In this issue, Ali et al. report that CXCR3-dependent localization of NK cells in T cell zones is vital for immunoregulatory suppression of T cell responses. The cover image shows T cells (purple), B cells (red), and NK cells (green) in the lymphoid follicles of a mouse spleen
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Bladder cancer is a genetically heterogeneous disease and novel therapeutic strategies are needed to expand treatment options and improve clinical outcomes. Here we identified a unique subset of urothelial tumors with focal amplification of the RAF1 (CRAF) kinase gene. RAF1-amplified tumors had activation of the RAF/MEK/ERK signaling pathway and exhibited a luminal gene expression pattern. Genetic studies demonstrated that RAF1-amplified tumors were dependent upon RAF1 activity for survival, and RAF1-activated cell lines and patient-derived models were sensitive to available and emerging RAF inhibitors as well as combined RAF plus MEK inhibition. Furthermore, we found that bladder tumors with HRAS or NRAS activating mutations were dependent on RAF1-mediated signaling and were sensitive to RAF1-targeted therapy. Together, these data identified RAF1 activation as a novel dependency in a subset comprising nearly 20% of urothelial tumors and suggested that targeting RAF1-mediated signaling represents a rationale therapeutic strategy.
Raie T. Bekele, Amruta S. Samant, Amin H. Nassar, Jonathan So, Elizabeth P. Garcia, Catherine R. Curran, Justin H. Hwang, David L. Mayhew, Anwesha Nag, Aaron R. Thorner, Judit Börcsök, Zsofia Sztupinszki, Chong-Xian Pan, Joaquim Bellmunt, David J. Kwiatkowski, Guru P. Sonpavde, Eliezer M. Van Allen, Kent W. Mouw
Somatic mutations in the spliceosome gene U2AF1 are common in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes. U2AF1 mutations that code for the most common amino acid substitutions are always heterozygous, and the retained wild-type allele is expressed, suggesting that mutant hematopoietic cells may require the residual wild-type allele to be viable. We show that hematopoiesis and RNA splicing in U2af1 heterozygous knock-out mice was similar to control mice, but that deletion of the wild-type allele in U2AF1(S34F) heterozygous mutant expressing hematopoietic cells (i.e., hemizygous mutant) was lethal. These results confirm that U2AF1 mutant hematopoietic cells are dependent on the expression of wild-type U2AF1 for survival in vivo and that U2AF1 is a haplo-essential cancer gene. Mutant U2AF1 (S34F) expressing cells were also more sensitive to reduced expression of wild-type U2AF1 than non-mutant cells. Furthermore, mice transplanted with leukemia cells expressing mutant U2AF1 had significantly reduced tumor burden and improved survival after the wild-type U2af1 allele was deleted compared to when it was not deleted. These results suggest that selectively targeting the wild-type U2AF1 allele in heterozygous mutant cells could induce cancer cell death and be a therapeutic strategy for patients harboring U2AF1 mutations.
Brian A. Wadugu, Sridhar Nonavinkere Srivatsan, Amanda Heard, Michael O. Alberti, Matthew Ndonwi, Jie Liu, Sarah Grieb, Joseph Bradley, Jin Shao, Tanzir Ahmed, Cara L. Shirai, Ajay Khanna, Dennis L. Fei, Christopher A. Miller, Timothy A. Graubert, Matthew J. Walter
In this study, we demonstrate that Forkhead Box F1 (FOXF1), a mesenchymal transcriptional factor essential for lung development, is retained in a topographically distinct mesenchymal stromal cell population along the bronchovascular space in an adult lung and identify this distinct subset of collagen-expressing cells as a key player in lung allograft remodeling and fibrosis. Utilizing Foxf1_tdTomato BAC (Foxf1_tdTomato) and Foxf1_tdTomato;Col1a1_GFP mice, we show that Lin-Foxf1+ cells encompass the Sca1+CD34+ subset of collagen I-expressing mesenchymal cells (MCs) with capacity to generate colony forming units and lung epithelial organoids. Histologically, Foxf1-expressing MCs formed a three-dimensional network along the conducting airways; FOXF1 was noted to be conspicuously absent in MCs in the alveolar compartment. Bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing confirmed distinct transcriptional signatures of Foxf1pos/neg MCs, with Foxf1-expressing cells delineated by their high Gli1 and low Integrin α8 expression, from other collagen-expressing MCs. Foxf1+Gli1+ MCs demonstrated proximity to Sonic hedgehog (Shh) expressing bronchial epithelium, and mesenchymal Foxf1/Gli1 expression was found to be dependent on the paracrine Shh signaling in epithelial organoids. Utilizing a murine lung transplant model, we show dysregulation of the epithelial mesenchymal Shh/Gli1/Foxf1 crosstalk and expansion of this specific peri-bronchial MC population in chronically rejecting fibrotic lung allografts.
Russell R. Braeuer, Natalie M. Walker, Keizo Misumi, Serina Mazzoni-Putman, Yoshiro Aoki, Ruohan Liao, Ragini Vittal, Gabriel G. Kleer, David S. Wheeler, Jonathan Z. Sexton, Carol F. Farver, Joshua D. Welch, Vibha N. Lama
Cortical spreading depression (CSD), a wave of depolarization followed by depression of cortical activity, is a pathophysiological process implicated in migraine with aura and various other brain pathologies, such as ischemic stroke and traumatic brain injury. To gain insight into the pathophysiology of CSD, we generated a mouse model for a severe monogenic subtype of migraine with aura, familial hemiplegic migraine type 3 (FHM3). FHM3 is caused by mutations in SCN1A, encoding the voltage-gated Na+ channel NaV1.1 predominantly expressed in inhibitory interneurons. Homozygous Scn1aL1649Q knock-in mice died prematurely, whereas heterozygous mice had a normal lifespan. Heterozygous Scn1aL1649Q knock-in mice compared to wildtype mice displayed a significantly enhanced susceptibility to CSD. We found L1649Q to cause a gain-of-function effect with an impaired Na+-channel inactivation and increased ramp Na+-currents leading to hyperactivity of fast-spiking inhibitory interneurons. Brain slice recordings using K+-sensitive electrodes revealed an increase in extracellular K+ in the early phase of CSD in heterozygous mice, likely representing the mechanistic link between interneuron hyperactivity and CSD initiation. The neuronal phenotype and premature death of homozygous Scn1aL1649Q knock-in mice was partially rescued by GS967, a blocker of persistent Na+-currents. Collectively, our findings identify interneuron hyperactivity as a mechanism to trigger CSD.
Eva Auffenberg, Ulrike B.S. Hedrich, Raffaella Barbieri, Daniela Miely, Bernhard Groschup, Thomas V. Wuttke, Niklas Vogel, Philipp Lührs, Ilaria Zanardi, Sara Bertelli, Nadine Spielmann, Valerie Gailus-Durner, Helmut Fuchs, Martin Hrabě de Angelis, Michael Pusch, Martin Dichgans, Holger Lerche, Paola Gavazzo, Nikolaus Plesnila, Tobias Freilinger
Tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells contribute to the development of the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Myeloid cell expression of arginase 1 (Arg-1) promotes a protumor phenotype by inhibiting T cell function and depleting extracellular L-arginine, but the mechanism underlying this expression, especially in breast cancer, is poorly understood. In breast cancer clinical samples and in our mouse models, we identified tumor derived GM-CSF as the primary regulator of myeloid cell Arg-1 expression and local immune suppression through a gene knockout screen of breast tumor cell-produced factors. The induction of myeloid cell Arg-1 required GM-CSF and a low pH environment. GM-CSF signaling through STAT3, p38 MAPK, and acid signaling through cAMP were required to activate myeloid cell Arg-1 expression in a STAT6 independent manner. Importantly, breast tumor cell-derived GM-CSF promoted tumor progression by inhibiting host anti-tumor immunity, driving a significant accumulation of Arg-1 expressing myeloid cells compared to lung and melanoma tumors with minimal GM-CSF expression. Blockade of tumoral GM-CSF enhanced the efficacy of tumor-specific adoptive T-cell therapy and immune checkpoint blockade. Taken together, breast tumor cell-derived GM-CSF contributes to the development of the immunosuppressive breast cancer microenvironment by regulating myeloid cell Arg-1 expression and can be targeted to enhance breast cancer immunotherapy.
Xinming Su, Yalin Xu, Gregory C. Fox, Jingyu Xiang, Kristin A. Kwakwa, Jennifer L. Davis, Jad I. Belle, Wen-Chih Lee, Wing H. Wong, Francesca Fontana, Leonel Hernandez-Aya, Takayuki Kobayashi, Helen M. Tomasson, Junyi Su, Suzanne J. Bakewell, Sheila A. Stewart, Christopher Egbulefu, Partha Karmakar, Melissa A Meyer, Deborah J. Veis, David G. DeNardo, Gregory M. Lanza, Samuel Achilefu, Katherine N. Weilbaecher
JCI This Month is a digest of the research, reviews, and other features published each month.
This collection of reviews focuses on the gut-brain axis, highlighting crosstalk between the gastrointestinal tract and the enteric and central nervous systems. While the enteric nervous system can exert independent control over the gut, multi-directional communication with the central nervous system, as well as intestinal epithelial, stromal, immune, and enteroendocrine cells can result in wide-ranging influences on health and disease. The gut microbiome and its metabolites add further complexity to this intricate interactive network. Reviews in this series take a critical approach to describing the role of gut-brain connections in conditions affecting both gut and brain, with the common goal of illuminating the importance of the central and enteric nervous system interface in disease pathogenesis and identifying nodes that offer therapeutic potential.