Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive inflammatory-demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. Increasing evidence suggests that vulnerable neurons in MS exhibit fatal metabolic exhaustion over time, a phenomenon hypothesized to be caused by chronic hyperexcitability. Axonal Kv7 (outward rectifying) and oligodendroglial Kir4.1 (inward rectifying) potassium channels have important roles in regulating neuronal excitability at and around nodes of Ranvier. Here, we studied the spatial and functional relationship between neuronal Kv7 and oligodendroglial Kir4.1 channels and assessed the transcriptional and functional signatures of cortical and retinal projection neurons under physiological and inflammatory-demyelinating conditions. We found that both channels became dysregulated in MS and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) with Kir4.1 channels being chronically downregulated and Kv7 channel subunits being transiently upregulated during inflammatory demyelination. Further, we observed that pharmacological Kv7 channel opening with retigabine reduced neuronal hyperexcitability in human and EAE neurons, improved clinical EAE signs and rescued neuronal pathology in oligodendrocyte-Kir4.1-deficient mice. In summary, our findings indicate that neuron-oligodendrocyte compensatory interactions promote resilience through Kv7 and Kir4.1 channels and suggest pharmacological activation of nodal Kv7 channels as a neuroprotective strategy against inflammatory demyelination.
Hannah Kapell, Luca Fazio, Julia Dyckow, Sophia Schwarz, Andrés Cruz-Herranz, Christina Mayer, Joaquin Campos, Elisa D´Este, Wiebke Möbius, Christian Cordano, Anne-Katrin Pröbstel, Marjan Gharagozloo, Amel Zulji, Venu Narayanan Naik, Anna-Katharina Delank, Manuela Cerina, Thomas Müntefering, Celia Lerma-Martin, Jana K. Sonner, Jung H. Sin, Paul Disse, Nicole Rychlik, Khalida Sabeur, Manideep Chavali, Rajneesh Srivastava, Matthias Heidenreich, Kathryn C. Fitzgerald, Guiscard Seebohm, Christine Stadelmann, Bernhard Hemmer, Michael Platten, Thomas J. Jentsch, Maren Engelhardt, Thomas Budde, Klaus-Armin Nave, Peter A. Calabresi, Manuel A. Friese, Ari J. Green, Claudio Acuna, David H. Rowitch, Sven G. Meuth, Lucas Schirmer
The non-essential amino acid asparagine can only be synthesized de novo by the enzymatic activity of asparagine synthetase (ASNS). While ASNS and asparagine have been implicated in the response to numerous metabolic stressors in cultured cells, the in vivo relevance of this enzyme in stress-related pathways remains unexplored. Here, we found ASNS to be expressed in pericentral hepatocytes, a population of hepatic cells specialized in xenobiotic detoxification. ASNS expression was strongly enhanced in two models of acute liver injury: carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) and acetaminophen (APAP). We found that mice with hepatocyte-specific Asns deletion (Asnshep-/-) were more prone to pericentral liver damage than their control (Asnshep+/+) littermates after toxin exposure. This phenotype could be reverted by intravenous administration of asparagine. Unexpectedly, the stress-induced upregulation of ASNS involved an ATF4-independent, non-canonical pathway mediated by the nuclear receptor, liver receptor homolog 1 (LRH-1; NR5A2). Altogether, our data indicate that the induction of the asparagine-producing enzyme ASNS acts as an adaptive mechanism to constrain the necrotic wave that follows toxin administration and provide proof of concept that intravenous delivery of asparagine can dampen hepatotoxin-induced pericentral hepatocellular death.
Yu Sun, Hadrien Demagny, Adrien Faure, Francesca Pontanari, Antoine Jalil, Nadia Bresciani, Ece Yildiz, Melanie Korbelius, Alessia Perino, Kristina Schoonjans
Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are characterized by the activated JAK2-STAT pathway. Pleckstrin-2 (Plek2) is a downstream target of the JAK2-STAT pathway and overexpressed in patients with MPNs. We previously revealed that Plek2 plays critical roles in the pathogenesis of JAK2 mutated MPNs. The non-essential roles of Plek2 under physiologic conditions makes it an ideal target for MPN therapy. Here we identified first-in-class Plek2 inhibitors through an in silico high-throughput screening and cell-based assays followed by the synthesis of analogs. The Plek2 specific small molecule inhibitors showed potent inhibitory effects on cell proliferation. Mechanistically, Plek2 interacts with and enhances the activity of Akt through the recruitment of downstream effector proteins. The Plek2 signaling complex also includes Hsp72 that protects Akt from degradation. These functions were blocked by Plek2 inhibitors via their direct binding to Plek2 DEP domain. The role of Plek2 in activating the Akt signaling was further confirmed in vivo using a hematopoietic specific Pten knockout mouse model. We next tested Plek2 inhibitors alone or in combination with an Akt inhibitor in various MPN mouse models, which showed significant therapeutic efficacies similar to the genetic depletion of Plek2. The Plek2 inhibitor was also effective in reducing proliferation of CD34 positive cells from MPN patients. Our studies reveal a Plek2-Akt complex that drives cell proliferation and can be targeted by a new class of anti-proliferative compounds for MPN therapy.
Xu Han, Yang Mei, Rama K. Mishra, Honghao Bi, Atul D. Jain, Gary E. Schiltz, Baobing Zhao, Madina Sukhanova, Pan Wang, Arabela A. Grigorescu, Patricia C. Weber, John J. Piwinski, Miguel A. Prado, Joao A. Paulo, Len Stephens, Karen E. Anderson, Charles S. Abrams, Jing Yang, Peng Ji
Tick bites have been shown to transmit a novel form of severe food allergy, the galactose-α-1,3-galactose (α-Gal) syndrome (AGS). Cellular responses to α-Gal in AGS patients have to date not been thoroughly scrutinized. Therefore, we investigated T and B cell proliferation, activation and cytokine profiles in response to tick protein extract (TE) and α-Gal-free TE in AGS patients and healthy controls. T and B cells from both patients and controls proliferated in response to TE, but significantly more in the patients. B cell proliferation, but not T cell proliferation, in AGS patients was reduced by removing α-Gal from the TE. In addition, TE induced a clear Th2 cytokine profile in AGS patients. Expression of CD23 by B cells correlated only to T cell proliferation. However, both B cell proliferation and CD23 expression were reduced when CD40L and IL-4 were blocked. A large proportion of the IgG1 and IgE antibodies binding TE in AGS patients were directed against the α-Gal epitope. We have for the first time investigated T and B cell responses to α-Gal carrying tick proteins in AGS patients, which will be essential for the understanding of the immune response against an allergenic carbohydrate transmitted by ticks.
Danijela Apostolovic, Jeanette Grundström, Mensiena B. Gea Kiewiet, Marija Perusko, Carl Hamsten, Maria H. Starkhammar, Staffan Paulie, Marianne van Hage
Microglia, resident macrophages of the central nervous system (CNS), are essential to brain development, homeostasis, and disease. Microglial activation and proliferation are hallmarks of many CNS diseases including neuropathic pain. However, molecular mechanisms that govern the spinal neuro-immune axis in the setting of neuropathic pain remain incompletely understood. Here we show that genetic ablation or pharmacological blockade of transient receptor potential vanilloid type 4 (TRPV4) markedly attenuated neuropathic pain-like behaviors in a mouse model of spared nerve injury. Mechanistically, microglia-expressed TRPV4 mediated microglial activation and proliferation and promoted functional and structural plasticity of excitatory spinal neurons through releasing lipocalin-2. Our results suggest that microglial TRPV4 channels reside at the center of the neuro-immune axis in the spinal cord that transforms peripheral nerve injury into central sensitization and neuropathic pain, thereby identifying TRPV4 as a promising new target for the treatment of chronic pain.
Xueming Hu, Lixia Du, Shenbin Liu, Zhou Lan, Kaikai Zang, Jing Feng, Yonghui Zhao, Xingliang Yang, Zili Xie, Peter L. Wang, Aaron M. Ver Heul, Lvyi Chen, Vijay K. Samineni, Yan-Qing Wang, Kory J. Lavine, Robert W. Gereau, Gregory F. Wu, Hongzhen Hu
Treatment options for Alcohol Use Disorders (AUD) have minimally advanced since 2004, while the annual deaths and economic toll have increased alarmingly. Phosphodiesterase type 4 (PDE4) is associated with alcohol and nicotine dependence. PDE4 inhibitors were identified as a potential AUD treatment using a novel bioinformatics approach. We prioritized a newer PDE4 inhibitor, apremilast, as ideal for repurposing, (i.e. FDA approved for psoriasis, low incidence of adverse events, excellent safety profile), and tested it using multiple animal strains and models, as well as in a human Phase IIa study. We found that apremilast reduced binge-like alcohol intake and behavioral measures of alcohol motivation in mouse models of genetic risk for drinking to intoxication. Apremilast also reduced excessive alcohol drinking in models for stress-facilitated drinking and alcohol dependence. Using site-directed drug infusions and electrophysiology, we uncovered that apremilast may act to lessen drinking in mice by increasing neural activity in the nucleus accumbens, a key brain region in the regulation of alcohol intake. Importantly, apremilast (90 mg/d) reduced excessive drinking in non-treatment seeking individuals with AUD in a double blind, placebo-controlled study. These results demonstrate that apremilast suppresses excessive alcohol drinking across the spectrum of AUD severity.
Kolter B. Grigsby, Regina A. Mangieri, Amanda J. Roberts, Marcelo F. Lopez, Evan J. Firsick, Kayla G. Townsley, Alan Beneze, Jessica Bess, Toby K. Eisenstein, Joseph J. Meissler, John M. Light, Jenny Miller, Susan Quello, Farhad Shadan, Michael H. Skinner, Heather C. Aziz, Pamela Metten, Richard A. Morissett, John C. Crabbe, Marisa Roberto, Howard C. Becker, Barbara J. Mason, Angela R. Ozburn
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is caused by insufficient insulin secretion from pancreatic β-cells. To identify candidates contributing to T2D pathophysiology, we studied human pancreatic islets from ~300 individuals. We found 395 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in islets from individuals with T2D, including, to our knowledge, novel (OPRD1, PAX5, TET1) and previously identified (CHL1, GLRA1, IAPP) candidates. A third of the identified islet expression changes may predispose to diabetes, as they associated with HbA1c in individuals not previously diagnosed with T2D. Most DEGs were expressed in human β-cells based on single-cell RNA-sequencing data. Additionally, DEGs displayed alterations in open chromatin and associated with T2D-SNPs. Mouse knock-out strains demonstrated that T2D-associated candidates regulate glucose homeostasis and body composition in vivo. Functional validation showed that mimicking T2D-associated changes for OPRD1, PAX5, and SLC2A2 impaired insulin secretion. Impairments in Pax5-overexpressing β-cells were due to severe mitochondrial dysfunction. Finally, we discovered PAX5 as a potential transcriptional regulator of many T2D-associated DEGs in human islets. Overall, we identified molecular alterations in human pancreatic islets contributing to β-cell dysfunction in T2D pathophysiology.
Karl Bacos, Alexander Perfilyev, Alexandros Karagiannopoulos, Elaine Cowan, Jones K. Ofori, Ludivine Bertonnier-Brouty, Tina Rönn, Andreas Lindqvist, Cheng Luan, Sabrina Ruhrmann, Mtakai Ngara, Åsa Nilsson, Sevda Gheibi, Claire L. Lyons, Jens O. Lagerstedt, Mohammad Barghouth, Jonathan L.S. Esguerra, Petr Volkov, Malin Fex, Hindrik Mulder, Nils Wierup, Ulrika Krus, Isabella Artner, Lena Eliasson, Rashmi B. Prasad, Luis Rodrigo Cataldo, Charlotte Ling
The alternative sigma factor RpoS in Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), the Lyme disease pathogen, is responsible for programmatic positive and negative gene regulation essential for the spirochete’s dual-host enzootic cycle. RpoS is expressed during tick-to-mammal transmission and throughout mammalian infection. Although the mammalian-phase RpoS regulon is well described, its counterpart during the transmission blood meal is unknown. Here, we used Bb-specific transcript enrichment by TBDCapSeq to compare the transcriptomes of wild-type and ΔrpoS Bb in engorged nymphs and following mammalian host-adaptation within dialysis membrane chambers. TBDCapSeq revealed dramatic changes in the contours of the RpoS regulon within ticks and mammals and further confirmed that RpoS-mediated repression is specific to the mammalian-phase of Bb’s enzootic cycle. We also provide evidence that RpoS-dependent gene regulation, including repression of tick-phase genes, is required for persistence in mice. Comparative transcriptomics of engineered Bb strains revealed that BosR, a non-canonical Fur family regulator, and the c-di-GMP effector PlzA reciprocally regulate RpoS function. BosR is required for RpoS-mediated transcription activation and repression in addition to its well-defined role promoting RpoN-dependent transcription of rpoS. During transmission, liganded-PlzA antagonizes RpoS-mediated repression, presumably acting through BosR.
André A. Grassmann, Rafal Tokarz, Caroline Golino, Melissa A. McLain, Ashley M. Groshong, Justin D. Radolf, Melissa J. Caimano
Mutations of G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) cause various human diseases, but the mechanistic details are limited. Here we establish p.E303K in the gene encoding the endothelin receptor type A (ETAR/EDNRA) as a recurrent mutation causing Mandibulofacial dysostosis with alopecia (MFDA), with craniofacial changes similar to those caused by p.Y129F. Mouse models carrying either of these missense mutations exhibit a partial maxillary-to-mandibular transformation, which is rescued by deleting the ligand endothelin 3 (ET3/EDN3). Pharmacological experiments confirmed the causative ETAR mutations as gain-of-function, dependent on ET3. To elucidate how an amino acid substitution far from the ligand binding site can increase ligand affinity, we used molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. E303 is located at the intracellular end of transmembrane domain 6, and its replacement by a lysine increases flexibility of this portion of the helix, thus favoring G-protein binding and leading to G-protein-mediated enhancement of agonist affinity. The Y129F mutation located under the ligand binding pocket reduces the sodium-water network, thereby affecting the extracellular portion of helices in favor of ET3 binding. These findings provide insight into the pathogenesis of MFDA and into allosteric mechanisms regulating GPCR function, that may provide the basis for drug design targeting GPCRs.
Yukiko Kurihara, Toru Ekimoto, Christopher T. Gordon, Yasunobu Uchijima, Ryo Sugiyama, Taro Kitazawa, Akiyasu Iwase, Risa Kotani, Rieko Asai, Véronique Pingault, Mitsunori Ikeguchi, Jeanne Amiel, Hiroki Kurihara
The molecular mechanisms of sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors (SGLT2i) remain incompletely understood. Single-cell RNA sequencing and morphometric data were collected from research kidney biopsies donated by young persons with type 2 diabetes (T2D), aged 12-21 years, and healthy controls (HC). Participants with T2D were obese, had higher estimated glomerular filtration rates, mesangial and glomerular volumes than HC. Ten T2D participants had been prescribed SGLT2i (T2Di(+)) and 6 not (T2Di(-)). Transcriptional profiles showed SGLT2 expression exclusively in the proximal tubular (PT) cluster with highest expression in T2Di(-). However, transcriptional alterations with SGLT2i treatment were seen across nephron segments, particularly in the distal nephron. SGLT2i treatment was associated with suppression of transcripts in the glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, tricarboxylic acid cycle pathways in PT, but enhanced in thick ascending limb. Transcripts in the energy sensitive mammalian target of rapamycin complex1 (mTORC1) signaling pathway returned towards HC levels in all tubular segments in T2Di(+), consistent with a diabetes mouse model treated with SGLT2i. Decreased levels of phosphorylated S6 protein in proximal and distal tubules in T2Di(+) confirmed changes in mTORC1 pathway activity. We propose that SGLT2i treatment benefits the kidneys by mitigating diabetes-induced metabolic perturbations via suppression of mTORC1 signaling in kidney tubules.
Jennifer A. Schaub, Fadhl M. AlAkwaa, Phillip J. McCown, Abhijit S. Naik, Viji Nair, Sean Eddy, Rajasree Menon, Edgar A. Otto, Dawit Demeke, John Hartman, Damian Fermin, Christopher O'Connor, Lalita Subramanian, Markus Bitzer, Roger Harned, Patricia Ladd, Laura Pyle, Subramaniam Pennathur, Ken Inoki, Jeffrey B. Hodgin, Frank C. Brosius, Robert G. Nelson, Matthias Kretzler, Petter Bjornstad
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