The ability to visualize complex immune responses, such as autoimmune disorders and infection response, is currently limited, with clinical imaging techniques lacking sufficient resolution and more sensitive, high-resolution techniques lacking penetration depth. On page 4439, Brede et al. describe a new method of visualizing immune processes at a single-cell level within intact murine organs. Here, a computational 3D reconstruction using high-resolution multiple color light sheet fluorescence microscopy shows high endothelial venules (cyan) and CD4+ T cells (red) in a Peyer’s patch.
With the December issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, I announce the launch of a new category of manuscript called “Clinical Medicine,” along with new editorial board members to adjudicate the peer-review process. With this initiative, the journal aims to publish the highest quality human research that reports early-stage, effective new therapies that impact disease outcomes.
Recent clinical and experimental studies are redefining the cellular and molecular bases of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The genetic abnormalities first identified in association with the idiopathic form of PAH — together with a vast increase in our understanding of cell signaling, cell transformation, and cell-cell interactions; gene expression; microRNA processing; and mitochondrial and ion channel function — have helped explain the abnormal response of vascular cells to injury. Experimental and clinical studies now converge on the intersection and interactions between a genetic predisposition involving the BMPR2 signaling pathway and an impaired metabolic and chronic inflammatory state in the vessel wall. These deranged processes culminate in an exuberant proliferative response that occludes the pulmonary arterial (PA) lumen and obliterates the most distal intraacinar vessels. Here, we describe emerging therapies based on preclinical studies that address these converging pathways.
Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most frequent form of inherited intellectual disability and is also linked to other neurologic and psychiatric disorders. FXS is caused by a triplet expansion that inhibits expression of the FMR1 gene; the gene product, FMRP, regulates mRNA metabolism in the brain and thus controls the expression of key molecules involved in receptor signaling and spine morphology. While there is no definitive cure for FXS, the understanding of FMRP function has paved the way for rational treatment designs that could potentially reverse many of the neurobiological changes observed in FXS. Additionally, behavioral, pharmacological, and cognitive interventions can raise the quality of life for both patients and their families.
Some 30 years ago, we applied the newly described method of dual photon absorptiometry (DPA) to demonstrate that osteoporotic women with vertebral fractures had lost substantially more bone from the vertebrae than controls. This opened a whole new field of research into the determinants of bone loss and fractures in the axial skeleton and set the stage for subsequent development of dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and quantitative computed tomography (QCT), which are now the standard methods for assessing osteoporosis severity and treatment efficacy.
The mitotic checkpoint plays an important role in preventing chromosome segregation errors and the production of aneuploid progeny. In this issue, Zhang et al. examine mice and cells lacking the deubiquitinating enzyme USP44. Surprisingly, they find that USP44 prevents chromosome segregation errors through a function independent of its previously identified role in the mitotic checkpoint. Usp44-null animals develop aneuploidy and experience increased rates of tumorigenesis, implicating USP44 as novel tumor suppressor.
The transport of heme across membranes is critical for iron absorption, the formation of hemoglobin and other hemoproteins, and iron recycling in macrophages. However, the identity of heme transport proteins has been elusive. In this issue of the JCI, Chiabrando et al. reveal that an isoform of the feline leukemia virus subgroup C receptor (FLVCR1) exports heme from the mitochondria and is critical for erythroid differentiation.
In the kidney, the slit diaphragm joins adjacent podocytes, forming an epithelial barrier that filters plasma into the urinary space, yet retains blood cells and proteins within the circulation. In this issue of the JCI, Soda et al. have identified clathrin-mediated endocytosis as a central mechanism by which the function and structural integrity of the slit diaphragm are maintained.
Mutations in the skeletal muscle voltage-gated calcium channel (CaV1.1) have been associated with hypokalemic periodic paralysis, but how the pathogenesis of this disorder relates to the functional consequences of mutations was unclear. In this issue of the JCI, Wu and colleagues recapitulate the disease by generating a novel knock-in CaV1.1 mutant mouse and use this model to investigate the cellular and molecular features of pathogenesis. They demonstrated an aberrant muscle cell current conducted through the CaV1.1 voltage-sensor domain (gating pore current) that explains an abnormally depolarized muscle membrane and the failure of muscle action potential firing during challenge with agents known to provoke periodic paralysis. Their work advances understanding of molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying an inherited channelopathy.
Low levels of phosphate can disrupt bone ossification and predispose to fractures. FGF23 is one of the major determinants of phosphate homeostasis, acting to increase urinary phosphate excretion. However, the regulation of FGF23 is incompletely understood. In this issue of the JCI, Smith et al. show that the cleaved form of αKlotho, the membrane-bound form of which is an FGF23 coreceptor, serves as a novel endocrine regulator of phosphate homeostasis, capable of inducing FGF23 production in osteocytes.
Transexamic acid (TXA) is an antifibrinolytic that has been used successfully to prevent blood loss during major surgery. However, as its usage has increased, there have been growing reports of postsurgical seizure events in cardiac surgery patients. In this issue of the JCI, Lecker et al. explore this connection and suggest that TXA-mediated inhibition of glycine receptors may underlie the effect. This finding prompted the authors to explore the preclinical efficacy of common anesthetics that function by reducing the TXA-mediated inhibition to prevent or modify postsurgical seizures.
Solid tumor growth requires the formation of new blood vessels to supply nutrients and oxygen to the malignant cells; one approach to cancer therapy is to block this process by inhibiting VEGF signaling. In this issue of the JCI, Pasula et al. demonstrate a surprising role of epsins — proteins involved in endocytosis — in tumor angiogenesis via their modulation of VEGF signaling. Their findings suggest that these proteins might represent a new target for the development of cancer therapeutics.
8-Oxoguanine (8-oxoG), a common DNA lesion caused by reactive oxygen species, is associated with carcinogenesis and neurodegeneration. Although the mechanism by which 8-oxoG causes carcinogenesis is well understood, the mechanism by which it causes neurodegeneration is unknown. Here, we report that neurodegeneration is triggered by MUTYH-mediated excision repair of 8-oxoG–paired adenine. Mutant mice lacking 8-oxo–2′-deoxyguanosine triphosphate–depleting (8-oxo–dGTP–depleting) MTH1 and/or 8-oxoG–excising OGG1 exhibited severe striatal neurodegeneration, whereas mutant mice lacking MUTYH or OGG1/MUTYH were resistant to neurodegeneration under conditions of oxidative stress. These results indicate that OGG1 and MTH1 are protective, while MUTYH promotes neurodegeneration. We observed that 8-oxoG accumulated in the mitochondrial DNA of neurons and caused calpain-dependent neuronal loss, while delayed nuclear accumulation of 8-oxoG in microglia resulted in PARP-dependent activation of apoptosis-inducing factor and exacerbated microgliosis. These results revealed that neurodegeneration is a complex process caused by 8-oxoG accumulation in the genomes of neurons and microglia. Different signaling pathways were triggered by the accumulation of single-strand breaks in each type of DNA generated during base excision repair initiated by MUTYH, suggesting that suppression of MUTYH may protect the brain under conditions of oxidative stress.
Most human tumors have abnormal numbers of chromosomes, a condition known as aneuploidy. The mitotic checkpoint is an important mechanism that prevents aneuploidy by restraining the activity of the anaphase-promoting complex (APC). The deubiquitinase USP44 was identified as a key regulator of APC activation; however, the physiological importance of USP44 and its impact on cancer biology are unknown. To clarify the role of USP44 in mitosis, we engineered a mouse lacking Usp44. We found that USP44 regulated the mitotic checkpoint and prevented chromosome lagging. Mice lacking Usp44 were prone to the development of spontaneous tumors, particularly in the lungs. Additionally, USP44 was frequently downregulated in human lung cancer, and low expression correlated with a poor prognosis. USP44 inhibited chromosome segregation errors independent of its role in the mitotic checkpoint by regulating centrosome separation, positioning, and mitotic spindle geometry. These functions required direct binding to the centriole protein centrin. Our data reveal a new role for the ubiquitin system in mitotic spindle regulation and underscore the importance of USP44 in the pathogenesis of human cancer.
Integrins are transmembrane αβ glycoproteins that connect the extracellular matrix to the cytoskeleton. The laminin-binding integrin α3β1 is expressed at high levels in lung epithelium and in kidney podocytes. In podocytes, α3β1 associates with the tetraspanin CD151 to maintain a functional filtration barrier. Here, we report on a patient homozygous for a novel missense mutation in the human ITGA3 gene, causing fatal interstitial lung disease and congenital nephrotic syndrome. The mutation caused an alanine-to-serine substitution in the integrin α3 subunit, thereby introducing an N-glycosylation motif at amino acid position 349. We expressed this mutant form of ITGA3 in murine podocytes and found that hyperglycosylation of the α3 precursor prevented its heterodimerization with β1, whereas CD151 association with the α3 subunit occurred normally. Consequently, the β1 precursor accumulated in the ER, and the mutant α3 precursor was degraded by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Thus, these findings uncover a gain-of-glycosylation mutation in ITGA3 that prevents the biosynthesis of functional α3β1, causing a fatal multiorgan disorder.
Mucinous adenocarcinoma of the lung is a subtype of highly invasive pulmonary tumors and is associated with decreased or absent expression of the transcription factor NK2 homeobox 1 (NKX2-1; also known as TTF-1). Here, we show that haploinsufficiency of Nkx2-1 in combination with oncogenic KrasG12D, but not with oncogenic EGFRL858R, caused pulmonary tumors in transgenic mice that were phenotypically similar to human mucinous adenocarcinomas. Gene expression patterns distinguished tumor goblet (mucous) cells from nontumorigenic airway and intestinal goblet cells. Expression of NKX2-1 inhibited urethane and oncogenic KrasG12D-induced tumorigenesis in vivo. Haploinsufficiency of Nkx2-1 enhanced KrasG12D-mediated tumor progression, but reduced EGFRL858R-mediated progression. Genome-wide analysis of gene expression demonstrated that a set of genes induced in mucinous tumors was shared with genes induced in a nontumorigenic chronic lung disease, while a distinct subset of genes was specific to mucinous tumors. ChIP with massively parallel DNA sequencing identified a direct association of NKX2-1 with the genes induced in mucinous tumors. NKX2-1 associated with the AP-1 binding element as well as the canonical NKX2-1 binding element. NKX2-1 inhibited both AP-1 activity and tumor colony formation in vitro. These data demonstrate that NKX2-1 functions in a context-dependent manner in lung tumorigenesis and inhibits KrasG12D-driven mucinous pulmonary adenocarcinoma.
Podocytes are specialized cells that play an integral role in the renal glomerular filtration barrier via their foot processes. The foot processes form a highly organized structure, the disruption of which causes nephrotic syndrome. Interestingly, several similarities have been observed between mechanisms that govern podocyte organization and mechanisms that mediate neuronal synapse development. Dynamin, synaptojanin, and endophilin are functional partners in synaptic vesicle recycling via interconnected actions in clathrin-mediated endocytosis and actin dynamics in neurons. A role of dynamin in the maintenance of the kidney filtration barrier via an action on the actin cytoskeleton of podocytes was suggested. Here we used a conditional double-KO of dynamin 1 (Dnm1) and Dnm2 in mouse podocytes to confirm dynamin’s role in podocyte foot process maintenance. In addition, we demonstrated that while synaptojanin 1 (Synj1) KO mice and endophilin 1 (Sh3gl2), endophilin 2 (Sh3gl1), and endophilin 3 (Sh3gl3) triple-KO mice had grossly normal embryonic development, these mutants failed to establish a normal filtration barrier and exhibited severe proteinuria due to abnormal podocyte foot process formation. These results strongly implicate a protein network that functions at the interface between endocytosis and actin at neuronal synapses in the formation and maintenance of the kidney glomerular filtration barrier.
ATR-X syndrome is a severe intellectual disability disorder caused by mutations in the ATRX gene. Many ancillary clinical features are attributed to CNS deficiencies, yet most patients have muscle hypotonia, delayed ambulation, or kyphosis, pointing to an underlying skeletal muscle defect. Here, we identified a cell-intrinsic requirement for Atrx in postnatal muscle growth and regeneration in mice. Mice with skeletal muscle–specific Atrx conditional knockout (Atrx cKO mice) were viable, but by 3 weeks of age presented hallmarks of underdeveloped musculature, including kyphosis, 20% reduction in body mass, and 34% reduction in muscle fiber caliber. Atrx cKO mice also demonstrated a marked regeneration deficit that was not due to fewer resident satellite cells or their inability to terminally differentiate. However, activation of Atrx-null satellite cells from isolated muscle fibers resulted in a 9-fold reduction in myoblast expansion, caused by delayed progression through mid to late S phase. While in S phase, Atrx colocalized specifically to late-replicating chromatin, and its loss resulted in rampant signs of genomic instability. These observations support a model in which Atrx maintains chromatin integrity during the rapid developmental growth of a tissue.
Epsins are a family of ubiquitin-binding, endocytic clathrin adaptors. Mice lacking both epsins 1 and 2 (Epn1/2) die at embryonic day 10 and exhibit an abnormal vascular phenotype. To examine the angiogenic role of endothelial epsins, we generated mice with constitutive or inducible deletion of Epn1/2 in vascular endothelium. These mice exhibited no abnormal phenotypes under normal conditions, suggesting that lack of endothelial epsins 1 and 2 did not affect normal blood vessels. In tumors, however, loss of epsins 1 and 2 resulted in disorganized vasculature, significantly increased vascular permeability, and markedly retarded tumor growth. Mechanistically, we show that VEGF promoted binding of epsin to ubiquitinated VEGFR2. Loss of epsins 1 and 2 specifically impaired endocytosis and degradation of VEGFR2, which resulted in excessive VEGF signaling that compromised tumor vascular function by exacerbating nonproductive leaky angiogenesis. This suggests that tumor vasculature requires a balance in VEGF signaling to provide sufficient productive angiogenesis for tumor development and that endothelial epsins 1 and 2 negatively regulate the output of VEGF signaling. Promotion of excessive VEGF signaling within tumors via a block of epsin 1 and 2 function may represent a strategy to prevent normal angiogenesis in cancer patients who are resistant to anti-VEGF therapies.
Understanding the spatiotemporal changes of cellular and molecular events within an organism is crucial to elucidate the complex immune processes involved in infections, autoimmune disorders, transplantation, and neoplastic transformation and metastasis. Here we introduce a novel multicolor light sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM) approach for deciphering immune processes in large tissue specimens on a single-cell level in 3 dimensions. We combined and optimized antibody penetration, tissue clearing, and triple-color illumination to create a method for analyzing intact mouse and human tissues. This approach allowed us to successfully quantify changes in expression patterns of mucosal vascular addressin cell adhesion molecule–1 (MAdCAM-1) and T cell responses in Peyer’s patches following stimulation of the immune system. In addition, we employed LSFM to map individual T cell subsets after hematopoietic cell transplantation and detected rare cellular events. Thus, we present a versatile imaging technology that should be highly beneficial in biomedical research.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-borne arthralgia arbovirus that is reemergent in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. CHIKV infection has been shown to be self-limiting, but the molecular mechanisms of the innate immune response that control CHIKV replication remain undefined. Here, longitudinal transcriptional analyses of PBMCs from a cohort of CHIKV-infected patients revealed that type I IFNs controlled CHIKV infection via RSAD2 (which encodes viperin), an enigmatic multifunctional IFN-stimulated gene (ISG). Viperin was highly induced in monocytes, the major target cell of CHIKV in blood. Anti-CHIKV functions of viperin were dependent on its localization in the ER, and the N-terminal amphipathic α-helical domain was crucial for its antiviral activity in controlling CHIKV replication. Furthermore, mice lacking Rsad2 had higher viremia and severe joint inflammation compared with wild-type mice. Our data demonstrate that viperin is a critical antiviral host protein that controls CHIKV infection and provide a preclinical basis for the design of effective control strategies against CHIKV and other reemerging arthrogenic alphaviruses.
Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is a complex neuromuscular disease characterized by skeletal muscle wasting, weakness, and myotonia. DM1 is caused by the accumulation of CUG repeats, which alter the biological activities of RNA-binding proteins, including CUG-binding protein 1 (CUGBP1). CUGBP1 is an important skeletal muscle translational regulator that is activated by cyclin D3–dependent kinase 4 (CDK4). Here we show that mutant CUG repeats suppress Cdk4 signaling by increasing the stability and activity of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β). Using a mouse model of DM1 (HSALR), we found that CUG repeats in the 3′ untranslated region (UTR) of human skeletal actin increase active GSK3β in skeletal muscle of mice, prior to the development of skeletal muscle weakness. Inhibition of GSK3β in both DM1 cell culture and mouse models corrected cyclin D3 levels and reduced muscle weakness and myotonia in DM1 mice. Our data predict that compounds normalizing GSK3β activity might be beneficial for improvement of muscle function in patients with DM1.
The genetic diversity of HIV-1 represents a major challenge in vaccine development. In this study, we establish a rationale for eliminating HIV-1–infected cells by targeting cellular immune responses against stable human endogenous retroviral (HERV) antigens. HERV DNA sequences in the human genome represent the remnants of ancient infectious retroviruses. We show that the infection of CD4+ T cells with HIV-1 resulted in transcription of the HML-2 lineage of HERV type K [HERV-K(HML-2)] and the expression of Gag and Env proteins. HERV-K(HML-2)–specific CD8+ T cells obtained from HIV-1–infected human subjects responded to HIV-1–infected cells in a Vif-dependent manner in vitro. Consistent with the proposed mode of action, a HERV-K(HML-2)–specific CD8+ T cell clone exhibited comprehensive elimination of cells infected with a panel of globally diverse HIV-1, HIV-2, and SIV isolates in vitro. We identified a second T cell response that exhibited cross-reactivity between homologous HIV-1-Pol and HERV-K(HML-2)-Pol determinants, raising the possibility that homology between HIV-1 and HERVs plays a role in shaping, and perhaps enhancing, the T cell response to HIV-1. This justifies the consideration of HERV-K(HML-2)–specific and cross-reactive T cell responses in the natural control of HIV-1 infection and for exploring HERV-K(HML-2)–targeted HIV-1 vaccines and immunotherapeutics.
C/EBPs are a family of transcription factors that regulate growth control and differentiation of various tissues. We found that C/EBPγ is highly upregulated in a subset of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) samples characterized by C/EBPα hypermethylation/silencing. Similarly, C/EBPγ was upregulated in murine hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells lacking C/EBPα, as C/EBPα mediates C/EBPγ suppression. Studies in myeloid cells demonstrated that CEBPG overexpression blocked neutrophilic differentiation. Further, downregulation of Cebpg in murine Cebpa-deficient stem/progenitor cells or in human CEBPA-silenced AML samples restored granulocytic differentiation. In addition, treatment of these leukemias with demethylating agents restored the C/EBPα-C/EBPγ balance and upregulated the expression of myeloid differentiation markers. Our results indicate that C/EBPγ mediates the myeloid differentiation arrest induced by C/EBPα deficiency and that targeting the C/EBPα-C/EBPγ axis rescues neutrophilic differentiation in this unique subset of AMLs.
Mps one binder 1a (MOB1A) and MOB1B are key components of the Hippo signaling pathway and are mutated or inactivated in many human cancers. Here we show that intact Mob1a or Mob1b is essential for murine embryogenesis and that loss of the remaining WT Mob1 allele in Mob1aΔ/Δ1btr/+ or Mob1aΔ/+1btr/tr mice results in tumor development. Because most of these cancers resembled trichilemmal carcinomas, we generated double-mutant mice bearing tamoxifen-inducible, keratinocyte-specific homozygous-null mutations of Mob1a and Mob1b (kDKO mice). kDKO mice showed hyperplastic keratinocyte progenitors and defective keratinocyte terminal differentiation and soon died of malnutrition. kDKO keratinocytes exhibited hyperproliferation, apoptotic resistance, impaired contact inhibition, enhanced progenitor self renewal, and increased centrosomes. Examination of Hippo pathway signaling in kDKO keratinocytes revealed that loss of Mob1a/b altered the activities of the downstream Hippo mediators LATS and YAP1. Similarly, YAP1 was activated in some human trichilemmal carcinomas, and some of these also exhibited MOB1A/1B inactivation. Our results clearly demonstrate that MOB1A and MOB1B have overlapping functions in skin homeostasis, and exert their roles as tumor suppressors by regulating downstream elements of the Hippo pathway.
Renal tubule epithelia represent the primary site of damage in acute kidney injury (AKI), a process initiated and propagated by the infiltration of macrophages. Here we investigated the role of resident renal macrophages and dendritic cells in recovery from AKI after ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury or a novel diphtheria toxin–induced (DT-induced) model of selective proximal tubule injury in mice. DT-induced AKI was characterized by marked renal proximal tubular cell apoptosis. In both models, macrophage/dendritic cell depletion during the recovery phase increased functional and histologic injury and delayed regeneration. After I/R-induced AKI, there was an early increase in renal macrophages derived from circulating inflammatory (M1) monocytes, followed by accumulation of renal macrophages/dendritic cells with a wound-healing (M2) phenotype. In contrast, DT-induced AKI only generated an increase in M2 cells. In both models, increases in M2 cells resulted largely from in situ proliferation in the kidney. Genetic or pharmacologic inhibition of macrophage colony-stimulating factor (CSF-1) signaling blocked macrophage/dendritic cell proliferation, decreased M2 polarization, and inhibited recovery. These findings demonstrated that CSF-1–mediated expansion and polarization of resident renal macrophages/dendritic cells is an important mechanism mediating renal tubule epithelial regeneration after AKI.
In multiple sclerosis (MS) pathogenic B cells likely act on both sides of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). However, it is unclear whether antigen-experienced B cells are shared between the CNS and the peripheral blood (PB) compartments. We applied deep repertoire sequencing of IgG heavy chain variable region genes (IgG-VH) in paired cerebrospinal fluid and PB samples from patients with MS and other neurological diseases to identify related B cells that are common to both compartments. For the first time to our knowledge, we found that a restricted pool of clonally related B cells participated in robust bidirectional exchange across the BBB. Some clusters of related IgG-VH appeared to have undergone active diversification primarily in the CNS, while others have undergone active diversification in the periphery or in both compartments in parallel. B cells are strong candidates for autoimmune effector cells in MS, and these findings suggest that CNS-directed autoimmunity may be triggered and supported on both sides of the BBB. These data also provide a powerful approach to identify and monitor B cells in the PB that correspond to clonally amplified populations in the CNS in MS and other inflammatory states.
Angelman syndrome (AS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by maternal deletions or mutations of the ubiquitin ligase E3A (UBE3A) allele and characterized by minimal verbal communication, seizures, and disorders of voluntary movement. Previous studies have suggested that abnormal dopamine neurotransmission may underlie some of these deficits, but no effective treatment currently exists for the core features of AS. A clinical trial of levodopa (l-DOPA) in AS is ongoing, although the underlying rationale for this treatment strategy has not yet been thoroughly examined in preclinical models. We found that AS model mice lacking maternal Ube3a (Ube3am–/p+ mice) exhibit behavioral deficits that correlated with abnormal dopamine signaling. These deficits were not due to loss of dopaminergic neurons or impaired dopamine synthesis. Unexpectedly, Ube3am–/p+ mice exhibited increased dopamine release in the mesolimbic pathway while also exhibiting a decrease in dopamine release in the nigrostriatal pathway, as measured with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry. These findings demonstrate the complex effects of UBE3A loss on dopamine signaling in subcortical motor pathways that may inform ongoing clinical trials of l-DOPA therapy in patients with AS.
Increased mucus production is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in inflammatory airway diseases, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis. However, the precise molecular mechanisms for pathogenic mucus production are largely undetermined. Accordingly, there are no specific and effective anti-mucus therapeutics. Here, we define a signaling pathway from chloride channel calcium-activated 1 (CLCA1) to MAPK13 that is responsible for IL-13–driven mucus production in human airway epithelial cells. The same pathway was also highly activated in the lungs of humans with excess mucus production due to COPD. We further validated the pathway by using structure-based drug design to develop a series of novel MAPK13 inhibitors with nanomolar potency that effectively reduced mucus production in human airway epithelial cells. These results uncover and validate a new pathway for regulating mucus production as well as a corresponding therapeutic approach to mucus overproduction in inflammatory airway diseases.
Feline leukemia virus subgroup C receptor 1 (FLVCR1) is a cell membrane heme exporter that maintains the balance between heme levels and globin synthesis in erythroid precursors. It was previously shown that Flvcr1-null mice died in utero due to a failure of erythropoiesis. Here, we identify Flvcr1b, a mitochondrial Flvcr1 isoform that promotes heme efflux into the cytoplasm. Flvcr1b overexpression promoted heme synthesis and in vitro erythroid differentiation, whereas silencing of Flvcr1b caused mitochondrial heme accumulation and termination of erythroid differentiation. Furthermore, mice lacking the plasma membrane isoform (Flvcr1a) but expressing Flvcr1b had normal erythropoiesis, but exhibited hemorrhages, edema, and skeletal abnormalities. Thus, FLVCR1b regulates erythropoiesis by controlling mitochondrial heme efflux, whereas FLVCR1a expression is required to prevent hemorrhages and edema. The aberrant expression of Flvcr1 isoforms may play a role in the pathogenesis of disorders characterized by an imbalance between heme and globin synthesis.
Hypokalemic periodic paralysis (HypoPP) is a familial skeletal muscle disorder that presents with recurrent episodes of severe weakness lasting hours to days associated with reduced serum potassium (K+). HypoPP is genetically heterogeneous, with missense mutations of a calcium channel (CaV1.1) or a sodium channel (NaV1.4) accounting for 60% and 20% of cases, respectively. The mechanistic link between CaV1.1 mutations and the ictal loss of muscle excitability during an attack of weakness in HypoPP is unknown. To address this question, we developed a mouse model for HypoPP with a targeted CaV1.1 R528H mutation. The Cav1.1 R528H mice had a HypoPP phenotype for which low K+ challenge produced a paradoxical depolarization of the resting potential, loss of muscle excitability, and weakness. A vacuolar myopathy with dilated transverse tubules and disruption of the triad junctions impaired Ca2+ release and likely contributed to the mild permanent weakness. Fibers from the CaV1.1 R528H mouse had a small anomalous inward current at the resting potential, similar to our observations in the NaV1.4 R669H HypoPP mouse model. This “gating pore current” may be a common mechanism for paradoxical depolarization and susceptibility to HypoPP arising from missense mutations in the S4 voltage sensor of either calcium or sodium channels.
Increased osteoclastic bone resorption leads to periarticular erosions and systemic osteoporosis in RA patients. Although a great deal is known about how osteoclasts differentiate from precursors and resorb bone, the identity of an osteoclast precursor (OCP) population in vivo and its regulatory role in RA remains elusive. Here, we report the identification of a CD11b–/loLy6Chi BM population with OCP activity in vitro and in vivo. These cells, which can be distinguished from previously characterized precursors in the myeloid lineage, display features of both M1 and M2 monocytes and expand in inflammatory arthritis models. Surprisingly, in one mouse model of RA (adoptive transfer of SKG arthritis), cotransfer of OCP with SKG CD4+ T cells diminished inflammatory arthritis. Similar to monocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells (M-MDSCs), OCPs suppressed CD4+ and CD8+ T cell proliferation in vitro through the production of NO. This study identifies a BM myeloid precursor population with osteoclastic and T cell–suppressive activity that is expanded in inflammatory arthritis. Therapeutic strategies that prevent the development of OCPs into mature bone-resorbing cells could simultaneously prevent bone resorption and generate an antiinflammatory milieu in the RA joint.
The induction of persistent intraepithelial CD8+ T cell responses may be key to the development of vaccines against mucosally transmitted pathogens, particularly for sexually transmitted diseases. Here we investigated CD8+ T cell responses in the female mouse cervicovaginal mucosa after intravaginal immunization with human papillomavirus vectors (HPV pseudoviruses) that transiently expressed a model antigen, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) M/M2, in cervicovaginal keratinocytes. An HPV intravaginal prime/boost with different HPV serotypes induced 10-fold more cervicovaginal antigen-specific CD8+ T cells than priming alone. Antigen-specific T cell numbers decreased only 2-fold after 6 months. Most genital antigen-specific CD8+ T cells were intra- or subepithelial, expressed αE-integrin CD103, produced IFN-γ and TNF-α, and displayed in vivo cytotoxicity. Using a sphingosine-1-phosphate analog (FTY720), we found that the primed CD8+ T cells proliferated in the cervicovaginal mucosa upon HPV intravaginal boost. Intravaginal HPV prime/boost reduced cervicovaginal viral titers 1,000-fold after intravaginal challenge with vaccinia virus expressing the CD8 epitope M2. In contrast, intramuscular prime/boost with an adenovirus type 5 vector induced a higher level of systemic CD8+ T cells but failed to induce intraepithelial CD103+CD8+ T cells or protect against recombinant vaccinia vaginal challenge. Thus, HPV vectors are attractive gene-delivery platforms for inducing durable intraepithelial cervicovaginal CD8+ T cell responses by promoting local proliferation and retention of primed antigen-specific CD8+ T cells.
The proto-oncogene c-Myc paradoxically activates both proliferation and apoptosis. In the pathogenic state, c-Myc–induced apoptosis is bypassed via a critical, yet poorly understood escape mechanism that promotes cellular transformation and tumorigenesis. The accumulation of unfolded proteins in the ER initiates a cellular stress program termed the unfolded protein response (UPR) to support cell survival. Analysis of spontaneous mouse and human lymphomas demonstrated significantly higher levels of UPR activation compared with normal tissues. Using multiple genetic models, we demonstrated that c-Myc and N-Myc activated the PERK/eIF2α/ATF4 arm of the UPR, leading to increased cell survival via the induction of cytoprotective autophagy. Inhibition of PERK significantly reduced Myc-induced autophagy, colony formation, and tumor formation. Moreover, pharmacologic or genetic inhibition of autophagy resulted in increased Myc-dependent apoptosis. Mechanistically, we demonstrated an important link between Myc-dependent increases in protein synthesis and UPR activation. Specifically, by employing a mouse minute (L24+/–) mutant, which resulted in wild-type levels of protein synthesis and attenuation of Myc-induced lymphomagenesis, we showed that Myc-induced UPR activation was reversed. Our findings establish a role for UPR as an enhancer of c-Myc–induced transformation and suggest that UPR inhibition may be particularly effective against malignancies characterized by c-Myc overexpression.
Iron demand in bone marrow increases when erythropoiesis is stimulated by hypoxia via increased erythropoietin (EPO) synthesis in kidney and liver. Hepcidin, a small polypeptide produced by hepatocytes, plays a central role in regulating iron uptake by promoting internalization and degradation of ferroportin, the only known cellular iron exporter. Hypoxia suppresses hepcidin, thereby enhancing intestinal iron uptake and release from internal stores. While HIF, a central mediator of cellular adaptation to hypoxia, directly regulates renal and hepatic EPO synthesis under hypoxia, the molecular basis of hypoxia/HIF-mediated hepcidin suppression in the liver remains unclear. Here, we used a genetic approach to disengage HIF activation from EPO synthesis and found that HIF-mediated suppression of the hepcidin gene (Hamp1) required EPO induction. EPO induction was associated with increased erythropoietic activity and elevated serum levels of growth differentiation factor 15. When erythropoiesis was inhibited pharmacologically, Hamp1 was no longer suppressed despite profound elevations in serum EPO, indicating that EPO by itself is not directly involved in Hamp1 regulation. Taken together, we provide in vivo evidence that Hamp1 suppression by the HIF pathway occurs indirectly through stimulation of EPO-induced erythropoiesis.
A human polyomavirus was recently discovered in Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) specimens. The Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) genome undergoes clonal integration into the host cell chromosomes of MCC tumors and expresses small T antigen and truncated large T antigen. Previous studies have consistently reported that MCPyV can be detected in approximately 80% of all MCC tumors. We sought to increase the sensitivity of detection of MCPyV in MCC by developing antibodies capable of detecting large T antigen by immunohistochemistry. In addition, we expanded the repertoire of quantitative PCR primers specific for MCPyV to improve the detection of viral DNA in MCC. Here we report that a novel monoclonal antibody detected MCPyV large T antigen expression in 56 of 58 (97%) unique MCC tumors. PCR analysis specifically detected viral DNA in all 60 unique MCC tumors tested. We also detected inactivating point substitution mutations of TP53 in the two MCC specimens that lacked large T antigen expression and in only 1 of 56 tumors positive for large T antigen. These results indicate that MCPyV is present in MCC tumors more frequently than previously reported and that mutations in TP53 tend to occur in MCC tumors that fail to express MCPyV large T antigen.
Antifibrinolytic drugs are widely used to reduce blood loss during surgery. One serious adverse effect of these drugs is convulsive seizures; however, the mechanisms underlying such seizures remain poorly understood. The antifibrinolytic drugs tranexamic acid (TXA) and ε-aminocaproic acid (EACA) are structurally similar to the inhibitory neurotransmitter glycine. Since reduced function of glycine receptors causes seizures, we hypothesized that TXA and EACA inhibit the activity of glycine receptors. Here we demonstrate that TXA and EACA are competitive antagonists of glycine receptors in mice. We also showed that the general anesthetic isoflurane, and to a lesser extent propofol, reverses TXA inhibition of glycine receptor–mediated current, suggesting that these drugs could potentially be used to treat TXA-induced seizures. Finally, we measured the concentration of TXA in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients undergoing major cardiovascular surgery. Surprisingly, peak TXA concentration in the CSF occurred after termination of drug infusion and in one patient coincided with the onset of seizures. Collectively, these results show that concentrations of TXA equivalent to those measured in the CSF of patients inhibited glycine receptors. Furthermore, isoflurane or propofol may prevent or reverse TXA-induced seizures.
Bariatric surgery in obese patients is a highly effective method of preventing or resolving type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM); however, the remission rate is not the same among different surgical procedures. We compared the effects of 20% weight loss induced by laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery on the metabolic response to a mixed meal, insulin sensitivity, and β cell function in nondiabetic obese adults. The metabolic response to meal ingestion was markedly different after RYGB than after LAGB surgery, manifested by rapid delivery of ingested glucose into the systemic circulation, by an increase in the dynamic insulin secretion rate, and by large, early postprandial increases in plasma glucose, insulin, and glucagon-like peptide–1 concentrations in the RYGB group. However, the improvement in oral glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and overall β cell function after weight loss were not different between surgical groups. Additionally, both surgical procedures resulted in a similar decrease in adipose tissue markers of inflammation. We conclude that marked weight loss itself is primarily responsible for the therapeutic effects of RYGB and LAGB on insulin sensitivity, β cell function, and oral glucose tolerance in nondiabetic obese adults.
Cardiac natriuretic peptides (NP) are major activators of human fat cell lipolysis and have recently been shown to control brown fat thermogenesis. Here, we investigated the physiological role of NP on the oxidative metabolism of human skeletal muscle. NP receptor type A (NPRA) gene expression was positively correlated to mRNA levels of PPARγ coactivator-1α (PGC1A) and several oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) genes in human skeletal muscle. Further, the expression of NPRA, PGC1A, and OXPHOS genes was coordinately upregulated in response to aerobic exercise training in human skeletal muscle. In human myotubes, NP induced PGC-1α and mitochondrial OXPHOS gene expression in a cyclic GMP–dependent manner. NP treatment increased OXPHOS protein expression, fat oxidation, and maximal respiration independent of substantial changes in mitochondrial proliferation and mass. Treatment of myotubes with NP recapitulated the effect of exercise training on muscle fat oxidative capacity in vivo. Collectively, these data show that activation of NP signaling in human skeletal muscle enhances mitochondrial oxidative metabolism and fat oxidation. We propose that NP could contribute to exercise training–induced improvement in skeletal muscle fat oxidative capacity in humans.
Congenital diarrheal disorders (CDDs) are a collection of rare, heterogeneous enteropathies with early onset and often severe outcomes. Here, we report a family of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, with 2 out of 3 children affected by CDD. Both affected children presented 3 days after birth with severe, intractable diarrhea. One child died from complications at age 17 months. The second child showed marked improvement, with resolution of most symptoms at 10 to 12 months of age. Using exome sequencing, we identified a rare splice site mutation in the DGAT1 gene and found that both affected children were homozygous carriers. Molecular analysis of the mutant allele indicated a total loss of function, with no detectable DGAT1 protein or activity produced. The precise cause of diarrhea is unknown, but we speculate that it relates to abnormal fat absorption and buildup of DGAT substrates in the intestinal mucosa. Our results identify DGAT1 loss-of-function mutations as a rare cause of CDDs. These findings prompt concern for DGAT1 inhibition in humans, which is being assessed for treating metabolic and other diseases.
Acute HIV-1 infection results in dysregulated immunity, which contributes to poor control of viral infection. DCs are key regulators of both adaptive and innate immune responses needed for controlling HIV-1, and we surmised that factors elicited during acute HIV-1 infection might impede DC function. We derived immature DCs from healthy donor peripheral blood monocytes and treated them with plasma from uninfected control donors and donors with acute HIV-1 infections. We found that the plasma from patients with HIV specifically inhibited DC function. This suppression was mediated by elevated apoptotic microparticles derived from dying cells during acute HIV-1 infection. Apoptotic microparticles bound to and inhibited DCs through the hyaluronate receptor CD44. These data suggest that targeting this CD44-mediated inhibition by apoptotic microparticles could be a novel strategy to potentiate DC activation of HIV-specific immunity.
Effector functions of inflammatory IL-17–producing Th (Th17) cells have been linked to autoimmune diseases such as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a mouse model of multiple sclerosis (MS). However, what determines Th17 cell encephalitogenicity is still unresolved. Here, we show that after EAE induction, mice deficient for the NF-κB regulator MALT1 (Malt1–/– mice) exhibit strong lymphocytic infiltration in the CNS, but do not develop any clinical signs of EAE. Loss of Malt1 interfered with expression of the Th17 effector cytokines IL-17 and GM-CSF both in vitro and in vivo. In line with their impaired GM-CSF secretion, Malt1–/– Th cells failed to recruit myeloid cells to the CNS to sustain neuroinflammation, whereas autoreactive WT Th cells successfully induced EAE in Malt1–/– hosts. In contrast, Malt1 deficiency did not affect Th1 cells. Despite their significantly decreased secretion of Th17 effector cytokines, Malt1–/– Th17 cells showed normal expression of lineage-specific transcription factors. Malt1–/– Th cells failed to cleave RelB, a suppressor of canonical NF-κB, and exhibited altered cellular localization of this protein. Our results indicate that MALT1 is a central, cell-intrinsic factor that determines the encephalitogenic potential of inflammatory Th17 cells in vivo.
The FGF23 coreceptor αKlotho (αKL) is expressed as a membrane-bound protein (mKL) that forms heteromeric complexes with FGF receptors (FGFRs) to initiate intracellular signaling. It also circulates as an endoproteolytic cleavage product of mKL (cKL). Previously, a patient with increased plasma cKL as the result of a translocation [t(9;13)] in the αKLOTHO (KL) gene presented with rickets and a complex endocrine profile, including paradoxically elevated plasma FGF23, despite hypophosphatemia. The goal of this study was to test whether cKL regulates phosphate handling through control of FGF23 expression. To increase cKL levels, mice were treated with an adeno-associated virus producing cKL. The treated groups exhibited dose-dependent hypophosphatemia and hypocalcemia, with markedly elevated FGF23 (38 to 456 fold). The animals also manifested fractures, reduced bone mineral content, expanded growth plates, and severe osteomalacia, with highly increased bone Fgf23 mRNA (>150 fold). cKL activity in vitro was specific for interactions with FGF23 and was FGFR dependent. These results demonstrate that cKL potently stimulates FGF23 production in vivo, which phenocopies the KL translocation patient and metabolic bone syndromes associated with elevated FGF23. These findings have important implications for the regulation of αKL and FGF23 in disorders of phosphate handling and biomineralization.
Restoring T cell competence is a significant clinical challenge in patients whose thymic function is severely compromised due to age or cytoreductive conditioning. Here, we demonstrate in mice that mesenteric LNs (MLNs) support extrathymic T cell development in euthymic and athymic recipients of bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Furthermore, in aged murine BMT recipients, the contribution of the MLNs to the generation of T cells was maintained, while the contribution of the thymus was significantly impaired. Thymic impairment resulted in a proportional increase in extrathymic-derived T cell progenitors. Extrathymic development in athymic recipients generated conventional naive TCRαβ T cells with a broad Vβ repertoire and intact functional and proliferative potential. Moreover, in the absence of a functional thymus, immunity against known pathogens could be augmented using engineered precursor T cells with viral specificity. These findings demonstrate the potential of extrathymic T cell development for T cell reconstitution in patients with limited thymic function.
The endothelium regulates vascular homeostasis, and endothelial dysfunction is a proximate event in the pathogenesis of atherothrombosis. Stimulation of the endothelium with proinflammatory cytokines or exposure to hemodynamic-induced disturbed flow leads to a proadhesive and prothrombotic phenotype that promotes atherothrombosis. In contrast, exposure to arterial laminar flow induces a gene program that confers a largely antiadhesive, antithrombotic effect. The molecular basis for this differential effect on endothelial function remains poorly understood. While recent insights implicate Kruppel-like factors (KLFs) as important regulators of vascular homeostasis, the in vivo role of these factors in endothelial biology remains unproven. Here, we show that endothelial KLF4 is an essential determinant of atherogenesis and thrombosis. Using in vivo EC-specific KLF4 overexpression and knockdown murine models, we found that KLF4 induced an antiadhesive, antithrombotic state. Mechanistically, we demonstrated that KLF4 differentially regulated pertinent endothelial targets via competition for the coactivator p300. These observations provide cogent evidence implicating endothelial KLFs as essential in vivo regulators of vascular function in the adult animal.
Src homology 2 B adapter protein 1 (SH2B1) modulates signaling by a variety of ligands that bind to receptor tyrosine kinases or JAK-associated cytokine receptors, including leptin, insulin, growth hormone (GH), and nerve growth factor (NGF). Targeted deletion of Sh2b1 in mice results in increased food intake, obesity, and insulin resistance, with an intermediate phenotype seen in heterozygous null mice on a high-fat diet. We identified SH2B1 loss-of-function mutations in a large cohort of patients with severe early-onset obesity. Mutation carriers exhibited hyperphagia, childhood-onset obesity, disproportionate insulin resistance, and reduced final height as adults. Unexpectedly, mutation carriers exhibited a spectrum of behavioral abnormalities that were not reported in controls, including social isolation and aggression. We conclude that SH2B1 plays a critical role in the control of human food intake and body weight and is implicated in maladaptive human behavior.
In Huntington disease (HD), immune cells are activated before symptoms arise; however, it is unclear how the expression of mutant huntingtin (htt) compromises the normal functions of immune cells. Here we report that primary microglia from early postnatal HD mice were profoundly impaired in their migration to chemotactic stimuli, and expression of a mutant htt fragment in microglial cell lines was sufficient to reproduce these deficits. Microglia expressing mutant htt had a retarded response to a laser-induced brain injury in vivo. Leukocyte recruitment was defective upon induction of peritonitis in HD mice at early disease stages and was normalized upon genetic deletion of mutant htt in immune cells. Migration was also strongly impaired in peripheral immune cells from pre-manifest human HD patients. Defective actin remodeling in immune cells expressing mutant htt likely contributed to their migration deficit. Our results suggest that these functional changes may contribute to immune dysfunction and neurodegeneration in HD, and may have implications for other polyglutamine expansion diseases in which mutant proteins are ubiquitously expressed.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation