On the gut-brain connection: Coverage by The New Yorker on "Neuroepithelial circuit formed by innervation of sensory enteroendocrine cells."
Potential Alzheimer's breakthrough: Coverage by Wave 3 News on "Prostaglandin signaling suppresses beneficial microglial function in Alzheimer’s disease models."
New drug therapy for prevalent childhood cancer: Coverage by GEN on "Recombinant human CD19L-sTRAIL effectively targets B cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia."
Hunger hormones in infancy linked to adult obesity: Coverage by Inquisitir on "Neonatal ghrelin programs development of hypothalamic feeding circuits."
Laying a foundation for treating ALS, spinal cord injury: Coverage by University of Wisconsin-Madison News and Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel on "Human-derived neural progenitors functionally replace astrocytes in adult mice."
New potential drug target for lung cancer: Coverage by HealthCanal and Lung Cancer News Today on "Pyruvate carboxylase is critical for non–small-cell lung cancer proliferation."
Scoliosis In Families Stems From One Gene Variation: Coverage by Medical Daily on "Functional variants of POC5 identified in patients with idiopathic scoliosis."
Greater potential risk for smokers with gene mutation: Coverage by Science 2.0 on "Telomerase mutations in smokers with severe emphysema."
New insights into treating hypothyroidism: Coverage by Health Canal on "Differences in hypothalamic type 2 deiodinase ubiquitination explain localized sensitivity to thyroxine 8."
Groundbreaking study on treating blood cancers: Coverage by Cleveland Clinic on "Clinical development of demethylating agents in hematology."
Satiety and other core physiological functions are modulated by sensory signals arising from the surface of the gut. Luminal nutrients and bacteria stimulate epithelial biosensors called enteroendocrine cells. Despite being electrically excitable, enteroendocrine cells are generally thought to communicate indirectly with nerves through hormone secretion and not through direct cell-nerve contact. However, we recently uncovered in intestinal enteroendocrine cells a cytoplasmic process that we named neuropod. Here, we determined that neuropods provide a direct connection between enteroendocrine cells and neurons innervating the small intestine and colon. Using cell-specific transgenic mice to study neural circuits, we found that enteroendocrine cells have the necessary elements for neurotransmission, including expression of genes that encode pre-, post-, and transsynaptic proteins. This neuroepithelial circuit was reconstituted in vitro by coculturing single enteroendocrine cells with sensory neurons. We used a monosynaptic rabies virus to define the circuit’s functional connectivity in vivo and determined that delivery of this neurotropic virus into the colon lumen resulted in the infection of mucosal nerves through enteroendocrine cells. This neuroepithelial circuit can serve as both a sensory conduit for food and gut microbes to interact with the nervous system and a portal for viruses to enter the enteric and central nervous systems.
Diego V. Bohórquez, Rafiq A. Shahid, Alan Erdmann, Alex M. Kreger, Yu Wang, Nicole Calakos, Fan Wang, Rodger A. Liddle
Microglia, the innate immune cells of the CNS, perform critical inflammatory and noninflammatory functions that maintain normal neural function. For example, microglia clear misfolded proteins, elaborate trophic factors, and regulate and terminate toxic inflammation. In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), however, beneficial microglial functions become impaired, accelerating synaptic and neuronal loss. Better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that contribute to microglial dysfunction is an important objective for identifying potential strategies to delay progression to AD. The inflammatory cyclooxygenase/prostaglandin E2 (COX/PGE2) pathway has been implicated in preclinical AD development, both in human epidemiology studies and in transgenic rodent models of AD. Here, we evaluated murine models that recapitulate microglial responses to Aβ peptides and determined that microglia-specific deletion of the gene encoding the PGE2 receptor EP2 restores microglial chemotaxis and Aβ clearance, suppresses toxic inflammation, increases cytoprotective insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) signaling, and prevents synaptic injury and memory deficits. Our findings indicate that EP2 signaling suppresses beneficial microglia functions that falter during AD development and suggest that inhibition of the COX/PGE2/EP2 immune pathway has potential as a strategy to restore healthy microglial function and prevent progression to AD.
Jenny U. Johansson, Nathaniel S. Woodling, Qian Wang, Maharshi Panchal, Xibin Liang, Angel Trueba-Saiz, Holden D. Brown, Siddhita D. Mhatre, Taylor Loui, Katrin I. Andreasson
Patients with B cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BPL) respond well to chemotherapy at initial diagnosis; however, therapeutic options are limited for individuals with BPL who relapse. Almost all BPL cells express CD19, and we recently cloned the gene encoding a natural ligand of the human CD19 receptor (CD19L). We hypothesized that fusion of CD19L to the soluble extracellular domain of proapoptotic TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (sTRAIL) would markedly enhance the potency of sTRAIL and specifically induce BPL cell apoptosis due to membrane anchoring of sTRAIL and simultaneous activation of the CD19 and TRAIL receptor (TRAIL-R) apoptosis signaling pathways. Here, we demonstrate that recombinant human CD19L-sTRAIL was substantially more potent than sTRAIL and induced apoptosis in primary leukemia cells taken directly from BPL patients. CD19L-sTRAIL effectively targeted and eliminated in vivo clonogenic BPL xenograft cells, even at femtomolar-picomolar concentrations. In mice, CD19L-sTRAIL exhibited a more favorable pharmacokinetic (PK) profile than sTRAIL and was nontoxic at doses ranging from 32 fmol/kg to 3.2 pmol/kg. CD19L-sTRAIL showed potent in vivo antileukemic activity in NOD/SCID mouse xenograft models of relapsed and chemotherapy-resistant BPL at nontoxic fmol/kg dose levels. Together, these results suggest that recombinant human CD19L-sTRAIL has clinical potential as a biotherapeutic agent against BPL.
Fatih M. Uckun, Dorothea E. Myers, Sanjive Qazi, Zahide Ozer, Rebecca Rose, Osmond J. D’Cruz, Hong Ma
A complex neural network regulates body weight and energy balance, and dysfunction in the communication between the gut and this neural network is associated with metabolic diseases, such as obesity. The stomach-derived hormone ghrelin stimulates appetite through interactions with neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARH). Here, we evaluated the physiological and neurobiological contribution of ghrelin during development by specifically blocking ghrelin action during early postnatal development in mice. Ghrelin blockade in neonatal mice resulted in enhanced ARH neural projections and long-term metabolic effects, including increased body weight, visceral fat, and blood glucose levels and decreased leptin sensitivity. In addition, chronic administration of ghrelin during postnatal life impaired the normal development of ARH projections and caused metabolic dysfunction. Consistent with these observations, direct exposure of postnatal ARH neuronal explants to ghrelin blunted axonal growth and blocked the neurotrophic effect of the adipocyte-derived hormone leptin. Moreover, chronic ghrelin exposure in neonatal mice also attenuated leptin-induced STAT3 signaling in ARH neurons. Collectively, these data reveal that ghrelin plays an inhibitory role in the development of hypothalamic neural circuits and suggest that proper expression of ghrelin during neonatal life is pivotal for lifelong metabolic regulation.
Sophie M. Steculorum, Gustav Collden, Berengere Coupe, Sophie Croizier, Sarah Lockie, Zane B. Andrews, Florian Jarosch, Sven Klussmann, Sebastien G. Bouret
Astrocytes are integral components of the homeostatic neural network as well as active participants in pathogenesis of and recovery from nearly all neurological conditions. Evolutionarily, compared with lower vertebrates and nonhuman primates, humans have an increased astrocyte-to-neuron ratio; however, a lack of effective models has hindered the study of the complex roles of human astrocytes in intact adult animals. Here, we demonstrated that after transplantation into the cervical spinal cords of adult mice with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), human pluripotent stem cell–derived (PSC-derived) neural progenitors migrate a long distance and differentiate to astrocytes that nearly replace their mouse counterparts over a 9-month period. The human PSC-derived astrocytes formed networks through their processes, encircled endogenous neurons, and extended end feet that wrapped around blood vessels without altering locomotion behaviors, suggesting structural, and potentially functional, integration into the adult mouse spinal cord. Furthermore, in SCID mice transplanted with neural progenitors derived from induced PSCs from patients with ALS, astrocytes were generated and distributed to a similar degree as that seen in mice transplanted with healthy progenitors; however, these mice exhibited motor deficit, highlighting functional integration of the human-derived astrocytes. Together, these results indicate that this chimeric animal model has potential for further investigating the roles of human astrocytes in disease pathogenesis and repair.
Hong Chen, Kun Qian, Wei Chen, Baoyang Hu, Lisle W. Blackbourn IV, Zhongwei Du, Lixiang Ma, Huisheng Liu, Karla M. Knobel, Melvin Ayala, Su-Chun Zhang
Anabolic biosynthesis requires precursors supplied by the Krebs cycle, which in turn requires anaplerosis to replenish precursor intermediates. The major anaplerotic sources are pyruvate and glutamine, which require the activity of pyruvate carboxylase (PC) and glutaminase 1 (GLS1), respectively. Due to their rapid proliferation, cancer cells have increased anabolic and energy demands; however, different cancer cell types exhibit differential requirements for PC- and GLS-mediated pathways for anaplerosis and cell proliferation. Here, we infused patients with early-stage non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with uniformly 13C-labeled glucose before tissue resection and determined that the cancerous tissues in these patients had enhanced PC activity. Freshly resected paired lung tissue slices cultured in 13C6-glucose or 13C5,15N2-glutamine tracers confirmed selective activation of PC over GLS in NSCLC. Compared with noncancerous tissues, PC expression was greatly enhanced in cancerous tissues, whereas GLS1 expression showed no trend. Moreover, immunohistochemical analysis of paired lung tissues showed PC overexpression in cancer cells rather than in stromal cells of tumor tissues. PC knockdown induced multinucleation, decreased cell proliferation and colony formation in human NSCLC cells, and reduced tumor growth in a mouse xenograft model. Growth inhibition was accompanied by perturbed Krebs cycle activity, inhibition of lipid and nucleotide biosynthesis, and altered glutathione homeostasis. These findings indicate that PC-mediated anaplerosis in early-stage NSCLC is required for tumor survival and proliferation.
Katherine Sellers, Matthew P. Fox, Michael Bousamra II, Stephen P. Slone, Richard M. Higashi, Donald M. Miller, Yali Wang, Jun Yan, Mariia O. Yuneva, Rahul Deshpande, Andrew N. Lane, Teresa W.-M. Fan
Idiopathic scoliosis (IS) is a spine deformity that affects approximately 3% of the population. The underlying causes of IS are not well understood, although there is clear evidence that there is a genetic component to the disease. Genetic mapping studies suggest high genetic heterogeneity, but no IS disease-causing gene has yet been identified. Here, genetic linkage analyses combined with exome sequencing identified a rare missense variant (p.A446T) in the centriolar protein gene
Shunmoogum A. Patten, Patricia Margaritte-Jeannin, Jean-Claude Bernard, Eudeline Alix, Audrey Labalme, Alicia Besson, Simon L. Girard, Khaled Fendri, Nicolas Fraisse, Bernard Biot, Coline Poizat, Amandine Campan-Fournier, Kariman Abelin-Genevois, Vincent Cunin, Charlotte Zaouter, Meijiang Liao, Raphaelle Lamy, Gaetan Lesca, Rita Menassa, Charles Marcaillou, Melanie Letexier, Damien Sanlaville, Jerome Berard, Guy A. Rouleau, Françoise Clerget-Darpoux, Pierre Drapeau, Florina Moldovan, Patrick Edery
Mutations in the essential telomerase genes
Susan E. Stanley, Julian J.L. Chen, Joshua D. Podlevsky, Jonathan K. Alder, Nadia N. Hansel, Rasika A. Mathias, Xiaodong Qi, Nicholas M. Rafaels, Robert A. Wise, Edwin K. Silverman, Kathleen C. Barnes, Mary Armanios
The current treatment for patients with hypothyroidism is levothyroxine (L-T4) along with normalization of serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). However, normalization of serum TSH with L-T4 monotherapy results in relatively low serum 3,5,3′-triiodothyronine (T3) and high serum thyroxine/T3 (T4/T3) ratio. In the hypothalamus-pituitary dyad as well as the rest of the brain, the majority of T3 present is generated locally by T4 deiodination via the type 2 deiodinase (D2); this pathway is self-limited by ubiquitination of D2 by the ubiquitin ligase WSB-1. Here, we determined that tissue-specific differences in D2 ubiquitination account for the high T4/T3 serum ratio in adult thyroidectomized (Tx) rats chronically implanted with subcutaneous L-T4 pellets. While L-T4 administration decreased whole-body D2-dependent T4 conversion to T3, D2 activity in the hypothalamus was only minimally affected by L-T4. In vivo studies in mice harboring an astrocyte-specific
Joao Pedro Werneck de Castro, Tatiana L. Fonseca, Cintia B. Ueta, Elizabeth A. McAninch, Sherine Abdalla, Gabor Wittmann, Ronald M. Lechan, Balazs Gereben, Antonio C. Bianco
The term epigenetics refers to the heritable changes in gene expression that are not associated with a change in the actual DNA sequence. Epigenetic dysregulation is linked to the pathogenesis of a number of malignancies and has been studied extensively in myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia. DNA methylation is frequently altered in cancerous cells and likely results in transcriptional silencing of tumor suppressor genes. Re-expression of these genes by inhibition of the DNA methyltransferases has been successful in the treatment of benign and malignant disease. In this Review, we discuss the clinical development of demethylating agents in hematology, with a focus on azacitidine and decitabine.
Shyamala C. Navada, Juliane Steinmann, Michael Lübbert, Lewis R. Silverman