Confocal immunofluorescence image of whole-mount staining of the myenteric plexus — a network of nerve fibers located within the layer of muscular tissue that lines the digestive system. This plexus is part of the enteric nervous system, a subdivision of the peripheral nervous system that is responsible for controlling the activities of the digestive tract. In this issue of the
We live in a time of increased spending, mounting debt, and few remedies for balancing the federal budget that have bipartisan support. Unfortunately, one recent target for decreased allocations of the federal budget is the NIH; the discussion of the awarded grants and the grant funding process has been skewed and altered to present medical research in an unfriendly light, and this can have very damaging repercussions. Politicizing this process could ultimately challenge human health, technology, and economic growth.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) results from a wide array of processes that impair the kidney’s ability to perform its major functions. As many as 20 million Americans suffer from CKD and nearly a half million from end-stage renal disease, but there are also examples of centenarians with adequate renal function. Family-based and genome-wide studies suggest that genetic differences substantially influence an individual’s lifetime risk for kidney disease. One emerging theme is that evolution of genes related to host defense against pathogens may limit kidney longevity. The identification of these genetic factors will be critical for expanding our understanding of renal development and function as well as for the design of novel therapeutics for kidney disease.
The successful treatment of certain autoimmune conditions with the humanized anti–IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) antibody tocilizumab has emphasized the clinical importance of cytokines that signal through the β-receptor subunit glycoprotein 130 (gp130). In this Review, we explore how gp130 signaling controls disease progression and examine why IL-6 has a special role among these cytokines as an inflammatory regulator. Attention will be given to the role of the soluble IL-6R, and we will provide a perspective into the clinical blockade of IL-6 activity in autoimmunity, inflammation, and cancer.
Prouroguanylin is a gastrointestinal paracrine signal and prohormone that is secreted after nutrient ingestion. In this issue of the JCI, Valentino et al. show that prouroguanylin is converted to uroguanylin in the CNS, which can activate guanylyl cyclase 2C (GUCY2C) receptors in the brain to reduce food intake in mice. This 16–amino acid residue peptide is a novel component of the gut-brain axis that represents a new and unique opportunity to manipulate gut-brain signaling for therapeutic intervention in obesity.
The enteric nervous system (ENS) controls the gastrointestinal system. Enteric glia have long been regarded as the essential “glue” of the ENS. Now, however, two independent reports in this issue of the JCI provide compelling evidence that mouse enteric glia can also be neuronal precursors. These reports show that enteric glia give rise to neurons in vitro and that neurogenesis can be experimentally induced to occur in vivo in the adult mouse ENS. Unfortunately, glia do not constitutively replace neurons, and neurogenesis is not easily provoked. Although these new observations make it clear that clinical trials using glia to replace enteric neurons are more than premature, they are enticing for future research.
Parkinson disease (PD) is a relatively common neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. About 5%–10% of PD cases are inherited. Mutations in the Parkin gene, which encodes a protein that can function as an E3 ubiquitin ligase, are a common cause of familial PD. Such mutations act in a loss-of-function manner and impair the ability of the encoded protein to mediate substrate ubiquitination, although the subsequent molecular pathway that precipitates neuronal degeneration is poorly defined. In this issue of the JCI, Kim and colleagues describe painstaking evidence using a number of dissecting approaches in intact animals and cultured cells to functionally link Parkin and the class B scavenger receptor CD36, suggesting a novel and complex connection between PD and fatty acid metabolism.
Much controversy surrounds the relative role of insulin signaling in the brain in the control of hepatic glucose metabolism. In this issue of the JCI, Ramnanan and colleagues demonstrate that arterial infusion of insulin into the brains of dogs reduces net hepatic glucose output without altering endogenous glucose production. However, this effect was modest and required both prolonged fasting and prolonged exposure of the brain to insulin, raising doubts about the overall physiological relevance of insulin action in the brain on hepatic glucose metabolism. Given the dominant direct role that insulin plays in inhibiting glucose production in the liver, we suggest that the main effect of central insulin on hepatic glucose metabolism may be more chronic and assume greater significance either when portal insulin is deficient, as occurs during exogenous insulin treatment of type 1 diabetes, or when chronic hyperinsulinemia and central insulin resistance develops, as occurs in type 2 diabetes.
For decades, investigators have made numerous attempts to generate human pancreatic β cell lines that could be used to advance β cell biology, facilitate drug discovery, and provide a pathway to β cell replacement therapy for the treatment of diabetes. In this issue of the JCI, Ravassard and colleagues report that this has finally been achieved successfully with a multistep process that led to the generation of cells, which they termed EndoC-βH1 cells, that secreted insulin in response to glucose challenge.
It is unclear whether neurogenesis occurs in the adult mammalian enteric nervous system (ENS). Neural crest–derived cells capable of forming multilineage colonies in culture, and neurons and glia upon transplantation into chick embryos, persist throughout adult life in the mammalian ENS. In this study we sought to determine the physiological function of these cells. We discovered that these cells could be identified based on CD49b expression and that they had characteristics of enteric glia, including p75, GFAP, S100B, and SOX10 expression. To test whether new neurons or glia arise in the adult gut under physiological conditions, we marked dividing progenitors with a thymidine analog in rodents under steady-state conditions, or during aging, pregnancy, dietary changes, hyperglycemia, or exercise. We also tested gut injuries including inflammation, irradiation, benzalkonium chloride treatment, partial gut stenosis, and glial ablation. We readily observed neurogenesis in a neurogenic region of the central nervous system, but not reproducibly in the adult ENS. Lineage tracing of glial cells with GFAP-Cre and GFAP-CreERT2 also detected little or no adult ENS neurogenesis. Neurogenesis in the adult gut is therefore very limited under the conditions we studied. In contrast, ENS gliogenesis was readily observed under steady-state conditions and after injury. Adult enteric glia thus have the potential to form neurons and glia in culture but are fated to form mainly glia under physiological conditions and after the injuries we studied.
The enteric nervous system (ENS) in mammals forms from neural crest cells during embryogenesis and early postnatal life. Nevertheless, multipotent progenitors of the ENS can be identified in the adult intestine using clonal cultures and in vivo transplantation assays. The identity of these neurogenic precursors in the adult gut and their relationship to the embryonic progenitors of the ENS are currently unknown. Using genetic fate mapping, we here demonstrate that mouse neural crest cells marked by SRY box–containing gene 10 (Sox10) generate the neuronal and glial lineages of enteric ganglia. Most neurons originated from progenitors residing in the gut during mid-gestation. Afterward, enteric neurogenesis was reduced, and it ceased between 1 and 3 months of postnatal life. Sox10-expressing cells present in the myenteric plexus of adult mice expressed glial markers, and we found no evidence that these cells participated in neurogenesis under steady-state conditions. However, they retained neurogenic potential, as they were capable of generating neurons with characteristics of enteric neurons in culture. Furthermore, enteric glia gave rise to neurons in vivo in response to chemical injury to the enteric ganglia. Our results indicate that despite the absence of constitutive neurogenesis in the adult gut, enteric glia maintain limited neurogenic potential, which can be activated by tissue dissociation or injury.
Renal tubulointerstitial damage is the final common pathway leading from chronic kidney disease to end-stage renal disease. Inflammation is clearly involved in tubulointerstitial injury, but it remains unclear how the inflammatory processes are initiated and regulated. Here, we have shown that in the mouse kidney, the transcription factor Krüppel-like factor–5 (KLF5) is mainly expressed in collecting duct epithelial cells and that Klf5 haploinsufficient mice (Klf5+/– mice) exhibit ameliorated renal injury in the unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) model of tubulointerstitial disease. Additionally, Klf5 haploinsufficiency reduced accumulation of CD11b+F4/80lo cells, which expressed proinflammatory cytokines and induced apoptosis among renal epithelial cells, phenotypes indicative of M1-type macrophages. By contrast, it increased accumulation of CD11b+F4/80hi macrophages, which expressed CD206 and CD301 and contributed to fibrosis, in part via TGF-β production — phenotypes indicative of M2-type macrophages. Interestingly, KLF5, in concert with C/EBPα, was found to induce expression of the chemotactic proteins S100A8 and S100A9, which recruited inflammatory monocytes to the kidneys and promoted their activation into M1-type macrophages. Finally, assessing the effects of bone marrow–specific Klf5 haploinsufficiency or collecting duct– or myeloid cell–specific Klf5 deletion confirmed that collecting duct expression of Klf5 is essential for inflammatory responses to UUO. Taken together, our results demonstrate that the renal collecting duct plays a pivotal role in the initiation and progression of tubulointerstitial inflammation.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) influence many biological processes, including cancer. They do so by posttranscriptionally repressing target mRNAs to which they have sequence complementarity. Although it has been postulated that miRNAs can regulate other miRNAs, this has never been shown experimentally to our knowledge. Here, we demonstrate that miR-107 negatively regulates the tumor suppressor miRNA let-7 via a direct interaction. miR-107 was found to be highly expressed in malignant tissue from patients with advanced breast cancer, and its expression was inversely correlated with let-7 expression in tumors and in cancer cell lines. Ectopic expression of miR-107 in human cancer cell lines led to destabilization of mature let-7, increased expression of let-7 targets, and increased malignant phenotypes. In contrast, depletion of endogenous miR-107 dramatically increased the stability of mature let-7 and led to downregulation of let-7 targets. Accordingly, miR-107 expression increased the tumorigenic and metastatic potential of a human breast cancer cell line in mice via inhibition of let-7 and upregulation of let-7 targets. By mutating individual sites within miR-107 and let-7, we found that miR-107 directly interacts with let-7 and that the internal loop of the let-7/miR-107 duplex is critical for repression of let-7 expression. Altogether, we have identified an oncogenic role for miR-107 and provide evidence of a transregulational interaction among miRNAs in human cancer development.
Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) capable of self-renewal and differentiation are the foundation for spermatogenesis. Although several factors important for these processes have been identified, the fundamental mechanisms regulating SSC self-renewal and differentiation remain unknown. Here, we investigated a role for the Foxo transcription factors in mouse spermatogenesis and found that Foxo1 specifically marks mouse gonocytes and a subset of spermatogonia with stem cell potential. Genetic analyses showed that Foxo1 was required for both SSC homeostasis and the initiation of spermatogenesis. Combined deficiency of Foxo1, Foxo3, and Foxo4 resulted in a severe impairment of SSC self-renewal and a complete block of differentiation, indicating that Foxo3 and Foxo4, although dispensable for male fertility, contribute to SSC function. By conditional inactivation of 3-phosphoinositide–dependent protein kinase 1 (Pdk1) and phosphatase and tensin homolog (Pten) in the male germ line, we found that PI3K signaling regulates Foxo1 stability and subcellular localization, revealing that the Foxos are pivotal effectors of PI3K-Akt signaling in SSCs. We also identified a network of Foxo gene targets — most notably Ret — that rationalized the maintenance of SSCs by the Foxos. These studies demonstrate that Foxo1 expression in the spermatogenic lineage is intimately associated with the stem cell state and revealed what we believe to be novel Foxo-dependent mechanisms underlying SSC self-renewal and differentiation, with implications for common diseases, including male infertility and testicular cancer, due to abnormalities in SSC function.
Hirschsprung (HSCR) disease is a complex genetic disorder attributed to a failure of the enteric neural crest cells (ENCCs) to form ganglia in the hindgut. Hedgehog and Notch are implicated in mediating proliferation and differentiation of ENCCs. Nevertheless, how these signaling molecules may interact to mediate gut colonization by ENCCs and contribute to a primary etiology for HSCR are not known. Here, we report our pathway-based epistasis analysis of data generated by a genome-wide association study on HSCR disease, which indicates that specific genotype constellations of Patched (PTCH1) (which encodes a receptor for Hedgehog) and delta-like 3 (DLL3) (which encodes a receptor for Notch) SNPs confer higher risk to HSCR. Importantly, deletion of Ptch1 in mouse ENCCs induced robust Dll1 expression and activation of the Notch pathway, leading to premature gliogenesis and reduction of ENCC progenitors in mutant bowels. Dll1 integrated Hedgehog and Notch pathways to coordinate neuronal and glial cell differentiation during enteric nervous system development. In addition, Hedgehog-mediated gliogenesis was found to be highly conserved, such that Hedgehog was consistently able to promote gliogenesis of human neural crest–related precursors. Collectively, we defined PTCH1 and DLL3 as HSCR susceptibility genes and suggest that Hedgehog/Notch-induced premature gliogenesis may represent a new disease mechanism for HSCR.
Epigenetic regulation of gene expression, through covalent modification of histones, is a key process controlling growth and development. Accordingly, the transcription factors regulating these processes are important targets of genetic diseases. However, surprisingly little is known about the relationship between aberrant epigenetic states, the cellular process affected, and their phenotypic consequences. By chromosomal breakpoint mapping in a patient with a Noonan syndrome–like phenotype that encompassed short stature, blepharoptosis, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, we identified haploinsufficiency of the histone acetyltransferase gene MYST histone acetyltransferase (monocytic leukemia) 4 (MYST4), as the underlying cause of the phenotype. Using acetylation, whole genome expression, and ChIP studies in cells from the patient, cell lines in which MYST4 expression was knocked down using siRNA, and the Myst4 querkopf mouse, we found that H3 acetylation is important for neural, craniofacial, and skeletal morphogenesis, mainly through its ability to specifically regulating the MAPK signaling pathway. This finding further elucidates the complex role of histone modifications in mammalian development and adds what we believe to be a new mechanism to the pathogenic phenotypes resulting from misregulation of the RAS signaling pathway.
The heterotrimeric G protein subunit Gsα stimulates cAMP-dependent signaling downstream of G protein–coupled receptors. In this study, we set out to determine the role of Gsα signaling in cells of the early osteoblast lineage in vivo by conditionally deleting Gsα from osterix-expressing cells. This led to severe osteoporosis with fractures at birth, a phenotype that was found to be the consequence of impaired bone formation rather than increased resorption. Osteoblast number was markedly decreased and osteogenic differentiation was accelerated, resulting in the formation of woven bone. Rapid differentiation of mature osteoblasts into matrix-embedded osteocytes likely contributed to depletion of the osteoblast pool. In addition, the number of committed osteoblast progenitors was diminished in both bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) and calvarial cells of mutant mice. In the absence of Gsα, expression of sclerostin and dickkopf1 (Dkk1), inhibitors of canonical Wnt signaling, was markedly increased; this was accompanied by reduced Wnt signaling in the osteoblast lineage. In summary, we have shown that Gsα regulates bone formation by at least two distinct mechanisms: facilitating the commitment of mesenchymal progenitors to the osteoblast lineage in association with enhanced Wnt signaling; and restraining the differentiation of committed osteoblasts to enable production of bone of optimal mass, quality, and strength.
Osteoclasts are terminally differentiated leukocytes that erode the mineralized bone matrix. Osteoclastogenesis requires costimulatory receptor signaling through adaptors containing immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motifs (ITAMs), such as Fc receptor common γ (FcRγ) and DNAX-activating protein of 12 kDa. Identification of these ITAM-containing receptors and their ligands remains a high research priority, since the stimuli for osteoclastogenesis are only partly defined. Osteoclast-associated receptor (OSCAR) was proposed to be a potent FcRγ-associated costimulatory receptor expressed by preosteoclasts in vitro, but OSCAR lacks a cognate ligand and its role in vivo has been unclear. Using samples from mice and patients deficient in various ITAM signaling pathways, we show here that OSCAR costimulates one of the major FcRγ-associated pathways required for osteoclastogenesis in vivo. Furthermore, we found that OSCAR binds to specific motifs within fibrillar collagens in the ECM that become revealed on nonquiescent bone surfaces in which osteoclasts undergo maturation and terminal differentiation in vivo. OSCAR promoted osteoclastogenesis in vivo, and OSCAR binding to its collagen motif led to signaling that increased numbers of osteoclasts in culture. Thus, our results suggest that ITAM-containing receptors can respond to exposed ligands in collagen, leading to the functional differentiation of leukocytes, which provides what we believe to be a new concept for ITAM regulation of cytokine receptors in different tissue microenvironments.
The immune and coagulation systems are both implicated in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Plasma carboxypeptidase B (CPB), which is activated by the thrombin/thrombomodulin complex, plays a procoagulant role during fibrin clot formation. However, an antiinflammatory role for CPB is suggested by the recent observation that CPB can cleave proinflammatory mediators, such as C5a, bradykinin, and osteopontin. Here, we show that CPB plays a central role in downregulating C5a-mediated inflammatory responses in autoimmune arthritis. CPB deficiency exacerbated inflammatory arthritis in a mouse model of RA, and cleavage of C5a by CPB suppressed the ability of C5a to recruit immune cells in vivo. In human patients with RA, genotyping of nonsynonymous SNPs in the CPB-encoding gene revealed that the allele encoding a CPB variant with longer half-life was associated with a lower risk of developing radiographically severe RA. Functionally, this CPB variant was more effective at abrogating the proinflammatory properties of C5a. Additionally, expression of both CPB and C5a in synovial fluid was higher in patients with RA than in those with osteoarthritis. These findings suggest that CPB plays a critical role in dampening local, C5a-mediated inflammation and represents a molecular link between inflammation and coagulation in autoimmune arthritis.
The drug development process for CNS indications is hampered by a paucity of preclinical tests that accurately predict drug efficacy in humans. Here, we show that a wide variety of CNS-active drugs induce characteristic alterations in visual stimulus–induced and/or spontaneous eye movements in mice. Active compounds included sedatives and antipsychotic, antidepressant, and antiseizure drugs as well as drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, morphine, and phencyclidine. The use of quantitative eye-movement analysis was demonstrated by comparing it with the commonly used rotarod test of motor coordination and by using eye movements to monitor pharmacokinetics, blood-brain barrier penetration, drug-receptor interactions, heavy metal toxicity, pharmacologic treatment in a model of schizophrenia, and degenerative CNS disease. We conclude that eye-movement analysis could complement existing animal tests to improve preclinical drug development.
Mutations in myocilin (MYOC) are the most common genetic cause of primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), but the mechanisms underlying MYOC-associated glaucoma are not fully understood. Here, we report the development of a transgenic mouse model of POAG caused by the Y437H MYOC mutation; the mice are referred to herein as Tg-MYOCY437H mice. Analysis of adult Tg-MYOCY437H mice, which we showed express human MYOC containing the Y437H mutation within relevant eye tissues, revealed that they display glaucoma phenotypes (i.e., elevated intraocular pressure [IOP], retinal ganglion cell death, and axonal degeneration) closely resembling those seen in patients with POAG caused by the Y437H MYOC mutation. Mutant myocilin was not secreted into the aqueous humor but accumulated in the ER of the trabecular meshwork (TM), thereby inducing ER stress in the TM of Tg-MYOCY437H mice. Furthermore, chronic and persistent ER stress was found to be associated with TM cell death and elevation of IOP in Tg-MYOCY437H mice. Reduction of ER stress with a chemical chaperone, phenylbutyric acid (PBA), prevented glaucoma phenotypes in Tg-MYOCY437H mice by promoting the secretion of mutant myocilin in the aqueous humor and by decreasing intracellular accumulation of myocilin in the ER, thus preventing TM cell death. These results demonstrate that ER stress is linked to the pathogenesis of POAG and may be a target for treatment in human patients.
Azithromycin is a potent macrolide antibiotic with poorly understood antiinflammatory properties. Long-term use of azithromycin in patients with chronic inflammatory lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis (CF), results in improved outcomes. Paradoxically, a recent study reported that azithromycin use in patients with CF is associated with increased infection with nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). Here, we confirm that long-term azithromycin use by adults with CF is associated with the development of infection with NTM, particularly the multi-drug-resistant species Mycobacterium abscessus, and identify an underlying mechanism. We found that in primary human macrophages, concentrations of azithromycin achieved during therapeutic dosing blocked autophagosome clearance by preventing lysosomal acidification, thereby impairing autophagic and phagosomal degradation. As a consequence, azithromycin treatment inhibited intracellular killing of mycobacteria within macrophages and resulted in chronic infection with NTM in mice. Our findings emphasize the essential role for autophagy in the host response to infection with NTM, reveal why chronic use of azithromycin may predispose to mycobacterial disease, and highlight the dangers of inadvertent pharmacological blockade of autophagy in patients at risk of infection with drug-resistant pathogens.
IgE has a key role in the pathogenesis of allergic responses through its ability to activate mast cells via the receptor FcεR1. In addition to mast cells, many cell types implicated in atherogenesis express FcεR1, but whether IgE has a role in this disease has not been determined. Here, we demonstrate that serum IgE levels are elevated in patients with myocardial infarction or unstable angina pectoris. We found that IgE and the FcεR1 subunit FcεR1α were present in human atherosclerotic lesions and that they localized particularly to macrophage-rich areas. In mice, absence of FcεR1α reduced inflammation and apoptosis in atherosclerotic plaques and reduced the burden of disease. In cultured macrophages, the presence of TLR4 was required for FcεR1 activity. IgE stimulated the interaction between FcεR1 and TLR4, thereby inducing macrophage signal transduction, inflammatory molecule expression, and apoptosis. These IgE activities were reduced in the absence of FcεR1 or TLR4. Furthermore, IgE activated macrophages by enhancing Na+/H+ exchanger 1 (NHE1) activity. Inactivation of NHE1 blocked IgE-induced macrophage production of inflammatory molecules and apoptosis. Cultured human aortic SMCs (HuSMCs) and ECs also exhibited IgE-induced signal transduction, cytokine expression, and apoptosis. In human atherosclerotic lesions, SMCs and ECs colocalized with IgE and TUNEL staining. This study reveals what we believe to be several previously unrecognized IgE activities that affect arterial cell biology and likely other IgE-associated pathologies in human diseases.
Intestinal enteroendocrine cells are critical to central regulation of caloric consumption, since they activate hypothalamic circuits that decrease appetite and thereby restrict meal size by secreting hormones in response to nutrients in the gut. Although guanylyl cyclase and downstream cGMP are essential regulators of centrally regulated feeding behavior in invertebrates, the role of this primordial signaling mechanism in mammalian appetite regulation has eluded definition. In intestinal epithelial cells, guanylyl cyclase 2C (GUCY2C) is a transmembrane receptor that makes cGMP in response to the paracrine hormones guanylin and uroguanylin, which regulate epithelial cell dynamics along the crypt-villus axis. Here, we show that silencing of GUCY2C in mice disrupts satiation, resulting in hyperphagia and subsequent obesity and metabolic syndrome. This defined an appetite-regulating uroguanylin-GUCY2C endocrine axis, which we confirmed by showing that nutrient intake induces intestinal prouroguanylin secretion into the circulation. The prohormone signal is selectively decoded in the hypothalamus by proteolytic liberation of uroguanylin, inducing GUCY2C signaling and consequent activation of downstream anorexigenic pathways. Thus, evolutionary diversification of primitive guanylyl cyclase signaling pathways allows GUCY2C to coordinate endocrine regulation of central food acquisition pathways with paracrine control of intestinal homeostasis. Moreover, the uroguanylin-GUCY2C endocrine axis may provide a therapeutic target to control appetite, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.
Despite intense efforts over the past 30 years, human pancreatic β cell lines have not been available. Here, we describe a robust technology for producing a functional human β cell line using targeted oncogenesis in human fetal tissue. Human fetal pancreatic buds were transduced with a lentiviral vector that expressed SV40LT under the control of the insulin promoter. The transduced buds were then grafted into SCID mice so that they could develop into mature pancreatic tissue. Upon differentiation, the newly formed SV40LT-expressing β cells proliferated and formed insulinomas. The resulting β cells were then transduced with human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT), grafted into other SCID mice, and finally expanded in vitro to generate cell lines. One of these cell lines, EndoC-βH1, expressed many β cell–specific markers without any substantial expression of markers of other pancreatic cell types. The cells secreted insulin when stimulated by glucose or other insulin secretagogues, and cell transplantation reversed chemically induced diabetes in mice. These cells represent a unique tool for large-scale drug discovery and provide a preclinical model for cell replacement therapy in diabetes. This technology could be generalized to generate other human cell lines when the cell type–specific promoter is available.
The worldwide prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D), which is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors, is increasing. With regard to genetic factors, variations in the gene encoding Cdk5 regulatory associated protein 1–like 1 (Cdkal1) have been associated with an impaired insulin response and increased risk of T2D across different ethnic populations, but the molecular function of this protein has not been characterized. Here, we show that Cdkal1 is a mammalian methylthiotransferase that biosynthesizes 2-methylthio-N6-threonylcarbamoyladenosine (ms2t6A) in tRNALys(UUU) and that it is required for the accurate translation of AAA and AAG codons. Mice with pancreatic β cell–specific KO of Cdkal1 (referred to herein as β cell KO mice) showed pancreatic islet hypertrophy, a decrease in insulin secretion, and impaired blood glucose control. In Cdkal1-deficient β cells, misreading of Lys codon in proinsulin occurred, resulting in a reduction of glucose-stimulated proinsulin synthesis. Moreover, expression of ER stress–related genes was upregulated in these cells, and abnormally structured ER was observed. Further, the β cell KO mice were hypersensitive to high fat diet–induced ER stress. These findings suggest that glucose-stimulated translation of proinsulin may require fully modified tRNALys(UUU), which could potentially explain the molecular pathogenesis of T2D in patients carrying cdkal1 risk alleles.
NK cells are a major component of the antitumor immune response and are involved in controlling tumor progression and metastases in animal models. Here, we show that dysfunction of these cells accompanies human breast tumor progression. We characterized human peripheral blood NK (p-NK) cells and malignant mammary tumor-infiltrating NK (Ti-NK) cells from patients with noninvasive and invasive breast cancers. NK cells isolated from the peripheral blood of healthy donors and normal breast tissue were used as controls. With disease progression, we found that expression of activating NK cell receptors (such as NKp30, NKG2D, DNAM-1, and CD16) decreased while expression of inhibitory receptors (such as NKG2A) increased and that this correlated with decreased NK cell function, most notably cytotoxicity. Importantly, Ti-NK cells had more pronounced impairment of their cytotoxic potential than p-NK cells. We also identified several stroma-derived factors, including TGF-β1, involved in tumor-induced reduction of normal NK cell function. Our data therefore show that breast tumor progression involves NK cell dysfunction and that breast tumors model their environment to evade NK cell antitumor immunity. This highlights the importance of developing future therapies able to restore NK cell cytotoxicity to limit/prevent tumor escape from antitumor immunity.
Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) is the recently discovered cause of most Merkel cell carcinomas (MCCs), an aggressive form of nonmelanoma skin cancer. Although MCV is known to integrate into the tumor cell genome and to undergo mutation, the molecular mechanisms used by this virus to cause cancer are unknown. Here, we show that MCV small T (sT) antigen is expressed in most MCC tumors, where it is required for tumor cell growth. Unlike the closely related SV40 sT, MCV sT transformed rodent fibroblasts to anchorage- and contact-independent growth and promoted serum-free proliferation of human cells. These effects did not involve protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) inhibition. MCV sT was found to act downstream in the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway to preserve eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E–binding protein 1 (4E-BP1) hyperphosphorylation, resulting in dysregulated cap-dependent translation. MCV sT–associated 4E-BP1 serine 65 hyperphosphorylation was resistant to mTOR complex (mTORC1) and mTORC2 inhibitors. Steady-state phosphorylation of other downstream Akt-mTOR targets, including S6K and 4E-BP2, was also increased by MCV sT. Expression of a constitutively active 4E-BP1 that could not be phosphorylated antagonized the cell transformation activity of MCV sT. Taken together, these experiments showed that 4E-BP1 inhibition is required for MCV transformation. Thus, MCV sT is an oncoprotein, and its effects on dysregulated cap-dependent translation have clinical implications for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of MCV-related cancers.
Protein tyrosine phosphatase nonreceptor type 22 (PTPN22) gene polymorphisms are associated with many autoimmune diseases. The major risk allele encodes an R620W amino acid change that alters B cell receptor (BCR) signaling involved in the regulation of central B cell tolerance. To assess whether this PTPN22 risk allele affects the removal of developing autoreactive B cells, we tested by ELISA the reactivity of recombinant antibodies isolated from single B cells from asymptomatic healthy individuals carrying one or two PTPN22 risk allele(s) encoding the PTPN22 R620W variant. We found that new emigrant/transitional and mature naive B cells from carriers of this PTPN22 risk allele contained high frequencies of autoreactive clones compared with those from non-carriers, revealing defective central and peripheral B cell tolerance checkpoints. Hence, a single PTPN22 risk allele has a dominant effect on altering autoreactive B cell counterselection before any onset of autoimmunity. In addition, gene array experiments analyzing mature naive B cells displaying PTPN22 risk allele(s) revealed that the association strength of PTPN22 for autoimmunity may be due not only to the impaired removal of autoreactive B cells but also to the upregulation of genes such as CD40, TRAF1, and IRF5, which encode proteins that promote B cell activation and have been identified as susceptibility genes associated with autoimmune diseases. These data demonstrate that early B cell tolerance defects in autoimmunity can result from specific polymorphisms and precede the onset of disease.
T cell Ig domain and mucin domain protein 1 (TIM-1) is a costimulatory molecule that regulates immune responses by modulating CD4+ T cell effector differentiation. However, the function of TIM-1 on other immune cell populations is unknown. Here, we show that in vivo in mice, TIM-1 is predominantly expressed on B rather than T cells. Importantly, TIM-1 was expressed by a large majority of IL-10–expressing regulatory B cells in all major B cell subpopulations, including transitional, marginal zone, and follicular B cells, as well as the B cell population characterized as CD1dhiCD5+. A low-affinity TIM-1–specific antibody that normally promotes tolerance in mice, actually accelerated (T cell–mediated) immune responsiveness in the absence of B cells. TIM-1+ B cells were highly enriched for IL-4 and IL-10 expression, promoted Th2 responses, and could directly transfer allograft tolerance. Both cytokine expression and number of TIM-1+ regulatory B cells (Bregs) were induced by TIM-1–specific antibody, and this was dependent on IL-4 signaling. Thus, TIM-1 is an inclusive marker for IL-10+ Bregs that can be induced by TIM-1 ligation. These findings suggest that TIM-1 may be a novel therapeutic target for modulating the immune response and provide insight into the signals involved in the generation and induction of Bregs.
Pneumococcal infection of the respiratory tract is often secondary to recent influenza virus infection and accounts for much of the morbidity and mortality during seasonal and pandemic influenza. Here, we show that coinfection of the upper respiratory tract of mice with influenza virus and pneumococcus leads to synergistic stimulation of type I IFNs and that this impairs the recruitment of macrophages, which are required for pneumococcal clearance, due to decreased production of the chemokine CCL2. Type I IFN expression was induced by pneumococcal colonization alone. Colonization followed by influenza coinfection led to a synergistic type I IFN response, resulting in increased density of colonizing bacteria and susceptibility to invasive infection. This enhanced type I IFN response inhibited production of the chemokine CCL2, which promotes the recruitment of macrophages and bacterial clearance. Stimulation of CCL2 by macrophages upon pneumococcal infection alone required the pattern recognition receptor Nod2 and expression of the pore-forming toxin pneumolysin. Indeed, the increased colonization associated with concurrent influenza virus infection was not observed in mice lacking Nod2 or the type I IFN receptor, or in mice challenged with pneumococci lacking pneumolysin. We therefore propose that the synergistic stimulation of type I IFN production during concurrent influenza virus and pneumococcal infection leads to increased bacterial colonization and suggest that this may contribute to the higher rates of disease associated with coinfection in humans.
Streptococcus pneumoniae colonizes the mucosal surface of the human upper respiratory tract. A colonization event is gradually cleared through phagocytosis by monocytes/macrophages that are recruited to the airway lumen. Here, we sought to define the bacterial and host factors that promote monocyte/macrophage influx and S. pneumoniae clearance using intranasal bacterial challenge in mice. We found that the recruitment of monocytes/macrophages required their expression of the chemokine receptor CCR2 and correlated with expression of the CCR2 ligand CCL2. Production of CCL2 and monocyte/macrophage recruitment were deficient in mice lacking digestion of peptidoglycan by lysozyme (LysM) and cytosolic sensing of the products of digestion by Nod2. Ex vivo macrophages produced CCL2 following bacterial uptake, digestion by LysM, and sensing of peptidoglycan by Nod2. Sensing of digested peptidoglycan by Nod2 also required the pore-forming toxin pneumolysin. The generation of an adaptive immune response, as measured by anti-pneumococcal antibody titers, was also LysM- and Nod2-dependent. Together, our data suggest that bacterial uptake by professional phagocytes is followed by LysM-mediated digestion of S. pneumoniae–derived peptidoglycan, sensing of the resulting products by Nod2, release of the chemokine CCL2, and CCR2-dependent recruitment of the additional monocytes/macrophages required for the clearance of an S. pneumoniae colonization event.
Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is a severe autoimmune disease involving blistering of the skin and mucous membranes. It is caused by autoantibodies against desmoglein 3 (Dsg3), an adhesion molecule critical for maintaining epithelial integrity in the skin, oral mucosa, and esophagus. Knowing the antigen targeted by the autoantibodies renders PV a valuable model of autoimmunity. Recently, a role for Dsg3-specific CD4+ T helper cells in autoantibody production was demonstrated in a mouse model of PV, but whether these cells exert cytotoxicity in the tissues is unclear. Here, we analyzed 3 Dsg3-specific TCRs using transgenic mice and retrovirus induction. Dsg3-specific transgenic (Dsg3H1) T cells underwent deletion in the presence of Dsg3 in vivo. Dsg3H1 T cells that developed in the absence of Dsg3 elicited a severe pemphigus-like phenotype when cotransferred into immunodeficient mice with B cells from Dsg3–/– mice. Strikingly, in addition to humoral responses, T cell infiltration of Dsg3-expressing tissues led to interface dermatitis, a distinct form of T cell–mediated autoimmunity that causes keratinocyte apoptosis and is seen in various inflammatory/autoimmune skin diseases, including paraneoplastic pemphigus. The use of retrovirally generated Dsg3-specific T cells revealed that interface dermatitis occurred in an IFN-γ– and TCR avidity–dependent manner. This model of autoimmunity demonstrates that T cells specific for a physiological skin-associated autoantigen are capable of inducing interface dermatitis and should provide a valuable tool for further exploring the immunopathophysiology of T cell–mediated skin diseases.
The ubiquitin-proteasome system degrades most intracellular proteins, including misfolded proteins. Proteasome functional insufficiency (PFI) has been observed in proteinopathies, such as desmin-related cardiomyopathy, and implicated in many common diseases, including dilated cardiomyopathy and ischemic heart disease. However, the pathogenic role of PFI has not been established. Here we created inducible Tg mice with cardiomyocyte-restricted overexpression of proteasome 28 subunit α (CR-PA28αOE) to investigate whether upregulation of the 11S proteasome enhances the proteolytic function of the proteasome in mice and, if so, whether the enhancement can rescue a bona fide proteinopathy and protect against ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. We found that CR-PA28αOE did not alter the homeostasis of normal proteins and cardiac function, but did facilitate the degradation of a surrogate misfolded protein in the heart. By breeding mice with CR-PA28αOE with mice representing a well-established model of desmin-related cardiomyopathy, we demonstrated that CR-PA28αOE markedly reduced aberrant protein aggregation. Cardiac hypertrophy was decreased, and the lifespan of the animals was increased. Furthermore, PA28α knockdown promoted, whereas PA28α overexpression attenuated, accumulation of the mutant protein associated with desmin-related cardiomyopathy in cultured cardiomyocytes. Moreover, CR-PA28αOE limited infarct size and prevented postreperfusion cardiac dysfunction in mice with myocardial I/R injury. We therefore conclude that benign enhancement of cardiac proteasome proteolytic function can be achieved by CR-PA28αOE and that PFI plays a major pathogenic role in cardiac proteinopathy and myocardial I/R injury.
It has long been hypothesized that abnormalities in lipid biology contribute to degenerative brain diseases. Consistent with this, emerging epidemiologic evidence links lipid alterations with Parkinson disease (PD), and disruption of lipid metabolism has been found to predispose to α-synuclein toxicity. We therefore investigated whether Parkin, an E3 ubiquitin ligase found to be defective in patients with early onset PD, regulates systemic lipid metabolism. We perturbed lipid levels by exposing Parkin+/+ and Parkin–/– mice to a high-fat and -cholesterol diet (HFD). Parkin–/– mice resisted weight gain, steatohepatitis, and insulin resistance. In wild-type mice, the HFD markedly increased hepatic Parkin levels in parallel with lipid transport proteins, including CD36, Sr-B1, and FABP. These lipid transport proteins were not induced in Parkin–/– mice. The role of Parkin in fat uptake was confirmed by increased oleate accumulation in hepatocytes overexpressing Parkin and decreased uptake in Parkin–/– mouse embryonic fibroblasts and patient cells harboring complex heterozygous mutations in the Parkin-encoding gene PARK2. Parkin conferred this effect, in part, via ubiquitin-mediated stabilization of the lipid transporter CD36. Reconstitution of Parkin restored hepatic fat uptake and CD36 levels in Parkin–/– mice, and Parkin augmented fat accumulation during adipocyte differentiation. These results demonstrate that Parkin is regulated in a lipid-dependent manner and modulates systemic fat uptake via ubiquitin ligase–dependent effects. Whether this metabolic regulation contributes to premature Parkinsonism warrants investigation.
In rodents, acute brain insulin action reduces blood glucose levels by suppressing the expression of enzymes in the hepatic gluconeogenic pathway, thereby reducing gluconeogenesis and endogenous glucose production (EGP). Whether a similar mechanism is functional in large animals, including humans, is unknown. Here, we demonstrated that in canines, physiologic brain hyperinsulinemia brought about by infusion of insulin into the head arteries (during a pancreatic clamp to maintain basal hepatic insulin and glucagon levels) activated hypothalamic Akt, altered STAT3 signaling in the liver, and suppressed hepatic gluconeogenic gene expression without altering EGP or gluconeogenesis. Rather, brain hyperinsulinemia slowly caused a modest reduction in net hepatic glucose output (NHGO) that was attributable to increased net hepatic glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis. This was associated with decreased levels of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) protein and mRNA and with decreased glycogen synthase phosphorylation, changes that were blocked by hypothalamic PI3K inhibition. Therefore, we conclude that the canine brain senses physiologic elevations in plasma insulin, and that this in turn regulates genetic events in the liver. In the context of basal insulin and glucagon levels at the liver, this input augments hepatic glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis, reducing NHGO without altering EGP.
High plasma concentrations of lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a), which is encoded by the APOA gene] increase an individual’s risk of developing diseases, such as coronary artery diseases, restenosis, and stroke. Unfortunately, increased Lp(a) levels are minimally influenced by dietary changes or drug treatment. Further, the development of Lp(a)-specific medications has been hampered by limited knowledge of Lp(a) metabolism. In this study, we identified patients suffering from biliary obstructions with very low plasma Lp(a) concentrations that rise substantially after surgical intervention. Consistent with this, common bile duct ligation in mice transgenic for human APOA (tg-APOA mice) lowered plasma concentrations and hepatic expression of APOA. To test whether farnesoid X receptor (FXR), which is activated by bile acids, was responsible for the low plasma Lp(a) levels in cholestatic patients and mice, we treated tg-APOA and tg-APOA/Fxr–/– mice with cholic acid. FXR activation markedly reduced plasma concentrations and hepatic expression of human APOA in tg-APOA mice but not in tg-APOA/Fxr–/– mice. Incubation of primary hepatocytes from tg-APOA mice with bile acids dose dependently downregulated APOA expression. Further analysis determined that the direct repeat 1 element between nucleotides –826 and –814 of the APOA promoter functioned as a negative FXR response element. This motif is also bound by hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α), which promotes APOA transcription, and FXR was shown to compete with HNF4α for binding to this motif. These findings may have important implications in the development of Lp(a)-lowering medications.
Reduced bone morphogenetic protein receptor 2 (BMPR2) expression in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) can impair pulmonary arterial EC (PAEC) function. This can adversely affect EC survival and promote SMC proliferation. We hypothesized that interventions to normalize expression of genes that are targets of BMPR2 signaling could restore PAEC function and prevent or reverse PAH. Here we have characterized, in human PAECs, a BMPR2-mediated transcriptional complex between PPARγ and β-catenin and shown that disruption of this complex impaired BMP-mediated PAEC survival. Using whole genome-wide ChIP-Chip promoter analysis and gene expression microarrays, we delineated PPARγ/β-catenin–dependent transcription of target genes including APLN, which encodes apelin. We documented reduced PAEC expression of apelin in PAH patients versus controls. In cell culture experiments, we showed that apelin-deficient PAECs were prone to apoptosis and promoted pulmonary arterial SMC (PASMC) proliferation. Conversely, we established that apelin, like BMPR2 ligands, suppressed proliferation and induced apoptosis of PASMCs. Consistent with these functions, administration of apelin reversed PAH in mice with reduced production of apelin resulting from deletion of PPARγ in ECs. Taken together, our findings suggest that apelin could be effective in treating PAH by rescuing BMPR2 and PAEC dysfunction.
Aberrant regulation of eNOS and associated NO release are directly linked with various vascular diseases. Caveolin-1 (Cav-1), the main coat protein of caveolae, is highly expressed in endothelial cells. Its scaffolding domain serves as an endogenous negative regulator of eNOS function. Structure-function analysis of Cav-1 has shown that phenylalanine 92 (F92) is critical for the inhibitory actions of Cav-1 toward eNOS. Herein, we show that F92A–Cav-1 and a mutant cell–permeable scaffolding domain peptide called Cavnoxin can increase basal NO release in eNOS-expressing cells. Cavnoxin reduced vascular tone ex vivo and lowered blood pressure in normal mice. In contrast, similar experiments performed with eNOS- or Cav-1–deficient mice showed that the vasodilatory effect of Cavnoxin is abolished in the absence of these gene products, which indicates a high level of eNOS/Cav-1 specificity. Mechanistically, biochemical assays indicated that noninhibitory F92A–Cav-1 and Cavnoxin specifically disrupted the inhibitory actions of endogenous Cav-1 toward eNOS and thereby enhanced basal NO release. Collectively, these data raise the possibility of studying the inhibitory influence of Cav-1 on eNOS without interfering with the other actions of endogenous Cav-1. They also suggest a therapeutic application for regulating the eNOS/Cav-1 interaction in diseases characterized by decreased NO release.
Lithium is the first-line therapy for bipolar disorder. However, its therapeutic target remains controversial. Candidates include inositol monophosphatases, glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3), and a β-arrestin-2/AKT/protein phosphatase 2A (β-arrestin-2/AKT/PP2A) complex that is known to be required for lithium-sensitive behaviors. Defining the direct target(s) is critical for the development of new therapies and for elucidating the molecular pathogenesis of this major psychiatric disorder. Here, we show what we believe to be a new link between GSK-3 and the β-arrestin-2 complex in mice and propose an integrated mechanism that accounts for the effects of lithium on multiple behaviors. GSK-3β (Gsk3b) overexpression reversed behavioral defects observed in lithium-treated mice and similar behaviors observed in Gsk3b+/– mice. Furthermore, immunoprecipitation of striatial tissue from WT mice revealed that lithium disrupted the β-arrestin-2/Akt/PP2A complex by directly inhibiting GSK-3. GSK-3 inhibitors or loss of one copy of the Gsk3b gene reduced β-arrestin-2/Akt/PP2A complex formation in mice, while overexpression of Gsk3b restored complex formation in lithium-treated mice. Thus, GSK-3 regulates the stability of the β-arrestin-2/Akt/PP2A complex, and lithium disrupts the complex through direct inhibition of GSK-3. We believe these findings reveal a new role for GSK-3 within the β-arrestin complex and demonstrate that GSK-3 is a critical target of lithium in mammalian behaviors.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation