Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is an allergic inflammatory disease of the esophagus mediated by an IL-13–driven epithelial cell transcriptional program. Herein, we show that the cytoskeletal protein synaptopodin (SYNPO), previously associated with podocytes, is constitutively expressed in esophageal epithelium and induced during allergic inflammation. In addition, we show that the SYNPO gene is transcriptionally and epigenetically regulated by IL-13 in esophageal epithelial cells. SYNPO was expressed in the basal layer of homeostatic esophageal epithelium, colocalized with actin filaments, and expanded into the suprabasal epithelium in EoE patients, where expression was elevated 25-fold compared with control individuals. The expression level of SYNPO in esophageal biopsies correlated with esophageal eosinophil density and was improved following anti–IL-13 treatment in EoE patients. In esophageal epithelial cells, SYNPO gene silencing reduced epithelial motility in a wound healing model, whereas SYNPO overexpression impaired epithelial barrier integrity and reduced esophageal differentiation. Taken together, we demonstrate that SYNPO is induced by IL-13 in vitro and in vivo, is a nonredundant regulator of epithelial cell barrier function and motility, and is likely involved in EoE pathogenesis.
Mark Rochman, Jared Travers, J. Pablo Abonia, Julie M. Caldwell, Marc E. Rothenberg
It is currently controversially discussed whether mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) facilitate cartilage regeneration in vivo by a progenitor- or a nonprogenitor-mediated mechanism. Here, we describe a potentially novel unbiased in vivo cell tracking system based on transgenic donor and corresponding immunocompetent marker–tolerant recipient mouse and rat lines in inbred genetic backgrounds. Tolerance of recipients was achieved by transgenic expression of an immunologically neutral but physicochemically distinguishable variant of the marker human placental alkaline phosphatase (ALPP). In this dual transgenic system, donor lines ubiquitously express WT, heat-resistant ALPP protein, whereas recipient lines express a heat-labile ALPP mutant (ALPPE451G) resulting from a single amino acid substitution. Tolerance of recipient lines to ALPP-expressing cells and tissues was verified by skin transplantation. Using this model, we show that intraarticularly injected MSC contribute to regeneration of articular cartilage in full-thickness cartilage defects mainly via a nonprogenitor-mediated mechanism.
Daniela Zwolanek, María Satué, Verena Proell, José R. Godoy, Kathrin I. Odörfer, Magdalena Flicker, Sigrid C. Hoffmann, Thomas Rülicke, Reinhold G. Erben
Genetic defects in the synaptic scaffolding protein gene, SHANK2, are linked to a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, intellectual disability, and bipolar disorder, but the molecular mechanisms underlying the pleotropic effects of SHANK2 mutations are poorly understood. We generated and characterized a line of Shank2 mutant mice by deleting exon 24 (Δe24). Shank2Δe24–/– mice engage in significantly increased locomotor activity, display abnormal reward-seeking behavior, are anhedonic, have perturbations in circadian rhythms, and show deficits in social and cognitive behaviors. While these phenotypes recapitulate the pleotropic behaviors associated with human SHANK2-related disorders, major behavioral features in these mice are reminiscent of bipolar disorder. For instance, their hyperactivity was augmented with amphetamine but was normalized with the mood stabilizers lithium and valproate. Shank2 deficiency limited to the forebrain recapitulated the bipolar mania phenotype. The composition and functions of NMDA and AMPA receptors were altered at Shank2-deficient synapses, hinting toward the mechanism underlying these behavioral abnormalities. Human genetic findings support construct validity, and the behavioral features in Shank2 Δe24 mice support face and predictive validities of this model for bipolar mania. Further genetic studies to understand the contribution of SHANK2 deficiencies in bipolar disorder are warranted.
Andrea L. Pappas, Alexandra L. Bey, Xiaoming Wang, Mark Rossi, Yong Ho Kim, Haidun Yan, Fiona Porkka, Lara J. Duffney, Samantha M. Phillips, Xinyu Cao, Jin-dong Ding, Ramona M. Rodriguiz, Henry H. Yin, Richard J. Weinberg, Ru-Rong Ji, William C. Wetsel, Yong-hui Jiang
Cellular therapies based on permanent genetic modification of conventional T cells have emerged as a promising strategy for cancer. However, it remains unknown if modification of T cell subsets, such as Tregs, could be useful in other settings, such as allograft transplantation. Here, we use a modular system based on a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) that binds covalently modified mAbs to control Treg activation in vivo. Transient expression of this mAb-directed CAR (mAbCAR) in Tregs permitted Treg targeting to specific tissue sites and mitigated allograft responses, such as graft-versus-host disease. mAbCAR Tregs targeted to MHC class I proteins on allografts prolonged islet allograft survival and also prolonged the survival of secondary skin grafts specifically matched to the original islet allograft. Thus, transient genetic modification to produce mAbCAR T cells led to durable immune modulation, suggesting therapeutic targeting strategies for controlling alloreactivity in settings such as organ or tissue transplantation.
Antonio Pierini, Bettina P. Iliopoulou, Heshan Peiris, Magdiel Pérez-Cruz, Jeanette Baker, Katie Hsu, Xueying Gu, Ping-Ping Zheng, Tom Erkers, Sai-Wen Tang, William Strober, Maite Alvarez, Aaron Ring, Andrea Velardi, Robert S. Negrin, Seung K. Kim, Everett H. Meyer
Klotho is a renal protein involved in phosphate homeostasis, which is downregulated in renal disease. It has long been considered an antiaging factor. Two Klotho gene transcripts are thought to encode membrane-bound and secreted Klotho. Indeed, soluble Klotho is detectable in bodily fluids, but the relative contributions of Klotho secretion and of membrane-bound Klotho shedding are unknown. Recent advances in RNA surveillance reveal that premature termination codons, as present in alternative Klotho mRNA (for secreted Klotho), prime mRNAs for degradation by nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD). Disruption of NMD led to accumulation of alternative Klotho mRNA, indicative of normally continuous degradation. RNA IP for NMD core factor UPF1 resulted in enrichment for alternative Klotho mRNA, which was also not associated with polysomes, indicating no active protein translation. Alternative Klotho mRNA transcripts colocalized with some P bodies, where NMD transcripts are degraded. Moreover, we could not detect secreted Klotho in vitro. These results suggest that soluble Klotho is likely cleaved membrane-bound Klotho only. Furthermore, we found that, especially in acute kidney injury, splicing of the 2 mRNA transcripts is dysregulated, which was recapitulated by various noxious stimuli in vitro. This likely constitutes a novel mechanism resulting in the downregulation of membrane-bound Klotho.
Rik Mencke, Geert Harms, Jill Moser, Matijs van Meurs, Arjan Diepstra, Henri G. Leuvenink, Jan-Luuk Hillebrands
Birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality, and they are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Environmental risk factors may contribute to birth defects in genetically susceptible infants by altering critical molecular pathways during embryogenesis, but experimental evidence for gene-environment interactions is limited. Fetal hyperglycemia associated with maternal diabetes results in a 5-fold increased risk of congenital heart disease (CHD), but the molecular basis for this correlation is unknown. Here, we show that the effects of maternal hyperglycemia on cardiac development are sensitized by haploinsufficiency of Notch1, a key transcriptional regulator known to cause CHD. Using ATAC-seq, we found that hyperglycemia decreased chromatin accessibility at the endothelial NO synthase (Nos3) locus, resulting in reduced NO synthesis. Transcription of Jarid2, a regulator of histone methyltransferase complexes, was increased in response to reduced NO, and this upregulation directly resulted in inhibition of Notch1 expression to levels below a threshold necessary for normal heart development. We extended these findings using a Drosophila maternal diabetic model that revealed the evolutionary conservation of this interaction and the Jarid2-mediated mechanism. These findings identify a gene-environment interaction between maternal hyperglycemia and Notch signaling and support a model in which environmental factors cause birth defects in genetically susceptible infants.
Madhumita Basu, Jun-Yi Zhu, Stephanie LaHaye, Uddalak Majumdar, Kai Jiao, Zhe Han, Vidu Garg
Biological aging is associated with immune activation (IA) and declining immunity due to systemic inflammation. It is widely accepted that HIV infection causes persistent IA and premature immune senescence despite effective antiretroviral therapy and virologic suppression; however, the effects of combined HIV infection and aging are not well defined. Here, we assessed the relationship between markers of IA and inflammation during biological aging in HIV-infected and -uninfected populations. Antibody response to seasonal influenza vaccination was implemented as a measure of immune competence and relationships between IA, inflammation, and antibody responses were explored using statistical modeling appropriate for integrating high-dimensional data sets. Our results show that markers of IA, such as coexpression of HLA antigen D related (HLA-DR) and CD38 on CD4+ T cells, exhibit strong associations with HIV infection but not with biological age. Certain variables that showed a strong relationship with aging, such as declining naive and CD38+ CD4 and CD8+ T cells, did so regardless of HIV infection. Interestingly, the variable of biological age was not identified in a predictive model as significantly impacting vaccine responses in either group, while distinct IA and inflammatory variables were closely associated with vaccine response in HIV-infected and -uninfected populations. These findings shed light on the most relevant and persistent immune defects during virological suppression with antiretroviral therapy.
Lesley R. de Armas, Suresh Pallikkuth, Varghese George, Stefano Rinaldi, Rajendra Pahwa, Kristopher L. Arheart, Savita Pahwa
In rodent models, obesity and hyperglycemia alter cerebral glucose metabolism and glucose transport into the brain, resulting in disordered cerebral function as well as inappropriate responses to homeostatic and hedonic inputs. Whether similar findings are seen in the human brain remains unclear. In this study, 25 participants (9 healthy participants; 10 obese nondiabetic participants; and 6 poorly controlled, insulin- and metformin-treated type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) participants) underwent 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy scanning in the occipital lobe to measure the change in intracerebral glucose levels during a 2-hour hyperglycemic clamp (glucose ~220 mg/dl). The change in intracerebral glucose was significantly different across groups after controlling for age and sex, despite similar plasma glucose levels at baseline and during hyperglycemia. Compared with lean participants, brain glucose increments were lower in participants with obesity and T2DM. Furthermore, the change in brain glucose correlated inversely with plasma free fatty acid (FFA) levels during hyperglycemia. These data suggest that obesity and poorly controlled T2DM progressively diminish brain glucose responses to hyperglycemia, which has important implications for understanding not only the altered feeding behavior, but also the adverse neurocognitive consequences associated with obesity and T2DM.
Janice J. Hwang, Lihong Jiang, Muhammad Hamza, Elizabeth Sanchez Rangel, Feng Dai, Renata Belfort-DeAguiar, Lisa Parikh, Brian B. Koo, Douglas L. Rothman, Graeme Mason, Robert S. Sherwin
Evidence indicates that neuroinflammation contributes to motor neuron degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disease leading to progressive muscular paralysis. However, it remains elusive whether inflammatory cells can interact with degenerating distal motor axons, influencing the progressive denervation of neuromuscular junctions (NMJs). By analyzing the muscle extensor digitorum longus (EDL) following paralysis onset in the SOD1G93A rat model, we have observed a massive infiltration and degranulation of mast cells, starting after paralysis onset and correlating with progressive NMJ denervation. Remarkably, mast cells accumulated around degenerating motor axons and NMJs, and were also associated with macrophages. Mast cell accumulation and degranulation in paralytic EDL muscle was prevented by systemic treatment over 15 days with masitinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor currently in clinical trials for ALS exhibiting pharmacological activity affecting mast cells and microglia. Masitinib-induced mast cell reduction resulted in a 35% decrease in NMJ denervation and reduced motor deficits as compared with vehicle-treated rats. Masitinib also normalized macrophage infiltration, as well as regressive changes in Schwann cells and capillary networks observed in advanced paralysis. These findings provide evidence for mast cell contribution to distal axonopathy and paralysis progression in ALS, a mechanism that can be therapeutically targeted by masitinib.
Emiliano Trias, Sofía Ibarburu, Romina Barreto-Núñez, Valentina Varela, Ivan C. Moura, Patrice Dubreuil, Olivier Hermine, Joseph S. Beckman, Luis Barbeito
Sickle cell disease (SCD) results from a point mutation in the β-globin gene forming hemoglobin S (HbS), which polymerizes in deoxygenated erythrocytes, triggering recurrent painful vaso-occlusive crises and chronic hemolytic anemia. Reactivation of fetal Hb (HbF) expression ameliorates these symptoms of SCD. Nuclear factor (erythroid derived-2)–like 2 (Nrf2) is a transcription factor that triggers cytoprotective and antioxidant pathways to limit oxidative damage and inflammation and increases HbF synthesis in CD34+ stem cell–derived erythroid progenitors. We investigated the ability of dimethyl fumarate (DMF), a small-molecule Nrf2 agonist, to activate γ-globin transcription and enhance HbF in tissue culture and in murine and primate models. DMF recruited Nrf2 to the γ-globin promoters and the locus control region of the β-globin locus in erythroleukemia cells, elevated HbF in SCD donor–derived erythroid progenitors, and reduced hypoxia-induced sickling. Chronic DMF administration in SCD mice induced HbF and increased Nrf2-dependent genes to detoxify heme and limit inflammation. This improved hematological parameters, reduced plasma-free Hb, and attenuated inflammatory markers. Chronic DMF administration to nonanemic primates increased γ-globin mRNA in BM and HbF protein in rbc. DMF represents a potential therapy for SCD to induce HbF and augment vasoprotection and heme detoxification.
Sriram Krishnamoorthy, Betty Pace, Dipti Gupta, Sarah Sturtevant, Biaoru Li, Levi Makala, Julia Brittain, Nancy Moore, Benjamin F. Vieira, Timothy Thullen, Ivan Stone, Huo Li, William E. Hobbs, David R. Light
In a rodent model of Parkinson’s disease (PD), levodopa-induced involuntary movements have been linked to striatal angiogenesis — a process that is difficult to document in living human subjects. Angiogenesis can be accompanied by localized increases in cerebral blood flow (CBF) responses to hypercapnia. We therefore explored the possibility that, in the absence of levodopa, local hypercapnic CBF responses are abnormally increased in PD patients with levodopa-induced dyskinesias (LID) but not in their nondyskinetic (NLID) counterparts. We used H215O PET to scan 24 unmedicated PD subjects (12 LID and 12 NLID) and 12 matched healthy subjects in the rest state under normocapnic and hypercapnic conditions. Hypercapnic CBF responses were compared to corresponding levodopa responses from the same subjects. Group differences in hypercapnic vasoreactivity were significant only in the posterior putamen, with greater CBF responses in LID subjects compared with the other subjects. Hypercapnic and levodopa-mediated CBF responses measured in this region exhibited distinct associations with disease severity: the former correlated with off-state motor disability ratings but not symptom duration, whereas the latter correlated with symptom duration but not motor disability. These are the first in vivo human findings linking LID to microvascular changes in the basal ganglia.
Vincent A. Jourdain, Katharina A. Schindlbeck, Chris C. Tang, Martin Niethammer, Yoon Young Choi, Daniel Markowitz, Amir Nazem, Dominic Nardi, Nicholas Carras, Andrew Feigin, Yilong Ma, Shichun Peng, Vijay Dhawan, David Eidelberg
Loss-of-function mutations of GNA11, which encodes G-protein subunit α11 (Gα11), a signaling partner for the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR), result in familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia type 2 (FHH2). FHH2 is characterized by hypercalcemia, inappropriately normal or raised parathyroid hormone (PTH) concentrations, and normal or low urinary calcium excretion. A mouse model for FHH2 that would facilitate investigations of the in vivo role of Gα11 and the evaluation of calcimimetic drugs, which are CaSR allosteric activators, is not available. We therefore screened DNA from > 10,000 mice treated with the chemical mutagen N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU) for GNA11 mutations and identified a Gα11 variant, Asp195Gly (D195G), which downregulated CaSR-mediated intracellular calcium signaling in vitro, consistent with it being a loss-of-function mutation. Treatment with the calcimimetic cinacalcet rectified these signaling responses. In vivo studies showed mutant heterozygous (Gna11+/195G) and homozygous (Gna11195G/195G) mice to be hypercalcemic with normal or increased plasma PTH concentrations and normal urinary calcium excretion. Cinacalcet (30mg/kg orally) significantly reduced plasma albumin–adjusted calcium and PTH concentrations in Gna11+/195G and Gna11195G/195G mice. Thus, our studies have established a mouse model with a germline loss-of-function Gα11 mutation that is representative for FHH2 in humans and demonstrated that cinacalcet can correct the associated abnormalities of plasma calcium and PTH.
Sarah A. Howles, Fadil M. Hannan, Caroline M. Gorvin, Sian E. Piret, Anju Paudyal, Michelle Stewart, Tertius A. Hough, M. Andrew Nesbit, Sara Wells, Stephen D.M. Brown, Roger D. Cox, Rajesh V. Thakker
In mammals, GPIHBP1 is absolutely essential for transporting lipoprotein lipase (LPL) to the lumen of capillaries, where it hydrolyzes the triglycerides in triglyceride-rich lipoproteins. In all lower vertebrate species (e.g., birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish), a gene for LPL can be found easily, but a gene for GPIHBP1 has never been found. The obvious question is whether the LPL in lower vertebrates is able to reach the capillary lumen. Using purified antibodies against chicken LPL, we showed that LPL is present on capillary endothelial cells of chicken heart and adipose tissue, colocalizing with von Willebrand factor. When the antibodies against chicken LPL were injected intravenously into chickens, they bound to LPL on the luminal surface of capillaries in heart and adipose tissue. LPL was released rapidly from chicken hearts with an infusion of heparin, consistent with LPL being located inside blood vessels. Remarkably, chicken LPL bound in a specific fashion to mammalian GPIHBP1. However, we could not identify a gene for GPIHBP1 in the chicken genome, nor could we identify a transcript for GPIHBP1 in a large chicken RNA-seq data set. We conclude that LPL reaches the capillary lumen in chickens — as it does in mammals — despite an apparent absence of GPIHBP1.
Cuiwen He, Xuchen Hu, Rachel S. Jung, Mikael Larsson, Yiping Tu, Sandra Duarte-Vogel, Paul Kim, Norma P. Sandoval, Tara R. Price, Christopher M. Allan, Brian Raney, Haibo Jiang, André Bensadoun, Rosemary L. Walzem, Richard I. Kuo, Anne P. Beigneux, Loren G. Fong, Stephen G. Young