In this issue of the JCI, Sun et al. report a screen for existing drugs to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection by targeting the human host protein transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2), which is required for viral entry. Using a structure-based phylogenetic computational tool, they identified Avoralstat, a drug studied in clinical trials for the treatment of hereditary angioedema, as a potent inhibitor of TMPRSS2 and viral entry. Moreover, Avoralstat reduced SARS-CoV-2 infection following prophylactic administration to SARS-CoV-2 susceptible mice. The cover image shows a structural model of Avoralstat in the binding pocket of TMPRSS2.
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Vascular calcification (VC) predicts cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in chronic kidney disease (CKD). To date, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. We detected leukocyte DNA N6-methyladenine (6mA) levels in CKD patients with or without aortic arch calcification. We used arteries from CKD mice infected with vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs)-targeted adeno-associated virus encoding alkB homolog 1 (Alkbh1) gene or Alkbh1 shRNA to evaluate features of calcification. We identified that leukocyte 6mA levels were significantly reduced as the severity of VC increased in CKD patients. Decreased 6mA demethylation resulted from the upregulation of ALKBH1. Here, ALKBH1 overexpression aggravated, whereas its depletion blunted VC progression and osteogenic reprogramming in vivo and in vitro. Mechanistically, ALKBH1-demethylated DNA 6mA modification could facilitate the binding of octamer-binding transcription factor 4 (Oct4) to bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) promoter and activate BMP2 transcription. This resulted in osteogenic reprogramming of VSMCs and subsequent VC progression. Either BMP2 or Oct4 depletion alleviated the pro-calcifying effects of ALKBH1. This suggests targeting ALKBH1 might be a therapeutic method to reduce the burden of VC in CKD.
Liu Ouyang, Xiaoyan Su, Wenxin Li, Liangqiu Tang, Mengbi Zhang, Yongjun Zhu, Changming Xie, Puhua Zhang, Jie Chen, Hui Huang
The upper respiratory tract is compromised in the early period of COVID-19, but SARS-CoV-2 tropism at the cellular level is not fully defined. Unlike recent single cell RNA-sequencing analyses indicating uniformly low mRNA expression of SARS-CoV-2 entry-related host molecules in all nasal epithelial cells, we show that the protein levels are relatively high and their localizations are restricted to the apical side of multiciliated epithelial cells. In addition, we provide evidence in COVID-19 patients that SARS-CoV-2 is massively detected and replicated within the multiciliated cells. We observed these findings during the early stage of COVID-19, when infected ciliated cells are rapidly replaced by differentiating precursor cells. Moreover, our analyses reveal that SARS-CoV-2 cellular tropism is restricted to the nasal ciliated versus oral squamous epithelium. These results imply that targeting ciliated cells of the nasal epithelium during the early stage of COVID-19 could be an ideal strategy to prevent SARS-CoV-2 propagation.
Ji Hoon Ahn, JungMo Kim, Seon Pyo Hong, Sung Yong Choi, Myung Jin Yang, Young Seok Ju, Young Tae Kim, Ho Min Kim, MD Tazikur Rahman, Man Ki Chung, Sang Duk Hong, Hosung Bae, Chang-Seop Lee, Gou Young Koh
Tirzepatide (LY3298176), a dual GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonist, delivered superior glycemic control and weight loss compared to GLP-1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonism in patients with type 2 diabetes. However, the mechanism by which tirzepatide improves efficacy and how GIP receptor (GIPR) agonism contributes is not fully understood. Here, we show that tirzepatide is an effective insulin sensitizer, improving insulin sensitivity in obese mice to a greater extent than GLP-1R agonism. To determine if GIPR agonism contributes, we compared the effect of tirzepatide in obese wild-type and Glp-1r null mice. In the absence of GLP-1R-induced weight loss, tirzepatide improved insulin sensitivity by enhancing glucose disposal in white adipose tissue (WAT). In support, a long-acting GIPR agonist (LAGIPRA) was found to enhance insulin sensitivity by augmenting glucose disposal in WAT. Interestingly, the effect of tirzepatide and LAGIPRA on insulin sensitivity was associated with reduced branched-chain amino (BCAAs) and keto-acids in the circulation. Insulin sensitization was associated with upregulation of genes associated with the catabolism of glucose, lipid and BCAAs in brown adipose tissue. Together, our studies show that tirzepatide improved insulin sensitivity in a weight-dependent and -independent manner. These results highlight how GIPR agonism contributes to the therapeutic profile of dual receptor agonism, offering mechanistic insights into the clinical efficacy of tirzepatide.
Ricardo J. Samms, Michael E. Christe, Kyla A. Collins, Valentina Pirro, Brian A. Droz, Adrienne K. Holland, Jessica L. Friedrich, Samantha Wojnicki, Debra L. Konkol, Richard Cosgrove, Ellen P.S. Conceição Furber, Xiaoping Ruan, Libbey S. O'Farrell, Annie M. Long, Mridula Dogra, Jill A. Willency, Yanzhu Lin, Liyun Ding, Christine C. Cheng, Over Cabrera, Daniel A. Briere, Jorge Alsina-Fernandez, Ruth E. Gimeno, Julie S. Moyers, Tamer Coskun, Matthew P. Coghlan, Kyle W. Sloop, William C. Roell
The four serotypes of dengue virus (DENV1-4) are mosquito-borne flaviviruses that infect humans. Live attenuated tetravalent DENV vaccines are at different phases of clinical testing. DENV vaccine developers have relied on neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) as a correlate of protection. A leading tetravalent vaccine (Dengvaxia) stimulated NAbs to the 4 DENV serotypes, yet overall vaccine efficacy was low in children who were DENV seronegative at baseline before vaccination. We compared the properties of 1) NAbs induced by wild type DENV1 or 3 infections, which are strongly correlated with protection from repeat infections, and 2) NAbs induced by Dengvaxia in individuals who subsequently experienced DENV1 or DENV3 breakthrough infections. Wild type infections induced NAbs that recognized epitopes unique (type-specific) to each serotype, whereas the vaccine stimulated qualitatively different NAbs that recognized epitopes conserved (cross-reactive) between serotypes. Our results indicate that among children who were DENV seronegative at baseline, unbalanced replication of the DENV type 4 vaccine component in the tetravalent vaccine stimulates Abs capable of cross neutralizing DENV1 and 3 in vitro but not protect in vivo. In DENV seronegative individuals who are vaccinated, we propose that type specific NAbs are a better correlate of protection than total levels of NAbs.
Sandra Henein, Cameron Adams, Matthew Bonaparte, Janice M. Moser, Alina Munteanu, Ralph Baric, Aravinda M. Desilva
Synovial sarcoma is an aggressive malignancy with no effective treatments for patients with metastasis. The synovial sarcoma fusion, SS18-SSX, which recruits the SWI/SNF-BAF chromatin remodeling and polycomb repressive complexes, results in epigenetic activation of FGFR signaling. In genetic FGFR knockout models, culture, and xenograft synovial sarcoma models treated with the FGFR inhibitor BGJ398, we show that FGFR1, FGFR2, and FGFR3 were crucial for tumor growth. Transcriptome analyses of BGJ398-treated cells, histological and expression analyses of mouse and human synovial sarcoma tumors revealed prevalent expression of two ETS factors and FGFR targets, ETV4 and ETV5. We further demonstrate that ETV4 and ETV5 acted as drivers of synovial sarcoma growth, most likely through control of the cell cycle. Upon ETV4 and ETV5 knockdown, we observed a striking upregulation of DUX4 and its transcriptional targets that activate the zygotic genome and drive the atrophy program in facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) patients. In addition to demonstrating the importance of inhibiting all three FGFR receptors, the current findings reveal potential nodes of attack for the cancer with the discovery of ETV4 and ETV5 as appropriate biomarkers and molecular targets, and activation of the embryonic DUX4 pathway as a promising approach to block synovial sarcoma tumors.
Joanna DeSalvo, Yuguang Ban, Luyuan Li, Xiaodian Sun, Zhijie Jiang, Darcy A. Kerr, Mahsa Khanlari, Maria Boulina, Mario R. Capecchi, Juha M. Partanen, Lin Chen, Tadashi Kondo, David M. Ornitz, Jonathan C. Trent, Josiane E. Eid
JCI This Month is a digest of the research, reviews, and other features published each month.
Cancer cells in a solid tumor are supported by vasculature, extracellular matrix, nerves, and an immunological milieu collectively known as the tumor microenvironment. Elements within the tumor microenvironment can act in a coordinated fashion to support tumor growth, immune evasion, and metastasis. In this series, reviews curated by Series Editor Andrew Ewald highlight the tumor microenvironment’s complex effects in cancer, describing its modulation of immune cells and the tumor stroma as well as its role in disseminating metastases.