While the JCI was originally conceived as a journal that would integrate various scientific approaches to the examination of human physiology and pathophysiology, we now find many of its pages filled with animal models of human disease. Is this a good thing?
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. NAFLD represents a large spectrum of diseases ranging from (i) fatty liver (hepatic steatosis); (ii) steatosis with inflammation and necrosis; and (iii) cirrhosis. Although the molecular mechanism leading to the development of hepatic steatosis in the pathogenesis of NAFLD is complex, recent animal models have shown that modulating important enzymes in fatty acid synthesis in liver may be key for the treatment of NAFLD. This review discusses recent advances in the field.
Studies of modifier genes in cystic fibrosis (CF) have often been performed in small or narrowly defined populations, leading to conflicting results. In this issue of the JCI, Dorfman et al. demonstrate in a large, population-based study that two previously studied modifier genes, coding for mannose-binding lectin 2 and TGF-β1, influence pulmonary outcome in pediatric CF patients (see the related article beginning on page 1040). They further show gene-gene interaction between the two, underscoring the complexity of CF lung disease. Their findings provide further impetus to study these molecules and associated signaling pathways in CF. In addition, these findings argue strongly for collecting genotypes of known modifiers prospectively in CF clinical trials as well as in longitudinal studies of infants identified through newborn screening, where the full impact of such modifiers can be defined more precisely.
In this issue of the JCI, Denechaud et al. report studies investigating the role of the liver X receptors (LXRs) LXRα and LXRβ in carbohydrate sensing by the liver (see the related article beginning on page 956). The results of this study, which utilized LXRα/β double-KO mice, strongly contradict a recent Nature report that proposed that LXRα/β sense glucose independent of metabolic flux. The reported findings further support a key role for the carbohydrate-responsive element–binding protein (ChREBP) in the regulation of lipogenic genes by glucose and dietary carbohydrates.
In conditions of severe T cell depletion, such as HIV-1 infection, limited T cell production by the thymus can thwart the immune response, putting individuals at increased risk of infection with opportunistic pathogens. In this issue of the JCI, Napolitano et al. report, in a prospective, randomized study, that treatment of HIV-1–infected adults with growth hormone may reverse thymic atrophy, as reflected by increased de novo thymic T cell production accompanied by increased peripheral T cell production (see the related article beginning on page 1085). While the long-term immunological and clinical benefits of growth hormone treatment remain unclear, the data suggest a way in which to enhance thymopoiesis and peripheral T cell production in immunodeficient individuals.
Truncating mutations of the G-CSF receptor are found during disease course in nearly half of all patients with severe congenital neutropenia. In this issue of the JCI, Liu et al. demonstrate that these mutations confer a competitive clonal advantage upon HSCs in mice and that the advantage is conditional because it is observed only in the presence of the ligand G-CSF (see the related article beginning on page 946). Once activated, the mutant receptor requires the function of Stat5 in order to effect clonal expansion of this stem cell population. The results support the notion that early molecular steps in this and other neoplastic processes represent adaptations in which, through somatic mutations, “unfit” stem cells gain a measure of fitness by altering their relationships with their microenvironment.
Curcumin, a commonly available spice and alternative medicine, has been tested in the laboratory and the clinic for activity against a wide range of diseases. It is thought to possess antiinflammatory and antioxidant activities and may also function to inhibit histone acetyl transferases, which activate gene expression via chromatin remodeling. Two reports in this issue of the JCI, by Morimoto et al. and Li et al., suggest that curcumin may inhibit cardiac hypertrophy in rodent models and provide beneficial effects after myocardial infarction or in the setting of hypertension (see the related articles beginning on pages 868 and 879, respectively). These results will spur further mechanistic inquiry into the role of chromatin remodeling in the regulation of cardiac homeostasis.
Myeloproliferative disorders (MPDs) are characterized by cytokine hypersensitivity and apoptosis resistance. Development of a block in myeloid differentiation is associated with progression of MPD to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and portends poor prognosis. Identifying molecular markers of this transition may suggest targets for therapeutic intervention. Interferon consensus sequence binding protein (ICSBP, also known as IRF8) is an interferon-regulatory transcription factor that functions as a leukemia tumor suppressor. In mice, ICSBP deficiency induces an MPD that progresses to AML over time, suggesting that ICSBP deficiency is sufficient for myeloproliferation, but additional genetic lesions are necessary for AML. Since activity of ICSBP is influenced by tyrosine phosphorylation state, we hypothesized that mutations in molecular pathways that regulate this process might synergize with ICSBP deficiency for progression to AML. Consistent with this, we found that constitutive activation of SHP2 protein tyrosine phosphatase synergized with ICSBP haploinsufficiency to facilitate cytokine-induced myeloproliferation, apoptosis resistance, and rapid progression to AML in a murine bone marrow transplantation model. Constitutive SHP2 activation cooperated with ICSBP deficiency to increase the number of progenitors in the bone marrow and myeloid blasts in circulation, indicating a block in differentiation. Since SHP2 activation and ICSBP deficiency may coexist in human myeloid malignancies, our studies have identified a molecular mechanism potentially involved in disease progression in such diseases.
Hemodynamic overload in the heart can trigger maladaptive hypertrophy of cardiomyocytes. A key signaling event in this process is nuclear acetylation by histone deacetylases and p300, an intrinsic histone acetyltransferase (HAT). It has been previously shown that curcumin, a polyphenol responsible for the yellow color of the spice turmeric, possesses HAT inhibitory activity with specificity for the p300/CREB-binding protein. We found that curcumin inhibited the hypertrophy-induced acetylation and DNA-binding abilities of GATA4, a hypertrophy-responsive transcription factor, in rat cardiomyocytes. Curcumin also disrupted the p300/GATA4 complex and repressed agonist- and p300-induced hypertrophic responses in these cells. Both the acetylated form of GATA4 and the relative levels of the p300/GATA4 complex markedly increased in rat hypertensive hearts in vivo. The effects of curcumin were examined in vivo in 2 different heart failure models: hypertensive heart disease in salt-sensitive Dahl rats and surgically induced myocardial infarction in rats. In both models, curcumin prevented deterioration of systolic function and heart failure–induced increases in both myocardial wall thickness and diameter. From these results, we conclude that inhibition of p300 HAT activity by the nontoxic dietary compound curcumin may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for heart failure in humans.
Chromatin remodeling, particularly histone acetylation, plays a critical role in the progression of pathological cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure. We hypothesized that curcumin, a natural polyphenolic compound abundant in the spice turmeric and a known suppressor of histone acetylation, would suppress cardiac hypertrophy through the disruption of p300 histone acetyltransferase–dependent (p300-HAT–dependent) transcriptional activation. We tested this hypothesis using primary cultured rat cardiac myocytes and fibroblasts as well as two well-established mouse models of cardiac hypertrophy. Curcumin blocked phenylephrin-induced (PE-induced) cardiac hypertrophy in vitro in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, curcumin both prevented and reversed mouse cardiac hypertrophy induced by aortic banding (AB) and PE infusion, as assessed by heart weight/BW and lung weight/BW ratios, echocardiographic parameters, and gene expression of hypertrophic markers. Further investigation demonstrated that curcumin abrogated histone acetylation, GATA4 acetylation, and DNA-binding activity through blocking p300-HAT activity. Curcumin also blocked AB-induced inflammation and fibrosis through disrupting p300-HAT–dependent signaling pathways. Our results indicate that curcumin has the potential to protect against cardiac hypertrophy, inflammation, and fibrosis through suppression of p300-HAT activity and downstream GATA4, NF-κB, and TGF-β–Smad signaling pathways.
Although the differentiation of ES cells to cardiomyocytes has been firmly established, the extent to which corresponding cardiac precursor cells can contribute to other cardiac populations remains unclear. To determine the molecular and cellular characteristics of cardiac-fated populations derived from mouse ES (mES) cells, we isolated cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) from differentiating mES cell cultures by using a reporter cell line that expresses GFP under the control of a cardiac-specific enhancer element of Nkx2-5, a transcription factor expressed early in cardiac development. This ES cell–derived CPC population initially expressed genetic markers of both stem cells and mesoderm, while differentiated CPCs displayed markers of 3 distinct cell lineages (cardiomyocytes, vascular smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells) — Flk1 (also known as Kdr), c-Kit, and Nkx2-5, but not Brachyury — and subsequently expressed Isl1. Clonally derived CPCs also demonstrated this multipotent phenotype. By transcription profiling of CPCs, we found that mES cell–derived CPCs displayed a transcriptional signature that paralleled in vivo cardiac development. Additionally, these studies suggested the involvement of genes that we believe were previously unknown to play a role in cardiac development. Taken together, our data demonstrate that ES cell–derived CPCs comprise a multipotent precursor population capable of populating multiple cardiac lineages and suggest that ES cell differentiation is a valid model for studying development of multiple cardiac-fated tissues.
Reducing body myopathy (RBM) is a rare disorder causing progressive muscular weakness characterized by aggresome-like inclusions in the myofibrils. Identification of genes responsible for RBM by traditional genetic approaches has been impossible due to the frequently sporadic occurrence in affected patients and small family sizes. As an alternative approach to gene identification, we used laser microdissection of intracytoplasmic inclusions identified in patient muscle biopsies, followed by nanoflow liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry and proteomic analysis. The most prominent component of the inclusions was the Xq26.3-encoded four and a half LIM domain 1 (FHL1) protein, expressed predominantly in skeletal but also in cardiac muscle. Mutational analysis identified 4 FHL1 mutations in 2 sporadic unrelated females and in 2 families with severely affected boys and less-affected mothers. Transfection of kidney COS-7 and skeletal muscle C2C12 cells with mutant FHL1 induced the formation of aggresome-like inclusions that incorporated both mutant and wild-type FHL1 and trapped other proteins in a dominant-negative manner. Thus, a novel laser microdissection/proteomics approach has helped identify both inherited and de novo mutations in FHL1, thereby defining a new X-linked protein aggregation disorder of muscle.
Despite its early discovery and high sequence homology to the other VEGF family members, the biological functions of VEGF-B remain poorly understood. We revealed here a novel function for VEGF-B as a potent inhibitor of apoptosis. Using gene expression profiling of mouse primary aortic smooth muscle cells, and confirming the results by real-time PCR using mouse and rat cell lines, we showed that VEGF-B inhibited the expression of genes encoding the proapoptotic BH3-only proteins and other apoptosis- and cell death–related proteins, including p53 and members of the caspase family, via activation of VEGFR-1. Consistent with this, VEGF-B treatment rescued neurons from apoptosis in the retina and brain in mouse models of ocular neurodegenerative disorders and stroke, respectively. Interestingly, VEGF-B treatment at the dose effective for neuronal survival did not cause retinal neovascularization, suggesting that VEGF-B is the first member of the VEGF family that has a potent antiapoptotic effect while lacking a general angiogenic activity. These findings indicate that VEGF-B may potentially offer a new therapeutic option for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
The proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is finely regulated by extrinsic and intrinsic factors via various signaling pathways. Here we have shown that, similar to mice deficient in the lipid phosphatase SHIP, loss of 2 Src family kinases, Lyn and Hck, profoundly affects HSC differentiation, producing hematopoietic progenitors with increased proliferation, reduced apoptosis, growth factor–independent survival, and skewed differentiation toward M2 macrophages. This phenotype culminates in a Stat5-dependent myeloproliferative disease that is accompanied by M2 macrophage infiltration of the lung. Expression of a membrane-bound form of SHIP in HSCs lacking both Lyn and Hck restored normal hematopoiesis and prevented myeloproliferation. In vitro and in vivo studies suggested the involvement of autocrine and/or paracrine production of IL-3 and GM-CSF in the increased proliferation and myeloid differentiation of HSCs. Thus, this study has defined a myeloproliferative transformation-sensitive signaling pathway, composed of Lyn/Hck, SHIP, autocrine/paracrine cytokines, and Stat5, that regulates HSC differentiation and M2 macrophage programming.
Transplantation of healthy cells to repair organ damage or replace deficient functions constitutes a major goal of cell therapy. However, the mechanisms by which transplanted cells engraft, proliferate, and function remain unknown. To investigate whether host liver sinusoidal endothelium could be replaced with transplanted liver sinusoidal endothelial cells, we developed an animal model of tissue replacement that utilized a genetic system to identify transplanted cells and induced host-cell perturbations to confer a proliferative advantage to transplanted cells. Under these experimental conditions, transplanted cells engrafted efficiently and proliferated to replace substantial portions of the liver endothelium. Tissue studies demonstrated that transplanted cells became integral to the liver structure and reacquired characteristic endothelial morphology. Characterization of transplanted endothelial cells by membrane markers and studies of cellular function, including synthesis and release of coagulation factor VIII, demonstrated that transplanted cells were functionally intact. Further analysis showed that repopulation of the livers of mice that model hemophilia A with healthy endothelial cells restored plasma factor VIII activity and corrected their bleeding phenotype. Our studies therefore suggest that transplantation of healthy endothelial cells should be considered for cell therapy of relevant disorders and that endothelial reconstitution with transplanted cells may offer an excellent paradigm for defining organ-specific pathophysiological mechanisms.
A fundamental property of leukemic stem cells is clonal dominance of the bone marrow microenvironment. Truncation mutations of CSF3R, which encodes the G-CSF receptor (G-CSFR), are implicated in leukemic progression in patients with severe congenital neutropenia. Here we show that expression of a truncated mutant Csf3r in mice confers a strong clonal advantage at the HSC level that is dependent upon exogenous G-CSF. G-CSF–induced proliferation, phosphorylation of Stat5, and transcription of Stat5 target genes were increased in HSCs isolated from mice expressing the mutant Csf3r. Conversely, the proliferative advantage conferred by the mutant Csf3r was abrogated in myeloid progenitors lacking both Stat5A and Stat5B, and HSC function was reduced in mice expressing a truncated mutant Csf3r engineered to have impaired Stat5 activation. These data indicate that in mice, inappropriate Stat5 activation plays a key role in establishing clonal dominance by stem cells expressing mutant Csf3r.
The transcription factor carbohydrate-responsive element–binding protein (ChREBP) has emerged as a central regulator of lipid synthesis in liver because it is required for glucose-induced expression of the glycolytic enzyme liver–pyruvate kinase (L-PK) and acts in synergy with SREBP to induce lipogenic genes such as acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) and fatty acid synthase (FAS). Liver X receptors (LXRs) are also important regulators of the lipogenic pathway, and the recent finding that ChREBP is a direct target of LXRs and that glucose itself can bind and activate LXRs prompted us to study the role of LXRs in the induction of glucose-regulated genes in liver. Using an LXR agonist in wild-type mice, we found that LXR stimulation did not promote ChREBP phosphorylation or nuclear localization in the absence of an increased intrahepatic glucose flux. Furthermore, the induction of ChREBP, L-PK, and ACC by glucose or high-carbohydrate diet was similar in LXRα/β knockout compared with wild-type mice, suggesting that the activation of these genes by glucose occurs by an LXR-independent mechanism. We used fluorescence resonance energy transfer analysis to demonstrate that glucose failed to promote the interaction of LXRα/β with specific cofactors. Finally, siRNA silencing of ChREBP in LXRα/β knockout hepatocytes abrogated glucose-induced expression of L-PK and ACC, further demonstrating the central role of ChREBP in glucose signaling. Taken together, our results demonstrate that glucose is required for ChREBP functional activity and that LXRs are not necessary for the induction of glucose-regulated genes in liver.
Effective reepithelialization after injury is essential for correct wound healing. The upregulation of keratinocyte α3β1 integrin during reepithelialization suggests that this adhesion molecule is involved in wound healing; however, its precise role in this process is unknown. We have shown here that retarded reepithelialization in Itga3–/– mouse skin wounds is due predominantly to repressed TGF-β1–mediated responses. Specifically, expression of the inhibitor of TGF-β1–signaling Smad7 was elevated in Itga3–/– keratinocytes. Indeed, in vivo blockade of Smad7 increased the rate of reepithelialization in Itga3–/– and WT wounds to similar levels. Our data therefore indicate that the function of α3β1 integrin as a mediator of keratinocyte migration is not essential for reepithelialization but suggest instead that α3β1 integrin has a major new in vivo role as an inhibitor of Smad7 during wound healing. Moreover, our study may identify a previously undocumented function for Smad7 as a regulator of reepithelialization in vivo and implicates Smad7 as a potential novel target for the treatment of cutaneous wounds.
Thyroid hormone is a critical determinant of cellular metabolism and differentiation. Precise tissue-specific regulation of the active ligand 3,5,3′-triiodothyronine (T3) is achieved by the sequential removal of iodine groups from the thyroid hormone molecule, with type 3 deiodinase (D3) comprising the major inactivating pathway that terminates the action of T3 and prevents activation of the prohormone thyroxine. Using cells endogenously expressing D3, we found that hypoxia induced expression of the D3 gene DIO3 by a hypoxia-inducible factor–dependent (HIF-dependent) pathway. D3 activity and mRNA were increased both by hypoxia and by hypoxia mimetics that increase HIF-1. Using ChIP, we found that HIF-1α interacted specifically with the DIO3 promoter, indicating that DIO3 may be a direct transcriptional target of HIF-1. Endogenous D3 activity decreased T3-dependent oxygen consumption in both neuronal and hepatocyte cell lines, suggesting that hypoxia-induced D3 may reduce metabolic rate in hypoxic tissues. Using a rat model of cardiac failure due to RV hypertrophy, we found that HIF-1α and D3 proteins were induced specifically in the hypertrophic myocardium of the RV, creating an anatomically specific reduction in local T3 content and action. These results suggest a mechanism of metabolic regulation during hypoxic-ischemic injury in which HIF-1 reduces local thyroid hormone signaling through induction of D3.
The role of the renin angiotensin system (RAS) in atherosclerosis is complex because of the involvement of multiple peptides and receptors. Renin is the rate-limiting enzyme in the production of all angiotensin peptides. To determine the effects of renin inhibition on atherosclerosis, we administered the novel renin inhibitor aliskiren over a broad dose range to fat-fed LDL receptor–deficient (Ldlr–/–) mice. Renin inhibition resulted in striking reductions of atherosclerotic lesion size in both the aortic arch and the root. Subsequent studies demonstrated that cultured macrophages expressed all components of the RAS. To determine the role of macrophage-derived angiotensin in the development of atherosclerosis, we transplanted renin-deficient bone marrow to irradiated Ldlr–/– mice and observed a profound decrease in the size of atherosclerotic lesions. In similar experiments, transplantation of bone marrow deficient for angiotensin II type 1a receptors failed to influence lesion development. We conclude that renin-dependent angiotensin production in macrophages does not act in an autocrine/paracrine manner. Furthermore, in vitro studies demonstrated that coculture with renin-expressing macrophages augmented monocyte adhesion to endothelial cells. Therefore, although previous work suggests that angiotensin peptides have conflicting effects on atherogenesis, we found that renin inhibition profoundly decreased lesion development in mice.
Invariant NKT (iNKT) cells are potent activators of DCs, NK cells, and T cells, and their antitumor activity has been well demonstrated. A single injection of the high-affinity CD1d ligand α-galactosylceramide (αGalCer) leads to short-lived iNKT cell activation followed, however, by long-term anergy, limiting its therapeutic use. In contrast, we demonstrated here that when αGalCer was loaded on a recombinant soluble CD1d molecule (αGalCer/sCD1d), repeated injections led to sustained iNKT and NK cell activation associated with IFN-γ secretion as well as DC maturation in mice. Most importantly, when αGalCer/sCD1d was fused to a HER2-specific scFv antibody fragment, potent inhibition of experimental lung metastasis and established s.c. tumors was obtained when systemic treatment was started 2–7 days after the injection of HER2-expressing B16 melanoma cells. In contrast, administration of free αGalCer at this time had no effect. The antitumor activity of the CD1d–anti-HER2 fusion protein was associated with HER2-specific tumor localization and accumulation of iNKT, NK, and T cells at the tumor site. Targeting iNKT cells to the tumor site thus may activate a combined innate and adaptive immune response that may prove to be effective in cancer immunotherapy.
Renin, a major regulatory component of the renin-angiotensin system, plays a pivotal role in regulating blood pressure and electrolyte homeostasis and is predominantly expressed in the kidney. Several cAMP-responsive elements have been identified within renin gene promoters. Here, we study how 2 such elements, renin proximal promoter element-2 (RP-2) and overlapping cAMP and negative regulatory elements (CNRE), affect the transcriptional regulation of renin. We generated Tg mice (TgM) bearing BACs containing either WT or mutant RP-2 or CNRE, integrated at single chromosomal loci. Analysis of the TgM revealed that RP-2 was essential to basal promoter activity in the kidney, while renin mRNA levels did not significantly change in any tissues tested in the CNRE mutant TgM. To evaluate the physiological significance of these mutations, we used the BAC Tg to rescue hypotensive Renin-null mutant mice. As predicted, no renin expression was observed in the kidneys of RP-2 mutant/Renin-null compound mice, whereas renin expression in CNRE mutant compound mice was indistinguishable from that in control mice. Consistent with this, RP-2 mutant animals were hypotensive, while CNRE mutants had normal blood pressure. Thus, transcriptional regulation of renin expression via RP-2 but not CNRE is critical for blood pressure regulation by this gene.
Genetic studies suggest a role for killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor/HLA (KIR/HLA) compound genotypes in the outcome of viral infections, but functional data to explain these epidemiological observations have not been reported. Using an in vitro model of infection with influenza A virus (IAV), we attribute functional differences in human NK cell activity to distinct KIR/HLA genotypes. Multicolor flow cytometry revealed that the HLA-C–inhibited NK cell subset in HLA-C1 homozygous subjects was larger and responded more rapidly in IFN-γ secretion and CD107a degranulation assays than its counterpart in HLA-C2 homozygous subjects. The differential IFN-γ response was also observed at the level of bulk NK cells and was independent of KIR3DL1/HLA-Bw4 interactions. Moreover, the differential response was not caused by differences in NK cell maturation status and phenotype, nor by differences in the type I IFN response of IAV-infected accessory cells between HLA-C1 and HLA-C2 homozygous subjects. These results provide functional evidence for differential NK cell responsiveness depending on KIR/HLA genotype and may provide useful insights into differential innate immune responsiveness to viral infections such as IAV.
IL-7 is integral to the generation and maintenance of CD8+ T cell memory, and insufficient IL-7 is believed to limit survival and the persistence of memory CD8+ T cells. Here, we show that during the mouse T cell response to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, IL-7 enhanced the number of memory CD8+ T cells when its administration was restricted to the contraction phase of the response. Likewise, IL-7 administration during the contraction phase of the mouse T cell response to vaccinia virus or a DNA vaccine potentiated antigen-specific CD8+ memory T cell proliferation and function. Qualitatively, CD8+ T cells from IL-7–treated mice exhibited superior recall responses and improved viral control. IL-7 treatment during the memory phase stimulated a marked increase in the number of memory CD8+ T cells, but the effects were transient. IL-7 therapy during contraction of the secondary CD8+ T cell response also expanded the pool of memory CD8+ T cells. Collectively, our studies show differential effects of IL-7 on memory CD8+ T cell homeostasis and underscore the importance of the timing of IL-7 therapy to effectively improve CD8+ T cell memory and protective immunity. These findings may have implications in the clinical use of IL-7 as an immunotherapeutic agent to bolster vaccine-induced CD8+ T cell memory.
Although cystic fibrosis (CF) is a monogenic disease, its clinical manifestations are influenced in a complex manner. Severity of lung disease, the main cause of mortality among CF patients, is likely modulated by several genes. The mannose-binding lectin 2 (MBL2) gene encodes an innate immune response protein and has been implicated as a pulmonary modifier in CF. However, reports have been conflicting, and interactions with other modifiers have not been investigated. We therefore evaluated the association of MBL2 with CF pulmonary phenotype in a cohort of 1,019 Canadian pediatric CF patients. MBL2 genotypes were combined into low-, intermediate-, and high-expression groups based on MBL2 levels in plasma. Analysis of age at first infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa demonstrated that MBL2 deficiency was significantly associated with earlier onset of infection. This MBL2 effect was amplified in patients with high-producing genotypes of transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFB1). Similarly, MBL2 deficiency was associated with more rapid decline of pulmonary function, most significantly in those carrying the high-producing TGFB1 genotype. These findings provide evidence of gene-gene interaction in the pathogenesis of CF lung disease, whereby high TGF-β1 production enhances the modulatory effect of MBL2 on the age of first bacterial infection and the rate of decline of pulmonary function.
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a common, debilitating disorder affecting millions of women. Uterosacral ligaments (USLs) are the main supportive structures of the uterus and vagina and are often attenuated in women with POP. Although the mechanical strength of USLs is known to be dependent on collagen synthesis and catabolism and the degradation protein MMP2 has been implicated in POP, the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of POP are currently unknown. Homeobox (HOX) genes are transcriptional regulators that orchestrate embryonic development of the urogenital tract. We demonstrated here that HOXA11 was essential for organogenesis of the USL by showing that USLs were absent in Hoxa11-null mice. We compared expression of HOXA11, collagen type I, collagen type III, MMP2, and MMP9 in USLs of women with and without POP. Expression of HOXA11 and both collagens was dramatically decreased while MMP2 was increased in women with POP. Constitutive expression of Hoxa11 in murine fibroblasts resulted in significantly increased expression of collagen type III and decreased expression of MMP2. These results identified HOXA11 as an essential gene for the development of the USL and suggested that women with POP might have weakened connective tissue due to changes in a signaling pathway involving HOXA11, collagen type III, and MMP2.
Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is the principal risk factor for glaucoma and results from excessive impedance of the fluid outflow from the eye. This abnormality likely originates from outflow pathway tissues such as the trabecular meshwork (TM), but the associated molecular etiology is poorly understood. We discovered what we believe to be a novel role for secreted frizzled-related protein-1 (sFRP-1), an antagonist of Wnt signaling, in regulating IOP. sFRP1 was overexpressed in human glaucomatous TM cells. Genes involved in the Wnt signaling pathway were expressed in cultured TM cells and human TM tissues. Addition of recombinant sFRP-1 to ex vivo perfusion-cultured human eyes decreased outflow facility, concomitant with reduced levels of β-catenin, the Wnt signaling mediator, in the TM. Intravitreal injection of an adenoviral vector encoding sFRP1 in mice produced a titer-dependent increase in IOP. Five days after vector injection, IOP increased 2 fold, which was significantly reduced by topical ocular administration of an inhibitor of a downstream suppressor of Wnt signaling. Thus, these data indicate that increased expression of sFRP1 in the TM appears to be responsible for elevated IOP in glaucoma and restoring Wnt signaling in the TM may be a novel disease intervention strategy for treating glaucoma.
Although opioids are highly effective analgesics, they are also known to induce cellular adaptations resulting in tolerance. Experimental studies are often performed in the absence of painful tissue injury, which precludes extrapolation to the clinical situation. Here we show that rats with chronic morphine treatment do not develop signs of tolerance at peripheral μ-opioid receptors (μ-receptors) in the presence of painful CFA-induced paw inflammation. In sensory neurons of these animals, internalization of μ-receptors was significantly increased and G protein coupling of μ-receptors as well as inhibition of cAMP accumulation were preserved. Opioid receptor trafficking and signaling were reduced, and tolerance was restored when endogenous opioid peptides in inflamed tissue were removed by antibodies or by depleting opioid-producing granulocytes, monocytes, and lymphocytes with cyclophosphamide (CTX). Our data indicate that the continuous availability of endogenous opioids in inflamed tissue increases recycling and preserves signaling of μ-receptors in sensory neurons, thereby counteracting the development of peripheral opioid tolerance. These findings infer that the use of peripherally acting opioids for the prolonged treatment of inflammatory pain associated with diseases such as chronic arthritis, inflammatory neuropathy, or cancer, is not necessarily accompanied by opioid tolerance.
Leukocytes from individuals with warts, hypogammaglobulinemia, infections, and myelokathexis (WHIM) syndrome, a rare immunodeficiency, and bearing a wild-type CXCR4 ORF (WHIMWT) display impaired CXCR4 internalization and desensitization upon exposure to CXCL12. The resulting enhanced CXCR4-dependent responses, including chemotaxis, probably impair leukocyte trafficking and account for the immunohematologic clinical manifestations of WHIM syndrome. We provided here evidence that GPCR kinase-3 (GRK3) specifically regulates CXCL12-promoted internalization and desensitization of CXCR4. GRK3-silenced control cells displayed altered CXCR4 attenuation and enhanced chemotaxis, as did WHIMWT cells. These findings identified GRK3 as a negative regulator of CXCL12-induced chemotaxis and as a candidate responsible for CXCR4 dysfunction in WHIMWT leukocytes. Consistent with this, we showed that GRK3 overexpression in both leukocytes and skin fibroblasts from 2 unrelated WHIMWT patients restored CXCL12-induced internalization and desensitization of CXCR4 and normalized chemotaxis. Moreover, we found in cells derived from one patient a profound and selective decrease in GRK3 products that probably resulted from defective mRNA synthesis. Taken together, these results have revealed a pivotal role for GRK3 in regulating CXCR4 attenuation and have provided a mechanistic link between the GRK3 pathway and the CXCR4-related WHIMWT disorder.
Growth hormone (GH) is an underappreciated but important regulator of T cell development that can reverse age-related declines in thymopoiesis in rodents. Here, we report findings of a prospective randomized study examining the effects of GH on the immune system of HIV-1–infected adults. GH treatment was associated with increased thymic mass. In addition, GH treatment enhanced thymic output, as measured by both the frequency of T cell receptor rearrangement excision circles in circulating T cells and the numbers of circulating naive and total CD4+ T cells. These findings provide compelling evidence that GH induces de novo T cell production and may, accordingly, facilitate CD4+ T cell recovery in HIV-1–infected adults. Further, these randomized, prospective data have shown that thymic involution can be pharmacologically reversed in humans, suggesting that immune-based therapies could be used to enhance thymopoiesis in immunodeficient individuals.
Transplanted donor lymphocytes infused during hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) have been shown to cure patients with hematological malignancies. However, less is known about the effects of HSCT on metastatic solid tumors. Thus, a better understanding of the immune cells and their target antigens that mediate tumor regression is urgently needed to develop more effective HSCT approaches for solid tumors. Here we report regression of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in patients following nonmyeloablative HSCT consistent with a graft-versus-tumor effect. We detected RCC-reactive donor-derived CD8+ T cells in the blood of patients following nonmyeloablative HSCT. Using cDNA expression cloning, we identified a 10-mer peptide (CT-RCC-1) as a target antigen of RCC-specific CD8+ T cells. The genes encoding this antigen were found to be derived from human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) type E and were expressed in RCC cell lines and fresh RCC tissue but not in normal kidney or other tissues. We believe this to be the first solid tumor antigen identified using allogeneic T cells from a patient undergoing HSCT. These data suggest that HERV-E is activated in RCC and that it encodes an overexpressed immunogenic antigen, therefore providing a potential target for cellular immunity.
The activation of initiator protein tissue factor (TF) is likely to be a crucial step in the blood coagulation process, which leads to fibrin formation. The stimuli responsible for inducing TF activation are largely undefined. Here we show that the oxidoreductase protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) directly promotes TF-dependent fibrin production during thrombus formation in vivo. After endothelial denudation of mouse carotid arteries, PDI was released at the injury site from adherent platelets and disrupted vessel wall cells. Inhibition of PDI decreased TF-triggered fibrin formation in different in vivo murine models of thrombus formation, as determined by intravital fluorescence microscopy. PDI infusion increased — and, under conditions of decreased platelet adhesion, PDI inhibition reduced — fibrin generation at the injury site, indicating that PDI can directly initiate blood coagulation. In vitro, human platelet–secreted PDI contributed to the activation of cryptic TF on microvesicles (microparticles). Mass spectrometry analyses indicated that part of the extracellular cysteine 209 of TF was constitutively glutathionylated. Mixed disulfide formation contributed to maintaining TF in a state of low functionality. We propose that reduced PDI activates TF by isomerization of a mixed disulfide and a free thiol to an intramolecular disulfide. Our findings suggest that disulfide isomerases can act as injury response signals that trigger the activation of fibrin formation following vessel injury.
Thiol isomerases, including protein disulfide isomerase (PDI), catalyze disulfide oxidation, reduction, and isomerization, thereby playing an important role in protein synthesis. To determine whether extracellular PDI mediates thrombus formation in an animal model, PDI expression, platelet accumulation, and fibrin generation were monitored in the blood vessels of mice by intravital fluorescence microscopy following laser-induced arteriolar injury. A time-dependent increase in PDI was observed in murine thrombi following injury. Infusion of the PDI inhibitor bacitracin or a blocking monoclonal antibody against PDI inhibited platelet thrombus formation and fibrin generation. Fibrin deposition is normal in mice lacking the G protein–coupled platelet receptor Par4, although there is no stable accumulation of platelets. Infusion of monoclonal antibodies against PDI into the circulation of Par4–/– mice prior to vessel wall injury inhibited fibrin generation. These results indicate that PDI is required in vivo in mice for both fibrin generation and platelet thrombus formation.
IL-10 is an immunomodulatory cytokine that plays an obligate role in preventing spontaneous enterocolitis in mice. However, little is known about IL-10 function in the human intestinal mucosa. We showed here that IL-10 was constitutively expressed and secreted by the human normal colonic mucosa, including epithelial cells. Depletion of IL-10 in mucosal explants induced both downregulation of the IL-10–inducible, immunosuppressive gene BCL3 and upregulation of IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-17. Interestingly, TGF-β blockade also strongly induced IFN-γ production. In addition, the high levels of IFN-γ produced upon IL-10 depletion were responsible for surface epithelium damage and crypt loss, mainly by apoptosis. Polymyxin B, used as a scavenger of endogenous LPS, abolished both IFN-γ production and epithelial barrier disruption. Finally, adding a commensal bacteria strain to mucosa explant cultures depleted of both IL-10 and LPS reproduced the ability of endogenous LPS to induce IFN-γ secretion. These findings demonstrate that IL-10 ablation leads to an endogenous IFN-γ–mediated inflammatory response via LPS from commensal bacteria in the human colonic mucosa. We also found that both IL-10 and TGF-β play crucial roles in maintaining human colonic mucosa homeostasis.
Cross-reactivity of murine and recently human CD8+ T cells between different viral peptides, i.e., heterologous immunity, has been well characterized. However, the directionality and quality of these cross-reactions is critical in determining their biological importance. Herein we analyzed the response of human CD8+ T cells that recognize both a hepatitis C virus peptide (HCV-NS3) and a peptide derived from the influenza neuraminidase protein (Flu-NA). To detect the cross-reactive CD8+ T cells, we used peptide-MHC class I complexes (pMHCs) containing a new mutant form of MHC class I able to bind CD8 more strongly than normal MHC class I complexes. T cell responses against HCV-NS3 and Flu-NA peptide were undetectable in normal donors. In contrast, some responses against the Flu-NA peptide were identified in HCV+ donors who showed strong HCV-NS3–specific reactivity. The Flu-NA peptide was a weak agonist for CD8+ T cells in HCV+ individuals on the basis of novel pMHCs and functional assays. These data support the idea of cross-reactivity between the 2 peptides, but indicate that reactivity toward the Flu-NA peptide is highly CD8-dependent and occurs predominantly after priming during HCV infection. Our findings indicate the utility of the novel pMHCs in dissecting cross-reactivity and suggest that cross-reactivity between HCV and influenza is relatively weak. Further studies are needed to relate affinity and functionality of cross-reactive T cells.
The establishment of T cell–mediated inflammation requires the migration of primed T lymphocytes from the blood stream and their retention in antigenic sites. While naive T lymphocyte recirculation in the lymph and blood is constitutively regulated and occurs in the absence of inflammation, the recruitment of primed T cells to nonlymphoid tissue and their retention at the site are enhanced by various inflammatory signals, including TCR engagement by antigen-displaying endothelium and resident antigen-presenting cells. In this study, we investigated whether signals downstream of TCR ligation mediated by the phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) subunit p110δ contributed to the regulation of these events. T lymphocytes from mice expressing catalytically inactive p110δ displayed normal constitutive trafficking and migratory responses to nonspecific stimuli. However, these cells lost susceptibility to TCR-induced migration and failed to localize efficiently to antigenic tissue. Importantly, we showed that antigen-induced T cell trafficking and subsequent inflammation was abrogated by selective pharmacological inhibition of PI3K p110δ activity. These observations suggest that pharmacological targeting of p110δ activity is a viable strategy for the therapy of T cell–mediated pathology.
A prerequisite for strong adaptive antiviral immunity is the robust initial activation of the innate immune system, which is frequently mediated by TLR-activated plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs). Natural antitumor immunity is often comparatively weak, potentially due to the lack of TLR-mediated activation signals within the tumor microenvironment. To assess whether pDCs are capable of directly facilitating effective antitumor immune responses, mice bearing established subcutaneous B16 melanoma tumors were administered TLR9-activated pDCs directly into the tumor. We found that TLR9-activated pDCs induced robust, spontaneous CTL cross-priming against multiple B16 tumor antigens, leading to the regression of both treated tumors and untreated tumors at distant contralateral sites. This T cell cross-priming was mediated by conventional DCs (cDCs) and was completely dependent upon the early recruitment and activation of NK cells at the tumor site. NK cell recruitment was mediated by CCR5 via chemokines secreted by pDCs, and optimal IFN-γ production by NK cells was mediated by OX40L expressed by pDCs. Our data thus demonstrated that activated pDCs are capable of initiating effective and systemic antitumor immunity through the orchestration of an immune cascade involving the sequential activation of NK cells, cDCs, and CD8+ T cells.
In humans, hereditary inactivation of either p22phox or gp91phox leads to chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), a severe immune disorder characterized by the inability of phagocytes to produce bacteria-destroying ROS. Heterodimers of p22phox and gp91phox proteins constitute the superoxide-producing cytochrome core of the phagocyte NADPH oxidase. In this study, we identified the nmf333 mouse strain as what we believe to be the first animal model of p22phox deficiency. Characterization of nmf333 mice revealed that deletion of p22phox inactivated not only the phagocyte NADPH oxidase, but also a second cytochrome in the inner ear epithelium. As a consequence, mice of the nmf333 strain exhibit a compound phenotype consisting of both a CGD-like immune defect and a balance disorder caused by the aberrant development of gravity-sensing organs. Thus, in addition to identifying a model of p22phox-dependent immune deficiency, our study indicates that a clinically identifiable patient population with an otherwise cryptic loss of gravity-sensor function may exist. Thus, p22phox represents a shared and essential component of at least 2 superoxide-producing cytochromes with entirely different biological functions. The site of p22phox expression in the inner ear leads us to propose what we believe to be a novel mechanism for the control of vestibular organogenesis.
Autophagy is a process by which cells recycle cytoplasm and defective organelles during stress situations such as nutrient starvation. It can also be used by host cells as an immune defense mechanism to eliminate infectious pathogens. Here we describe the use of autophagy as a survival mechanism and virulence-associated trait by the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. We report that a mutant form of C. neoformans lacking the Vps34 PI3K (vps34Δ), which is known to be involved in autophagy in ascomycete yeast, was defective in the formation of autophagy-related 8–labeled (Atg8-labeled) vesicles and showed a dramatic attenuation in virulence in mouse models of infection. In addition, autophagic vesicles were observed in WT but not vps34Δ cells after phagocytosis by a murine macrophage cell line, and Atg8 expression was exhibited in WT C. neoformans during human infection of brain. To dissect the contribution of defective autophagy in vps34Δ C. neoformans during pathogenesis, a strain of C. neoformans in which Atg8 expression was knocked down by RNA interference was constructed and these fungi also demonstrated markedly attenuated virulence in a mouse model of infection. These results demonstrated PI3K signaling and autophagy as a virulence-associated trait and survival mechanism during infection with a fungal pathogen. Moreover, the data show that molecular dissection of such pathogen stress-response pathways may identify new approaches for chemotherapeutic interventions.
Human and murine cerebral malaria are associated with elevated levels of cytokines in the brain and adherence of platelets to the microvasculature. Here we demonstrated that the accumulation of platelets in the brain microvasculature can be detected with MRI, using what we believe to be a novel contrast agent, at a time when the pathology is undetectable by conventional MRI. Ligand-induced binding sites (LIBS) on activated platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptors were detected in the brains of malaria-infected mice 6 days after inoculation with Plasmodium berghei using microparticles of iron oxide (MPIOs) conjugated to a single-chain antibody specific for the LIBS (LIBS-MPIO). No binding of the LIBS-MPIO contrast agent was detected in uninfected animals. A combination of LIBS-MPIO MRI, confocal microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy revealed that the proinflammatory cytokine TNF-α, but not IL-1β or lymphotoxin-α (LT-α), induced adherence of platelets to cerebrovascular endothelium. Peak platelet adhesion was found 12 h after TNF-α injection and was readily detected with LIBS-MPIO contrast-enhanced MRI. Temporal studies revealed that the level of MPIO-induced contrast was proportional to the number of platelets bound. Thus, the LIBS-MPIO contrast agent enabled noninvasive detection of otherwise undetectable cerebral pathology by in vivo MRI before the appearance of clinical disease, highlighting the potential of targeted contrast agents for diagnostic, mechanistic, and therapeutic studies.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation