Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), also known as sleeping sickness, is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa. Current therapy with melarsoprol for CNS HAT has unacceptable side-effects with an overall mortality of 5%. This review discusses the issues of diagnosis and staging of CNS disease, its neuropathogenesis, and the possibility of new therapies for treating late-stage disease.
Peter G.E. Kennedy
Ataxia is a lethal neurological disease characterized by incoordination, postural abnormalities, difficulties with gait, and problems with clarity of speech. The etiology of ataxia is divided equally between hereditary and sporadic forms. Regardless of cause, the cerebellar cortex is often a target in ataxia. Thus, how a disruption in cerebellar cortex might lead to ataxia is of considerable interest. A report in this issue of the JCI links ataxia to enhanced hyperexcitability of neurons in the deep cerebellar nuclei.
Harry T. Orr
Eosinophils accumulate in high numbers in the lungs of asthmatic patients. These cells have the ability to induce tissue damage, a capacity that relates to their traditional role in host defense against parasitic worms. On the other hand, eosinophils produce growth factors associated with tissue repair and remodeling, notably TGF-β1. The relationship of these activities to lung dysfunction in asthma is highly controversial, but recent observations in humans and in animal models add spice to the debate .
Timothy J. Williams
Circulating levels of HDL cholesterol are inversely related to the risk of atherosclerosis, and therapeutic increases in HDL reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events. A new study shows that HDL-associated lysophospholipids stimulate the production of the potent antiatherogenic signaling molecule NO by the vascular endothelium.
Philip W. Shaul, Chieko Mineo
Protein methylation at the C-terminus of mammalian isoprenylated proteins has been implicated in membrane attachment, protein-protein interactions, and protein stability. A new paper describes surprising results: in the absence of methylation some target proteins have increased stability, whereas others have decreased stability. The decreased stability of the RhoA protein is correlated with an increased resistance to Ras-dependent transformation and suggests the basis for the development of a new approach to antitumor therapy .
Steven Clarke, Fuyuhiko Tamanoi
Use of long-term constitutive expression of VEGF for therapeutic angiogenesis may be limited by the growth of abnormal blood vessels and hemangiomas. We investigated the relationship between VEGF dosage and the morphology and function of newly formed blood vessels by implanting retrovirally transduced myoblasts that constitutively express VEGF164 into muscles of adult mice. Reducing VEGF dosage by decreasing the total number of VEGF myoblasts implanted did not prevent vascular abnormalities. However, when clonal populations of myoblasts homogeneously expressing different levels of VEGF were implanted, a threshold between normal and aberrant angiogenesis was found. Clonal myoblasts that expressed low to medium levels of VEGF induced growth of stable, pericyte-coated capillaries of uniform size that were not leaky and became VEGF independent, as shown by treatment with the potent VEGF blocker VEGF-TrapR1R2. In contrast, clones that expressed high levels of VEGF induced hemangiomas. Remarkably, when different clonal populations were mixed, even a small proportion of cells with high production of VEGF was sufficient to cause hemangioma growth. These results show for the first time to our knowledge that the key determinant of whether VEGF-induced angiogenesis is normal or aberrant is the microenvironmental amount of growth factor secreted, rather than the overall dose. Long-term continuous delivery of VEGF, when maintained below a threshold microenvironmental level, can lead to normal angiogenesis without other exogenous growth factors.
Clare R. Ozawa, Andrea Banfi, Nicole L. Glazer, Gavin Thurston, Matthew L. Springer, Peggy E. Kraft, Donald M. McDonald, Helen M. Blau
Oncogenic ras alleles are among the most common mutations found in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Previously, the role of oncogenic ras in cancer was assessed in model systems overexpressing oncogenic ras from heterologous promoters. However, there is increasing evidence that subtle differences in gene dosage and regulation of gene expression from endogenous promoters play critical roles in cancer pathogenesis. We characterized the role of oncogenic K-ras expressed from its endogenous promoter in the hematopoietic system using a conditional allele and IFN-inducible, Cre-mediated recombination. Mice developed a completely penetrant myeloproliferative syndrome characterized by leukocytosis with normal maturation of myeloid lineage cells; myeloid hyperplasia in bone marrow; and extramedullary hematopoiesis in the spleen and liver. Flow cytometry confirmed the myeloproliferative phenotype. Genotypic and Western blot analysis demonstrated Cre-mediated excision and expression, respectively, of the oncogenic K-ras allele. Bone marrow cells formed growth factor–independent colonies in methylcellulose cultures, but the myeloproliferative disease was not transplantable into secondary recipients. Thus, oncogenic K-ras induces a myeloproliferative disorder but not AML, indicating that additional mutations are required for AML development. This model system will be useful for assessing the contribution of cooperating mutations in AML and testing ras inhibitors in vivo.
Iris T. Chan, Jeffery L. Kutok, Ifor R. Williams, Sarah Cohen, Lauren Kelly, Hirokazu Shigematsu, Leisa Johnson, Koichi Akashi, David A. Tuveson, Tyler Jacks, D. Gary Gilliland
Isoprenylcysteine carboxyl methyltransferase (Icmt) methylates the carboxyl-terminal isoprenylcysteine of CAAX proteins (e.g., Ras and Rho proteins). In the case of the Ras proteins, carboxyl methylation is important for targeting of the proteins to the plasma membrane. We hypothesized that a knockout of Icmt would reduce the ability of cells to be transformed by K-Ras. Fibroblasts harboring a floxed Icmt allele and expressing activated K-Ras (K-Ras-Icmtflx/flx) were treated with Cre-adenovirus, producing K-Ras-IcmtΔ/Δ fibroblasts. Inactivation of Icmt inhibited cell growth and K-Ras–induced oncogenic transformation, both in soft agar assays and in a nude mice model. The inactivation of Icmt did not affect growth factor–stimulated phosphorylation of Erk1/2 or Akt1. However, levels of RhoA were greatly reduced as a consequence of accelerated protein turnover. In addition, there was a large Ras/Erk1/2-dependent increase in p21Cip1, which was probably a consequence of the reduced levels of RhoA. Deletion of p21Cip1 restored the ability of K-Ras-IcmtΔ/Δ fibroblasts to grow in soft agar. The effect of inactivating Icmt was not limited to the inhibition of K-Ras–induced transformation: inactivation of Icmt blocked transformation by an oncogenic form of B-Raf (V599E). These studies identify Icmt as a potential target for reducing the growth of K-Ras– and B-Raf–induced malignancies.
Martin O. Bergo, Bryant J. Gavino, Christine Hong, Anne P. Beigneux, Martin McMahon, Patrick J. Casey, Stephen G. Young
To determine the role of IL-5 in airway remodeling, IL-5–deficient and WT mice were sensitized to OVA and challenged by repetitive administration of OVA for 3 months. IL-5–deficient mice had significantly less peribronchial fibrosis (total lung collagen content, peribronchial collagens III and V) and significantly less peribronchial smooth muscle (thickness of peribronchial smooth muscle layer, α-smooth muscle actin immunostaining) compared with WT mice challenged with OVA. WT mice had a significant increase in the number of peribronchial cells staining positive for major basic protein and TGF-β. In contrast, IL-5–deficient mice had a significant reduction in the number of peribronchial cells staining positive for major basic protein, which was paralleled by a similar reduction in the number of cells staining positive for TGF-β, suggesting that eosinophils are a significant source of TGF-β in the remodeled airway. OVA challenge induced significantly higher levels of airway epithelial αVβ6 integrin expression, as well as significantly higher levels of bioactive lung TGF-β in WT compared with IL-5–deficient mice. Increased airway epithelial expression of αVβ6 integrin may contribute to the increased activation of latent TGF-β. These results suggest an important role for IL-5, eosinophils, αVβ6, and TGF-β in airway remodeling.
Jae Youn Cho, Marina Miller, Kwang Je Baek, Ji Won Han, Jyothi Nayar, Sook Young Lee, Kirsti McElwain, Shauna McElwain, Stephanie Friedman, David H. Broide
Inorganic phosphate is essential for ECM mineralization and also as a constituent of important molecules in cellular metabolism. Investigations of several hypophosphatemic diseases indicated that a hormone-like molecule probably regulates serum phosphate concentration. FGF23 has recently been recognized as playing important pathophysiological roles in several hypophosphatemic diseases. We present here the evidence that FGF23 is a physiological regulator of serum phosphate and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25[OH]2D) by generating FGF23-null mice. Disruption of the Fgf23 gene did not result in embryonic lethality, although homozygous mice showed severe growth retardation with abnormal bone phenotype and markedly short life span. The Fgf23–/– mice displayed significantly high serum phosphate with increased renal phosphate reabsorption. They also showed an elevation in serum 1,25(OH)2D that was due to the enhanced expression of renal 25-hydroxyvitamin D-1α-hydroxylase (1α-OHase) from 10 days of age. These phenotypes could not be explained by currently known regulators of mineral homeostasis, indicating that FGF23 is essential for normal phosphate and vitamin D metabolism.
Takashi Shimada, Makoto Kakitani, Yuji Yamazaki, Hisashi Hasegawa, Yasuhiro Takeuchi, Toshiro Fujita, Seiji Fukumoto, Kazuma Tomizuka, Takeyoshi Yamashita
HDL is a major atheroprotective factor, but the mechanisms underlying this effect are still obscure. HDL binding to scavenger receptor-BI has been shown to activate eNOS, although the responsible HDL entities and signaling pathways have remained enigmatic. Here we show that HDL stimulates NO release in human endothelial cells and induces vasodilation in isolated aortae via intracellular Ca2+ mobilization and Akt-mediated eNOS phosphorylation. The vasoactive effects of HDL could be mimicked by three lysophospholipids present in HDL: sphingosylphosphorylcholine (SPC), sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), and lysosulfatide (LSF). All three elevated intracellular Ca2+ concentration and activated Akt and eNOS, which resulted in NO release and vasodilation. Deficiency of the lysophospholipid receptor S1P3 (also known as LPB3 and EDG3) abolished the vasodilatory effects of SPC, S1P, and LSF and reduced the effect of HDL by approximately 60%. In endothelial cells from S1P3-deficient mice, Akt phosphorylation and Ca2+ increase in response to HDL and lysophospholipids were severely reduced. In vivo, intra-arterial administration of HDL or lysophospholipids lowered mean arterial blood pressure in rats. In conclusion, we identify HDL as a carrier of bioactive lysophospholipids that regulate vascular tone via S1P3-mediated NO release. This mechanism may contribute to the vasoactive effect of HDL and represent a novel aspect of its antiatherogenic function.
Jerzy-Roch Nofer, Markus van der Giet, Markus Tölle, Iza Wolinska, Karin von Wnuck Lipinski, Hideo A. Baba, Uwe J. Tietge, Axel Gödecke, Isao Ishii, Burkhard Kleuser, Michael Schäfers, Manfred Fobker, Walter Zidek, Gerd Assmann, Jerold Chun, Bodo Levkau
Cerebellar ataxia, a devastating neurological disease, may be initiated by hyperexcitability of deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN) secondary to loss of inhibitory input from Purkinje neurons that frequently degenerate in this disease. This mechanism predicts that intrinsic DCN hyperexcitability would cause ataxia in the absence of upstream Purkinje degeneration. We report the generation of a transgenic (Tg) model that supports this mechanism of disease initiation. Small-conductance calcium-activated potassium (SK) channels, regulators of firing frequency, were silenced in the CNS of Tg mice with the dominant-inhibitory construct SK3-1B-GFP. Transgene expression was restricted to the DCN within the cerebellum and was detectable beginning on postnatal day 10, concomitant with the onset of cerebellar ataxia. Neurodegeneration was not evident up to the sixth month of age. Recordings from Tg DCN neurons revealed loss of the apamin-sensitive after-hyperpolarization current (IAHP) and increased spontaneous firing through SK channel suppression, indicative of DCN hyperexcitability. Spike duration and other electrogenic conductance were unaffected. Thus, a purely electrical alteration is sufficient to cause cerebellar ataxia, and SK openers such as the neuroprotective agent riluzole may reduce neuronal hyperexcitability and have therapeutic value. This dominant-inhibitory strategy may help define the in vivo role of SK channels in other neuronal pathways.
Vikram G. Shakkottai, Chin-hua Chou, Salvatore Oddo, Claudia A. Sailer, Hans-Günther Knaus, George A. Gutman, Michael E. Barish, Frank M. LaFerla, K. George Chandy
Vanin-1 is a membrane-anchored pantetheinase highly expressed in the gut and liver. It hydrolyzes pantetheine to pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and the low-molecular-weight thiol cysteamine. The latter is believed to be a key regulating factor of several essential metabolic pathways, acting through sulfhydryl-disulfide exchange reactions between sulfhydryl groups of the enzymes and the oxidized form, cystamine. Its physiological importance remains to be elucidated, however. To explore this point, we developed Vanin-1–deficient mice that lack free cysteamine. We examined the susceptibility of deficient mice to intestinal inflammation, either acute (NSAID administration) or chronic (Schistosoma infection). We found that Vanin-1–/– mice better controlled inflammatory reaction and intestinal injury in both experiments. This protection was associated with increased γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase activity and increased stores of reduced glutathione, as well as reduced inflammatory cell activation in inflamed tissues. Oral administration of cystamine reversed all aspects of the deficient phenotype. These findings suggest that one cysteamine function is to upregulate inflammation. Consequently, the pantetheinase activity of Vanin-1 molecule could be a target for a new anti-inflammatory strategy.
Florent Martin, Marie-France Penet, Fabrice Malergue, Hubert Lepidi, Alain Dessein, Franck Galland, Max de Reggi, Philippe Naquet, Bouchra Gharib
The transfer of calcium from mother to milk during lactation is poorly understood. In this report, we demonstrate that parathyroid hormone–related protein (PTHrP) production and calcium transport in mammary epithelial cells are regulated by extracellular calcium acting through the calcium-sensing receptor (CaR). The CaR becomes expressed on mammary epithelial cells at the transition from pregnancy to lactation. Increasing concentrations of calcium, neomycin, and a calcimimetic compound suppress PTHrP secretion by mammary epithelial cells in vitro, whereas in vivo, systemic hypocalcemia increases PTHrP production, an effect that can be prevented by treatment with a calcimimetic. Hypocalcemia also reduces overall milk production and calcium content, while increasing milk osmolality and protein concentrations. The changes in milk calcium content, milk osmolality, and milk protein concentration were mitigated by calcimimetic infusions. Finally, in a three-dimensional culture system that recapitulates the lactating alveolus, activation of the basolateral CaR increases transcellular calcium transport independent of its effect on PTHrP. We conclude that the lactating mammary gland can sense calcium and adjusts its secretion of calcium, PTHrP, and perhaps water in response to changes in extracellular calcium concentration. We believe this defines a homeostatic system that helps to match milk production to the availability of calcium.
Joshua VanHouten, Pamela Dann, Grace McGeoch, Edward M. Brown, Karen Krapcho, Margaret Neville, John J. Wysolmerski
HDL and its associated apo, APOE, inhibit S-phase entry of murine aortic smooth muscle cells. We report here that the antimitogenic effect of APOE maps to the N-terminal receptor–binding domain, that APOE and its N-terminal domain inhibit activation of the cyclin A promoter, and that these effects involve both pocket protein–dependent and independent pathways. These antimitogenic effects closely resemble those seen in response to activation of the prostacyclin receptor IP. Indeed, we found that HDL and APOE suppress aortic smooth muscle cell cycle progression by stimulating Cox-2 expression, leading to prostacyclin synthesis and an IP-dependent inhibition of the cyclin A gene. Similar results were detected in human aortic smooth muscle cells and in vivo using mice overexpressing APOE. Our results identify the Cox-2 gene as a target of APOE signaling, link HDL and APOE to IP action, and describe a potential new basis for the cardioprotective effect of HDL and APOE.
Devashish Kothapalli, Ilia Fuki, Kamilah Ali, Sheryl A. Stewart, Liang Zhao, Ron Yahil, David Kwiatkowski, Elizabeth A. Hawthorne, Garret A. FitzGerald, Michael C. Phillips, Sissel Lund-Katz, Ellen Puré, Daniel J. Rader, Richard K. Assoian
Glucocorticoids have potent immunosuppressive properties, but their effects are often modulated by the conditions prevailing in the local immune milieu. In this study we determined whether the action of glucocorticoids is influenced by the degree of signaling during T cell activation. We found that dexamethasone (Dex) effectively suppressed T cell receptor–induced (TCR-induced) proliferation of naive CD4+ T cells, through a mechanism involving downregulation of c-Fos expression and inhibition of activator protein-1 (AP-1), nuclear factor of activated T cells (NF-AT), and NF-κB transcriptional activity. However, enhancement of TCR signaling by CD28- or IL-2–mediated costimulation abrogated the suppressive effect of Dex on c-Fos expression and AP-1 function and restored cellular proliferation. The amount of signaling through the MAPK pathway was critical in determining the effect of Dex on T cell activation. In particular, costimulatory signaling via MAPK kinase (MEK) and extracellular signal–regulated kinase (ERK) was essential for the development of T cell resistance to Dex. Selective blockade of MEK/ERK signal transduction abolished the costimulation-induced resistance. In contrast, transmission of IL-2 signals via STAT5 and CD28 signals via NF-κB remained inhibited by Dex. These results imply that the immune system, by regulating the degree of local costimulation through MEK/ERK, can modify the effect of glucocorticoids on T cells. Moreover, these findings suggest that MAPK inhibitors may offer a therapeutic solution for glucocorticoid resistance.
Daphne C. Tsitoura, Paul B. Rothman
Sepsis is a common, life-threatening disease for which there is little treatment. The cysteine protease dipeptidyl peptidase I (DPPI) activates granule-associated serine proteases, several of which play important roles in host responses to bacterial infection. To examine DPPI’s role in sepsis, we compared DPPI–/– and DPPI+/+ mice using the cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) model of septic peritonitis, finding that DPPI–/– mice are far more likely to survive sepsis. Outcomes of CLP in mice lacking mast cell DPPI reveal that the absence of DPPI in mast cells, rather than in other cell types, is responsible for the survival advantage. Among several cytokines surveyed in peritoneal fluid and serum, IL-6 is highly and differentially expressed in DPPI–/– mice compared with DPPI+/+ mice. Remarkably, deleting IL-6 expression in DPPI–/– mice eliminates the survival advantage. The increase in IL-6 in septic DPPI–/– mice, which appears to protect these mice from death, may be related to reduced DPPI-mediated activation of mast cell tryptase and other peptidases, which we show cleave IL-6 in vitro. These results indicate that mast cell DPPI harms the septic host and that DPPI is a novel potential therapeutic target for treatment of sepsis.
Jon Mallen–St. Clair, Christine T.N. Pham, S. Armando Villalta, George H. Caughey, Paul J. Wolters
The role of the gluco-incretin hormones GIP and GLP-1 in the control of β cell function was studied by analyzing mice with inactivation of each of these hormone receptor genes, or both. Our results demonstrate that glucose intolerance was additively increased during oral glucose absorption when both receptors were inactivated. After intraperitoneal injections, glucose intolerance was more severe in double- as compared to single-receptor KO mice, and euglycemic clamps revealed normal insulin sensitivity, suggesting a defect in insulin secretion. When assessed in vivo or in perfused pancreas, insulin secretion showed a lack of first phase in Glp-1R–/– but not in Gipr–/– mice. In perifusion experiments, however, first-phase insulin secretion was present in both types of islets. In double-KO islets, kinetics of insulin secretion was normal, but its amplitude was reduced by about 50% because of a defect distal to plasma membrane depolarization. Thus, gluco-incretin hormones control insulin secretion (a) by an acute insulinotropic effect on β cells after oral glucose absorption (b) through the regulation, by GLP-1, of in vivo first-phase insulin secretion, probably by an action on extra-islet glucose sensors, and (c) by preserving the function of the secretory pathway, as evidenced by a β cell autonomous secretion defect when both receptors are inactivated.
Frédéric Preitner, Mark Ibberson, Isobel Franklin, Christophe Binnert, Mario Pende, Asllan Gjinovci, Tanya Hansotia, Daniel J. Drucker, Claes Wollheim, Rémy Burcelin, Bernard Thorens
Guillermina Girardi, Jessica Berman, Patricia Redecha, Lynn Spruce, Joshua M. Thurman, Damian Kraus, Travis J. Hollmann, Paolo Casali, Michael C. Caroll, Rick A. Wetsel, John D. Lambris, V. Michael Holers, Jane E. Salmon