In this issue of the JCI, Sun et al. report a screen for existing drugs to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection by targeting the human host protein transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2), which is required for viral entry. Using a structure-based phylogenetic computational tool, they identified Avoralstat, a drug studied in clinical trials for the treatment of hereditary angioedema, as a potent inhibitor of TMPRSS2 and viral entry. Moreover, Avoralstat reduced SARS-CoV-2 infection following prophylactic administration to SARS-CoV-2 susceptible mice. The cover image shows a structural model of Avoralstat in the binding pocket of TMPRSS2.
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Allison T. McElvaine, Jacqueline A. Hawkins-Salsbury, Vineet M. Arora, Mark T. Gladwin, James R. Goldenring, David P. Huston, Deborah Krakow, Kyu Rhee, Julian Solway, Richard A. Steinman, Dwight A. Towler, Paul J. Utz, Wayne M. Yokoyama, Rolly L. Simpson, Louis J. Muglia, Sallie R. Permar, Rasheed A. Gbadegesin
Given the crucial role of the gastrointestinal tract and associated organs in handling nutrient assimilation and metabolism, it has long been known that its communication with the brain is important for the control of ingestive behavior and body weight regulation. It is also clear that gut-brain communication is bidirectional and utilizes both rapid neural and slower humoral mechanisms and pathways. However, progress in understanding these mechanisms and leveraging them for the treatment of obesity and metabolic disease has been hindered by the enormous dimension of the gut mucosa, the complexity of the signaling systems, and lack of specific tools. With the ascent of modern neurobiological technology, our understanding of the role of vagal afferents in gut-brain communication has begun to change. The first function-specific populations of vagal afferents providing nutritional feedback as well as feed-forward signals have been identified with genetics-guided methodology, and it is hoped that extension of the methodology to other neural communication pathways will follow soon. Currently, efficient clinical leveraging of gut-brain communication to treat obesity and metabolic disease is limited to a few gut hormones, but a more complete understanding of function-specific and projection-specific neuronal populations should make it possible to develop selective and more effective neuromodulation approaches.
Hans-Rudolf Berthoud, Vance L. Albaugh, Winfried L. Neuhuber
The gut microbiota has the capacity to affect host appetite via intestinal satiety pathways, as well as complex feeding behaviors. In this Review, we highlight recent evidence that the gut microbiota can modulate food preference across model organisms. We discuss effects of the gut microbiota on the vagus nerve and brain regions including the hypothalamus, mesolimbic system, and prefrontal cortex, which play key roles in regulating feeding behavior. Crosstalk between commensal bacteria and the central and peripheral nervous systems is associated with alterations in signaling of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides such as dopamine, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). We further consider areas for future research on mechanisms by which gut microbes may influence feeding behavior involving these neural pathways. Understanding roles for the gut microbiota in feeding regulation will be important for informing therapeutic strategies to treat metabolic and eating disorders.
Kristie B. Yu, Elaine Y. Hsiao
The gastrointestinal tract comprises a complex ecosystem with extensive opportunities for functional interactions between neoplastic epithelial cells and stromal, immune, neuronal, glial, and other cell types, as well as microorganisms and metabolites within the gut lumen. In this Review, we focus on interactions between gastrointestinal cancers and elements of the central and enteric nervous systems. This previously understudied but rapidly emerging area of investigation has blossomed in recent years, particularly with respect to improved understanding of neural contributions to the development and progression of esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, and colon neoplasia. Cancer neuroscience offers great promise to advance our understanding of how neural-cancer interactions promote alimentary tract neoplasia. The resulting mechanistic insights can be leveraged to identify diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, and to develop novel therapeutic interventions.
Alyssa Schledwitz, Guofeng Xie, Jean-Pierre Raufman
Kidney diseases affect more than 15% of adults in the US, yet drug development in the kidney field, when compared with that for other common diseases, has been lagging behind. Modifiers that increase the susceptibility to injury and contribute to the pathogenesis and progression of kidney disease include genetic and environmental factors and epigenetic mechanisms. In this issue of the JCI, Cao et al. and Doke et al. independently report the identification of a susceptibility factor called Dachshund homolog 1 (DACH1). Both groups identify an association of reduced DACH1 expression with kidney disease, using different screening approaches, studying different types of human kidney diseases, and using different experimental models, making the fact that both stumbled over the same protein very compelling. Combined, these studies highlight DACH1 as a key safeguard in the kidney, granting various cell types proper function by modulating several molecular pathways.
Sandra Merscher, Christian Faul
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a rare but deadly new disease in children that rapidly progresses to hyperinflammation and shock, and can lead to multiple organ failure if unrecognized. It has been found to be temporally associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and is often associated with SARS-CoV-2 exposure in children. In this issue of the JCI, Porritt, Paschold, et al. identify restricted T cell receptor (TCR) β-chain variable domain (Vβ) usage in patients with severe MIS-C, indicating a potential role for SARS-CoV-2 as a superantigen. These findings suggest that a blood test that determines the presence of specific TCRβ variable gene (TRBV) segments may identify patients at risk for severe MIS-C.
Theodore Kouo, Worarat Chaisawangwong
Sites of acute inflammation become austere environments for the procurement of energy. The combination of oxygen depletion (hypoxia) and decreased glucose availability requires surprising metabolic adaptability. In this issue of the JCI, Watts et al. examined the metabolic adaptability of murine neutrophils to the setting of acute pulmonary inflammation elicited by exposure to nebulized endotoxin. While neutrophils are generally considered a primarily glycolytic cell type, Watts et al. used a combination of labeled amino acids and high-resolution proteomics to reveal that the harsh environment of the inflammatory lesion drives neutrophils toward de novo protein synthesis and extracellular protein scavenging as a primary fuel. This study provides compelling evidence that tissue neutrophils scavenge extracellular proteins to fuel carbon metabolism, which aids in de novo protein synthesis and the promotion of an inflammatory phenotype. These observations reveal the surprisingly creative extent to which cells and tissues might adapt to energy-deficient inflammatory environments.
Ian M. Cartwright, Sean P. Colgan
Stimulation of TAM (TYRO3, AXL, and MERTK) receptor tyrosine kinases promotes tumor progression through numerous cellular mechanisms. TAM cognate ligands GAS6 and PROS1 (for TYRO3 and MERTK) are secreted by host immune cells, an interaction which may support tumor progression. Here, we revealed an unexpected antimetastatic role for myeloid-derived PROS1: suppressing metastatic potential in lung and breast tumor models. Pros1 deletion in myeloid cells led to increased lung metastasis, independent of primary tumor infiltration. PROS1-cKO bone marrow–derived macrophages (BMDMs) led to elevated TNF-α, IL-6, Nos2, and IL-10 via modulation of the Socs3/NF-κB pathway. Conditioned medium from cKO BMDMs enhanced EMT, ERK, AKT, and STAT3 activation within tumor cells and promoted IL-10–dependent invasion and survival. Macrophages isolated from metastatic lungs modulated T cell proliferation and function, as well as expression of costimulatory molecules on DCs in a PROS1-dependent manner. Inhibition of MERTK kinase activity blocked PROS1-mediated suppression of TNF-α and IL-6 but not IL-10. Overall, using lung and breast cancer models, we identified the PROS1/MERTK axis within BMDMs as a potent regulator of adaptive immune responses with a potential to suppress metastatic seeding and revealed IL-10 regulation by PROS1 to deviate from that of TNF-α and IL-6.
Avi Maimon, Victor Levi-Yahid, Kerem Ben-Meir, Amit Halpern, Ziv Talmi, Shivam Priya, Gabriel Mizraji, Shani Mistriel-Zerbib, Michael Berger, Michal Baniyash, Sonja Loges, Tal Burstyn-Cohen
Vascular stability and tone are maintained by contractile smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). However, injury-induced growth factors stimulate a contractile-synthetic phenotypic modulation which increases susceptibility to abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). As a regulator of embryonic VSMC differentiation, we hypothesized that Thymosin β4 (Tβ4) may function to maintain healthy vasculature throughout postnatal life. This was supported by the identification of an interaction with low density lipoprotein receptor related protein 1 (LRP1), an endocytic regulator of platelet-derived growth factor BB (PDGF-BB) signaling and VSMC proliferation. LRP1 variants have been implicated by genome-wide association studies with risk of AAA and other arterial diseases. Tβ4-null mice displayed aortic VSMC and elastin defects that phenocopy those of LRP1 mutants, and their compromised vascular integrity predisposed them to Angiotensin II–induced aneurysm formation. Aneurysmal vessels were characterized by enhanced VSMC phenotypic modulation and augmented PDGFR-β signaling. In vitro, enhanced sensitivity to PDGF-BB upon loss of Tβ4 was associated with dysregulated endocytosis, with increased recycling and reduced lysosomal targeting of LRP1–PDGFR-β. Accordingly, the exacerbated aneurysmal phenotype in Tβ4-null mice was rescued upon treatment with the PDGFR-β antagonist Imatinib. Our study identifies Tβ4 as a key regulator of LRP1 for maintaining vascular health, and provides insights into the mechanisms of growth factor–controlled VSMC phenotypic modulation underlying aortic disease progression.
Sonali Munshaw, Susann Bruche, Andia N. Redpath, Alisha Jones, Jyoti Patel, Karina N. Dubé, Regent Lee, Svenja S. Hester, Rachel Davies, Giles Neal, Ashok Handa, Michael Sattler, Roman Fischer, Keith M. Channon, Nicola Smart
Limiting dysfunctional neutrophilic inflammation while preserving effective immunity requires a better understanding of the processes that dictate neutrophil function in the tissues. Quantitative mass-spectrometry identified how inflammatory murine neutrophils regulated expression of cell surface receptors, signal transduction networks, and metabolic machinery to shape neutrophil phenotypes in response to hypoxia. Through the tracing of labeled amino acids into metabolic enzymes, proinflammatory mediators, and granule proteins, we demonstrated that ongoing protein synthesis shapes the neutrophil proteome. To maintain energy supplies in the tissues, neutrophils consumed extracellular proteins to fuel central carbon metabolism. The physiological stresses of hypoxia and hypoglycemia, characteristic of inflamed tissues, promoted this extracellular protein scavenging with activation of the lysosomal compartment, further driving exploitation of the protein-rich inflammatory milieu. This study provides a comprehensive map of neutrophil proteomes, analysis of which has led to the identification of active catabolic and anabolic pathways that enable neutrophils to sustain synthetic and effector functions in the tissues.
Emily R. Watts, Andrew J.M. Howden, Tyler Morrison, Pranvera Sadiku, Jens Hukelmann, Alex von Kriegsheim, Bart Ghesquiere, Fiona Murphy, Ananda S. Mirchandani, Duncan C. Humphries, Robert Grecian, Eilise M. Ryan, Patricia Coelho, Gio Rodriguez Blanco, Tracie M. Plant, Rebecca S. Dickinson, Andy Finch, Wesley Vermaelen, Doreen A. Cantrell, Moira K. Whyte, Sarah R. Walmsley
Dachshund homolog 1 (DACH1), a key cell-fate determinant, regulates transcription by DNA sequence–specific binding. We identified diminished Dach1 expression in a large-scale screen for mutations that convert injury-resistant podocytes into injury-susceptible podocytes. In diabetic kidney disease (DKD) patients, podocyte DACH1 expression levels are diminished, a condition that strongly correlates with poor clinical outcomes. Global Dach1 KO mice manifest renal hypoplasia and die perinatally. Podocyte-specific Dach1 KO mice, however, maintain normal glomerular architecture at baseline, but rapidly exhibit podocyte injury after diabetes onset. Furthermore, podocyte-specific augmentation of DACH1 expression in mice protects from DKD. Combined RNA sequencing and in silico promoter analysis reveal conversely overlapping glomerular transcriptomic signatures between podocyte-specific Dach1 and Pax transactivation-domain interacting protein (Ptip) KO mice, with upregulated genes possessing higher-than-expected numbers of promoter Dach1-binding sites. PTIP, an essential component of the activating histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4Me3) complex, interacts with DACH1 and is recruited by DACH1 to its promoter-binding sites. DACH1-PTIP recruitment represses transcription and reduces promoter H3K4Me3 levels. DACH1 knockdown in podocytes combined with hyperglycemia triggers target gene upregulation and increases promoter H3K4Me3. These findings reveal that in DKD, diminished DACH1 expression enhances podocyte injury vulnerability via epigenetic derepression of its target genes.
Aili Cao, Jianhua Li, Morad Asadi, John M. Basgen, Bingbing Zhu, Zhengzi Yi, Song Jiang, Tomohito Doke, Osama El Shamy, Niralee Patel, Paolo Cravedi, Evren U. Azeloglu, Kirk N. Campbell, Madhav Menon, Steve Coca, Weijia Zhang, Hao Wang, Ke Zen, Zhihong Liu, Barbara Murphy, John C. He, Vivette D. D’Agati, Katalin Susztak, Lewis Kaufman
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for kidney function identified hundreds of risk regions; however, the causal variants, target genes, cell types, and disease mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here, we performed transcriptome-wide association studies (TWAS), summary Mendelian randomization, and MetaXcan to identify genes whose expression mediates the genotype effect on the phenotype. Our analyses identified Dachshund homolog 1 (DACH1), a cell-fate determination factor. GWAS risk variant was associated with lower DACH1 expression in human kidney tubules. Human and mouse kidney single-cell open chromatin data (snATAC-Seq) prioritized estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) GWAS variants located on an intronic regulatory region in distal convoluted tubule cells. CRISPR-Cas9–mediated gene editing confirmed the role of risk variants in regulating DACH1 expression. Mice with tubule-specific Dach1 deletion developed more severe renal fibrosis both in folic acid and diabetic kidney injury models. Mice with tubule-specific Dach1 overexpression were protected from folic acid nephropathy. Single-cell RNA sequencing, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and functional analysis indicated that DACH1 controls the expression of cell cycle and myeloid chemotactic factors, contributing to macrophage infiltration and fibrosis development. In summary, integration of GWAS, TWAS, single-cell epigenome, expression analyses, gene editing, and functional validation in different mouse kidney disease models identified DACH1 as a kidney disease risk gene.
Tomohito Doke, Shizheng Huang, Chengxiang Qiu, Hongbo Liu, Yuting Guan, Hailong Hu, Ziyuan Ma, Junnan Wu, Zhen Miao, Xin Sheng, Jianfu Zhou, Aili Cao, Jianhua Li, Lewis Kaufman, Adriana Hung, Christopher D. Brown, Richard Pestell, Katalin Susztak
T cell immunity is essential for the control of tuberculosis (TB), an important disease of the lung, and is generally studied in humans using peripheral blood cells. Mounting evidence, however, indicates that tissue-resident memory T cells (Trms) are superior at controlling many pathogens, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis), and can be quite different from those in circulation. Using freshly resected lung tissue, from individuals with active or previous TB, we identified distinct CD4+ and CD8+ Trm-like clusters within TB-diseased lung tissue that were functional and enriched for IL-17–producing cells. M. tuberculosis–specific CD4+ T cells producing TNF-α, IL-2, and IL-17 were highly expanded in the lung compared with matched blood samples, in which IL-17+ cells were largely absent. Strikingly, the frequency of M. tuberculosis–specific lung T cells making IL-17, but not other cytokines, inversely correlated with the plasma IL-1β levels, suggesting a potential link with disease severity. Using a human granuloma model, we showed the addition of either exogenous IL-17 or IL-2 enhanced immune control of M. tuberculosis and was associated with increased NO production. Taken together, these data support an important role for M. tuberculosis–specific Trm-like, IL-17–producing cells in the immune control of M. tuberculosis in the human lung.
Paul Ogongo, Liku B. Tezera, Amanda Ardain, Shepherd Nhamoyebonde, Duran Ramsuran, Alveera Singh, Abigail Ng’oepe, Farina Karim, Taryn Naidoo, Khadija Khan, Kaylesh J. Dullabh, Michael Fehlings, Boon Heng Lee, Alessandra Nardin, Cecilia S. Lindestam Arlehamn, Alessandro Sette, Samuel M. Behar, Adrie J.C. Steyn, Rajhmun Madansein, Henrik N. Kløverpris, Paul T. Elkington, Alasdair Leslie
Opioid use disorder (OUD) has become a leading cause of death in the United States, yet current therapeutic strategies remain highly inadequate. To identify potential treatments for OUD, we screened a targeted selection of over 100 drugs using a recently developed opioid self-administration assay in zebrafish. This paradigm showed that finasteride, a steroidogenesis inhibitor approved for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia and androgenetic alopecia, reduced self-administration of multiple opioids without affecting locomotion or feeding behavior. These findings were confirmed in rats; furthermore, finasteride reduced the physical signs associated with opioid withdrawal. In rat models of neuropathic pain, finasteride did not alter the antinociceptive effect of opioids and reduced withdrawal-induced hyperalgesia. Steroidomic analyses of the brains of fish treated with finasteride revealed a significant increase in dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). Treatment with precursors of DHEAS reduced opioid self-administration in zebrafish in a fashion akin to the effects of finasteride. These results highlight the importance of steroidogenic pathways as a rich source of therapeutic targets for OUD and point to the potential of finasteride as a new treatment option for this disorder.
Gabriel D. Bosse, Roberto Cadeddu, Gabriele Floris, Ryan D. Farero, Eva Vigato, Suhjung J. Lee, Tejia Zhang, Nilesh W. Gaikwad, Kristen A. Keefe, Paul E.M. Phillips, Marco Bortolato, Randall T. Peterson
Anemia in β-thalassemia is related to ineffective erythropoiesis and reduced red cell survival. Excess free heme and accumulation of unpaired α-globin chains impose substantial oxidative stress on β-thalassemic erythroblasts and erythrocytes, impacting cell metabolism. We hypothesized that increased pyruvate kinase activity induced by mitapivat (AG-348) in the Hbbth3/+ mouse model for β-thalassemia would reduce chronic hemolysis and ineffective erythropoiesis through stimulation of red cell glycolytic metabolism. Oral mitapivat administration ameliorated ineffective erythropoiesis and anemia in Hbbth3/+ mice. Increased ATP, reduced reactive oxygen species production, and reduced markers of mitochondrial dysfunction associated with improved mitochondrial clearance suggested enhanced metabolism following mitapivat administration in β-thalassemia. The amelioration of responsiveness to erythropoietin resulted in reduced soluble erythroferrone, increased liver Hamp expression, and diminished liver iron overload. Mitapivat reduced duodenal Dmt1 expression potentially by activating the pyruvate kinase M2-HIF2α axis, representing a mechanism additional to Hamp in controlling iron absorption and preventing β-thalassemia–related liver iron overload. In ex vivo studies on erythroid precursors from patients with β-thalassemia, mitapivat enhanced erythropoiesis, promoted erythroid maturation, and decreased apoptosis. Overall, pyruvate kinase activation as a treatment modality for β-thalassemia in preclinical model systems had multiple beneficial effects in the erythropoietic compartment and beyond, providing a strong scientific basis for further clinical trials.
Alessandro Matte, Enrica Federti, Charles Kung, Penelope A. Kosinski, Rohini Narayanaswamy, Roberta Russo, Giorgia Federico, Francesca Carlomagno, Maria Andrea Desbats, Leonardo Salviati, Christophe Leboeuf, Maria Teresa Valenti, Francesco Turrini, Anne Janin, Shaoxia Yu, Elisabetta Beneduce, Sebastien Ronseaux, Iana Iatcenko, Lenny Dang, Tomas Ganz, Chun-Ling Jung, Achille Iolascon, Carlo Brugnara, Lucia De Franceschi
Intercellular biomolecule transfer (ICBT) between malignant and benign cells is a major driver of tumor growth, resistance to anticancer therapies, and therapy-triggered metastatic disease. Here we characterized cholesterol 25-hydroxylase (CH25H) as a key genetic suppressor of ICBT between malignant and endothelial cells (ECs) and of ICBT-driven angiopoietin-2–dependent activation of ECs, stimulation of intratumoral angiogenesis, and tumor growth. Human CH25H was downregulated in the ECs from patients with colorectal cancer and the low levels of stromal CH25H were associated with a poor disease outcome. Knockout of endothelial CH25H stimulated angiogenesis and tumor growth in mice. Pharmacologic inhibition of ICBT by reserpine compensated for CH25H loss, elicited angiostatic effects (alone or combined with sunitinib), augmented the therapeutic effect of radio-/chemotherapy, and prevented metastatic disease induced by these regimens. We propose inhibiting ICBT to improve the overall efficacy of anticancer therapies and limit their prometastatic side effects.
Zhen Lu, Angelica Ortiz, Ioannis I. Verginadis, Amy R. Peck, Farima Zahedi, Christina Cho, Pengfei Yu, Rachel M. DeRita, Hongru Zhang, Ryan Kubanoff, Yunguang Sun, Andrew T. Yaspan, Elise Krespan, Daniel P. Beiting, Enrico Radaelli, Sandra W. Ryeom, J. Alan Diehl, Hallgeir Rui, Constantinos Koumenis, Serge Y. Fuchs
Hypothalamic feeding circuits have been identified as having innate synaptic plasticity, mediating adaption to the changing metabolic milieu by controlling responses to feeding and obesity. However, less is known about the regulatory principles underlying the dynamic changes in agouti-related protein (AgRP) perikarya, a region crucial for gating of neural excitation and, hence, feeding. Here we show that AgRP neurons activated by food deprivation, ghrelin administration, or chemogenetics decreased their own inhibitory tone while triggering mitochondrial adaptations in neighboring astrocytes. We found that it was the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA released by AgRP neurons that evoked this astrocytic response; this in turn resulted in increased glial ensheetment of AgRP perikarya by glial processes and increased excitability of AgRP neurons. We also identified astrocyte-derived prostaglandin E2, which directly activated — via EP2 receptors — AgRP neurons. Taken together, these observations unmasked a feed-forward, self-exciting loop in AgRP neuronal control mediated by astrocytes, a mechanism directly relevant for hunger, feeding, and overfeeding.
Luis Varela, Bernardo Stutz, Jae Eun Song, Jae Geun Kim, Zhong-Wu Liu, Xiao-Bing Gao, Tamas L. Horvath
A complete carcinogen, ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation (290–320 nm), is the major cause of skin cancer. UVB-induced systemic immunosuppression that contributes to photocarcinogenesis is due to the glycerophosphocholine-derived lipid mediator platelet-activating factor (PAF). A major question in photobiology is how UVB radiation, which only absorbs appreciably in the epidermal layers of skin, can generate systemic effects. UVB exposure and PAF receptor (PAFR) activation in keratinocytes induce the release of large numbers of microvesicle particles (MVPs; extracellular vesicles ranging from 100 to 1000 nm in size). MVPs released from skin keratinocytes in vitro in response to UVB (UVB-MVPs) are dependent on the keratinocyte PAFR. Here, we used both pharmacologic and genetic approaches in cells and mice to show that both the PAFR and enzyme acid sphingomyelinase (aSMase) were necessary for UVB-MVP generation. Our discovery that the calcium-sensing receptor is a keratinocyte-selective MVP marker allowed us to determine that UVB-MVPs leaving the keratinocyte can be found systemically in mice and humans following UVB exposure. Moreover, we found that UVB-MVPs contained bioactive contents including PAFR agonists that allowed them to serve as effectors for UVB downstream effects, in particular UVB-mediated systemic immunosuppression.
Langni Liu, Azeezat A. Awoyemi, Katherine E. Fahy, Pariksha Thapa, Christina Borchers, Benita Y. Wu, Cameron L. McGlone, Benjamin Schmeusser, Zafer Sattouf, Craig A. Rohan, Amy R. Williams, Elizabeth E. Cates, Christina Knisely, Lisa E. Kelly, Ji C. Bihl, David R. Cool, Ravi P. Sahu, Jinju Wang, Yanfang Chen, Christine M. Rapp, Michael G. Kemp, R. Michael Johnson, Jeffrey B. Travers
The protein kinases IKKε and TBK1 are activated in liver and fat in mouse models of obesity. We have previously demonstrated that treatment with the IKKε/TBK1 inhibitor amlexanox produces weight loss and relieves insulin resistance in obese animals and patients. While amlexanox treatment caused a transient reduction in food intake, long-term weight loss was attributable to increased energy expenditure via FGF21-dependent beiging of white adipose tissue (WAT). Amlexanox increased FGF21 synthesis and secretion in several tissues. Interestingly, although hepatic secretion determined circulating levels, it was dispensable for regulating energy expenditure. In contrast, adipocyte-secreted FGF21 may have acted as an autocrine factor that led to adipose tissue browning and weight loss in obese mice. Moreover, increased energy expenditure was an important determinant of improved insulin sensitivity by amlexanox. Conversely, the immediate reductions in fasting blood glucose observed with acute amlexanox treatment were mediated by the suppression of hepatic glucose production via activation of STAT3 by adipocyte-secreted IL-6. These findings demonstrate that amlexanox improved metabolic health via FGF21 action in adipocytes to increase energy expenditure via WAT beiging and that adipocyte-derived IL-6 has an endocrine role in decreasing gluconeogenesis via hepatic STAT3 activation, thereby producing a coordinated improvement in metabolic parameters.
Shannon M. Reilly, Mohammad Abu-Odeh, Magdalene Ameka, Julia H. DeLuca, Meghan C. Naber, Benyamin Dadpey, Nima Ebadat, Andrew V. Gomez, Xiaoling Peng, BreAnne Poirier, Elyse Walk, Matthew J. Potthoff, Alan R. Saltiel
BACKGROUND Current clinical management of patients with pulmonary nodules involves either repeated low-dose CT (LDCT)/CT scans or invasive procedures, yet causes significant patient misclassification. An accurate noninvasive test is needed to identify malignant nodules and reduce unnecessary invasive tests.METHOD We developed a diagnostic model based on targeted DNA methylation sequencing of 389 pulmonary nodule patients’ plasma samples and then validation in 140 plasma samples independently. We tested the model in different stages and subtypes of pulmonary nodules.RESULTS A 100-feature model was developed and validated for pulmonary nodule diagnosis; the model achieved a receiver operating characteristic curve–AUC (ROC-AUC) of 0.843 on 140 independent validation samples, with an accuracy of 0.800. The performance was well maintained in (a) a 6 to 20 mm size subgroup (n = 100), with a sensitivity of 1.000 and adjusted negative predictive value (NPV) of 1.000 at 10% prevalence; (b) stage I malignancy (n = 90), with a sensitivity of 0.971; (c) different nodule types: solid nodules (n = 78) with a sensitivity of 1.000 and adjusted NPV of 1.000, part-solid nodules (n = 75) with a sensitivity of 0.947 and adjusted NPV of 0.983, and ground-glass nodules (n = 67) with a sensitivity of 0.964 and adjusted NPV of 0.989 at 10% prevalence. This methylation test, called PulmoSeek, outperformed PET-CT and 2 clinical prediction models (Mayo Clinic and Veterans Affairs) in discriminating malignant pulmonary nodules from benign ones.CONCLUSION This study suggests that the blood-based DNA methylation model may provide a better test for classifying pulmonary nodules, which could help facilitate the accurate diagnosis of early stage lung cancer from pulmonary nodule patients and guide clinical decisions.FUNDING The National Key Research and Development Program of China; Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangdong Province; The National Natural Science Foundation of China National.
Wenhua Liang, Zhiwei Chen, Caichen Li, Jun Liu, Jinsheng Tao, Xin Liu, Dezhi Zhao, Weiqiang Yin, Hanzhang Chen, Chao Cheng, Fenglei Yu, Chunfang Zhang, Luxu Liu, Hui Tian, Kaican Cai, Xiang Liu, Zheng Wang, Ning Xu, Qing Dong, Liang Chen, Yue Yang, Xiuyi Zhi, Hui Li, Xixiang Tu, Xiangrui Cai, Zeyu Jiang, Hua Ji, Lili Mo, Jiaxuan Wang, Jian-Bing Fan, Jianxing He
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a hyperinflammatory syndrome associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, shares clinical features with toxic shock syndrome, which is triggered by bacterial superantigens. Superantigen specificity for different Vβ chains results in Vβ skewing, whereby T cells with specific Vβ chains and diverse antigen specificity are overrepresented in the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire. Here, we characterized the TCR repertoire of MIS-C patients and found a profound expansion of TCRβ variable gene 11-2 (TRBV11-2), with up to 24% of clonal T cell space occupied by TRBV11-2 T cells, which correlated with MIS-C severity and serum cytokine levels. Analysis of TRBJ gene usage and complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3) length distribution of MIS-C expanded TRBV11-2 clones revealed extensive junctional diversity. Patients with TRBV11-2 expansion shared HLA class I alleles A02, B35, and C04, indicating what we believe is a novel mechanism for CDR3-independent T cell expansion. In silico modeling indicated that polyacidic residues in the Vβ chain encoded by TRBV11-2 (Vβ21.3) strongly interact with the superantigen-like motif of SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein, suggesting that unprocessed SARS-CoV-2 spike may directly mediate TRBV11-2 expansion. Overall, our data indicate that a CDR3-independent interaction between SARS-CoV-2 spike and TCR leads to T cell expansion and possibly activation, which may account for the clinical presentation of MIS-C.
Rebecca A. Porritt, Lisa Paschold, Magali Noval Rivas, Mary Hongying Cheng, Lael M. Yonker, Harsha Chandnani, Merrick Lopez, Donjete Simnica, Christoph Schultheiß, Chintda Santiskulvong, Jennifer Van Eyk, John K. McCormick, Alessio Fasano, Ivet Bahar, Mascha Binder, Moshe Arditi
Prostate cancer (PC) is driven by androgen receptor (AR) activity, a master regulator of prostate development and homeostasis. Frontline therapies for metastatic PC deprive the AR of the activating ligands testosterone (T) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by limiting their biosynthesis or blocking AR binding. Notably, AR signaling is dichotomous, inducing growth at lower activity levels, while suppressing growth at higher levels. Recent clinical studies have exploited this effect by administration of supraphysiological concentrations of T, resulting in clinical responses and improvements in quality of life. However, the use of T as a therapeutic agent in oncology is limited by poor drug-like properties as well as rapid and variable metabolism. Here, we investigated the antitumor effects of selective AR modulators (SARMs), which are small-molecule nonsteroidal AR agonists developed to treat muscle wasting and cachexia. Several orally administered SARMs activated the AR program in PC models. AR cistromes regulated by steroidal androgens and SARMs were superimposable. Coregulatory proteins including HOXB13 and GRHL2 comprised AR complexes assembled by both androgens and SARMs. At bioavailable concentrations, SARMs repressed MYC oncoprotein expression and inhibited the growth of castration-sensitive and castration-resistant PC in vitro and in vivo. These results support further clinical investigation of SARMs for treating advanced PC.
Michael D. Nyquist, Lisa S. Ang, Alexandra Corella, Ilsa M. Coleman, Michael P. Meers, Anthony J. Christiani, Cordell Pierce, Derek H. Janssens, Hannah E. Meade, Arnab Bose, Lauren Brady, Timothy Howard, Navonil De Sarkar, Sander B. Frank, Ruth F. Dumpit, James T. Dalton, Eva Corey, Stephen R. Plymate, Michael C. Haffner, Elahe A. Mostaghel, Peter S. Nelson
One of the primary mechanisms of tumor cell immune evasion is the loss of antigenicity, which arises due to lack of immunogenic tumor antigens as well as dysregulation of the antigen processing machinery. In a screen for small-molecule compounds from herbal medicine that potentiate T cell–mediated cytotoxicity, we identified atractylenolide I (ATT-I), which substantially promotes tumor antigen presentation of both human and mouse colorectal cancer (CRC) cells and thereby enhances the cytotoxic response of CD8+ T cells. Cellular thermal shift assay (CETSA) with multiplexed quantitative mass spectrometry identified the proteasome 26S subunit non–ATPase 4 (PSMD4), an essential component of the immunoproteasome complex, as a primary target protein of ATT-I. Binding of ATT-I with PSMD4 augments the antigen-processing activity of immunoproteasome, leading to enhanced MHC-I–mediated antigen presentation on cancer cells. In syngeneic mouse CRC models and human patient–derived CRC organoid models, ATT-I treatment promotes the cytotoxicity of CD8+ T cells and thus profoundly enhances the efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade therapy. Collectively, we show here that targeting the function of immunoproteasome with ATT-I promotes tumor antigen presentation and empowers T cell cytotoxicity, thus elevating the tumor response to immunotherapy.
Hanchen Xu, Kevin Van der Jeught, Zhuolong Zhou, Lu Zhang, Tao Yu, Yifan Sun, Yujing Li, Changlin Wan, Ka Man So, Degang Liu, Michael Frieden, Yuanzhang Fang, Amber L. Mosley, Xiaoming He, Xinna Zhang, George E. Sandusky, Yunlong Liu, Samy O. Meroueh, Chi Zhang, Aruna B. Wijeratne, Cheng Huang, Guang Ji, Xiongbin Lu
BACKGROUND Recent studies have reported T cell immunity to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in unexposed donors, possibly due to crossrecognition by T cells specific for common cold coronaviruses (CCCs). True T cell crossreactivity, defined as the recognition by a single TCR of more than one distinct peptide-MHC ligand, has never been shown in the context of SARS-CoV-2.METHODS We used the viral functional expansion of specific T cells (ViraFEST) platform to identify T cell responses crossreactive for the spike (S) glycoproteins of SARS-CoV-2 and CCCs at the T cell receptor (TCR) clonotype level in convalescent COVID-19 patients (CCPs) and SARS-CoV-2–unexposed donors. Confirmation of SARS-CoV-2/CCC crossreactivity and assessments of functional avidity were performed using a TCR cloning and transfection system.RESULTS Memory CD4+ T cell clonotypes that crossrecognized the S proteins of SARS-CoV-2 and at least one other CCC were detected in 65% of CCPs and unexposed donors. Several of these TCRs were shared among multiple donors. Crossreactive T cells demonstrated significantly impaired SARS-CoV-2–specific proliferation in vitro relative to monospecific CD4+ T cells, which was consistent with lower functional avidity of their TCRs for SARS-CoV-2 relative to CCC.CONCLUSIONS Our data confirm, for what we believe is the first time, the existence of unique memory CD4+ T cell clonotypes crossrecognizing SARS-CoV-2 and CCCs. The lower avidity of crossreactive TCRs for SARS-CoV-2 may be the result of antigenic imprinting, such that preexisting CCC-specific memory T cells have reduced expansive capacity upon SARS-CoV-2 infection. Further studies are needed to determine how these crossreactive T cell responses affect clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients.FUNDING NIH funding (U54CA260492, P30CA006973, P41EB028239, R01AI153349, R01AI145435-A1, R21AI149760, and U19A1088791) was provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. The Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, The Johns Hopkins University Provost, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided funding for this study.
Arbor G. Dykema, Boyang Zhang, Bezawit A. Woldemeskel, Caroline C. Garliss, Laurene S. Cheung, Dilshad Choudhury, Jiajia Zhang, Luis Aparicio, Sadhana Bom, Rufiaat Rashid, Justina X. Caushi, Emily Han-Chung Hsiue, Katherine Cascino, Elizabeth A. Thompson, Abena K. Kwaa, Dipika Singh, Sampriti Thapa, Alvaro A. Ordonez, Andrew Pekosz, Franco R. D’Alessio, Jonathan D. Powell, Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian, Shibin Zhou, Drew M. Pardoll, Hongkai Ji, Andrea L. Cox, Joel N. Blankson, Kellie N. Smith
BACKGROUND Molecular characterization of prostate cancer (PCa) has revealed distinct subclasses based on underlying genomic alterations occurring early in the natural history of the disease. However, how these early alterations influence subsequent molecular events and the course of the disease over its long natural history remains unclear.METHODS We explored the molecular and clinical progression of different genomic subtypes of PCa using distinct tumor lineage models based on human genomic and transcriptomic data. We developed transcriptional classifiers, and defined “early” and “late” categories of molecular subclasses from 8,158 PCa patients. Molecular subclasses were correlated with clinical outcomes and pathologic characteristics using Kaplan-Meier and logistic regression analyses.RESULTS We identified PTEN and CHD1 alterations as subtype-specific late progression events specifically in ERG-overexpressing (ERG+) and SPOP-mutant tumors, respectively, and 2 distinct progression models consisting of ERG/PTEN (normal to ERG+ to PTEN-deleted) and SPOP/CHD1 (normal to SPOP-mutated to CHD1-deleted) with shared early tumorigenesis but distinct pathways toward progression. We found that within ERG+ and SPOP-mutant subtypes, late events were associated with worse prognosis. Importantly, the clinical and pathologic features associated with distinct late events at radical prostatectomy were strikingly different; PTEN deletions were associated with increased locoregional stage, while CHD1 deletions were only associated with increased grade, despite equivalent metastatic potential.CONCLUSION These findings suggest a paradigm in which specific subtypes of PCa follow distinct pathways of progression, at both the molecular and clinical levels. Therefore, the interpretation of common clinical parameters such as locoregional tumor stage may be influenced by the underlying tumor lineage, and potentially influence management decisions.FUNDING Prostate Cancer Foundation, National Cancer Institute, Urology Care Foundation, Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, US Department of Defense, and the AIRC Foundation.
Deli Liu, Michael A. Augello, Ivana Grbesa, Davide Prandi, Yang Liu, Jonathan E. Shoag, R. Jeffrey Karnes, Bruce J. Trock, Eric A. Klein, Robert B. Den, Francesca Demichelis, Elai Davicioni, Andrea Sboner, Christopher E. Barbieri
Drugs targeting host proteins can act prophylactically to reduce viral burden early in disease and limit morbidity, even with antivirals and vaccination. Transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) is a human protease required for SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral entry and may represent such a target. We hypothesized that drugs selected from proteins related by their tertiary structure, rather than their primary structure, were likely to interact with TMPRSS2. We created a structure-based phylogenetic computational tool named 3DPhyloFold to systematically identify structurally similar serine proteases with known therapeutic inhibitors and demonstrated effective inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro and in vivo. Several candidate compounds, avoralstat, PCI-27483, antipain, and soybean trypsin inhibitor, inhibited TMPRSS2 in biochemical and cell infection assays. Avoralstat, a clinically tested kallikrein-related B1 inhibitor, inhibited SARS-CoV-2 entry and replication in human airway epithelial cells. In an in vivo proof of principle, avoralstat significantly reduced lung tissue titers and mitigated weight loss when administered prophylactically to mice susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, indicating its potential to be repositioned for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) prophylaxis in humans.
Young Joo Sun, Gabriel Velez, Dylan E. Parsons, Kun Li, Miguel E. Ortiz, Shaunik Sharma, Paul B. McCray Jr., Alexander G. Bassuk, Vinit B. Mahajan
Recent studies have shown T cell cross-recognition of SARS-CoV-2 and common cold coronavirus spike proteins. However, the effect of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines on T cell responses to common cold coronaviruses (CCCs) remains unknown. In this study, we analyzed CD4+ T cell responses to spike peptides from SARS-CoV-2 and 3 CCCs (HCoV-229E, HCoV-NL63, and HCoV-OC43) before and after study participants received Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2) or Moderna (mRNA-1273) mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine recipients showed broad T cell responses to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, and we identified 23 distinct targeted peptides in 9 participants, including 1 peptide that was targeted in 6 individuals. Only 4 of these 23 targeted peptides would potentially be affected by mutations in the UK (B.1.1.7) and South African (B.1.351) variants, and CD4+ T cells from vaccine recipients recognized the 2 variant spike proteins as effectively as they recognized the spike protein from the ancestral virus. Interestingly, we observed a 3-fold increase in the CD4+ T cell responses to HCoV-NL63 spike peptides after vaccination. Our results suggest that T cell responses elicited or enhanced by SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines may be able to control SARS-CoV-2 variants and lead to cross-protection against some endemic coronaviruses.
Bezawit A. Woldemeskel, Caroline C. Garliss, Joel N. Blankson
Noriko Komatsu, Stephanie Win, Minglu Yan, Nam Cong-Nhat Huynh, Shinichiro Sawa, Masayuki Tsukasaki, Asuka Terashima, Warunee Pluemsakunthai, George Kollias, Tomoki Nakashima, Hiroshi Takayanagi