Volume 117, Issue 12, Pages 3595-4054
54 total articles
I’ve been asked several times to give talks about various aspects of the scientific publishing enterprise, and sometimes to comment specifically on how to write a manuscript that will have maximal impact. While many in my audiences have felt that my presentations are designed for students and trainees, I hope everyone listens, as sometimes even established scientists are prone to making mistakes. I hope here to outline a few pointers that will help your manuscripts skate through the submission and peer review process. Some points may be elementary, but all bear repeating.
The voltage-gated sodium-channel type IX α subunit, known as Nav1.7 and encoded by the gene SCN9A, is located in peripheral neurons and plays an important role in action potential production in these cells. Recent genetic studies have identified Nav1.7 dysfunction in three different human pain disorders. Gain-of-function missense mutations in Nav1.7 have been shown to cause primary erythermalgia and paroxysmal extreme pain disorder, while nonsense mutations in Nav1.7 result in loss of Nav1.7 function and a condition known as channelopathy-associated insensitivity to pain, a rare disorder in which affected individuals are unable to feel physical pain. This review highlights these recent developments and discusses the critical role of Nav1.7 in pain sensation in humans.
Small molecules and antibodies have revolutionized the treatment of malignant diseases and appear promising for the treatment of many others. Nonetheless, there are many candidate therapeutic targets that are not amenable to attack by the current generation of targeted therapies, and in a small but growing number of patients, resistance to initially successful treatments evolves. This Review Series on the medicinal promise of posttranscriptional gene silencing with small interfering RNA and other molecules capable of inducing RNA interference (RNAi) is motivated by the hypothesis that effectors of RNAi can be developed into effective drugs for treating malignancies as well as many other types of disease. As this Review Series points out, there is still much to do, but many in the field now hope that the time has finally arrived when “antisense” therapies will finally come of age and fulfill their promise as the magic bullets of the 21st century.
RNA interference provides a potent and specific method for controlling gene expression in human cells. To translate this potential into a broad new family of therapeutics, it is necessary to optimize the efficacy of the RNA-based drugs. As discussed in this Review, it might be possible to achieve this optimization using chemical modifications that improve their in vivo stability, cellular delivery, biodistribution, pharmacokinetics, potency, and specificity.
Sequence-specific gene silencing using small interfering RNA (siRNA) is a Nobel prize–winning technology that is now being evaluated in clinical trials as a potentially novel therapeutic strategy. This article provides an overview of the major pharmaceutical challenges facing siRNA therapeutics, focusing on the delivery strategies for synthetic siRNA duplexes in vivo, as this remains one of the most important issues to be resolved. This article also highlights the importance of understanding the genocompatibility/toxicogenomics of siRNA delivery reagents in terms of their impact on gene-silencing activity and specificity. Collectively, this information is essential for the selection of optimally acting siRNA delivery system combinations for the many proposed applications of RNA interference.
With unprecedented speed, RNA interference (RNAi) has advanced from its basic discovery in lower organisms to becoming a powerful genetic tool and perhaps our single most promising biotherapeutic for a wide array of diseases. Numerous studies document RNAi efficacy in laboratory animals, and the first clinical trials are underway and thus far suggest that RNAi is safe to use in humans. Yet substantial hurdles have also surfaced and must be surmounted before therapeutic RNAi applications can become a standard therapy. Here we review the most critical roadblocks and concerns for clinical RNAi transition, delivery, and safety. We highlight emerging solutions and concurrently discuss novel therapeutic RNAi-based concepts. The current rapid advances create realistic optimism that the establishment of RNAi as a new and potent clinical modality in humans is near.
Autoimmune diabetes is believed to be mediated primarily by T cells. However, B cells have been implicated in the pathogenesis of the disease in NOD mice. Although preclinical studies have been limited by the absence of anti-CD20 reagents that can induce B cell depletion in mice, a clinical trial using the B cell–depleting anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab (Rituxan) is underway in type 1 diabetes patients. In this issue of the JCI, Hu et al. describe the generation of transgenic NOD mice that express human CD20 on B cells (see the related article beginning on page 3857). They show that anti-CD20 therapy induces B cell depletion in these mice and offers some level of protection against diabetes. Although many questions remain unanswered, this mouse model represents the first opportunity to evaluate the potential value of rituximab as a novel therapy for autoimmune diabetes.
The development of chronic allograft rejection is based on the hypothesis that cumulative, time-dependent tissue injury eventually leads to a fibrotic response. In this issue of the JCI, Babu and colleagues found that alloimmune-mediated microvascular loss precedes tissue damage in murine orthotopic tracheal allografts (see the related article beginning on page 3774). The concept that injury to the endothelium may precede airway fibrosis suggests that interventions to maintain vascular integrity may be important, especially in the case of lung transplantation. Further, for all solid organ allografts, it is possible that the key to long-term allograft survival is physiological vascular repair at early times following transplantation.
Many brain centers are involved in keeping us awake. One example is the recently discovered hypocretin system located in the posterior hypothalamus. In this issue of the JCI, Rao et al. show that, in mice, synapses targeting hypocretin neurons become stronger when wakefulness is prolonged beyond its physiological duration (see the related article beginning on page 4022). This increase in synaptic strength may be one of the mechanisms that help us to stay awake when we are sleep deprived, but it may also represent one of the signals telling the brain that it is time to sleep.
Imatinib, a selective, small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, has life-saving clinical activity in certain cancers, but questions have been raised about the potential for cardiac toxicity through inhibition of its target, ABL kinase. In this issue of the JCI, Fernández et al. describe a novel method by which the ABL-inhibitory activity of imatinib was deleted by modifying its chemical structure (see the related article beginning on page 4044). The anticancer activity of the reengineered agent, called WBZ_4, was instead preserved against gastrointestinal stromal tumors in both in vitro and in vivo models via inhibition of KIT tyrosine kinase, and the desired safety was demonstrated with less cardiotoxicity of WBZ_4 compared with imatinib via the inhibition of JNK. The study shows that structural reengineering of a kinase-inhibitory drug to improve tolerability while preserving efficacy is feasible.
Recent studies involving molecular modification of adult somatic cells have pointed to a remarkable plasticity in cell identity. In this issue of the JCI, Koh and colleagues assessed whether bone marrow–derived cells could alter their fate under circumstances conducive to adipocyte generation in vivo (see the related article beginning on page 3684). These cells remained true to their roots, indicating how difficult it will be to exploit cell plasticity for therapeutic purposes.
Recent advances in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of atopy have shed light on potential targets for the development of new therapies for allergic diseases. In this issue of the JCI, Seshasayee et al. provide direct in vivo evidence that OX40 has critical roles in allergic inflammation mediated by thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) (see the related article beginning on page 3868). Blockade of interactions between OX40 on Th2 cells and OX40 ligand (OX40L) on TSLP-activated DCs using an OX40L-specific monoclonal antibody, inhibited Th2 cell–mediated immune responses in both mouse and nonhuman primate models of allergic inflammation. The results point to potential therapeutic approaches to targeting the cellular and molecular mechanism underlying TSLP-mediated allergic inflammation.
Chronic exposure to UV light is a risk factor for skin cancer in which signature mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene occur due to DNA damage and contribute to cancer development. In this issue of the JCI, Tang et al. report on their study of a nonimmunodeficient mouse model of UVB-induced skin cancer and human skin carcinoma cells and show that the mutant p53 conformation–modifying drug CP-31398 not only treats these tumors but also prevents them (see the related article beginning on page 3753). These studies have important implications for chemoprevention as well as therapy of common, mutant p53–driven tumors.
In this issue of the JCI, two reports provide intriguing new information on the role of the inflammatory cytokine IL-6 in breast and lung cancer. The study by Sansone et al. implicates IL-6 in the instigation of malignant properties in breast cancer stem cells (see the related article beginning on page 3988). The study by Gao et al. identifies mutant variants of EGFR as inducers of IL-6 in lung adenocarcinomas (see the related article beginning on page 3846). These studies add to our understanding of potential roles for IL-6 in cancer and further motivate investigations of IL-6–targeted chemotherapeutics.
Mammalian TLRs are central mediators of the innate immune system that instruct cells of the innate and adaptive response to clear microbial infections. Here, we demonstrate that human epithelial TLR4 directly protected the oral mucosa from fungal infection via a process mediated by polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs). In an in vitro epithelial model of oral candidiasis, the fungal pathogen Candida albicans induced a chemoattractive and proinflammatory cytokine response but failed to directly modulate the expression of genes encoding TLRs. However, the addition of PMNs to the C. albicans–infected model strongly upregulated cytoplasmic and cell-surface epithelial TLR4 expression, which correlated directly with protection against fungal invasion and cell injury. C. albicans invasion and cell injury was restored by the addition of TLR4-specific neutralizing antibodies and knockdown of TLR4 using RNA interference, even in the presence of PMNs, demonstrating the direct role of epithelial TLR4 in the protective process. Furthermore, treatment with neutralizing antibodies specific for TNF-α resulted in strongly reduced TLR4 expression accompanied by augmented epithelial cell damage and fungal invasion. To our knowledge, this is the first description of such a PMN-dependent, TLR4-mediated protective mechanism at epithelial surfaces, which may provide significant insights into how microbial infections are managed and controlled in the oral mucosa.
Milk fat globule–EGF factor 8 (MFG-E8)/lactadherin participates in several cell surface–mediated regulatory events. Although its mRNA is present in the gut, the physiological roles of MFG-E8 in the intestinal mucosa have not been explored. Here we show that MFG-E8 was expressed in intestinal lamina propria macrophages from mice. Using a wound-healing assay, MFG-E8 was shown to promote the migration of intestinal epithelial cells through a PKCε-dependent mechanism. MFG-E8 bound to phosphatidylserine and triggered reorientation of the actin cytoskeleton in intestinal epithelial cells at the wound edge. Depleting MFG-E8 in mice by administration of anti–MFG-E8 antibody or targeted deletion of the MFG-E8 gene resulted in a slowing of enterocyte migration along the crypt-villus axis and focal mucosal injury. Moreover, in septic mice, intestinal MFG-E8 expression was downregulated, which correlated with intestinal injury, interrupted enterocyte migration, and impaired restitution. Treatment with recombinant MFG-E8 restored enterocyte migration, whereas deletion of MFG-E8 impeded mucosal healing in mice with sepsis. These results suggest that a decrease in intestinal MFG-E8 impairs intestinal mucosal repair in sepsis. Together, our data indicate that MFG-E8 plays an important role in the maintenance of intestinal epithelial homeostasis and the promotion of mucosal healing and suggest that recombinant MFG-E8 may be beneficial for the treatment of bowel injuries.
Little is known about whether bone marrow–derived circulating progenitor cells (BMDCPCs) can transdifferentiate into adipocytes in adipose tissues or play a role in expanding adipocyte number during adipose tissue growth. Using a mouse bone marrow transplantation model, we addressed whether BMDCPCs can transdifferentiate into adipocytes under standard conditions as well as in the settings of diet-induced obesity, rosiglitazone treatment, and exposure to G-CSF. We also addressed the possibility of transdifferentiation to adipocytes in a murine parabiosis model. In each of these settings, our findings indicated that BMDCPCs did not transdifferentiate into either unilocular or multilocular adipocytes in adipose tissues. Most BMDCPCs became resident and phagocytic macrophages in adipose tissues — which resembled transdifferentiated multilocular adipocytes by appearance, but displayed cell surface markers characteristic for macrophages — in the absence of adipocyte marker expression. When exposed to adipogenic medium in vitro, bone marrow cells differentiated into multilocular, but not unilocular, adipocytes, but transdifferentiation was not observed in vivo, even in the contexts of adipose tissue regrowth or dermal wound healing. Our results suggest that BMDCPCs do not transdifferentiate into adipocytes in vivo and play little, if any, role in expanding the number of adipocytes during the growth of adipose tissues.
Transgenic expression of the abnormal products of acute myeloid leukemia–associated (AML-associated) primary chromosomal translocations in hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells initiates leukemogenesis in mice, yet additional mutations are needed for leukemia development. We report here aberrant expression of PR domain containing 16 (PRDM16) in AML cells with either translocations of 1p36 or normal karyotype. These carried, respectively, relatively high prevalence of mutations in the TP53 tumor suppressor gene and in the nucleophosmin (NPM) gene, which regulates p53. Two protein isoforms are expressed from PRDM16, which differ in the presence or absence of the PR domain. Overexpression of the short isoform, sPRDM16, in mouse bone marrow induced AML with full penetrance, but only in the absence of p53. The mouse leukemias were characterized by multilineage cellular abnormalities and megakaryocyte dysplasia, a common feature of human AMLs with 1p36 translocations or NPM mutations. Overexpression of sPRDM16 increased the pool of HSCs in vivo, and in vitro blocked myeloid differentiation and prolonged progenitor life span. Loss of p53 augmented the effects of sPRDM16 on stem cell number and induced immortalization of progenitors. Thus, overexpression of sPRDM16 induces abnormal growth of stem cells and progenitors and cooperates with disruption of the p53 pathway in the induction of myeloid leukemia.
Bile salt–dependent lipase (BSDL) is an enzyme involved in the duodenal hydrolysis and absorption of cholesteryl esters. Although some BSDL is transported to blood, the role of circulating BSDL is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that BSDL is stored in platelets and released upon platelet activation. Because BSDL contains a region that is structurally homologous to the V3 loop of HIV-1, which binds to CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4), we hypothesized that BSDL might bind to CXCR4 present on platelets. In human platelets in vitro, both BSDL and a peptide corresponding to its V3-like loop induced calcium mobilization and enhanced thrombin-mediated platelet aggregation, spreading, and activated αIIbβ3 levels. These effects were abolished by CXCR4 inhibition. BSDL also increased the production of prostacyclin by human endothelial cells. In a mouse thrombosis model, BSDL accumulated at sites of vessel wall injury. When CXCR4 was antagonized, the accumulation of BSDL was inhibited and thrombus size was reduced. In BSDL–/– mice, calcium mobilization in platelets and thrombus formation were attenuated and tail bleeding times were increased in comparison with those of wild-type mice. We conclude that BSDL plays a role in optimal platelet activation and thrombus formation by interacting with CXCR4 on platelets.
Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS), a neurodevelopmental genetic disorder whose manifestations include visuospatial impairment, provides a unique model to link genetically determined loss of neural cell populations at different levels of the nervous system with neural circuits and visual behavior. Given that several of the genes deleted in WBS are also involved in eye development and the differentiation of retinal layers, we examined the retinal phenotype in WBS patients and its functional relation to global motion perception. We discovered a low-level visual phenotype characterized by decreased retinal thickness, abnormal optic disk concavity, and impaired visual responses in WBS patients compared with age-matched controls by using electrophysiology, confocal and coherence in vivo imaging with cellular resolution, and psychophysics. These mechanisms of impairment are related to the magnocellular pathway, which is involved in the detection of temporal changes in the visual scene. Low-level magnocellular performance did not predict high-level deficits in the integration of motion and 3D information at higher levels, thereby demonstrating independent mechanisms of dysfunction in WBS that will require remediation strategies different from those used in other visuospatial disorders. These findings challenge neurodevelopmental theories that explain cortical deficits based on low-level magnocellular impairment, such as regarding dyslexia.
The clinical utility of anthracycline anticancer agents, especially doxorubicin, is limited by a progressive toxic cardiomyopathy linked to mitochondrial damage and cardiomyocyte apoptosis. Here we demonstrate that the post-doxorubicin mouse heart fails to upregulate the nuclear program for mitochondrial biogenesis and its associated intrinsic antiapoptosis proteins, leading to severe mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion, sarcomere destruction, apoptosis, necrosis, and excessive wall stress and fibrosis. Furthermore, we exploited recent evidence that mitochondrial biogenesis is regulated by the CO/heme oxygenase (CO/HO) system to ameliorate doxorubicin cardiomyopathy in mice. We found that the myocardial pathology was averted by periodic CO inhalation, which restored mitochondrial biogenesis and circumvented intrinsic apoptosis through caspase-3 and apoptosis-inducing factor. Moreover, CO simultaneously reversed doxorubicin-induced loss of DNA binding by GATA-4 and restored critical sarcomeric proteins. In isolated rat cardiac cells, HO-1 enzyme overexpression prevented doxorubicin-induced mtDNA depletion and apoptosis via activation of Akt1/PKB and guanylate cyclase, while HO-1 gene silencing exacerbated doxorubicin-induced mtDNA depletion and apoptosis. Thus doxorubicin disrupts cardiac mitochondrial biogenesis, which promotes intrinsic apoptosis, while CO/HO promotes mitochondrial biogenesis and opposes apoptosis, forestalling fibrosis and cardiomyopathy. These findings imply that the therapeutic index of anthracycline cancer chemotherapeutics can be improved by the protection of cardiac mitochondrial biogenesis.
Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is a genetically heterogeneous disorder associated with ciliary defects and situs inversus totalis, the complete mirror image reversal of internal organ situs (positioning). A variable incidence of heterotaxy, or irregular organ situs, also has been reported in PCD patients, but it is not known whether this is elicited by the PCD-causing genetic lesion. We studied a mouse model of PCD with a recessive mutation in Dnahc5, a dynein gene commonly mutated in PCD. Analysis of homozygous mutant embryos from 18 litters yielded 25% with normal organ situs, 35% with situs inversus totalis, and 40% with heterotaxy. Embryos with heterotaxy had complex structural heart defects that included discordant atrioventricular and ventricular outflow situs and atrial/pulmonary isomerisms. Variable combinations of a distinct set of cardiovascular anomalies were observed, including superior-inferior ventricles, great artery alignment defects, and interrupted inferior vena cava with azygos continuation. The surprisingly high incidence of heterotaxy led us to evaluate the diagnosis of PCD. PCD was confirmed by EM, which revealed missing outer dynein arms in the respiratory cilia. Ciliary dyskinesia was observed by videomicroscopy. These findings show that Dnahc5 is required for the specification of left-right asymmetry and suggest that the PCD-causing Dnahc5 mutation may also be associated with heterotaxy.
Mutations in the tumor suppressor p53 are detectable in over 50% of all human malignancies. Mutant p53 protein is incapable of transactivating its downstream target genes that are required for DNA repair and apoptosis. Chronic exposure to UVB induces p53 mutations and is carcinogenic in both murine and human skin. CP-31398, a styrylquinazoline compound, restores the tumor suppressor functions of mutant forms of p53 in tumor cells. However, its effectiveness in vivo remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that CP-31398 blocked UVB-induced skin carcinogenesis and was associated with increases in p53, p21, and BclXs. CP-31398 downregulated Bcl2, proliferating nuclear cell antigen, and cyclin D1. Activation of caspase-3 and cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase also occurred in both tumor and perilesional skin following treatment. CP-31398 induced the expression of p53-dependent target proteins, and this was followed by apoptosis in UVB-irradiated wild-type mice but not in their p53-deficient littermates. Similar effects were observed in human skin carcinoma A431 cells expressing mutant p53. In addition, CP-31398 induced mitochondrial translocation of p53, leading to changes in mitochondrial membrane permeability pore transition (MPT) and consequent cytochrome c release in these cells. Blocking MPT diminished p53 translocation and apoptosis. These studies indicate that reconstituting p53 tumor suppressor functions in vivo by small molecular weight compounds may block the pathogenesis and progression of skin cancer.
S-phase kinase-associated protein 2 (SKP2) is a component of the E3 ubiquitin ligase SKP1-Cul1-Fbox complex. Overexpression of SKP2 results in cell cycle dysregulation and carcinogenesis; however, the genetic lesions that cause this upregulation are poorly understood. We recently demonstrated that forkhead box P3 (FOXP3) is an X-linked breast cancer suppressor and an important repressor of the oncogene ERBB2/HER2. Since FOXP3 suppresses tumor growth regardless of whether the tumors overexpress ERBB2/HER2, additional FOXP3 targets may be involved in its tumor suppressor activity. Here, we show that mammary carcinomas from mice heterozygous for a Foxp3 mutation exhibited increased Skp2 expression. Ectopic expression of FOXP3 in mouse mammary cancer cells repressed SKP2 expression with a corresponding increase in p27 and polyploidy. Conversely, siRNA silencing of the FOXP3 gene in human mammary epithelial cells increased SKP2 expression. We also show that Foxp3 directly interacted with and repressed the Skp2 promoter. Moreover, the analysis of over 200 primary breast cancer samples revealed an inverse correlation between FOXP3 and SKP2 levels. Finally, we demonstrated that downregulation of SKP2 was critical for FOXP3-mediated growth inhibition in breast cancer cells that do not overexpress ERBB2/HER2. Our data provide genetic, biochemical, and functional evidence that FOXP3 is a novel transcriptional repressor for the oncogene SKP2.
Small airway fibrosis (bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome) is the primary obstacle to long-term survival following lung transplantation. Here, we show the importance of functional microvasculature in the prevention of epithelial loss and fibrosis due to rejection and for the first time, relate allograft microvascular injury and loss of tissue perfusion to immunotherapy-resistant rejection. To explore the role of alloimmune rejection and airway ischemia in the development of fibroproliferation, we used a murine orthotopic tracheal transplant model. We determined that transplants were reperfused by connection of recipient vessels to donor vessels at the surgical anastomosis site. Microcirculation through the newly formed vascular anastomoses appeared partially dependent on VEGFR2 and CXCR2 pathways. In the absence of immunosuppression, the microvasculature in rejecting allografts exhibited vascular complement deposition, diminished endothelial CD31 expression, and absent perfusion prior to the onset of fibroproliferation. Rejecting grafts with extensive endothelial cell injury were refractory to immunotherapy. After early microvascular loss, neovascularization was eventually observed in the membranous trachea, indicating a reestablishment of graft perfusion in established fibrosis. One implication of this study is that bronchial artery revascularization at the time of lung transplantation may decrease the risk of subsequent airway fibrosis.
The molecular mechanisms of acute lung injury resulting in inflammation and fibrosis are not well established. Here we investigate the roles of the IL-1 receptor 1 (IL-1R1) and the common adaptor for Toll/IL-1R signal transduction, MyD88, in this process using a murine model of acute pulmonary injury. Bleomycin insult results in expression of neutrophil and lymphocyte chemotactic factors, chronic inflammation, remodeling, and fibrosis. We demonstrate that these end points were attenuated in the lungs of IL-1R1– and MyD88-deficient mice. Further, in bone marrow chimera experiments, bleomycin-induced inflammation required primarily MyD88 signaling from radioresistant resident cells. Exogenous rIL-1β recapitulated a high degree of bleomycin-induced lung pathology, and specific blockade of IL-1R1 by IL-1 receptor antagonist dramatically reduced bleomycin-induced inflammation. Finally, we found that lung IL-1β production and inflammation in response to bleomycin required ASC, an inflammasome adaptor molecule. In conclusion, bleomycin-induced lung pathology required the inflammasome and IL-1R1/MyD88 signaling, and IL-1 represented a critical effector of pathology and therapeutic target of chronic lung inflammation and fibrosis.
In addition to its well-known expression in the germline and in cells of certain cancers, telomerase activity is induced in lung fibrosis, although its role in this process is unknown. To identify the pathogenetic importance of telomerase in lung fibrosis, we examined the effects of telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) deficiency in a murine model of pulmonary injury. TERT-deficient mice showed significantly reduced lung fibrosis following bleomycin (BLM) insult. This was accompanied by a significant reduction in expression of lung α-SMA, a marker of myofibroblast differentiation. Furthermore, lung fibroblasts isolated from BLM-treated TERT-deficient mice showed significantly decreased proliferation and increased apoptosis rates compared with cells isolated from control mice. Transplantation of WT BM into TERT-deficient mice restored BLM-induced lung telomerase activity and fibrosis to WT levels. Conversely, transplantation of BM from TERT-deficient mice into WT recipients resulted in reduced telomerase activity and fibrosis. These findings suggest that induction of telomerase in injured lungs may be caused by BM-derived cells, which appear to play an important role in pulmonary fibrosis. Moreover, TERT induction is associated with increased survival of lung fibroblasts, which favors the development of fibrosis instead of injury resolution.
Hypoxia has been proposed as an important microenvironmental factor in the development of tissue fibrosis; however, the underlying mechanisms are not well defined. To examine the role of hypoxia-inducible factor–1 (HIF-1), a key mediator of cellular adaptation to hypoxia, in the development of fibrosis in mice, we inactivated Hif-1α in primary renal epithelial cells and in proximal tubules of kidneys subjected to unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) using Cre-loxP–mediated gene targeting. We found that Hif-1α enhanced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in vitro and induced epithelial cell migration through upregulation of lysyl oxidase genes. Genetic ablation of epithelial Hif-1α inhibited the development of tubulointerstitial fibrosis in UUO kidneys, which was associated with decreased interstitial collagen deposition, decreased inflammatory cell infiltration, and a reduction in the number of fibroblast-specific protein–1–expressing (FSP-1–expressing) interstitial cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that increased renal HIF-1α expression is associated with tubulointerstitial injury in patients with chronic kidney disease. Thus, we provide clinical and genetic evidence that activation of HIF-1 signaling in renal epithelial cells is associated with the development of chronic renal disease and may promote fibrogenesis by increasing expression of extracellular matrix–modifying factors and lysyl oxidase genes and by facilitating EMT.
The activation of interstitial fibroblasts to become α-SMA–positive myofibroblasts is an essential step in the evolution of chronic kidney fibrosis, as myofibroblasts are responsible for the production and deposition of the ECM components that are a hallmark of the disease. Here we describe a signaling pathway that leads to this activation. Tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) promoted TGF-β1–mediated α-SMA and type I collagen expression in rat kidney interstitial fibroblasts. This fibrogenic effect was independent of its protease activity but required its membrane receptor, the LDL receptor–related protein 1 (LRP-1). In rat kidney fibroblasts, tPA induced rapid LRP-1 tyrosine phosphorylation and enhanced β1 integrin recruitment by facilitating the LRP-1/β1 integrin complex formation. Blockade or knockdown of β1 integrin abolished type I collagen and α-SMA expression. Furthermore, inhibition of the integrin-linked kinase (ILK), a downstream effector of β1 integrin, or disruption of β1 integrin/ILK engagement, abrogated the tPA action, whereas ectopic expression of ILK mimicked tPA in promoting myofibroblast activation. In murine renal interstitium after obstructive injury, tPA and α-SMA colocalized with LRP-1, and tPA deficiency reduced LRP-1/β1 integrin interaction and myofibroblast activation. These findings show that tPA induces LRP-1 tyrosine phosphorylation, which in turn facilitates the LRP-1–mediated recruitment of β1 integrin and downstream ILK signaling, thereby leading to myofibroblast activation. This study implicates tPA as a fibrogenic cytokine that promotes the progression of kidney fibrosis.
TNF-α antagonists are widely used in the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, but their use is associated with reactivation of latent infections. This highlights the importance of TNF-α in immunity to certain pathogens and raises concerns that critical aspects of immune function are impaired in its absence. Unfortunately, the role of TNF-α in the regulation of T cell responses is clouded by a myriad of contradictory reports. Here, we show a role for TNF-α and its receptors, TNFR1 and TNFR2, specifically in antitumor immunity. TNF-α–deficient mice exhibited normal antiviral responses associated with strong inflammation. However, TNF-α/TNFR1–mediated signals on APCs and TNF-α/TNFR2 signals on T cells were critically required for effective priming, proliferation, and recruitment of tumor-specific T cells. Furthermore, in the absence of TNF-α signaling, tumor immune surveillance was severely abrogated. Finally, treatment with a CD40 agonist alone or in combination with TLR2 stimuli was able to rescue proliferation of TNF-α–deficient T cells. Therefore, TNF-α signaling may be required only for immune responses in conditions of limited immunostimulatory capacity, such as tumor surveillance. Importantly, these results suggest that prolonged continuous TNF-α blockade in patients may have long-term complications, including potential tumor development or progression.
Persistently activated or tyrosine-phosphorylated STAT3 (pSTAT3) is found in 50% of lung adenocarcinomas. pSTAT3 is found in primary adenocarcinomas and cell lines harboring somatic-activating mutations in the tyrosine kinase domain of EGFR. Treatment of cell lines with either an EGFR inhibitor or an src kinase inhibitor had no effect on pSTAT3 levels, whereas a pan-JAK inhibitor (P6) blocked activation of STAT3 and inhibited tumorigenesis. Cell lines expressing these persistently activated mutant EGFRs also produced high IL-6 levels, and blockade of the IL-6/gp130/JAK pathway led to a decrease in pSTAT3 levels. In addition, reduction of IL-6 levels by RNA interference led to a decrease in tumorigenesis. Introduction of persistently activated EGFR into immortalized breast epithelial cells led to tumorigenesis, IL-6 expression, and STAT3 activation, all of which could be inhibited with P6 or gp130 blockade. Furthermore, inhibition of EGFR activity in multiple cell lines partially blocked transcription of IL-6 and concurrently decreased production and release of IL-6. Finally, immunohistochemical analysis revealed a positive correlation between pSTAT3 and IL-6 positivity in primary lung adenocarcinomas. Therefore, mutant EGFR could activate the gp130/JAK/STAT3 pathway by means of IL-6 upregulation in primary human lung adenocarcinomas, making this pathway a potential target for cancer treatment.
The precise roles of B cells in promoting the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes remain undefined. Here, we demonstrate that B cell depletion in mice can prevent or delay diabetes, reverse diabetes after frank hyperglycemia, and lead to the development of cells that suppress disease. To determine the efficacy and potential mechanism of therapeutic B cell depletion, we generated a transgenic NOD mouse expressing human CD20 (hCD20) on B cells. A single cycle of treatment with an antibody specific for hCD20 temporarily depleted B cells and significantly delayed and/or reduced the onset of diabetes. Furthermore, disease established to the point of clinical hyperglycemia could be reversed in over one-third of diabetic mice. Why B cell depletion is therapeutic for a variety of autoimmune diseases is unclear, although effects on antibodies, cytokines, and antigen presentation to T cells are thought to be important. In B cell–depleted NOD mice, we identified what we believe is a novel mechanism by which B cell depletion may lead to long-term remission through expansion of Tregs and regulatory B cells. Our results demonstrate clinical efficacy even in established disease and identify mechanisms for therapeutic action that will guide design and evaluation of parallel studies in patients.
Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) potently induces deregulation of Th2 responses, a hallmark feature of allergic inflammatory diseases such as asthma, atopic dermatitis, and allergic rhinitis. However, direct downstream in vivo mediators in the TSLP-induced atopic immune cascade have not been identified. In our current study, we have shown that OX40 ligand (OX40L) is a critical in vivo mediator of TSLP-mediated Th2 responses. Treating mice with OX40L-blocking antibodies substantially inhibited immune responses induced by TSLP in the lung and skin, including Th2 inflammatory cell infiltration, cytokine secretion, and IgE production. OX40L-blocking antibodies also inhibited antigen-driven Th2 inflammation in mouse and nonhuman primate models of asthma. This treatment resulted in both blockade of the OX40-OX40L receptor-ligand interaction and depletion of OX40L-positive cells. The use of a blocking, OX40L-specific mAb thus presents a promising strategy for the treatment of allergic diseases associated with pathologic Th2 immune responses.
The R200W mutation in the von Hippel–Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor protein (pVHL) is unique in that it is not associated with tumor development, but rather with Chuvash polycythemia, a heritable disease characterized by elevated hematocrit and increased serum levels of erythropoietin and VEGF. Previous studies have implicated hypoxia-inducible factor–1α (HIF-1α) signaling in this disorder, although the effects of this mutation on pVHL function are not fully understood. In order to explore the mechanisms underlying the development of this polycythemia, we generated mice homozygous for the R200W mutation (VhlR/R). VhlR/R mice developed polycythemia highly similar to the human disease. The activity of HIF proteins, specifically the HIF-2α isoform, was upregulated in ES cells and tissues from VhlR/R mice. Furthermore, we observed a striking phenotype in VhlR/R spleens, with greater numbers of erythroid progenitors and megakaryocytes and increased erythroid differentiation of VhlR/R splenic cells in vitro. These findings suggest that enhanced expression of key HIF-2α genes promotes splenic erythropoiesis, resulting in the development of polycythemia in VhlR/R mice. This mouse model is a faithful recapitulation of this VHL-associated syndrome and represents a useful tool for studying polycythemias and investigating potential therapeutics.
Thrombocytosis is associated with inflammation, and certain inflammatory cytokines, including IFN-γ, stimulate megakaryocyte and platelet production. However, the roles of IFN-γ and its downstream effector STAT1 in megakaryocyte development are poorly understood. We previously reported that STAT1 expression was significantly downregulated in Gata1-knockdown murine megakaryocytes, which also have impaired terminal maturation. Here, we show that ectopic expression of STAT1, or its target effector IRF-1, rescued multiple defects in Gata1-deficient megakaryopoiesis in mice, inducing polyploidization and expression of a subset of platelet-expressing genes. Enforced expression of STAT1, IRF-1, or GATA-1 enhanced phosphorylation of STAT1, STAT3, and STAT5 in cultured Gata1-deficient murine megakaryocytes, with concomitant megakaryocyte maturation. In contrast, enhanced thrombopoietin signaling, conferred by enforced expression of constitutively active JAK2 or c-MPL, induced phosphorylation of STAT3 and STAT5, but not STAT1, and failed to rescue megakaryocyte maturation. Finally, megakaryocytes from Stat1–/– mice were defective in polyploidization. Together, these findings reveal a unique role for STAT1 in megakaryopoiesis and provide new insights into how GATA-1 regulates this process. Our studies elucidate potential mechanisms by which various inflammatory disorders can cause elevated platelet counts.
HDLs protect against the development of atherosclerosis, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. HDL and its apolipoproteins can promote cholesterol efflux from macrophage foam cells via the ATP-binding cassette transporters ABCA1 and ABCG1. Experiments addressing the individual roles of ABCA1 and ABCG1 in the development of atherosclerosis have produced mixed results, perhaps because of compensatory upregulation in the individual KO models. To clarify the role of transporter-mediated sterol efflux in this disease process, we transplanted BM from Abca1–/–Abcg1–/– mice into LDL receptor–deficient mice and administered a high-cholesterol diet. Compared with control and single-KO BM recipients, Abca1–/–Abcg1–/– BM recipients showed accelerated atherosclerosis and extensive infiltration of the myocardium and spleen with macrophage foam cells. In experiments with isolated macrophages, combined ABCA1 and ABCG1 deficiency resulted in impaired cholesterol efflux to HDL or apoA-1, profoundly decreased apoE secretion, and increased secretion of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. In addition, these cells showed increased apoptosis when challenged with free cholesterol or oxidized LDL loading. These results suggest that the combined effects of ABCA1 and ABCG1 in mediating macrophage sterol efflux are central to the antiatherogenic properties of HDL.
Activation of TLRs by bacterial products results in rapid activation of genes encoding products designed to protect the host from perturbing microbes. In the intestine, which is colonized by a large and diverse population of commensal bacteria, TLR signaling may not function in a simple on/off mode. Here, we show that the flagellin receptor TLR5 has an essential and nonredundant role in protecting the gut from enteric microbes. Mice lacking TLR5 (TLR5KO mice) developed spontaneous colitis, as assessed by well-defined clinical, serologic, and histopathologic indicators of this disorder. Compared with WT littermates, TLR5KO mice that had not yet developed robust colitis exhibited decreased intestinal expression of TLR5-regulated host defense genes despite having an increased bacterial burden in the colon. In contrast, such TLR5KO mice displayed markedly increased colonic expression of hematopoietic-derived proinflammatory cytokines, suggesting that elevated levels of bacterial products may result in activation of other TLRs that drive colitis in TLR5KO mice. In accordance, deletion of TLR4 rescued the colitis of TLR5KO mice in that mice lacking both TLR4 and TLR5 also had elevated bacterial loads in the colon but lacked immunological, histopathological, and clinical evidence of colitis. That an engineered innate immune deficiency ultimately results in spontaneous intestinal inflammation supports the notion that an innate immune deficiency might underlie some instances of inflammatory bowel disease.
Immune-mediated antitumor responses occur in patients with metastatic melanoma (MM), and therapies designed to augment such responses are clinically beneficial. Despite the immunogenicity of melanoma, immunomodulatory therapies fail in the majority of patients with MM. An inability of DCs to sufficiently activate effector cells may, in part, underlie this failure of the antitumor response seen in most patients. In this work, we show that mutation of N-RAS or B-RAF, signature genetic lesions present in most MMs, potently induced the expression of cell-surface CD200, a repressor of DC function. Employing 2 independent, genome-wide microarray analyses, we identified CD200 as a highly dynamic, downstream target of RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK activation in melanoma. CD200 protein was similarly overexpressed in human melanoma cell lines and primary tumors. CD200 mRNA expression correlated with progression and was higher in melanoma than in other solid tumors or acute leukemia. Melanoma cell lines expressing endogenous CD200 repressed primary T cell activation by DCs, while knockdown of CD200 by shRNA abrogated this immunosuppressive effect. These data indicate that in addition to its effects on growth, survival, and motility, ERK activation in MM attenuates a host antitumor immune response, implicating CD200 and its interaction with the CD200 receptor as a potential therapeutic target for MM.
In the diabetic heart, chronic activation of the PPARα pathway drives excessive fatty acid (FA) oxidation, lipid accumulation, reduced glucose utilization, and cardiomyopathy. The related nuclear receptor, PPARβ/δ, is also highly expressed in the heart, yet its function has not been fully delineated. To address its role in myocardial metabolism, we generated transgenic mice with cardiac-specific expression of PPARβ/δ, driven by the myosin heavy chain (MHC-PPARβ/δ mice). In striking contrast to MHC-PPARα mice, MHC-PPARβ/δ mice had increased myocardial glucose utilization, did not accumulate myocardial lipid, and had normal cardiac function. Consistent with these observed metabolic phenotypes, we found that expression of genes involved in cellular FA transport were activated by PPARα but not by PPARβ/δ. Conversely, cardiac glucose transport and glycolytic genes were activated in MHC-PPARβ/δ mice, but repressed in MHC-PPARα mice. In reporter assays, we showed that PPARβ/δ and PPARα exerted differential transcriptional control of the GLUT4 promoter, which may explain the observed isotype-specific effects on glucose uptake. Furthermore, myocardial injury due to ischemia/reperfusion injury was significantly reduced in the MHC-PPARβ/δ mice compared with control or MHC-PPARα mice, consistent with an increased capacity for myocardial glucose utilization. These results demonstrate that PPARα and PPARβ/δ drive distinct cardiac metabolic regulatory programs and identify PPARβ/δ as a potential target for metabolic modulation therapy aimed at cardiac dysfunction caused by diabetes and ischemia.
Statins inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, a key enzyme in cholesterol synthesis, and are widely used to treat hypercholesterolemia. These drugs can lead to a number of side effects in muscle, including muscle fiber breakdown; however, the mechanisms of muscle injury by statins are poorly understood. We report that lovastatin induced the expression of atrogin-1, a key gene involved in skeletal muscle atrophy, in humans with statin myopathy, in zebrafish embryos, and in vitro in murine skeletal muscle cells. In cultured mouse myotubes, atrogin-1 induction following lovastatin treatment was accompanied by distinct morphological changes, largely absent in atrogin-1 null cells. In zebrafish embryos, lovastatin promoted muscle fiber damage, an effect that was closely mimicked by knockdown of zebrafish HMG-CoA reductase. Moreover, atrogin-1 knockdown in zebrafish embryos prevented lovastatin-induced muscle injury. Finally, overexpression of PGC-1α, a transcriptional coactivator that induces mitochondrial biogenesis and protects against the development of muscle atrophy, dramatically prevented lovastatin-induced muscle damage and abrogated atrogin-1 induction both in fish and in cultured mouse myotubes. Collectively, our human, animal, and in vitro findings shed light on the molecular mechanism of statin-induced myopathy and suggest that atrogin-1 may be a critical mediator of the muscle damage induced by statins.
In myotonic dystrophy (dystrophia myotonica [DM]), an increase in the excitability of skeletal muscle leads to repetitive action potentials, stiffness, and delayed relaxation. This constellation of features, collectively known as myotonia, is associated with abnormal alternative splicing of the muscle-specific chloride channel (ClC-1) and reduced conductance of chloride ions in the sarcolemma. However, the mechanistic basis of the chloride channelopathy and its relationship to the development of myotonia are uncertain. Here we show that a morpholino antisense oligonucleotide (AON) targeting the 3′ splice site of ClC-1 exon 7a reversed the defect of ClC-1 alternative splicing in 2 mouse models of DM. By repressing the inclusion of this exon, the AON restored the full-length reading frame in ClC-1 mRNA, upregulated the level of ClC-1 mRNA, increased the expression of ClC-1 protein in the surface membrane, normalized muscle ClC-1 current density and deactivation kinetics, and eliminated myotonic discharges. These observations indicate that the myotonia and chloride channelopathy observed in DM both result from abnormal alternative splicing of ClC-1 and that antisense-induced exon skipping offers a powerful method for correcting alternative splicing defects in DM.
Recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors were used in human trials as carriers of vaccines for HIV-1 after encouraging preclinical results. However, the clinical trials yielded disappointing results. Here we demonstrated that in mice, rAAV vectors expressing the gene encoding HIV-1 gag stimulated gag-specific CD8+ T cells, but these T cells failed to expand after a booster immunization with a replication-defective adenoviral (Ad) vector also expressing gag. We tested rAAV vectors of different serotypes expressing HIV-1 gag for induction of transgene product–specific CD8+ T cells and found that the immunoinhibitory effect of rAAV priming observed with different AAV serotypes was transgene product specific, was independent of the interval between prime and boost, and extended to boosts with vaccine modalities other than Ad vectors. rAAV vector–induced CD8+ T cells proliferated poorly, produced low levels of IFN-γ in response to gag stimulation, and upregulated immunoinhibitory molecules. These T cells did not protect efficiently against challenge with a surrogate pathogen. Finally, we showed that the impaired proliferative capacity of the T cells was caused by persistence of the antigen-encoding rAAV vectors and could be reversed by placing the CD8+ T cells in an antigen-free environment. Our data suggest that rAAV vectors induce functionally impaired T cells and could dampen the immune response to a natural infection.
Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with a variety of adverse neonatal outcomes including altered reproductive performance. Herein we provide molecular evidence for a pathway involved in the elimination of the female germline due to prepregnancy and/or lactational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), environmental toxicants found in cigarette smoke. We show that ovaries of offspring born to mice exposed to PAHs contained only a third of the ovarian follicle pool compared with offspring of unexposed female mice. Activation of the cell death pathway in immature follicles of exposed females was mediated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ahr), as ovarian reserve was fully rescued by maternal cotreatment with the Ahr antagonist, resveratrol, or by inactivation of the Ahr gene. Furthermore, in response to PAHs, Ahr-mediated activation of the harakiri, BCL2 interacting protein (contains only BH3 domain), was necessary for execution of cell death. This pathway appeared to be conserved between mouse and human, as xenotransplanted human ovarian cortex exposed to PAHs responded by activation of the identical cell death cascade. Our data indicate that maternal exposure to PAHs prior to pregnancy and/or during lactation compromises ovarian reserve of female offspring, raising the concern about the transgenerational impact of maternal smoking on ovarian function in the human.
The liver produces plasma sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG), which transports sex steroids and regulates their access to tissues. In overweight children and adults, low plasma SHBG levels are a biomarker of the metabolic syndrome and its associated pathologies. Here, we showed in transgenic mice and HepG2 hepatoblastoma cells that monosaccharides (glucose and fructose) reduce human SHBG production by hepatocytes. This occurred via a downregulation of hepatocyte nuclear factor–4α (HNF-4α) and replacement of HNF-4α by the chicken OVA upstream promoter–transcription factor 1 at a cis-element within the human SHBG promoter, coincident with repression of its transcriptional activity. The dose-dependent reduction of HNF-4α levels in HepG2 cells after treatment with glucose or fructose occurred in concert with parallel increases in cellular palmitate levels and could be mimicked by treatment with palmitoyl-CoA. Moreover, inhibition of lipogenesis prevented monosaccharide-induced downregulation of HNF-4α and reduced SHBG expression in HepG2 cells. Thus, monosaccharide-induced lipogenesis reduced hepatic HNF-4α levels, which in turn attenuated SHBG expression. This provides a biological explanation for why SHBG is a sensitive biomarker of the metabolic syndrome and the metabolic disturbances associated with increased fructose consumption.
High serum levels of IL-6 correlate with poor outcome in breast cancer patients. However, no data are available on the relationship between IL-6 and mammary stem/progenitor cells, which may fuel the genesis of breast cancer in vivo. Herein, we address this issue in the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line and in primary human mammospheres (MS), multicellular structures enriched in stem/progenitor cells of the mammary gland. MS from node invasive breast carcinoma tissues expressed IL-6 mRNA at higher levels than did MS from matched non-neoplastic mammary glands. In addition, IL-6 mRNA was detected only in basal-like breast carcinoma tissues, an aggressive breast carcinoma variant showing stem cell features. IL-6 treatment triggered Notch-3–dependent upregulation of the Notch ligand Jagged-1 and promotion of MS and MCF-7–derived spheroid growth. Moreover, IL-6 induced Notch-3–dependent upregulation of the carbonic anhydrase IX gene and promoted a hypoxia-resistant/invasive phenotype in MCF-7 cells and MS. Finally, autocrine IL-6 signaling relied upon Notch-3 activity to sustain the aggressive features of MCF-7–derived hypoxia-selected cells. In conclusion, these data support the hypothesis that IL-6 induces malignant features in Notch-3–expressing stem/progenitor cells from human ductal breast carcinoma and normal mammary gland.
Phosphate homeostasis is maintained by a counterbalance between efflux from the kidney and influx from intestine and bone. FGF23 is a bone-derived phosphaturic hormone that acts on the kidney to increase phosphate excretion and suppress biosynthesis of vitamin D. FGF23 signals with highest efficacy through several FGF receptors (FGFRs) bound by the transmembrane protein Klotho as a coreceptor. Since most tissues express FGFR, expression of Klotho determines FGF23 target organs. Here we identify the parathyroid as a target organ for FGF23 in rats. We show that the parathyroid gland expressed Klotho and 2 FGFRs. The administration of recombinant FGF23 led to an increase in parathyroid Klotho levels. In addition, FGF23 activated the MAPK pathway in the parathyroid through ERK1/2 phosphorylation and increased early growth response 1 mRNA levels. Using both rats and in vitro rat parathyroid cultures, we show that FGF23 suppressed both parathyroid hormone (PTH) secretion and PTH gene expression. The FGF23-induced decrease in PTH secretion was prevented by a MAPK inhibitor. These data indicate that FGF23 acts directly on the parathyroid through the MAPK pathway to decrease serum PTH. This bone-parathyroid endocrine axis adds a new dimension to the understanding of mineral homeostasis.
The vast majority of primary human breast cancer tissues display aberrant nuclear NF-κB c-Rel expression. A causal role for c-Rel in mammary tumorigenesis has been demonstrated using a c-Rel transgenic mouse model; however, tumors developed with a long latency, suggesting a second event is needed to trigger tumorigenesis. Here we show that c-Rel activity in the mammary gland is repressed by estrogen receptor α (ERα) signaling, and we identify an epigenetic mechanism in breast cancer mediated by activation of what we believe is a novel PKCθ-Akt pathway that leads to downregulation of ERα synthesis and derepression of c-Rel. ERα levels were lower in c-Rel–induced mammary tumors compared with normal mammary gland tissue. PKCθ induced c-Rel activity and target gene expression and promoted growth of c-Rel- and c-RelxCK2α–driven mouse mammary tumor–derived cell lines. RNA expression levels of PKCθ and c-Rel target genes were inversely correlated with ERα levels in human breast cancer specimens. PKCθ activated Akt, thereby inactivating forkhead box O protein 3a (FOXO3a) and leading to decreased synthesis of its target genes, ERα and p27Kip1. Thus we have shown that activation of PKCθ inhibits the FOXO3a/ERα/p27Kip1 axis that normally maintains an epithelial cell phenotype and induces c-Rel target genes, thereby promoting proliferation, survival, and more invasive breast cancer.
Sleep is a natural process that preserves energy, facilitates development, and restores the nervous system in higher animals. Sleep loss resulting from physiological and pathological conditions exerts tremendous pressure on neuronal circuitry responsible for sleep-wake regulation. It is not yet clear how acute and chronic sleep loss modify neuronal activities and lead to adaptive changes in animals. Here, we show that acute and chronic prolonged wakefulness in mice induced by modafinil treatment produced long-term potentiation (LTP) of glutamatergic synapses on hypocretin/orexin neurons in the lateral hypothalamus, a well-established arousal/wake-promoting center. A similar potentiation of synaptic strength at glutamatergic synapses on hypocretin/orexin neurons was also seen when mice were sleep deprived for 4 hours by gentle handling. Blockade of dopamine D1 receptors attenuated prolonged wakefulness and synaptic plasticity in these neurons, suggesting that modafinil functions through activation of the dopamine system. Also, activation of the cAMP pathway was not able to further induce LTP at glutamatergic synapses in brain slices from mice treated with modafinil. These results indicate that synaptic plasticity due to prolonged wakefulness occurs in circuits responsible for arousal and may contribute to changes in the brain and body of animals experiencing sleep loss.
The in vivo roles of the hundreds of mammalian G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) are incompletely understood. To explore these roles, we generated mice expressing the S1 subunit of pertussis toxin, a known inhibitor of Gi/o signaling, under the control of the ROSA26 locus in a Cre recombinase–dependent manner (ROSA26PTX). Crossing ROSA26PTX mice to mice expressing Cre in pancreatic β cells produced offspring with constitutive hyperinsulinemia, increased insulin secretion in response to glucose, and resistance to diet-induced hyperglycemia. This phenotype underscored the known importance of Gi/o and hence of GPCRs for regulating insulin secretion. Accordingly, we quantified mRNA for each of the approximately 373 nonodorant GPCRs in mouse to identify receptors highly expressed in islets and examined the role of several. We report that 3-iodothyronamine, a thyroid hormone metabolite, could negatively and positively regulate insulin secretion via the Gi-coupled α2A-adrenergic receptor and the Gs-coupled receptor Taar1, respectively, and protease-activated receptor–2 could negatively regulate insulin secretion and may contribute to physiological regulation of glucose metabolism. The ROSA26PTX system used in this study represents a new genetic tool to achieve tissue-specific signaling pathway modulation in vivo that can be applied to investigate the role of Gi/o-coupled GPCRs in multiple cell types and processes.
Targeting kinases is central to drug-based cancer therapy but remains challenging because the drugs often lack specificity, which may cause toxic side effects. Modulating side effects is difficult because kinases are evolutionarily and hence structurally related. The lack of specificity of the anticancer drug imatinib enables it to be used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia, where its target is the Bcr-Abl kinase, as well as a proportion of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), where its target is the C-Kit kinase. However, imatinib also has cardiotoxic effects traceable to its impact on the C-Abl kinase. Motivated by this finding, we made a modification to imatinib that hampers Bcr-Abl inhibition; refocuses the impact on the C-Kit kinase; and promotes inhibition of an additional target, JNK, a change that is required to reinforce prevention of cardiotoxicity. We established the molecular blueprint for target discrimination in vitro using spectrophotometric and colorimetric assays and through a phage-displayed kinase screening library. We demonstrated controlled inhibitory impact on C-Kit kinase in human cell lines and established the therapeutic impact of the engineered compound in a novel GIST mouse model, revealing a marked reduction of cardiotoxicity. These findings identify the reengineered imatinib as an agent to treat GISTs with curbed side effects and reveal a bottom-up approach to control drug specificity.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation