With new calls for editors to police author misconduct and declare editorial conflicts, the JCI outlines its current policies and reflects on a few particularly salient examples of bad behavior.
Catherine A. Wolkow , Mark P. Mattson
The kidney plays a central role in our ability to maintain appropriate sodium balance, which is critical to determination of blood pressure. In this review we outline current knowledge of renal salt handling at the molecular level, and, given that Westernized societies consume more salt than is required for normal physiology, we examine evidence that the lowering of salt intake can combat hypertension.
Kevin M. O’Shaughnessy, Fiona E. Karet
Malaria, the most prevalent and most pernicious parasitic disease of humans, is estimated to kill between one and two million people, mainly children, each year. Resistance has emerged to all classes of antimalarial drugs except the artemisinins and is responsible for a recent increase in malaria-related mortality, particularly in Africa. The de novo emergence of resistance can be prevented by the use of antimalarial drug combinations. Artemisinin-derivative combinations are particularly effective, since they act rapidly and are well tolerated and highly effective. Widespread use of these drugs could roll back malaria.
Nicholas J. White
Since its identification nearly 30 years ago, Lyme disease has continued to spread, and there have been increasing numbers of cases in the northeastern and north central US. The Lyme disease agent, Borrelia burgdorferi, causes infection by migration through tissues, adhesion to host cells, and evasion of immune clearance. Both innate and adaptive immune responses, especially macrophage- and antibody-mediated killing, are required for optimal control of the infection and spirochetal eradication. Ecological conditions favorable to the disease, and the challenge of prevention, predict that Lyme disease will be a continuing public health concern.
Allen C. Steere, Jenifer Coburn, Lisa Glickstein
West Nile virus was first detected in North America in 1999 and has subsequently spread throughout the United States and Canada and into Mexico and the Caribbean. This review describes the epidemiology and ecology of West Nile virus in North America and the prospects for effective treatments and vaccines.
L. Hannah Gould, Erol Fikrig
Neurodegeneration occurs in the majority of the more than 40 known lysosomal storage diseases. Since the nervous system in these disorders can be globally affected, effective treatment would require persistent widespread correction. Biffi et al. show such correction is possible in a mouse model of metachromatic leukodystrophy by the transplantation of hematopoietic cells genetically modified to overexpress the missing lysosomal enzyme. The results reveal a nervous system damage-response pathway that can be harnessed to provide therapy to the nervous system in these serious disorders.
Richard L. Proia, Yun-Ping Wu
Numerous stimuli activate Big MAPK-1 (BMK1), an MAPK that activates the myocyte enhancer factor-2 (MEF2) transcription factor. Conditional gene deletion showed BMK1 to be required for survival of endothelial cells. An active form of MEF2C could partially bypass the requirement for BMK1 for endothelial cell survival in vitro. These findings reveal an essential role for BMK1-MEF2 signaling in an endothelial cell survival pathway and raise interesting questions about the molecular basis of this response.
Eric N. Olson
Lipogenesis is regulated by sterols and by insulin through the regulated expression and activation of the sterol regulatory element–binding proteins (SREBPs). A new study shows one way in which sterol and insulin regulation can be decoupled. In transgenic mice overexpressing a protein that regulates SREBP activation, lipogenesis is more sensitive to cholesterol and less sensitive to insulin.
Alan D. Attie
Understanding of autoimmune sensorineural hearing loss (ASNHL) has been hindered by the inaccessibility of the inner ear to biopsy and the lack of workable animal models. A report in this issue of the JCI describes a mouse model of CD4+ T cell–mediated ASNHL induced by immunization with peptides from the inner ear–specific proteins cochlin and β-tectorin.
Gene-based delivery can establish a sustained supply of therapeutic proteins within the nervous system. For diseases characterized by extensive CNS and peripheral nervous system (PNS) involvement, widespread distribution of the exogenous gene may be required, a challenge to in vivo gene transfer strategies. Here, using lentiviral vectors (LVs), we efficiently transduced hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) ex vivo and evaluated the potential of their progeny to target therapeutic genes to the CNS and PNS of transplanted mice and correct a neurodegenerative disorder, metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD). We proved extensive repopulation of CNS microglia and PNS endoneurial macrophages by transgene-expressing cells. Intriguingly, recruitment of these HSC-derived cells was faster and more robust in MLD mice. By transplanting HSCs transduced with the arylsulfatase A gene, we fully reconstituted enzyme activity in the hematopoietic system of MLD mice and prevented the development of motor conduction impairment, learning and coordination deficits, and neuropathological abnormalities typical of the disease. Remarkably, ex vivo gene therapy had a significantly higher therapeutic impact than WT HSC transplantation, indicating a critical role for enzyme overexpression in the HSC progeny. These results indicate that transplantation of LV-transduced autologous HSCs represents a potentially efficacious therapeutic strategy for MLD and possibly other neurodegenerative disorders.
Alessandra Biffi, Michele De Palma, Angelo Quattrini, Ubaldo Del Carro, Stefano Amadio, Ilaria Visigalli, Maria Sessa, Stefania Fasano, Riccardo Brambilla, Sergio Marchesini, Claudio Bordignon, Luigi Naldini
Heterozygous mutations of the cardiac transcription factor Nkx2-5 cause atrioventricular conduction defects in humans by unknown mechanisms. We show in KO mice that the number of cells in the cardiac conduction system is directly related to Nkx2-5 gene dosage. Null mutant embryos appear to lack the primordium of the atrioventricular node. In Nkx2-5 haploinsufficiency, the conduction system has half the normal number of cells. In addition, an entire population of connexin40–/connexin45+ cells is missing in the atrioventricular node of Nkx2-5 heterozygous KO mice. Specific functional defects associated with Nkx2-5 loss of function can be attributed to hypoplastic development of the relevant structures in the conduction system. Surprisingly, the cellular expression of connexin40, the major gap junction isoform of Purkinje fibers and a putative Nkx2-5 target, is unaffected, consistent with normal conduction times through the His-Purkinje system measured in vivo. Postnatal conduction defects in Nkx2-5 mutation may result at least in part from a defect in the genetic program that governs the recruitment or retention of embryonic cardiac myocytes in the conduction system.
Patrick Y. Jay, Brett S. Harris, Colin T. Maguire, Antje Buerger, Hiroko Wakimoto, Makoto Tanaka, Sabina Kupershmidt, Dan M. Roden, Thomas M. Schultheiss, Terrence X. O’Brien, Robert G. Gourdie, Charles I. Berul, Seigo Izumo
Big mitogen-activated protein kinase 1 (BMK1), also known as ERK5, is a member of the MAPK family. Genetic ablation of BMK1 in mice leads to embryonic lethality, precluding the exploration of pathophysiological roles of BMK1 in adult mice. We generated a BMK1 conditional mutation in mice in which disruption of the BMK1 gene is under the control of the inducible Mx1-Cre transgene. Ablation of BMK1 in adult mice led to lethality within 2–4 weeks after the induction of Cre recombinase. Physiological analysis showed that the blood vessels became abnormally leaky after deletion of the BMK1 gene. Histological analysis revealed that, after BMK1 ablation, hemorrhages occurred in multiple organs in which endothelial cells lining the blood vessels became round, irregularly aligned, and, eventually, apoptotic. In vitro removal of BMK1 protein also led to the death of endothelial cells partially due to the deregulation of transcriptional factor MEF2C, which is a direct substrate of BMK1. Additionally, endothelial-specific BMK1-KO leads to cardiovascular defects identical to that of global BMK1-KO mutants, whereas, surprisingly, mice lacking BMK1 in cardiomyocytes developed to term without any apparent defects. Taken together, the data provide direct genetic evidence that the BMK1 pathway is critical for endothelial function and for maintaining blood vessel integrity.
Masaaki Hayashi, Sung-Woo Kim, Kyoko Imanaka-Yoshida, Toshimichi Yoshida, E. Dale Abel, Brian Eliceiri, Young Yang, Richard J. Ulevitch, Jiing-Dwan Lee
IGF-1 has been associated with the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy, although its role is not fully understood. Here we show that normoglycemic/normoinsulinemic transgenic mice overexpressing IGF-1 in the retina developed most alterations seen in human diabetic eye disease. A paracrine effect of IGF-1 in the retina initiated vascular alterations that progressed from nonproliferative to proliferative retinopathy and retinal detachment. Eyes from 2-month-old transgenic mice showed loss of pericytes and thickening of basement membrane of retinal capillaries. In mice 6 months and older, venule dilatation, intraretinal microvascular abnormalities, and neovascularization of the retina and vitreous cavity were observed. Neovascularization was consistent with increased IGF-1 induction of VEGF expression in retinal glial cells. In addition, IGF-1 accumulated in aqueous humor, which may have caused rubeosis iridis and subsequently adhesions between the cornea and iris that hampered aqueous humor drainage and led to neovascular glaucoma. Furthermore, all transgenic mice developed cataracts. These findings suggest a role of IGF-1 in the development of ocular complications in long-term diabetes. Thus, these transgenic mice may be used to study the mechanisms that lead to diabetes eye disease and constitute an appropriate model in which to assay new therapies.
Jesús Ruberte, Eduard Ayuso, Marc Navarro, Ana Carretero, Víctor Nacher, Virginia Haurigot, Mónica George, Cristina Llombart, Alba Casellas, Cristina Costa, Assumpció Bosch, Fatima Bosch
We recently showed that antigen-nonspecific inflammatory cells are recruited into the liver when hepatitis B virus (HBV)-specific CTLs are injected into HBV transgenic mice, and that this process amplifies the severity of liver disease. We also showed that the severity of CTL-induced liver disease is ameliorated by the depletion of Gr-1+ cells (Gr-1 is an antigen highly expressed by neutrophils), which, secondarily, abolishes the intrahepatic recruitment of all antigen-nonspecific Gr-1– mononuclear cells (NK and NKT cells, T and B lymphocytes, monocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells) despite the strong induction of chemokine gene expression. Those results suggested that in addition to chemokine expression, CTL-induced functions are necessary for mononuclear cell recruitment to occur. We now report that MMPs known to be produced by Gr-1+ cells are rapidly induced in the livers of CTL-injected mice. The inhibition of MMP activity reduced the intrahepatic recruitment of antigen-nonspecific mononuclear cells and much of the attending liver disease without affecting the migration or antiviral potential of antigen-specific CTLs. The notion that the inhibition of MMP activity is associated with maintenance of antiviral effects but diminished tissue damage may be significant for the development of immunotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of chronic HBV infection.
Giovanni Sitia, Masanori Isogawa, Matteo Iannacone, Iain L. Campbell, Francis V. Chisari, Luca G. Guidotti
In the current studies we generated transgenic mice that overexpress human Insig-1 in the liver under a constitutive promoter. In cultured cells Insig-1 and Insig-2 have been shown to block lipid synthesis in a cholesterol-dependent fashion by inhibiting proteolytic processing of sterol regulatory element–binding proteins (SREBPs), membrane-bound transcription factors that activate lipid synthesis. Insig’s exert this action in the ER by binding SREBP cleavage-activating protein (SCAP) and preventing it from escorting SREBPs to the Golgi apparatus where the SREBPs are processed to their active forms. In the livers of Insig-1 transgenic mice, the content of all nuclear SREBPs (nSREBPs) was reduced and declined further upon feeding of dietary cholesterol. The nuclear content of the insulin-induced SREBP isoform, SREBP-1c, failed to increase to a normal extent upon refeeding on a high-carbohydrate diet. The nSREBP deficiency produced a marked reduction in the levels of mRNAs encoding enzymes required for synthesis of cholesterol, fatty acids, and triglycerides. Plasma cholesterol levels were strongly reduced, and plasma triglycerides did not exhibit their normal rise after refeeding. These results provide in vivo support for the hypothesis that nSREBPs are essential for high levels of lipid synthesis in the liver and indicate that Insig’s modulate nSREBP levels by binding and retaining SCAP in the ER.
Luke J. Engelking, Hiroshi Kuriyama, Robert E. Hammer, Jay D. Horton, Michael S. Brown, Joseph L. Goldstein, Guosheng Liang
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is characterized by abnormalities in T lymphocyte receptor–mediated signal transduction pathways. Our previous studies have established that lymphocyte-specific protein tyrosine kinase (LCK) is reduced in T lymphocytes from patients with SLE and that this reduction is associated with disease activity and parallels an increase in LCK ubiquitination independent of T cell activation. This study investigated the expression of molecules that regulate LCK homeostasis, such as CD45, C-terminal Src kinase (CSK), and c-Cbl, in lipid raft domains from SLE T cells and investigated the localization of these proteins during T cell receptor (TCR) triggering. Our results indicate that the expression of raft-associated ganglioside, GM1, is increased in T cells from SLE patients and LCK may be differentially regulated due to an alteration in the association of CD45 with lipid raft domains. CD45 tyrosine phosphatase, which regulates LCK activity, was differentially expressed and its localization into lipid rafts was increased in T cells from patients with SLE. Furthermore, T cells allowed to “rest” in vitro showed a reversal of the changes in LCK, CD45, and GM1 expression. The results also revealed that alterations in the level of GM1 expression and lipid raft occupancy cannot be induced by serum factors from patients with SLE but indicated that cell-cell contact, activating aberrant proximal signaling pathways, may be important in influencing abnormalities in T cell signaling and, therefore, function in patients with SLE.
Elizabeth C. Jury, Panagiotis S. Kabouridis, Fabian Flores-Borja, Rizgar A. Mageed, David A. Isenberg
Current paradigms of peripheral B cell selection suggest that autoreactive B cells are controlled by clonal deletion, anergy, and developmental arrest. We report that changes to the human antibody repertoire likely resulting from these mechanisms both for a well-characterized autoreactivity from antibodies encoded by the VH4-34 gene and for other hallmarks of an autoreactive repertoire are apparent mainly for class-switched B cells and not for IgM germinal center, IgM memory, or IgM plasma cells. Other possible indicators of autoreactivity found selected with immunoglobulin class include JH6 gene segment usage, increased frequency of B cells with long third hypervariable regions, and distal Jκ gene segment bias. Of particular interest is the finding that B cells with these same characteristics are selected into the lineage of B cells that have undergone the unusual class switch from constant region Cμ to Cδ (Cδ-CS). The Cδ-CS population also displays an increased frequency of charged amino acids localized to the complementarity-determining regions, further suggesting autoreactivity, and evidence is presented that these B cells had undergone extensive receptor editing. Thus, the Cδ-CS lineage may be a “sink” for B cells harboring autoreactive specificities in normal humans. A model for a new tolerizing mechanism that could account for the Cδ-CS lineage is presented.
Nai-Ying Zheng, Kenneth Wilson, Xiaojian Wang, Angela Boston, Grant Kolar, Stephen M. Jackson, Yong-Jun Liu, Virginia Pascual, J. Donald Capra, Patrick C. Wilson
Excessive inflammatory responses can emerge as a potential danger for organisms’ health. Physiological balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory processes constitutes an important feature of responses against harmful events. Here, we show that cannabinoid receptors type 1 (CB1) mediate intrinsic protective signals that counteract proinflammatory responses. Both intrarectal infusion of 2,4-dinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (DNBS) and oral administration of dextrane sulfate sodium induced stronger inflammation in CB1-deficient mice (CB1–/–) than in wild-type littermates (CB1+/+). Treatment of wild-type mice with the specific CB1 antagonist N-(piperidino-1-yl)-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-pyrazole-3-carboxamide (SR141716A) mimicked the phenotype of CB1–/– mice, showing an acute requirement of CB1 receptors for protection from inflammation. Consistently, treatment with the cannabinoid receptor agonist R(-)-7-hydroxy-Δ6-tetra-hydrocannabinol-dimethylheptyl (HU210) or genetic ablation of the endocannabinoid-degrading enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) resulted in protection against DNBS-induced colitis. Electrophysiological recordings from circular smooth muscle cells, performed 8 hours after DNBS treatment, revealed spontaneous oscillatory action potentials in CB1–/– but not in CB1+/+ colons, indicating an early CB1-mediated control of inflammation-induced irritation of smooth muscle cells. DNBS treatment increased the percentage of myenteric neurons expressing CB1 receptors, suggesting an enhancement of cannabinoid signaling during colitis. Our results indicate that the endogenous cannabinoid system represents a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of intestinal disease conditions characterized by excessive inflammatory responses.
Federico Massa, Giovanni Marsicano, Heike Hermann, Astrid Cannich, Krisztina Monory, Benjamin F. Cravatt, Gian-Luca Ferri, Andrei Sibaev, Martin Storr, Beat Lutz
Autoimmune sensorineural hearing loss (ASNHL) is characterized typically by bilateral, rapidly progressive hearing loss that responds therapeutically to corticosteroid treatment. Despite its name, data implicating autoimmunity in the etiopathogenesis of ASNHL have been limited, and targeted self-antigens have not been identified. In the current study we show that the inner ear–specific proteins cochlin and β-tectorin are capable of targeting experimental autoimmune hearing loss (EAHL) in mice. Five weeks after immunization of SWXJ mice with either Coch 131–150 or β-tectorin 71–90, auditory brainstem responses (ABR) showed significant hearing loss at all frequencies tested. Flow cytometry analysis showed that each peptide selectively activated CD4+ T cells with a proinflammatory Th1-like phenotype. T cell mediation of EAHL was determined by showing significantly increased ABR thresholds 6 weeks after adoptive transfer of peptide-activated CD4+ T cells into naive SWXJ recipients. Immunocytochemical analysis showed that leukocytic infiltration of inner ear tissues coincided with onset of hearing loss. Our study provides a contemporary mouse model for clarifying our understanding of ASNHL and facilitating the development of novel effective treatments for this clinical entity. Moreover, our data provide experimental confirmation that ASNHL may be a T cell–mediated organ-specific autoimmune disorder of the inner ear.
C. Arturo Solares, Andrea E. Edling, Justin M. Johnson, Moo-Jin Baek, Keiko Hirose, Gordon B. Hughes, Vincent K. Tuohy
The ability of autoreactive T cells to provoke autoimmune disease is well documented. The finding that immunization with attenuated autoreactive T cells (T cell vaccination, or TCV) can induce T cell–dependent inhibition of autoimmune responses has opened the possibility that regulatory T cells may be harnessed to inhibit autoimmune disease. Progress in the clinical application of TCV, however, has been slow, in part because the underlying mechanism has remained clouded in uncertainty. We have investigated the molecular basis of TCV-induced disease resistance in two murine models of autoimmunity: herpes simplex virus-1 (KOS strain)–induced herpes stromal keratitis and murine autoimmune diabetes in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice. We find that the therapeutic effects of TCV depend on activation of suppressive CD8 cells that specifically recognize Qa-1–bound peptides expressed by autoreactive CD4 cells. We clarify the molecular interaction between Qa-1 and self peptides that generates biologically active ligands capable of both inducing suppressive CD8 cells and targeting them to autoreactive CD4 cells. These studies suggest that vaccination with peptide-pulsed cells bearing the human equivalent of murine Qa-1 (HLA-E) may represent a convenient and effective clinical approach to cellular therapy of autoimmune disease.
Vily Panoutsakopoulou, Katharina M. Huster, Nami McCarty, Evan Feinberg, Rijian Wang, Kai W. Wucherpfennig, Harvey Cantor
Ectopic gene expression in tumors versus normal somatic tissues provides opportunities for the specific immunotargeting of cancer cells. SSX gene products are expressed in tumors of different histological types and can be recognized by tumor-reactive CTLs from cancer patients. Here, we report the identification of an SSX-2–derived immunodominant T cell epitope recognized by CD4+ T cells from melanoma patients in association with HLA-DR. The epitope maps to the 37–58 region of the protein, encompassing the sequence of the previously defined HLA-A2–restricted immunodominant epitope SSX-241–49. SSX-237–58–specific CD4+ T cells were detected among circulating lymphocytes from the majority of melanoma patients analyzed and among tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, but not in healthy donors. Together, our data suggest a dominant role of the 37–58 sequence in the induction of cellular CD4+ T cell responses against SSX antigens and will be instrumental for both the onset and the monitoring of upcoming cancer-vaccine trials using SSX-derived immunogens.
Maha Ayyoub, Charles S. Hesdorffer, Monica Montes, Andrea Merlo, Daniel Speiser, Donata Rimoldi, Jean-Charles Cerottini, Gerd Ritter, Matthew Scanlan, Lloyd J. Old, Danila Valmori
Accurate diagnosis of thyroid tumors is challenging. A particular problem is distinguishing between follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC) and benign follicular thyroid adenoma (FTA), where histology of fine-needle aspirates is not conclusive. It is often necessary to remove healthy thyroid to rule out carcinoma. In order to find markers to improve diagnosis, we quantified gene transcript expression from FTC, FTA, and normal thyroid, revealing 73 differentially expressed transcripts (P ≤ 0.0001). Using an independent set of 23 FTCs, FTAs, and matched normal thyroids, 17 genes with large expression differences were tested by real-time RT-PCR. Four genes (DDIT3, ARG2, ITM1, and C1orf24) differed between the two classes FTC and FTA, and a linear combination of expression levels distinguished FTC from FTA with an estimated predictive accuracy of 0.83. Furthermore, immunohistochemistry for DDIT3 and ARG2 showed consistent staining for carcinoma in an independent set 59 follicular tumors (estimated concordance, 0.76; 95% confidence interval, [0.59, 0.93]). A simple test based on a combination of these markers might improve preoperative diagnosis of thyroid nodules, allowing better treatment decisions and reducing long-term health costs.
Janete M. Cerutti, Rosana Delcelo, Marcelo João Amadei, Claudia Nakabashi, Rui M.B. Maciel, Bercedis Peterson, Jennifer Shoemaker, Gregory J. Riggins