Illustration of a dendritic cell, the main antigen-presenting cell of the immune system. In the current issue, two studies show that integrins on DCs are essential for triggering the differentiation of Th17 cells, key regulators of inflammatory and autoimmune disease (page 4436 and page 4445). In fact, in animals in which αv integrins on DCs were absent, Th17 cells could not be generated, and the mice were protected from developing EAE.
Malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum remains a major public health threat, especially among children and pregnant women in Africa. An effective malaria vaccine would be a valuable tool to reduce the disease burden and could contribute to elimination of malaria in some regions of the world. Current malaria vaccine candidates are directed against human and mosquito stages of the parasite life cycle, but thus far, relatively few proteins have been studied for potential vaccine development. The most advanced vaccine candidate, RTS,S, conferred partial protection against malaria in phase II clinical trials and is currently being evaluated in a phase III trial in Africa. New vaccine targets need to be identified to improve the chances of developing a highly effective malaria vaccine. A better understanding of the mechanisms of naturally acquired immunity to malaria may lead to insights for vaccine development.
The retinoblastoma tumor suppressor gene (RB1; encoding RB) is often cited as a gatekeeper, whose inactivation — direct or indirect — is a rate-limiting step for tumor initiation. However, in this issue of the JCI, Sharma et al. show that RB1 loss is a late event in human prostate cancer that is coincident with the emergence of castrate-resistant metastatic disease. This role for RB1 was linked to both E2F transcription factor 1–driven upregulation of the androgen receptor (AR) and increased recruitment of the AR to target gene promoters. This unexpected function for RB1 in late-stage cancer calls upon us to reassess the significance of RB1 inactivation in other cancers in terms of its timing, function in disease etiology, and relevance for cancer therapy.
Nosocomial infections (i.e., infections acquired as a result of treatment in a hospital or health care unit) result in approximately 100,000 deaths and cost more than 25 billion dollars per year in the US alone. These infections are caused primarily by bacteria and affect mainly immunosuppressed patients. However, not all patients acquire infections, and the events leading up to infection are unclear. In this issue of the JCI, Ubeda et al. report how acquisition of one such infection, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE), is linked to a shift in the microbial flora following antibiotic treatment. This study highlights the potential for high-throughput sequencing of intestinal microbiota as a means to identify high-risk populations.
A lineage of CD4+ T cells known as Th17 cells, which are derived by exposure of naive CD4+ T cells to IL-6 and TGF-β, have been implicated in several autoimmune diseases. In this issue of the JCI, studies by Acharya et al. and Melton et al. show that TGF-β is activated at the DC/CD4+ T cell synapse by αv integrins and that this activation is required for Th17 differentiation and autoimmunity in the central nervous system. Thus, these studies offer a potential therapeutic target in fighting autoimmune diseases.
Iron overload as a result of blood transfusions and excessive intestinal iron absorption can be a complication of chronic anemias such as β-thalassemia. Inappropriately low levels of hepcidin, a negative regulator of iron absorption and recycling, underlie the pathophysiology of the intestinal hyperabsorption. In this issue of the JCI, Gardenghi et al. demonstrate that increasing hepcidin expression to induce iron deficiency in murine β-thalassemia not only mitigates the iron overload, but also the severity of the anemia. These data illustrate the therapeutic potential of modulating hepcidin expression in diseases associated with altered iron metabolism.
Deleterious immune responses that cause autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes are normally kept in check by a myriad of mechanisms. Among these, protection mediated by CD4+Foxp3+ Tregs constitutes an essential pathway. Much work over the past decade aimed to understand how Tregs affect immune responses triggered by effector T cells (Teffs), but less is known about how Teffs affect Tregs. In this issue of the JCI, Grinberg-Bleyer et al. report the clearest example thus far regarding this important aspect of Treg biology. They find that in mice, sustained protection from diabetes by Tregs is dependent on Teffs and partially dependent on TNF-α, a cytokine traditionally considered proinflammatory.
The magnitude and durability of immunity to human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) following natural infection is compromised by the presence of immune modulation genes that appear to promote evasion of host clearance mechanisms. Since immunity to HCMV offers limited protection, rational design of effective vaccines has been challenging. In this issue of the JCI, Slavuljica and colleagues employ techniques to genetically modify the highly related mouse CMV (MCMV), in the process generating a virus that was rapidly cleared by NK cells. The virus functioned as a safe and highly effective vaccine. Demonstration of the ability to engineer a safe and highly effective live virus vaccine in a relevant rodent model of CMV infection may open the door to clinical trials of safer and more immunogenic HCMV vaccines.
In situations of stress the heart beats faster and stronger. According to Marks and colleagues, this response is, to a large extent, the consequence of facilitated Ca2+ release from intracellular Ca2+ stores via ryanodine receptor 2 (RyR2), thought to be due to catecholamine-induced increases in RyR2 phosphorylation at serine 2808 (S2808). If catecholamine stimulation is sustained (for example, as occurs in heart failure), RyR2 becomes hyperphosphorylated and “leaky,” leading to arrhythmias and other pathology. This “leaky RyR2 hypothesis” is highly controversial. In this issue of the JCI, Marks and colleagues report on two new mouse lines with mutations in S2808 that provide strong evidence supporting their theory. Moreover, the experiments revealed an influence of redox modifications of RyR2 that may account for some discrepancies in the field.
During the differentiation of an erythrocyte, the developing erythroblast shuts down expression of most of its genes but preserves high levels of expression of certain key genes, such as those encoding hemoglobin and critical membrane proteins. In this issue of the JCI, Gallagher et al. show that a specialized type of DNA sequence element known as an insulator protects the expression of ankyrin, a key membrane protein. In several kindreds, mutations in the insulator led to impaired ankyrin expression and congenital hemolytic anemia. This work provides important insights into ways in which epigenetic changes can alter gene expression and thereby lead to human disease.
Amputation as a result of impaired wound healing is a serious complication of diabetes. Inadequate angiogenesis contributes to poor wound healing in diabetic patients. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) normally augment angiogenesis and wound repair but are functionally impaired in diabetics. Here we report that decreased expression of manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) in EPCs contributes to impaired would healing in a mouse model of type 2 diabetes. A decreased frequency of circulating EPCs was detected in type 2 diabetic (db/db) mice, and when isolated, these cells exhibited decreased expression and activity of MnSOD. Wound healing and angiogenesis were markedly delayed in diabetic mice compared with normal controls. For cell therapy, topical transplantation of EPCs onto excisional wounds in diabetic mice demonstrated that diabetic EPCs were less effective than normal EPCs at accelerating wound closure. Transplantation of diabetic EPCs after MnSOD gene therapy restored their ability to mediate angiogenesis and wound repair. Conversely, siRNA-mediated knockdown of MnSOD in normal EPCs reduced their activity in diabetic wound healing assays. Increasing the number of transplanted diabetic EPCs also improved the rate of wound closure. Our findings demonstrate that cell therapy using diabetic EPCs after ex vivo MnSOD gene transfer accelerates their ability to heal wounds in a mouse model of type 2 diabetes.
Selenium, a trace element that is fundamental to human health, is incorporated into some proteins as selenocysteine (Sec), generating a family of selenoproteins. Sec incorporation is mediated by a multiprotein complex that includes Sec insertion sequence–binding protein 2 (SECISBP2; also known as SBP2). Here, we describe subjects with compound heterozygous defects in the SECISBP2 gene. These individuals have reduced synthesis of most of the 25 known human selenoproteins, resulting in a complex phenotype. Azoospermia, with failure of the latter stages of spermatogenesis, was associated with a lack of testis-enriched selenoproteins. An axial muscular dystrophy was also present, with features similar to myopathies caused by mutations in selenoprotein N (SEPN1). Cutaneous deficiencies of antioxidant selenoenzymes, increased cellular ROS, and susceptibility to ultraviolet radiation–induced oxidative damage may mediate the observed photosensitivity. Reduced levels of selenoproteins in peripheral blood cells were associated with impaired T lymphocyte proliferation, abnormal mononuclear cell cytokine secretion, and telomere shortening. Paradoxically, raised ROS in affected subjects was associated with enhanced systemic and cellular insulin sensitivity, similar to findings in mice lacking the antioxidant selenoenzyme glutathione peroxidase 1 (GPx1). Thus, mutation of SECISBP2 is associated with a multisystem disorder with defective biosynthesis of many selenoproteins, highlighting their role in diverse biological processes.
Hereditary deficiency of the protein α-1 antitrypsin (AAT) causes a chronic lung disease in humans that is characterized by excessive mobilization of neutrophils into the lung. However, the reason for the increased neutrophil burden has not been fully elucidated. In this study we have demonstrated using human neutrophils that serum AAT coordinates both CXCR1- and soluble immune complex (sIC) receptor–mediated chemotaxis by divergent pathways. We demonstrated that glycosylated AAT can bind to IL-8 (a ligand for CXCR1) and that AAT–IL-8 complex formation prevented IL-8 interaction with CXCR1. Second, AAT modulated neutrophil chemotaxis in response to sIC by controlling membrane expression of the glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored (GPI-anchored) Fc receptor FcγRIIIb. This process was mediated through inhibition of ADAM-17 enzymatic activity. Neutrophils isolated from clinically stable AAT-deficient patients were characterized by low membrane expression of FcγRIIIb and increased chemotaxis in response to IL-8 and sIC. Treatment of AAT-deficient individuals with AAT augmentation therapy resulted in increased AAT binding to IL-8, increased AAT binding to the neutrophil membrane, decreased FcγRIIIb release from the neutrophil membrane, and normalization of chemotaxis. These results provide new insight into the mechanism underlying the effect of AAT augmentation therapy in the pulmonary disease associated with AAT deficiency.
CXCL13 is a key B cell chemoattractant and marker of disease activity in patients with SLE; however, the mechanism of its induction has not been identified yet. Here, we have shown that the proteoglycan biglycan triggers CXCL13 expression via TLR2/4 in macrophages and dendritic cells. In vivo, levels of biglycan were markedly elevated in the plasma and kidneys of human SLE patients and lupus-prone (MRL/lpr) mice. Overexpression of soluble biglycan in MRL/lpr mice raised plasma and renal levels of CXCL13 and caused accumulation of B cells with an enhanced B1/B cell ratio in the kidney, worsening of organ damage, and albuminuria. Importantly, biglycan also triggered CXCL13 expression and B cell infiltration in the healthy kidney. Conversely, biglycan deficiency improved systemic and renal outcome in lupus-prone mice, with lower levels of autoantibodies, less enlargement of the spleen and lymph nodes, and reduction in renal damage and albuminuria. This correlated with a marked decline in circulating and renal CXCL13 and a reduction in the number of B cells in the kidney. Collectively, our results describe what we believe to be a novel mechanism for the regulation of CXCL13 by biglycan, a host-derived ligand for TLR2/4. Blocking biglycan-TLR2/4 interactions might be a promising strategy for the management of SLE and other B cell–mediated inflammatory disease entities.
The development of effective cancer immunotherapies has been consistently hampered by several factors, including an inability to instigate long-term effective functional antitumor immunity. This is particularly true for immunotherapies that focus on the adoptive transfer of activated or genetically modified mature CD8+ T cells. In this study, we sought to alter and enhance long-term host immunity by genetically modifying, then transplanting, mouse HSCs. We first cloned a previously identified tumor-reactive HLA-DR4–restricted CD4+ TCR specific for the melanocyte differentiation antigen tyrosinase-related protein 1 (Tyrp1), then constructed both a high-expression lentivirus vector and a TCR-transgenic mouse expressing the genes encoding this TCR. Using these tools, we demonstrated that both mouse and human HSCs established durable, high-efficiency TCR gene transfer following long-term transplantation into lethally irradiated mice transgenic for HLA-DR4. Recipients of genetically modified mouse HSCs developed spontaneous autoimmune vitiligo that was associated with the presence of a Th1-polarized memory effector CD4+ T cell population that expressed the Tyrp1-specific TCR. Most importantly, large numbers of CD4+ T cells expressing the Tyrp1-specific TCR were detected in secondary HLA-DR4–transgenic transplant recipients, and these mice were able to destroy subcutaneously administered melanoma cells without the aid of vaccination, immune modulation, or cytokine administration. These results demonstrate the creation of what we believe to be a novel translational model of durable lentiviral gene transfer that results in long-term effective immunity.
The Pit-1 transcription factor (also know as POU1F1) plays a critical role in cell differentiation during organogenesis of the anterior pituitary in mammals and is a transcriptional activator for pituitary gene transcription. Increased expression of Pit-1 has been reported in human tumorigenic breast cells. Here, we found that Pit-1 overexpression or knockdown in human breast cancer cell lines induced profound phenotypic changes in the expression of proteins involved in cell proliferation, apoptosis, and invasion. Some of these protumorigenic effects of Pit-1 were mediated by upregulation of Snai1, an inductor of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition. In immunodeficient mice, Pit-1 overexpression induced tumoral growth and promoted metastasis in lung. In patients with invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast and node-positive tumor, high expression of Pit-1 was significantly correlated with Snai1 positivity. Notably, in these patients elevated expression of Pit-1 was significantly and independently associated with the occurrence of distant metastasis. These findings suggest that Pit-1 could help to make a more accurate prognosis in patients with node-positive breast cancer and may represent a new therapeutic target.
HSCs maintain the circulating blood cell population. Defects in the orderly pattern of hematopoietic cell division and differentiation can lead to leukemia, myeloproliferative disorders, or marrow failure; however, the factors that control this pattern are incompletely understood. Geminin is an unstable regulatory protein that regulates the extent of DNA replication and is thought to coordinate cell division with cell differentiation. Here, we set out to determine the function of Geminin in hematopoiesis by deleting the Geminin gene (Gmnn) from mouse bone marrow cells. This severely perturbed the pattern of blood cell production in all 3 hematopoietic lineages (erythrocyte, megakaryocyte, and leukocyte). Red cell production was virtually abolished, while megakaryocyte production was greatly enhanced. Leukocyte production transiently decreased and then recovered. Stem and progenitor cell numbers were preserved, and Gmnn–/– HSCs successfully reconstituted hematopoiesis in irradiated mice. CD34+Gmnn–/– leukocyte precursors displayed DNA overreplication and formed extremely small granulocyte and monocyte colonies in methylcellulose. While cultured Gmnn–/– megakaryocyte-erythrocyte precursors did not form erythroid colonies, they did form greater than normal numbers of megakaryocyte colonies. Gmnn–/– megakaryocytes and erythroblasts had normal DNA content. These data led us to postulate that Geminin regulates the relative production of erythrocytes and megakaryocytes from megakaryocyte-erythrocyte precursors by a replication-independent mechanism.
Obesity and type 2 diabetes are associated with increased lipogenesis in the liver. This results in fat accumulation in hepatocytes, a condition known as hepatic steatosis, which is a form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the most common cause of liver dysfunction in the United States. Carbohydrate-responsive element–binding protein (ChREBP), a transcriptional activator of glycolytic and lipogenic genes, has emerged as a major player in the development of hepatic steatosis in mice. However, the molecular mechanisms enhancing its transcriptional activity remain largely unknown. In this study, we have identified the histone acetyltransferase (HAT) coactivator p300 and serine/threonine kinase salt-inducible kinase 2 (SIK2) as key upstream regulators of ChREBP activity. In cultured mouse hepatocytes, we showed that glucose-activated p300 acetylated ChREBP on Lys672 and increased its transcriptional activity by enhancing its recruitment to its target gene promoters. SIK2 inhibited p300 HAT activity by direct phosphorylation on Ser89, which in turn decreased ChREBP-mediated lipogenesis in hepatocytes and mice overexpressing SIK2. Moreover, both liver-specific SIK2 knockdown and p300 overexpression resulted in hepatic steatosis, insulin resistance, and inflammation, phenotypes reversed by SIK2/p300 co-overexpression. Finally, in mouse models of type 2 diabetes and obesity, low SIK2 activity was associated with increased p300 HAT activity, ChREBP hyperacetylation, and hepatic steatosis. Our findings suggest that inhibition of hepatic p300 activity may be beneficial for treating hepatic steatosis in obesity and type 2 diabetes and identify SIK2 activators and specific p300 inhibitors as potential targets for pharmaceutical intervention.
Bloodstream infection by highly antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), is a growing clinical problem that increasingly defies medical intervention. Identifying patients at high risk for bacterial sepsis remains an important clinical challenge. Recent studies have shown that antibiotics can alter microbial diversity in the intestine. Here, we characterized these effects using 16s rDNA pyrosequencing and demonstrated that antibiotic treatment of mice enabled exogenously administered VRE to efficiently and nearly completely displace the normal microbiota of the small and large intestine. In the clinical setting, we found that intestinal domination by VRE preceded bloodstream infection in patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Our results demonstrate that antibiotics perturb the normal commensal microbiota and set the stage for intestinal domination by bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections. Thus, high-throughput DNA sequencing of the intestinal microbiota could identify patients at high risk of developing bacterial sepsis.
The circulating, adipocyte-secreted hormone adiponectin (APN) exerts protective effects on the heart under stress conditions. The receptors binding APN to cardiac tissue, however, have remained elusive. Here, we report that the glycosyl phosphatidylinositol–anchored cell surface glycoprotein T-cadherin (encoded by Cdh13) protects against cardiac stress through its association with APN in mice. We observed extensive colocalization of T-cadherin and APN on cardiomyocytes in vivo. In T-cadherin–deficient mice, APN failed to associate with cardiac tissue, and its levels dramatically increased in the circulation. Pressure overload stress resulted in exacerbated cardiac hypertrophy in T-cadherin–null mice and paralleled corresponding defects in mice lacking APN. During ischemia-reperfusion injury, the absence of T-cadherin increased infarct size similar to that in APN-null mice. Myocardial AMPK is a major downstream protective signaling target of APN. In both cardiac hypertrophy and ischemia-reperfusion models, T-cadherin was necessary for APN-dependent AMPK phosphorylation. In APN-null mice, recombinant adenovirus-expressed APN reduced exaggerated hypertrophy and infarct size and restored AMPK phosphorylation as previously reported. In contrast, rescue was ineffective in mice lacking T-cadherin in addition to APN. These data suggest that T-cadherin protects from stress-induced pathological cardiac remodeling by binding APN and activating its cardioprotective functions.
Noonan syndrome (NS) is an autosomal dominant genetic disorder characterized by short stature, unique facial features, and congenital heart disease. About 10%–15% of individuals with NS have mutations in son of sevenless 1 (SOS1), which encodes a RAS and RAC guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF). To understand the role of SOS1 in the pathogenesis of NS, we generated mice with the NS-associated Sos1E846K gain-of-function mutation. Both heterozygous and homozygous mutant mice showed many NS-associated phenotypes, including growth delay, distinctive facial dysmorphia, hematologic abnormalities, and cardiac defects. We found that the Ras/MAPK pathway as well as Rac and Stat3 were activated in the mutant hearts. These data provide in vivo molecular and cellular evidence that Sos1 is a GEF for Rac under physiological conditions and suggest that Rac and Stat3 activation might contribute to NS phenotypes. Furthermore, prenatal administration of a MEK inhibitor ameliorated the embryonic lethality, cardiac defects, and NS features of the homozygous mutant mice, demonstrating that this signaling pathway might represent a promising therapeutic target for NS.
Mutations in the dysferlin gene underlie a group of autosomal recessive muscle-wasting disorders denoted as dysferlinopathies. Dysferlin has been shown to play roles in muscle membrane repair and muscle regeneration, both of which require vesicle-membrane fusion. However, the mechanism by which muscle becomes dystrophic in these disorders remains poorly understood. Although muscle inflammation is widely recognized in dysferlinopathy and dysferlin is expressed in immune cells, the contribution of the immune system to the pathology of dysferlinopathy remains to be fully explored. Here, we show that the complement system plays an important role in muscle pathology in dysferlinopathy. Dysferlin deficiency led to increased expression of complement factors in muscle, while muscle-specific transgenic expression of dysferlin normalized the expression of complement factors and eliminated the dystrophic phenotype present in dysferlin-null mice. Furthermore, genetic disruption of the central component (C3) of the complement system ameliorated muscle pathology in dysferlin-deficient mice but had no significant beneficial effect in a genetically distinct model of muscular dystrophy, mdx mice. These results demonstrate that complement-mediated muscle injury is central to the pathogenesis of dysferlinopathy and suggest that targeting the complement system might serve as a therapeutic approach for this disease.
Increased sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ leak via the cardiac ryanodine receptor/calcium release channel (RyR2) is thought to play a role in heart failure (HF) progression. Inhibition of this leak is an emerging therapeutic strategy. To explore the role of chronic PKA phosphorylation of RyR2 in HF pathogenesis and treatment, we generated a knockin mouse with aspartic acid replacing serine 2808 (mice are referred to herein as RyR2-S2808D+/+ mice). This mutation mimics constitutive PKA hyperphosphorylation of RyR2, which causes depletion of the stabilizing subunit FKBP12.6 (also known as calstabin2), resulting in leaky RyR2. RyR2-S2808D+/+ mice developed age-dependent cardiomyopathy, elevated RyR2 oxidation and nitrosylation, reduced SR Ca2+ store content, and increased diastolic SR Ca2+ leak. After myocardial infarction, RyR2-S2808D+/+ mice exhibited increased mortality compared with WT littermates. Treatment with S107, a 1,4-benzothiazepine derivative that stabilizes RyR2-calstabin2 interactions, inhibited the RyR2-mediated diastolic SR Ca2+ leak and reduced HF progression in WT and RyR2-S2808D+/+ mice. In contrast, β-adrenergic receptor blockers improved cardiac function in WT but not in RyR2-S2808D+/+ mice.Thus, chronic PKA hyperphosphorylation of RyR2 results in a diastolic leak that causes cardiac dysfunction. Reversing PKA hyperphosphorylation of RyR2 is an important mechanism underlying the therapeutic action of β-blocker therapy in HF.
During the classic “fight-or-flight” stress response, sympathetic nervous system activation leads to catecholamine release, which increases heart rate and contractility, resulting in enhanced cardiac output. Catecholamines bind to β-adrenergic receptors, causing cAMP generation and activation of PKA, which phosphorylates multiple targets in cardiac muscle, including the cardiac ryanodine receptor/calcium release channel (RyR2) required for muscle contraction. PKA phosphorylation of RyR2 enhances channel activity by sensitizing the channel to cytosolic calcium (Ca2+). Here, we found that mice harboring RyR2 channels that cannot be PKA phosphorylated (referred to herein as RyR2-S2808A+/+ mice) exhibited blunted heart rate and cardiac contractile responses to catecholamines (isoproterenol). The isoproterenol-induced enhancement of ventricular myocyte Ca2+ transients and fractional shortening (contraction) and the spontaneous beating rate of sinoatrial nodal cells were all blunted in RyR2-S2808A+/+ mice. The blunted cardiac response to catecholamines in RyR2-S2808A+/+ mice resulted in impaired exercise capacity. RyR2-S2808A+/+ mice were protected against chronic catecholaminergic-induced cardiac dysfunction. These studies identify what we believe to be new roles for PKA phosphorylation of RyR2 in both the heart rate and contractile responses to acute catecholaminergic stimulation.
Cholera toxin (CT) causes the massive secretory diarrhea associated with epidemic cholera. To induce disease, CT enters the cytosol of host cells by co-opting a lipid-based sorting pathway from the plasma membrane, through the trans-Golgi network (TGN), and into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). In the ER, a portion of the toxin is unfolded and retro-translocated to the cytosol. Here, we established zebrafish as a genetic model of intoxication and examined the Derlin and flotillin proteins, which are thought to be usurped by CT for retro-translocation and lipid sorting, respectively. Using antisense morpholino oligomers and siRNA, we found that depletion of Derlin-1, a component of the Hrd-1 retro-translocation complex, was dispensable for CT-induced toxicity. In contrast, the lipid raft–associated proteins flotillin-1 and -2 were required. We found that in mammalian cells, CT intoxication was dependent on the flotillins for trafficking between plasma membrane/endosomes and two pathways into the ER, only one of which appears to intersect the TGN. These results revise current models for CT intoxication and implicate protein scaffolding of lipid rafts in the endosomal sorting of the toxin-GM1 complex.
Recent genome-wide association studies have identified a genetic locus at human chromosome 8q24 as having minor alleles associated with lower levels of plasma triglyceride (TG) and LDL cholesterol (LDL-C), higher levels of HDL-C, as well as decreased risk for myocardial infarction. This locus contains only one annotated gene, tribbles homolog 1 (TRIB1), which has not previously been implicated in lipoprotein metabolism. Here we demonstrate a role for Trib1 as a regulator of lipoprotein metabolism in mice. Hepatic-specific overexpression of Trib1 reduced levels of plasma TG and cholesterol by reducing VLDL production; conversely, Trib1-knockout mice showed elevated levels of plasma TG and cholesterol due to increased VLDL production. Hepatic Trib1 expression was inversely associated with the expression of key lipogenic genes and measures of lipogenesis. Thus, we provide functional evidence for what we believe to be a novel gene regulating hepatic lipogenesis and VLDL production in mice that influences plasma lipids and risk for myocardial infarction in humans.
We have previously shown that mouse atherosclerosis regression involves monocyte-derived (CD68+) cell emigration from plaques and is dependent on the chemokine receptor CCR7. Concurrent with regression, mRNA levels of the gene encoding LXRα are increased in plaque CD68+ cells, suggestive of a functional relationship between LXR and CCR7. To extend these results, atherosclerotic Apoe–/– mice sufficient or deficient in CCR7 were treated with an LXR agonist, resulting in a CCR7-dependent decrease in plaque CD68+ cells. To test the requirement for LXR for CCR7-dependent regression, we transplanted aortic arches from atherosclerotic Apoe–/– mice, or from Apoe–/– mice with BM deficiency of LXRα or LXRβ, into WT recipients. Plaques from both LXRα- and LXRβ-deficient Apoe–/– mice exhibited impaired regression. In addition, the CD68+ cells displayed reduced emigration and CCR7 expression. Using an immature DC line, we found that LXR agonist treatment increased Ccr7 mRNA levels. This increase was blunted when LXRα and LXRβ levels were reduced by siRNAs. Moreover, LXR agonist treatment of primary human immature DCs resulted in functionally significant upregulation of CCR7. We conclude that LXR is required for maximal effects on plaque CD68+ cell expression of CCR7 and monocyte-derived cell egress during atherosclerosis regression in mice.
In individuals with type 1 diabetes, hypoglycemia is a common consequence of overinsulinization. Under conditions of insulin-induced hypoglycemia, glucagon is the most important stimulus for hepatic glucose production. In contrast, during euglycemia, insulin potently inhibits glucagon’s effect on the liver. The first aim of the present study was to determine whether low blood sugar augments glucagon’s ability to increase glucose production. Using a conscious catheterized dog model, we found that hypoglycemia increased glucagon’s ability to overcome the inhibitory effect of insulin on hepatic glucose production by almost 3-fold, an effect exclusively attributable to marked enhancement of the effect of glucagon on net glycogen breakdown. To investigate the molecular mechanism by which this effect comes about, we analyzed hepatic biopsies from the same animals, and found that hypoglycemia resulted in a decrease in insulin signaling. Furthermore, hypoglycemia and glucagon had an additive effect on the activation of AMPK, which was associated with altered activity of the enzymes of glycogen metabolism.
Th17 cells promote a variety of autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease. TGF-β is required for conversion of naive T cells to Th17 cells, but the mechanisms regulating this process are unknown. Integrin αvβ8 on DCs can activate TGF-β, and this process contributes to the development of induced Tregs. Here, we have now shown that integrin αvβ8 expression on DCs plays a critical role in the differentiation of Th17 cells. Th17 cells were nearly absent in the colons of mice lacking αvβ8 expression on DCs. In addition, these mice and the DCs harvested from them had an impaired ability to convert naive T cells into Th17 cells in vivo and in vitro, respectively. Importantly, mice lacking αvβ8 on DCs showed near-complete protection from experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Our results therefore suggest that the integrin αvβ8 pathway is biologically important and that αvβ8 expression on DCs could be a therapeutic target for the treatment of Th17-driven autoimmune disease.
Th17 cells are a distinct lineage of T helper cells that protect the body from bacterial and fungal infection. However, Th17 cells also contribute to inflammatory and autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis. Th17 cell generation requires exposure of naive T cells to the cytokine TGF-β in combination with proinflammatory cytokines. Here we show that differentiation of Th17 cells is also critically dependent on αv integrins. In mice, lack of integrin αv in the immune system resulted in loss of Th17 cells in the intestine and lymphoid tissues. It also led to protection from experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Further analysis indicated that αv integrins on DCs activated latent TGF-β during T cell stimulation and thereby promoted differentiation of Th17 cells. Furthermore, pharmacologic inhibition of αv integrins using cyclic RGD peptides blocked TGF-β activation and Th17 cell generation in vitro and protected mice from EAE. These data demonstrate that activation of TGF-β by αv-expressing myeloid cells may be a critical step in the generation of Th17 cells and suggest that αv integrins could be therapeutic targets in autoimmune disease.
Defects of the ankyrin-1 gene are the most common cause in humans of hereditary spherocytosis, an inherited anemia that affects patients of all ethnic groups. In some kindreds, linked –108/–153 nucleotide substitutions have been found in the upstream region of the ankyrin gene promoter that is active in erythroid cells. In vivo, the ankyrin erythroid promoter and its upstream region direct position-independent, uniform expression, a property of barrier insulators. Using human erythroid cell lines and primary cells and transgenic mice, here we have demonstrated that a region upstream of the erythroid promoter is a barrier insulator in vivo in erythroid cells. The region exhibited both functional and structural characteristics of a barrier, including prevention of gene silencing in an in vivo functional assay, appropriate chromatin configuration, and occupancy by barrier-associated proteins. Fragments with the –108/–153 spherocytosis-associated mutations failed to function as barrier insulators in vivo and demonstrated perturbations in barrier-associated chromatin configuration. In transgenic mice, flanking a mutant –108/–153 ankyrin gene promoter with the well-characterized chicken HS4 barrier insulator restored position-independent, uniform expression at levels comparable to wild-type. These data indicate that an upstream region of the ankyrin-1 erythroid promoter acts as a barrier insulator and identify disruption of the barrier element as a potential pathogenetic mechanism of human disease.
Excessive iron absorption is one of the main features of β-thalassemia and can lead to severe morbidity and mortality. Serial analyses of β-thalassemic mice indicate that while hemoglobin levels decrease over time, the concentration of iron in the liver, spleen, and kidneys markedly increases. Iron overload is associated with low levels of hepcidin, a peptide that regulates iron metabolism by triggering degradation of ferroportin, an iron-transport protein localized on absorptive enterocytes as well as hepatocytes and macrophages. Patients with β-thalassemia also have low hepcidin levels. These observations led us to hypothesize that more iron is absorbed in β-thalassemia than is required for erythropoiesis and that increasing the concentration of hepcidin in the body of such patients might be therapeutic, limiting iron overload. Here we demonstrate that a moderate increase in expression of hepcidin in β-thalassemic mice limits iron overload, decreases formation of insoluble membrane-bound globins and reactive oxygen species, and improves anemia. Mice with increased hepcidin expression also demonstrated an increase in the lifespan of their red cells, reversal of ineffective erythropoiesis and splenomegaly, and an increase in total hemoglobin levels. These data led us to suggest that therapeutics that could increase hepcidin levels or act as hepcidin agonists might help treat the abnormal iron absorption in individuals with β-thalassemia and related disorders.
Retinoblastoma (RB; encoded by RB1) is a tumor suppressor that is frequently disrupted in tumorigenesis and acts in multiple cell types to suppress cell cycle progression. The role of RB in tumor progression, however, is poorly defined. Here, we have identified a critical role for RB in protecting against tumor progression through regulation of targets distinct from cell cycle control. In analyses of human prostate cancer samples, RB loss was infrequently observed in primary disease and was predominantly associated with transition to the incurable, castration-resistant state. Further analyses revealed that loss of the RB1 locus may be a major mechanism of RB disruption and that loss of RB function was associated with poor clinical outcome. Modeling of RB dysfunction in vitro and in vivo revealed that RB controlled nuclear receptor networks critical for tumor progression and that it did so via E2F transcription factor 1–mediated regulation of androgen receptor (AR) expression and output. Through this pathway, RB depletion induced unchecked AR activity that underpinned therapeutic bypass and tumor progression. In agreement with these findings, disruption of the RB/E2F/nuclear receptor axis was frequently observed in the transition to therapy resistance in human disease. Together, these data reveal what we believe to be a new paradigm for RB function in controlling prostate tumor progression and lethal tumor phenotypes.
The human E3 ubiquitin ligase murine double minute 2 (MDM2) targets the tumor suppressor p53 for ubiquitination and degradation but also promotes its own ubiquitination and subsequent degradation. As the balance between MDM2 and p53 levels plays a crucial role in regulating cell proliferation and apoptosis, we sought to identify factors selectively inhibiting MDM2 self-ubiquitination. Here we have shown that the LIM domain protein Enigma directly interacts with MDM2 to form a ternary complex with p53 in vitro and in human hepatoma and colon carcinoma cell lines and mouse embryonic fibroblasts. We found that Enigma elicited p53 degradation by inhibiting MDM2 self-ubiquitination and increasing its ubiquitin ligase activity toward p53 in cells. Moreover, mitogenic stimuli such as serum, FGF, and HGF increased Enigma transcription via induction of serum response factor (SRF), leading to MDM2 stabilization and subsequent p53 degradation. We observed similar results in the livers of mice treated with HGF. In humans, we found SRF and Enigma coexpressed with MDM2 but not p53 in several liver and stomach tumors. Finally, we showed that Enigma promoted cell survival and chemoresistance by suppressing p53-mediated apoptosis in both cell lines and a mouse xenograft model. Our findings suggest a role for Enigma in tumorigenesis and uncover a mechanism whereby mitogens attenuate p53 antiproliferative activity through an SRF/Enigma/MDM2 pathway.
Acute anemic stress induces a systemic response designed to increase oxygen delivery to hypoxic tissues. Increased erythropoiesis is a key component of this response. Recovery from acute anemia relies on stress erythropoiesis, which is distinct from steady-state erythropoiesis. In this study we found that the bone morphogenetic protein 4–dependent (BMP4-dependent) stress erythropoiesis pathway was required and specific for erythroid short-term radioprotection following bone marrow transplantation. BMP4 signaling promoted the development of three populations of stress erythroid progenitors, which expanded in the spleen subsequent to bone marrow transplantation in mice. These progenitors did not correspond to previously identified bone marrow steady-state progenitors. The most immature population of stress progenitors was capable of self renewal while maintaining erythropoiesis without contribution to other lineages when serially transplanted into irradiated secondary and tertiary recipients. These data suggest that during the immediate post-transplant period, the microenvironment of the spleen is altered, which allows donor bone marrow cells to adopt a stress erythropoietic fate and promotes the rapid expansion and differentiation of stress erythroid progenitors. Our results also suggest that stress erythropoiesis may be manipulated through targeting the BMP4 signaling pathway to improve survival after injury.
Outcomes in transplantation have been limited by suboptimal long-term graft survival and toxicities associated with current immunosuppressive approaches. T cell costimulation blockade has shown promise as an alternative strategy to avoid the side effects of conventional immunosuppressive therapies, but targeting CD28-mediated costimulation alone has proven insufficient to prevent graft rejection in primates. Donor-specific memory T (TM) cells have been implicated in costimulation blockade–resistant transplant rejection, due to their enhanced effector function and decreased reliance on costimulatory signaling. Thus, we have tested a potential strategy to overcome TM cell–driven rejection by targeting molecules preferentially expressed on these cells, such as the adhesion molecule lymphocyte function–associated antigen 1 (LFA-1). Here, we show that short-term treatment (i.e., induction therapy) with the LFA-1–specific antibody TS-1/22 in combination with either basiliximab (an IL-2Rα–specific mAb) and sirolimus (a mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor) or belatacept (a high-affinity variant of the CD28 costimulation–blocker CTLA4Ig) prolonged islet allograft survival in nonhuman primates relative to control treatments. Moreover, TS-1/22 masked LFA-1 on TM cells in vivo and inhibited the generation of alloproliferative and cytokine-producing effector T cells that expressed high levels of LFA-1 in vitro. These results support the use of LFA-1–specific induction therapy to neutralize costimulation blockade–resistant populations of T cells and further evaluation of LFA-1–specific therapeutics for use in transplantation.
Human CMV (HCMV) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in both congenitally infected and immunocompromised individuals. Development of an effective HCMV vaccine would help protect these vulnerable groups. NK group 2, member D (NKG2D) is a potent activating receptor expressed by cells of the innate and adaptive immune systems. Its importance in HCMV immune surveillance is indicated by the elaborative evasion mechanisms evolved by the virus to avoid NKG2D. In order to study this signaling pathway, we engineered a recombinant mouse CMV expressing the high-affinity NKG2D ligand RAE-1γ (RAE-1γMCMV). Expression of RAE-1γ by MCMV resulted in profound virus attenuation in vivo and lower latent viral DNA loads. RAE-1γMCMV infection was efficiently controlled by immunodeficient hosts, including mice lacking type I interferon receptors or immunosuppressed by sublethal γ-irradiation. Features of MCMV infection in neonates were also diminished. Despite tight innate immune control, RAE-1γMCMV infection elicited strong and long-lasting protective immunity. Maternal RAE-1γMCMV immunization protected neonatal mice from MCMV disease via placental transfer of antiviral Abs. Despite strong selective pressure, the RAE-1γ transgene did not exhibit sequence variation following infection. Together, our results indicate that use of a recombinant virus encoding the ligand for an activating NK cell receptor could be a powerful approach to developing a safe and immunogenic HCMV vaccine.
Having successfully developed mechanisms to evade immune clearance, hepatitis C virus (HCV) establishes persistent infection in approximately 75%–80% of patients. In these individuals, the function of HCV-specific CD8+ T cells is impaired by ligation of inhibitory receptors, the repertoire of which has expanded considerably in the past few years. We hypothesized that the coexpression of the negative regulatory receptors T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain–containing molecule 3 (Tim-3) and programmed death 1 (PD-1) in HCV infection would identify patients at risk of developing viral persistence during and after acute HCV infection. The frequency of PD-1–Tim-3– HCV-specific CTLs greatly outnumbered PD-1+Tim-3+ CTLs in patients with acute resolving infection. Moreover, the population of PD-1+Tim-3+ T cells was enriched for within the central memory T cell subset and within the liver. Blockade of either PD-1 or Tim-3 enhanced in vitro proliferation of HCV-specific CTLs to a similar extent, whereas cytotoxicity against a hepatocyte cell line that expressed cognate HCV epitopes was increased exclusively by Tim-3 blockade. These results indicate that the coexpression of these inhibitory molecules tracks with defective T cell responses and that anatomical differences might account for lack of immune control of persistent pathogens, which suggests their manipulation may represent a rational target for novel immunotherapeutic approaches.
CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Tregs play a major role in prevention of autoimmune diseases. The suppressive effect of Tregs on effector T cells (Teffs), the cells that can mediate autoimmunity, has been extensively studied. However, the in vivo impact of Teff activation on Tregs during autoimmunity has not been explored. In this study, we have shown that CD4+ Teff activation strongly boosts the expansion and suppressive activity of Tregs. This helper function of CD4+ T cells, which we believe to be novel, was observed in the pancreas and draining lymph nodes in mouse recipients of islet-specific Teffs and Tregs. Its physiological impact was assessed in autoimmune diabetes. When islet-specific Teffs were transferred alone, they induced diabetes. Paradoxically, when the same Teffs were cotransferred with islet-specific Tregs, they induced disease protection by boosting Treg expansion and suppressive function. RNA microarray analyses suggested that TNF family members were involved in the Teff-mediated Treg boost. In vivo experiments showed that this Treg boost was partially dependent on TNF but not on IL-2. This feedback regulatory loop between Teffs and Tregs may be critical to preventing or limiting the development of autoimmune diseases.
B cell lymphoma 6 (BCL6), which encodes a transcriptional repressor, is a critical oncogene in diffuse large B cell lymphomas (DLBCLs). Although a retro-inverted BCL6 peptide inhibitor (RI-BPI) was recently shown to potently kill DLBCL cells, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we show that RI-BPI induces a particular gene expression signature in human DLBCL cell lines that included genes associated with the actions of histone deacetylase (HDAC) and Hsp90 inhibitors. BCL6 directly repressed the expression of p300 lysine acetyltransferase (EP300) and its cofactor HLA-B–associated transcript 3 (BAT3). RI-BPI induced expression of p300 and BAT3, resulting in acetylation of p300 targets including p53 and Hsp90. Induction of p300 and BAT3 was required for the antilymphoma effects of RI-BPI, since specific blockade of either protein rescued human DLBCL cell lines from the BCL6 inhibitor. Consistent with this, combination of RI-BPI with either an HDAC inhibitor (HDI) or an Hsp90 inhibitor potently suppressed or even eradicated established human DLBCL xenografts in mice. Furthermore, HDAC and Hsp90 inhibitors independently enhanced RI-BPI killing of primary human DLBCL cells in vitro. We also show that p300-inactivating mutations occur naturally in human DLBCL patients and may confer resistance to BCL6 inhibitors. Thus, BCL6 repression of EP300 provides a basis for rational targeted combinatorial therapy for patients with DLBCL.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation