A common renal complication of multiple myeloma is cast nephropathy, which results from the co-precipitate of monoclonal immunoglobulin free light chains (FLC) with Tamm-Horsfall glycoproteins (THP) in the lumen of the distal nephron. In this issue, Ying and colleagues describe a cyclized competitor peptide that inhibits the binding of FLC to THP (page 1777) and could represent an approach to the management of renal failure during multiple myeloma.
Image credit: Shutterstock, Inc. Copyright: Denis Barbulat.
There are a hundred reasons to love the JCI and I have loved it truly, madly, and deeply for the last nine years. Alas, I’ll have to learn to love the Journal from afar, as tomorrow marks my last official day as Executive Editor. To quote Chaucer, “There is an end to everything, to good things as well.”
The human genome encodes thousands of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). Although most remain functionally uncharacterized biological “dark matter,” lncRNAs have garnered considerable attention for their diverse roles in human biology, including developmental programs and tumor suppressor gene networks. As the number of lncRNAs associated with human disease grows, ongoing research efforts are focusing on their regulatory mechanisms. New technologies that enable enumeration of lncRNA interaction partners and determination of lncRNA structure are well positioned to drive deeper understanding of their functions and involvement in pathogenesis. In turn, lncRNAs may become targets for therapeutic intervention or new tools for biotechnology.
Pediatricians first described the clinical features of chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) in 1959. Almost a decade later, in a collaborative effort that crossed disciplines, we participated in the discoveries that defined the cellular deficiencies of CGD, specifically finding that improper degranulation of leukocytes did not explain their failure to fight pathogens, rather that the fundamental defect was due to problems in the unique NADPH oxidase system of phagocytizing leukocytes. In the years that followed, the subunit components and structure of NADPH oxidase and their translocation during leukocyte phagocytosis to form the active enzyme were well described, leading to the identification of the component genes, the mapping of their chromosomal locations, and their subsequent cloning. This remarkable progress has led to effective therapies, including bone marrow transplants and gene therapy, that would have been unimaginable when we began.
Clinical vignette: A 68-year-old woman consults you after a recent bone mineral density screening revealed osteopenia, total hip T score of –1.8. Further evaluation shows her only other abnormal lab value is a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] level of 13 ng/ml (normal 30–80). You find no evidence of malabsorption. What vitamin D supplement regimen should you recommend to reduce her risk of fractures?
The use of integrating vectors for gene therapy — required for stable correction of gene expression — carries the risk of insertional mutagenesis, which can lead to activation of a tumorigenic program. In this issue of the JCI, Moiani et al. and Cesana et al. investigate how viral vectors can induce aberrant splicing, resulting in chimeric cellular-viral transcripts. The finding that this is a general phenomenon is concerning, but some of their results do suggest approaches for the development of safeguards in gene therapy vector design.
Allergic contact dermatitis is a common disorder that has fascinated dermatologists and immunologists for decades. Extensive studies of contact sensitivity reactions in mice established a mechanistic paradigm that has been revisited in recent years, and the involvement of Langerhans cells (LCs), a population of epidermal dendritic cells, in immune responses to epicutaneously applied antigens has been questioned. In this issue of the JCI, Gomez de Agüero et al. describe an elegant series of experiments that implicate LCs in tolerance induction, positioning these cells as key regulators of immunologic barrier function.
Cast nephropathy is the result of coprecipitation of immunoglobulin free light chains (FLCs) with Tamm-Horsfall glycoprotein (THP). It is a hallmark of multiple myeloma that has significant consequences. Treatment strategies in the past focused on reduction of serum FLC by control of the myeloma. In this issue, Ying et al. report on their successful synthesis of a cyclized competitor peptide that blocks the binding of FLC to THP. In animal studies, this cyclized peptide was capable of reducing cast formation and kidney injury, representing a novel treatment strategy for cast nephropathy that does not depend on the responsiveness of the myeloma to chemotherapy.
Invasive aspergillosis is often a consequence of immune suppression, and accumulating evidence points to a role for adaptive immunity. Hence, it may be possible to manipulate the adaptive immune system to enhance protective immunity in at-risk individuals. In this issue of the JCI, De Luca and colleagues describe the ontogeny of adaptive immune responses to murine aspergillosis infection in relation to vaccination. Their thought-provoking findings reveal the complexities of vaccine-induced immunity and could be used to improve vaccine efficacy.
The persistent immune activation that is typical of HIV-1 and SIV infection results in exhaustion and dysfunction of T and B cells; in T cells, this is marked by increased expression and signaling through the inhibitory receptor programmed death–1 (PD-1). Targeting this exhaustion pathway could result in improved antiviral immune responses, but there have been concerns that it would also lead to increased inflammation and immunopathology. In this issue of the JCI, Dyavar Shetty et al. demonstrate that blocking PD-1 actually reduced proinflammatory responses and improved immunity in the gut of SIV-infected rhesus macaques, suggesting that this might have therapeutic potential to prevent opportunistic infections in HIV-infected patients.
DNGR-1 (CLEC9A) is a receptor for necrotic cells required by DCs to cross-prime CTLs against dead cell antigens in mice. It is currently unknown how DNGR-1 couples dead cell recognition to cross-priming. Here we found that DNGR-1 did not mediate DC activation by dead cells but rather diverted necrotic cell cargo into a recycling endosomal compartment, favoring cross-presentation to CD8+ T cells. DNGR-1 regulated cross-priming in non-infectious settings such as immunization with antigen-bearing dead cells, as well as in highly immunogenic situations such as infection with herpes simplex virus type 1. Together, these results suggest that DNGR-1 is a dedicated receptor for cross-presentation of cell-associated antigens. Our work thus underscores the importance of cross-priming in immunity and indicates that antigenicity and adjuvanticity can be decoded by distinct innate immune receptors. The identification of specialized receptors that regulate antigenicity of virus-infected cells reveals determinants of antiviral immunity that might underlie the human response to infection and vaccination.
In order to prime T cells, DCs integrate signals emanating directly from pathogens and from their noxious action on the host. DNGR-1 (CLEC9A) is a DC-restricted receptor that detects dead cells. Therefore, we investigated the possibility that DNGR-1 affects immunity to cytopathic viruses. DNGR-1 was essential for cross-presentation of dying vaccinia virus–infected (VACV-infected) cells to CD8+ T cells in vitro. Following injection of VACV or VACV-infected cells into mice, DNGR-1 detected the ligand in dying infected cells and mediated cross-priming of anti-VACV CD8+ T cells. Loss of DNGR-1 impaired the CD8+ cytotoxic response to VACV, especially against those virus strains that are most dependent on cross-presentation. The decrease in total anti-VACV CTL activity was associated with a profound increase in viral load and delayed resolution of the primary lesion. In addition, lack of DNGR-1 markedly diminished protection from infection induced by vaccination with the modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) strain. DNGR-1 thus contributes to anti-VACV immunity, following both primary infection and vaccination. The non-redundant ability of DNGR-1 to regulate cross-presentation of viral antigens suggests that this form of regulation of antiviral immunity could be exploited for vaccination.
SIVs infecting wild-living apes in west central Africa have crossed the species barrier to humans on at least four different occasions, one of which spawned the AIDS pandemic. Although the chimpanzee precursor of pandemic HIV-1 strains must have been able to infect humans, the capacity of SIVcpz strains to replicate in human lymphoid tissues (HLTs) is not known. Here, we show that SIVcpz strains from two chimpanzee subspecies are capable of replicating in human tonsillary explant cultures, albeit only at low titers. However, SIVcpz replication in HLT was significantly improved after introduction of a previously identified human-specific adaptation at position 30 in the viral Gag matrix protein. An Arg or Lys at this position significantly increased SIVcpz replication in HLT, while the same mutation reduced viral replication in chimpanzee-derived CD4+ T cells. Thus, naturally occurring SIVcpz strains are capable of infecting HLTs, the major site of HIV-1 replication in vivo. However, efficient replication requires the acquisition of a host-specific adaptation in the viral matrix protein. These results identify Gag matrix as a major determinant of SIVcpz replication fitness in humans and suggest a critical role in the emergence of HIV/AIDS.
Retroviral vectors integrate in genes and regulatory elements and may cause transcriptional deregulation of gene expression in target cells. Integration into transcribed genes also has the potential to deregulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level by interfering with splicing and polyadenylation of primary transcripts. To examine the impact of retroviral vector integration on transcript splicing, we transduced primary human cells or cultured cells with HIV-derived vectors carrying a reporter gene or a human β-globin gene under the control of a reduced-size locus-control region (LCR). Cells were randomly cloned and integration sites were determined in individual clones. We identified aberrantly spliced, chimeric transcripts in more than half of the targeted genes in all cell types. Chimeric transcripts were generated through the use of constitutive and cryptic splice sites in the HIV 5ι long terminal repeat and gag gene as well as in the β-globin gene and LCR. Compared with constitutively spliced transcripts, most aberrant transcripts accumulated at a low level, at least in part as a consequence of nonsense-mediated mRNA degradation. A limited set of cryptic splice sites caused the majority of aberrant splicing events, providing a strategy for recoding lentiviral vector backbones and transgenes to reduce their potential posttranscriptional genotoxicity.
Gamma-retroviral/lentiviral vectors (γRV/LV) with self-inactivating (SIN) long terminal repeats (LTRs) and internal moderate cellular promoters pose a reduced risk of insertional mutagenesis when compared with vectors with active LTRs. Yet, in a recent LV-based clinical trial for β-thalassemia, vector integration within the HMGA2 gene induced the formation of an aberrantly spliced mRNA form that appeared to cause clonal dominance. Using a method that we developed, cDNA linear amplification-mediated PCR, in combination with high-throughput sequencing, we conducted a whole transcriptome analysis of chimeric LV-cellular fusion transcripts in transduced human lymphoblastoid cells and primary hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells. We observed a surprising abundance of read-through transcription originating outside and inside the provirus and identified the vector sequences contributing to the aberrant splicing process. We found that SIN LV has a sharply reduced propensity to engage in aberrant splicing compared with that of vectors carrying active LTRs. Moreover, by recoding the identified vector splice sites, we reduced residual read-through transcription and demonstrated an effective strategy for improving vectors. Characterization of the mechanisms and genetic features underlying vector-induced aberrant splicing will enable the generation of safer vectors, with low impact on the cellular transcriptome.
Recent GWAS have identified SNPs at a human chromosom1 locus associated with coronary artery disease risk and LDL cholesterol levels. The SNPs are also associated with altered expression of hepatic sortilin-1 (SORT1), which encodes a protein thought to be involved in apoB trafficking and degradation. Here, we investigated the regulation of Sort1 expression in mouse models of obesity. Sort1 expression was markedly repressed in both genetic (ob/ob) and high-fat diet models of obesity; restoration of hepatic sortilin-1 levels resulted in reduced triglyceride and apoB secretion. Mouse models of obesity also exhibit increased hepatic activity of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) and ER stress, and we found that administration of the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin to ob/ob mice reduced ER stress and increased hepatic sortilin-1 levels. Conversely, genetically increased hepatic mTORC1 activity was associated with repressed Sort1 and increased apoB secretion. Treating WT mice with the ER stressor tunicamycin led to marked repression of hepatic sortilin-1 expression, while administration of the chemical chaperone PBA to ob/ob mice led to amelioration of ER stress, increased sortilin-1 expression, and reduced apoB and triglyceride secretion. Moreover, the ER stress target Atf3 acted at the SORT1 promoter region as a transcriptional repressor, whereas knockdown of Atf3 mRNA in ob/ob mice led to increased hepatic sortilin-1 levels and decreased apoB and triglyceride secretion. Thus, in mouse models of obesity, induction of mTORC1 and ER stress led to repression of hepatic Sort1 and increased VLDL secretion via Atf3. This pathway may contribute to dyslipidemia in metabolic disease.
Liver X receptors (LXRα and LXRβ) are important regulators of cholesterol and lipid metabolism, and their activation has been shown to inhibit cardiovascular disease and reduce atherosclerosis in animal models. Small molecule agonists of LXR activity are therefore of great therapeutic interest. However, the finding that such agonists also promote hepatic lipogenesis has led to the idea that hepatic LXR activity is undesirable from a therapeutic perspective. To investigate whether this might be true, we performed gene targeting to selectively delete LXRα in hepatocytes. Liver-specific deletion of LXRα in mice substantially decreased reverse cholesterol transport, cholesterol catabolism, and cholesterol excretion, revealing the essential importance of hepatic LXRα for whole body cholesterol homeostasis. Additionally, in a pro-atherogenic background, liver-specific deletion of LXRα increased atherosclerosis, uncovering an important function for hepatic LXR activity in limiting cardiovascular disease. Nevertheless, synthetic LXR agonists still elicited anti-atherogenic activity in the absence of hepatic LXRα, indicating that the ability of agonists to reduce cardiovascular disease did not require an increase in cholesterol excretion. Furthermore, when non-atherogenic mice were treated with synthetic LXR agonists, liver-specific deletion of LXRα eliminated the detrimental effect of increased plasma triglycerides, while the beneficial effect of increased plasma HDL was unaltered. In sum, these observations suggest that therapeutic strategies that bypass the liver or limit the activation of hepatic LXRs should still be beneficial for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Allergic contact dermatitis is the most frequent occupational disease in industrialized countries. It is caused by CD8+ T cell–mediated contact hypersensitivity (CHS) reactions triggered at the site of contact by a variety of chemicals, also known as weak haptens, present in fragrances, dyes, metals, preservatives, and drugs. Despite the myriad of potentially allergenic substances that can penetrate the skin, sensitization is relatively rare and immune tolerance to the substance is often induced by as yet poorly understood mechanisms. Here we show, using the innocuous chemical 2,4-dinitrothiocyanobenzene (DNTB), that cutaneous immune tolerance in mice critically depends on epidermal Langerhans cells (LCs), which capture DNTB and migrate to lymph nodes for direct presentation to CD8+ T cells. Depletion and adoptive transfer experiments revealed that LCs conferred protection from development of CHS by a mechanism involving both anergy and deletion of allergen-specific CD8+ T cells and activation of a population of T cells identified as ICOS+CD4+Foxp3+ Tregs. Our findings highlight the critical role of LCs in tolerance induction in mice to the prototype innocuous hapten DNTB and suggest that strategies targeting LCs might be valuable for prevention of cutaneous allergy.
Hyperimmune activation is a strong predictor of disease progression during pathogenic immunodeficiency virus infections and is mediated in part by sustained type I IFN signaling in response to adventitious microbial infection. The immune inhibitory receptor programmed death–1 (PD-1) regulates functional exhaustion of virus-specific CD8+ T cells during chronic infections, and in vivo PD-1 blockade has been shown to improve viral control of SIV. Here, we show that PD-1 blockade during chronic SIV infection markedly reduced the expression of transcripts associated with type I IFN signaling in the blood and colorectal tissue of rhesus macaques (RMs). The effect of PD-1 blockade on type I IFN signaling was durable and persisted even under conditions of high viremia. Reduced type I IFN signaling was associated with enhanced expression of some of the junction-associated genes in colorectal tissue and with a profound decrease in plasma LPS levels, suggesting a possible repair of gut-associated junctions and decreased microbial translocation into the blood. PD-1 blockade enhanced immunity to gut-resident pathogenic bacteria, control of gut-associated opportunistic infections, and survival of SIV-infected RMs. Our results suggest PD-1 blockade as a potential novel therapeutic approach to enhance combination antiretroviral therapy by suppressing hyperimmune activation in HIV-infected individuals.
Current interventions for arresting autoimmune diabetes have yet to strike the balance between sufficient efficacy, minimal side effects, and lack of generalized immunosuppression. Introduction of antigen via the gut represents an appealing method for induction of antigen-specific tolerance. Here, we developed a strategy for tolerance restoration using mucosal delivery in mice of biologically contained Lactococcus lactis genetically modified to secrete the whole proinsulin autoantigen along with the immunomodulatory cytokine IL-10. We show that combination therapy with low-dose systemic anti-CD3 stably reverted diabetes in NOD mice and increased frequencies of local Tregs, which not only accumulated in the pancreatic islets, but also suppressed immune response in an autoantigen-specific way. Cured mice remained responsive to disease-unrelated antigens, which argues against excessive immunosuppression. Application of this therapeutic tool achieved gut mucosal delivery of a diabetes-relevant autoantigen and a biologically active immunomodulatory cytokine, IL-10, and, when combined with a low dose of systemic anti-CD3, was well tolerated and induced autoantigen-specific long-term tolerance, allowing reversal of established autoimmune diabetes. Therefore, we believe this method could be an effective treatment strategy for type 1 diabetes in humans.
Retinoblastoma is a pediatric cancer that has served as a paradigm for tumor suppressor gene function. Retinoblastoma is initiated by RB gene mutations, but the subsequent cooperating mutational events leading to tumorigenesis are poorly characterized. We investigated what these additional genomic alterations might be using human retinoblastoma samples and mouse models. Array-based comparative genomic hybridization studies revealed deletions in the CDKN2A locus that include ARF and P16INK4A, both of which encode tumor suppressor proteins, in both human and mouse retinoblastoma. Through mouse genetic analyses, we found that Arf was the critical tumor suppressor gene in the deleted region. In mice, inactivation of one allele of Arf cooperated with Rb and p107 loss to rapidly accelerate retinoblastoma, with frequent loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the Arf locus. Arf has been reported to exhibit p53-independent tumor suppressor roles in other systems; however, our results showed no additive effect of p53 and Arf coinactivation in promoting retinoblastoma. Moreover, p53 inactivation completely eliminated any selection for Arf LOH. Thus, our data reveal important insights into the p53 pathway in retinoblastoma and show that Arf is a key collaborator with Rb in retinoblastoma suppression.
Most cases of pancreatic cancer are not diagnosed until they are no longer curable with surgery. Therefore, it is critical to develop a sensitive, preferably noninvasive, method for detecting the disease at an earlier stage. In order to identify biomarkers for pancreatic cancer, we devised an in vitro positive/negative selection strategy to identify RNA ligands (aptamers) that could detect structural differences between the secretomes of pancreatic cancer and non-cancerous cells. Using this molecular recognition approach, we identified an aptamer (M9-5) that differentially bound conditioned media from cancerous and non-cancerous human pancreatic cell lines. This aptamer further discriminated between the sera of pancreatic cancer patients and healthy volunteers with high sensitivity and specificity. We utilized biochemical purification methods and mass-spectrometric analysis to identify the M9-5 target as cyclophilin B (CypB). This molecular recognition–based strategy simultaneously identified CypB as a serum biomarker and generated a new reagent to recognize it in body fluids. Moreover, this approach should be generalizable to other diseases and complementary to traditional approaches that focus on differences in expression level between samples. Finally, we suggest that the aptamer we identified has the potential to serve as a tool for the early detection of pancreatic cancer.
Spontaneous gene repair, also called revertant mosaicism, has been documented in several genetic disorders involving organs that undergo self-regeneration, including the skin. Genetic reversion may occur through different mechanisms, and in a single individual, the mutation can be repaired in various ways. Here we describe a disseminated pattern of revertant mosaicism observed in 6 patients with Kindler syndrome (KS), a genodermatosis caused by loss of kindlin-1 (encoded by FERMT1) and clinically characterized by patchy skin pigmentation and atrophy. All patients presented duplication mutations (c.456dupA and c.676dupC) in FERMT1, and slipped mispairing in direct nucleotide repeats was identified as the reversion mechanism in all investigated revertant skin spots. The sequence around the mutations demonstrated high propensity to mutations, favoring both microinsertions and microdeletions. Additionally, in some revertant patches, mitotic recombination generated areas with homozygous normal keratinocytes. Restoration of kindlin-1 expression led to clinically and structurally normal skin. Since loss of kindlin-1 severely impairs keratinocyte proliferation, we predict that revertant cells have a selective advantage that allows their clonal expansion and, consequently, the improvement of the skin condition.
Inflammation is a multistep process triggered when innate immune cells — for example, DCs — sense a pathogen or injured cell or tissue. Edema formation is one of the first steps in the inflammatory response; it is fundamental for the local accumulation of inflammatory mediators. Injection of LPS into the skin provides a model for studying the mechanisms of inflammation and edema formation. While it is known that innate immune recognition of LPS leads to activation of numerous transcriptional activators, including nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) isoforms, the molecular pathways that lead to edema formation have not been determined. As PGE2 regulates many proinflammatory processes, including swelling and pain, and it is induced by LPS, we hypothesized that PGE2 mediates the local generation of edema following LPS exposure. Here, we show that tissue-resident DCs are the main source of PGE2 and the main controllers of tissue edema formation in a mouse model of LPS-induced inflammation. LPS exposure induced expression of microsomal PGE synthase-1 (mPGES-1), a key enzyme in PGE2 biosynthesis. mPGES-1 activation, PGE2 production, and edema formation required CD14 (a component of the LPS receptor) and NFAT. Therefore, tissue edema formation induced by LPS is DC and CD14/NFAT dependent. Moreover, DCs can regulate free antigen arrival at the draining lymph nodes by controlling edema formation and interstitial fluid pressure in the presence of LPS. We therefore suggest that the CD14/NFAT/mPGES-1 pathway represents a possible target for antiinflammatory therapies.
The acute phase response is an evolutionarily conserved reaction in which physiological stress triggers the liver to remodel the blood proteome. Although thought to be involved in immune defense, the net biological effect of the acute phase response remains unknown. As the acute phase response is stimulated by diverse cytokines that activate either NF-κB or STAT3, we hypothesized that it could be eliminated by hepatocyte-specific interruption of both transcription factors. Here, we report that the elimination in mice of both NF-κB p65 (RelA) and STAT3, but neither alone, abrogated all acute phase responses measured. The failure to respond was consistent across multiple different infectious, inflammatory, and noxious stimuli, including pneumococcal pneumonia. When the effects of infection were analyzed in detail, pneumococcal pneumonia was found to alter the expression of over a thousand transcripts in the liver. This outcome was inhibited by the combined loss of RelA and STAT3. Moreover, this interruption of the acute phase response increased mortality and exacerbated bacterial dissemination during pneumonia, possibly as a result of acute humoral enhancement of macrophage opsonophagocytosis, which was impaired in the mutant mice. Thus, we conclude that RelA and STAT3 are essential for stress-induced transcriptional remodeling in the liver and the subsequent activation of the acute phase response, whose functional role includes compartmentalization of local infection.
Mutations in the E3 ubiquitin ligase tripartite motif-containing 32 (TRIM32) are responsible for the disease limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 2H (LGMD2H). Previously, we generated Trim32 knockout mice (Trim32–/– mice) and showed that they display a myopathic phenotype accompanied by neurogenic features. Here, we used these mice to investigate the muscle-specific defects arising from the absence of TRIM32, which underlie the myopathic phenotype. Using 2 models of induced atrophy, we showed that TRIM32 is dispensable for muscle atrophy. Conversely, TRIM32 was necessary for muscle regrowth after atrophy. Furthermore, TRIM32-deficient primary myoblasts underwent premature senescence and impaired myogenesis due to accumulation of PIAS4, an E3 SUMO ligase and TRIM32 substrate that was previously shown to be associated with senescence. Premature senescence of myoblasts was also observed in vivo in an atrophy/regrowth model. Trim32–/– muscles had substantially fewer activated satellite cells, increased PIAS4 levels, and growth failure compared with wild-type muscles. Moreover, Trim32–/– muscles exhibited features of premature sarcopenia, such as selective type II fast fiber atrophy. These results imply that premature senescence of muscle satellite cells is an underlying pathogenic feature of LGMD2H and reveal what we believe to be a new mechanism of muscular dystrophy associated with reductions in available satellite cells and premature sarcopenia.
A common renal complication of multiple myeloma is “myeloma kidney,” a condition also known as cast nephropathy. The renal lesions (casts) are directly related to the production of monoclonal immunoglobulin free light chains (FLCs), which coprecipitate with Tamm-Horsfall glycoprotein (THP) in the lumen of the distal nephron, obstructing tubular fluid flow. Here, we report that analysis of the binding interaction between FLCs and THP demonstrates that the secondary structure and key amino acid residues on the complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3) of FLCs are critically important determinants of the molecular interaction with THP. The findings permitted development of a cyclized competitor peptide that demonstrated strong inhibitory capability in the binding of FLCs to THP in vitro. When used in a rodent model of cast nephropathy, this cyclized peptide construct served as an effective inhibitor of intraluminal cast formation and prevented the functional manifestations of acute kidney injury in vivo. These experiments provide proof of concept that intraluminal cast formation is integrally involved in the pathogenesis of acute kidney injury from cast nephropathy. Further, the data support a clinically relevant approach to the management of renal failure in the setting of multiple myeloma.
Radiation gastrointestinal (GI) syndrome is a major lethal toxicity that may occur after a radiation/nuclear incident. Currently, there are no prophylactic countermeasures against radiation GI syndrome lethality for first responders, military personnel, or remediation workers entering a contaminated area. The pathophysiology of this syndrome requires depletion of stem cell clonogens (SCCs) within the crypts of Lieberkühn, which are a subset of cells necessary for postinjury regeneration of gut epithelium. Recent evidence indicates that SCC depletion is not exclusively a result of DNA damage but is critically coupled to ceramide-induced endothelial cell apoptosis within the mucosal microvascular network. Here we show that ceramide generated on the surface of endothelium coalesces to form ceramide-rich platforms that transmit an apoptotic signal. Moreover, we report the generation of 2A2, an anti-ceramide monoclonal antibody that binds to ceramide to prevent platform formation on the surface of irradiated endothelial cells of the murine GI tract. Consequently, we found that 2A2 protected against endothelial apoptosis in the small intestinal lamina propria and facilitated recovery of crypt SCCs, preventing the death of mice from radiation GI syndrome after high radiation doses. As such, we suggest that 2A2 represents a prototype of a new class of anti-ceramide therapeutics and an effective countermeasure against radiation GI syndrome mortality.
Autoimmunity is complicated by bone loss. In human rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the most severe inflammatory joint disease, autoantibodies against citrullinated proteins are among the strongest risk factors for bone destruction. We therefore hypothesized that these autoantibodies directly influence bone metabolism. Here, we found a strong and specific association between autoantibodies against citrullinated proteins and serum markers for osteoclast-mediated bone resorption in RA patients. Moreover, human osteoclasts expressed enzymes eliciting protein citrullination, and specific N-terminal citrullination of vimentin was induced during osteoclast differentiation. Affinity-purified human autoantibodies against mutated citrullinated vimentin (MCV) not only bound to osteoclast surfaces, but also led to robust induction of osteoclastogenesis and bone-resorptive activity. Adoptive transfer of purified human MCV autoantibodies into mice induced osteopenia and increased osteoclastogenesis. This effect was based on the inducible release of TNF-α from osteoclast precursors and the subsequent increase of osteoclast precursor cell numbers with enhanced expression of activation and growth factor receptors. Our data thus suggest that autoantibody formation in response to citrullinated vimentin directly induces bone loss, providing a link between the adaptive immune system and bone.
Serum calcium levels are tightly controlled by an integrated hormone-controlled system that involves active vitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], which can elicit calcium mobilization from bone when intestinal calcium absorption is decreased. The skeletal adaptations, however, are still poorly characterized. To gain insight into these issues, we analyzed the consequences of specific vitamin D receptor (Vdr) inactivation in the intestine and in mature osteoblasts on calcium and bone homeostasis. We report here that decreased intestinal calcium absorption in intestine-specific Vdr knockout mice resulted in severely reduced skeletal calcium levels so as to ensure normal levels of calcium in the serum. Furthermore, increased 1,25(OH)2D levels not only stimulated bone turnover, leading to osteopenia, but also suppressed bone matrix mineralization. This resulted in extensive hyperosteoidosis, also surrounding the osteocytes, and hypomineralization of the entire bone cortex, which may have contributed to the increase in bone fractures. Mechanistically, osteoblastic VDR signaling suppressed calcium incorporation in bone by directly stimulating the transcription of genes encoding mineralization inhibitors. Ablation of skeletal Vdr signaling precluded this calcium transfer from bone to serum, leading to better preservation of bone mass and mineralization. These findings indicate that in mice, maintaining normocalcemia has priority over skeletal integrity, and that to minimize skeletal calcium storage, 1,25(OH)2D not only increases calcium release from bone, but also inhibits calcium incorporation in bone.
Aspergillus fumigatus is a model fungal pathogen and a common cause of infection in individuals with the primary immunodeficiency chronic granulomatous disease (CGD). Although primarily considered a deficiency of innate immunity, CGD is also linked to dysfunctional T cell reactivity. Both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells mediate vaccine-induced protection from experimental aspergillosis, but the molecular mechanisms leading to the generation of protective immunity and whether these mechanisms are dysregulated in individuals with CGD have not been determined. Here, we show that activation of either T cell subset in a mouse model of CGD is contingent upon the nature of the fungal vaccine, the involvement of distinct innate receptor signaling pathways, and the mode of antigen routing and presentation in DCs. Aspergillus conidia activated CD8+ T cells upon sorting to the Rab14+ endosomal compartment required for alternative MHC class I presentation. Cross-priming of CD8+ T cells failed to occur in mice with CGD due to defective DC endosomal alkalinization and autophagy. However, long-lasting antifungal protection and disease control were successfully achieved upon vaccination with purified fungal antigens that activated CD4+ T cells through the endosome/lysosome pathway. Our study thus indicates that distinct intracellular pathways are exploited for the priming of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells to A. fumigatus and suggests that CD4+ T cell vaccination may be able to overcome defective antifungal CD8+ T cell memory in individuals with CGD.
Cancer development, progression, and metastasis are highly dependent on angiogenesis. The use of antiangiogenic drugs has been proposed as a novel strategy to interfere with tumor growth, but cancer cells respond by developing strategies to escape these treatments. In particular, animal models show that antiangiogenic drugs currently used in clinical settings reduce tumor tissue oxygenation and trigger molecular events that foster cancer resistance to therapy. Here, we show that semaphorin 3A (Sema3A) expression overcomes the proinvasive and prometastatic resistance observed upon angiogenesis reduction by the small-molecule tyrosine inhibitor sunitinib in both pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) in RIP-Tag2 mice and cervical carcinomas in HPV16/E2 mice. By improving cancer tissue oxygenation and extending the normalization window, Sema3A counteracted sunitinib-induced activation of HIF-1α, Met tyrosine kinase receptor, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and other hypoxia-dependent signaling pathways. Sema3A also reduced tumor hypoxia and halted cancer dissemination induced by DC101, a specific inhibitor of the VEGF pathway. As a result, reexpressing Sema3A in cancer cells converts metastatic PNETs and cervical carcinomas into benign lesions. We therefore suggest that this strategy could be developed to safely harnesses the therapeutic potential of the antiangiogenic treatment.
Malignant progression in cancer requires populations of tumor-initiating cells (TICs) endowed with unlimited self renewal, survival under stress, and establishment of distant metastases. Additionally, the acquisition of invasive properties driven by epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is critical for the evolution of neoplastic cells into fully metastatic populations. Here, we characterize 2 human cellular models derived from prostate and bladder cancer cell lines to better understand the relationship between TIC and EMT programs in local invasiveness and distant metastasis. The model tumor subpopulations that expressed a strong epithelial gene program were enriched in highly metastatic TICs, while a second subpopulation with stable mesenchymal traits was impoverished in TICs. Constitutive overexpression of the transcription factor Snai1 in the epithelial/TIC-enriched populations engaged a mesenchymal gene program and suppressed their self renewal and metastatic phenotypes. Conversely, knockdown of EMT factors in the mesenchymal-like prostate cancer cell subpopulation caused a gain in epithelial features and properties of TICs. Both tumor cell subpopulations cooperated so that the nonmetastatic mesenchymal-like prostate cancer subpopulation enhanced the in vitro invasiveness of the metastatic epithelial subpopulation and, in vivo, promoted the escape of the latter from primary implantation sites and accelerated their metastatic colonization. Our models provide new insights into how dynamic interactions among epithelial, self-renewal, and mesenchymal gene programs determine the plasticity of epithelial TICs.
In contrast to the well-studied classic MAPKs, such as ERK1/2, little is known concerning the regulation and substrates of the atypical MAPK ERK3 signaling cascade and its function in cancer progression. Here, we report that ERK3 interacted with and phosphorylated steroid receptor coactivator 3 (SRC-3), an oncogenic protein overexpressed in multiple human cancers at serine 857 (S857). This ERK3-mediated phosphorylation at S857 was essential for interaction of SRC-3 with the ETS transcription factor PEA3, which promotes upregulation of MMP gene expression and proinvasive activity in lung cancer cells. Importantly, knockdown of ERK3 or SRC-3 inhibited the ability of lung cancer cells to invade and form tumors in the lung in a xenograft mouse model. In addition, ERK3 was found to be highly upregulated in human lung carcinomas. Our study identifies a previously unknown role for ERK3 in promoting lung cancer cell invasiveness by phosphorylating SRC-3 and regulating SRC-3 proinvasive activity by site-specific phosphorylation. As such, ERK3 protein kinase may be an attractive target for therapeutic treatment of invasive lung cancer.
Dysregulation of canonical Wnt signaling is thought to play a role in colon carcinogenesis. β-Catenin, a key mediator of the pathway, is stabilized upon Wnt activation and accumulates in the nucleus, where it can interact with the transcription factor T cell factor (TCF) to transactivate gene expression. Normal colonic epithelia express a truncated TCF-1 form, called dnTCF-1, that lacks the critical β-catenin–binding domain and behaves as a transcriptional suppressor. How the cell maintains a balance between the two forms of TCF-1 is unclear. Here, we show that ERM-binding phosphoprotein 50 (EBP50) modulates the interaction between β-catenin and TCF-1. We observed EBP50 localization to the nucleus of human colorectal carcinoma cell lines at low cell culture densities and human primary colorectal tumors that manifested a poor clinical outcome. In contrast, EBP50 was primarily membranous in confluent cell lines. Aberrantly located EBP50 stabilized conventional β-catenin/TCF-1 complexes and connected β-catenin to dnTCF-1 to form a ternary molecular complex that enhanced Wnt/β-catenin signaling events, including the transcription of downstream oncogenes such as c-Myc and cyclin D1. Genome-wide analysis of the EBP50 occupancy pattern revealed consensus binding motifs bearing similarity to Wnt-responsive element. Conventional chromatin immunoprecipitation assays confirmed that EBP50 bound to genomic regions highly enriched with TCF/LEF binding motifs. Knockdown of EBP50 in human colorectal carcinoma cell lines compromised cell cycle progression, anchorage-independent growth, and tumorigenesis in nude mice. We therefore suggest that nuclear EBP50 facilitates colon tumorigenesis by modulating the interaction between β-catenin and TCF-1.
An association between lymph node metastasis and poor prognosis in breast cancer was observed decades ago. However, the mechanisms by which tumor cells infiltrate the lymphatic system are not completely understood. Recently, it has been proposed that the lymphatic system has an active role in metastatic dissemination and that tumor-secreted growth factors stimulate lymphangiogenesis. We therefore investigated whether SIX1, a homeodomain-containing transcription factor previously associated in breast cancer with lymph node positivity, was involved in lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic metastasis. In a model in which human breast cancer cells were injected into immune-compromised mice, we found that SIX1 expression promoted peritumoral and intratumoral lymphangiogenesis, lymphatic invasion, and distant metastasis of breast cancer cells. SIX1 induced transcription of the prolymphangiogenic factor VEGF-C, and this was required for lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic metastasis. Using a mouse mammary carcinoma model, we found that VEGF-C was not sufficient to mediate all the metastatic effects of SIX1, indicating that SIX1 acts through additional, VEGF-C–independent pathways. Finally, we verified the clinical significance of this prometastatic SIX1/VEGF-C axis by demonstrating coexpression of SIX1 and VEGF-C in human breast cancer. These data define a critical role for SIX1 in lymphatic dissemination of breast cancer cells, providing a direct mechanistic explanation for how VEGF-C expression is upregulated in breast cancer, resulting in lymphangiogenesis and metastasis.
Cooperativity between oncogenic mutations is recognized as a fundamental feature of malignant transformation, and it may be mediated by synergistic regulation of the expression of pro- and antitumorigenic target genes. However, the mechanisms by which oncogenes and tumor suppressors coregulate downstream targets and pathways remain largely unknown. Here, we used ChIP coupled to massively parallel sequencing (ChIP-seq) and gene expression profiling in mouse prostates to identify direct targets of the tumor suppressor Nkx3.1. Further analysis indicated that a substantial fraction of Nkx3.1 target genes are also direct targets of the oncoprotein Myc. We also showed that Nkx3.1 and Myc bound to and crossregulated shared target genes in mouse and human prostate epithelial cells and that Nkx3.1 could oppose the transcriptional activity of Myc. Furthermore, loss of Nkx3.1 cooperated with concurrent overexpression of Myc to promote prostate cancer in transgenic mice. In human prostate cancer patients, dysregulation of shared NKX3.1/MYC target genes was associated with disease relapse. Our results indicate that NKX3.1 and MYC coregulate prostate tumorigenesis by converging on, and crossregulating, a common set of target genes. We propose that coregulation of target gene expression by oncogenic/tumor suppressor transcription factors may represent a general mechanism underlying the cooperativity of oncogenic mutations during tumorigenesis.
Prostate cancer (PCa) is a major lethal malignancy in men, but the molecular events and their interplay underlying prostate carcinogenesis remain poorly understood. Epigenetic events and the upregulation of polycomb group silencing proteins including Bmi1 have been described to occur during PCa progression. Here, we found that conditional overexpression of Bmi1 in mice induced prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, and elicited invasive adenocarcinoma when combined with PTEN haploinsufficiency. In addition, Bmi1 and the PI3K/Akt pathway were coactivated in a substantial fraction of human high-grade tumors. We found that Akt mediated Bmi1 phosphorylation, enhancing its oncogenic potential in an Ink4a/Arf-independent manner. This process also modulated the DNA damage response and affected genomic stability. Together, our findings demonstrate the etiological role of Bmi1 in PCa, unravel an oncogenic collaboration between Bmi1 and the PI3K/Akt pathway, and provide mechanistic insights into the modulation of Bmi1 function by phosphorylation during prostate carcinogenesis.
Tregs expressing the transcription factor Foxp3 suppress self-reactive T cells, prevent autoimmunity, and help contain immune responses to foreign antigens, thereby limiting the potential for inadvertent tissue damage. Mutations in the FOXP3 gene result in Treg deficiency in mice and humans, which leads to the development of a multisystem autoimmune inflammatory disease. The contribution of dysregulated innate immune responses to the pathogenesis of Foxp3 deficiency disease is unknown. In this study, we examined the role of microbial signals in the pathogenesis of Foxp3 deficiency disease by studying Foxp3 mutant mice that had concurrent deficiencies in TLR signaling pathways. Global deficiency of the common TLR adaptor MyD88 offered partial protection from Foxp3 deficiency disease. Specifically, it protected from disease at the environmental interfaces of the skin, lungs, and gut. In contrast, systemic disease, in the form of unrestrained lymphoproliferation, continued unabated. The effect of MyD88 deficiency at environmental interfaces involved the disruption of chemokine gradients that recruit effector T cells and DCs, resulting in their entrapment in secondary lymphoid tissues. These results suggests that Tregs have a key role in maintaining tolerance at host-microbial interfaces by restraining tonic MyD88-dependent proinflammatory signals. Moreover, microbial factors may play a substantial role in the pathogenesis of human autoimmune disease resulting from Treg deficiency.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation