False-colored SEM image of murine podocytes. The podocyte plays a key role in maintenance of the glomerular filtration barrier, and injury or loss of podocytes can contribute to proteinuria and sclerosis. As inhibitors of mTOR can either decrease or cause proteinuria and sclerosis, two studies in this issue investigate podocyte-specific manipulation of the mTOR system (see Inoki et al., page 2181, and Gödel et al., page 2197).
Image courtesy of Björn Hartleben and Martin Helmstädter.
All tissues and organs can be classified according to their ability to repair and regenerate during adult homeostasis and after injury. Some exhibit a high rate of constant cell turnover, while others, such as the lung, exhibit only low-level cell regeneration during normal adult homeostasis but have the ability to rapidly regenerate new cells after injury. Lung regeneration likely involves both activation of progenitor cells as well as cell replacement through proliferation of remaining undamaged cells. The pathways and factors that control this process and its role in disease are only now being explored. In this Review, we will discuss the connection between pathways required for lung development and how the lung responds to injury and disease, with a particular emphasis on recent studies describing the role for the epithelium in repair and regeneration.
The growing problem of obesity is associated with multiple morbidities, including increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea, and cancer. Obesity promotes disability, decreases productivity, and shortens life span. Although much attention has been focused on diet and exercise, these strategies alone are not effective in preventing obesity and maintaining weight loss. Moreover, the development of pharmacological approaches for obesity treatment has been dogged by poor efficacy and serious side effects. The biology of obesity is very complex, and mechanisms linking obesity to various diseases are poorly understood. This issue of the JCI highlights important concepts in our understanding of the pathogenesis of obesity and its complications.
Obesity and its associated comorbidities represent one of the biggest public health challenges facing the world today. The heritability of body weight is high, and genetic variation plays a major role in determining the interindividual differences in susceptibility or resistance to the obesogenic environment. Here we discuss how genetic studies in humans have contributed to our understanding of the central pathways that govern energy homeostasis. We discuss how the arrival of technological advances such as next-generation sequencing will result in a major acceleration in the pace of gene discovery. The study of patients harboring these genetic variants has informed our understanding of the molecular and physiological pathways involved in energy homeostasis. We anticipate that future studies will provide the framework for the development of a more rational targeted approach to the prevention and treatment of genetically susceptible individuals.
Cloned in 1994, the ob gene encodes the protein hormone leptin, which is produced and secreted by white adipose tissue. Since its discovery, leptin has been found to have profound effects on behavior, metabolic rate, endocrine axes, and glucose fluxes. Leptin deficiency in mice and humans causes morbid obesity, diabetes, and various neuroendocrine anomalies, and replacement leads to decreased food intake, normalized glucose homeostasis, and increased energy expenditure. Here, we provide an update on the most current understanding of leptin-sensitive neural pathways in terms of both anatomical organization and physiological roles.
To fulfill its role as the major energy-storing tissue, adipose has several unique properties that cannot be seen in any other organ, including an almost unlimited capacity to expand in a non-transformed state. As such, the tissue requires potent mechanisms to remodel, acutely and chronically. Adipocytes can rapidly reach the diffusional limit of oxygen during growth; hypoxia is therefore an early determinant that limits healthy expansion. Proper expansion requires a highly coordinated response among many different cell types, including endothelial precursor cells, immune cells, and preadipocytes. There are therefore remarkable similarities between adipose expansion and growth of solid tumors, a phenomenon that presents both an opportunity and a challenge, since pharmacological interventions supporting healthy adipose tissue adaptation can also facilitate tumor growth.
Lipid droplets (LDs) are intracellular organelles that store neutral lipids within cells. Over the last two decades there has been a dramatic growth in our understanding of LD biology and, in parallel, our understanding of the role of LDs in health and disease. In its simplest form, the LD regulates the storage and hydrolysis of neutral lipids, including triacylglycerol and/or cholesterol esters. It is becoming increasingly evident that alterations in the regulation of LD physiology and metabolism influence the risk of developing metabolic diseases such as diabetes. In this review we provide an update on the role of LD-associated proteins and LDs in metabolic disease.
The obesity epidemic has forced us to evaluate the role of inflammation in the health complications of obesity. This has led to a convergence of the fields of immunology and nutrient physiology and the understanding that they are inextricably linked. The reframing of obesity as an inflammatory condition has had a wide impact on our conceptualization of obesity-associated diseases. In this Review, we highlight the cellular and molecular mechanisms at play in the generation of obesity-induced inflammation. We also emphasize how defining the immune regulation in metabolic tissues has broadened the understanding of the diversity of inflammatory responses.
Insulin secretion is a highly dynamic process regulated by various factors including nutrients, hormones, and neuronal inputs. The dynamics of insulin secretion can be studied at different levels: the single β cell, pancreatic islet, whole pancreas, and the intact organism. Studies have begun to analyze cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying dynamics of insulin secretion. This review focuses on our current understanding of the dynamics of insulin secretion in vitro and in vivo and discusses their clinical relevance.
The prevalence of obesity and related disorders such as metabolic syndrome has vastly increased throughout the world. Recent insights have generated an entirely new perspective suggesting that our microbiota might be involved in the development of these disorders. Studies have demonstrated that obesity and metabolic syndrome may be associated with profound microbiotal changes, and the induction of a metabolic syndrome phenotype through fecal transplants corroborates the important role of the microbiota in this disease. Dietary composition and caloric intake appear to swiftly regulate intestinal microbial composition and function. As most findings in this field of research are based on mouse studies, the relevance to human biology requires further investigation.
The discovery of the genetic basis for circadian rhythms has expanded our knowledge of the temporal organization of behavior and physiology. The observations that the circadian gene network is present in most living organisms from eubacteria to humans, that most cells and tissues express autonomous clocks, and that disruption of clock genes results in metabolic dysregulation have revealed interactions between metabolism and circadian rhythms at neural, molecular, and cellular levels. A major challenge remains in understanding the interplay between brain and peripheral clocks and in determining how these interactions promote energy homeostasis across the sleep-wake cycle. In this Review, we evaluate how investigation of molecular timing may create new opportunities to understand and develop therapies for obesity and diabetes.
The podocyte plays a key role both in maintenance of the glomerular filtration barrier and in glomerular structural integrity. Podocyte injury and loss contribute to proteinuria and progressive sclerosis. Inhibitors of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) have variably decreased or caused proteinuria and sclerosis in human disease and experimental settings. In this issue of the JCI, two interesting studies of podocyte-specific manipulation of the mTOR system shed light on the complexity of this pathway in the podocyte.
Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is a rare disease that severely affects vision in early life. It is characterized by genetic and clinical heterogeneity due to complex and not fully understood pathogenetic mechanisms. It is also now widely known as a disease model for gene therapy. In this issue of the JCI, two independent research groups report valuable new data on LCA. Specifically, they provide important insights into the pathophysiological mechanisms of LCA and offer strong hope that the outcome of gene therapy for retinal degenerative diseases will be successful.
Preclinical studies with probiotics continue to unravel mechanisms of cytoprotection and suggest that approaches utilizing microbial products as therapeutics in acute and chronic gastrointestinal disorders could be effective. However, clinical trials using these bacteria have thus far been inconsistent. In this issue of the JCI, Yan et al. describe a novel mechanism of cytoprotection by p40, a soluble product of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, mediated via EGFR. The efficacy of p40 in three models of chemically induced colitis indicates tremendous therapeutic potential, though this finding will need to be verified in human patients.
Rather than arising from the passive accumulation of excess calories, obesity is a state in which the biologically defended level of body fat stores increases due to defects in the homeostatic process that matches food intake and energy expenditure over time. By deleting leptin receptors from distinct brain regions and neuronal subsets, researchers are beginning to identify the neuroanatomical substrates responsible for this regulation. In this issue of the JCI, Scott et al. demonstrate that loss of leptin receptors in a subset of hindbrain neurons increases food intake in mice, but, unlike what is observed when leptin receptors are deleted from hypothalamic neurons, these mice compensate by increasing energy expenditure and hence do not become obese. Although many brain areas can regulate energy intake and/or energy expenditure, it is likely that only a small subset of neurons actively matches the two over time. It is vital to clarify how this works if we are to improve our understanding of obesity pathogenesis and options available for its treatment.
Chronic lung allograft rejection, known as obliterative bronchiolitis (OB), is the leading cause of death in lung transplant patients. Although OB pathogenesis is not fully understood, in this issue of the JCI, Jiang and colleagues report that tissue hypoxia resulting in dysfunctional airway microvasculature precedes the airway fibrosis characteristic of OB. In addition, a relative deficiency of allograft endothelial cell–derived HIF-1α contributes to this process. Data showing that overexpressing HIF-1α restores the microvascular airway normoxia and prevents airway fibrosis highlight a novel role for vascular biology in OB pathogenesis.
Twenty years after the discovery of the vascular endothelial Tie receptor tyrosine kinases and 15 years after the discovery of the Tie2 ligand, angiopoietin-1 (Angpt1, also known as Ang1), a study published in the current issue of the JCI reveals an unexpected loss-of-function phenotype of mice conditionally deleted of the Angpt1 gene. The results suggest that Angpt1 is needed as a vascular stabilizing factor that organizes and limits the angiogenesis response and protects from pathological consequences, such as tissue fibrosis.
Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is a rare degenerative eye disease, linked to mutations in at least 14 genes. A recent gene therapy trial in patients with LCA2, who have mutations in RPE65, demonstrated that subretinal injection of an adeno-associated virus (AAV) carrying the normal cDNA of that gene (AAV2-hRPE65v2) could markedly improve vision. However, it remains unclear how the visual cortex responds to recovery of retinal function after prolonged sensory deprivation. Here, 3 of the gene therapy trial subjects, treated at ages 8, 9, and 35 years, underwent functional MRI within 2 years of unilateral injection of AAV2-hRPE65v2. All subjects showed increased cortical activation in response to high- and medium-contrast stimuli after exposure to the treated compared with the untreated eye. Furthermore, we observed a correlation between the visual field maps and the distribution of cortical activations for the treated eyes. These data suggest that despite severe and long-term visual impairment, treated LCA2 patients have intact and responsive visual pathways. In addition, these data suggest that gene therapy resulted in not only sustained and improved visual ability, but also enhanced contrast sensitivity.
The mutations that cause Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) lead to photoreceptor cell death at an early age, causing childhood blindness. To unravel the molecular basis of LCA, we analyzed how mutations in LCA5 affect the connectivity of the encoded protein lebercilin at the interactome level. In photoreceptors, lebercilin is uniquely localized at the cilium that bridges the inner and outer segments. Using a generally applicable affinity proteomics approach, we showed that lebercilin specifically interacted with the intraflagellar transport (IFT) machinery in HEK293T cells. This interaction disappeared when 2 human LCA-associated lebercilin mutations were introduced, implicating a specific disruption of IFT-dependent protein transport, an evolutionarily conserved basic mechanism found in all cilia. Lca5 inactivation in mice led to partial displacement of opsins and light-induced translocation of arrestin from photoreceptor outer segments. This was consistent with a defect in IFT at the connecting cilium, leading to failure of proper outer segment formation and subsequent photoreceptor degeneration. These data suggest that lebercilin functions as an integral element of selective protein transport through photoreceptor cilia and provide a molecular demonstration that disrupted IFT can lead to LCA.
Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is among the most lethal complications that occur in type 1 and type 2 diabetics. Podocyte dysfunction is postulated to be a critical event associated with proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis in glomerular diseases including DN. However, molecular mechanisms of podocyte dysfunction in the development of DN are not well understood. Here we have shown that activity of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), a kinase that senses nutrient availability, was enhanced in the podocytes of diabetic animals. Further, podocyte-specific mTORC1 activation induced by ablation of an upstream negative regulator (PcKOTsc1) recapitulated many DN features, including podocyte loss, glomerular basement membrane thickening, mesangial expansion, and proteinuria in nondiabetic young and adult mice. Abnormal mTORC1 activation caused mislocalization of slit diaphragm proteins and induced an epithelial-mesenchymal transition–like phenotypic switch with enhanced ER stress in podocytes. Conversely, reduction of ER stress with a chemical chaperone significantly protected against both the podocyte phenotypic switch and podocyte loss in PcKOTsc1 mice. Finally, genetic reduction of podocyte-specific mTORC1 in diabetic animals suppressed the development of DN. These results indicate that mTORC1 activation in podocytes is a critical event in inducing DN and suggest that reduction of podocyte mTORC1 activity is a potential therapeutic strategy to prevent DN.
Chronic glomerular diseases, associated with renal failure and cardiovascular morbidity, represent a major health issue. However, they remain poorly understood. Here we have reported that tightly controlled mTOR activity was crucial to maintaining glomerular podocyte function, while dysregulation of mTOR facilitated glomerular diseases. Genetic deletion of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) in mouse podocytes induced proteinuria and progressive glomerulosclerosis. Furthermore, simultaneous deletion of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 from mouse podocytes aggravated the glomerular lesions, revealing the importance of both mTOR complexes for podocyte homeostasis. In contrast, increased mTOR activity accompanied human diabetic nephropathy, characterized by early glomerular hypertrophy and hyperfiltration. Curtailing mTORC1 signaling in mice by genetically reducing mTORC1 copy number in podocytes prevented glomerulosclerosis and significantly ameliorated the progression of glomerular disease in diabetic nephropathy. These results demonstrate the requirement for tightly balanced mTOR activity in podocyte homeostasis and suggest that mTOR inhibition can protect podocytes and prevent progressive diabetic nephropathy.
Patients with atopic dermatitis (AD) often suffer from food allergy and develop flares upon skin contact with food allergens. However, it is unclear whether T cells sensitized to allergens in the gut promote this skin inflammation. To address this question, we orally immunized WT mice and mice lacking the skin-homing chemokine receptor Ccr4 (Ccr4–/– mice) with OVA and then challenged them epicutaneously with antigen. Allergic skin inflammation developed in the WT mice but not in the mutants and was characterized by epidermal thickening, dermal infiltration by eosinophils and CD4+ T cells, and upregulation of Th2 cytokines. T cells purified from mesenteric lymph nodes (MLNs) of orally immunized WT mice transferred allergic skin inflammation to naive recipients cutaneously challenged with antigen, but this effect was lost in T cells purified from Ccr4–/– mice. In addition, the ability of adoptively transferred OVA-activated T cells to home to the skin following cutaneous OVA challenge was ablated in mice that lacked lymph nodes. These results indicate that cutaneous exposure to food antigens can reprogram gut-homing effector T cells in LNs to express skin-homing receptors, eliciting skin lesions upon food allergen contact in orally sensitized AD patients.
Apoptotic cells must be rapidly cleared, as defects in this process can lead to autoimmunity. Milk fat globule EGF factor 8 (MFG-E8) binds to apoptotic cells and facilitates their removal through interaction with phagocytes. Mice deficient in MFG-E8 develop lupus-like autoimmunity associated with accumulation of apoptotic cells in vivo. Here, we have shown that MFG-E8 controls phagocytic ingestion of cell fragments as well as their intracellular processing into MHC-antigen complexes. Older Mfge8–/– mice spontaneously developed dermatitis associated with CD8+ T cell infiltration and striking activation of effector memory CD8+ T cells. CD8+ T cell responses to both exogenous and endogenous apoptotic cell–associated antigens were enhanced in Mfge8–/– mice. MFG-E8 deficiency accelerated the onset of disease in a mouse model of autoimmune diabetes. Enhanced CD8+ T cell responses were attributed to increased cross-presentation by DCs along with increased detection of antigen-MHCI complexes. Intracellular trafficking analysis revealed that intact apoptotic cells ingested by wild-type DCs rapidly fused with lysosomes, whereas smaller fragments persisted in Mfge8–/– DC endosomal compartments for 24 hours. These observations suggest that MFG-E8 deficiency promotes immune responses to self antigens not only by delaying the clearance of dying cells but also by altering intracellular processing, leading to enhanced self-antigen presentation.
Probiotic bacteria can potentially have beneficial effects on the clinical course of several intestinal disorders, but our understanding of probiotic action is limited. We have identified a probiotic bacteria–derived soluble protein, p40, from Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), which prevents cytokine-induced apoptosis in intestinal epithelial cells. In the current study, we analyzed the mechanisms by which p40 regulates cellular responses in intestinal epithelial cells and p40’s effects on experimental colitis using mouse models. We show that the recombinant p40 protein activated EGFR, leading to Akt activation. Activation of EGFR by p40 was required for inhibition of cytokine-induced apoptosis in intestinal epithelial cells in vitro and ex vivo. Furthermore, we developed a pectin/zein hydrogel bead system to specifically deliver p40 to the mouse colon, which activated EGFR in colon epithelial cells. Administration of p40-containing beads reduced intestinal epithelial apoptosis and disruption of barrier function in the colon epithelium in an EGFR-dependent manner, thereby preventing and treating DSS-induced intestinal injury and acute colitis. Furthermore, p40 activation of EGFR was required for ameliorating colon epithelial cell apoptosis and chronic inflammation in oxazolone-induced colitis. These data define what we believe to be a previously unrecognized mechanism of probiotic-derived soluble proteins in protecting the intestine from injury and inflammation.
The human lung T cell compartment contains many CD8+ T cells specific for respiratory viruses, suggesting that the lung is protected from recurring respiratory infections by a resident T cell pool. The entry site for respiratory viruses is the epithelium, in which a subset of lung CD8+ T cells expressing CD103 (αE integrin) resides. Here, we determined the specificity and function of CD103+CD8+ T cells in protecting human lung against viral infection. Mononuclear cells were isolated from human blood and lung resection samples. Variable numbers of CD103+CD8+ T cells were retrieved from the lung tissue. Interestingly, expression of CD103 was seen only in lung CD8+ T cells specific for influenza but not in those specific for EBV or CMV. CD103+ and influenza-reactive cells preferentially expressed NKG2A, an inhibitor of CD8+ T cell cytotoxic function. In contrast to CD103–CD8+ T cells, most CD103+CD8+ cells did not contain perforin or granzyme B. However, they could quickly upregulate these cytotoxic mediators when exposed to a type I IFN milieu or via contact with their specific antigen. This mechanism may provide a rapid and efficient response to influenza infection, without inducing cytotoxic damage to the delicate epithelial barrier.
Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) and macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) are 2 similar diseases characterized by a cytokine storm, overwhelming inflammation, multiorgan dysfunction, and death. Animal models of HLH suggest that disease is driven by IFN-γ produced by CD8+ lymphocytes stimulated by persistent antigen exposure. In these models and patients with “primary” HLH, the antigen persists due to genetic defects, resulting in ineffective cytotoxic responses by CD8+ T cells and poor pathogen clearance. However, infectious triggers are often not identified in patients with MAS, and some patients with HLH or MAS lack defects in cytotoxic T cell killing. Herein, we show that repeated stimulation of TLR9 produced an HLH/MAS-like syndrome on a normal genetic background, without exogenous antigen. Like previous HLH models, TLR9-induced MAS was IFN-γ dependent; however, unlike other models, disease did not require lymphocytes. We further showed that IL-10 played a protective role in this model and that blocking IL-10 signaling led to the development of hemophagocytosis. IL-10 may therefore be an important target for the development of effective therapeutics for MAS. Our data provide insight into MAS-like syndromes in patients with inflammatory diseases in which there is chronic innate immune activation but no genetic defects in cytotoxic cell function.
Angiopoietin-1/Tek signaling is a critical regulator of blood vessel development, with conventional knockout of angiopoietin-1 or Tek in mice being embryonically lethal due to vascular defects. In addition, angiopoietin-1 is thought to be required for the stability of mature vessels. Using a Cre-Lox conditional gene targeting approach, we have studied the role of angiopoietin-1 in embryonic and adult vasculature. We report here that angiopoietin-1 is critical for regulating both the number and diameter of developing vessels but is not required for pericyte recruitment. Cardiac-specific knockout of angiopoietin-1 reproduced the phenotype of the conventional knockout, demonstrating that the early vascular abnormalities arise from flow-dependent defects. Strikingly, deletion in the entire embryo after day E13.5 produced no immediate vascular phenotype. However, when combined with injury or microvascular stress, angiopoietin-1 deficiency resulted in profound organ damage, accelerated angiogenesis, and fibrosis. These findings redefine our understanding of the biological roles of angiopoietin-1: it is dispensable in quiescent vessels but has a powerful ability to modulate the vascular response after injury.
GPCR inhibitors are highly prevalent in modern therapeutics. However, interference with complex GPCR regulatory mechanisms leads to both therapeutic efficacy and adverse effects. Recently, the sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) receptor inhibitor FTY720 (also known as Fingolimod), which induces lymphopenia and prevents neuroinflammation, was adopted as a disease-modifying therapeutic in multiple sclerosis. Although highly efficacious, dose-dependent increases in adverse events have tempered its utility. We show here that FTY720P induces phosphorylation of the C-terminal domain of S1P receptor 1 (S1P1) at multiple sites, resulting in GPCR internalization, polyubiquitinylation, and degradation. We also identified the ubiquitin E3 ligase WWP2 in the GPCR complex and demonstrated its requirement in FTY720-induced receptor degradation. GPCR degradation was not essential for the induction of lymphopenia, but was critical for pulmonary vascular leak in vivo. Prevention of receptor phosphorylation, internalization, and degradation inhibited vascular leak, which suggests that discrete mechanisms of S1P receptor regulation are responsible for the efficacy and adverse events associated with this class of therapeutics.
The cardiac pathological response to sustained pressure overload involves myocyte hypertrophy and dysfunction along with interstitial changes such as fibrosis and reduced capillary density. These changes are orchestrated by mechanical forces and factors secreted between cells. One such secreted factor is TGF-β, which is generated by and interacts with multiple cell types. Here we have shown that TGF-β suppression in cardiomyocytes was required to protect against maladaptive remodeling and involved noncanonical (non–Smad-related) signaling. Mouse hearts subjected to pressure overload and treated with a TGF-β–neutralizing Ab had suppressed Smad activation in the interstitium but not in myocytes, and noncanonical (TGF-β–activated kinase 1 [TAK1]) activation remained. Although fibrosis was greatly reduced, chamber dysfunction and dilation persisted. Induced myocyte knockdown of TGF-β type 2 receptor (TβR2) blocked all maladaptive responses, inhibiting myocyte and interstitial Smad and TAK1. Myocyte knockdown of TβR1 suppressed myocyte but not interstitial Smad, nor TAK1, modestly reducing fibrosis without improving chamber function or hypertrophy. Only TβR2 knockdown preserved capillary density after pressure overload, enhancing BMP7, a regulator of the endothelial-mesenchymal transition. BMP7 enhancement also was coupled to TAK1 suppression. Thus, myocyte targeting is required to modulate TGF-β in hearts subjected to pressure overload, with noncanonical pathways predominantly affecting the maladaptive hypertrophy/dysfunction.
The directed differentiation of iPS and ES cells into definitive endoderm (DE) would allow the derivation of otherwise inaccessible progenitors for endodermal tissues. However, a global comparison of the relative equivalency of DE derived from iPS and ES populations has not been performed. Recent reports of molecular differences between iPS and ES cells have raised uncertainty as to whether iPS cells could generate autologous endodermal lineages in vitro. Here, we show that both mouse iPS and parental ES cells exhibited highly similar in vitro capacity to undergo directed differentiation into DE progenitors. With few exceptions, both cell types displayed similar surges in gene expression of specific master transcriptional regulators and global transcriptomes that define the developmental milestones of DE differentiation. Microarray analysis showed considerable overlap between the genetic programs of DE derived from ES/iPS cells in vitro and authentic DE from mouse embryos in vivo. Intriguingly, iPS cells exhibited aberrant silencing of imprinted genes known to participate in endoderm differentiation, yet retained a robust ability to differentiate into DE. Our results show that, despite some molecular differences, iPS cells can be efficiently differentiated into DE precursors, reinforcing their potential for development of cell-based therapies for diseased endoderm-derived tissues.
Parkinson disease (PD) involves the selective loss of midbrain dopamine (mDA) neurons and is a possible target disease for stem cell–based therapy. Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are a potentially unlimited source of patient-specific cells for transplantation. However, it is critical to evaluate the safety of hiPSCs generated by different reprogramming methods. Here, we compared multiple hiPSC lines derived by virus- and protein-based reprogramming to human ES cells (hESCs). Neuronal precursor cells (NPCs) and dopamine (DA) neurons delivered from lentivirus-based hiPSCs exhibited residual expression of exogenous reprogramming genes, but those cells derived from retrovirus- and protein-based hiPSCs did not. Furthermore, NPCs derived from virus-based hiPSCs exhibited early senescence and apoptotic cell death during passaging, which was preceded by abrupt induction of p53. In contrast, NPCs derived from hESCs and protein-based hiPSCs were highly expandable without senescence. DA neurons derived from protein-based hiPSCs exhibited gene expression, physiological, and electrophysiological properties similar to those of mDA neurons. Transplantation of these cells into rats with striatal lesions, a model of PD, significantly rescued motor deficits. These data support the clinical potential of protein-based hiPSCs for personalized cell therapy of PD.
Chronic rejection, manifested as small airway fibrosis (obliterative bronchiolitis [OB]), is the main obstacle to long-term survival in lung transplantation. Recent studies demonstrate that the airways involved in a lung transplant are relatively hypoxic at baseline and that OB pathogenesis may be linked to ischemia induced by a transient loss of airway microvasculature. Here, we show that HIF-1α mediates airway microvascular repair in a model of orthotopic tracheal transplantation. Grafts with a conditional knockout of Hif1a demonstrated diminished recruitment of recipient-derived Tie2+ angiogenic cells to the allograft, impaired repair of damaged microvasculature, accelerated loss of microvascular perfusion, and hastened denudation of epithelial cells. In contrast, graft HIF-1α overexpression induced via an adenoviral vector prolonged airway microvascular perfusion, preserved epithelial integrity, extended the time window for the graft to be rescued from chronic rejection, and attenuated airway fibrotic remodeling. HIF-1α overexpression induced the expression of proangiogenic factors such as Sdf1, Plgf, and Vegf, and promoted the recruitment of vasoreparative Tie2+ cells. This study demonstrates that a therapy that enhances vascular integrity during acute rejection may promote graft health and prevent chronic rejection.
In chronic viral infections, CD8+ T cells become functionally deficient and display multiple molecular alterations. In contrast, only little is known of self- and tumor-specific CD8+ T cells from mice and humans. Here we determined molecular profiles of tumor-specific CD8+ T cells from melanoma patients. In peripheral blood from patients vaccinated with CpG and the melanoma antigen Melan-A/MART-1 peptide, we found functional effector T cell populations, with only small but nevertheless significant differences in T cells specific for persistent herpesviruses (EBV and CMV). In contrast, Melan-A/MART-1–specific T cells isolated from metastases from patients with melanoma expressed a large variety of genes associated with T cell exhaustion. The identified exhaustion profile revealed extended molecular alterations. Our data demonstrate a remarkable coexistence of effector cells in circulation and exhausted cells in the tumor environment. Functional T cell impairment is mediated by inhibitory receptors and further molecular pathways, which represent potential targets for cancer therapy.
Transcription intermediary factor 1γ (TIF1γ) was suggested to play a role in erythropoiesis. However, how TIF1γ regulates the development of different blood cell lineages and whether TIF1γ is involved in human hematological malignancies remain to be determined. Here we have shown that TIF1γ was a tumor suppressor in mouse and human chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML). Loss of Tif1g in mouse HSCs favored the expansion of the granulo-monocytic progenitor compartment. Furthermore, Tif1g deletion induced the age-dependent appearance of a cell-autonomous myeloproliferative disorder in mice that recapitulated essential characteristics of human CMML. TIF1γ was almost undetectable in leukemic cells of 35% of CMML patients. This downregulation was related to the hypermethylation of CpG sequences and specific histone modifications in the gene promoter. A demethylating agent restored the normal epigenetic status of the TIF1G promoter in human cells, which correlated with a reestablishment of TIF1γ expression. Together, these results demonstrate that TIF1G is an epigenetically regulated tumor suppressor gene in hematopoietic cells and suggest that changes in TIF1γ expression may be a biomarker of response to demethylating agents in CMML.
CD73 is overexpressed in many types of human and mouse cancers and is implicated in the control of tumor progression. However, the specific contribution from tumor or host CD73 expression to tumor growth remains unknown to date. Here, we show that host CD73 promotes tumor growth in a T cell–dependent manner and that the optimal antitumor effect of CD73 blockade requires inhibiting both tumor and host CD73. Notably, enzymatic activity of CD73 on nonhematopoietic cells limited tumor-infiltrating T cells by controlling antitumor T cell homing to tumors in multiple mouse tumor models. In contrast, CD73 on hematopoietic cells (including CD4+CD25+ Tregs) inhibited systemic antitumor T cell expansion and effector functions. Thus, CD73 on hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic cells has distinct adenosinergic effects in regulating systemic and local antitumor T cell responses. Importantly, pharmacological blockade of CD73 using its selective inhibitor or an anti-CD73 mAb inhibited tumor growth and completely restored efficacy of adoptive T cell therapy in mice. These findings suggest that both tumor and host CD73 cooperatively protect tumors from incoming antitumor T cells and show the potential of targeting CD73 as a cancer immunotherapy strategy.
Dose-escalated radiation therapy for localized prostate cancer (PCa) has a clear therapeutic benefit; however, escalated doses may also increase injury to noncancerous tissues. Radiosensitizing agents can improve ionizing radiation (IR) potency, but without targeted delivery, these agents will also sensitize surrounding normal tissues. Here we describe the development of prostate-targeted RNAi agents that selectively sensitized prostate-specific membrane antigen–positive (PSMA-positive) cells to IR. siRNA library screens identified DNA-activated protein kinase, catalytic polypeptide (DNAPK) as an ideal radiosensitization target. DNAPK shRNAs, delivered by PSMA-targeting RNA aptamers, selectively reduced DNAPK in PCa cells, xenografts, and human prostate tissues. Aptamer-targeted DNAPK shRNAs, combined with IR, dramatically and specifically enhanced PSMA-positive tumor response to IR. These findings support aptamer-shRNA chimeras as selective sensitizing agents for the improved treatment of high-risk localized PCa.
High levels of HIV-1 replication during the chronic phase of infection usually correlate with rapid progression to severe immunodeficiency. However, a minority of highly viremic individuals remains asymptomatic and maintains high CD4+ T cell counts. This tolerant profile is poorly understood and reminiscent of the widely studied nonprogressive disease model of SIV infection in natural hosts. Here, we identify transcriptome differences between rapid progressors (RPs) and viremic nonprogressors (VNPs) and highlight several genes relevant for the understanding of HIV-1–induced immunosuppression. RPs were characterized by a specific transcriptome profile of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells similar to that observed in pathogenic SIV-infected rhesus macaques. In contrast, VNPs exhibited lower expression of interferon-stimulated genes and shared a common gene regulation profile with nonpathogenic SIV-infected sooty mangabeys. A short list of genes associated with VNP, including CASP1, CD38, LAG3, TNFSF13B, SOCS1, and EEF1D, showed significant correlation with time to disease progression when evaluated in an independent set of CD4+ T cell expression data. This work characterizes 2 minimally studied clinical patterns of progression to AIDS, whose analysis may inform our understanding of HIV pathogenesis.
The continued spread of the HIV epidemic underscores the need to interrupt transmission. One attractive strategy is a topical vaginal microbicide. Sexual transmission of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) in mice can be inhibited by intravaginal siRNA application. To overcome the challenges of knocking down gene expression in immune cells susceptible to HIV infection, we used chimeric RNAs composed of an aptamer fused to an siRNA for targeted gene knockdown in cells bearing an aptamer-binding receptor. Here, we showed that CD4 aptamer-siRNA chimeras (CD4-AsiCs) specifically suppress gene expression in CD4+ T cells and macrophages in vitro, in polarized cervicovaginal tissue explants, and in the female genital tract of humanized mice. CD4-AsiCs do not activate lymphocytes or stimulate innate immunity. CD4-AsiCs that knock down HIV genes and/or CCR5 inhibited HIV infection in vitro and in tissue explants. When applied intravaginally to humanized mice, CD4-AsiCs protected against HIV vaginal transmission. Thus, CD4-AsiCs could be used as the active ingredient of a microbicide to prevent HIV sexual transmission.
Leptin is an adipose-derived hormone that signals to inform the brain of nutrient status; loss of leptin signaling results in marked hyperphagia and obesity. Recent work has identified several groups of neurons that contribute to the effects of leptin to regulate energy balance, but leptin receptors are distributed throughout the brain, and the function of leptin signaling in discrete neuronal populations outside of the hypothalamus has not been defined. In the current study, we produced mice in which the long form of the leptin receptor (Lepr) was selectively ablated using Cre-recombinase selectively expressed in the hindbrain under control of the paired-like homeobox 2b (Phox2b) promoter (Phox2b Cre Leprflox/flox mice). In these mice, Lepr was deleted from glucagon-like 1 peptide–expressing neurons resident in the nucleus of the solitary tract. Phox2b Cre Leprflox/flox mice were hyperphagic, displayed increased food intake after fasting, and gained weight at a faster rate than wild-type controls. Paradoxically, Phox2b Cre Leprflox/flox mice also exhibited an increased metabolic rate independent of a change in locomotor activity that was dependent on food intake, and glucose homeostasis was normal. Together, these data support a physiologically important role of direct leptin action in the hindbrain.
Insulin, growth hormone (GH), and insulin-like growth factor–1 (IGF-1) play key roles in the regulation of β cell growth and function. Although β cells express the GH receptor, the direct effects of GH on β cells remain largely unknown. Here we have employed a rat insulin II promoter–driven (RIP-driven) Cre recombinase to disrupt the GH receptor in β cells (βGHRKO). βGHRKO mice fed a standard chow diet exhibited impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion but had no changes in β cell mass. When challenged with a high-fat diet, βGHRKO mice showed evidence of a β cell secretory defect, with further deterioration of glucose homeostasis indicated by their altered glucose tolerance and blunted glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Interestingly, βGHRKO mice were impaired in β cell hyperplasia in response to a high-fat diet, with decreased β cell proliferation and overall reduced β cell mass. Therefore, GH receptor plays critical roles in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and β cell compensation in response to a high-fat diet.
Vectors based on adeno-associated virus (AAV) serotype 9 are candidates for in vivo gene delivery to many organs, but the receptor(s) mediating these tropisms have yet to be defined. We evaluated AAV9 uptake by glycans with terminal sialic acids (SAs), a common mode of cellular entry for viruses. We found, however, that AAV9 binding increased when terminal SA was enzymatically removed, suggesting that galactose, which is the most commonly observed penultimate monosaccharide to SA, may mediate AAV9 transduction. This was confirmed in mutant CHO Pro-5 cells deficient in the enzymes involved in glycoprotein biogenesis, as well as lectin interference studies. Binding of AAV9 to glycans with terminal galactose was demonstrated via glycan binding assays. Co-instillation of AAV9 vector with neuraminidase into mouse lung resulted in exposure of terminal galactose on the apical surface of conducting airway epithelial cells, as shown by lectin binding and increased transduction of these cells, demonstrating the possible utility of this vector in lung-directed gene transfer. Increasing the abundance of the receptor on target cells and improving vector efficacy may improve delivery of AAV vectors to their therapeutic targets.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Both principal factors known to cause lung cancer, cigarette smoke and asbestos, induce pulmonary inflammation, and pulmonary inflammation has recently been implicated in several murine models of lung cancer. To further investigate the role of inflammation in the development of lung cancer, we generated mice with combined loss of IFN-γ and the β-common cytokines GM-CSF and IL-3. These immunodeficient mice develop chronic pulmonary inflammation and lung tumors at a high frequency. Examination of the relationship between these tumors and their inflammatory microenvironment revealed a dual role for the immune system in tumor development. The inflammatory cytokine IL-6 promoted optimal tumor growth, yet wild-type mice rejected transplanted tumors through the induction of adaptive immunity. These findings suggest a model whereby cytokine deficiency leads to oncogenic inflammation that combines with defective antitumor immunity to promote lung tumor formation, representing a unique system for studying the role of the immune system in lung tumor development.
Cardiac hypertrophy and failure are accompanied by a reprogramming of gene expression that involves transcription factors and chromatin remodeling enzymes. Little is known about the roles of histone methylation and demethylation in this process. To understand the role of JMJD2A, a histone trimethyl demethylase, in cardiac hypertrophy, we generated mouse lines with heart-specific Jmjd2a deletion (hKO) and overexpression (Jmjd2a-Tg). Jmjd2a hKO and Jmjd2a-Tg mice had no overt baseline phenotype, but did demonstrate altered responses to cardiac stresses. While inactivation of Jmjd2a resulted in an attenuated hypertrophic response to transverse aortic constriction–induced (TAC-induced) pressure overload, Jmjd2a-Tg mice displayed exacerbated cardiac hypertrophy. We identified four-and-a-half LIM domains 1 (FHL1), a key component of the mechanotransducer machinery in the heart, as a direct target of JMJD2A. JMJD2A bound to the FHL1 promoter in response to TAC, upregulated FHL1 expression, and downregulated H3K9 trimethylation. Upregulation of FHL1 by JMJD2A was mediated through SRF and myocardin and required its demethylase activity. The expression of JMJD2A was upregulated in human hypertrophic cardiomyopathy patients. Our studies reveal that JMJD2A promotes cardiac hypertrophy under pathological conditions and suggest what we believe to be a novel mechanism for JMJD2A in reprogramming of gene expression involved in cardiac hypertrophy.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. It has thus been suggested that primary and/or genetic abnormalities in mitochondrial function may lead to accumulation of toxic lipid species in muscle and elsewhere, impairing insulin action on glucose metabolism. Alternatively, however, defects in insulin signaling may be primary events that result in mitochondrial dysfunction, or there may be a bidirectional relationship between these phenomena. To investigate this, we examined mitochondrial function in patients with genetic defects in insulin receptor (INSR) signaling. We found that phosphocreatine recovery after exercise, a measure of skeletal muscle mitochondrial function in vivo, was significantly slowed in patients with INSR mutations compared with that in healthy age-, fitness-, and BMI-matched controls. These findings suggest that defective insulin signaling may promote mitochondrial dysfunction. Furthermore, consistent with previous studies of mouse models of mitochondrial dysfunction, basal and sleeping metabolic rates were both significantly increased in genetically insulin-resistant patients, perhaps because mitochondrial dysfunction necessitates increased nutrient oxidation in order to maintain cellular energy levels.
Most degenerative diseases begin with a gradual loss of specific cell types before reaching a threshold for symptomatic onset. However, the endogenous regenerative capacities of different tissues are difficult to study, because of the limitations of models for early stages of cell loss. Therefore, we generated a transgenic mouse line (Mos-iCsp3) in which a lox-mismatched Cre/lox cassette can be activated to produce a drug-regulated dimerizable caspase-3. Tissue-restricted Cre expression yielded stochastic Casp3 expression, randomly ablating a subset of specific cell types in a defined domain. The limited and mosaic cell loss led to distinct responses in 3 different tissues targeted using respective Cre mice: reversible, impaired glucose tolerance with normoglycemia in pancreatic β cells; wound healing and irreversible hair loss in the skin; and permanent moderate deafness due to the loss of auditory hair cells in the inner ear. These mice will be important for assessing the repair capacities of tissues and the potential effectiveness of new regenerative therapies.
Pulmonary emphysema is a disease characterized by alveolar cellular loss and inflammation. Recently, excessive apoptosis of structural alveolar cells has emerged as a major mechanism in the development of emphysema. Here, we investigated the proapoptotic and monocyte chemoattractant cytokine endothelial monocyte-activating protein 2 (EMAPII). Lung-specific overexpression of EMAPII in mice caused simplification of alveolar structures, apoptosis, and macrophage accumulation, compared with that in control transgenic mice. Additionally, in a mouse model of cigarette smoke–induced (CS-induced) emphysema, EMAPII levels were significantly increased in murine lungs. This upregulation was necessary for emphysema development, as neutralizing antibodies to EMAPII resulted in reduced alveolar cell apoptosis, inflammation, and emphysema-associated structural changes in alveoli and small airways and improved lung function. The mechanism of EMAPII upregulation involved an apoptosis-dependent feed-forward loop, since caspase-3 instillation in the lung markedly increased EMAPII expression, while caspase inhibition decreased its production, even in transgenic EMAPII mice. These findings may have clinical significance, as both current smokers and ex-smoker chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients had increased levels of secreted EMAPII in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid compared with that of nonsmokers. In conclusion, we suggest that EMAPII perpetuates the mechanism of CS-induced lung emphysema in mice and, given its secretory nature, is a suitable target for neutralization antibody therapy.
Induction of virus-specific CD8+ T cell responses is critical for the success of vaccines against chronic viral infections. Despite the large number of potential MHC-I–restricted epitopes located in viral proteins, MHC-I–restricted epitope generation is inefficient, and factors defining the production and presentation of MHC-I–restricted viral epitopes are poorly understood. Here, we have demonstrated that the half-lives of HIV-derived peptides in cytosol from primary human cells were highly variable and sequence dependent, and significantly affected the efficiency of cell recognition by CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, multiple clinical isolates of HLA-associated HIV epitope variants displayed reduced half-lives relative to consensus sequence. This decreased cytosolic peptide stability diminished epitope presentation and CTL recognition, illustrating a mechanism of immune escape. Chaperone complexes including Hsp90 and histone deacetylase HDAC6 enhanced peptide stability by transient protection from peptidase degradation. Based on empirical results with 166 peptides, we developed a computational approach utilizing a sequence-based algorithm to estimate the cytosolic stability of antigenic peptides. Our results identify sequence motifs able to alter the amount of peptide available for loading onto MHC-I, suggesting potential new strategies to modulate epitope production from vaccine immunogens.
Current tuberculosis (TB) vaccine strategies are largely aimed at activating conventional T cell responses to mycobacterial protein antigens. However, the lipid-rich cell wall of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) is essential for pathogenicity and provides targets for unconventional T cell recognition. Group 1 CD1–restricted T cells recognize mycobacterial lipids, but their function in human TB is unclear and their ability to establish memory is unknown. Here, we characterized T cells specific for mycolic acid (MA), the predominant mycobacterial cell wall lipid and key virulence factor, in patients with active TB infection. MA-specific T cells were predominant in TB patients at diagnosis, but were absent in uninfected bacillus Calmette-Guérin–vaccinated (BCG-vaccinated) controls. These T cells were CD1b restricted, detectable in blood and disease sites, produced both IFN-γ and IL-2, and exhibited effector and central memory phenotypes. MA-specific responses contracted markedly with declining pathogen burden and, in patients followed longitudinally, exhibited recall expansion upon antigen reencounter in vitro long after successful treatment, indicative of lipid-specific immunological memory. T cell recognition of MA is therefore a significant component of the acute adaptive and memory immune response in TB, suggesting that mycobacterial lipids may be promising targets for improved TB vaccines.
C57BL/6J and 129S6/Sv (B6 and 129) mice differ dramatically in their susceptibility to developing diabetes in response to diet- or genetically induced insulin resistance. A major locus contributing to this difference has been mapped to a region on mouse chromosome 14 that contains the gene encoding PKCδ. Here, we found that PKCδ expression in liver was 2-fold higher in B6 versus 129 mice from birth and was further increased in B6 but not 129 mice in response to a high-fat diet. PRKCD gene expression was also elevated in obese humans and was positively correlated with fasting glucose and circulating triglycerides. Mice with global or liver-specific inactivation of the Prkcd gene displayed increased hepatic insulin signaling and reduced expression of gluconeogenic and lipogenic enzymes. This resulted in increased insulin-induced suppression of hepatic gluconeogenesis, improved glucose tolerance, and reduced hepatosteatosis with aging. Conversely, mice with liver-specific overexpression of PKCδ developed hepatic insulin resistance characterized by decreased insulin signaling, enhanced lipogenic gene expression, and hepatosteatosis. Therefore, changes in the expression and regulation of PKCδ between strains of mice and in obese humans play an important role in the genetic risk of hepatic insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and hepatosteatosis; and thus PKCδ may be a potential target in the treatment of metabolic syndrome.
The adipocyte-derived hormone adiponectin signals from the fat storage depot to regulate metabolism in peripheral tissues. Inversely correlated with body fat levels, adiponectin reduction in obese individuals may play a causal role in the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Adiponectin lowers serum glucose through suppression of hepatic glucose production, an effect attributed to activation of AMPK. Here, we investigated the signaling pathways that mediate the effects of adiponectin by studying mice with inducible hepatic deletion of LKB1, an upstream regulator of AMPK. We found that loss of LKB1 in the liver partially impaired the ability of adiponectin to lower serum glucose, though other actions of the hormone were preserved, including reduction of gluconeogenic gene expression and hepatic glucose production as assessed by euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp. Furthermore, in primary mouse hepatocytes, the absence of LKB1, AMPK, or the transcriptional coactivator CRTC2 did not prevent adiponectin from inhibiting glucose output or reducing gluconeogenic gene expression. These results reveal that whereas some of the hormone’s actions in vivo may be LKB1 dependent, substantial LKB1-, AMPK-, and CRTC2-independent signaling pathways also mediate effects of adiponectin.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation