NKT cells promoted host DC activation and enhanced perforin-restricted CD8+ T cell cytotoxicity against host-type antigens. Following leukemic challenge, donor treatment with progenipoietin-1 significantly improved overall survival when compared with G-CSF or control, attributable to reduced graft-versus-host disease mortality and paradoxical augmentation of graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effects. Enhanced cellular cytotoxicity was dependent on donor NKT cells, and leukemia clearance was profoundly impaired in recipients of NKT cell–deficient grafts. Enhanced cytotoxicity and GVL effects were not associated with Flt-3L signaling or effects on DCs but were reproduced by prolonged G-CSF receptor engagement with pegylated G-CSF. Thus, modified G-CSF signaling during stem cell mobilization augments NKT cell–dependent CD8+ cytotoxicity, effectively separating graft-versus-host disease and GVL and greatly expanding the potential applicability of allogeneic stem cell transplantation for the therapy of malignant disease.
The hippocampal dentate gyrus in the adult mammalian brain contains neural stem/progenitor cells (NS/PCs) capable of generating new neurons, i.e., neurogenesis. Most drugs of abuse examined to date decrease adult hippocampal neurogenesis, but the effects of cannabis (marijuana or cannabinoids) on hippocampal neurogenesis remain unknown. This study aimed at investigating the potential regulatory capacity of the potent synthetic cannabinoid HU210 on hippocampal neurogenesis and its possible correlation with behavioral change. We show that both embryonic and adult rat hippocampal NS/PCs are immunoreactive for CB1 cannabinoid receptors, indicating that cannabinoids could act on CB1 receptors to regulate neurogenesis. This hypothesis is supported by further findings that HU210 promotes proliferation, but not differentiation, of cultured embryonic hippocampal NS/PCs likely via a sequential activation of CB1 receptors, Gi/o proteins, and ERK signaling. Chronic, but not acute, HU210 treatment promoted neurogenesis in the hippocampal dentate gyrus of adult rats and exerted anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects. X-irradiation of the hippocampus blocked both the neurogenic and behavioral effects of chronic HU210 treatment, suggesting that chronic HU210 treatment produces anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects likely via promotion of hippocampal neurogenesis.
Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) is a pore-forming toxin secreted by Staphylococcus aureus that has recently been associated with necrotizing pneumonia. In the present study, we report that in vitro, PVL induces polymorphonuclear cell death by necrosis or by apoptosis, depending on the PVL concentration. PVL-induced apoptosis was associated with a rapid disruption of mitochondrial homeostasis and activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3, suggesting that PVL-induced apoptosis is preferentially mediated by the mitochondrial pathway. Polymorphonuclear cell exposure to PVL leads to mitochondrial localization of the toxin, whereas Bax, 1 of the 2 essential proapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family, was still localized in the cytosol. Addition of PVL to isolated mitochondria induced the release of the apoptogenic proteins cytochrome c and Smac/DIABLO. Therefore, we suggest that PVL, which belongs to the pore-forming toxin family, could act at the mitochondrion level by creating pores in the mitochondrial outer membrane. Furthermore, LukS-PV, 1 of the 2 components of PVL, was detected in lung sections of patients with necrotizing pneumonia together with DNA fragmentation, suggesting that PVL induces apoptosis in vivo and thereby is directly involved in the pathophysiology of necrotizing pneumonia.
We tested the hypothesis that induction of neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) impairs vascular smooth muscle contractility after hypoxia. nNOS protein was increased in aorta, mesenteric arterioles, pulmonary arteries, brain, and diaphragm from rats exposed to 8% O2 for 48 hours and in human aortic SMCs after hypoxic incubation (1% O2). Ca2+-dependent NO synthase activity was increased in endothelium-denuded aortic segments from hypoxia-exposed rats. NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester enhanced the contractile responses of endothelium-denuded aortic rings and mesenteric arterioles from hypoxia-exposed but not normoxic rats (P < 0.05). The hypoxia-inducible mRNA transcript expressed by human cells was found to contain a novel 5′-untranslated region, consistent with activation of transcription in the genomic region contiguous with exon 2. Translational efficiency of this transcript is markedly increased compared with previously described human nNOS mRNAs. Transgenic mice possessing a lacZ reporter construct under control of these genomic sequences demonstrated expression of the construct after exposure to hypoxia (8% O2, 48 hours) in the aorta, mesenteric arterioles, renal papilla, and brain. These results reveal a novel human nNOS promoter that confers the ability to rapidly upregulate nNOS expression in response to hypoxia with a functionally significant effect on vascular smooth muscle contraction.
We describe here a patient with a clinical and molecular diagnosis of recombinase activating gene 1–deficient (RAG1-deficient) SCID, who produced specific antibodies despite minimal B cell numbers. Memory B cells were detected and antibodies were produced not only against some vaccines and infections, but also against autoantigens. The patient had severely reduced levels of oligoclonal T cells expressing the αβ TCR but surprisingly normal numbers of T cells expressing the γδ TCR. Analysis at a clonal level and TCR complementarity-determining region–3 spectratyping for γδ T cells revealed a diversified oligoclonal repertoire with predominance of cells expressing a γ4-δ3 TCR. Several γδ T cell clones displayed reactivity against CMV-infected cells. These observations are compatible with 2 non–mutually exclusive explanations for the γδ T cell predominance: a developmental advantage and infection-triggered, antigen-driven peripheral expansion. The patient carried the homozygous hypomorphic R561H RAG1 mutation leading to reduced V(D)J recombination but lacked all clinical features characteristic of Omenn syndrome. This report describes a new phenotype of RAG deficiency and shows that the ability to form specific antibodies does not exclude the diagnosis of SCID.
Epidemiologic evidence has established a relationship between microbial infection and atherosclerosis. Mammalian TLRs provide clues on the mechanism of this inflammatory cascade. TLR2 has a large ligand repertoire that includes bacterial-derived exogenous and possibly host-derived endogenous ligands. In atherosclerosis-susceptible low-density lipoprotein receptor–deficient (Ldlr–/–) mice, complete deficiency of TLR2 led to a reduction in atherosclerosis. However, with BM transplantation, loss of TLR2 expression from BM-derived cells had no effect on disease progression. This suggested that an unknown endogenous TLR2 agonist influenced lesion progression by activating TLR2 in cells that were not of BM cell origin. Moreover, with intraperitoneal administration of a synthetic TLR2/TLR1 agonist, Pam3CSK4, disease burden was dramatically increased in Ldlr–/– mice. A complete deficiency of TLR2 in Ldlr–/– mice, as well as a deficiency of TLR2 only in BM-derived cells in Ldlr–/– mice, led to striking protection against Pam3CSK4-mediated atherosclerosis, suggesting a role for BM-derived cell expression of TLR2 in transducing the effects of an exogenous TLR2 agonist. These studies support the concept that chronic or recurrent microbial infections may contribute to atherosclerotic disease. Additionally, these data suggest the presence of host-derived endogenous TLR2 agonists.
Autoantibodies against the epidermal desmosomal cadherins desmoglein 1 (Dsg1) and Dsg3 have been shown to cause severe to lethal skin blistering clinically defined as pemphigus foliaceus (PF) and pemphigus vulgaris (PV). It is unknown whether antibody-induced dissociation of keratinocytes is caused by direct inhibition of Dsg1 transinteraction or by secondary cellular responses. Here we show in an in vitro system that IgGs purified from PF patient sera caused cellular dissociation of cultured human keratinocytes as well as significant release of Dsg1-coated microbeads attached to Dsg-containing sites on the keratinocyte cellular surface. However, cell dissociation and bead release induced by PF-IgGs was not caused by direct steric hindrance of Dsg1 transinteraction, as demonstrated by single molecule atomic force measurements and by laser trapping of surface-bound Dsg1-coated microbeads. Rather, our experiments strongly indicate that PF-IgG–mediated dissociation events must involve autoantibody-triggered cellular signaling pathways, resulting in destabilization of Dsg1-based adhesive sites and desmosomes.
Notch is a highly conserved transmembrane receptor that determines cell fate. Notch signaling denotes cleavage of the Notch intracellular domain, its translocation to the nucleus, and subsequent activation of target gene transcription. Involvement of Notch signaling in several cancers is well known, but its role in melanoma remains poorly characterized. Here we show that the Notch1 pathway is activated in human melanoma. Blocking Notch signaling suppressed whereas constitutive activation of the Notch1 pathway enhanced primary melanoma cell growth both in vitro and in vivo yet had little effect on metastatic melanoma cells. Activation of Notch1 signaling enabled primary melanoma cells to gain metastatic capability. Furthermore, the oncogenic effect of Notch1 on primary melanoma cells was mediated by β-catenin, which was upregulated following Notch1 activation. Inhibiting β-catenin expression reversed Notch1-enhanced tumor growth and metastasis. Our data therefore suggest a β-catenin–dependent, stage-specific role for Notch1 signaling in promoting the progression of primary melanoma.
Rats and mice exhibit a spontaneous attraction for lipids. Such a behavior raises the possibility that an orosensory system is responsible for the detection of dietary lipids. The fatty acid transporter CD36 appears to be a plausible candidate for this function since it has a high affinity for long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) and is found in lingual papillae in the rat. To explore this hypothesis further, experiments were conducted in rats and in wild-type and CD36-null mice. In mice, RT-PCR experiments with primers specific for candidate lipid-binding proteins revealed that only CD36 expression was restricted to lingual papillae although absent from the palatal papillae. Immunostaining studies showed a distribution of CD36 along the apical side of circumvallate taste bud cells. CD36 gene inactivation fully abolished the preference for LCFA-enriched solutions and solid diet observed in wild-type mice. Furthermore, in rats and wild-type mice with an esophageal ligation, deposition of unsaturated LCFAs onto the tongue led to a rapid and sustained rise in flux and protein content of pancreatobiliary secretions. These findings demonstrate that CD36 is involved in oral LCFA detection and raise the possibility that an alteration in the lingual fat perception may be linked to feeding dysregulation.
Neurologic impairment in HIV-1–associated dementia (HAD) and other neuroinflammatory diseases correlates with injury to dendrites and synapses, but how such injury occurs is not known. We hypothesized that neuroinflammation makes dendrites susceptible to excitotoxic injury following synaptic activity. We report that platelet-activating factor, an inflammatory phospholipid that mediates synaptic plasticity and neurotoxicity and is dramatically elevated in the brain during HAD, promotes dendrite injury following elevated synaptic activity and can replicate HIV-1–associated dendritic pathology. In hippocampal slices exposed to a stable platelet-activating factor analogue, tetanic stimulation that normally induces long-term synaptic potentiation instead promoted development of calcium- and caspase-dependent dendritic beading. Chemical preconditioning with diazoxide, a mitochondrial ATP-sensitive potassium channel agonist, prevented dendritic beading and restored long-term potentiation. In contrast to models invoking excessive glutamate release, these results suggest that physiologic synaptic activity may trigger excitotoxic dendritic injury during chronic neuroinflammation. Furthermore, preconditioning may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for preventing excitotoxic injury while preserving physiologic plasticity.
Decreased IL-2 production in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) represents a central component of the disease immunopathology. We report that the message, protein, and enzymatic activity of the catalytic subunit of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2Ac), but not PP1, are increased in patients with SLE regardless of disease activity and treatment and in a disease-specific manner. Treatment of SLE T cells with PP2Ac-siRNA decreased the protein levels and activity of PP2Ac in a specific manner and increased the levels of phosphorylated cAMP response element–binding protein and its binding to the IL2 and c-fos promoters, as well as increased activator protein 1 activity, causing normalization of IL-2 production. Our data document increased activity of PP2A as a novel SLE disease-specific abnormality and define a distinct mechanism whereby it represses IL-2 production. We propose the use of PP2Ac-siRNA as a novel tool to correct T cell IL-2 production in SLE patients.
Breach of B cell tolerance is central to the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). However, how B cell tolerance is subverted in human SLE is poorly understood due to difficulties in identifying relevant autoreactive B cells and in obtaining lymphoid tissue. We have circumvented these limitations by using tonsil biopsies to study autoreactive B cells (9G4 B cells), whose regulation is abnormal in SLE. Here we show that 9G4 B cells are physiologically excluded during the early stages of the GC reaction before acquiring a centroblast phenotype. Furthermore, we provide evidence to indicate that an anergic response to B cell receptor stimulation may be responsible for such behavior. In contrast, in SLE, 9G4 B cells progressed unimpeded through this checkpoint, successfully participated in GC reactions, and expanded within the post-GC IgG memory and plasma cell compartments. The faulty regulation of 9G4 B cells was not shared by RA patients. To our knowledge, this work represents the first comparative analysis of the fate of a specific autoreactive human B cell population. The results identify a defective tolerance checkpoint that appears to be specific for human SLE.
The G protein Gsα is essential for hormone-stimulated cAMP generation and is an important metabolic regulator. We investigated the role of liver Gs-signaling pathways by developing mice with liver-specific Gsα deficiency (LGsKO mice). LGsKO mice had increased liver weight and glycogen content and reduced adiposity, whereas survival, body weight, food intake, and metabolic rates at ambient temperature were unaffected. LGsKO mice had increased glucose tolerance with both increased glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and increased insulin sensitivity in liver and muscle. Fed LGsKO mice were hypoglycemic and hypoinsulinemic, with low expression of hepatic gluconeogenic enzymes and PPARγ coactivator–1. However, LGsKO mice maintained normal fasting glucose and insulin levels, probably due to prolonged breakdown of glycogen stores and possibly increased extrahepatic gluconeogenesis. Lipid metabolism was unaffected in fed LGsKO mice, but fasted LGsKO mice had increased lipogenic and reduced lipid oxidation gene expression in liver and increased serum triglyceride and FFA levels. LGsKO mice had very high serum glucagon and glucagon-like peptide–1 levels and pancreatic α cell hyperplasia, probably secondary to hepatic glucagon resistance and/or chronic hypoglycemia. Our results define novel roles for hepatic Gs-signaling pathways in glucose and lipid regulation, which may prove useful in designing new therapeutic targets for diabetes and obesity.
Vascular SMC proliferation is a crucial event in occlusive cardiovascular diseases. PPARα is a nuclear receptor controlling lipid metabolism and inflammation, but its role in the regulation of SMC growth remains to be established. Here, we show that PPARα controls SMC cell-cycle progression at the G1/S transition by targeting the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor and tumor suppressor p16INK4a (p16), resulting in an inhibition of retinoblastoma protein phosphorylation. PPARα activates p16 gene transcription by both binding to a canonical PPAR-response element and interacting with the transcription factor Sp1 at specific proximal Sp1-binding sites of the p16 promoter. In a carotid arterial–injury mouse model, p16 deficiency results in an enhanced SMC proliferation underlying intimal hyperplasia. Moreover, PPARα activation inhibits SMC growth in vivo, and this effect requires p16 expression. These results identify an unexpected role for p16 in SMC cell-cycle control and demonstrate that PPARα inhibits SMC proliferation through p16. Thus, the PPARα/p16 pathway may be a potential pharmacological target for the prevention of cardiovascular occlusive complications of atherosclerosis.
Thymic tissue has previously been considered a requirement for the generation of a functional and diverse population of human T cells. We report that fibroblasts and keratinocytes from human skin arrayed on a synthetic 3-dimensional matrix support the development of functional human T cells from hematopoietic precursor cells in the absence of thymic tissue. Newly generated T cells contained T cell receptor excision circles, possessed a diverse T cell repertoire, and were functionally mature and tolerant to self MHC, indicating successful completion of positive and negative selection. Skin cell cultures expressed the AIRE, Foxn1, and Hoxa3 transcription factors and a panel of autoantigens. Skin and bone marrow biopsies can thus be used to generate de novo functional and diverse T cell populations for potential therapeutic use in immunosuppressed patients.
The persistence of latently infected, resting CD4+ T cells is considered to be a major obstacle in preventing the eradication of HIV-1 even in patients who have received effective antiviral therapy for an average duration of 5 years. Although previous studies have suggested that the latent HIV reservoir in the resting CD4+ T cell compartment is virologically quiescent in the absence of activating stimuli, evidence has been mounting to suggest that low levels of ongoing viral replication persist and in turn, prolong the overall half-life of HIV in patients receiving antiviral therapy. Here, we demonstrate the persistence of replication-competent virus in CD4+ T cells in a cohort of patients who had received uninterrupted antiviral therapy for up to 9.1 years that rendered them consistently aviremic throughout that time. Surprisingly, substantially higher levels of HIV proviral DNA were found in activated CD4+ T cells when compared with resting CD4+ T cells in the majority of patients we studied. Phylogenetic analyses revealed evidence for cross infection between the resting and activated CD4+ T cell compartments, suggesting that ongoing reactivation of latently infected, resting CD4+ T cells and spread of virus by activated CD4+ T cells may occur in these patients. Such events may allow continual replenishment of the CD4+ T cell reservoir and resetting of the half-life of the latently infected, resting CD4+ T cells despite prolonged periods of aviremia.
DC-specific ICAM3-grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN), which is expressed on DCs, can interact with a variety of pathogens such as HIV-1, hepatitis C, Ebola, cytomegalovirus, Dengue virus, Mycobacterium, Leishmania, and Candida albicans. We demonstrate that human milk can inhibit the DC-SIGN–mediated transfer of HIV-1 to CD4+ T lymphocytes as well as viral transfer by both immature and mature DCs. The inhibitory factor directly interacted with DC-SIGN and prevented the HIV-1 gp120 envelope protein from binding to the receptor. The human milk proteins lactoferrin, α-lactalbumin, lysozyme, β-casein, and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor did not bind DC-SIGN or demonstrate inhibition of viral transfer. The inhibitory effect could be fully alleviated with an Ab recognizing the Lewis X (LeX) sugar epitope, commonly found in human milk. LeX in polymeric form or conjugated to protein could mimic the inhibitory activity, whereas free LeX sugar epitopes could not. We reveal that a LeX motif present in human milk can bind to DC-SIGN and thereby prevent the capture and subsequent transfer of HIV-1 to CD4+ T lymphocytes. The presence of such a DC-SIGN–binding molecule in human milk may both influence antigenic presentation and interfere with pathogen transfer in breastfed infants.
HIV-1 directly activates human plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) by upregulating the expression of costimulatory and MHC molecules and maturation markers, increasing T cell stimulatory activity, and inducing the production of type I interferons and TNF-α. A consequence of this activation is the bystander maturation of myeloid DCs and overall enhancement of antigen-presenting function. However, little is known about the mechanism(s) of pDC activation by HIV-1. Here we demonstrate by in vitro studies that IFN-α production by pDC in response to HIV-1 requires at least 2 interactions between the cell and virus. Initially, envelope-CD4 interactions mediate endocytosis of HIV-1, as demonstrated through the use of inhibitors of binding, fusion, endocytosis, and endosomal acidification. Subsequently, endosomally delivered viral nucleic acids, particularly RNA, stimulate pDCs through TLRs, as activation is reproduced with purified genomic RNA but not viral RNA packaging–deficient HIV-1 and blocked with different inhibitory TLR ligands. Finally, by using genetic complementation, we show that TLR7 is the likely primary target. Viral RNA rather than DNA in early retrotranscripts appears to be the active factor in HIV-1 that induces IFN-α secretion by pDCs. Since the decline in pDCs in chronic HIV-1 infection is associated with high viral loads and opportunistic infections, exploiting this natural adjuvant activity of HIV-1 RNA might be useful in the development of vaccines for the prevention of AIDS.
Little is known about the molecules that control the development and function of CD4+CD25+ Tregs. Recently, it was shown that the transcription factor FOXP3 is necessary and sufficient for the generation of CD4+CD25+ Tregs in mice. We investigated the capacity of FOXP3 to drive the generation of suppressive CD4+CD25+ Tregs in humans. Surprisingly, although ectopic expression of FOXP3 in human CD4+ T cells resulted in induction of hyporesponsiveness and suppression of IL-2 production, it did not lead to acquisition of significant suppressor activity in vitro. Similarly, ectopic expression of FOXP3Δ2, an isoform found in human CD4+CD25+ Tregs that lacks exon 2, also failed to induce the development of suppressor T cells. Moreover, when FOXP3 and FOXP3Δ2 were simultaneously overexpressed, although the expression of several Treg-associated cell surface markers was significantly increased, only a modest suppressive activity was induced. These data indicate that in humans, overexpression of FOXP3 alone or together with FOXP3Δ2 is not an effective method to generate potent suppressor T cells in vitro and suggest that factors in addition to FOXP3 are required during the process of activation and/or differentiation for the development of bona fide Tregs.
Accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) within extracellular spaces of the brain is a hallmark of Alzheimer disease (AD). In sporadic, late-onset AD, there is little evidence for increased Aβ production, suggesting that decreased elimination from the brain may contribute to elevated levels of Aβ and plaque formation. Efflux transport of Aβ across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) contributes to Aβ removal from the brain. P-glycoprotein (Pgp) is highly expressed on the luminal surface of brain capillary endothelial cells and contributes to the BBB. In Pgp-null mice, we show that [125I]Aβ40 and [125I]Aβ42 microinjected into the CNS clear at half the rate that they do in WT mice. When amyloid precursor protein–transgenic (APP-transgenic) mice were administered a Pgp inhibitor, Aβ levels within the brain interstitial fluid significantly increased within hours of treatment. Furthermore, APP-transgenic, Pgp-null mice had increased levels of brain Aβ and enhanced Aβ deposition compared with APP-transgenic, Pgp WT mice. These data establish a direct link between Pgp and Aβ metabolism in vivo and suggest that Pgp activity at the BBB could affect risk for developing AD as well as provide a novel diagnostic and therapeutic target.
Amorphic mutations in the recombination activating genes RAG1 and RAG2 have been reported to cause T–B– SCID, whereas hypomorphic mutations led to the expansion of a few autoimmune T cell clones responsible for the Omenn syndrome phenotype. We report here a novel clinical and immunological phenotype associated with recessive RAG1 hypomorphic mutations in 4 patients from 4 different families. The immunological phenotype consists of the oligoclonal expansion of TCRγδ T cells combined with TCRαβ T cell lymphopenia. The clinical phenotype consists of severe, disseminated CMV infection and autoimmune blood cell manifestations. Repertoire studies suggest that CMV infection, in the setting of this particular T cell immunodeficiency, may have driven the TCRγδ T cell clonal expansion. This observation extends the range of clinical and immunological phenotypes associated with RAG mutations, emphasizing the role of the genetic background and microbial environment in determining disease phenotype.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation