Multipass membrane proteins have a myriad of functions, including transduction of cell-cell signals, ion transport, and photoreception. Insertion of these proteins into the membrane depends on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane protein complex (EMC). Recently, birth defects have been observed in patients with variants in the gene encoding a member of this complex, EMC1. Patient phenotypes include congenital heart disease, craniofacial malformations, and neurodevelopmental disease. However, a molecular connection between EMC1 and these birth defects is lacking. Using Xenopus, we identified defects in neural crest cells (NCCs) upon emc1 depletion. We then used unbiased proteomics and discovered a critical role for emc1 in WNT signaling. Consistent with this, readouts of WNT signaling and Frizzled (Fzd) levels were reduced in emc1-depleted embryos, while NCC defects could be rescued with β-catenin. Interestingly, other transmembrane proteins were mislocalized upon emc1 depletion, providing insight into additional patient phenotypes. To translate our findings back to humans, we found that EMC1 was necessary for human NCC development in vitro. Finally, we tested patient variants in our Xenopus model and found the majority to be loss-of-function alleles. Our findings define molecular mechanisms whereby EMC1 dysfunction causes disease phenotypes through dysfunctional multipass membrane protein topogenesis.
Jonathan Marquez, June Criscione, Rebekah M. Charney, Maneeshi S. Prasad, Woong Y. Hwang, Emily K. Mis, Martín I. García-Castro, Mustafa K. Khokha
Pituitary develops from oral ectoderm in contact with adjacent ventral hypothalamus. Impairment in this process results in congenital pituitary hypoplasia (CPH); however, there have been no human disease models for CPH thus far, prohibiting the elucidation of the underlying mechanisms. In this study, we established a disease model of CPH using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and 3D organoid technique, in which oral ectoderm and hypothalamus develop simultaneously. Interestingly, patient iPSCs with a heterozygous mutation in the orthodenticle homeobox 2 (OTX2) gene showed increased apoptosis in the pituitary progenitor cells, and the differentiation into pituitary hormone–producing cells was severely impaired. As an underlying mechanism, OTX2 in hypothalamus, not in oral ectoderm, was essential for progenitor cell maintenance by regulating LHX3 expression in oral ectoderm via FGF10 expression in the hypothalamus. Convincingly, the phenotype was reversed by the correction of the mutation, and the haploinsufficiency of OTX2 in control iPSCs revealed a similar phenotype, demonstrating that this mutation was responsible. Thus, we established an iPSC-based congenital pituitary disease model, which recapitulated interaction between hypothalamus and oral ectoderm and demonstrated the essential role of hypothalamic OTX2.
Ryusaku Matsumoto, Hidetaka Suga, Takashi Aoi, Hironori Bando, Hidenori Fukuoka, Genzo Iguchi, Satoshi Narumi, Tomonobu Hasegawa, Keiko Muguruma, Wataru Ogawa, Yutaka Takahashi
Ventriculomegaly and hydrocephalus are associated with loss of function of glycine decarboxylase (Gldc) in mice and in humans suffering from Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia (NKH), a neurometabolic disorder characterised by accumulation of excess glycine. Here, we showed that ventriculomegaly in Gldc-deficient mice is preceded by stenosis of the Sylvian aqueduct and malformation or absence of the sub-commissural organ and pineal gland. Gldc functions in the glycine cleavage system, a mitochondrial component of folate metabolism, whose malfunction results in accumulation of glycine and diminished supply of glycine-derived one-carbon units to the folate cycle. We showed that inadequate one-carbon supply, as opposed to excess glycine is the cause of hydrocephalus associated with loss of function of the glycine cleavage system. Maternal supplementation with formate prevented both ventriculomegaly, as assessed at pre-natal stages, and post-natal development of hydrocephalus in Gldc-deficient mice. Furthermore, ventriculomegaly was rescued by genetic ablation of 5,10-methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (Mthfr), which results in retention of one-carbon groups in the folate cycle at the expense of transfer to the methylation cycle. In conclusion, a defect in folate metabolism can lead to pre-natal aqueduct stenosis and resultant hydrocephalus. These defects are preventable by maternal supplementation with formate, which acts as a one-carbon donor.
Chloe Santos, Yun Jin Pai, M. Raasib Mahmood, Kit-Yi Leung, Dawn Savery, Simon N. Waddington, Andrew J. Copp, Nicholas D.E. Greene
BACKGROUND Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is caused by deficient expression of survival motor neuron (SMN) protein. New SMN-enhancing therapeutics are associated with variable clinical benefits. Limited knowledge of baseline and drug-induced SMN levels in disease-relevant tissues hinders efforts to optimize these treatments.METHODS SMN mRNA and protein levels were quantified in human tissues isolated during expedited autopsies.RESULTS SMN protein expression varied broadly among prenatal control spinal cord samples, but was restricted at relatively low levels in controls and SMA patients after 3 months of life. A 2.3-fold perinatal decrease in median SMN protein levels was not paralleled by comparable changes in SMN mRNA. In tissues isolated from nusinersen-treated SMA patients, antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) concentration and full-length (exon 7 including) SMN2 (SMN2-FL) mRNA level increases were highest in lumbar and thoracic spinal cord. An increased number of cells showed SMN immunolabeling in spinal cord of treated patients, but was not associated with an increase in whole-tissue SMN protein levels.CONCLUSIONS A normally occurring perinatal decrease in whole-tissue SMN protein levels supports efforts to initiate SMN-inducing therapies as soon after birth as possible. Limited ASO distribution to rostral spinal and brain regions in some patients likely limits clinical response of motor units in these regions for those patients. These results have important implications for optimizing treatment of SMA patients and warrant further investigations to enhance bioavailability of intrathecally administered ASOs.FUNDING SMA Foundation, SMART, NIH (R01-NS09677, R01-NS062269), Ionis Pharmaceuticals, and PTC Therapeutics. Biogen provided support for absolute real-time RT-PCR.
Daniel M. Ramos, Constantin d’Ydewalle, Vijayalakshmi Gabbeta, Amal Dakka, Stephanie K. Klein, Daniel A. Norris, John Matson, Shannon J. Taylor, Phillip G. Zaworski, Thomas W. Prior, Pamela J. Snyder, David Valdivia, Christine L. Hatem, Ian Waters, Nikhil Gupte, Kathryn J. Swoboda, Frank Rigo, C. Frank Bennett, Nikolai Naryshkin, Sergey Paushkin, Thomas O. Crawford, Charlotte J. Sumner
Reactive astrocytes are associated with every form of neurological injury. Despite their ubiquity, the molecular mechanisms controlling their production and diverse functions remain poorly defined. Because many features of astrocyte development are recapitulated in reactive astrocytes, we investigated the role of nuclear factor I-A (NFIA), a key transcriptional regulator of astrocyte development whose contributions to reactive astrocytes remain undefined. Here, we show that NFIA is highly expressed in reactive astrocytes in human neurological injury and identify unique roles across distinct injury states and regions of the CNS. In the spinal cord, after white matter injury (WMI), NFIA-deficient astrocytes exhibit defects in blood-brain barrier remodeling, which are correlated with the suppression of timely remyelination. In the cortex, after ischemic stroke, NFIA is required for the production of reactive astrocytes from the subventricular zone (SVZ). Mechanistically, NFIA directly regulates the expression of thrombospondin 4 (Thbs4) in the SVZ, revealing a key transcriptional node regulating reactive astrogenesis. Together, these studies uncover critical roles for NFIA in reactive astrocytes and illustrate how region- and injury-specific factors dictate the spectrum of reactive astrocyte responses.
Dylan Laug, Teng-Wei Huang, Navish A. Bosquez Huerta, Anna Yu-Szu Huang, Debosmita Sardar, Joshua Ortiz-Guzman, Jeffrey C. Carlson, Benjamin R. Arenkiel, Chay T. Kuo, Carrie A. Mohila, Stacey M. Glasgow, Hyun Kyoung Lee, Benjamin Deneen
Vascular development in the mammalian retina is a paradigm for CNS vascular development in general, and its study is revealing fundamental mechanisms that explain the efficacy of antiangiogenic therapies in retinal vascular disease. During development of the mammalian retina, hypoxic astrocytes are hypothesized to secrete VEGF, which attracts growing endothelial cells as they migrate radially from the optic disc. However, published tests of this model using astrocyte-specific deletion of Vegf in the developing mouse retina appear to contradict this theory. Here, we report that selectively eliminating Vegf in neonatal retinal astrocytes with a Gfap-Cre line that recombines with approximately 100% efficiency had no effect on proliferation or radial migration of astrocytes, but completely blocked radial migration of endothelial cells, strongly supporting the hypoxic astrocyte model. Using additional Cre driver lines, we found evidence for essential and partially redundant actions of retina-derived (paracrine) and astrocyte-derived (autocrine) VEGF in controlling astrocyte proliferation and migration. We also extended previous studies by showing that HIF-1α in retinal neurons and HIF-2α in Müller glia play distinct roles in retinal vascular development and disease, adding to a growing body of data that point to the specialization of these 2 hypoxia-sensing transcription factors.
Amir Rattner, John Williams, Jeremy Nathans
3-M primordial dwarfism is an inherited disease characterized by severe pre- and postnatal growth retardation and by mutually exclusive mutations in three genes, CUL7, OBSL1, and CCDC8. The mechanism underlying 3-M dwarfism is not clear. We showed here that CCDC8, derived from a retrotransposon Gag protein in placental mammals, exclusively localized on the plasma membrane and was phosphorylated by CK2 and GSK3. Phosphorylation of CCDC8 resulted in its binding first with OBSL1, and then CUL7, leading to the membrane assembly of the 3-M E3 ubiquitin ligase complex. We identified LL5β, a plasma membrane protein that regulates cell migration, as a substrate of 3-M ligase. Wnt inhibition of CCDC8 phosphorylation or patient-derived mutations in 3-M genes disrupted membrane localization of the 3-M complex and accumulated LL5β. Deletion of Ccdc8 in mice impaired trophoblast migration and placental development, resulting in intrauterine growth restriction and perinatal lethality. These results identified a mechanism regulating cell migration and placental development that underlies the development of 3-M dwarfism.
Pu Wang, Feng Yan, Zhijun Li, Yanbao Yu, Scott E. Parnell, Yue Xiong
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) remains a major respiratory illness in extremely premature infants. The biological mechanisms leading to BPD are not fully understood, although an arrest in lung development has been implicated. The current study aimed to investigate the occurrence of autophagy in the developing mouse lung and its regulatory role in airway branching and terminal sacculi formation. We found 2 windows of epithelial autophagy activation in the developing mouse lung, both resulting from AMPK activation. Inhibition of AMPK-mediated autophagy led to reduced lung branching in vitro. Conditional deletion of beclin 1 (Becn1) in mouse lung epithelial cells (Becn1Epi-KO), either at early (E10.5) or late (E16.5) gestation, resulted in lethal respiratory distress at birth or shortly after. E10.5 Becn1Epi-KO lungs displayed reduced airway branching and sacculi formation accompanied by impaired vascularization, excessive epithelial cell death, reduced mesenchymal thinning of the interstitial walls, and delayed epithelial maturation. E16.5 Becn1Epi-KO lungs had reduced terminal air sac formation and vascularization and delayed distal epithelial differentiation, a pathology similar to that seen in infants with BPD. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that intrinsic autophagy is an important regulator of lung development and morphogenesis and may contribute to the BPD phenotype when impaired.
Behzad Yeganeh, Joyce Lee, Leonardo Ermini, Irene Lok, Cameron Ackerley, Martin Post
Background: While the human fetal immune system defaults to a program of tolerance, there is concurrent need for protective immunity to meet the antigenic challenges encountered after birth. Activation of T cells in utero is associated with the fetal inflammatory response with broad implications for the health of the fetus and of the pregnancy. However, the characteristics of the fetal effector T cells that contribute to this process are largely unknown. Methods: We analyzed primary human fetal lymphoid and mucosal tissues and performed phenotypic, functional, and transcriptional analysis to identify T cells with pro-inflammatory potential. The frequency and function of fetal-specific effector T cells was assessed in the cord blood of infants with localized and systemic inflammatory pathologies and compared to healthy term controls. Results: We identified a transcriptionally distinct population of CD4+ T cells characterized by expression of the transcription factor Promyelocytic Leukemia Zinc Finger (PLZF). PLZF+ CD4+ T cells were specifically enriched in the fetal intestine, possessed an effector memory phenotype, and rapidly produced pro-inflammatory cytokines. Engagement of the C-type lectin CD161 on these cells inhibited TCR-dependent production of IFNγ in a fetal-specific manner. IFNγ-producing PLZF+ CD4+ T cells were enriched in the cord blood of infants with gastroschisis, a natural model of chronic inflammation originating from the intestine, as well as in preterm birth, suggesting these cells contribute to fetal systemic immune activation. Conclusion: Our work reveals a fetal-specific program of protective immunity whose dysregulation is associated with fetal and neonatal inflammatory pathologies.
Joanna Halkias, Elze Rackaityte, Sara L. Hillman, Dvir Aran, Ventura F. Mendoza, Lucy R. Marshall, Tippi C. MacKenzie, Trevor D. Burt
About 1% of all newborns are affected by congenital heart disease (CHD). Recent findings identify aberrantly functioning cilia as a possible source for CHD. Faulty cilia also prevent the development of proper left-right asymmetry and cause heterotaxy, the incorrect placement of visceral organs. Intriguingly, signaling cascades such as mTor that influence mitochondrial biogenesis also affect ciliogenesis, and can cause heterotaxy-like phenotypes in zebrafish. Here, we identify levels of mitochondrial function as a determinant for ciliogenesis and a cause for heterotaxy. We detected reduced mitochondrial DNA content in biopsies of heterotaxy patients. Manipulation of mitochondrial function revealed a reciprocal influence on ciliogenesis and affected cilia-dependent processes in zebrafish, human fibroblasts and Tetrahymena thermophila. Exome analysis of heterotaxy patients revealed an increased burden of rare damaging variants in mitochondria-associated genes as compared to 1000 Genome controls. Knockdown of such candidate genes caused cilia elongation and ciliopathy-like phenotypes in zebrafish, which could not be rescued by RNA encoding damaging rare variants identified in heterotaxy patients. Our findings suggest that ciliogenesis is coupled to the abundance and function of mitochondria. Our data further reveal disturbed mitochondrial function as an underlying cause for heterotaxy-linked CHD and provide a mechanism for unexplained phenotypes of mitochondrial disease.
Martin D. Burkhalter, Arthi Sridhar, Pedro Sampaio, Raquel Jacinto, Martina S. Burczyk, Cornelia Donow, Max Angenendt, Competence Network for Congenital Heart Defects Investigators, Maja Hempel, Paul Walther, Petra Pennekamp, Heymut Omran, Susana S. Lopes, Stephanie M. Ware, Melanie Philipp
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