False-colored electron micrograph of ventricular myocardium from a mouse deficient in the coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor (CAR). CAR is a transmembrane protein localized at the intercalated disc. Lim and colleagues demonstrate that complete block of atrio-ventricular conduction develops in the absence of CAR.
Detection of autoantibodies in human serum assists in the diagnosis of patients with autoimmune diseases. Diagnostic antibody signatures have also been proposed for colon, pancreatic, and breast cancers. In this issue of the JCI, Cleutjens et al. describe the application of a peptide array technique toward the development of antibody biomarkers of ruptured atherosclerotic lesions (see the related article beginning on page 2979). A phage-display library was prepared from mRNA derived from ruptured peripheral human atherosclerotic plaques, and the phages containing immunoreactive peptides were screened with serum from patients with ruptured atherosclerotic lesions. Antibodies reacting with 2 peptides, E1 and E12, were particularly sensitive for the early diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction. Further studies that include an adequate number of patients presenting very early after the onset of symptoms and additional control patient populations are warranted to compare the utility of these biomarkers to those in clinical use.
In autoimmune disease, Fc receptors (FcRs) form the interface between immune effector cells and their antibody-coated targets, and as such are attractive targets for immunomodulatory therapy. In this issue of the JCI, two highly novel studies of Fc–FcR interactions provide new insights into the role of FcRs in immune thrombocytopenia. Asahi et al. utilized a comprehensive platform of immunological assays to examine the mechanism underlying Helicobacter pylori–associated immune thrombocytopenic purpura, and Ghevaert et al. describe a specially designed antibody that saturates binding sites on fetal platelets without initiating FcγR-mediated platelet phagocytosis, preventing the binding of pathological maternal anti-HLA antibodies that cause fetomaternal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (see the related articles beginning on pages 2939 and 2929, respectively). These reports illustrate how a remarkably detailed molecular understanding of the FcR network may translate into new therapeutic strategies with high clinical impact.
Although age-related macular degeneration is the most prevalent macular disease in the world, numerous discoveries regarding the molecular bases of vision have been made through genetic association studies of rare inherited maculopathies. In this issue of the JCI, Yang et al. present a functional genetics study that identifies a role for prominin 1 (PROM1), best known as a stem cell and/or progenitor cell marker, in the biogenesis of retinal photoreceptor disk arrays (see the related article beginning on page 2908). This study supports an established model in which disk morphogenesis occurs through membrane evagination and extends other recent studies assigning PROM1 important functions outside of the stem cell niche.
Long-term allograft survival requires lifelong immunosuppression, which comes with serious side effects. Inducing immune tolerance to the transplant would enable immunosuppression withdrawal and revolutionize the quality of life of transplant recipients. In this issue of the JCI, Martínez-Llordella et al. identify a profile of biomarkers that predict tolerance in liver transplant recipients (see the related article beginning on page 2845). These findings translate into a new means for prospectively selecting liver transplant patients who would benefit from immunosuppression withdrawal and ultimately may guide development of tolerogenic therapies that allow for allograft acceptance without the use of long-term immunosuppression.
Enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) for the lysosomal storage disease mucopolysaccharidosis I (MPS I) involves i.v. injection of α-l-iduronidase, which can be taken up by cells throughout the body. While a significant immune response to ERT has been shown in patients with MPS I, little is known about what effect anti-enzyme antibodies have on treatment efficacy. In this issue of the JCI, Dickson et al. demonstrate that anti-enzyme antibodies inhibit enzyme uptake and substantially limit the therapeutic efficacy of ERT in canines with MPS I (see the related article beginning on page 2868). Furthermore, the induction of immune tolerance — via oral delivery of cyclosporine A and azathioprine for two months at the time of initiation of ERT with recombinant human α-l-iduronidase — improved enzyme uptake in organs. Therefore, transient immunosuppression may enhance ERT for lysosomal storage diseases.
Viruses constitute a constant and renewed threat to humans. Not only do viruses cause disease directly due to their tissue tropism and pathogenicity, but they have also been linked to autoimmunity. In their study in this issue of the JCI, Kang et al. show that exposure to cigarette smoke induces alterations in the innate immune response to viral infection and that these changes hasten alveolar destruction characteristic of emphysema in mice (see the related beginning on page 2771). This study builds on evidence that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have clinical exacerbations associated with viral or bacterial infections, which lead to worsened lung function and increased mortality. This novel paradigm may aid related genetic, biomarker, and therapeutic developments and provides important insights into the pathogenesis of emphysematous lung destruction.
Fat-specific protein of 27 kDa (FSP27) is a highly expressed adipocyte protein that promotes triglyceride accumulation within lipid droplets. In this issue of the JCI, Nishino et al. show that FSP27 also helps to maintain the characteristically large unilocular lipid droplet structure within each white adipocyte (see the related article beginning on page 2808). Fragmentation of lipid droplets in white adipocytes from FSP27-KO mice caused both increased lipolysis and upregulation of genes enhancing mitochondrial oxidative metabolism. This increased energy expenditure in turn protected the mice from diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance. These new results highlight powerful mechanisms that tightly coordinate rates of triglyceride storage in lipid droplets with mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation in white adipocytes.
In prostate cancer, androgen blockade strategies are commonly used to treat osteoblastic bone metastases. However, responses to these therapies are typically brief, and the mechanism underlying androgen-independent progression is not clear. Here, we established what we believe to be the first human androgen receptor–negative prostate cancer xenografts whose cells induced an osteoblastic reaction in bone and in the subcutis of immunodeficient mice. Accordingly, these cells grew in castrated as well as intact male mice. We identified FGF9 as being overexpressed in the xenografts relative to other bone-derived prostate cancer cells and discovered that FGF9 induced osteoblast proliferation and new bone formation in a bone organ assay. Mice treated with FGF9-neutralizing antibody developed smaller bone tumors and reduced bone formation. Finally, we found positive FGF9 immunostaining in prostate cancer cells in 24 of 56 primary tumors derived from human organ-confined prostate cancer and in 25 of 25 bone metastasis cases studied. Collectively, these results suggest that FGF9 contributes to prostate cancer–induced new bone formation and may participate in the osteoblastic progression of prostate cancer in bone. Androgen receptor–null cells may contribute to the castration-resistant osteoblastic progression of prostate cancer cells in bone and provide a preclinical model for studying therapies that target these cells.
Metastatic prostate cancer (PCa) is one of the leading causes of death from cancer in men. The molecular mechanisms underlying the transition from localized tumor to hormone-refractory metastatic PCa remain largely unknown, and their identification is key for predicting prognosis and targeted therapy. Here we demonstrated that increased expression of a splice variant of the Kruppel-like factor 6 (KLF6) tumor suppressor gene, known as KLF6-SV1, in tumors from men after prostatectomy predicted markedly poorer survival and disease recurrence profiles. Analysis of tumor samples revealed that KLF6-SV1 levels were specifically upregulated in hormone-refractory metastatic PCa. In 2 complementary mouse models of metastatic PCa, KLF6-SV1–overexpressing PCa cells were shown by in vivo and ex vivo bioluminescent imaging to metastasize more rapidly and to disseminate to lymph nodes, bone, and brain more often. Interestingly, while KLF6-SV1 overexpression increased metastasis, it did not affect localized tumor growth. KLF6-SV1 inhibition using RNAi induced spontaneous apoptosis in cultured PCa cell lines and suppressed tumor growth in mice. Together, these findings demonstrate that KLF6-SV1 expression levels in PCa tumors at the time of diagnosis can predict the metastatic behavior of the tumor; thus, KLF-SV1 may represent a novel therapeutic target.
TGF-β and its signaling mediators, Smad2, -3, and -4, are involved with tumor suppression and promotion functions. Smad4–/– mouse epidermis develops spontaneous skin squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), and Smad3–/– mice are resistant to carcinogen-induced skin cancer; however, the role of Smad2 in skin carcinogenesis has not been explored. In the present study, we found that Smad2 and Smad4, but not Smad3, were frequently lost in human SCCs. Mice with keratinocyte-specific Smad2 deletion exhibited accelerated formation and malignant progression of chemically induced skin tumors compared with WT mice. Consistent with the loss of Smad2 in poorly differentiated human SCCs, Smad2–/– tumors were poorly differentiated and underwent epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) prior to spontaneous Smad4 loss. Reduced E-cadherin and activation of its transcriptional repressor Snail were also found in Smad2–/– mouse epidermis and occurred more frequently in Smad2-negative human SCCs than in Smad2-positive SCCs. Knocking down Snail abrogated Smad2 loss–associated EMT, suggesting that Snail upregulation is a major mediator of Smad2 loss–associated EMT. Furthermore, Smad2 loss led to a significant increase in Smad4 binding to the Snail promoter, and knocking down either Smad3 or Smad4 in keratinocytes abrogated Smad2 loss–associated Snail overexpression. Our data suggest that enhanced Smad3/Smad4-mediated Snail transcription contributed to Smad2 loss–associated EMT during skin carcinogenesis.
Medial-to-intimal migration of SMCs is critical to atherosclerotic plaque formation and remodeling of injured arteries. Considerable amounts of the shed soluble form of the LDL receptor relative LR11 (sLR11) produced by intimal SMCs enhance SMC migration in vitro via upregulation of urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) expression. Here, we show that circulating sLR11 is a novel marker of carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and that targeted disruption of the LR11 gene greatly reduces intimal thickening of arteries through attenuation of Ang II–induced migration of SMCs. Serum concentrations of sLR11 were positively correlated with IMT in dyslipidemic subjects, and multivariable regression analysis suggested sLR11 levels as an index of IMT, independent of classical atherosclerosis risk factors. In Lr11–/– mice, femoral artery intimal thickness after cuff placement was decreased, and Ang II–stimulated migration and attachment of SMCs from these mice were largely abolished. In isolated murine SMCs, sLR11 caused membrane ruffle formation via activation of focal adhesion kinase/ERK/Rac1 accompanied by complex formation between uPAR and integrin αvβ3, a process accelerated by Ang II. Overproduction of sLR11 decreased the sensitivity of Ang II–induced activation pathways to inhibition by an Ang II type 1 receptor blocker in mice. Thus, we demonstrate a requirement for sLR11 in Ang II–induced SMC migration and propose what we believe is a novel role for sLR11 as a biomarker of carotid IMT.
The second messengers cAMP and cGMP can be degraded by specific members of the phosphodiesterase superfamily or by active efflux transporters, namely the multidrug resistance-associated proteins (MRPs) MRP4 and MRP5. To determine the role of MRP4 and MRP5 in cell signaling, we studied arterial SMCs, in which the effects of cyclic nucleotide levels on SMC proliferation have been well established. We found that MRP4, but not MRP5, was upregulated during proliferation of isolated human coronary artery SMCs and following injury of rat carotid arteries in vivo. MRP4 inhibition significantly increased intracellular cAMP and cGMP levels and was sufficient to block proliferation and to prevent neointimal growth in injured rat carotid arteries. The antiproliferative effect of MRP4 inhibition was related to PKA/CREB pathway activation. Here we provide what we believe to be the first evidence that MRP4 acts as an independent endogenous regulator of intracellular cyclic nucleotide levels and as a mediator of cAMP-dependent signal transduction to the nucleus. We also identify MRP4 inhibition as a potentially new way of preventing abnormal VSMC proliferation.
The coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor (CAR) is a transmembrane protein that belongs to the family of adhesion molecules. In the postnatal heart, it is localized predominantly at the intercalated disc, where its function is not known. Here, we demonstrate that a first degree or complete block of atrioventricular (AV) conduction developed in the absence of CAR in the adult mouse heart and that prolongation of AV conduction occurred in the embryonic heart of the global CAR-KO mouse. In the cardiac-specific CAR-KO (CAR-cKO) mouse, we observed the loss of connexin 45 localization to the cell-cell junctions of the AV node but preservation of connexin 40 and 43 in contracting myocardial cells and connexin 30.2 in the AV node. There was also a marked decrease in β-catenin and zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) localization to the intercalated discs of CAR-cKO mouse hearts at 8 weeks before the mice developed cardiomyopathy at 21 weeks of age. We also found that CAR formed a complex with connexin 45 via its PSD-95/DigA/ZO-1–binding (PDZ-binding) motifs. We conclude that CAR expression is required for normal AV-node conduction and cardiac function. Furthermore, localization of connexin 45 at the AV-node cell-cell junction and of β-catenin and ZO-1 at the ventricular intercalated disc are dependent on CAR.
Viral infections have more severe consequences in patients who have been exposed to cigarette smoke (CS) than in those not exposed to CS. For example, in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), viruses cause more severe disease exacerbation, heightened inflammation, and accelerated loss of lung function compared with other causes of disease exacerbation. Symptomatology and mortality in influenza-infected smokers is also enhanced. To test the hypothesis that these outcomes are caused by CS-induced alterations in innate immunity, we defined the effects of CS on pathogen-associated molecular pattern–induced (PAMP-induced) pulmonary inflammation and remodeling in mice. CS was found to enhance parenchymal and airway inflammation and apoptosis induced by the viral PAMP poly(I:C). CS and poly(I:C) also induced accelerated emphysema and airway fibrosis. The effects of a combination of CS and poly(I:C) were associated with early induction of type I IFN and IL-18, later induction of IL-12/IL-23 p40 and IFN-γ, and the activation of double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) and eukaryotic initiation factor-2α (eIF2α). Further analysis using mice lacking specific proteins indicated a role for TLR3-dependent and -independent pathways as well as a pathway or pathways that are dependent on mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS), IL-18Rα, IFN-γ, and PKR. Importantly, CS enhanced the effects of influenza but not other agonists of innate immunity in a similar fashion. These studies demonstrate that CS selectively augments the airway and alveolar inflammatory and remodeling responses induced in the murine lung by viral PAMPs and viruses.
Joubert syndrome is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by congenital malformation of the cerebellum and brainstem, with abnormal decussation in the brain. Mutations in the Abelson helper integration site 1 gene, which encodes the protein AHI1, have been shown to cause Joubert syndrome. In this study, we found that mouse Ahi1 formed a stable complex with huntingtin-associated protein 1 (Hap1), which is critical for neonatal development and involved in intracellular trafficking. Hap1-knockout mice showed significantly reduced Ahi1 levels, defective cerebellar development, and abnormal axonal decussation. Suppression of Ahi1 also decreased the level of Hap1; and truncated Ahi1, which corresponds to the mutations in Joubert syndrome, inhibited neurite outgrowth in neuronal culture. Reducing Hap1 expression suppressed the level and internalization of TrkB, a neurotrophic factor receptor that mediates neurogenesis and neuronal differentiation, which led to decreased TrkB signaling. These findings provide insight into the pathogenesis of Joubert syndrome and demonstrate the critical role of the Ahi1-Hap1 complex in early brain development.
Calpains are calcium-dependent enzymes that determine the fate of proteins through regulated proteolytic activity. Calpains have been linked to the modulation of memory and are key to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease (AD). When abnormally activated, calpains can also initiate degradation of proteins essential for neuronal survival. Here we show that calpain inhibition through E64, a cysteine protease inhibitor, and the highly specific calpain inhibitor BDA-410 restored normal synaptic function both in hippocampal cultures and in hippocampal slices from the APP/PS1 mouse, an animal model of AD. Calpain inhibition also improved spatial-working memory and associative fear memory in APP/PS1 mice. These beneficial effects of the calpain inhibitors were associated with restoration of normal phosphorylation levels of the transcription factor CREB and involved redistribution of the synaptic protein synapsin I. Thus, calpain inhibition may prove useful in the alleviation of memory loss in AD.
White adipocytes are unique in that they contain large unilocular lipid droplets that occupy most of the cytoplasm. To identify genes involved in the maintenance of mature adipocytes, we expressed dominant-negative PPARγ in 3T3-L1 cells and performed a microarray screen. The fat-specific protein of 27 kDa (FSP27) was strongly downregulated in this context. FSP27 expression correlated with induction of differentiation in cultured preadipocytes, and the protein localized to lipid droplets in murine white adipocytes in vivo. Ablation of FSP27 in mice resulted in the formation of multilocular lipid droplets in these cells. Furthermore, FSP27-deficient mice were protected from diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance and displayed an increased metabolic rate due to increased mitochondrial biogenesis in white adipose tissue (WAT). Depletion of FSP27 by siRNA in murine cultured white adipocytes resulted in the formation of numerous small lipid droplets, increased lipolysis, and decreased triacylglycerol storage, while expression of FSP27 in COS cells promoted the formation of large lipid droplets. Our results suggest that FSP27 contributes to efficient energy storage in WAT by promoting the formation of unilocular lipid droplets, thereby restricting lipolysis. In addition, we found that the nature of lipid accumulation in WAT appears to be associated with maintenance of energy balance and insulin sensitivity.
Idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (IHH) with anosmia (Kallmann syndrome; KS) or with a normal sense of smell (normosmic IHH; nIHH) are heterogeneous genetic disorders associated with deficiency of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). While loss-of-function mutations in FGF receptor 1 (FGFR1) cause human GnRH deficiency, to date no specific ligand for FGFR1 has been identified in GnRH neuron ontogeny. Using a candidate gene approach, we identified 6 missense mutations in FGF8 in IHH probands with variable olfactory phenotypes. These patients exhibited varied degrees of GnRH deficiency, including the rare adult-onset form of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Four mutations affected all 4 FGF8 splice isoforms (FGF8a, FGF8b, FGF8e, and FGF8f), while 2 mutations affected FGF8e and FGF8f isoforms only. The mutant FGF8b and FGF8f ligands exhibited decreased biological activity in vitro. Furthermore, mice homozygous for a hypomorphic Fgf8 allele lacked GnRH neurons in the hypothalamus, while heterozygous mice showed substantial decreases in the number of GnRH neurons and hypothalamic GnRH peptide concentration. In conclusion, we identified FGF8 as a gene implicated in GnRH deficiency in both humans and mice and demonstrated an exquisite sensitivity of GnRH neuron development to reductions in FGF8 signaling.
In addition to its role in megakaryocyte production, signaling initiated by thrombopoietin (TPO) activation of its receptor, myeloproliferative leukemia virus protooncogene (c-Mpl, or Mpl), controls HSC homeostasis and self-renewal. Under steady-state conditions, mice lacking the inhibitory adaptor protein Lnk harbor an expanded HSC pool with enhanced self-renewal. We found that HSCs from Lnk–/– mice have an increased quiescent fraction, decelerated cell cycle kinetics, and enhanced resistance to repeat treatments with cytoablative 5-fluorouracil in vivo compared with WT HSCs. We further provide genetic evidence demonstrating that Lnk controls HSC quiescence and self-renewal, predominantly through Mpl. Consistent with this observation, Lnk–/– HSCs displayed potentiated activation of JAK2 specifically in response to TPO. Biochemical experiments revealed that Lnk directly binds to phosphorylated tyrosine residues in JAK2 following TPO stimulation. Of note, the JAK2 V617F mutant, found at high frequencies in myeloproliferative diseases, retains the ability to bind Lnk. Therefore, we identified Lnk as a physiological negative regulator of JAK2 in stem cells and TPO/Mpl/JAK2/Lnk as a major regulatory pathway in controlling stem cell self-renewal and quiescence.
A fraction of liver transplant recipients are able to discontinue all immunosuppressive therapies without rejecting their grafts and are said to be operationally tolerant to the transplant. However, accurate identification of these recipients remains a challenge. To design a clinically applicable molecular test of operational tolerance in liver transplantation, we studied transcriptional patterns in the peripheral blood of 80 liver transplant recipients and 16 nontransplanted healthy individuals by employing oligonucleotide microarrays and quantitative real-time PCR. This resulted in the discovery and validation of several gene signatures comprising a modest number of genes capable of identifying tolerant and nontolerant recipients with high accuracy. Multiple peripheral blood lymphocyte subsets contributed to the tolerance-associated transcriptional patterns, although NK and γδTCR+ T cells exerted the predominant influence. These data suggest that transcriptional profiling of peripheral blood can be employed to identify liver transplant recipients who can discontinue immunosuppressive therapy and that innate immune cells are likely to play a major role in the maintenance of operational tolerance in liver transplantation.
Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an inborn error of metabolism caused by mutations in phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH). Over 500 disease-causing mutations have been identified in humans, most of which result in PAH protein misfolding and increased turnover in vivo. The use of pharmacological chaperones to stabilize or promote correct folding of mutant proteins represents a promising new direction in the treatment of misfolding diseases. We performed a high-throughput ligand screen of over 1,000 pharmacological agents and identified 4 compounds (I–IV) that enhanced the thermal stability of PAH and did not show substantial inhibition of PAH activity. In further studies, compounds III (3-amino-2-benzyl-7-nitro-4-(2-quinolyl)-1,2-dihydroisoquinolin-1-one) and IV (5,6-dimethyl-3-(4-methyl-2-pyridinyl)-2-thioxo-2,3-dihydrothieno[2,3- d]pyrimidin-4(1H)-one) stabilized the functional tetrameric conformation of recombinant WT-PAH and PKU mutants. These compounds also significantly increased activity and steady-state PAH protein levels in cells transiently transfected with either WT-PAH or PKU mutants. Furthermore, PAH activity in mouse liver increased after a 12-day oral administration of low doses of compounds III and IV. Thus, we have identified 2 small molecules that may represent promising alternatives in the treatment of PKU.
Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPSs) are lysosomal storage diseases caused by a deficit in the enzymes needed for glycosaminoglycan (GAG) degradation. Enzyme replacement therapy with recombinant human α-l-iduronidase successfully reduces lysosomal storage in canines and humans with iduronidase-deficient MPS I, but therapy usually also induces antibodies specific for the recombinant enzyme that could reduce its efficacy. To understand the potential impact of α-l-iduronidase–specific antibodies, we studied whether inducing antigen-specific immune tolerance to iduronidase could improve the effectiveness of recombinant iduronidase treatment in canines. A total of 24 canines with MPS I were either tolerized to iduronidase or left nontolerant. All canines received i.v. recombinant iduronidase at the FDA-approved human dose or a higher dose for 9–44 weeks. Nontolerized canines developed iduronidase-specific antibodies that proportionally reduced in vitro iduronidase uptake. Immune-tolerized canines achieved increased tissue enzyme levels at either dose in most nonreticular tissues and a greater reduction in tissue GAG levels, lysosomal pathology, and urinary GAG excretion. Tolerized MPS I dogs treated with the higher dose received some further benefit in the reduction of GAGs in tissues, urine, and the heart valve. Therefore, immune tolerance to iduronidase improved the efficacy of enzyme replacement therapy with recombinant iduronidase in canine MPS I and could potentially improve outcomes in patients with MPS I and other lysosomal storage diseases.
Congenital hyperinsulinism is a condition of dysregulated insulin secretion often caused by inactivating mutations of the ATP-sensitive K+ (KATP) channel in the pancreatic β cell. Though most disease-causing mutations of the 2 genes encoding KATP subunits, ABCC8 (SUR1) and KCNJ11 (Kir6.2), are recessively inherited, some cases of dominantly inherited inactivating mutations have been reported. To better understand the differences between dominantly and recessively inherited inactivating KATP mutations, we have identified and characterized 16 families with 14 different dominantly inherited KATP mutations, including a total of 33 affected individuals. The 16 probands presented with hypoglycemia at ages from birth to 3.3 years, and 15 of 16 were well controlled on diazoxide, a KATP channel agonist. Of 29 adults with mutations, 14 were asymptomatic. In contrast to a previous report of increased diabetes risk in dominant KATP hyperinsulinism, only 4 of 29 adults had diabetes. Unlike recessive mutations, dominantly inherited KATP mutant subunits trafficked normally to the plasma membrane when expressed in COSm6 cells. Dominant mutations also resulted in different channel-gating defects, as dominant ABCC8 mutations diminished channel responses to magnesium adenosine diphosphate or diazoxide, while dominant KCNJ11 mutations impaired channel opening, even in the absence of nucleotides. These data highlight distinctive features of dominant KATP hyperinsulinism relative to the more common and more severe recessive form, including retention of normal subunit trafficking, impaired channel activity, and a milder hypoglycemia phenotype that may escape detection in infancy and is often responsive to diazoxide medical therapy, without the need for surgical pancreatectomy.
The bone marrow constitutes a favorable environment for long-lived antibody-secreting plasma cells, providing blood-circulating antibody. Plasma cells are also present in mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) to mediate local frontline immunity, but how plasma cell survival there is regulated is not known. Here we report that a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL) promoted survival of human upper and lower MALT plasma cells by upregulating expression of the antiapoptotic proteins bcl-2, bcl-xL, and mcl-1. The in situ localization of APRIL was consistent with such a prosurvival role in MALT. In upper MALT, tonsillar epithelium produced APRIL. Upon infection, APRIL production increased considerably when APRIL-secreting neutrophils recruited from the blood infiltrated the crypt epithelium. Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) retained secreted APRIL in the subepithelium of the infected zone to create APRIL-rich niches, wherein IgG-producing plasma cells accumulated. In lower MALT, neutrophils were the unique source of APRIL, giving rise to similar niches for IgA-producing plasmocytes in villi of lamina propria. Furthermore, we found that mucosal humoral immunity in APRIL-deficient mice is less persistent than in WT mice. Hence, production of APRIL by inflammation-recruited neutrophils may create plasma cell niches in MALT to sustain a local antibody production.
Autoreactive B cells are regulated in the BM during development through mechanisms, including editing of the B cell receptor (BCR), clonal deletion, and anergy. Peripheral B cell tolerance is also important for protection from autoimmune damage, although the mechanisms are less well defined. Here we demonstrated, using a mouse model of SLE-like serology, that during an autoimmune response, RAG was reinduced in antigen-activated early memory or preplasma B cells. Expression of RAG was specific to antigen-reactive B cells, required the function of the IL-7 receptor (IL-7R), and contributed to maintenance of humoral tolerance. We also showed that soluble antigen could diminish a non-autoreactive antibody response through induction of BCR revision. These data suggest that tolerance induction operates in B cells at a postactivation checkpoint and that BCR revision helps regulate autoreactivity generated during an ongoing immune response.
Familial macular degeneration is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by progressive central vision loss. Here we show that an R373C missense mutation in the prominin 1 gene (PROM1) causes 3 forms of autosomal-dominant macular degeneration. In transgenic mice expressing R373C mutant human PROM1, both mutant and endogenous PROM1 were found throughout the layers of the photoreceptors, rather than at the base of the photoreceptor outer segments, where PROM1 is normally localized. Moreover, the outer segment disk membranes were greatly overgrown and misoriented, indicating defective disk morphogenesis. Immunoprecipitation studies showed that PROM1 interacted with protocadherin 21 (PCDH21), a photoreceptor-specific cadherin, and with actin filaments, both of which play critical roles in disk membrane morphogenesis. Collectively, our results identify what we believe to be a novel complex involved in photoreceptor disk morphogenesis and indicate a possible role for PROM1 and PCDH21 in macular degeneration.
Intracellular pathogens survive by evading the host immune system and accessing host metabolic pathways to obtain nutrients for their growth. Mycobacterium leprae, the causative agent of leprosy, is thought to be the mycobacterium most dependent on host metabolic pathways, including host-derived lipids. Although fatty acids and phospholipids accumulate in the lesions of individuals with the lepromatous (also known as disseminated) form of human leprosy (L-lep), the origin and significance of these lipids remains unclear. Here we show that in human L-lep lesions, there was preferential expression of host lipid metabolism genes, including a group of phospholipases, and that these genes were virtually absent from the mycobacterial genome. Host-derived oxidized phospholipids were detected in macrophages within L-lep lesions, and 1 specific oxidized phospholipid, 1-palmitoyl-2-(5,6-epoxyisoprostane E2)-sn-glycero-3-phosphorylcholine (PEIPC), accumulated in macrophages infected with live mycobacteria. Mycobacterial infection and host-derived oxidized phospholipids both inhibited innate immune responses, and this inhibition was reversed by the addition of normal HDL, a scavenger of oxidized phospholipids, but not by HDL from patients with L-lep. The accumulation of host-derived oxidized phospholipids in L-lep lesions is strikingly similar to observations in atherosclerosis, which suggests that the link between host lipid metabolism and innate immunity contributes to the pathogenesis of both microbial infection and metabolic disease.
Fetomaternal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (FMAIT) is caused by maternal generation of antibodies specific for paternal platelet antigens and can lead to fetal intracranial hemorrhage. A SNP in the gene encoding integrin β3 causes a clinically important maternal-paternal antigenic difference; Leu33 generates the human platelet antigen 1a (HPA-1a), whereas Pro33 generates HPA-1b. As a potential treatment to prevent fetal intracranial hemorrhage in HPA-1a alloimmunized pregnancies, we generated an antibody that blocks the binding of maternal HPA-1a–specific antibodies to fetal HPA-1a1b platelets by combining a high-affinity human HPA-1a–specific scFv (B2) with an IgG1 constant region modified to minimize Fcγ receptor–dependent platelet destruction (G1Δnab). B2G1Δnab saturated HPA-1a+ platelets and substantially inhibited binding of clinical HPA-1a–specific sera to HPA-1a+ platelets. The response of monocytes to B2G1Δnab-sensitized platelets was substantially less than their response to unmodified B2G1, as measured by chemiluminescence. In addition, B2G1Δnab inhibited chemiluminescence induced by B2G1 and HPA-1a–specific sera. In a chimeric mouse model, B2G1 and polyclonal Ig preparations from clinical HPA-1a–specific sera reduced circulating HPA-1a+ platelets, concomitant with transient thrombocytopenia. As the Δnab constant region is uninformative in mice, F(ab′)2 B2G1 was used as a proof of principle blocking antibody and prevented the in vivo platelet destruction seen with B2G1 and polyclonal HPA-1a–specific antibodies. These results provide rationale for human clinical studies.
Immune thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP) is a bleeding disorder in which platelet-specific autoantibodies cause a loss of platelets. In a subset of patients with ITP and infected with Helicobacter pylori, the number of platelets recovers after eradication of H. pylori. To examine the role of H. pylori infection in the pathogenesis of ITP, the response of 34 ITP patients to treatment with a standard H. pylori eradication regimen, irrespective of whether they were infected with H. pylori, was evaluated. Eradication of H. pylori was achieved in all H. pylori–positive patients, and a significant increase in platelets was observed in 61% of these patients. By contrast, none of the H. pylori–negative patients showed increased platelets. At baseline, monocytes from the H. pylori–positive patients exhibited an enhanced phagocytic capacity and low levels of the inhibitory Fcγ receptor IIB (FcγRIIB). One week after starting the H. pylori eradication regimen, this activated monocyte phenotype was suppressed and improvements in autoimmune and platelet kinetic parameters followed. Modulation of monocyte FcγR balance was also found in association with H. pylori infection in individuals who did not have ITP and in mice. Our findings strongly suggest that the recovery in platelet numbers observed in ITP patients after H. pylori eradication is mediated through a change in FcγR balance toward the inhibitory FcγRIIB.
Thyroid hormonogenesis requires secretion of thyroglobulin, a protein comprising Cys-rich regions I, II, and III (referred to collectively as region I-II-III) followed by a cholinesterase-like (ChEL) domain. Secretion of mature thyroglobulin requires extensive folding and glycosylation in the ER. Multiple reports have linked mutations in the ChEL domain to congenital hypothyroidism in humans and rodents; these mutations block thyroglobulin from exiting the ER and induce ER stress. We report that, in a cell-based system, mutations in the ChEL domain impaired folding of thyroglobulin region I-II-III. Truncated thyroglobulin devoid of the ChEL domain was incompetent for cellular export; however, a recombinant ChEL protein (“secretory ChEL”) was secreted efficiently. Coexpression of secretory ChEL with truncated thyroglobulin increased intracellular folding, promoted oxidative maturation, and facilitated secretion of region I-II-III, indicating that the ChEL domain may function as an intramolecular chaperone. Additionally, we found that the I-II-III peptide was cosecreted and physically associated with secretory ChEL. A functional ChEL domain engineered to be retained intracellularly triggered oxidative maturation of I-II-III but coretained I-II-III, indicating that the ChEL domain may also function as a molecular escort. These insights into the role of the ChEL domain may represent potential therapeutic targets in the treatment of congenital hypothyroidism.
Prolonged activation of p70 S6 kinase (S6K) by insulin and nutrients leads to inhibition of insulin signaling via negative feedback input to the signaling factor IRS-1. Systemic deletion of S6K protects against diet-induced obesity and enhances insulin sensitivity in mice. Herein, we present evidence suggesting that hypothalamic S6K activation is involved in the pathogenesis of diet-induced hepatic insulin resistance. Extending previous findings that insulin suppresses hepatic glucose production (HGP) partly via its effect in the hypothalamus, we report that this effect was blunted by short-term high-fat diet (HFD) feeding, with concomitant suppression of insulin signaling and activation of S6K in the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH). Constitutive activation of S6K in the MBH mimicked the effect of the HFD in normal chow–fed animals, while suppression of S6K by overexpression of dominant-negative S6K or dominant-negative raptor in the MBH restored the ability of MBH insulin to suppress HGP after HFD feeding. These results suggest that activation of hypothalamic S6K contributes to hepatic insulin resistance in response to short-term nutrient excess.
Sex differences in thrombosis are well described, but their underlying mechanism(s) are not completely understood. Coagulation proteins are synthesized in the liver, and liver gene expression is sex specific and depends on sex differences in growth hormone (GH) secretion — males secrete GH in a pulsatile fashion, while females secrete GH continuously. Accordingly, we tested the hypothesis that sex-specific GH secretion patterns cause sex differences in thrombosis. Male mice were more susceptible to thrombosis than females in the thromboplastin-induced pulmonary embolism model and showed shorter clotting times ex vivo. GH-deficient little (lit) mice were protected from thrombosis, and pulsatile GH given to lit mice restored the male clotting phenotype. Moreover, pulsatile GH administration resulted in a male clotting phenotype in control female mice, while continuous GH caused a female clotting phenotype in control male mice. Expression of the coagulation inhibitors Proc, Serpinc1, Serpind1, and Serpina5 were strongly modulated by sex-specific GH patterns, and GH modulated resistance to activated protein C. These results reveal what we believe to be a novel mechanism whereby sex-specific GH patterns mediate sex differences in thrombosis through coordinated changes in the expression of coagulation inhibitor genes in the liver.
Novel biomarkers, such as circulating (auto)antibody signatures, may improve early detection and treatment of ruptured atherosclerotic lesions and accompanying cardiovascular events, such as myocardial infarction. Using a phage-display library derived from cDNAs preferentially expressed in ruptured peripheral human atherosclerotic plaques, we performed serological antigen selection to isolate displayed cDNA products specifically interacting with antibodies in sera from patients with proven ruptured peripheral atherosclerotic lesions. Two cDNA products were subsequently evaluated on a validation series of patients with peripheral atherosclerotic lesions, healthy controls, and patients with coronary artery disease at different stages. Our biomarker set was able to discriminate between patients with peripheral ruptured lesions and patients with peripheral stable plaques with 100% specificity and 76% sensitivity. Furthermore, 93% of patients with an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) tested positive for our biomarkers, whereas all patients with stable angina pectoris tested negative. Moreover, 90% of AMI patients who initially tested negative for troponin T, for which a positive result is known to indicate myocardial infarction, tested positive for our biomarkers upon hospital admission. In conclusion, antibody profiling constitutes a promising approach for noninvasive diagnosis of atherosclerotic lesions, because a positive serum response against a set of 2 cDNA products showed a strong association with the presence of ruptured peripheral atherosclerotic lesions and myocardial infarction.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation