Issue published May 16, 2022 Previous issue

On the cover: Reparative vascularization of the ischemic heart

Avolio et al. show that cardiac pericytes have intrinsic vascular plasticity and can be pharmacologically reprogrammed using a MEK inhibitor to aid neovascularization of the ischemic heart. The cover image shows cardiomyocytes stained with α-sarcomeric actin (red) and TUNEL (green; recognizing apoptotic cell nuclei) from a mouse heart treated with a MEK inhibitor.

Obituary
Review Series
Abstract

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) are among the top contributors to disability and mortality in later life. As with many chronic conditions, aging is the single most influential factor in the development of ADRD. Even among older adults who remain free of dementia throughout their lives, cognitive decline and neurodegenerative changes are appreciable with advancing age, suggesting shared pathophysiological mechanisms. In this Review, we provide an overview of changes in cognition, brain morphology, and neuropathological protein accumulation across the lifespan in humans, with complementary and mechanistic evidence from animal models. Next, we highlight selected aging processes that are differentially regulated in neurodegenerative disease, including aberrant autophagy, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, epigenetic changes, cerebrovascular dysfunction, inflammation, and lipid dysregulation. We summarize research across clinical and translational studies to link biological aging processes to underlying ADRD pathogenesis. Targeting fundamental processes underlying biological aging may represent a yet relatively unexplored avenue to attenuate both age-related cognitive decline and ADRD. Collaboration across the fields of geroscience and neuroscience, coupled with the development of new translational animal models that more closely align with human disease processes, is necessary to advance novel therapeutic discovery in this realm.

Authors

Mitzi M. Gonzales, Valentina R. Garbarino, Erin Pollet, Juan P. Palavicini, Dean L. Kellogg Jr., Ellen Kraig, Miranda E. Orr

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Commentaries
Abstract

The loss of skeletal muscle mass and size, or muscle atrophy, is a common human experience, linked to disability, for which there are no widely accepted pharmacological therapies. Piezo1 is a mechanosensitive cation channel that opens upon alteration of the plasma membrane lipid bilayer, such as through increased membrane tension. In this issue of the JCI, Hirata et al. identified Piezo1 and its downstream effectors, Krüppel-like factor 15 (KLF15) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), as an important signaling pathway in a murine model of disuse atrophy. Through genetic and pharmacological modulation of the pathway, the authors demonstrated that immobilization resulted in downregulation of Piezo1 and basal intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i), increasing expression of Klf15 and its downstream target Il6 and thereby inducing muscle atrophy. Piezo1 has been considered a therapeutic target for diverse disorders, including atherosclerosis and kidney fibrosis, and with this publication should now also be considered a viable target for disuse atrophy.

Authors

Ravi Jagasia, Kathryn R. Wagner

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Abstract

Bile acids modulate cell functions in health and disease, however, the mechanisms underlying their actions on neoplastic cells in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract remain largely unknown. In this issue of the JCI, Noto et al. comprehensively analyzed how interactions between Helicobacter pylori infection, iron deficiency, and bile acids modulate gastric inflammation and carcinogenesis. The investigators used sophisticated models, including INS-GAS mice with elevated serum gastrin and gastric acid secretion, in which H. pylori infection mimics human disease progression, to show that selected bile acids potentiated the carcinogenic effects of H. pylori infection and iron depletion. This elegant work has broad translational implications for microbe-associated GI neoplasia. Importantly, bile acid sequestration robustly attenuated the combined effects of H. pylori infection and iron depletion on gastric inflammation and cancer.

Authors

Madeline Alizadeh, Jean-Pierre Raufman

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Abstract

Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is a multisystem trinucleotide repeat expansion disorder characterized by the misregulated alternative splicing of critical mRNAs. Previous work in a transgenic mouse model indicated that aerobic exercise effectively improves splicing regulation and function in skeletal muscle. In this issue of the JCI, Mikhail et al. describe the safety and benefits of applying this approach in individuals affected by DM1. A 12-week aerobic exercise program improved aerobic capacity and mobility, but not by the mechanism observed in transgenic mice. Here, we consider the possible reasons for this disparity and review other salient findings of the study in the context of evolving DM1 research.

Authors

Samuel J. Mackenzie, Johanna Hamel, Charles A. Thornton

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Research Articles
Abstract

PRAME is a prominent member of the cancer testis antigen family of proteins, which triggers autologous T cell–mediated immune responses. Integrative genomic analysis in diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) uncovered recurrent and highly focal deletions of 22q11.22, including the PRAME gene, which were associated with poor outcome. PRAME-deleted tumors showed cytotoxic T cell immune escape and were associated with cold tumor microenvironments. In addition, PRAME downmodulation was strongly associated with somatic EZH2 Y641 mutations in DLBCL. In turn, PRC2-regulated genes were repressed in isogenic PRAME-KO lymphoma cell lines, and PRAME was found to directly interact with EZH2 as a negative regulator. EZH2 inhibition with EPZ-6438 abrogated these extrinsic and intrinsic effects, leading to PRAME expression and microenvironment restoration in vivo. Our data highlight multiple functions of PRAME during lymphomagenesis and provide a preclinical rationale for synergistic therapies combining epigenetic reprogramming with PRAME-targeted therapies.

Authors

Katsuyoshi Takata, Lauren C. Chong, Daisuke Ennishi, Tomohiro Aoki, Michael Yu Li, Avinash Thakur, Shannon Healy, Elena Viganò, Tao Dao, Daniel Kwon, Gerben Duns, Julie S. Nielsen, Susana Ben-Neriah, Ethan Tse, Stacy S. Hung, Merrill Boyle, Sung Soo Mun, Christopher M. Bourne, Bruce Woolcock, Adèle Telenius, Makoto Kishida, Shinya Rai, Allen W. Zhang, Ali Bashashati, Saeed Saberi, Gianluca D’Antonio, Brad H. Nelson, Sohrab P. Shah, Pamela A. Hoodless, Ari M. Melnick, Randy D. Gascoyne, Joseph M. Connors, David A. Scheinberg, Wendy Béguelin, David W. Scott, Christian Steidl

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Abstract

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the most common liver disease, has become a silent worldwide pandemic. The incidence of NAFLD correlates with the rise in obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. A hallmark featureof NAFLD is excessive hepatic fat accumulation or steatosis, due to dysregulated hepatic fat metabolism, which can progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis, and cirrhosis. Currently, there are no approved pharmacotherapies to treat this disease. Here, we have found that activation of the kisspeptin 1 receptor (KISS1R) signaling pathway has therapeutic effects in NAFLD. Using high-fat diet–fed mice, we demonstrated that a deletion of hepatic Kiss1r exacerbated hepatic steatosis. In contrast, enhanced stimulation of KISS1R protected against steatosis in wild-type C57BL/6J mice and decreased fibrosis using a diet-induced mouse model of NASH. Mechanistically, we found that hepatic KISS1R signaling activates the master energy regulator, AMPK, to thereby decrease lipogenesis and progression to NASH. In patients with NAFLD and in high-fat diet–fed mice, hepatic KISS1/KISS1R expression and plasma kisspeptin levels were elevated, suggesting a compensatory mechanism to reduce triglyceride synthesis. These findings establish KISS1R as a therapeutic target to treat NASH.

Authors

Stephania Guzman, Magdalena Dragan, Hyokjoon Kwon, Vanessa de Oliveira, Shivani Rao, Vrushank Bhatt, Katarzyna M. Kalemba, Ankit Shah, Vinod K. Rustgi, He Wang, Paul R. Bech, Ali Abbara, Chioma Izzi-Engbeaya, Pinelopi Manousou, Jessie Y. Guo, Grace L. Guo, Sally Radovick, Waljit S. Dhillo, Fredric E. Wondisford, Andy V. Babwah, Moshmi Bhattacharya

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Abstract

Gastric carcinogenesis is mediated by complex interactions among Helicobacter pylori, host, and environmental factors. Here, we demonstrate that H. pylori augmented gastric injury in INS-GAS mice under iron-deficient conditions. Mechanistically, these phenotypes were not driven by alterations in the gastric microbiota; however, discovery-based and targeted metabolomics revealed that bile acids were significantly altered in H. pylori–infected mice with iron deficiency, with significant upregulation of deoxycholic acid (DCA), a carcinogenic bile acid. The severity of gastric injury was further augmented when H. pylori–infected mice were treated with DCA, and, in vitro, DCA increased translocation of the H. pylori oncoprotein CagA into host cells. Conversely, bile acid sequestration attenuated H. pylori–induced injury under conditions of iron deficiency. To translate these findings to human populations, we evaluated the association between bile acid sequestrant use and gastric cancer risk in a large human cohort. Among 416,885 individuals, a significant dose-dependent reduction in risk was associated with cumulative bile acid sequestrant use. Further, expression of the bile acid receptor transmembrane G protein–coupled bile acid receptor 5 (TGR5) paralleled the severity of carcinogenic lesions in humans. These data demonstrate that increased H. pylori–induced injury within the context of iron deficiency is tightly linked to altered bile acid metabolism, which may promote gastric carcinogenesis.

Authors

Jennifer M. Noto, M. Blanca Piazuelo, Shailja C. Shah, Judith Romero-Gallo, Jessica L. Hart, Chao Di, James D. Carmichael, Alberto G. Delgado, Alese E. Halvorson, Robert A. Greevy, Lydia E. Wroblewski, Ayushi Sharma, Annabelle B. Newton, Margaret M. Allaman, Keith T. Wilson, M. Kay Washington, M. Wade Calcutt, Kevin L. Schey, Bethany P. Cummings, Charles R. Flynn, Joseph P. Zackular, Richard M. Peek Jr.

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Abstract

Passive stiffness of the heart is determined largely by extracellular matrix and titin, which functions as a molecular spring within sarcomeres. Titin stiffening is associated with the development of diastolic dysfunction (DD), while augmented titin compliance appears to impair systolic performance in dilated cardiomyopathy. We found that myofibril stiffness was elevated in mice lacking histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6). Cultured adult murine ventricular myocytes treated with a selective HDAC6 inhibitor also exhibited increased myofibril stiffness. Conversely, HDAC6 overexpression in cardiomyocytes led to decreased myofibril stiffness, as did ex vivo treatment of mouse, rat, and human myofibrils with recombinant HDAC6. Modulation of myofibril stiffness by HDAC6 was dependent on 282 amino acids encompassing a portion of the PEVK element of titin. HDAC6 colocalized with Z-disks, and proteomics analysis suggested that HDAC6 functions as a sarcomeric protein deacetylase. Finally, increased myofibril stiffness in HDAC6-deficient mice was associated with exacerbated DD in response to hypertension or aging. These findings define a role for a deacetylase in the control of myofibril function and myocardial passive stiffness, suggest that reversible acetylation alters titin compliance, and reveal the potential of targeting HDAC6 to manipulate the elastic properties of the heart to treat cardiac diseases.

Authors

Ying-Hsi Lin, Jennifer L. Major, Tim Liebner, Zaynab Hourani, Joshua G. Travers, Sara A. Wennersten, Korey R. Haefner, Maria A. Cavasin, Cortney E. Wilson, Mark Y. Jeong, Yu Han, Michael Gotthardt, Scott K. Ferguson, Amrut V. Ambardekar, Maggie P.Y. Lam, Chunaram Choudhary, Henk L. Granzier, Kathleen C. Woulfe, Timothy A. McKinsey

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Abstract

Understanding the regulatory programs enabling cancer stem cells (CSCs) to self-renew and drive tumorigenicity could identify new treatments. Through comparative chromatin-state and gene expression analyses in ovarian CSCs versus non-CSCs, we identified FOXK2 as a highly expressed stemness-specific transcription factor in ovarian cancer. Its genetic depletion diminished stemness features and reduced tumor initiation capacity. Our mechanistic studies highlight that FOXK2 directly regulated IRE1α (encoded by ERN1) expression, a key sensor for the unfolded protein response (UPR). Chromatin immunoprecipitation and sequencing revealed that FOXK2 bound to an intronic regulatory element of ERN1. Blocking FOXK2 from binding to this enhancer by using a catalytically inactive CRISPR/Cas9 (dCas9) diminished IRE1α transcription. At the molecular level, FOXK2-driven upregulation of IRE1α led to alternative XBP1 splicing and activation of stemness pathways, while genetic or pharmacological blockade of this sensor of the UPR inhibited ovarian CSCs. Collectively, these data establish what we believe is a new function for FOXK2 as a key transcriptional regulator of CSCs and a mediator of the UPR, providing insight into potentially targetable new pathways in CSCs.

Authors

Yaqi Zhang, Yinu Wang, Guangyuan Zhao, Edward J. Tanner, Mazhar Adli, Daniela Matei

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Abstract

Pericytes (PCs) are abundant yet remain the most enigmatic and ill-defined cell population in the heart. Here, we investigated whether PCs can be reprogrammed to aid neovascularization. Primary PCs from human and mouse hearts acquired cytoskeletal proteins typical of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) upon exclusion of EGF/bFGF, which signal through ERK1/2, or upon exposure to the MEK inhibitor PD0325901. Differentiated PCs became more proangiogenic, more responsive to vasoactive agents, and insensitive to chemoattractants. RNA sequencing revealed transcripts marking the PD0325901-induced transition into proangiogenic, stationary VSMC-like cells, including the unique expression of 2 angiogenesis-related markers, aquaporin 1 (AQP1) and cellular retinoic acid–binding protein 2 (CRABP2), which were further verified at the protein level. This enabled us to trace PCs during in vivo studies. In mice, implantation of Matrigel plugs containing human PCs plus PD0325901 promoted the formation of αSMA+ neovessels compared with PC only. Two-week oral administration of PD0325901 to mice increased the heart arteriolar density, total vascular area, arteriole coverage by PDGFRβ+AQP1+CRABP2+ PCs, and myocardial perfusion. Short-duration PD0325901 treatment of mice after myocardial infarction enhanced the peri-infarct vascularization, reduced the scar, and improved systolic function. In conclusion, myocardial PCs have intrinsic plasticity that can be pharmacologically modulated to promote reparative vascularization of the ischemic heart.

Authors

Elisa Avolio, Rajesh Katare, Anita C. Thomas, Andrea Caporali, Daryl Schwenke, Michele Carrabba, Marco Meloni, Massimo Caputo, Paolo Madeddu

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Abstract

Subendothelial macrophage internalization of modified lipids and foam cell formation are hallmarks of atherosclerosis. Deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) are involved in various cellular activities; however, their role in foam cell formation is not fully understood. Here, using a loss-of-function lipid accumulation screening, we identified ubiquitin-specific peptidase 9 X-linked (USP9X) as a factor that suppressed lipid uptake in macrophages. We found that USP9X expression in lesional macrophages was reduced during atherosclerosis development in both humans and rodents. Atherosclerotic lesions from macrophage USP9X-deficient mice showed increased macrophage infiltration, lipid deposition, and necrotic core content than control apolipoprotein E–KO (Apoe–/–) mice. Additionally, loss-of-function USP9X exacerbated lipid uptake, foam cell formation, and inflammatory responses in macrophages. Mechanistically, the class A1 scavenger receptor (SR-A1) was identified as a USP9X substrate that removed the K63 polyubiquitin chain at the K27 site. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of USP9X increased SR-A1 cell surface internalization after binding of oxidized LDL (ox-LDL). The K27R mutation of SR-A1 dramatically attenuated basal and USP9X knockdown–induced ox-LDL uptake. Moreover, blocking binding of USP9X to SR-A1 with a cell-penetrating peptide exacerbated foam cell formation and atherosclerosis. In this study, we identified macrophage USP9X as a beneficial regulator of atherosclerosis and revealed the specific mechanisms for the development of potential therapeutic strategies for atherosclerosis.

Authors

Biqing Wang, Xuening Tang, Liu Yao, Yuxin Wang, Zhipeng Chen, Mengqi Li, Naishi Wu, Dawei Wu, Xiangchen Dai, Hongfeng Jiang, Ding Ai

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Abstract

Ischemic stroke prompts a strong inflammatory response, which is associated with exacerbated outcomes. In this study, we investigated mechanistic regulators of neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation in stroke and whether they contribute to stroke outcomes. NET-forming neutrophils were found throughout brain tissue of ischemic stroke patients, and elevated plasma NET biomarkers correlated with worse stroke outcomes. Additionally, we observed increased plasma and platelet surface–expressed high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) in stroke patients. Mechanistically, platelets were identified as the critical source of HMGB1 that caused NETs in the acute phase of stroke. Depletion of platelets or platelet-specific knockout of HMGB1 significantly reduced plasma HMGB1 and NET levels after stroke, and greatly improved stroke outcomes. We subsequently investigated the therapeutic potential of neonatal NET-inhibitory factor (nNIF) in stroke. Mice treated with nNIF had smaller brain infarcts, improved long-term neurological and motor function, and enhanced survival after stroke. nNIF specifically blocked NET formation without affecting neutrophil recruitment after stroke. Importantly, nNIF also improved stroke outcomes in diabetic and aged mice and was still effective when given 1 hour after stroke onset. These results support a pathological role for NETs in ischemic stroke and warrant further investigation of nNIF for stroke therapy.

Authors

Frederik Denorme, Irina Portier, John L. Rustad, Mark J. Cody, Claudia V. de Araujo, Chieko Hoki, Matthew D. Alexander, Ramesh Grandhi, Mitchell R. Dyer, Matthew D. Neal, Jennifer J. Majersik, Christian C. Yost, Robert A. Campbell

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Abstract

Pregnancy is associated with substantial physiological changes of the heart, and disruptions in these processes can lead to peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM). The molecular processes that cause physiological and pathological changes in the heart during pregnancy are not well characterized. Here, we show that mTORc1 was activated in pregnancy to facilitate cardiac enlargement that was reversed after delivery in mice. mTORc1 activation in pregnancy was negatively regulated by the mRNA-destabilizing protein ZFP36L2 through its degradation of Mdm2 mRNA and P53 stabilization, leading to increased SESN2 and REDD1 expression. This pathway impeded uncontrolled cardiomyocyte hypertrophy during pregnancy, and mice with cardiac-specific Zfp36l2 deletion developed rapid cardiac dysfunction after delivery, while prenatal treatment of these mice with rapamycin improved postpartum cardiac function. Collectively, these data provide what we believe to be a novel pathway for the regulation of mTORc1 through mRNA stabilization of a P53 ubiquitin ligase. This pathway was critical for normal cardiac growth during pregnancy, and its reduction led to PPCM-like adverse remodeling in mice.

Authors

Hidemichi Kouzu, Yuki Tatekoshi, Hsiang-Chun Chang, Jason S. Shapiro, Warren A. McGee, Adam De Jesus, Issam Ben-Sahra, Zoltan Arany, Jonathan Leor, Chunlei Chen, Perry J. Blackshear, Hossein Ardehali

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Abstract

BACKGROUND It is unclear whether the level of serum hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA at baseline affects the on-treatment risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in hepatitis B e antigen–positive (HBeAg-positive), noncirrhotic patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB).METHODS We conducted a multicenter cohort study including 2073 entecavir- or tenofovir-treated, HBeAg-positive, noncirrhotic adult CHB patients with baseline HBV DNA levels of 5.00 log10 IU/mL or higher at 3 centers in South Korea between January 2007 and December 2016. We evaluated the on-treatment incidence rate of HCC according to baseline HBV DNA levels.RESULTS During a median 5.7 years of continuous antiviral treatment, 47 patients developed HCC (0.39 per 100 person-years). By Kaplan-Meier analysis, the risk of HCC was lowest in patients with baseline HBV DNA levels of 8.00 log10 IU/mL or higher, increased incrementally with decreasing viral load, and was highest in those with HBV DNA levels of 5.00–5.99 log10 IU/mL (P < 0.001). By multivariable analysis, the baseline HBV DNA level was an independent factor that was inversely associated with HCC risk. Compared with HBV DNA levels of 8.00 log10 IU/mL or higher, the adjusted HRs for HCC risk with HBV DNA levels of 7.00–7.99 log10 IU/mL, 6.00–6.99 log10 IU/mL, or 5.00–5.99 log10 IU/mL were 2.48 (P = 0.03), 3.69 (P = 0.002), and 6.10 (P < 0.001), respectively.CONCLUSION On-treatment HCC risk increased incrementally with decreasing baseline HBV DNA levels in the range of 5.00 log10 IU/mL or higher in HBeAg-positive, noncirrhotic adult patients with CHB. Early initiation of antiviral treatment when the viral load is high (≥8.00 log10 IU/mL) may maintain the lowest risk of HCC for those patients.FUNDING Patient-Centered Clinical Research Coordinating Center (PACEN) (grant no. HC20C0062) of the National Evidence-based Healthcare Collaborating Agency; National R&D Program for Cancer Control through the National Cancer Center (grant no. HA21C0110), Ministry of Health and Welfare, South Korea.

Authors

Won-Mook Choi, Gi-Ae Kim, Jonggi Choi, Seungbong Han, Young-Suk Lim

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Abstract

Variants in the UNC45A cochaperone have been recently associated with a syndrome combining diarrhea, cholestasis, deafness, and bone fragility. Yet the mechanism underlying intestinal failure in UNC45A deficiency remains unclear. Here, biallelic variants in UNC45A were identified by next-generation sequencing in 6 patients with congenital diarrhea. Corroborating in silico prediction, variants either abolished UNC45A expression or altered protein conformation. Myosin VB was identified by mass spectrometry as client of the UNC45A chaperone and was found misfolded in UNC45AKO Caco-2 cells. In keeping with impaired myosin VB function, UNC45AKO Caco-2 cells showed abnormal epithelial morphogenesis that was restored by full-length UNC45A, but not by mutant alleles. Patients and UNC45AKO 3D organoids displayed altered luminal development and microvillus inclusions, while 2D cultures revealed Rab11 and apical transporter mislocalization as well as sparse and disorganized microvilli. All those features resembled the subcellular abnormalities observed in duodenal biopsies from patients with microvillus inclusion disease. Finally, microvillus inclusions and shortened microvilli were evidenced in enterocytes from unc45a-deficient zebrafish. Taken together, our results provide evidence that UNC45A plays an essential role in epithelial morphogenesis through its cochaperone function of myosin VB and that UNC45A loss causes a variant of microvillus inclusion disease.

Authors

Rémi Duclaux-Loras, Corinne Lebreton, Jérémy Berthelet, Fabienne Charbit-Henrion, Ophelie Nicolle, Céline Revenu de Courtils, Stephanie Waich, Taras Valovka, Anis Khiat, Marion Rabant, Caroline Racine, Ida Chiara Guerrera, Júlia Baptista, Maxime M. Mahe, Michael W. Hess, Béatrice Durel, Nathalie Lefort, Céline Banal, Mélanie Parisot, Cecile Talbotec, Florence Lacaille, Emmanuelle Ecochard-Dugelay, Arzu Meltem Demir, Georg F. Vogel, Laurence Faivre, Astor Rodrigues, Darren Fowler, Andreas R. Janecke, Thomas Müller, Lukas A. Huber, Fernando Rodrigues-Lima, Frank M. Ruemmele, Holm H. Uhlig, Filippo Del Bene, Grégoire Michaux, Nadine Cerf-Bensussan, Marianna Parlato

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Abstract

In hypertrophied and failing hearts, fuel metabolism is reprogrammed to increase glucose metabolism, especially glycolysis. This metabolic shift favors biosynthetic function at the expense of ATP production. Mechanisms responsible for the switch are poorly understood. We found that inhibitory factor 1 of the mitochondrial FoF1-ATP synthase (ATPIF1), a protein known to inhibit ATP hydrolysis by the reverse function of ATP synthase during ischemia, was significantly upregulated in pathological cardiac hypertrophy induced by pressure overload, myocardial infarction, or α-adrenergic stimulation. Chemical cross-linking mass spectrometry analysis of hearts hypertrophied by pressure overload suggested that increased expression of ATPIF1 promoted the formation of FoF1-ATP synthase nonproductive tetramer. Using ATPIF1 gain- and loss-of-function cell models, we demonstrated that stalled electron flow due to impaired ATP synthase activity triggered mitochondrial ROS generation, which stabilized HIF1α, leading to transcriptional activation of glycolysis. Cardiac-specific deletion of ATPIF1 in mice prevented the metabolic switch and protected against the pathological remodeling during chronic stress. These results uncover a function of ATPIF1 in nonischemic hearts, which gives FoF1-ATP synthase a critical role in metabolic rewiring during the pathological remodeling of the heart.

Authors

Bo Zhou, Arianne Caudal, Xiaoting Tang, Juan D. Chavez, Timothy S. McMillen, Andrew Keller, Outi Villet, Mingyue Zhao, Yaxin Liu, Julia Ritterhoff, Pei Wang, Stephen C. Kolwicz Jr., Wang Wang, James E. Bruce, Rong Tian

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Abstract

A disequilibrium between immunosuppressive Tregs and inflammatory IL-17–producing Th17 cells is a hallmark of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the Treg and Th17 imbalance in CNS autoimmunity remain largely unclear. Identifying the factors that drive this imbalance is of high clinical interest. Here, we report a major disease-promoting role for microRNA-92a (miR-92a) in CNS autoimmunity. miR-92a was elevated in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), and its loss attenuated EAE. Mechanistically, miR-92a mediated EAE susceptibility in a T cell–intrinsic manner by restricting Treg induction and suppressive capacity, while supporting Th17 responses, by directly repressing the transcription factor Foxo1. Although miR-92a did not directly alter Th1 differentiation, it appeared to indirectly promote Th1 cells by inhibiting Treg responses. Correspondingly, miR-92a inhibitor therapy ameliorated EAE by concomitantly boosting Treg responses and dampening inflammatory T cell responses. Analogous to our findings in mice, miR-92a was elevated in CD4+ T cells from patients with MS, and miR-92a silencing in patients’ T cells promoted Treg development but limited Th17 differentiation. Together, our results demonstrate that miR-92a drives CNS autoimmunity by sustaining the Treg/Th17 imbalance and implicate miR-92a as a potential therapeutic target for MS.

Authors

Mai Fujiwara, Radhika Raheja, Lucien P. Garo, Amrendra K. Ajay, Ryoko Kadowaki-Saga, Sukrut H. Karandikar, Galina Gabriely, Rajesh Krishnan, Vanessa Beynon, Anu Paul, Amee Patel, Shrishti Saxena, Dan Hu, Brian C. Healy, Tanuja Chitnis, Roopali Gandhi, Howard L. Weiner, Gopal Murugaiyan

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Abstract

Background Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a neurogenetic syndrome due to loss-of-function mutations in TSC2 or TSC1, characterized by tumors at multiple body sites, including facial angiofibroma (FAF). Here, an ultrasensitive assessment of the extent and range of UV-induced mutations in TSC facial skin was performed.Methods A multiplex high-sensitivity PCR assay (MHPA) was developed, enabling mutation detection at extremely low (<0.1%) variant allele frequencies (VAFs).Results MHPA assays were developed for both TSC2 and TP53, and applied to 81 samples, including 66 skin biopsies. UV-induced second-hit mutation causing inactivation of TSC2 was pervasive in TSC facial skin with an average of 4.8 mutations per 2-mm biopsy at median VAF 0.08%, generating more than 150,000 incipient facial tumors (subclinical “micro-FAFs”) in the average TSC subject. The MHPA analysis also led to the identification of a refined UV-related indel signature and a recurrent complex mutation pattern, consisting of both a single-nucleotide or dinucleotide variant and a 1- to 9-nucleotide deletion, in cis.Conclusion TSC facial skin can be viewed as harboring a patchwork of clonal fibroblast proliferations (micro-FAFs) with indolent growth, a small proportion of which develop into clinically observable FAF. Our observations also expand the spectrum of UV-related mutation signatures.Funding This work was supported by the TSC Alliance; the Engles Family Fund for Research in TSC and LAM; and the NIH, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (U01HL131022-04 and Intramural Research Program).

Authors

Katarzyna Klonowska, Joannes M. Grevelink, Krinio Giannikou, Barbara A. Ogorek, Zachary T. Herbert, Aaron R. Thorner, Thomas N. Darling, Joel Moss, David J. Kwiatkowski

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Abstract

Proliferation of latently infected CD4+ T cells with replication-competent proviruses is an important mechanism contributing to HIV persistence during antiretroviral therapy (ART). One approach to targeting this latent cell expansion is to inhibit mTOR, a regulatory kinase involved with cell growth, metabolism, and proliferation. Here, we determined the effects of chronic mTOR inhibition with rapamycin with or without T cell activation in SIV-infected rhesus macaques (RMs) on ART. Rapamycin perturbed the expression of multiple genes and signaling pathways important for cellular proliferation and substantially decreased the frequency of proliferating CD4+ memory T cells (TM cells) in blood and tissues. However, levels of cell-associated SIV DNA and SIV RNA were not markedly different between rapamycin-treated RMs and controls during ART. T cell activation with an anti-CD3LALA antibody induced increases in SIV RNA in plasma of RMs on rapamycin, consistent with SIV production. However, upon ART cessation, both rapamycin and CD3LALA–treated and control-treated RMs rebounded in less than 12 days, with no difference in the time to viral rebound or post-ART viral load set points. These results indicate that, while rapamycin can decrease the proliferation of CD4+ TM cells, chronic mTOR inhibition alone or in combination with T cell activation was not sufficient to disrupt the stability of the SIV reservoir.

Authors

Benjamin D. Varco-Merth, William Brantley, Alejandra Marenco, Derick D. Duell, Devin N. Fachko, Brian Richardson, Kathleen Busman-Sahay, Danica Shao, Walter Flores, Kathleen Engelman, Yoshinori Fukazawa, Scott W. Wong, Rebecca L. Skalsky, Jeremy Smedley, Michael K. Axthelm, Jeffrey D. Lifson, Jacob D. Estes, Paul T. Edlefsen, Louis J. Picker, Cheryl M.A. Cameron, Timothy J. Henrich, Afam A. Okoye

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Abstract

Background Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is a complex life-limiting neuromuscular disorder characterized by severe skeletal muscle atrophy, weakness, and cardiorespiratory defects. Exercised DM1 mice exhibit numerous physiological benefits that are underpinned by reduced CUG foci and improved alternative splicing. However, the efficacy of physical activity in patients is unknown.Methods Eleven genetically diagnosed DM1 patients were recruited to examine the extent to which 12 weeks of cycling can recuperate clinical and physiological metrics. Furthermore, we studied the underlying molecular mechanisms through which exercise elicits benefits in skeletal muscle of DM1 patients.RESULTS DM1 was associated with impaired muscle function, fitness, and lung capacity. Cycling evoked several clinical, physical, and metabolic advantages in DM1 patients. We highlight that exercise-induced molecular and cellular alterations in patients do not conform with previously published data in murine models and propose a significant role of mitochondrial function in DM1 pathology. Finally, we discovered a subset of small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) that correlated to indicators of disease severity.Conclusion With no available cures, our data support the efficacy of exercise as a primary intervention to partially mitigate the clinical progression of DM1. Additionally, we provide evidence for the involvement of snoRNAs and other noncoding RNAs in DM1 pathophysiology.Trial registration This trial was approved by the HiREB committee (no. 7901) and registered under ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT04187482).Funding Neil and Leanne Petroff. Canadian Institutes of Health Research Foundation (no. 143325).

Authors

Andrew I. Mikhail, Peter L. Nagy, Katherine Manta, Nicholas Rouse, Alexander Manta, Sean Y. Ng, Michael F. Nagy, Paul Smith, Jian-Qiang Lu, Joshua P. Nederveen, Vladimir Ljubicic, Mark A. Tarnopolsky

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Abstract

Food addiction is characterized by a loss of behavioral control over food intake and is associated with obesity and other eating disorders. The mechanisms underlying this behavioral disorder are largely unknown. We aimed to investigate the changes in miRNA expression promoted by food addiction in animals and humans and their involvement in the mechanisms underlying the behavioral hallmarks of this disorder. We found sharp similitudes between miRNA signatures in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of our animal cohort and circulating miRNA levels in our human cohort, which allowed us to identify several miRNAs of potential interest in the development of this disorder. Tough decoy (TuD) inhibition of miRNA-29c-3p in the mouse mPFC promoted persistence of the response and enhanced vulnerability to developing food addiction, whereas miRNA-665-3p inhibition promoted compulsion-like behavior and also enhanced food addiction vulnerability. In contrast, we found that miRNA-137-3p inhibition in the mPFC did not lead to the development of food addiction. Therefore, miRNA-29c-3p and miRNA-665-3p could be acting as protective factors with regard to food addiction. We believe the elucidation of these epigenetic mechanisms will lead to advances toward identifying innovative biomarkers and possible future interventions for food addiction and related disorders based on the strategies now available to modify miRNA activity and expression.

Authors

Alejandra García-Blanco, Laura Domingo-Rodriguez, Judit Cabana-Domínguez, Noèlia Fernández-Castillo, Laura Pineda-Cirera, Jordi Mayneris-Perxachs, Aurelijus Burokas, Jose Espinosa-Carrasco, Silvia Arboleya, Jessica Latorre, Catherine Stanton, Bru Cormand, Jose-Manuel Fernández-Real, Elena Martín-García, Rafael Maldonado

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Abstract

Background The Delta and Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 are currently responsible for breakthrough infections due to waning immunity. We report phase I/II trial results of UB-612, a multitope subunit vaccine containing S1-RBD-sFc protein and rationally designed promiscuous peptides representing sarbecovirus conserved helper T cell and cytotoxic T lymphocyte epitopes on the nucleocapsid (N), membrane (M), and spike (S2) proteins.Method We conducted a phase I primary 2-dose (28 days apart) trial of 10, 30, or 100 μg UB-612 in 60 healthy young adults 20 to 55 years old, and 50 of them were boosted with 100 μg of UB-612 approximately 7 to 9 months after the second dose. A separate placebo-controlled and randomized phase II study was conducted with 2 doses of 100 μg of UB-612 (n = 3,875, 18–85 years old). We evaluated interim safety and immunogenicity of phase I until 14 days after the third (booster) dose and of phase II until 28 days after the second dose.Results No vaccine-related serious adverse events were recorded. The most common solicited adverse events were injection site pain and fatigue, mostly mild and transient. In both trials, UB-612 elicited respective neutralizing antibody titers similar to a panel of human convalescent sera. The most striking findings were long-lasting virus-neutralizing antibodies and broad T cell immunity against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VoCs), including Delta and Omicron, and a strong booster-recalled memory immunity with high cross-reactive neutralizing titers against the Delta and Omicron VoCs.Conclusion UB-612 has presented a favorable safety profile, potent booster effect against VoCs, and long-lasting B and broad T cell immunity that warrants further development for both primary immunization and heterologous boosting of other COVID-19 vaccines.Trial Registration ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT04545749, NCT04773067, and NCT04967742.Funding UBI Asia, Vaxxinity Inc., and Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Authors

Chang Yi Wang, Kao-Pin Hwang, Hui-Kai Kuo, Wen-Jiun Peng, Yea-Huei Shen, Be-Sheng Kuo, Juin-Hua Huang, Hope Liu, Yu-Hsin Ho, Feng Lin, Shuang Ding, Zhi Liu, Huan-Ting Wu, Ching-Tai Huang, Yuarn-Jang Lee, Ming-Che Liu, Yi-Ching Yang, Po-Liang Lu, Hung-Chin Tsai, Chen-Hsiang Lee, Zhi-Yuan Shi, Chun-Eng Liu, Chun-Hsing Liao, Feng-Yee Chang, Hsiang-Cheng Chen, Fu-Der Wang, Kuo-Liang Hou, Jennifer Cheng, Min-Sheng Wang, Ya-Ting Yang, Han-Chen Chiu, Ming-Han Jiang, Hao-Yu Shih, Hsuan-Yu Shen, Po-Yen Chang, Yu-Rou Lan, Chi-Tian Chen, Yi-Ling Lin, Jian-Jong Liang, Chun-Che Liao, Yu-Chi Chou, Mary Kate Morris, Carl V. Hanson, Farshad Guirakhoo, Michael Hellerstein, Hui-Jing Yu, Chwan-Chuen King, Tracy Kemp, D. Gray Heppner, Thomas P. Monath

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Abstract

Although immobility is a common cause of muscle atrophy, the mechanism underlying this causality is unclear. We here show that Krüppel-like factor 15 (KLF15) and IL-6 are upregulated in skeletal muscle of limb-immobilized mice and that mice with KLF15 deficiency in skeletal muscle or with systemic IL-6 deficiency are protected from immobility-induced muscle atrophy. A newly developed Ca2+ bioimaging revealed that the cytosolic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) of skeletal muscle is reduced to below the basal level by immobilization, which is associated with the downregulation of Piezo1. Acute disruption of Piezo1 in skeletal muscle induced Klf15 and Il6 expression as well as muscle atrophy, which was prevented by antibodies against IL-6. A role for the Piezo1/KLF15/IL-6 axis in immobility-induced muscle atrophy was validated in human samples. Our results thus uncover a paradigm for Ca2+ signaling in that a decrease in [Ca2+]i from the basal level triggers a defined biological event.

Authors

Yu Hirata, Kazuhiro Nomura, Daisuke Kato, Yoshihisa Tachibana, Takahiro Niikura, Kana Uchiyama, Tetsuya Hosooka, Tomoaki Fukui, Keisuke Oe, Ryosuke Kuroda, Yuji Hara, Takahiro Adachi, Koji Shibasaki, Hiroaki Wake, Wataru Ogawa

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Corrigenda
Abstract

Authors

Thomas Bertero, Yu Lu, Sofia Annis, Andrew Hale, Balkrishen Bhat, Rajan Saggar, Rajeev Saggar, W. Dean Wallace, David J. Ross, Sara O. Vargas, Brian B. Graham, Rahul Kumar, Stephen M. Black, Sohrab Fratz, Jeffrey R. Fineman, James D. West, Kathleen J. Haley, Aaron B. Waxman, B. Nelson Chau, Katherine A. Cottrill, Stephen Y. Chan

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Abstract

Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of morbidity and mortality in breast cancer survivors. Chemotherapy contributes to this risk. We aimed to define the mechanisms of long-term vascular dysfunction caused by neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) and identify novel therapeutic targets. We studied arteries from postmenopausal women who had undergone breast cancer treatment using docetaxel, doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide (NACT), and women with no history of such treatment matched for key clinical parameters. Mechanisms were explored in wild-type and Nox4-/- mice and human microvascular endothelial cells. Endothelium-dependent vasodilatation is severely impaired in patients after NACT, while endothelium-independent responses remain normal. This was mimicked by 24-hour exposure of arteries to NACT agents ex-vivo. When applied individually, only docetaxel impaired endothelial function in human vessels. Mechanistic studies showed that NACT increased inhibitory eNOS phosphorylation of threonine 495 in a ROCK-dependent manner and augmented vascular superoxide and hydrogen peroxide production and NADPH oxidase activity. Docetaxel increased expression of NADPH oxidase NOX4 in endothelial and smooth muscle cells and NOX2 in the endothelium. NOX4 increase in human arteries may be mediated epigenetically by diminished DNA methylation of the NOX4 promoter. Docetaxel induced endothelial dysfunction and hypertension in mice. These were prevented in Nox4-/- and by pharmacological inhibition of Nox4 or Rock. Commonly used chemotherapeutic agents, and in particular, docetaxel, alter vascular function by promoting inhibitory phosphorylation of eNOS and enhancing ROS production by NADPH oxidases.

Authors

Piotr Szczepaniak, Mateusz Siedlinski, Diana Hodorowicz-Zaniewska, Ryszard Nosalski, Tomasz P. Mikolajczyk, Aneta M. Dobosz, Anna Dikalova, Sergey Dikalov, Joanna Streb, Katarzyna Gara, Pawel Basta, Jaroslaw Krolczyk, Joanna Sulicka-Grodzicka, Ewelina Jozefczuk, Anna Dziewulska, Blessy Saju, Iwona Laksa, Wei Chen, John Dormer, Maciej Tomaszewski, Pasquale Maffia, Marta Czesnikiewicz-Guzik, Filippo Crea, Agnieszka Dobrzyn, Javid Moslehi, Tomasz Grodzicki, David G. Harrison, Tomasz J. Guzik

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Abstract

Functional constipation (FC) with intractable nature is the most severe form of constipation, but its etiology has long been unknown. In light of the intractable nature, we hypothesized that such intractable FC (IFC) sufferers were caused by intractable infection of a pathogenic bacterium. Here, we isolated a bacterium of Shigella sp. PIB from IFC patients that significantly inhibited the peristaltic contraction of colon by production of docosapentaenoic acid (DPA). PIB could colonize mice at least for six months. Oral administration of PIB was sufficient to induce constipation, which was reversed by PIB-specific phages. The mutated PIB with reduced DPA was incapable of inhibiting colonic function and inducing constipation, suggesting that DPA produced by PIB was the key mediator for the genesis of constipation. The PIB were detected in stools of 56% (38/68) of the IFC patients, but not in non-IFC or healthy populations (0/180). DPA levels in stools were elevated in 44.12% (30/68) of the IFC patients, but none of the healthy volunteers (0/97). Our results suggest Shigella sp. PIB may be the critical causative pathogen for IFC, and detections of fecal PIB bacteria plus DPA may be reliable methods for IFC diagnosis and classification.

Authors

Xin Chen, Tian-Tian Qiu, Ye Wang, Li-Yang Xu, Jie Sun, Zhi-Hui Jiang, Wei Zhao, Tao Tao, Yu-Wei Zhou, Lisha Wei, Yeqiong Li, Yanyan Zheng, Guo-Hua Zhou, Huaqun Chen, Jian Zhang, Xiao-Bo Feng, Fangyu Wang, Ning Li, Xue-Na Zhang, Jun Jiang, Min-Sheng Zhu

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Abstract

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion/deletions syndromes (MDDS) encompass a clinically and etiologically heterogenous group of mitochondrial disorders due to impaired mtDNA maintenance. Among the most frequent causes of MDDS are defects in nucleoside/nucleotide metabolism, which is critical for synthesis and homeostasis of the deoxynucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) substrates of mtDNA replication. A central enzyme for generating dNTPs is ribonucleotide reductase, a critical mediator of de novo nucleotide synthesis composed of catalytic RRM1 subunits in complex with RRM2 or p53R2. Here, we report five probands from four families who presented with ptosis and ophthalmoplegia, plus other manifestations and multiple mtDNA deletions in muscle. We identified three RRM1 loss-of-function variants, including a dominant catalytic site variant (NP_001024.1: p.N427K) and two homozygous recessive variants at p.R381, which has evolutionarily conserved interactions with the specificity site. Atomistic molecular dynamics simulations indicate mechanisms by which RRM1 variants affect protein structure. Cultured primary skin fibroblasts of probands manifested mtDNA depletion under cycling conditions, indicating impaired de novo nucleotide synthesis. Fibroblasts also exhibited aberrant nucleoside diphosphate and dNTP pools and mtDNA ribonucleotide incorporation. Our data reveal primary RRM1 deficiency and, by extension, impaired de novo nucleotide synthesis are causes of MDDS.

Authors

Jonathan Shintaku, Wolfgang M. Pernice, Wafaa Eyaid, Jeevan B. GC, Zuben P. Brown, Marti Juanola-Falgarona, Javier Torres-Torronteras, Ewen W. Sommerville, Debby M.E.I. Hellebrekers, Emma L. Blakely, Alan Donaldson, Ingrid M.B.H. van de Laar, Cheng-Shiun Leu, Ramon Marti, Joachim Frank, Kurenai Tanji, David A. Koolen, Richard J. Rodenburg, Patrick F. Chinnery, H.J.M. Smeets, Gráinne S. Gorman, Penelope E. Bonnen, Robert W. Taylor, Michio Hirano

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Abstract

BACKGROUND. In human lupus nephritis (LN), tubulointerstitial inflammation (TII) on biopsy predicts progression to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). However, only about half of patients with moderate/severe TII develop ESRD. We hypothesized that this heterogeneity in outcome reflects different underlying inflammatory states. Therefore, we interrogated renal biopsies from LN longitudinal and cross-sectional cohorts. METHODS. Data was acquired using conventional and highly multiplexed confocal microscopy. To accurately segment cells across whole biopsies, and to understand their spatial relationships, we developed computational pipelines by training and implementing several deep learning models and other computer vision techniques. RESULTS. High B cell densities were associated with protection from ESRD. In contrast, CD8, γδ and other CD4-CD8- T cells, were associated with both acute renal failure and progression to ESRD. B cells were often organized into large periglomerular neighborhoods with T follicular helper cells while CD4- T cells formed small neighborhoods in the tubulointerstitium whose frequency predicted progression to ESRD. CONCLUSIONS. These data reveal that specific in situ inflammatory states are associated with refractory and progressive renal disease. FUNDING. These studies were funded by the NIH Autoimmunity Centers of Excellence (AI082724), Department of Defense (LRI180083) and Alliance for Lupus Research, NIH S10-OD025081, S10-RR021039, and P30-CA14599 awards.

Authors

Rebecca Abraham, Madeleine S. Durkee, Junting Ai, Margaret Veselits, Gabriel Casella, Yuta Asano, Anthony Chang, Kichul Ko, Charles Oshinsky, Emily Peninger, Maryellen L. Giger, Marcus R. Clark

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Abstract

The anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) is a receptor tyrosine kinase known for its oncogenic potential and involved in the development of the peripheral and central nervous system. ALK receptor ligands, ALKAL1 and ALKAL2 were recently found to promote neuronal differentiation and survival. Here we show that inflammation or injury enhanced ALKAL2 expression in a subset of TRPV1+ sensory neurons. Notably, ALKAL2 was particularly enriched in both mice and human peptidergic nociceptors, yet weakly expressed in non peptidergic, large diameter myelinated neurons or in the brain. Using a co-culture expression system, we found that nociceptors exposed to ALKAL2 exhibited heightened excitability and neurite outgrowth. Intraplantar Complete Freund′s adjuvant (CFA) or intrathecal infusion of recombinant ALKAL2 led to ALK phosphorylation in the lumbar dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Finally, depletion of ALKAL2 in dorsal root ganglia or blocking ALK with clinically available compounds Crizotinib or Lorlatinib, reversed thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia induced by inflammation or nerve injury, respectively. Overall, our work uncovers the ALKAL2-ALK signaling axis as a central regulator of nociceptor-induced sensitization. We propose that clinically approved ALK inhibitors used for Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer and neuroblastomas, could be repurposed to treat persistent pain conditions.

Authors

Manon Defaye, Mircea C. Iftinca, Vinicius M. Gadotti, Lilian Basso, Nasser S. Abdullah, Melissa Cumenal, Francina Agosti, Ahmed Hassan, Robyn Flynn, Jeremy Martin, Vanessa Soubeyre, Gaëtan Poulen, Nicolas Lonjon, Florence Vachiery-Lahaye, Luc Bauchet, Pierre Francois Mery, Emmanuel Bourinet, Gerald W. Zamponi, Christophe Altier

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May 2022 JCI This Month

JCI This Month is a digest of the research, reviews, and other features published each month.

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Review Series - More

New Therapeutic Targets in Cardiovascular Diseases

Series edited by Daniel P. Kelly

Cardiovascular diseases remain a leading cause of death worldwide, and treatment is complicated by the inadequacies of available therapies. This collection of reviews, developed by Daniel P. Kelly, explores emerging strategies for treating a range of cardiac pathologies, including: recent discoveries of epigenetic regulators that can be targeted to combat cardiac fibrosis, state of the art in genome-editing therapies, interactions of the vascular endothelium with metabolic tissues, current understanding of myosin modulators, and novel targets for treating dyslipidemia. Together, the reviews provide a broad update on numerous advances in cardiovascular medicine.

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