In type 1 diabetes, immune cells destroy pancreatic β cells. In this issue, Filippi and colleagues show that exposure to
viruses that do not inflict damage to β cells actually protects from the development of
type 1 diabetes by triggering immune regulatory mechanisms, such as increases in T
regulatory cells (page 1515).
Image adapted from Photo Researchers Inc.
When US President Barack Obama declared in his 2009 inaugural address, “We will restore science to its rightful place,” many applauded. The US has led the world in research, innovation, and education in the medical sciences. The National Science Foundation, the NIH, and other government organizations involved in scientific investigations are the primary engines that have fueled this excellence over the past half century. Nevertheless, we cannot afford to assume that preeminence, or even excellence, will persist without attention and cultivation.
Holoprosencephaly (HPE), the most common human forebrain malformation, occurs in 1 in 250 fetuses and 1 in 16,000 live births. HPE is etiologically heterogeneous, and its pathology is variable. Several mouse models of HPE have been generated, and some of the molecular causes of different forms of HPE and the mechanisms underlying its variable pathology have been revealed by these models. Herein, we summarize the current knowledge on the genetic alterations that cause HPE and discuss some important questions about this disease that remain to be answered.
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is critical for appropriate embryonic development, and this process is re-engaged in adults during wound healing, tissue regeneration, organ fibrosis, and cancer progression. Inflammation is a crucial conspirator in the emergence of EMT in adults but is absent during embryonic development. As highlighted in this Review series, EMT is now a recognized mechanism for dispersing cells in embryos, forming fibroblasts/mesenchymal cells in injured tissues, and initiating metastasis of epithelial cancer cells. Also discussed are proposals to classify EMT into three subtypes, each of which has different functional consequences.
The origins of the mesenchymal cells participating in tissue repair and pathological processes, notably tissue fibrosis, tumor invasiveness, and metastasis, are poorly understood. However, emerging evidence suggests that epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMTs) represent one important source of these cells. As we discuss here, processes similar to the EMTs associated with embryo implantation, embryogenesis, and organ development are appropriated and subverted by chronically inflamed tissues and neoplasias. The identification of the signaling pathways that lead to activation of EMT programs during these disease processes is providing new insights into the plasticity of cellular phenotypes and possible therapeutic interventions.
Somatic cells that change from one mature phenotype to another exhibit the property of plasticity. It is increasingly clear that epithelial and endothelial cells enjoy some of this plasticity, which is easily demonstrated by studying the process of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Published reports from the literature typically rely on ad hoc criteria for determining EMT events; consequently, there is some uncertainty as to whether the same process occurs under different experimental conditions. As we discuss in this Personal Perspective, we believe that context and various changes in plasticity biomarkers can help identify at least three types of EMT and that using a collection of criteria for EMT increases the likelihood that everyone is studying the same phenomenon — namely, the transition of epithelial and endothelial cells to a motile phenotype.
The events that convert adherent epithelial cells into individual migratory cells that can invade the extracellular matrix are known collectively as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Throughout evolution, the capacity of cells to switch between these two cellular states has been fundamental in the generation of complex body patterns. Here, we review the EMT events that build the embryo and further discuss two prototypical processes governed by EMT in amniotes: gastrulation and neural crest formation. Cells undergo EMT to migrate and colonize distant territories. Not surprisingly, this is also the mechanism used by cancer cells to disperse throughout the body.
IgA nephropathy is a chronic kidney disease defined by deposition of IgA in the glomeruli. An abnormality in the glycosylation of the hinge region of the IgA1 isotype of IgA is fundamental to the origins of this very common form of glomerulonephritis. In this issue of the JCI, Suzuki and coworkers describe the characteristics of IgG autoantibodies to the abnormally glycosylated IgA1 secreted by immortalized B cells derived from patients with sporadic forms of IgA nephropathy (see the related article beginning on page 1668). These IgG autoantibodies displayed remarkably restricted heterogeneity. These observations offer new insights into disease pathogenesis and may lead to new methods of diagnosis, monitoring, and therapy for patients with IgA nephropathy.
Although the molecular differences between embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS) and alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) have been extensively interrogated, effective therapies tailored to a particular rhabdomyosarcoma subtype have yet to emerge. Patients with ERMS have shown incremental improvement using current multimodal therapy, but survival rates for metastatic ARMS remain poor. In this issue of the JCI, Durbin and colleagues demonstrate that integrin-linked kinase (ILK) acts as a tumor suppressor in ERMS and as a proto-oncogene in ARMS, and that the opposing functions of this enzyme are dependent on the JNK1 signaling pathway (see the related article beginning on page 1558). Their findings suggest that targeting ILK may represent a focused therapeutic strategy for the treatment of ARMS.
The dopamine transporter (DAT) retrieves the neurotransmitter dopamine from the synaptic cleft at dopaminergic synapses. Variations in solute carrier family 6A, member 3 (SLC6A3/DAT1), the human gene encoding DAT, have been implicated in attention deficit hyperactivity and bipolar disorders, and DAT is a prominent site of action for drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine. In this issue of the JCI, Kurian et al. report that an autosomal recessive infantile parkinsonism-dystonia is caused by loss-of-function mutations in DAT that impair dopamine reuptake (see the related article beginning on page 1595). Though this might be predicted to result in dopamine excess in the synaptic cleft, it likely also causes depletion of presynaptic dopamine stores and possibly downregulation of postsynaptic dopamine receptor function, resulting in impairments in dopaminergic neurotransmission consistent with the clinical presentation. This is the first report of a genetic alteration in DAT function underlying a parkinsonian disorder.
While many candidate type 1 diabetes (T1D) susceptibility genes have been identified, evidence suggests that environmental stimuli, such as viral infections, may also be involved in T1D pathogenesis. However, how viral infections may prevent or trigger the diabetogenic process remains unclear. In this issue of the JCI, Filippi et al. show that infection of NOD mice with Coxsackie virus B3 or lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, neither of which directly destroys insulin-secreting pancreatic β cells, triggers the activation of two distinct immunoregulatory mechanisms, involving both the innate and adaptive immune system, that protect against the development of T1D in these animals (see the related article beginning on page 1515).
Aberrant transcriptional regulation contributes to the pathogenesis of both congenital and adult forms of heart disease. While the transcriptional regulator friend of Gata 2 (FOG2) is known to be essential for heart morphogenesis and coronary development, its tissue-specific function has not been previously investigated. Additionally, little is known about the role of FOG2 in the adult heart. Here we used spatiotemporally regulated inactivation of Fog2 to delineate its function in both the embryonic and adult mouse heart. Early cardiomyocyte-restricted loss of Fog2 recapitulated the cardiac and coronary defects of the Fog2 germline murine knockouts. Later cardiomyocyte-restricted loss of Fog2 (Fog2MC) did not result in defects in cardiac structure or coronary vessel formation. However, Fog2MC adult mice had severely depressed ventricular function and died at 8–14 weeks. Fog2MC adult hearts displayed a paucity of coronary vessels, associated with myocardial hypoxia, increased cardiomyocyte apoptosis, and cardiac fibrosis. Induced inactivation of Fog2 in the adult mouse heart resulted in similar phenotypes, as did ablation of the FOG2 interaction with the transcription factor GATA4. Loss of the FOG2 or FOG2-GATA4 interaction altered the expression of a panel of angiogenesis-related genes. Collectively, our data indicate that FOG2 regulates adult heart function and coronary angiogenesis.
Lipocalin-type prostaglandin D synthase (L-PGDS), which was originally identified as an enzyme responsible for PGD2 biosynthesis in the brain, is highly expressed in the myocardium, including in cardiomyocytes. However, the factors that control expression of the gene encoding L-PGDS and the pathophysiologic role of L-PGDS in cardiomyocytes are poorly understood. In the present study, we demonstrate that glucocorticoids, which act as repressors of prostaglandin biosynthesis in most cell types, upregulated the expression of L-PGDS together with cytosolic calcium-dependent phospholipase A2 and COX2 via the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in rat cardiomyocytes. Accordingly, PGD2 was the most prominently induced prostaglandin in vivo in mouse hearts and in vitro in cultured rat cardiomyocytes after exposure to GR-selective agonists. In isolated Langendorff-perfused mouse hearts, dexamethasone alleviated ischemia/reperfusion injury. This cardioprotective effect was completely abrogated by either pharmacologic inhibition of COX2 or disruption of the gene encoding L-PGDS. In in vivo ischemia/reperfusion experiments, dexamethasone reduced infarct size in wild-type mice. This cardioprotective effect of dexamethasone was markedly reduced in L-PGDS–deficient mice. In cultured rat cardiomyocytes, PGD2 protected against cell death induced by anoxia/reoxygenation via the D-type prostanoid receptor and the ERK1/2-mediated pathway. Taken together, these results suggest what we believe to be a novel interaction between glucocorticoid-GR signaling and the cardiomyocyte survival pathway mediated by the arachidonic acid cascade.
Triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells–like (TREM-like) transcript-1 (TLT-1), a type 1 single Ig domain orphan receptor specific to platelet and megakaryocyte α-granules, relocates to the platelet surface upon platelet stimulation. We found here that patients diagnosed with sepsis, in contrast to healthy individuals, had substantial levels of soluble TLT-1 (sTLT-1) in their plasma that correlated with the presence of disseminated intravascular coagulation. sTLT-1 bound to fibrinogen and augmented platelet aggregation in vitro. Furthermore, the cytoplasmic domain of TLT-1 could also bind ezrin/radixin/moesin family proteins, suggesting its ability to link fibrinogen to the platelet cytoskeleton. Accordingly, platelets of Treml1–/– mice failed to aggregate efficiently, extending tail-bleeding times. Lipopolysaccharide-treated Treml1–/– mice developed higher plasma levels of TNF and D-dimers than wild-type mice and were more likely to succumb during challenge. Finally, Treml1–/– mice were predisposed to hemorrhage associated with localized inflammatory lesions. Taken together, our findings suggest that TLT-1 plays a protective role during inflammation by dampening the inflammatory response and facilitating platelet aggregation at sites of vascular injury. Therefore, therapeutic modulation of TLT-1–mediated effects may provide clinical benefit to patients with hypercoagulatory conditions, including those associated with inflammation.
Complete STAT1 deficiency is an autosomal recessive primary immunodeficiency caused by null mutations that abolish STAT1-dependent cellular responses to both IFN-α/β and IFN-γ. Affected children suffer from lethal intracellular bacterial and viral diseases. Here we report a recessive form of partial STAT1 deficiency, characterized by impaired but not abolished IFN-α/β and IFN-γ signaling. Two affected siblings suffered from severe but curable intracellular bacterial and viral diseases. Both were homozygous for a missense STAT1 mutation: g.C2086T (P696S). This STAT1 allele impaired the splicing of STAT1 mRNA, probably by disrupting an exonic splice enhancer. The misspliced forms were not translated into a mature protein. The allele was hypofunctional, because residual full-length mRNA production resulted in low but detectable levels of normally functional STAT1 proteins. The P696S amino acid substitution was not detrimental. The patients’ cells, therefore, displayed impaired but not abolished responses to both IFN-α and IFN-γ. We also show that recessive STAT1 deficiencies impaired the IL-27 and IFN-λ1 signaling pathways, possibly contributing to the predisposition to bacterial and viral infections, respectively. Partial recessive STAT1 deficiency is what we believe to be a novel primary immunodeficiency, resulting in impairment of the response to at least 4 cytokines (IFN-α/β, IFN-γ, IFN-λ1, and IL-27). It should be considered in patients with unexplained, severe, but curable intracellular bacterial and viral infections.
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that is caused by the destruction of insulin-producing β cells. Viral infections induce immune responses that can damage β cells and promote T1D or on the other hand prevent the development of the disease. However, the opposing roles of viral infections in T1D are not understood mechanistically. We report here that viruses that do not inflict damage on β cells provided protection from T1D by triggering immunoregulatory mechanisms. Infection of prediabetic NOD mice with Coxsackie virus B3 or lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) delayed diabetes onset and reduced disease incidence. Delayed T1D onset was due to transient upregulation of programmed cell death–1 ligand 1 (PD-L1) on lymphoid cells, which prevented the expansion of diabetogenic CD8+ T cells expressing programmed cell death–1 (PD-1). Reduced T1D incidence was caused by increased numbers of invigorated CD4+CD25+ Tregs, which produced TGF-β and maintained long-term tolerance. Full protection from T1D resulted from synergy between PD-L1 and CD4+CD25+ Tregs. Our results provide what we believe to be novel mechanistic insight into the role of viruses in T1D and should be valuable for prospective studies in humans.
Tumor infiltration with Vα24-invariant NKT cells (NKTs) associates with favorable outcome in neuroblastoma and other cancers. Although NKTs can be directly cytotoxic against CD1d+ cells, the majority of human tumors are CD1d–. Therefore, the role of NKTs in cancer remains largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that CD68+ tumor-associated monocytes/macrophages (TAMs) represented the majority of CD1d-expressing cells in primary human neuroblastomas. TAMs stimulated neuroblastoma growth in human cell lines and their xenografts in NOD/SCID mice via IL-6 production. Indeed, TAMs produced IL-6 in primary tumors and in the BM of patients with metastatic neuroblastoma. Gene expression analysis using TaqMan low-density arrays of 129 primary human neuroblastomas without MYCN amplification revealed that high-level expression of TAM-specific genes (CD14, CD16, IL6, IL6R, and TGFB1) was associated with poor 5-year event-free survival. While NKTs were not cytotoxic against neuroblastoma cells, they effectively killed monocytes pulsed with tumor cell lysate. The killing of monocytes was CD1d restricted because it was inhibited by a CD1d-specific mAb. Cotransfer of human monocytes and NKTs to tumor-bearing NOD/SCID mice decreased monocyte number at the tumor site and suppressed tumor growth compared with mice transferred with monocytes alone. Thus, killing of TAMs reveals what we believe to be a novel mechanism of NKT antitumor activity that relates to the disease outcome.
The forkhead box proteins A1 and A2 (Foxa1 and Foxa2) are transcription factors with critical roles in establishing the developmental competence of the foregut endoderm and in initiating liver specification. Using conditional gene ablation during a later phase of liver development, we show here that deletion of both Foxa1 and Foxa2 (Foxa1/2) in the embryonic liver caused hyperplasia of the biliary tree. Abnormal bile duct formation in Foxa1/2-deficient liver was due, at least in part, to activation of IL-6 expression, a proliferative signal for cholangiocytes. The glucocorticoid receptor is a negative regulator of IL-6 transcription; in the absence of Foxa1/2, the glucocorticoid receptor failed to bind to the IL-6 promoter, causing enhanced IL-6 expression. Thus, after liver specification, Foxa1/2 are required for normal bile duct development through prevention of excess cholangiocyte proliferation. Our data suggest that Foxa1/2 function as terminators of bile duct expansion in the adult liver through inhibition of IL-6 expression.
Although oxidative stress has been implicated in acute acetaminophen-induced liver failure and in chronic liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), no common underlying metabolic pathway has been identified. Recent case reports suggest a link between the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) enzyme transaldolase (TAL; encoded by TALDO1) and liver failure in children. Here, we show that Taldo1–/– and Taldo1+/– mice spontaneously developed HCC, and Taldo1–/– mice had increased susceptibility to acetaminophen-induced liver failure. Oxidative stress in Taldo1–/– livers was characterized by the accumulation of sedoheptulose 7-phosphate, failure to recycle ribose 5-phosphate for the oxidative PPP, depleted NADPH and glutathione levels, and increased production of lipid hydroperoxides. Furthermore, we found evidence of hepatic mitochondrial dysfunction, as indicated by loss of transmembrane potential, diminished mitochondrial mass, and reduced ATP/ADP ratio. Reduced β-catenin phosphorylation and enhanced c-Jun expression in Taldo1–/– livers reflected adaptation to oxidative stress. Taldo1–/– hepatocytes were resistant to CD95/Fas-mediated apoptosis in vitro and in vivo. Remarkably, lifelong administration of the potent antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) prevented acetaminophen-induced liver failure, restored Fas-dependent hepatocyte apoptosis, and blocked hepatocarcinogenesis in Taldo1–/– mice. These data reveal a protective role for the TAL-mediated branch of the PPP against hepatocarcinogenesis and identify NAC as a promising treatment for liver disease in TAL deficiency.
Although most reports describe the protein kinase integrin-linked kinase (ILK) as a proto-oncogene, occasional studies detail opposing functions in the regulation of normal and transformed cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Here, we demonstrated that ILK functions as an oncogene in the highly aggressive pediatric sarcoma alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) and as a tumor suppressor in the related embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS). These opposing functions hinge on signaling through a noncanonical ILK target, JNK1, to the proto-oncogene c-Jun. RNAi-mediated depletion of ILK induced activation of JNK and its target, c-Jun, resulting in growth of ERMS cells, whereas in ARMS cells, it led to loss of JNK/c-Jun signaling and suppression of growth both in vitro and in vivo. Ectopic expression of the fusion gene characteristic of ARMS (paired box 3–forkhead homolog in rhabdomyosarcoma [PAX3-FKHR]) in ERMS cells was sufficient to convert them to an ARMS signaling phenotype and render ILK activity oncogenic. Furthermore, restoration of JNK1 in ARMS reestablished a tumor-suppressive function for ILK. These findings indicate what we believe to be a novel effector pathway regulated by ILK, provide a mechanism for interconversion of oncogenic and tumor-suppressor functions of a single regulatory protein based on the genetic background of the tumor cells, and suggest a rationale for tailored therapy of rhabdomyosarcoma based on the different activities of ILK.
In human breast cancer, loss of carcinoma cell–specific response to TGF-β signaling has been linked to poor patient prognosis. However, the mechanisms through which TGF-β regulates these processes remain largely unknown. In an effort to address this issue, we have now identified gene expression signatures associated with the TGF-β signaling pathway in human mammary carcinoma cells. The results strongly suggest that TGF-β signaling mediates intrinsic, stromal-epithelial, and host-tumor interactions during breast cancer progression, at least in part, by regulating basal and oncostatin M–induced CXCL1, CXCL5, and CCL20 chemokine expression. To determine the clinical relevance of our results, we queried our TGF-β–associated gene expression signatures in 4 human breast cancer data sets containing a total of 1,319 gene expression profiles and associated clinical outcome data. The signature representing complete abrogation of TGF-β signaling correlated with reduced relapse-free survival in all patients; however, the strongest association was observed in patients with estrogen receptor–positive (ER-positive) tumors, specifically within the luminal A subtype. Together, the results suggest that assessment of TGF-β signaling pathway status may further stratify the prognosis of ER-positive patients and provide novel therapeutic approaches in the management of breast cancer.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked, degenerative muscle disease that is exacerbated by secondary inflammation. Here, we characterized the immunological milieu of dystrophic muscle in mdx mice, a model of DMD, to identify potential therapeutic targets. We identified a specific subpopulation of cells expressing the Vβ8.1/8.2 TCR that is predominant among TCR-β+ T cells. These cells expressed high levels of osteopontin (OPN), a cytokine that promotes immune cell migration and survival. Elevated OPN levels correlated with the dystrophic process, since OPN was substantially elevated in the serum of mdx mice and muscle biopsies after disease onset. Muscle biopsies from individuals with DMD also had elevated OPN levels. To test the role of OPN in mdx muscle, mice lacking both OPN and dystrophin were generated and termed double-mutant mice (DMM mice). Reduced infiltration of NKT-like cells and neutrophils was observed in the muscle of DMM mice, supporting an immunomodulatory role for OPN in mdx muscle. Concomitantly, an increase in CD4+ and FoxP3+ Tregs was also observed in DMM muscle, which also showed reduced levels of TGF-β, a known fibrosis mediator. These inflammatory changes correlated with increased strength and reduced diaphragm and cardiac fibrosis. These studies suggest that OPN may be a promising therapeutic target for reducing inflammation and fibrosis in individuals with DMD.
Genetic variants of the SLC6A3 gene that encodes the human dopamine transporter (DAT) have been linked to a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders, particularly attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In addition, the homozygous Slc6a3 knockout mouse displays a hyperactivity phenotype. Here, we analyzed 2 unrelated consanguineous families with infantile parkinsonism-dystonia (IPD) syndrome and identified homozygous missense SLC6A3 mutations (p.L368Q and p.P395L) in both families. Functional studies demonstrated that both mutations were loss-of-function mutations that severely reduced levels of mature (85-kDa) DAT while having a differential effect on the apparent binding affinity of dopamine. Thus, in humans, loss-of-function SLC6A3 mutations that impair DAT-mediated dopamine transport activity are associated with an early-onset complex movement disorder. Identification of the molecular basis of IPD suggests SLC6A3 as a candidate susceptibility gene for other movement disorders associated with parkinsonism and/or dystonic features.
The changes in cancer cell surface molecules and intracellular signaling pathways during tumorigenesis make delivery of adenovirus-based cancer therapies inefficient. Here we have identified carcinoembryonic antigen–related cell adhesion molecule 6 (CEACAM6) as a cellular protein that restricts the ability of adenoviral vectors to infect cancer cells. We have demonstrated that CEACAM6 can antagonize the Src signaling pathway, downregulate cancer cell cytoskeleton proteins, and block adenovirus trafficking to the nucleus of human pancreatic cancer cells. Similar to CEACAM6 overexpression, treatment with a Src-selective inhibitor significantly reduced adenovirus replication in these cancer cells and normal human epithelial cells. In a mouse xenograft tumor model, siRNA-mediated knockdown of CEACAM6 also significantly enhanced the antitumor effect of an oncolytic adenovirus. We propose that CEACAM6-associated signaling pathways could be potential targets for the development of biomarkers to predict the response of patients to adenovirus-based therapies, as well as for the development of more potent adenovirus-based therapeutics.
The renin-angiotensin system plays a pivotal role in regulating blood pressure and is involved in the pathogenesis of kidney disorders and other diseases. Here, we report that the growth factor midkine is what we believe to be a novel regulator of the renin-angiotensin system. The hypertension induced in mice by 5/6 nephrectomy was accompanied by renal damage and elevated plasma angiotensin II levels and was ameliorated by an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor and an angiotensin receptor blocker. Notably, ACE activity in the lung, midkine expression in the lung, and midkine levels in the plasma were all increased after 5/6 nephrectomy. Exposure to midkine protein enhanced ACE expression in primary cultured human lung microvascular endothelial cells. Furthermore, hypertension was not induced and renal damage was less severe in midkine-deficient mice. Supplemental administration of midkine protein to midkine-deficient mice restored ACE expression in the lung and hypertension after 5/6 nephrectomy. Oxidative stress might be involved in midkine expression, since expression of NADH/NADPH oxidase–1, –2, and –4 was induced in the lung after 5/6 nephrectomy. Indeed, the antioxidative reagent tempol reduced midkine expression and plasma angiotensin II levels and consequently ameliorated hypertension. These results suggest that midkine regulates the renin-angiotensin system and mediates the kidney-lung interaction after 5/6 nephrectomy.
Liver X receptors (LXRs) are key regulators of macrophage function, controlling transcriptional programs involved in lipid homeostasis and inflammation. However, exactly how LXRs modulate inflammation during infection remains unknown. To explore this, we used a mouse model of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Upon intratracheal infection with M. tuberculosis, LXRs and LXR target genes were induced in CD11c+ lung and alveolar cells. Furthermore, mice deficient in both LXR isoforms, LXRα and LXRβ (Lxra–/–Lxrb–/– mice), were more susceptible to infection, developing higher bacterial burdens and an increase in the size and number of granulomatous lesions. Interestingly, mice solely deficient in LXRα, but not those lacking only LXRβ, mirrored the susceptibility of the Lxra–/–Lxrb–/– animals. Lxra–/–Lxrb–/– mice failed to mount an effective early neutrophilic airway response to infection and showed dysregulation of both pro- and antiinflammatory factors in CD11c+ lung cells. T cell responses were strongly affected in Lxra–/–Lxrb–/– mice, showing near-complete abrogation of the infection-induced Th1 function — and even more so Th17 function — in the lungs. Treatment of WT mice with the LXR agonists TO901317 and GW3965 resulted in a 10-fold decrease of the pulmonary bacterial burden and a comparable increase of Th1/Th17 function in the lungs. The dependence of LXR signaling on the neutrophil IL-17 axis represents what we believe to be a novel function for these nuclear receptors in resistance to M. tuberculosis infection and may provide a new target for therapeutics.
A diverse array of infectious agents, including prions and certain neurotropic viruses, bind to the laminin receptor (LR), and this determines tropism to the CNS. Bacterial meningitis in childhood is almost exclusively caused by the respiratory tract pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, and Haemophilus influenzae, but the mechanism by which they initiate contact with the vascular endothelium of the blood brain barrier (BBB) is unknown. We hypothesized that an interaction with LR might underlie their CNS tropism. Using affinity chromatography, coimmunoprecipitation, retagging, and in vivo imaging approaches, we identified 37/67-kDa LR as a common receptor for all 3 bacteria on the surface of rodent and human brain microvascular endothelial cells. Mutagenesis studies indicated that the corresponding bacterial LR-binding adhesins were pneumococcal CbpA, meningococcal PilQ and PorA, and OmpP2 of H. influenzae. The results of competitive binding experiments suggest that a common adhesin recognition site is present in the carboxyl terminus of LR. Together, these findings suggest that disruption or modulation of the interaction of bacterial adhesins with LR might engender unexpectedly broad protection against bacterial meningitis and may provide a therapeutic target for the prevention and treatment of disease.
In various mammalian species, including humans, water restriction leads to an acute increase in urinary sodium excretion. This process, known as dehydration natriuresis, helps prevent further accentuation of hypernatremia and the accompanying rise in extracellular tonicity. Serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase (Sgk1), which is expressed in the renal medulla, is regulated by extracellular tonicity. However, the mechanism of its regulation and the physiological role of hypertonicity-induced SGK1 gene expression remain unclear. Here, we identified a tonicity-responsive enhancer (TonE) upstream of the rat Sgk1 transcriptional start site. The transcription factor NFAT5 associated with TonE in a tonicity-dependent fashion in cultured rat renal medullary cells, and selective blockade of NFAT5 activity resulted in suppression of the osmotic induction of the Sgk1 promoter. In vivo, water restriction of rats or mice led to increased urine osmolality, increased Sgk1 expression, increased expression of the type A natriuretic peptide receptor (NPR-A), and dehydration natriuresis. In cultured rat renal medullary cells, siRNA-mediated Sgk1 knockdown blocked the osmotic induction of natriuretic peptide receptor 1 (Npr1) gene expression. Furthermore, Npr1–/– mice were resistant to dehydration natriuresis, which suggests that Sgk1-dependent activation of the NPR-A pathway may contribute to this response. Collectively, these findings define a specific mechanistic pathway for the osmotic regulation of Sgk1 gene expression and suggest that Sgk1 may play an important role in promoting the physiological response of the kidney to elevations in extracellular tonicity.
The epidemics of obesity and metabolic disorders have well-recognized health and economic burdens. Pharmacologic treatments for these diseases remain unsatisfactory with respect to both efficacy and side-effect profiles. Here, we have identified a potential central role for T-type calcium channels in regulating body weight maintenance and sleep. Previously, it was shown that mice lacking CaV3.1 T-type calcium channels have altered sleep/wake activity. We found that these mice were also resistant to high-fat diet–induced weight gain, without changes in food intake or sensitivity to high-fat diet–induced disruptions of diurnal rhythm. Administration of a potent and selective antagonist of T-type calcium channels, TTA-A2, to normal-weight animals prior to the inactive phase acutely increased sleep, decreased body core temperature, and prevented high-fat diet–induced weight gain. Administration of TTA-A2 to obese rodents reduced body weight and fat mass while concurrently increasing lean muscle mass. These effects likely result from better alignment of diurnal feeding patterns with daily changes in circadian physiology and potentially an increased metabolic rate during the active phase. Together, these studies reveal what we believe to be a previously unknown role for T-type calcium channels in the regulation of sleep and weight maintenance and suggest the potential for a novel therapeutic approach to treating obesity.
IgA nephropathy (IgAN) is characterized by circulating immune complexes composed of galactose-deficient IgA1 and a glycan-specific IgG antibody. These immune complexes deposit in the glomerular mesangium and induce the mesangioproliferative glomerulonephritis characteristic of IgAN. To define the precise specificities and molecular properties of the IgG antibodies, we generated EBV-immortalized IgG-secreting lymphocytes from patients with IgAN and found that the secreted IgG formed complexes with galactose-deficient IgA1 in a glycan-dependent manner. We cloned and sequenced the heavy- and light-chain antigen-binding domains of IgG specific for galactose-deficient IgA1 and identified an A to S substitution in the complementarity-determining region 3 of the variable region of the gene encoding the IgG heavy chain in IgAN patients. Furthermore, site-directed mutagenesis that reverted the residue to alanine reduced the binding of recombinant IgG to galactose-deficient IgA1. Finally, we developed a dot-blot assay for the glycan-specific IgG antibody that differentiated patients with IgAN from healthy and disease controls with 88% specificity and 95% sensitivity and found that elevated levels of this antibody in the sera of patients with IgAN correlated with proteinuria. Collectively, these findings indicate that glycan-specific antibodies are associated with the development of IgAN and may represent a disease-specific marker and potential therapeutic target.
The branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) are essential amino acids required for protein homeostasis, energy balance, and nutrient signaling. In individuals with deficiencies in BCAA, these amino acids can be preserved through inhibition of the branched-chain-α-ketoacid dehydrogenase (BCKD) complex, the rate-limiting step in their metabolism. BCKD is inhibited by phosphorylation of its E1α subunit at Ser293, which is catalyzed by BCKD kinase. During BCAA excess, phosphorylated Ser293 (pSer293) becomes dephosphorylated through the concerted inhibition of BCKD kinase and the activity of an unknown intramitochondrial phosphatase. Using unbiased, proteomic approaches, we have found that a mitochondrial-targeted phosphatase, PP2Cm, specifically binds the BCKD complex and induces dephosphorylation of Ser293 in the presence of BCKD substrates. Loss of PP2Cm completely abolished substrate-induced E1α dephosphorylation both in vitro and in vivo. PP2Cm-deficient mice exhibited BCAA catabolic defects and a metabolic phenotype similar to the intermittent or intermediate types of human maple syrup urine disease (MSUD), a hereditary disorder caused by defects in BCKD activity. These results indicate that PP2Cm is the endogenous BCKD phosphatase required for nutrient-mediated regulation of BCKD activity and suggest that defects in PP2Cm may be responsible for a subset of human MSUD.
Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors are effective gene delivery vehicles mediating long-lasting transgene expression. Data from a clinical trial of AAV2-mediated hepatic transfer of the Factor IX gene (F9) into hemophilia B subjects suggests that CTL responses against AAV capsid can eliminate transduced hepatocytes and prevent long-term F9 expression. However, the capacity of hepatocytes to present AAV capsid–derived antigens has not been formally demonstrated, nor whether transduction by AAV sensitizes hepatocytes for CTL-mediated destruction. To investigate the fate of capsids after transduction, we engineered a soluble TCR for the detection of capsid-derived peptide:MHC I (pMHC) complexes. TCR multimers exhibited antigen and HLA specificity and possessed high binding affinity for cognate pMHC complexes. With this reagent, capsid pMHC complexes were detectable by confocal microscopy following AAV-mediated transduction of human hepatocytes. Although antigen presentation was modest, it was sufficient to flag transduced cells for CTL-mediated lysis in an in vitro killing assay. Destruction of hepatocytes was inhibited by soluble TCR, demonstrating a possible application for this reagent in blocking undesirable CTL responses. Together, these studies provide a mechanism for the loss of transgene expression and transient elevations in aminotransferases following AAV-mediated hepatic gene transfer in humans and a potential therapeutic intervention to abrogate these limitations imposed by the host T cell response.
Hypomorphic mutations in DNA ligase IV (LIG4) cause a human syndrome of immunodeficiency, radiosensitivity, and growth retardation due to defective DNA repair by the nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathway. Lig4-null mice are embryonic lethal, and better mouse models are needed to study human LigIV syndrome. We recently identified a viable mouse strain with a Y288C hypomorphic mutation in the Lig4 gene. Lig4Y288C mice exhibit a greater than 10-fold reduction of LigIV activity in vivo and recapitulate the immunodeficiency and growth retardation seen in human patients. Here, we have demonstrated that the Lig4Y288C mutation leads to multiple defects in lymphocyte development and function, including impaired V(D)J recombination, peripheral lymphocyte survival and proliferation, and B cell class switch recombination. We also highlight a high incidence of thymic tumors in the Lig4Y288C mice, suggesting that wild-type LigIV protects against malignant transformation. These findings provide explanations for the complex lymphoid phenotype of human LigIV syndrome.
Bim, the B cell lymphoma 2–interacting (Bcl2-interacting) mediator, maintains immunological tolerance by deleting autoreactive lymphocytes through apoptosis. We report here that Bim is also, paradoxically, required for the activation of autoreactive T cells. Deletion of Bim in hematopoietic cells rendered mice resistant to autoimmune encephalomyelitis and diabetes, and Bim-deficient T cells had diminished cytokine production. Upon T cell receptor activation, Bim-deficient T cells exhibited severe defects in both calcium release and dephosphorylation of nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) but maintained normal levels of activation of NF-κB and MAPKs. The defective calcium signaling in Bim-deficient T cells was associated with a significant increase in the formation of an inhibitory complex containing Bcl2 and the inositol triphosphate receptor (IP3R). Thus, in addition to mediating the death of autoreactive T cells, Bim also controlled T cell activation through the IP3R/calcium/NFAT pathway. These results indicate that a single protein is used to control both the activation and apoptosis of autoreactive T cells and may explain why Bim-deficient mice do not reject their own organs despite lacking thymic negative selection.
Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is characterized by the t(15;17) chromosomal translocation, which results in fusion of the retinoic acid receptor α (RARA) gene to another gene, most commonly promyelocytic leukemia (PML). The resulting fusion protein, PML-RARA, initiates APL, which is a subtype (M3) of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In this report, we identify a gene expression signature that is specific to M3 samples; it was not found in other AML subtypes and did not simply represent the normal gene expression pattern of primary promyelocytes. To validate this signature for a large number of genes, we tested a recently developed high throughput digital technology (NanoString nCounter). Nearly all of the genes tested demonstrated highly significant concordance with our microarray data (P < 0.05). The validated gene signature reliably identified M3 samples in 2 other AML datasets, and the validated genes were substantially enriched in our mouse model of APL, but not in a cell line that inducibly expressed PML-RARA. These results demonstrate that nCounter is a highly reproducible, customizable system for mRNA quantification using limited amounts of clinical material, which provides a valuable tool for biomarker measurement in low-abundance patient samples.
Somatic genetic alterations in cancers have been linked with response to targeted therapeutics by creation of specific dependency on activated oncogenic signaling pathways. However, no tools currently exist to systematically connect such genetic lesions to therapeutic vulnerability. We have therefore developed a genomics approach to identify lesions associated with therapeutically relevant oncogene dependency. Using integrated genomic profiling, we have demonstrated that the genomes of a large panel of human non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines are highly representative of those of primary NSCLC tumors. Using cell-based compound screening coupled with diverse computational approaches to integrate orthogonal genomic and biochemical data sets, we identified molecular and genomic predictors of therapeutic response to clinically relevant compounds. Using this approach, we showed that v-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) mutations confer enhanced Hsp90 dependency and validated this finding in mice with KRAS-driven lung adenocarcinoma, as these mice exhibited dramatic tumor regression when treated with an Hsp90 inhibitor. In addition, we found that cells with copy number enhancement of v-abl Abelson murine leukemia viral oncogene homolog 2 (ABL2) and ephrin receptor kinase and v-src sarcoma (Schmidt-Ruppin A-2) viral oncogene homolog (avian) (SRC) kinase family genes were exquisitely sensitive to treatment with the SRC/ABL inhibitor dasatinib, both in vitro and when it xenografted into mice. Thus, genomically annotated cell-line collections may help translate cancer genomics information into clinical practice by defining critical pathway dependencies amenable to therapeutic inhibition.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation