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Abstract

Male infertility accounts for almost half of infertility cases worldwide. A subset of infertile men exhibit reduced testosterone and enhanced levels of estradiol (E2), though it is unclear how increased E2 promotes deterioration of male fertility. Here, we utilized a transgenic mouse strain that overexpresses human CYP19, which encodes aromatase (AROM+ mice), and mice with knockout of Esr1, encoding estrogen receptor α (ERαKO mice), to analyze interactions between viable Leydig cells (LCs) and testicular macrophages that may lead to male infertility. In AROM+ males, enhanced E2 promoted LC hyperplasia and macrophage activation via ERα signaling. E2 stimulated LCs to produce growth arrest–specific 6 (GAS6), which mediates phagocytosis of apoptotic cells by bridging cells with surface exposed phosphatidylserine (PS) to macrophage receptors, including the tyrosine kinases TYRO3, AXL, and MER. Overproduction of E2 increased apoptosis-independent extrusion of PS on LCs, which in turn promoted engulfment by E2/ERα-activated macrophages that was mediated by AXL-GAS6-PS interaction. We further confirmed E2-dependant engulfment of LCs by real-time 3D imaging. Furthermore, evaluation of molecular markers in the testes of patients with nonobstructive azoospermia (NOA) revealed enhanced expression of CYP19, GAS6, and AXL, which suggests that the AROM+ mouse model reflects human infertility. Together, these results suggest that GAS6 has a potential as a clinical biomarker and therapeutic target for male infertility.

Authors

Wanpeng Yu, Han Zheng, Wei Lin, Astushi Tajima, Yong Zhang, Xiaoyan Zhang, Hongwen Zhang, Jihua Wu, Daishu Han, Nafis A. Rahman, Kenneth S. Korach, George Fu Gao, Ituro Inoue, Xiangdong Li

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Abstract

PKA phosphorylates multiple molecules involved in calcium (Ca2+) handling in cardiac myocytes and is considered to be the predominant regulator of β-adrenergic receptor–mediated enhancement of cardiac contractility; however, recent identification of exchange protein activated by cAMP (EPAC), which is independently activated by cAMP, has challenged this paradigm. Mice lacking Epac1 (Epac1 KO) exhibited decreased cardiac contractility with reduced phospholamban (PLN) phosphorylation at serine-16, the major PKA-mediated phosphorylation site. In Epac1 KO mice, intracellular Ca2+ storage and the magnitude of Ca2+ movement were decreased; however, PKA expression remained unchanged, and activation of PKA with isoproterenol improved cardiac contractility. In contrast, direct activation of EPAC in cardiomyocytes led to increased PLN phosphorylation at serine-16, which was dependent on PLC and PKCε. Importantly, Epac1 deletion protected the heart from various stresses, while Epac2 deletion was not protective. Compared with WT mice, aortic banding induced a similar degree of cardiac hypertrophy in Epac1 KO; however, lack of Epac1 prevented subsequent cardiac dysfunction as a result of decreased cardiac myocyte apoptosis and fibrosis. Similarly, Epac1 KO animals showed resistance to isoproterenol- and aging-induced cardiomyopathy and attenuation of arrhythmogenic activity. These data support Epac1 as an important regulator of PKA-independent PLN phosphorylation and indicate that Epac1 regulates cardiac responsiveness to various stresses.

Authors

Satoshi Okumura, Takayuki Fujita, Wenqian Cai, Meihua Jin, Iyuki Namekata, Yasumasa Mototani, Huiling Jin, Yoshiki Ohnuki, Yayoi Tsuneoka, Reiko Kurotani, Kenji Suita, Yuko Kawakami, Shogo Hamaguchi, Takaya Abe, Hiroshi Kiyonari, Takashi Tsunematsu, Yunzhe Bai, Sayaka Suzuki, Yuko Hidaka, Masanari Umemura, Yasuhiro Ichikawa, Utako Yokoyama, Motohiko Sato, Fumio Ishikawa, Hiroko Izumi-Nakaseko, Satomi Adachi-Akahane, Hikaru Tanaka, Yoshihiro Ishikawa

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Abstract

Metastatic dissemination of ovarian tumors involves the invasion of tumor cell clusters into the mesothelial cell lining of peritoneal cavity organs; however, the tumor-specific factors that allow ovarian cancer cells to spread are unclear. We used an in vitro assay that models the initial step of ovarian cancer metastasis, clearance of the mesothelial cell layer, to examine the clearance ability of a large panel of both established and primary ovarian tumor cells. Comparison of the gene and protein expression profiles of clearance-competent and clearance-incompetent cells revealed that mesenchymal genes are enriched in tumor populations that display strong clearance activity, while epithelial genes are enriched in those with weak or undetectable activity. Overexpression of transcription factors SNAI1, TWIST1, and ZEB1, which regulate the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), promoted mesothelial clearance in cell lines with weak activity, while knockdown of the EMT-regulatory transcription factors TWIST1 and ZEB1 attenuated mesothelial clearance in ovarian cancer cell lines with strong activity. These findings provide important insights into the mechanisms associated with metastatic progression of ovarian cancer and suggest that inhibiting pathways that drive mesenchymal programs may suppress tumor cell invasion of peritoneal tissues.

Authors

Rachel A. Davidowitz, Laura M. Selfors, Marcin P. Iwanicki, Kevin M. Elias, Alison Karst, Huiying Piao, Tan A. Ince, Michael G. Drage, Judy Dering, Gottfried E. Konecny, Ursula Matulonis, Gordon B. Mills, Dennis J. Slamon, Ronny Drapkin, Joan S. Brugge

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Abstract

Cord blood (CB) cells that express CD34 have extensive hematopoietic capacity and rapidly divide ex vivo in the presence of cytokine combinations; however, many of these CB CD34+ cells lose their marrow-repopulating potential. To overcome this decline in function, we treated dividing CB CD34+ cells ex vivo with several histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACIs). Treatment of CB CD34+ cells with the most active HDACI, valproic acid (VPA), following an initial 16-hour cytokine priming, increased the number of multipotent cells (CD34+CD90+) generated; however, the degree of expansion was substantially greater in the presence of both VPA and cytokines for a full 7 days. Treated CD34+ cells were characterized based on the upregulation of pluripotency genes, increased aldehyde dehydrogenase activity, and enhanced expression of CD90, c-Kit (CD117), integrin α6 (CD49f), and CXCR4 (CD184). Furthermore, siRNA-mediated inhibition of pluripotency gene expression reduced the generation of CD34+CD90+ cells by 89%. Compared with CB CD34+ cells, VPA-treated CD34+ cells produced a greater number of SCID-repopulating cells and established multilineage hematopoiesis in primary and secondary immune–deficient recipient mice. These data indicate that dividing CB CD34+ cells can be epigenetically reprogrammed by treatment with VPA so as to generate greater numbers of functional CB stem cells for use as transplantation grafts.

Authors

Pratima Chaurasia, David C. Gajzer, Christoph Schaniel, Sunita D’Souza, Ronald Hoffman

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Abstract

Advanced age is associated with immune system deficits that result in an increased susceptibility to infectious diseases; however, specific mediators of age-dependent immune dysfunction have not been fully elucidated. Here we demonstrated that aged mice exhibit poor effector CD8+ T cell polyfunctionality, primarily due to CD8+ T cell–extrinsic deficits, and that reduced CD8+ T cell polyfunctionality correlates with increased susceptibility to pathogenic diseases. In aged animals challenged with the parasite Encephalitozoon cuniculi, effector CD8+ T cell survival and polyfunctionality were suppressed by highly elevated TGF-β1. Furthermore, TGF-β depletion reduced effector CD8+ T cell apoptosis in both young and aged mice and enhanced effector CD8+ T cell polyfunctionality in aged mice. Surprisingly, intrinsic blockade of TGF-β signaling in CD8+ T cells was sufficient to rescue polyfunctionality in aged animals. Together, these data demonstrate that low levels of TGF-β1 promote apoptosis of CD8+ effector T cells and high TGF-β1 levels associated with age result in both CD8+ T cell apoptosis and an altered transcriptional profile, which correlates with loss of polyfunctionality. Furthermore, elevated TGF-β levels are observed in the elderly human population and in aged Drosophila, suggesting that TGF-β represents an evolutionarily conserved negative regulator of the immune response in aging organisms.

Authors

Rajarshi Bhadra, Magali M. Moretto, Julio C. Castillo, Constantinos Petrovas, Sara Ferrando-Martinez, Upasana Shokal, Manuel Leal, Richard A. Koup, Ioannis Eleftherianos, Imtiaz A. Khan

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Abstract

The Warburg effect is a tumorigenic metabolic adaptation process characterized by augmented aerobic glycolysis, which enhances cellular bioenergetics. In normal cells, energy homeostasis is controlled by AMPK; however, its role in cancer is not understood, as both AMPK-dependent tumor-promoting and -inhibiting functions were reported. Upon stress, energy levels are maintained by increased mitochondrial biogenesis and glycolysis, controlled by transcriptional coactivator PGC-1α and HIF, respectively. In normoxia, AMPK induces PGC-1α, but how HIF is activated is unclear. Germline mutations in the gene encoding the tumor suppressor folliculin (FLCN) lead to Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome, which is associated with an increased cancer risk. FLCN was identified as an AMPK binding partner, and we evaluated its role with respect to AMPK-dependent energy functions. We revealed that loss of FLCN constitutively activates AMPK, resulting in PGC-1α–mediated mitochondrial biogenesis and increased ROS production. ROS induced HIF transcriptional activity and drove Warburg metabolic reprogramming, coupling AMPK-dependent mitochondrial biogenesis to HIF-dependent metabolic changes. This reprogramming stimulated cellular bioenergetics and conferred a HIF-dependent tumorigenic advantage in FLCN-negative cancer cells. Moreover, this pathway is conserved in a BHD-derived tumor. These results indicate that FLCN inhibits tumorigenesis by preventing AMPK-dependent HIF activation and the subsequent Warburg metabolic transformation.

Authors

Ming Yan, Marie-Claude Gingras, Elaine A. Dunlop, Yann Nouët, Fanny Dupuy, Zahra Jalali, Elite Possik, Barry J. Coull, Dmitri Kharitidi, Anders Bondo Dydensborg, Brandon Faubert, Miriam Kamps, Sylvie Sabourin, Rachael S. Preston, David Mark Davies, Taren Roughead, Laëtitia Chotard, Maurice A.M. van Steensel, Russell Jones, Andrew R. Tee, Arnim Pause

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Abstract

Rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata (RCDP) is a developmental disorder characterized by hypotonia, cataracts, abnormal ossification, impaired motor development, and intellectual disability. The underlying etiology of RCDP is a deficiency in the biosynthesis of ether phospholipids, of which plasmalogens are the most abundant form in nervous tissue and myelin; however, the role of plasmalogens in the peripheral nervous system is poorly defined. Here, we used mouse models of RCDP and analyzed the consequence of plasmalogen deficiency in peripheral nerves. We determined that plasmalogens are crucial for Schwann cell development and differentiation and that plasmalogen defects impaired radial sorting, myelination, and myelin structure. Plasmalogen insufficiency resulted in defective protein kinase B (AKT) phosphorylation and subsequent signaling, causing overt activation of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) in nerves of mutant mice. Treatment with GSK3β inhibitors, lithium, or 4-benzyl-2-methyl-1,2,4-thiadiazolidine-3,5-dione (TDZD-8) restored Schwann cell defects, effectively bypassing plasmalogen deficiency. Our results demonstrate the requirement of plasmalogens for the correct and timely differentiation of Schwann cells and for the process of myelination. In addition, these studies identify a mechanism by which the lack of a membrane phospholipid causes neuropathology, implicating plasmalogens as regulators of membrane and cell signaling.

Authors

Tiago Ferreira da Silva, Jessica Eira, André T. Lopes, Ana R. Malheiro, Vera Sousa, Adrienne Luoma, Robin L. Avila, Ronald J.A. Wanders, Wilhelm W. Just, Daniel A. Kirschner, Mónica M. Sousa, Pedro Brites

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Abstract

Epithelial tumor cells that have undergone epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) are typically prone to metastasis and drug resistance and contribute to a poor clinical outcome. The transcription factor ZEB1 is a known driver of EMT, and mediators of ZEB1 represent potential therapeutic targets for metastasis suppression. Here, we have shown that phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase–targeted (PI3K-targeted) therapy suppresses metastasis in a mouse model of Kras/Tp53-mutant lung adenocarcinoma that develops metastatic disease due to high expression of ZEB1. In lung adenocarcinoma cells from Kras/Tp53-mutant animals and human lung cancer cell lines, ZEB1 activated PI3K by derepressing miR-200 targets, including amphiregulin (AREG), betacellulin (BTC), and the transcription factor GATA6, which stimulated an EGFR/ERBB2 autocrine loop. Additionally, ZEB1-dependent derepression of the miR-200 and miR-183 target friend of GATA 2 (FOG2) enhanced GATA3-induced expression of the p110α catalytic subunit of PI3K. Knockdown of FOG2, p110α, and RHEB ameliorated invasive and metastatic propensities of tumor cells. Surprisingly, FOG2 was not required for mesenchymal differentiation, suggesting that mesenchymal differentiation and invasion are distinct and separable processes. Together, these results indicate that ZEB1 sensitizes lung adenocarcinoma cells to metastasis suppression by PI3K-targeted therapy and suggest that treatments to selectively modify the metastatic behavior of mesenchymal tumor cells are feasible and may be of clinical value.

Authors

Yanan Yang, Young-Ho Ahn, Yulong Chen, Xiaochao Tan, Lixia Guo, Don L. Gibbons, Christin Ungewiss, David H. Peng, Xin Liu, Steven H. Lin, Nishan Thilaganathan, Ignacio I. Wistuba, Jaime Rodriguez-Canales, Georgia McLendon, Chad J. Creighton, Jonathan M. Kurie

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Abstract

Glucose control and weight loss are cornerstones of type 2 diabetes treatment. Currently, only glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP1) analogs are able to achieve both weight loss and glucose tolerance. Both glucose and body weight are regulated by the brain, which contains GLP1 receptors (GLP1R). Even though the brain is poised to mediate the effects of GLP1 analogs, it remains unclear whether the glucose- and body weight–lowering effects of long-acting GLP1R agonists are via direct action on CNS GLP1R or the result of downstream activation of afferent neuronal GLP1R. We generated mice with either neuronal or visceral nerve-specific deletion of Glp1r and then administered liraglutide, a long-acting GLP1R agonist. We found that neither reduction of GLP1R in the CNS nor in the visceral nerves resulted in alterations in body weight or food intake in animals fed normal chow or a high-fat diet. Liraglutide treatment provided beneficial glucose-lowering effects in both chow- and high-fat–fed mice lacking GLP1R in the CNS or visceral nerves; however, liraglutide was ineffective at altering food intake, body weight, or causing a conditioned taste aversion in mice lacking neuronal GLP1R. These data indicate that neuronal GLP1Rs mediate body weight and anorectic effects of liraglutide, but are not required for glucose-lowering effects.

Authors

Stephanie Sisley, Ruth Gutierrez-Aguilar, Michael Scott, David A. D’Alessio, Darleen A. Sandoval, Randy J. Seeley

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Abstract

In this issue of the JCI, Chaurasia and colleagues report an impressive ex vivo expansion of HSCs from human cord blood (CB) using cytokines and altering epigenetic modifications. The application of this protocol provides information that has potential for clinical consideration. The enhanced expansion of CB HSCs is a substantial advance over recent work from the Chaurasia and Hoffman group, in which ex vivo production of human erythroid progenitor cells from CB was promoted by chromatin modification. Moreover, this study takes advantage of information from the rapidly emerging, but not yet fully elucidated, field of epigenetics.

Authors

Hal E. Broxmeyer

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April 2014


124-4-cover

April 2014 Issue

On the cover:
Sonic hedgehog signaling

Neuroepithelium stained for tight junction protein ZO1(white), phospho-histone H3 (cyan), and DAPI (blue). Cleft lip is a common orofacial birth defect that results from incomplete growth and fusion of facial processes. In this month’s issue, Hiroshi Kurosaka and colleagues uncover a critical link between WNT signaling and the sonic hedgehog (SHH) pathway in the development of cleft lip (1660). Their studies reveal that altered SHH signaling promotes the formation of cleft lip by antagonizing the canonical WNT pathway and reducing expression of interferon regulatory factor (IRF6).

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Jci_impact_2014_04

April 2014 Impact

JCI Impact is a digest of the research, reviews, and other features published in each month's issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Review Series - More

Review_series_85
Lymphatic Vasculature
Series edited by Dontscho Kerjaschki

Significant progress in the last 15 years has transformed the field of lymphatic vasculature research into a boom area. The relatively recent identification of specific growth factors and molecular markers that distinguish endothelial cells of the lymphatic and blood vasculature lineages were pivotal for this development. Given the almost ubiquituous distribution of lymphatic vessels in most organs, it is not surprising that this type of vasculature is actively or passively involved in a large number of human diseases. The reviews in this series aim to describe a number of emerging areas in lymphatic biology, including mechanisms that mediate lymphangiogenesis, the development of mammalian lymphatic vasculature, the genetics of lymphatic anomalies, new technologies for studying the lymphatic vasculature, and the role of lymphatics in disease, including lymphedema and cancer, and physiological processes, such as inflammation and immunity. Cover image credit: K.Pichler/CeMM/MedUni Wien/Josephinum (www.josephinum.ac.at).

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