The International HapMap Project was designed to create a genome-wide database of patterns of human genetic variation, with the expectation that these patterns would be useful for genetic association studies of common diseases. This expectation has been amply fulfilled with just the initial output of genome-wide association studies, identifying nearly 100 loci for nearly 40 common diseases and traits. These associations provided new insights into pathophysiology, suggesting previously unsuspected etiologic pathways for common diseases that will be of use in identifying new therapeutic targets and developing targeted interventions based on genetically defined risk. In addition, HapMap-based discoveries have shed new light on the impact of evolutionary pressures on the human genome, suggesting multiple loci important for adapting to disease-causing pathogens and new environments. In this review we examine the origin, development, and current status of the HapMap; its prospects for continued evolution; and its current and potential future impact on biomedical science.
Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS) is a microdeletion disorder caused by heterozygous loss of approximately 1.5-Mb pairs of DNA from chromosome 7. Patients with WBS have a characteristic constellation of medical and cognitive findings, with a hallmark feature of generalized arteriopathy presenting as stenoses of elastic arteries and hypertension. Human and mouse studies establish that defects in the elastin gene, leading to elastin haploinsufficiency, underlie the arteriopathy. In this review we describe potential links between elastin expression and arteriopathy, possible explanations for disease variability, and current treatment options and their limitations, and we propose several new directions for the development of nonsurgical preventative therapies based on insights from elastin biology.
The ability to noninvasively assess physiological changes in solid tumors is desired for its diagnostic and therapeutic potential. In this issue of JCI, Matsumoto and colleagues reveal their development and use of a novel imaging approach, combining pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance imaging (EPRI) with conventional MRI to image squamous cell carcinoma tumor–bearing mice (see the related article beginning on page 1965). This method provides coregistered images of oxygenation and blood volume/flow with the underlying anatomy and concentrations of metabolites such as lactate and choline. This technique, combining functional and anatomic imaging, shows immediate preclinical applicability in monitoring factors that control tumor hypoxia and metabolism and may have future clinical potential for monitoring tumor response to treatment.
Obesity predisposes toward renal disease independently of diabetes and hypertension. In this issue of the JCI, Sharma and colleagues assessed the role of adiponectin, an adipose-derived hormone, in the pathogenesis of albuminuria (see the related article beginning on page 1645). Obese African Americans had reduced adiponectin levels associated with albuminuria. Adiponectin deficiency in mice induced oxidative stress, fusion of podocyte foot processes in the kidney glomerulus, and urinary albumin excretion. Adiponectin treatment reversed these abnormalities, likely through activation of AMPK. The benefits of adiponectin were observed in diabetic and nondiabetic mice. These findings suggest that adiponectin is a biomarker for kidney disease and may be targeted for prevention and treatment.
HIV-associated hematological abnormalities involve all lineages of blood cells, thus implying that the virus impairs the function of early HSCs. However, the underlying mechanisms of this defect are unknown, particularly since HSCs are largely resistant to HIV-1 infection. In this issue of the JCI, Prost and colleagues show that the viral accessory protein Negative factor (Nef) plays a potentially critical role in the pathogenesis of HIV/SIV-associated hematopoietic dysfunction by affecting the clonogenic potential of HSCs (see the related article beginning on page 1765). Soluble Nef induces PPARγ in uninfected HSCs, thereby suppressing the expression of STAT5A and STAT5B, two factors necessary for proper HSC function. The identification of this novel activity of extracellular Nef defines a new mechanism of HIV/SIV pathogenesis and suggests that approaches aimed at increasing STAT5A and STAT5B expression may be considered in HIV-infected individuals with prominent hematological abnormalities. The results also raise the question of whether dysregulation of hematopoiesis by extracellular Nef plays a role in the development of T cell immunodeficiency and the high levels of chronic immune activation associated with AIDS.
Islet transplantation can temporarily cure type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) but requires simultaneous immunosuppression to avoid allograft rejection. In this issue of the JCI, Monti et al. report that immune conditioning via use of the Edmonton protocol — a treatment approach in which T1DM patients infused with pancreatic islets from multiple cadaveric donors simultaneously receive immunosuppressive drugs — results in lymphopenia that is associated with elevated serum levels of the homeostatic cytokines IL-7 and IL-15, which causes in vivo expansion of the autoreactive CD8+ T cell population (see the related article beginning on page 1806). Reemergence of autoreactivity is likely the main culprit underlying long-term islet graft failure, and new strategies will need to be tested to circumvent this homeostatic expansion and recurrent autoreactivity.
Chronic inflammation in the stomach induces cellular transformation and gastric cancer primarily in the distal stomach or antrum. In this issue of the JCI, a study in mice by Ernst et al. provides new insight into the role of IL-11 and its glycoprotein 130 (gp130) receptor in inflammation-associated gastric epithelial cell oncogenic transformation, which they show is mediated by and dependent on increased activation of Stat3 and, to a lesser extent, Stat1 (see the related article beginning on page 1727). Prior studies from this group have shown that Stat3 hyperactivity stimulates the TGF-β inhibitor Smad7. Collectively, the studies suggest that an important pathway of oncogenic transformation in the stomach is through suppression of growth inhibitory signals, such as members of the TGF-β family, that originate from the stroma.
Although Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) activity has been implicated in cardiovascular diseases, the tissue- and isoform-specific roles of ROCKs in the vascular response to injury are not known. To address the role of ROCKs in this process, we generated haploinsufficient Rock1 (Rock1+/–) and Rock2 (Rock2+/–) mice and performed carotid artery ligations. Following this intervention, we found reduced neointima formation in Rock1+/– mice compared with that of WT or Rock2+/– mice. This correlated with decreased vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and survival, decreased levels proinflammatory adhesion molecule expression, and reduced leukocyte infiltration. In addition, thioglycollate-induced peritoneal leukocyte recruitment and accumulation were substantially reduced in Rock1+/– mice compared with those of WT and Rock2+/– mice. To determine the role of leukocyte-derived ROCK1 in neointima formation, we performed reciprocal bone marrow transplantation (BMT) in WT and Rock1+/– mice. Rock1+/– to WT BMT led to reduced neointima formation and leukocyte infiltration following carotid ligation compared with those of WT to WT BMT. In contrast, WT to Rock1+/– BMT resulted in increased neointima formation. These findings indicate that ROCK1 in BM-derived cells mediates neointima formation following vascular injury and suggest that ROCK1 may represent a promising therapeutic target in vascular inflammatory diseases.
Increased albuminuria is associated with obesity and diabetes and is a risk factor for cardiovascular and renal disease. However, the link between early albuminuria and adiposity remains unclear. To determine whether adiponectin, an adipocyte-derived hormone, is a communication signal between adipocytes and the kidney, we performed studies in a cohort of patients at high risk for diabetes and kidney disease as well as in adiponectin-knockout (Ad–/–) mice. Albuminuria had a negative correlation with plasma adiponectin in obese patients, and Ad–/– mice exhibited increased albuminuria and fusion of podocyte foot processes. In cultured podocytes, adiponectin administration was associated with increased activity of AMPK, and both adiponectin and AMPK activation reduced podocyte permeability to albumin and podocyte dysfunction, as evidenced by zona occludens–1 translocation to the membrane. These effects seemed to be caused by reduction of oxidative stress, as adiponectin and AMPK activation both reduced protein levels of the NADPH oxidase Nox4 in podocytes. Ad–/– mice treated with adiponectin exhibited normalization of albuminuria, improvement of podocyte foot process effacement, increased glomerular AMPK activation, and reduced urinary and glomerular markers of oxidant stress. These results suggest that adiponectin is a key regulator of albuminuria, likely acting through the AMPK pathway to modulate oxidant stress in podocytes.
Following injury, the clearance of apoptotic and necrotic cells is necessary for mitigation and resolution of inflammation and tissue repair. In addition to macrophages, which are traditionally assigned to this task, neighboring epithelial cells in the affected tissue are postulated to contribute to this process. Kidney injury molecule–1 (KIM-1 or TIM-1) is an immunoglobulin superfamily cell-surface protein not expressed by cells of the myeloid lineage but highly upregulated on the surface of injured kidney epithelial cells. Here we demonstrate that injured kidney epithelial cells assumed attributes of endogenous phagocytes. Confocal images confirm internalization of apoptotic bodies within KIM-1–expressing epithelial cells after injury in rat kidney tubules in vivo. KIM-1 was directly responsible for phagocytosis in cultured primary rat tubule epithelial cells and also porcine and canine epithelial cell lines. KIM-1 was able to specifically recognize apoptotic cell surface-specific epitopes phosphatidylserine, and oxidized lipoproteins, expressed by apoptotic tubular epithelial cells. Thus, KIM-1 is the first nonmyeloid phosphatidylserine receptor identified to our knowledge that transforms epithelial cells into semiprofessional phagocytes.
Dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (DEB) is a severe skin fragility disorder associated with trauma-induced blistering, progressive soft tissue scarring, and increased risk of skin cancer. DEB is caused by mutations in type VII collagen. In this study, we describe the generation of a collagen VII hypomorphic mouse that serves as an immunocompetent animal model for DEB. These mice expressed collagen VII at about 10% of normal levels, and their phenotype closely resembled characteristics of severe human DEB, including mucocutaneous blistering, nail dystrophy, and mitten deformities of the extremities. The oral blistering experienced by these mice resulted in growth retardation, and repeated blistering led to excessive induction of tissue repair, causing TGF-β1–mediated contractile fibrosis generated by myofibroblasts and pseudosyndactyly in the extremities. Intradermal injection of WT fibroblasts resulted in neodeposition of collagen VII and functional restoration of the dermal-epidermal junction. Treated areas were also resistant to induced frictional stress. In contrast, untreated areas of the same mouse showed dermal-epidermal separation following induced stress. These data demonstrate that fibroblast-based treatment can be used to treat DEB in a mouse model and suggest that this approach may be effective in the development of clinical therapeutic regimens for patients with DEB.
IFN-β, a type I IFN, is widely used for the treatment of MS. However, the mechanisms behind its therapeutic efficacy are not well understood. Using a murine model of MS, EAE, we demonstrate that the Th17-mediated development of autoimmune disease is constrained by Toll–IL-1 receptor domain–containing adaptor inducing IFN-β–dependent (TRIF-dependent) type I IFN production and its downstream signaling pathway. Mice with defects in TRIF or type I IFN receptor (IFNAR) developed more severe EAE. Notably, these mice exhibited marked CNS inflammation, as manifested by increased IL-17 production. In addition, IFNAR-dependent signaling events were essential for negatively regulating Th17 development. Finally, IFN-β–mediated IL-27 production by innate immune cells was critical for the immunoregulatory role of IFN-β in the CNS autoimmune disease. Together, our findings not only may provide a molecular mechanism for the clinical benefits of IFN-β in MS but also demonstrate a regulatory role for type I IFN induction and its downstream signaling pathways in limiting Th17 development and autoimmune inflammation.
Current anticancer therapy is a delicate balance between elimination of malignant cells and harmful side effects for the host. In this study, we used a tumor-homing peptide to engineer anti-CD40 agonist antibodies and recombinant IL-2 such that they were selectively delivered into spontaneously arising tumors in a transgenic mouse model of islet cell carcinogenesis. Intravenous injection of these agents, either separately or together, led to accumulation in the vicinity of tumor neovessels without toxic side effects. Although both molecules are critical for adaptive immunity, the most profound effects were seen in endothelial cells. Combined, local anti-CD40 and IL-2 therapy reduced tumor vascularity and significantly delayed tumor growth in mice. Remarkably, tumor-bearing mice remained disease-free long-term when targeted anti-CD40 and IL-2 were combined with transfers of preactivated antitumor immune cells. In this therapeutic setting, triggering of CD40 on endothelial cells induced an inflammatory response of the vessel wall and facilitated effector cell accumulation in the tumor parenchyma while IL-2 promoted antigen-specific immune cell persistence. We believe this is a novel and highly effective anticancer approach, whereby tumor stroma is “conditioned” for enhanced immune cell entry and survival, facilitating immune-mediated tumor destruction and leading to a sustained antitumor response.
The pathogenic nature of cancer is attributed, at least in part, to the ability of tumors cells to induce systemic and local mechanisms of immune tolerance. However, we previously reported that tumor-free survival in up to 100% of tolerized HER-2/neu transgenic mice can be achieved by administration of neu-specific mAb concurrently with a HER-2/neu–expressing, GM-CSF–secreting whole cell vaccine. In this report, we show that one mechanism of improved antitumor activity induced by the combination of these 2 neu-targeted interventions was enhanced Fc-mediated activation of APCs. Specifically, in vivo studies demonstrated localization of radiolabeled neu-specific mAb at the vaccine site. Subsequently, increased accumulation of neu-specific mAb at the vaccine-draining lymph node correlated with increased vaccine cell uptake by DCs in vivo. This led to enhancement of CD8+ neu-specific T cell function in terms of proliferation, cytokine production, and central memory development. Thus, the administration of a neu-specific mAb with a neu-targeted GM-CSF–secreting tumor vaccine enhanced induction of neu-specific CD8+ T cells through Fc-mediated activation of DCs. This multimodality attack on the same tumor antigen may have the potential to overcome tolerance to self antigens and weaken the immunosuppressive networks within the tumor microenvironment.
Homozygous loss-of-function mutations in AIRE cause autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type 1 (APS 1), which manifests in a classic triad of hypoparathyroidism, adrenal insufficiency, and candidiasis. Interestingly, a kindred with a specific G228W AIRE variant presented with an autosomal dominant autoimmune phenotype distinct from APS 1. We utilized a novel G228W-knockin mouse model to show that this variant acted in a dominant-negative manner to cause a unique autoimmunity syndrome. In addition, the expression of a large number of Aire-regulated thymic antigens was partially inhibited in these animals, demonstrating the importance of quantitative changes in thymic antigen expression in determining organ-specific autoimmunity. Furthermore, the dominant-negative effect of the G228W variant was exerted through recruitment of WT Aire away from active sites of transcription in the nucleus of medullary thymic epithelial cells in vivo. Together, these results may demonstrate a mechanism by which autoimmune predisposition to phenotypes distinct from APS 1 can be mediated in a dominant-negative fashion by Aire.
Deregulated activation of STAT3 is frequently associated with many human hematological and epithelial malignancies, including gastric cancer. While exaggerated STAT3 signaling facilitates an antiapoptotic, proangiogenic, and proproliferative environment for neoplastic cells, the molecular mechanisms leading to STAT3 hyperactivation remain poorly understood. Using the gp130Y757F/Y757F mouse model of gastric cancer, which carries a mutated gp130 cytokine receptor signaling subunit that cannot bind the negative regulator of cytokine signaling SOCS3 and is characterized by hyperactivation of the signaling molecules STAT1 and STAT3, we have provided genetic evidence that IL-11 promotes chronic gastric inflammation and associated tumorigenesis. Expression of IL-11 was increased in gastric tumors in gp130Y757F/Y757F mice, when compared with unaffected gastric tissue in wild-type mice, while gp130Y757F/Y757F mice lacking the IL-11 ligand–binding receptor subunit (IL-11Rα) showed normal gastric STAT3 activation and IL-11 expression and failed to develop gastric tumors. Furthermore, reducing STAT3 activity in gp130Y757F/Y757F mice, either genetically or by therapeutic administration of STAT3 antisense oligonucleotides, normalized gastric IL-11 expression and alleviated gastric tumor burden. Surprisingly, the genetic reduction of STAT1 expression also reduced gastric tumorigenesis in gp130Y757F/Y757F mice and coincided with reduced gastric inflammation and IL-11 expression. Collectively, our data have identified IL-11 as a crucial cytokine promoting chronic gastric inflammation and associated tumorigenesis mediated by excessive activation of STAT3 and STAT1.
The molecular pathogenesis of pediatric astrocytomas is still poorly understood. To further understand the genetic abnormalities associated with these tumors, we performed a genome-wide analysis of DNA copy number aberrations in pediatric low-grade astrocytomas by using array-based comparative genomic hybridization. Duplication of the BRAF protooncogene was the most frequent genomic aberration, and tumors with BRAF duplication showed significantly increased mRNA levels of BRAF and a downstream target, CCND1, as compared with tumors without duplication. Furthermore, denaturing HPLC showed that activating BRAF mutations were detected in some of the tumors without BRAF duplication. Similarly, a marked proportion of low-grade astrocytomas from adult patients also had BRAF duplication. Both the stable silencing of BRAF through shRNA lentiviral transduction and pharmacological inhibition of MEK1/2, the immediate downstream phosphorylation target of BRAF, blocked the proliferation and arrested the growth of cultured tumor cells derived from low-grade gliomas. Our findings implicate aberrant activation of the MAPK pathway due to gene duplication or mutation of BRAF as a molecular mechanism of pathogenesis in low-grade astrocytomas and suggest inhibition of the MAPK pathway as a potential treatment.
Knockout and transgenic studies in mice demonstrate that normal somatic tissues redundantly express 3 cyclin D proteins, whereas tumor cells seem dependent on a single overexpressed cyclin D. Thus, selective suppression of the individual cyclin D deregulated in a tumor represents a biologically valid approach to targeted cancer therapy. In multiple myeloma, overexpression of 1 of the cyclin D proteins is a ubiquitous feature, unifying at least 7 different initiating genetic events. We demonstrate here that RNAi of genes encoding cyclin D1 and cyclin D2 (CCND1 and CCND2, respectively) inhibits proliferation and is progressively cytotoxic in human myeloma cells. By screening a chemical library using a cell-based assay for inhibition of CCND2 trans-activation, we identified the plant cytokinin kinetin riboside as an inhibitor of CCND2 trans-activation. Kinetin riboside induced marked suppression of CCND2 transcription and rapidly suppressed cyclin D1 and D2 protein expression in primary myeloma cells and tumor lines, causing cell-cycle arrest, tumor cell–selective apoptosis, and inhibition of myeloma growth in xenografted mice. Mechanistically, kinetin riboside upregulated expression of transcription repressor isoforms of cAMP-response element modulator (CREM) and blocked both trans-activation of CCND2 by various myeloma oncogenes and cis-activation of translocated CCND1, suggesting induction of an overriding repressor activity that blocks multiple oncogenic pathways targeting cyclin D genes. These data support targeted repression of cyclin D genes as a therapeutic strategy for human malignancies.
Infection of primates by HIV-1 and SIV induces multiple hematological abnormalities of central hematopoietic origin. Although these defects greatly contribute to the pathophysiology of HIV-1 infection, the molecular basis for altered BM function remains unknown. Here we show that when cynomolgus macaques were infected with SIV, the multipotent potential of their hematopoietic progenitor cells was lost, and this correlated with downregulation of STAT5A and STAT5B expression. However, forced expression of STAT5B entirely rescued the multipotent potential of the hematopoietic progenitor cells. In addition, an accessory viral protein required for efficient SIV and HIV replication and pathogenicity, “Negative factor” (Nef), was essential for SIV-mediated impairment of the multipotent potential of hematopoietic progenitors ex vivo and in vivo. This newly uncovered property of Nef was both conserved between HIV-1 and SIV strains and entirely dependent upon the presence of PPARγ in targeted cells. Further, PPARγ agonists mimicked Nef activity by inhibiting STAT5A and STAT5B expression and hampering the functionality of hematopoietic progenitors both ex vivo and in vivo. These findings have extended the role of Nef in the pathogenicity of HIV-1 and SIV and reveal a pivotal role for the PPARγ/STAT5 pathway in the regulation of early hematopoiesis. This study may provide a basis for investigating the potential therapeutic benefits of PPARγ antagonists in both patients with AIDS and individuals with hematopoietic disorders.
Poxviruses such as the causative agent of smallpox have developed multiple strategies to suppress immune responses, including the suppression of DC activation. Since poxviruses are large DNA viruses, we hypothesized that their detection by DCs may involve the endosomal DNA recognition receptor TLR9. Indeed, we have shown here that DC recognition of ectromelia virus (ECTV), the causative agent of mousepox, completely depended on TLR9. The importance of TLR9 was highlighted by the fact that mice lacking TLR9 showed drastically increased susceptibility to infection with ECTV. In contrast, we found that the strongly attenuated poxvirus modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) activated DCs by both TLR9-dependent and -independent pathways. We therefore tested whether we could use the broader induction of immune responses by MVA to protect mice from a lethal infection with ECTV. Indeed, MVA given at the same time as a lethal dose of ECTV protected mice from death. Importantly, MVA also rescued TLR9-deficient mice if administered 2 full days after an otherwise lethal infection with ECTV. Therefore, these data suggest an essential role for TLR9 in the defense against poxviruses. In addition, postexposure application of MVA may protect against lethal poxvirus infection.
Platelet adhesion to vascular subendothelium, mediated in part by interactions between collagen and glycoprotein VI (GPVI) complexed with Fc receptor γ-chain, is crucial for thrombus formation. Antiplatelet therapy benefits patients with various thrombotic and ischemic diseases, but the safety and efficacy of existing treatments are limited. Recent data suggest GPVI as a promising target for a novel antiplatelet therapy, for example, GPVI-specific Abs that deplete GPVI from the surface of platelets. Here, we characterized GPVI-specific auto-Abs (YA-Abs) from the first reported patient with ongoing platelet GPVI deficiency caused by the YA-Abs. To obtain experimentally useful human GPVI–specific mAbs with characteristics similar to YA-Abs, we generated human GPVI–specific mouse mAbs and selected 2 representative mAbs, mF1201 and mF1232, whose binding to GPVI was inhibited by YA-Abs. In vitro, mF1201, but not mF1232, induced human platelet activation and GPVI shedding, and mF1232 inhibited collagen-induced human platelet aggregation. Administration of mF1201 and mF1232 to monkeys caused GPVI immunodepletion with and without both significant thrombocytopenia and GPVI shedding, respectively. When a human/mouse chimeric form of mF1232 (cF1232) was labeled with a fluorescent endocytosis probe and administered to monkeys, fluorescence increased in circulating platelets and surface GPVI was lost. Loss of platelet surface GPVI mediated by cF1232 was successfully reproduced in vitro in the presence of a cAMP-elevating agent. Thus, we have characterized cAMP-dependent endocytosis of GPVI mediated by a human GPVI–specific mAb as what we believe to be a novel antiplatelet therapy.
Normal food intake and body weight homeostasis require the direct action of leptin on hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons. It has been proposed that leptin action requires PI3K activity. We therefore assessed the contribution of PI3K signaling to leptin’s effects on POMC neurons and organismal energy balance. Leptin caused a rapid depolarization of POMC neurons and an increase in action potential frequency in patch-clamp recordings of hypothalamic slices. Pharmacologic inhibition of PI3K prevented this depolarization and increased POMC firing rate, indicating a PI3K-dependent mechanism of leptin action. Mice with genetically disrupted PI3K signaling in POMC cells failed to undergo POMC depolarization or increased firing frequency in response to leptin. Insulin’s ability to hyperpolarize POMC neurons was also abolished in these mice. Moreover, targeted disruption of PI3K blunted the suppression of feeding elicited by central leptin administration. Despite these differences, mice with impaired PI3K signaling in POMC neurons exhibited normal long-term body weight regulation. Collectively, these results suggest that PI3K signaling in POMC neurons is essential for leptin-induced activation and insulin-induced inhibition of POMC cells and for the acute suppression of food intake elicited by leptin, but is not a major contributor to the regulation of long-term organismal energy homeostasis.
Successful transplantation requires the prevention of allograft rejection and, in the case of transplantation to treat autoimmune disease, the suppression of autoimmune responses. The standard immunosuppressive treatment regimen given to patients with autoimmune type 1 diabetes who have received an islet transplant results in the loss of T cells. In many other situations, the immune system responds to T cell loss through cytokine-dependant homeostatic proliferation of any remaining T cells. Here we show that T cell loss after islet transplantation in patients with autoimmune type 1 diabetes was associated with both increased serum concentrations of IL-7 and IL-15 and in vivo proliferation of memory CD45RO+ T cells, highly enriched in autoreactive glutamic acid decarboxylase 65–specific T cell clones. Immunosuppression with FK506 and rapamycin after transplantation resulted in a chronic homeostatic expansion of T cells, which acquired effector function after immunosuppression was removed. In contrast, the cytostatic drug mycophenolate mofetil efficiently blocked homeostatic T cell expansion. We propose that the increased production of cytokines that induce homeostatic expansion could contribute to recurrent autoimmunity in transplanted patients with autoimmune disease and that therapy that prevents the expansion of autoreactive T cells will improve the outcome of islet transplantation.
Luteinizing hormone (LH), produced in the anterior lobe of the pituitary, is a member of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonad axis that is required for production of the sex hormones estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone. Perturbations in levels of hormones associated with this axis can result in defects in sexual development and maturity. LH bears unique N-linked carbohydrate units that terminate with a sulfated N-acetylgalactosamine structure (GalNAc-4-SO4) that mediates its clearance from the blood. To determine the significance of this terminal structure, we ablated the gene encoding the sulfotransferase responsible for sulfate addition to GalNAc on LH, GalNAc-4-sulfotransferase-1 (GalNAc-4-ST1) in mice. Mice lacking GalNAc-4-ST1 exhibited increased levels of circulating LH. In male mice, this resulted in elevated levels of testosterone and precocious maturation of testis and seminal vesicles. Female mice lacking GalNAc-4-ST1 demonstrated elevated estrogen levels and exhibited precocious sexual maturation and increased fecundity. Female mice remained in estrus for prolonged periods and produced almost 50% more litters per mouse than wild-type mice over the same period of time. Thus, sulfate modification of the terminal glycosylation of LH plays a central role in regulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonad axis in vivo.
Intravenous infusion of recombinant human activated Factor VII (FVIIa) has been used for over a decade in the successful management of bleeding episodes in patients with inhibitory antibodies to Factor VIII or Factor IX. Previously, we showed that expression of murine FVIIa (mFVIIa) from an adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector corrected abnormal hemostatic parameters in hemophilia B mice. To pursue this as a therapeutic approach, we sought to define safe and effective levels of FVIIa for continuous expression. In mice transgenic for mFVIIa or injected with AAV-mFVIIa, we analyzed survival, expression levels, in vitro and in vivo coagulation tests, and histopathology for up to 16 months after birth/mFVIIa expression. We found that continuous expression of mFVIIa at levels at or below 1.5 μg/ml was safe, effective, and compatible with a normal lifespan. However, expression levels of 2 μg/ml or higher were associated with thrombosis and early mortality, with pathologic findings in the heart and lungs that were rescued in a low–factor X (low-FX) mouse background, suggesting a FX-mediated effect. The findings from these mouse models of continuous FVIIa expression have implications for the development of a safe gene transfer approach for hemophilia and are consistent with the possibility of thromboembolic risk of continuously elevated FVIIa levels.
HBV-specific CD8+ T cells are critical for a successful immune response to HBV infection. They are markedly diminished in number in patients who fail to control the virus, but the mechanisms resulting in their depletion remain ill defined. Here, we dissected the defective HBV-specific CD8+ T cell response associated with chronic HBV infection by gene expression profiling. We found that HBV-specific CD8+ T cells from patients with different clinical outcomes could be distinguished by their patterns of gene expression. Microarray analysis revealed that overlapping clusters of functionally related apoptotic genes were upregulated in HBV-specific CD8+ T cells from patients with chronic compared with resolved infection. Further analysis confirmed that levels of the proapoptotic protein Bcl2-interacting mediator (Bim) were upregulated in HBV-specific CD8+ T cells from patients with chronic HBV infection. Blocking Bim-mediated apoptosis enhanced recovery of HBV-specific CD8+ T cells both in culture and directly ex vivo. Consistent with evidence that Bim mediates apoptosis of CD8+ T cells expressing low levels of CD127 (IL-7R), the few surviving HBV-specific CD8+ T cells were CD127hi and had elevated levels of the antiapoptotic protein Mcl1, suggesting they were amenable to IL-7–mediated rescue from apoptosis. We therefore postulate that Bim-mediated attrition of HBV-specific CD8+ T cells contributes to the inability of these cell populations to persist and control viral replication.
Loss-of-function mutations in bone morphogenetic protein receptor II (BMP-RII) are linked to pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH); the ligand for BMP-RII, BMP-2, is a negative regulator of SMC growth. Here, we report an interplay between PPARγ and its transcriptional target apoE downstream of BMP-2 signaling. BMP-2/BMP-RII signaling prevented PDGF-BB–induced proliferation of human and murine pulmonary artery SMCs (PASMCs) by decreasing nuclear phospho-ERK and inducing DNA binding of PPARγ that is independent of Smad1/5/8 phosphorylation. Both BMP-2 and a PPARγ agonist stimulated production and secretion of apoE by SMCs. Using a variety of methods, including short hairpin RNAi in human PASMCs, PAH patient–derived BMP-RII mutant PASMCs, a PPARγ antagonist, and PASMCs isolated from PPARγ- and apoE-deficient mice, we demonstrated that the antiproliferative effect of BMP-2 was BMP-RII, PPARγ, and apoE dependent. Furthermore, we created mice with targeted deletion of PPARγ in SMCs and showed that they spontaneously developed PAH, as indicated by elevated RV systolic pressure, RV hypertrophy, and increased muscularization of the distal pulmonary arteries. Thus, PPARγ-mediated events could protect against PAH, and PPARγ agonists may reverse PAH in patients with or without BMP-RII dysfunction.
Osteoclastogenesis is a tightly regulated biological process, and deregulation can lead to severe bone disorders such as osteoporosis. The regulation of osteoclastic signaling is incompletely understood, but ubiquitination of TNF receptor–associated factor 6 (TRAF6) has recently been shown to be important in mediating this process. We therefore investigated the role of the recently identified deubiquitinating enzyme CYLD in osteoclastogenesis and found that mice with a genetic deficiency of CYLD had aberrant osteoclast differentiation and developed severe osteoporosis. Cultured osteoclast precursors derived from CYLD-deficient mice were hyperresponsive to RANKL-induced differentiation and produced more and larger osteoclasts than did controls upon stimulation. We assessed the expression pattern of CYLD and found that it was drastically upregulated during RANKL-induced differentiation of preosteoclasts. Furthermore, CYLD negatively regulated RANK signaling by inhibiting TRAF6 ubiquitination and activation of downstream signaling events. Interestingly, we found that CYLD interacted physically with the signaling adaptor p62 and thereby was recruited to TRAF6. These findings establish CYLD as a crucial negative regulator of osteoclastogenesis and suggest its involvement in the p62/TRAF6 signaling axis.
Congenital myasthenias (CMs) arise from defects in neuromuscular junction–associated proteins. Deciphering the molecular bases of the CMs is required for therapy and illuminates structure-function relationships in these proteins. Here, we analyze the effects of a mutation in 1 of 4 homologous subunits in the AChR from a CM patient, a Leu to Pro mutation at position 42 of the δ subunit. The mutation is located in a region of contact between subunits required for rapid opening of the AChR channel and impedes the rate of channel opening. Substitutions of Gly, Lys, or Asp for δL42, or substitutions of Pro along the local protein chain, also slowed channel opening. Substitution of Pro for Leu in the ε subunit slowed opening, whereas this substitution had no effect in the β subunit and actually sped opening in the α subunit. Analyses of energetic coupling between residues at the subunit interface showed that δL42 is functionally linked to αT127, a key residue in the adjacent α subunit required for rapid channel opening. Thus, δL42 is part of an intersubunit network that enables ACh binding to rapidly open the AChR channel, which may be compromised in patients with CM.
Tau pathology is a hallmark of many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer disease (AD) and frontotemporal dementia with Parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17). Genetic tau mutations can cause FTDP-17, and mice overexpressing tau mutants such as P301L tau are used as AD models. However, since no tau mutations are found in AD, it remains unclear how appropriate tau mutant mice are as an AD model. The prolyl isomerase Pin1 binds and isomerizes tau and has been implicated in protecting against neurodegeneration, but whether such Pin1 regulation is affected by tau mutations is unknown. Consistent with earlier findings that Pin1 KO induces tauopathy, here we demonstrate that Pin1 knockdown or KO increased WT tau protein stability in vitro and in mice and that Pin1 overexpression suppressed the tauopathy phenotype in WT tau transgenic mice. Unexpectedly, Pin1 knockdown or KO decreased P301L tau protein stability and abolished its robust tauopathy phenotype in mice. In contrast, Pin1 overexpression exacerbated the tauopathy phenotype in P301L tau mice. Thus, Pin1 has opposite effects on the tauopathy phenotype depending on whether the tau is WT or a P301L mutant, indicating the need for disease-specific therapies for tauopathies.
Mutations in the RET gene are the primary cause of Hirschsprung disease (HSCR), or congenital intestinal aganglionosis. However, how RET malfunction leads to HSCR is not known. It has recently been shown that glial cell line–derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family receptor α1 (GFRα1), which binds to GDNF and activates RET, is essential for the survival of enteric neurons. In this study, we investigated Ret regulation of enteric neuron survival and its potential involvement in HSCR. Conditional ablation of Ret in postmigratory enteric neurons caused widespread neuronal death in the colon, which led to colonic aganglionosis. To further examine this finding, we generated a mouse model for HSCR by reducing Ret expression levels. These mice recapitulated the genetic and phenotypic features of HSCR and developed colonic aganglionosis due to impaired migration and successive death of enteric neural crest–derived cells. Death of enteric neurons was also induced in the colon, where reduction of Ret expression was induced after the period of enteric neural crest cell migration, indicating that diminished Ret expression directly affected the survival of colonic neurons. Thus, enteric neuron survival is sensitive to RET dosage, and cell death is potentially involved in the etiology of HSCR.
Sensory neurons in the airways are finely tuned to respond to reactive chemicals threatening airway function and integrity. Nasal trigeminal nerve endings are particularly sensitive to oxidants formed in polluted air and during oxidative stress as well as to chlorine, which is frequently released in industrial and domestic accidents. Oxidant activation of airway neurons induces respiratory depression, nasal obstruction, sneezing, cough, and pain. While normally protective, chemosensory airway reflexes can provoke severe complications in patients affected by inflammatory airway conditions like rhinitis and asthma. Here, we showed that both hypochlorite, the oxidizing mediator of chlorine, and hydrogen peroxide, a reactive oxygen species, activated Ca2+ influx and membrane currents in an oxidant-sensitive subpopulation of chemosensory neurons. These responses were absent in neurons from mice lacking TRPA1, an ion channel of the transient receptor potential (TRP) gene family. TRPA1 channels were strongly activated by hypochlorite and hydrogen peroxide in primary sensory neurons and heterologous cells. In tests of respiratory function, Trpa1–/– mice displayed profound deficiencies in hypochlorite- and hydrogen peroxide–induced respiratory depression as well as decreased oxidant-induced pain behavior. Our results indicate that TRPA1 is an oxidant sensor in sensory neurons, initiating neuronal excitation and subsequent physiological responses in vitro and in vivo.
In the liver, the JNK cascade is induced downstream of TNF receptors (TNFRs) in response to inflammatory, microbial, and toxic challenges. Sustained activation of JNK triggers programmed cell death (PCD), and hepatocyte survival during these challenges requires induction of the NF-κB pathway, which antagonizes this activation by upregulating target genes. Thus, modulation of JNK activity is crucial to the liver response to TNFR-mediated challenge. The basis for this modulation, however, is unknown. Here, we investigated the role of the NF-κB target Gadd45b in the regulation of hepatocyte fate during liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy. We generated Gadd45b–/– mice and found that they exhibited decreased hepatocyte proliferation and increased PCD during liver regeneration. Notably, JNK activity was markedly increased and sustained in livers of Gadd45b–/– mice compared with control animals after partial hepatectomy. Furthermore, imposition of a Jnk2-null mutation, attenuating JNK activity, completely rescued the regenerative response in Gadd45b–/– mice. Interestingly, Gadd45β ablation did not affect hepatotoxic JNK signaling after a TNFR-mediated immune challenge, suggesting specificity in the inducible hepatic program for JNK restraint activated during distinct TNFR-mediated challenges. These data provide a basis for JNK suppression during liver regeneration and identify Gadd45β as a potential therapeutic target in liver diseases.
Patients with sickle-cell disease (SCD) suffer from tissue damage and life-threatening complications caused by vasoocclusive crisis (VOC). Endothelin receptors (ETRs) are mediators of one of the most potent vasoconstrictor pathways in mammals, but the relationship between vasoconstriction and VOC is not well understood. We report here that pharmacological inhibition of ETRs prevented hypoxia-induced acute VOC and organ damage in a mouse model of SCD. An in vivo ultrasonographic study of renal hemodynamics showed a substantial increase in endothelin-mediated vascular resistance during hypoxia/reoxygenation-induced VOC. This increase was reversed by administration of the dual ETR antagonist (ETRA) bosentan, which had pleiotropic beneficial effects in vivo. It prevented renal and pulmonary microvascular congestion, systemic inflammation, dense rbc formation, and infiltration of activated neutrophils into tissues with subsequent nitrative stress. Bosentan also prevented death of sickle-cell mice exposed to a severe hypoxic challenge. These findings in mice suggest that ETRA could be a potential new therapy for SCD, as it may prevent acute VOC and limit organ damage in sickle-cell patients.
CD36 is a scavenger receptor that binds multiple ligands, including phosphatidyl serine (PS). Although CD36– mice do not have a bleeding diathesis, we show here that they do have significantly prolonged thrombotic occlusion times in response to FeCl3-induced vascular injury. Because cell-derived microparticles (MPs) are generated in response to vascular injury and circulate in patients with prothrombotic diseases, we hypothesized that PS exposed on their surfaces could be an endogenous CD36 ligand that transmits an activating signal to platelets. We found that MPs prepared from human ECs, monocytes, or platelets or isolated from blood of normal subjects bound to platelets. Binding was not observed with platelets from CD36– donors and was inhibited by an anti-CD36 antibody or by blockade of exposed PS by annexin V or anti-PS IgM. Preincubation of platelets with MPs led to CD36-dependent augmentation of platelet activation in response to low doses of ADP, as assessed by measuring α2bβ3 activation, P-selectin expression, and aggregation. Immunofluorescence confocal microscopy of murine carotid thrombi from CD36– mice showed a significant decrement in endothelial antigen accumulation, which suggests that CD36 plays a role in MP recruitment into thrombi. These results provide what we believe to be a novel role for CD36 in thrombosis.
The microRNA (miRNA) processing enzyme Dicer1 is required for zygotic and embryonic development, but the early embryonic lethality of Dicer1 null alleles in mice has limited our ability to address the role of Dicer1 in normal mouse growth and development. To address this question, we used a mouse mutant with a hypomorphic Dicer1 allele (Dicerd/d) and found that Dicer1 deficiency resulted in female infertility. This defect in female Dicerd/d mice was caused by corpus luteum (CL) insufficiency and resulted, at least in part, from the impaired growth of new capillary vessels in the ovary. We found that the impaired CL angiogenesis in Dicerd/d mice was associated with a lack of miR17-5p and let7b, 2 miRNAs that participate in angiogenesis by regulating the expression of the antiangiogenic factor tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1. Furthermore, injection of miR17-5p and let7b into the ovaries of Dicerd/d mice partially normalized tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 expression and CL angiogenesis. Our data indicate that the development and function of the ovarian CL is a physiological process that appears to be regulated by miRNAs and requires Dicer1 function.
Vectors derived from adeno-associated virus (AAV) are promising for human gene therapy, including treatment for retinal blindness. One major limitation of AAVs as vectors is that AAV cargo capacity has been considered to be restricted to 4.7 kb. Here we demonstrate that vectors with an AAV5 capsid (i.e., rAAV2/5) incorporated up to 8.9 kb of genome more efficiently than 6 other serotypes tested, independent of the efficiency of the rAAV2/5 production process. Efficient packaging of the large murine Abca4 and human MYO7A and CEP290 genes, which are mutated in common blinding diseases, was obtained, suggesting that this packaging efficiency is independent of the specific sequence packaged. Expression of proteins of the appropriate size and function was observed following transduction with rAAV2/5 carrying large genes. Intraocular administration of rAAV2/5 encoding ABCA4 resulted in protein localization to rod outer segments and significant and stable morphological and functional improvement of the retina in Abca4–/– mice. This use of rAAV2/5 may be a promising therapeutic strategy for recessive Stargardt disease, the most common form of inherited macular degeneration. The possibility of packaging large genes in AAV greatly expands the therapeutic potential of this vector system.
A priori knowledge of spatial and temporal changes in partial pressure of oxygen (oxygenation; pO2) in solid tumors, a key prognostic factor in cancer treatment outcome, could greatly improve treatment planning in radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance imaging (EPRI) provides quantitative 3D maps of tissue pO2 in living objects. In this study, we implemented an EPRI set-up that could acquire pO2 maps in almost real time for 2D and in minutes for 3D. We also designed a combined EPRI and MRI system that enabled generation of pO2 maps with anatomic guidance. Using EPRI and an air/carbogen (95% O2 plus 5% CO2) breathing cycle, we visualized perfusion-limited hypoxia in murine tumors. The relationship between tumor blood perfusion and pO2 status was examined, and it was found that significant hypoxia existed even in regions that exhibited blood flow. In addition, high levels of lactate were identified even in normoxic tumor regions, suggesting the predominance of aerobic glycolysis in murine tumors. This report presents a rapid, noninvasive method to obtain quantitative maps of pO2 in tumors, reported with anatomy, with precision. In addition, this method may also be useful for studying the relationship between pO2 status and tumor-specific phenotypes such as aerobic glycolysis.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation