Congenital long QT syndrome (LQTS) is an inherited channelopathy associated with life-threatening arrhythmias. LQTS type 2 (LQT2) is caused by mutations in KCNH2, which encodes the potassium channel hERG. We hypothesized that modifier genes are partly responsible for the variable phenotype severity observed in some LQT2 families. Here, we identified contributors to variable expressivity in an LQT2 family by using induced pluripotent stem cell–derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) and whole exome sequencing in a synergistic manner. We found that iPSC-CMs recapitulated the clinical genotype-phenotype discordance in vitro. Importantly, iPSC-CMs derived from the severely affected LQT2 patients displayed prolonged action potentials compared with cells from mildly affected first-degree relatives. The iPSC-CMs derived from all patients with hERG R752W mutation displayed lower IKr amplitude. Interestingly, iPSC-CMs from severely affected mutation-positive individuals exhibited greater L-type Ca2+ current. Whole exome sequencing identified variants of KCNK17 and the GTP-binding protein REM2, providing biologically plausible explanations for this variable expressivity. Genome editing to correct a REM2 variant reversed the enhanced L-type Ca2+ current and prolonged action potential observed in iPSC-CMs from severely affected individuals. Thus, our findings showcase the power of combining complementary physiological and genomic analyses to identify genetic modifiers and potential therapeutic targets of a monogenic disorder. Furthermore, we propose that this strategy can be deployed to unravel myriad confounding pathologies displaying variable expressivity.
Sam Chai, Xiaoping Wan, Angelina Ramirez-Navarro, Paul J. Tesar, Elizabeth S. Kaufman, Eckhard Ficker, Alfred L. George Jr., Isabelle Deschênes
Dravet syndrome (DS) is a severe childhood-onset epilepsy commonly due to mutations of the sodium channel gene SCN1A. Patients with DS have a high risk of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP), widely believed to be due to cardiac mechanisms. Here we show that patients with DS commonly have peri-ictal respiratory dysfunction. One patient had severe and prolonged postictal hypoventilation during video EEG monitoring and died later of SUDEP. Mice with an Scn1aR1407X/+ loss-of-function mutation were monitored and died after spontaneous and heat-induced seizures due to central apnea followed by progressive bradycardia. Death could be prevented with mechanical ventilation after seizures were induced by hyperthermia or maximal electroshock. Muscarinic receptor antagonists did not prevent bradycardia or death when given at doses selective for peripheral parasympathetic blockade, whereas apnea, bradycardia, and death were prevented by the same drugs given at doses high enough to cross the blood-brain barrier. When given via intracerebroventricular infusion at a very low dose, a muscarinic receptor antagonist prevented apnea, bradycardia, and death. We conclude that SUDEP in patients with DS can result from primary central apnea, which can cause bradycardia, presumably via a direct effect of hypoxemia on cardiac muscle.
YuJaung Kim, Eduardo Bravo, Caitlin K. Thirnbeck, Lori A. Smith-Mellecker, Se Hee Kim, Brian K. Gehlbach, Linda C. Laux, Xiuqiong Zhou, Douglas R. Nordli Jr., George B. Richerson
Infection by Staphylococcus aureus strain USA300 causes tissue injury, multiorgan failure, and high mortality. However, the mechanisms by which the bacteria adhere to, then stabilize on, mucosal surfaces before causing injury remain unclear. We addressed these issues through the first real-time determinations of USA300-alveolar interactions in live lungs. We found that within minutes, inhaled USA300 established stable, self-associated microaggregates in niches at curved, but not at flat, regions of the alveolar wall. The microaggregates released α-hemolysin toxin, causing localized alveolar injury, as indicated by epithelial dye loss, mitochondrial depolarization, and cytosolic Ca2+ increase. Spread of cytosolic Ca2+ through intercellular gap junctions to adjoining, uninfected alveoli caused pulmonary edema. Systemic pretreatment with vancomycin, a USA300-cidal antibiotic, failed to protect mice infected with inhaled WT USA300. However, vancomycin pretreatment markedly abrogated mortality in mice infected with mutant USA300 that lacked the aggregation-promoting factor PhnD. We interpret USA300-induced mortality as having resulted from rapid bacterial aggregation in alveolar niches. These findings indicate, for the first time to our knowledge, that alveolar microanatomy is critical in promoting the aggregation and, hence, in causing USA300-induced alveolar injury. We propose that in addition to antibiotics, strategies for bacterial disaggregation may constitute novel therapy against USA300-induced lung injury.
Jaime L. Hook, Mohammad N. Islam, Dane Parker, Alice S. Prince, Sunita Bhattacharya, Jahar Bhattacharya
Dynamic interaction with the immune system profoundly regulates tumor cell dormancy. However, it is unclear how immunological cues trigger cancer cell–intrinsic signaling pathways for entering into dormancy. Here, we show that IFN-β treatment induced tumor-repopulating cells (TRC) to enter dormancy through an indolamine 2,3-dioxygenase/kynurenine/aryl hydrocarbon receptor/p27–dependent (IDO/Kyn/AhR/p27-dependent) pathway. Strategies to block this metabolic circuitry did not relieve dormancy, but led to apoptosis of dormant TRCs in murine and human melanoma models. Specifically, blocking AhR redirected IFN-β signaling to STAT3 phosphorylation through both tyrosine and serine sites, which subsequently facilitated STAT3 nuclear translocation and subsequent binding to the p53 promoter in the nucleus. Upregulation of p53 in turn disrupted the pentose phosphate pathway, leading to excessive ROS production and dormant TRC death. Additionally, in melanoma patients, high expression of IFN-β correlated with tumor cell dormancy. Identification of this mechanism for controlling TRC dormancy by IFN-β provides deeper insights into cancer-immune interaction and potential new cancer immunotherapeutic modalities.
Yuying Liu, Jiadi Lv, Jinyan Liu, Xiaoyu Liang, Xun Jin, Jing Xie, Le Zhang, Degao Chen, Roland Fiskesund, Ke Tang, Jingwei Ma, Huafeng Zhang, Wenqian Dong, Siqi Mo, Tianzhen Zhang, Feiran Cheng, Yabo Zhou, Qingzhu Jia, Bo Zhu, Yan Kong, Jun Guo, Haizeng Zhang, Zhuo-Wei Hu, Xuetao Cao, F. Xiao-Feng Qin, Bo Huang
The skeleton has emerged as an important regulator of systemic glucose homeostasis, with osteocalcin and insulin representing prime mediators of the interplay between bone and energy metabolism. However, genetic evidence indicates that osteoblasts can influence global energy metabolism through additional, as yet unknown, mechanisms. Here, we report that constitutive or postnatally induced deletion of the hypoxia signaling pathway component von Hippel–Lindau (VHL) in skeletal osteolineage cells of mice led to high bone mass as well as hypoglycemia and increased glucose tolerance, not accounted for by osteocalcin or insulin. In vitro and in vivo data indicated that Vhl-deficient osteoblasts displayed massively increased glucose uptake and glycolysis associated with upregulated HIF-target gene expression, resembling the Warburg effect that typifies cancer cells. Overall, the glucose consumption by the skeleton was increased in the mutant mice, as revealed by 18F-FDG radioactive tracer experiments. Moreover, the glycemia levels correlated inversely with the level of skeletal glucose uptake, and pharmacological treatment with the glycolysis inhibitor dichloroacetate (DCA), which restored glucose metabolism in Vhl-deficient osteogenic cells in vitro, prevented the development of the systemic metabolic phenotype in the mutant mice. Altogether, these findings reveal a novel link between cellular glucose metabolism in osteoblasts and whole-body glucose homeostasis, controlled by local hypoxia signaling in the skeleton.
Naomi Dirckx, Robert J. Tower, Evi M. Mercken, Roman Vangoitsenhoven, Caroline Moreau-Triby, Tom Breugelmans, Elena Nefyodova, Ruben Cardoen, Chantal Mathieu, Bart Van der Schueren, Cyrille B. Confavreux, Thomas L. Clemens, Christa Maes
Simeon I. Taylor, Bruce R. Leslie
Synthetic lethality is an efficient mechanism-based approach to selectively target DNA repair defects. ERCC1 deficiency is frequently found in non-small cell lung cancers, making this DNA repair protein an attractive target for exploiting synthetic lethal approaches in this disease. Using unbiased proteomic and metabolic high-throughput profiling on a unique in-house generated isogenic model of ERCC1 deficiency, we found marked metabolic rewiring of ERCC1-deficient populations, including decreased levels of the metabolite NAD+ and reduced expression of the rate-limiting NAD+ biosynthetic enzyme nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT). We further evidenced reduced NAMPT expression in NSCLC samples with low levels of ERCC1. These metabolic alterations were a primary effect of ERCC1 deficiency, and caused selective exquisite sensitivity to small molecule NAMPT inhibitors, both in vitro — ERCC1-deficient cells being approximately 1000 times more sensitive — and in vivo. Using transmission electronic microscopy and functional metabolic studies, we found that ERCC1-deficient cells harbor mitochondrial defects. We propose a model where NAD+ acts as a regulator of ERCC1-deficient NSCLC fitness. These findings open therapeutic opportunities that exploit a yet undescribed nuclear — mitochondrial synthetic lethal relationship in cancer cells, and highlight the potential for targeting DNA repair/metabolic crosstalks for cancer therapy.
Mehdi Touat, Tony Sourisseau, Nicolas Dorvault, Roman M. Chabanon, Marlène Garrido, Daphné Morel, Dragomir B. Krastev, Ludovic Bigot, Julien Adam, Jessica Frankum, Sylvère Durand, Clement Pontoizeau, Sylvie Souquère, Mei-Shiue Kuo, Sylvie Sauvaigo, Faraz Mardakheh, Alain Sarasin, Ken A. Olaussen, Luc Friboulet, Frédéric Bouillaud, Gérard Pierron, Alan Ashworth, Anne Lombès, Christopher J. Lord, Jean-Charles Soria, Sophie Postel-Vinay
Immune evasion and the suppression of anti-tumor responses during cancer progression are considered hallmarks of cancer and are typically attributed to tumor-derived factors. Although the molecular basis for the crosstalk between tumor and immune cells is an area of active investigation, whether host-specific germline variants can dictate immunosuppressive mechanisms has remained a challenge to address. A commonly occurring germline mutation (c.1162G>A/rs351855 G/A) in the FGFR4 (CD334) gene enhances STAT3 signaling and is associated with poor prognosis and accelerated progression of multiple cancer types. Here, using rs351855 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) knock-in transgenic mice and Fgfr4 knockout mice, we reveal the genotype-specific gain of immunological function of suppressing the CD8/CD4+FOXP3+CD25+ve regulatory T cell ratio in vivo. Furthermore, using knock-in transgenic mouse models for lung and breast cancers, we establish the host-specific tumor-extrinsic functions of STAT3-enhancing germline variants in impeding the tumor infiltration of CD8 T cells. Thus, STAT3-enhancing germline receptor variants contribute to immune evasion through their pleiotropic functions in immune cells.
Daniel Kogan, Alexander Grabner, Christopher Yanucil, Christian Faul, Vijay Kumar Ulaganathan
Major histocompatibility (MHC) class II molecules are strongly associated with many autoimmune disorders. In type 1 diabetes, the DQ8 molecule is common, confers significant disease risk and is involved in disease pathogenesis. We hypothesized blocking DQ8 antigen presentation would provide therapeutic benefit by preventing recognition of self-peptides by pathogenic T cells. We used the crystal structure of DQ8 to select drug-like small molecules predicted to bind structural pockets in the MHC antigen-binding cleft. A limited number of the predicted compounds inhibited DQ8 antigen presentation in vitro with one compound preventing insulin autoantibody production and delaying diabetes onset in an animal model of spontaneous autoimmune diabetes. An existing drug of similar structure, methyldopa, specifically blocked DQ8 in recent-onset patients with type 1 diabetes along with reducing inflammatory T cell responses toward insulin, highlighting the relevance of blocking disease-specific MHC class II antigen presentation to treat autoimmunity.
David A. Ostrov, Aimon Alkanani, Kristen A. McDaniel, Stephanie Case, Erin E. Baschal, Laura Pyle, Samuel Ellis, Bernadette Pöllinger, Katherine J. Seidl, Viral N. Shah, Satish K. Garg, Mark A. Atkinson, Peter A. Gottlieb, Aaron W. Michels
Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are associated with low levels of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C). The insulin-repressible FoxO transcription factors are potential mediators of insulin’s effect on HDL-C. FoxOs mediate a substantial portion of insulin-regulated transcription, and poor FoxO repression is thought to contribute to the excessive glucose production in diabetes. In this work, we show that mice with liver-specific triple FoxO knockout (L-FoxO1,3,4), which are known to have reduced hepatic glucose production, also have increased HDL-C. This was associated with decreased expression of HDL-C clearance factors, scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI) and hepatic lipase, and defective selective uptake of HDL-cholesteryl ester by the liver. The phenotype could be rescued by re-expression of SR-BI. These findings demonstrate that hepatic FoxOs are required for cholesterol homeostasis and HDL-mediated reverse cholesterol transport to the liver.
Samuel X. Lee, Markus Heine, Christian Schlein, Rajasekhar Ramakrishnan, Jing Liu, Gabriella Belnavis, Ido Haimi, Alexander W. Fischer, Henry Ginsberg, Joerg Heeren, Franz Rinninger, Rebecca A. Haeusler
Transient vanilloid potential 1 (TRPV1) agonists are emerging as highly efficacious non-opioid analgesics in preclinical studies. These drugs selectively lesion TRPV1+ primary sensory afferents, which are responsible for the transmission of many noxious stimulus modalities. Resiniferatoxin (RTX) is a very potent and selective TRPV1 agonist and is a promising candidate for treating many types of pain. Recent work establishing intrathecal application of RTX for the treatment of pain resulting from advanced cancer has demonstrated profound analgesia in client-owned dogs with osteosarcoma. The present study uses transcriptomics and histochemistry to examine the molecular mechanism of RTX action in rats, in clinical canine subjects, and in one human subject with advanced cancer treated for pain using intrathecal RTX. In all three species we observe a strong analgesic action, yet this was accompanied by limited transcriptional alterations at the level of the DRG. Functional and neuroanatomical studies demonstrated that intrathecal RTX largely spares susceptible neuronal perikarya, which remain active peripherally, but unable to transmit signals to the spinal cord. The results demonstrate that central chemo-axotomy of the TRPV1+ afferents underlies RTX analgesia and refine the neurobiology underlying effective clinical use of TRPV1 agonists for pain control.
Matthew R. Sapio, John K. Neubert, Danielle M. LaPaglia, Dragan Maric, Jason M. Keller, Stephen J. Raithel, Eric L. Rohrs, Ethan M. Anderson, John A. Butman, Robert M. Caudle, Dorothy C. Brown, John D. Heiss, Andrew J. Mannes, Michael J. Iadarola
This month’s cover features a cortical pyramidal neuron, distinguishable by its yellow nucleus. The interaction of FingR-gephyrin (green) and ankyrin (magenta) at the axion initial segment helps to stabilize inhibitory synapse organization. The cell is filled with red fluorescent protein for visualization. The corresponding study by Wang et al. describes the defective neuronal morphology, synaptogenesis, and inhibitory signaling that underlie early infantile epileptic encephalography 5, a disease linked to mutations in αII spectrin. Image credit: Yu Wang.
JCI This Month is a digest of the research, reviews, and other features published each month.
Fibrosis describes a maladaptive response to injury that results in pathogenic production of extracellular matrix, the formation of stiff scar tissue, and compromised organ function. Although it is most often associated with chronic liver conditions and progressive lung disease, fibrosis can affect any organ of the body. There are few treatment options for this progressive, often fatal condition, but as ongoing research identifies the molecular pathways that initiate and propagate fibrotic remodeling, therapeutic possibilities may become available. The reviews in this series discuss recent insights into genetic predisposition to fibrotic disorders, the origins of fibroblasts and myofibroblasts, scar tissue formation, organ regeneration, and more, revealing opportunities to interrupt or even reverse disease progression.