This viewpoint addresses the major impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on biomedical research, the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic for research-intensive institutions, and what investigators can do to maintain some level of research activity while keeping their coworkers and trainees safe and engaged.
M. Bishr Omary, Jeetendra R. Eswaraka, S. David Kimball, Prabhas V. Moghe, Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr., Kathleen W. Scotto
A common variant in the RAB27A gene in adults was recently found to be associated with the fractional exhaled nitric oxide level, a marker of eosinophilic airway inflammation. The small GTPase, Rab27, is known to regulate intracellular vesicle traffic, although its role in allergic responses is unclear. We demonstrated that exophilin-5, a Rab27 binding protein, was predominantly expressed in both the major IL-33 producers, lung epithelial cells, and the specialized IL-5 and IL-13 producers in CD44highCXCR3lowCD62Llow pathogenic T helper 2 (Th2) cell population in mice. Exophilin-5 deficiency increased stimulant-dependent damages and IL-33 secretion of lung epithelial cells. Moreover, it enhanced IL-5 and IL-13 production in response to TCR and IL-33 stimulation from a specific subset of pathogenic Th2 cells that expresses a high level of IL-33 receptor, which exacerbated allergic airway inflammation in a mouse model of asthma. Mechanistically, exophilin-5 regulates extracellular superoxide release, intracellular ROS production, and phosphoinositide 3-kinase activity by controlling intracellular traffic of Nox2-containing vesicles, which seems to prevent the overactivation of pathogenic Th2 cells mediated by IL-33. This is the first report to establish the significance of Rab27-related protein exophilin-5 in the development of allergic airway inflammation, and provides new insights into the pathophysiology of asthma.
Katsuhide Okunishi, Hao Wang, Maho Suzukawa, Ray Ishizaki, Eri Kobayashi, Miho Kihara, Takaya Abe, Jun-ichi Miyazaki, Masafumi Horie, Akira Saito, Hirohisa Saito, Susumu Nakae, Tetsuro Izumi
Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a chronic, relapsing, inflammatory skin disease. HS appears to be a primary abnormality in the pilosebaceous-apocrine unit. In this work, we characterized hair follicle stem cells isolated from HS patients and more precisely the Outer Root Sheath Cells (ORS). We show that hair follicles from HS patients have an increased number of proliferating progenitor cells and lose quiescent stem cells. Remarkably, we also show that the progression of replication forks is altered in HS-ORS and activates the ATR-CHK1 pathway. These alterations are associated with an increased number of micronuclei and with the presence of cytoplasmic ssDNA, leading to the activation of IFI16-STING pathway and the production of type I IFNs. This mechanistic analysis of the etiology of HS in the hair follicle stem cells compartment establishes a formal link between the genetic predisposition and skin inflammation observed in HS.
Cindy Orvain, Yea-Lih Lin, Francette Jean-Louis, Hakim Hocini, Barbara Hersant, Yamina Bennasser, Nicolas Ortonne, Claire Hotz, Pierre Wolkenstein, Michele Boniotto, Pascaline Tisserand, Cecile Lefebvre, Jean-Daniel Lelievre, Monsef Benkirane, Philippe Pasero, Yves Levy, Sophie Hue
Germinal center (GC) responses require B cells to respond to a dynamic set of intercellular and microenvironmental signals that instruct B cell positioning, differentiation, and metabolic reprogramming. ROCK2, a serine-threonine kinase that can be therapeutically targeted by ROCK inhibitors or statins, is a key downstream effector of RHOA-GTPases. While RHOA-mediated pathways are emerging as critical regulators of GC responses, the role of ROCK2 in B cells is unknown. Here, we find that ROCK2 was activated in response to key T cell signals like CD40 and IL21 and that it regulated GC formation and maintenance. RNA-seq analyses revealed that ROCK2 controlled a unique transcriptional program in GC B cells that promoted optimal GC polarization and cholesterol biosynthesis. ROCK2 regulated this program by restraining AKT activation and subsequently enhancing FOXO1 activity. ATAC-seq and biochemical analyses revealed that the effects of ROCK2 on cholesterol biosynthesis were instead mediated via a novel mechanism. ROCK2 directly phosphorylated IRF8, a crucial mediator of GC responses, and promoted its interaction with SREBP2 at key regulatory regions controlling the expression of cholesterol biosynthetic enzymes, resulting in optimal recruitment of SREBP2 at these sites. These findings thus uncover ROCK2 as a multifaceted and therapeutically targetable regulator of GC responses.
Edd Ricker, Yurii Chinenov, Tania Pannellini, Danny M. Flores Castro, Chao Ye, Sanjay Gupta, Michela Manni, James K. Liao, Alessandra Pernis
Immune microenvironment plays a critical role in lung cancer control versus progression and metastasis. In this investigation, we explored the impact of tumor-infiltrating-lymphocyte subpopulations on lung cancer biology by studying in vitro co-cultures, in vivo mouse models and human lung cancer tissue. Lymphocyte conditioned media-(CM) induced epithelial-mesenchymal-transition (EMT), and migration in both primary human lung cancer cells and cell lines. Correspondingly, major accumulation of Th9 and Th17 cells was detected in human lung cancer tissue, and correlated with poor survival. Co-culturing lung cancer cells with Th9/Th17 cells or exposing them to the respective-CM induced-EMT in cancer cells and modulated the expression profile of genes implicated in EMT and metastasis. These features were reproduced by the signatory cytokines IL–9 and IL–17, with gene regulatory profiles evoked by these cytokines partly overlapping and partly complementary. Co-injection of Th9 and/or Th17 cells with tumor cells in wildtype, Rag1-/-, Il9r-/- and Il17ra-/- mice altered tumor growth and metastasis. Accordingly, inhibition of IL–9 or IL–17 cytokines by neutralizing antibodies decreased EMT and slowed lung cancer progression and metastasis. In conclusion, Th9 and Th17 lymphocytes induce lung cancer cell EMT, thereby promoting migration, and metastatic spreading and offering for novel therapeutic strategies.
Ylia Salazar, Xiang Zheng, David Brunn, Hartmann Raifer, Felix S.R. Picard, Yajuan Zhang, Hauke Winter, Stefan Günther, Andreas Weigert, Benno Weigmann, Laure Dumoutier, Jean-Christophe Renauld, Ari Waisman, Anja Schmall, Amanda Tufman, Ludger Fink, Bernhard Brüne, Tobias Bopp, Friedrich Grimminger, Werner Seeger, Soni Savai Pullamsetti, Magdalena Huber, Rajkumar Savai
The threat of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to health systems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) can be compared metaphorically to a lake in Africa infested with a bask of crocodiles and the saying: “the eye of the crocodile.” In the lake, only the eyes of the crocodile appear on the surface while the rest of the body is submerged in water. In this Viewpoint, the eyes and the body of the crocodile represent the public health preparedness and health systems, respectively, in SSA.
BACKGROUND. Since December 2019, an outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in Wuhan, and is now becoming a global threat. We aimed to delineate and compare the immunologic features of severe and moderate COVID-19. METHODS. In this retrospective study, the clinical and immunologic characteristics of 21 patients (17 male and 4 female) with COVID-19 were analyzed. These patients were classified as severe (11 cases) and moderate (10 cases) according to the Guidelines released by the National Health Commission of China. RESULTS. The median age of severe and moderate cases was 61.0 and 52.0 years, respectively. Common clinical manifestations included fever, cough and fatigue. Compared to moderate cases, severe cases more frequently had dyspnea, lymphopenia, and hypoalbuminemia, with higher levels of alanine aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase, C-reactive protein, ferritin and D-dimer as well as markedly higher levels of IL-2R, IL-6, IL-10, and TNF-α. Absolute number of T lymphocytes, CD4+T and CD8+T cells decreased in nearly all the patients, and were markedly lower in severe cases (294.0, 177.5 and 89.0 × 106/L) than moderate cases (640.5, 381.5 and 254.0 × 106/L). The expressions of IFN-γ by CD4+T cells tended to be lower in severe cases (14.1%) than moderate cases (22.8%). CONCLUSION. The SARS-CoV-2 infection may affect primarily T lymphocytes particularly CD4+T and CD8+ T cells, resulting in decrease in numbers as well as IFN-γ production. These potential immunological markers may be of importance due to their correlation with disease severity in COVID-19.
Guang Chen, Di Wu, Wei Guo, Yong Cao, Da Huang, Hongwu Wang, Tao Wang, Xiaoyun Zhang, Huilong Chen, Haijing Yu, Xiaoping Zhang, Minxia Zhang, Shiji Wu, Jianxin Song, Tao Chen, Meifang Han, Shusheng Li, Xiaoping Luo, Jianping Zhao, Qin Ning
The pandemic coronavirus infectious disease (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is rapidly spreading across the globe. In this issue of the JCI, Chen and colleagues compared the clinical and immunologic characteristics between moderate versus severe COVID-19. The authors found that respiratory distress on admission is associated with unfavorable outcomes. Increased cytokine levels (IL-6, IL-10 and TNFα), lymphopenia (in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells), and decreased IFNγ expression in CD4+ T cells are associated with severe COVID-19. Overall, this study characterized the cytokine storm in severe COVID-19 and provides insights into immune therapeutics and vaccine design.
Savannah F. Pedersen, Ya-Chi Ho
AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a key regulator at the molecular level to maintain energy metabolism homeostasis. Mammalian AMPK is a heterotrimeric complex and its catalytic α subunit exists in two isoforms: AMPKα1 and AMPKα2. Recent studies suggest a role of AMPKα over-activation in AD-associated synaptic failure. However, whether AD-associated dementia can be improved by targeting AMPK remains unclear, and roles of AMPKα isoforms in AD pathophysiology are not understood. Here we showed distinct disruption of hippocampal AMPKα isoform expression patterns in post mortem human AD patients and AD model mice. We further investigated the effects of brain- and isoform-specific AMPKα repression on AD pathophysiology. We found that repression of AMPKα1 alleviated cognitive deficits and synaptic failure displayed in two separate lines of AD model mice. In contrast, AMPKα2 suppression did not alter AD pathophysiology. Using unbiased mass spectrometry-based proteomics analysis, we identified distinct patterns of protein expression associated with specific AMPKα isoform suppression in AD model mice. Further, AD-associated hyper-phosphorylation of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2) was blunted with selective AMPKα1 inhibition. Our findings reveal isoform-specific roles of AMPKα in AD pathophysiology, thus providing insights into potential therapeutic strategy for AD and related dementia syndromes.
Helena R. Zimmermann, Wenzhong Yang, Nicole P. Kasica, Xueyan Zhou, Xin Wang, Brenna C. Beckelman, Jingyun Lee, Cristina M. Furdui, C. Dirk Keene, Tao Ma
Sensory nerve was recently identified as being involved in regulation of bone mass accrual. We previously discovered that PGE2 secreted by osteoblastic cells could activate sensory nerve EP4 receptor to promote bone formation by inhibiting sympathetic activity. However, the fundamental units of bone formation are active osteoblasts, which originate from skeletal stem cells. Here, we found that after sensory denervation, knockout of the EP4 receptor in sensory nerves, or knockout of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) in osteoblasts could significantly promote adipogenesis and inhibit osteogenesis in adult mice. Furthermore, injection of SW033291 (a small molecule that locally increases PGE2 level) or propranolol (a beta-blocker) significantly promoted osteogenesis and inhibited adipogenesis. This effect of SW033291, but not propranolol, was abolished in conditional EP4 knockout mice under normal conditions or in the bone repair process. We conclude that the PGE2-EP4 sensory nerve axis could regulate skeletal stem cell differentiation in bone marrow of adult mice.
Bo Hu, Xiao Lv, Hao Chen, Peng Xue, Bo Gao, Xiao Wang, Gehua Zhen, Janet L. Crane, Dayu Pan, Shen Liu, Shuangfei Ni, Panfeng Wu, Weiping Su, Xiaonan Liu, Zemin Ling, Mi Yang, Ruoxian Deng, Yusheng Li, Lei Wang, Ying Zhang, Mei Wan, Zengwu Shao, Huajiang Chen, Wen Yuan, Xu Cao
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