In this issue, La Cunza, Tan, and colleagues identify a biophysical mechanism that could contribute to the poorly understood pathological features of age-related macular degeneration. Using advanced live imaging, mouse models, and human donor tissue, they show that mitochondrial fragmentation in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) leads to liquid-liquid phase separation of apolipoprotein E, a key component of extracellular aggregates called drusen, which are clinical hallmarks of the disease. The cover image shows 3D reconstructions of mitochondrial networks in the mouse RPE. Warmer colors indicate healthy, integrated mitochondria, whereas cooler colors indicate discrete, fragmented mitochondria. Image credit: Li Xuan Tan.
Roughly 1 year after the first case of COVID-19 was identified and less than 1 year after the sequencing of SARS-CoV-2, multiple SARS-CoV-2 vaccines with demonstrated safety and efficacy in phase III clinical trials are available. The most promising vaccines have targeted the surface glycoprotein (S-protein) of SARS-CoV-2 and achieved an approximate 85%–95% reduction in the risk of symptomatic COVID-19, while retaining excellent safety profiles and modest side effects in the phase III clinical trials. The mRNA, replication-incompetent viral vector, and protein subunit vaccine technologies have all been successfully employed. Some novel SARS-CoV-2 variants evade but do not appear to fully overcome the potent immunity induced by these vaccines. Emerging real-world effectiveness data add evidence for protection from severe COVID-19. This is an impressive first demonstration of the effectiveness of the mRNA vaccine and vector vaccine platforms. The success of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development should be credited to open science, industry partnerships, harmonization of clinical trials, and the altruism of study participants. The manufacturing and distribution of the emergency use–authorized SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are ongoing challenges. What remains now is to ensure broad and equitable global vaccination against COVID-19.
Jonathan L. Golob, Njira Lugogo, Adam S. Lauring, Anna S. Lok
Lipin 1 is a bifunctional protein that is a transcriptional regulator and has phosphatidic acid (PA) phosphohydrolase activity, which dephosphorylates PA to generate diacylglycerol. Human lipin 1 mutations lead to episodic rhabdomyolysis, and some affected patients exhibit cardiac abnormalities, including exercise-induced cardiac dysfunction and cardiac triglyceride accumulation. Furthermore, lipin 1 expression is deactivated in failing heart, but the effects of lipin 1 deactivation in myocardium are incompletely understood. We generated mice with cardiac-specific lipin 1 KO (cs-Lpin1–/–) to examine the intrinsic effects of lipin 1 in the myocardium. Cs-Lpin1–/– mice had normal systolic cardiac function but mild cardiac hypertrophy. Compared with littermate control mice, PA content was higher in cs-Lpin1–/– hearts, which also had an unexpected increase in diacylglycerol and triglyceride content. Cs-Lpin1–/– mice exhibited diminished cardiac cardiolipin content and impaired mitochondrial respiration rates when provided with pyruvate or succinate as metabolic substrates. After transverse aortic constriction–induced pressure overload, loss of lipin 1 did not exacerbate cardiac hypertrophy or dysfunction. However, loss of lipin 1 dampened the cardiac ionotropic response to dobutamine and exercise endurance in association with reduced protein kinase A signaling. These data suggest that loss of lipin 1 impairs cardiac functional reserve, likely due to effects on glycerolipid homeostasis, mitochondrial function, and protein kinase A signaling.
Kari T. Chambers, Michael A. Cooper, Alison R. Swearingen, Rita T. Brookheart, George G. Schweitzer, Carla J. Weinheimer, Attila Kovacs, Timothy R. Koves, Deborah M. Muoio, Kyle S. McCommis, Brian N. Finck
Extensive activation of glial cells during a latent period has been well documented in various animal models of epilepsy. However, it remains unclear whether activated glial cells contribute to epileptogenesis, i.e., the chronically persistent process leading to epilepsy. Particularly, it is not clear whether interglial communication between different types of glial cells contributes to epileptogenesis, because past literature has mainly focused on one type of glial cell. Here, we show that temporally distinct activation profiles of microglia and astrocytes collaboratively contributed to epileptogenesis in a drug-induced status epilepticus model. We found that reactive microglia appeared first, followed by reactive astrocytes and increased susceptibility to seizures. Reactive astrocytes exhibited larger Ca2+ signals mediated by IP3R2, whereas deletion of this type of Ca2+ signaling reduced seizure susceptibility after status epilepticus. Immediate, but not late, pharmacological inhibition of microglial activation prevented subsequent reactive astrocytes, aberrant astrocyte Ca2+ signaling, and the enhanced seizure susceptibility. These findings indicate that the sequential activation of glial cells constituted a cause of epileptogenesis after status epilepticus. Thus, our findings suggest that the therapeutic target to prevent epilepsy after status epilepticus should be shifted from microglia (early phase) to astrocytes (late phase).
Fumikazu Sano, Eiji Shigetomi, Youichi Shinozaki, Haruka Tsuzukiyama, Kozo Saito, Katsuhiko Mikoshiba, Hiroshi Horiuchi, Dennis Lawrence Cheung, Junichi Nabekura, Kanji Sugita, Masao Aihara, Schuichi Koizumi
White adipose tissue not only serves as a reservoir for energy storage but also secretes a variety of hormonal signals and modulates systemic metabolism. A substantial amount of adipose tissue develops in early postnatal life, providing exceptional access to the formation of this important tissue. Although a number of factors have been identified that can modulate the differentiation of progenitor cells into mature adipocytes in cell-autonomous assays, it remains unclear which are connected to physiological extracellular inputs and are most relevant to tissue formation in vivo. Here, we elucidate that mature adipocytes themselves signal to adipose depot–resident progenitor cells to direct depot formation in early postnatal life and gate adipogenesis when the tissue matures. Our studies revealed that as the adipose depot matures, a signal generated in mature adipocytes is produced, converges on progenitor cells to regulate the cytoskeletal protein MYH9, and attenuates the rate of adipogenesis in vivo.
Sin Ying Cheung, Mohd Sayeed, Krishnamurthy Nakuluri, Liang Li, Brian J. Feldman
Patients with colorectal cancers (CRCs) generally exhibit improved survival through intensive lymph node (LN) dissection. However, recent progress in cancer immunotherapy revisits the potential importance of regional LNs, where T cells are primed to attack tumor cells. To elucidate the role of regional LN, we investigated the immunological status of nonmetastatic regional LN lymphocytes (LNLs) in comparison with those of the tumor microenvironment (tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes; TILs) using flow cytometry and next-generation sequencing. LNLs comprised an intermediate level of the effector T cell population between peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) and TILs. Significant overlap of the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire was observed in microsatellite instability–high/mismatch repair–deficient (MSI-H/dMMR) CRCs with high tumor mutation burden (TMB), although limited TCRs were shared between nonmetastatic LNs and primary tumors in microsatellite stable/MMR proficient (MSS/pMMR) CRC patients with low TMB. In line with the overlap of the TCR repertoire, an excessive LN dissection did not provide a positive impact on long-term prognosis in our MSI-H/dMMR CRC cohort (n = 130). We propose that regional LNs play an important role in antitumor immunity, particularly in MSI-H/dMMR CRCs with high TMB, requiring care to be taken regarding excessive nonmetastatic LN dissection in MSI-H/dMMR CRC patients.
Koji Inamori, Yosuke Togashi, Shota Fukuoka, Kiwamu Akagi, Kouetsu Ogasawara, Takuma Irie, Daisuke Motooka, Yoichi Kobayashi, Daisuke Sugiyama, Motohiro Kojima, Norihiko Shiiya, Shota Nakamura, Shoichi Maruyama, Yutaka Suzuki, Masaaki Ito, Hiroyoshi Nishikawa
T cell receptor (TCR) triggering by antigen results in metabolic reprogramming that, in turn, facilitates the exit of T cells from quiescence. The increased nutrient requirements of activated lymphocytes are met, in part, by upregulation of cell surface transporters and enhanced uptake of amino acids, fatty acids, and glucose from the environment. However, the role of intracellular pathways of amino acid biosynthesis in T cell activation is relatively unexplored. Asparagine is a nonessential amino acid that can be synthesized intracellularly through the glutamine-hydrolyzing enzyme asparagine synthetase (ASNS). We set out to define the requirements for uptake of extracellular asparagine and ASNS activity in CD8+ T cell activation. At early time points of activation in vitro, CD8+ T cells expressed little or no ASNS, and, as a consequence, viability and TCR-stimulated growth, activation, and metabolic reprogramming were substantially impaired under conditions of asparagine deprivation. At later time points (more than 24 hours of activation), TCR-induced mTOR-dependent signals resulted in ASNS upregulation that endowed CD8+ T cells with the capacity to function independently of extracellular asparagine. Thus, our data suggest that the coordinated upregulation of ASNS expression and uptake of extracellular asparagine is involved in optimal T cell effector responses.
Helen Carrasco Hope, Rebecca J. Brownlie, Christopher M. Fife, Lynette Steele, Mihaela Lorger, Robert J. Salmond
Telomerase catalyzes chromosome end replication in stem cells and other long-lived cells. Mutations in telomerase or telomere-related genes result in diseases known as telomeropathies. Telomerase is recruited to chromosome ends by the ACD/TPP1 protein (TPP1 hereafter), a component of the shelterin complex that protects chromosome ends from unwanted end joining. TPP1 facilitates end protection by binding shelterin proteins POT1 and TIN2. TPP1 variants have been associated with telomeropathies but remain poorly characterized in vivo. Disease variants and mutagenesis scans provide efficient avenues to interrogate the distinct physiological roles of TPP1. Here, we conduct mutagenesis in the TIN2- and POT1-binding domains of TPP1 to discover mutations that dissect TPP1’s functions. Our results extend current structural data to reveal that the TPP1-TIN2 interface is more extensive than previously thought and highlight the robustness of the POT1-TPP1 interface. Introduction of separation-of-function mutants alongside known TPP1 telomeropathy mutations in mouse hematopoietic stem cells (mHSCs) lacking endogenous TPP1 demonstrated a clear phenotypic demarcation. TIN2- and POT1-binding mutants were unable to rescue mHSC failure resulting from end deprotection. In contrast, TPP1 telomeropathy mutations sustained mHSC viability, consistent with their selectively impacting end replication. These results highlight the power of scanning mutagenesis in revealing structural interfaces and dissecting multifunctional genes.
Sherilyn Grill, Shilpa Padmanaban, Ann Friedman, Eric Perkey, Frederick Allen, Valerie M. Tesmer, Jennifer Chase, Rami Khoriaty, Catherine E. Keegan, Ivan Maillard, Jayakrishnan Nandakumar
The microtubule (MT) cytoskeleton plays a critical role in axon growth and guidance. Here, we identify the MT-severing enzyme fidgetin-like 2 (FL2) as a negative regulator of axon regeneration and a therapeutic target for promoting nerve regeneration after injury. Genetic knockout of FL2 in cultured adult dorsal root ganglion neurons resulted in longer axons and attenuated growth cone retraction in response to inhibitory molecules. Given the axonal growth-promoting effects of FL2 depletion in vitro, we tested whether FL2 could be targeted to promote regeneration in a rodent model of cavernous nerve (CN) injury. The CNs are parasympathetic nerves that regulate blood flow to the penis, which are commonly damaged during radical prostatectomy (RP), resulting in erectile dysfunction (ED). Application of FL2-siRNA after CN injury significantly enhanced functional nerve recovery. Remarkably, following bilateral nerve transection, visible and functional nerve regeneration was observed in 7 out of 8 animals treated with FL2-siRNA, while no control-treated animals exhibited regeneration. These studies identify FL2 as a promising therapeutic target for enhancing regeneration after peripheral nerve injury and for mitigating neurogenic ED after RP — a condition for which, at present, only poor treatment options exist.
Lisa Baker, Moses Tar, Adam H. Kramer, Guillermo A. Villegas, Rabab A. Charafeddine, Olga Vafaeva, Parimala Nacharaju, Joel Friedman, Kelvin P. Davies, David J. Sharp
Acute high-fat diet (aHFD) exposure induces a brief period of hyperphagia before caloric balance is restored. Previous studies have demonstrated that this period of regulation is associated with activation of synaptic N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors on dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV) neurons, which increases vagal control of gastric functions. Our aim was to test the hypothesis that activation of DMV synaptic NMDA receptors occurs subsequent to activation of extrasynaptic NMDA receptors. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a control or high-fat diet for 3–5 days prior to experimentation. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from gastric-projecting DMV neurons; in vivo recordings of gastric motility, tone, compliance, and emptying; and food intake studies were used to assess the effects of NMDA receptor antagonism on caloric regulation. After aHFD exposure, inhibition of extrasynaptic NMDA receptors prevented the synaptic NMDA receptor–mediated increase in glutamatergic transmission to DMV neurons, as well as the increase in gastric tone and motility, while chronic extrasynaptic NMDA receptor inhibition attenuated the regulation of caloric intake. After aHFD exposure, the regulation of food intake involved synaptic NMDA receptor–mediated currents, which occurred in response to extrasynaptic NMDA receptor activation. Understanding these events may provide a mechanistic basis for hyperphagia and may identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of obesity.
Courtney Clyburn, R. Alberto Travagli, Amy C. Arnold, Kirsteen N. Browning
Most colorectal cancers (CRCs) are moderately differentiated or well differentiated, a status that is preserved even in metastatic tumors. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying CRC differentiation remain to be elucidated. Herein, we unravel a potentially novel posttranscriptional regulatory mechanism via a LIN28B/CDX2 signaling axis that plays a critical role in mediating CRC differentiation. Owing to a large number of mRNA targets, the mRNA-binding protein LIN28B has diverse functions in development, metabolism, tissue regeneration, and tumorigenesis. Our RNA-binding protein IP (RIP) assay revealed that LIN28B directly binds CDX2 mRNA, which is a pivotal homeobox transcription factor in normal intestinal epithelial cell identity and differentiation. Furthermore, LIN28B overexpression resulted in enhanced CDX2 expression to promote differentiation in subcutaneous xenograft tumors generated from CRC cells and metastatic tumor colonization through mesenchymal-epithelial transition in CRC liver metastasis mouse models. A ChIP sequence for CDX2 identified α-methylacyl-CoA racemase (AMACR) as a potentially novel transcriptional target of CDX2 in the context of LIN28B overexpression. We also found that AMACR enhanced intestinal alkaline phosphatase activity, which is known as a key component of intestinal differentiation, through the upregulation of butyric acid. Overall, we demonstrated that LIN28B promotes CRC differentiation through the CDX2/AMACR axis.
Kensuke Suzuki, Yasunori Masuike, Rei Mizuno, Uma M. Sachdeva, Priya Chatterji, Sarah F. Andres, Wenping Sun, Andres J. Klein-Szanto, Sepideh Besharati, Helen E. Remotti, Michael P. Verzi, Anil K. Rustgi
Activating mutations in fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) and inactivating mutations in the natriuretic peptide receptor 2 (NPR2) guanylyl cyclase both result in decreased production of cyclic GMP in chondrocytes and severe short stature, causing achondroplasia (ACH) and acromesomelic dysplasia, type Maroteaux, respectively. Previously, we showed that an NPR2 agonist BMN-111 (vosoritide) increases bone growth in mice mimicking ACH (Fgfr3Y367C/+). Here, because FGFR3 signaling decreases NPR2 activity by dephosphorylating the NPR2 protein, we tested whether a phosphatase inhibitor (LB-100) could enhance BMN-111–stimulated bone growth in ACH. Measurements of cGMP production in chondrocytes of living tibias, and of NPR2 phosphorylation in primary chondrocytes, showed that LB-100 counteracted FGF-induced dephosphorylation and inactivation of NPR2. In ex vivo experiments with Fgfr3Y367C/+ mice, the combination of BMN-111 and LB-100 increased bone length and cartilage area, restored chondrocyte terminal differentiation, and increased the proliferative growth plate area, more than BMN-111 alone. The combination treatment also reduced the abnormal elevation of MAP kinase activity in the growth plate of Fgfr3Y367C/+ mice and improved the skull base anomalies. Our results provide a proof of concept that a phosphatase inhibitor could be used together with an NPR2 agonist to enhance cGMP production as a therapy for ACH.
Leia C. Shuhaibar, Nabil Kaci, Jeremy R. Egbert, Thibault Horville, Léa Loisay, Giulia Vigone, Tracy F. Uliasz, Emilie Dambroise, Mark R. Swingle, Richard E. Honkanen, Martin Biosse Duplan, Laurinda A. Jaffe, Laurence Legeai-Mallet
Glioma stem cells (GSCs) drive propagation and therapeutic resistance of glioblastomas, the most aggressive diffuse brain tumors. However, the molecular mechanisms that maintain the stemness and promote therapy resistance remain poorly understood. Here we report CD109/STAT3 axis as crucial for the maintenance of stemness and tumorigenicity of GSCs and as a mediator of chemoresistance. Mechanistically, CD109 physically interacts with glycoprotein 130 to promote activation of the IL-6/STAT3 pathway in GSCs. Genetic depletion of CD109 abolished the stemness and self-renewal of GSCs and impaired tumorigenicity. Loss of stemness was accompanied with a phenotypic shift of GSCs to more differentiated astrocytic-like cells. Importantly, genetic or pharmacologic targeting of CD109/STAT3 axis sensitized the GSCs to chemotherapy, suggesting that targeting CD109/STAT3 axis has potential to overcome therapy resistance in glioblastoma.
Pauliina Filppu, Jayendrakishore Tanjore Ramanathan, Kirsi J. Granberg, Erika Gucciardo, Hannu Haapasalo, Kaisa Lehti, Matti Nykter, Vadim Le Joncour, Pirjo Laakkonen
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) damages the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), the tissue that safeguards photoreceptor health, leading to irreversible vision loss. Polymorphisms in cholesterol and complement genes are implicated in AMD, yet mechanisms linking risk variants to RPE injury remain unclear. We sought to determine how allelic variants in the apolipoprotein E cholesterol transporter modulate RPE homeostasis and function. Using live-cell imaging, we show that inefficient cholesterol transport by the AMD risk-associated ApoE2 increases RPE ceramide, leading to autophagic defects and complement-mediated mitochondrial damage. Mitochondrial injury drives redox state–sensitive cysteine-mediated phase separation of ApoE2, forming biomolecular condensates that could nucleate drusen. The protective ApoE4 isoform lacks these cysteines and is resistant to phase separation and condensate formation. In Abca–/– Stargardt macular degeneration mice, mitochondrial dysfunction induces liquid-liquid phase separation of p62/SQSTM1, a multifunctional protein that regulates autophagy. Drugs that decrease RPE cholesterol or ceramide prevent mitochondrial injury and phase separation in vitro and in vivo. In AMD donor RPE, mitochondrial fragmentation correlates with ApoE and p62 condensates. Our studies demonstrate that major AMD genetic and biological risk pathways converge upon RPE mitochondria, and identify mitochondrial stress-mediated protein phase separation as an important pathogenic mechanism and promising therapeutic target in AMD.
Nilsa La Cunza, Li Xuan Tan, Thushara Thamban, Colin J. Germer, Gurugirijha Rathnasamy, Kimberly A. Toops, Aparna Lakkaraju
HIV-1 is capable of integrating its genome into that of its host cell. We examined the influence of the activation state of CD4+ T cells, the effect of antiretroviral therapy (ART), and the clinical stage of HIV-1 infection on HIV-1 integration site features and selection. HIV-1 integration sites were sequenced from longitudinally sampled resting and activated CD4+ T cells from 12 HIV-1–infected individuals. In total, 589 unique HIV-1 integration sites were analyzed: 147, 391, and 51 during primary, chronic, and late presentation of HIV-1 infection, respectively. As early as during primary HIV-1 infection and independent of the activation state of CD4+ T cells collected on and off ART, HIV-1 integration sites were preferentially detected in recurrent integration genes, genes associated with clonal expansion of latently HIV-1–infected CD4+ T cells, cancer-related genes, and highly expressed genes. The preference for cancer-related genes was more pronounced at late stages of HIV-1 infection. Host genomic features of HIV-1 integration site selection remained stable during HIV-1 infection in both resting and activated CD4+ T cells. In summary, characteristic HIV-1 integration site features are preestablished as early as during primary HIV-1 infection and are found in both resting and activated CD4+ T cells.
Yik Lim Kok, Valentina Vongrad, Sandra E. Chaudron, Mohaned Shilaih, Christine Leemann, Kathrin Neumann, Katharina Kusejko, Francesca Di Giallonardo, Herbert Kuster, Dominique L. Braun, Roger D. Kouyos, Huldrych F. Günthard, Karin J. Metzner
Trained immunity, induced by β-glucan in monocytes, is mediated by activating metabolic pathways that result in epigenetic rewiring of cellular functional programs; however, molecular mechanisms underlying these changes remain unclear. Here, we report a key immunometabolic and epigenetic pathway mediated by the miR–9-5p-isocitrate dehydrogenase 3α (IDH3α) axis in trained immunity. We found that β-glucan–trained miR–9-5p–/– monocytes showed decreased IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α production after LPS stimulation. Trained miR–9-5p–/– mice produced decreased levels of proinflammatory cytokines upon rechallenge in vivo and had worse protection against Candida albicans infection. miR–9-5p targeted IDH3α and reduced α-ketoglutarate (α-KG) levels to stabilize HIF-1α, which promoted glycolysis. Accumulating succinate and fumarate via miR–9-5p action integrated immunometabolic circuits to induce histone modifications by inhibiting KDM5 demethylases. β-Glucan–trained monocytes exhibited low IDH3α levels, and IDH3α overexpression blocked the induction of trained immunity by monocytes. Monocytes with IDH3α variants from autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa patients showed a trained immunity phenotype at immunometabolic and epigenetic levels. These findings suggest that miR–9-5p and IDH3α act as critical metabolic and epigenetic switches in trained immunity.
Haibo Su, Zhongping Liang, ShuFeng Weng, Chaonan Sun, Jiaxin Huang, TianRan Zhang, Xialian Wang, Shanshan Wu, Zhi Zhang, Yiqi Zhang, Qing Gong, Ying Xu
Perilipin 2 (PLIN2) is a lipid droplet (LD) protein in β cells that increases under nutritional stress. Downregulation of PLIN2 is often sufficient to reduce LD accumulation. To determine whether PLIN2 positively or negatively affects β cell function under nutritional stress, PLIN2 was downregulated in mouse β cells, INS1 cells, and human islet cells. β Cell–specific deletion of PLIN2 in mice on a high-fat diet reduced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) in vivo and in vitro. Downregulation of PLIN2 in INS1 cells blunted GSIS after 24-hour incubation with 0.2 mM palmitic acid. Downregulation of PLIN2 in human pseudoislets cultured at 5.6 mM glucose impaired both phases of GSIS, indicating that PLIN2 is critical for GSIS. Downregulation of PLIN2 decreased specific OXPHOS proteins in all 3 models and reduced oxygen consumption rates in INS1 cells and mouse islets. Moreover, we found that PLIN2-deficient INS1 cells increased the distribution of a fluorescent oleic acid analog to mitochondria and showed signs of mitochondrial stress, as indicated by susceptibility to fragmentation and alterations of acyl-carnitines and glucose metabolites. Collectively, PLIN2 in β cells has an important role in preserving insulin secretion, β cell metabolism, and mitochondrial function under nutritional stress.
Akansha Mishra, Siming Liu, Joseph Promes, Mikako Harata, William Sivitz, Brian Fink, Gourav Bhardwaj, Brian T. O’Neill, Chen Kang, Rajan Sah, Stefan Strack, Samuel Stephens, Timothy King, Laura Jackson, Andrew S. Greenberg, Frederick Anokye-Danso, Rexford S. Ahima, James Ankrum, Yumi Imai
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive fibrotic lung disease. We previously identified fibrogenic mesenchymal progenitor cells (MPCs) in the lungs of patients with IPF who serve as drivers of progressive fibrosis. Recent single-cell RNA sequencing work revealed that IPF MPCs with the highest transcriptomic network entropy differ the most from control MPCs and that increased CD44 was a marker of these IPF MPCs. We hypothesize that IPF MPCs with high CD44 (CD44hi) expression will display enhanced fibrogenicity. We demonstrate that CD44-expressing MPCs are present at the periphery of the IPF fibroblastic focus, placing them in regions of active fibrogenesis. In a humanized mouse xenograft model, CD44hi IPF MPCs are more fibrogenic than CD44lo IPF MPCs, and knockdown of CD44 diminishes their fibrogenicity. CD44hi IPF MPCs display increased expression of pluripotency markers and enhanced self-renewal compared with CD44lo IPF MPCs, properties potentiated by IL-8. The mechanism involves the accumulation of CD44 within the nucleus, where it associates with the chromatin modulator protein Brahma-related gene 1 (Brg1) and the zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (Zeb1) transcription factor. This CD44/Brg1/Zeb1 nuclear protein complex targets the Sox2 gene, promoting its upregulation and self-renewal. Our data implicate CD44 interaction with the epigenetic modulator protein Brg1 in conveying IPF MPCs with cell-autonomous fibrogenicity.
Libang Yang, Hong Xia, Karen Smith, Adam Gilbertsen, Daniel Beisang, Jonathan Kuo, Peter B. Bitterman, Craig A. Henke
Chagas disease is caused by infection with the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi), an intracellular pathogen that causes significant morbidity and death among millions in the Americas from Canada to Argentina. Current therapy involves oral administration of the nitroimidazole benznidazole (BNZ), which has serious side effects that often necessitate cessation of treatment. To both avoid off-target side effects and reduce the necessary dosage of BNZ, we packaged the drug within poly(ethylene glycol)-block-poly(propylene sulfide) polymersomes (BNZ-PSs). We show that these vesicular nanocarriers enhanced intracellular delivery to phagocytic cells and tested this formulation in a mouse model of T. cruzi infection. BNZ-PS is not only nontoxic but also significantly more potent than free BNZ, effectively reducing parasitemia, intracellular infection, and tissue parasitosis at a 466-fold lower dose of BNZ. We conclude that BNZ-PS was superior to BNZ for treatment of T. cruzi infection in mice and that further modifications of this nanocarrier formulation could lead to a wide range of custom controlled delivery applications for improved treatment of Chagas disease in humans.
Xiaomo Li, Sijia Yi, Débora B. Scariot, Santiago J. Martinez, Ben A. Falk, Cheryl L. Olson, Patricia S. Romano, Evan A. Scott, David M. Engman
Gut microbe–derived metabolites influence human physiology and disease. However, establishing mechanistic links between gut microbial metabolites and disease pathogenesis in animal models remains challenging. The major route of absorption for microbe-derived small molecules is venous drainage via the portal vein to the liver. In the event of presystemic hepatic metabolism, the route of metabolite administration becomes critical. To our knowledge, we describe here a novel portal vein cannulation technique using a s.c. implanted osmotic pump to achieve continuous portal vein infusion in mice. We first administered the microbial metabolite trimethylamine (TMA) over 4 weeks, during which increased peripheral plasma levels of TMA and its host liver-derived cometabolite, trimethylamine-N-oxide, were observed when compared with a vehicle control. Next, 4-hydroxyphenylacetic acid (4-HPAA), a microbial metabolite that undergoes extensive presystemic hepatic metabolism, was administered intraportally to examine effects on hepatic gene expression. As expected, hepatic levels of 4-HPAA were elevated when compared with the control group while peripheral plasma 4-HPAA levels remained the same. Moreover, significant changes in the hepatic transcriptome were revealed by an unbiased RNA-Seq approach. Collectively, to our knowledge this work describes a novel method for administering gut microbe–derived metabolites via the portal vein, mimicking their physiologic delivery in vivo.
Danny Orabi, Lucas J. Osborn, Kevin Fung, William Massey, Anthony J. Horak III, Federico Aucejo, Ibrahim Choucair, Beckey DeLucia, Zeneng Wang, Jan Claesen, J. Mark Brown
BACKGROUND Estimates of seroprevalence to SARS-CoV-2 vary widely and may influence vaccination response. We ascertained IgG levels across a single US metropolitan site, Chicago, from June 2020 through December 2020.METHODS Participants (n = 7935) were recruited through electronic advertising and received materials for a self-sampled dried-blood spot assay through the mail or a minimal contact in-person method. IgG against the receptor-binding domain of SARS-CoV-2 was measured using an established highly sensitive and highly specific assay.RESULTS Overall seroprevalence was 17.9%, with no significant difference between method of contact. Only 2.5% of participants reported having had a diagnosis of COVID-19 based on virus detection, consistent with a 7-fold greater exposure to SARS-CoV-2 measured by serology than that detected by viral testing. The range of IgG level observed in seropositive participants from this community survey overlapped with the range of IgG levels associated with COVID-19 cases having a documented positive PCR test. From a subset of those who participated in repeat testing, half of seropositive individuals retained detectable antibodies for 3 to 4 months.CONCLUSION Quantitative IgG measurements with a highly specific and sensitive assay indicated more widespread exposure to SARS-CoV-2 than observed by viral testing. The range of IgG concentrations produced from these asymptomatic exposures was similar to IgG levels occurring after documented nonhospitalized COVID-19, which were considerably lower than those produced from hospitalized COVID-19 cases. The differing ranges of IgG response, coupled with the rate of decay of antibodies, may influence response to subsequent viral exposure and vaccine.Funding National Science Foundation grant 2035114, NIH grant 3UL1TR001422-06S4, NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences grants UL1 TR001422 and UL1 TR002389, Dixon Family Foundation, Northwestern University Cancer Center (NIH grant P30 CA060553), and Walder Foundation’s Chicago Coronavirus Assessment Network.
Alexis R. Demonbreun, Thomas W. McDade, Lorenzo Pesce, Lauren A. Vaught, Nina L. Reiser, Elena Bogdanovic, Matthew P. Velez, Ryan R. Hsieh, Lacy M. Simons, Rana Saber, Daniel T. Ryan, Michael G. Ison, Judd F. Hultquist, John T. Wilkins, Richard T. D’Aquila, Brian Mustanski, Elizabeth M. McNally
The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) provides vital metabolic support for retinal photoreceptor cells and is an important player in numerous retinal diseases. Gene manipulation in mice using the Cre-LoxP system is an invaluable tool for studying the genetic basis of these retinal diseases. However, existing RPE-targeted Cre mouse lines have critical limitations that restrict their reliability for studies of disease pathogenesis and treatment, including mosaic Cre expression, inducer-independent activity, off-target Cre expression, and intrinsic toxicity. Here, we report the generation and characterization of a knockin mouse line in which a P2A-CreERT2 coding sequence is fused with the native RPE-specific 65 kDa protein (Rpe65) gene for cotranslational expression of CreERT2. Cre+/– mice were able to recombine a stringent Cre reporter allele with more than 99% efficiency and absolute RPE specificity upon tamoxifen induction at both postnatal days (PD) 21 and 50. Tamoxifen-independent Cre activity was negligible at PD64. Moreover, tamoxifen-treated Cre+/– mice displayed no signs of structural or functional retinal pathology up to 4 months of age. Despite weak RPE65 expression from the knockin allele, visual cycle function was normal in Cre+/– mice. These data indicate that Rpe65CreERT2 mice are well suited for studies of gene function and pathophysiology in the RPE.
Elliot H. Choi, Susie Suh, David E. Einstein, Henri Leinonen, Zhiqian Dong, Sriganesh Ramachandra Rao, Steven J. Fliesler, Seth Blackshaw, Minzhong Yu, Neal S. Peachey, Krzysztof Palczewski, Philip D. Kiser
Choroideremia (CHM) is an X-linked recessive chorioretinal dystrophy caused by mutations in CHM, encoding for Rab escort protein 1 (REP1). Loss of functional REP1 leads to the accumulation of unprenylated Rab proteins and defective intracellular protein trafficking, the putative cause for photoreceptor, retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), and choroidal degeneration. CHM is ubiquitously expressed, but adequate prenylation is considered to be achieved, outside the retina, through the isoform REP2. Recently, the possibility of systemic features in CHM has been debated; therefore, in this study, whole metabolomic analysis of plasma samples from 25 CHM patients versus age- and sex-matched controls was performed. Results showed plasma alterations in oxidative stress–related metabolites, coupled with alterations in tryptophan metabolism, leading to significantly raised serotonin levels. Lipid metabolism was disrupted with decreased branched fatty acids and acylcarnitines, suggestive of dysfunctional lipid oxidation, as well as imbalances of several sphingolipids and glycerophospholipids. Targeted lipidomics of the chmru848 zebrafish provided further evidence for dysfunction, with the use of fenofibrate over simvastatin circumventing the prenylation pathway to improve the lipid profile and increase survival. This study provides strong evidence for systemic manifestations of CHM and proposes potentially novel pathomechanisms and targets for therapeutic consideration.
Dulce Lima Cunha, Rose Richardson, Dhani Tracey-White, Alessandro Abbouda, Andreas Mitsios, Verena Horneffer-van der Sluis, Panteleimon Takis, Nicholas Owen, Jane Skinner, Ailsa A. Welch, Mariya Moosajee
Loss of function of the lipid kinase diacylglycerol kinase ε (DGKε), encoded by the gene DGKE, causes a form of atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome that is not related to abnormalities of the alternative pathway of the complement, by mechanisms that are not understood. By generating a potentially novel endothelial specific Dgke-knockout mouse, we demonstrate that loss of Dgke in the endothelium results in impaired signaling downstream of VEGFR2 due to cellular shortage of phosphatidylinositol 4,5-biphosphate. Mechanistically, we found that, in the absence of DGKε in the endothelium, Akt fails to be activated upon VEGFR2 stimulation, resulting in defective induction of the enzyme cyclooxygenase 2 and production of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Treating the endothelial specific Dgke-knockout mice with a stable PGE2 analog was sufficient to reverse the clinical manifestations of thrombotic microangiopathy and proteinuria, possibly by suppressing the expression of matrix metalloproteinase 2 through PGE2-dependent upregulation of the chemokine receptor CXCR4. Our study reveals a complex array of autocrine signaling events downstream of VEGFR2 that are mediated by PGE2, that control endothelial activation and thrombogenic state, and that result in abnormalities of the glomerular filtration barrier.
Dingxiao Liu, Qiong Ding, Dao-Fu Dai, Biswajit Padhy, Manasa K. Nayak, Can Li, Madison Purvis, Heng Jin, Chang Shu, Anil K. Chauhan, Chou-Long Huang, Massimo Attanasio
BACKGROUND Methodology for estimation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tracer clearance could have wide clinical application in predicting excretion of intrathecal drugs and metabolic solutes from brain metabolism and for diagnostic workup of CSF disturbances.METHODS The MRI contrast agent gadobutrol (Gadovist) was used as a CSF tracer and injected into the lumbar CSF. Gadobutrol is contained outside blood vessels of the CNS and is eliminated along extravascular pathways, analogous to many CNS metabolites and intrathecal drugs. Tracer enrichment was verified and assessed in CSF by MRI at the level of the cisterna magna in parallel with obtaining blood samples through 48 hours.RESULTS In a reference patient cohort (n = 29), both enrichment within CSF and blood coincided in time. Blood concentration profiles of gadobutrol through 48 hours varied between patients diagnosed with CSF leakage (n = 4), idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus dementia (n = 7), pineal cysts (n = 8), and idiopathic intracranial hypertension (n = 4).CONCLUSION Assessment of CSF tracer clearance is clinically feasible and may provide a way to predict extravascular clearance of intrathecal drugs and endogenous metabolites from the CNS. The peak concentration in blood (at about 10 hours) was preceded by far peak tracer enhancement at MRI in extracranial lymphatic structures (at about 24 hours), as shown in previous studies, indicating a major role of the spinal canal in CSF clearance capacity.FUNDING The work was supported by the Department of Neurosurgery, Oslo University Hospital; the Norwegian Institute for Air Research; and the University of Oslo.
Per K. Eide, Espen Mariussen, Hilde Uggerud, Are H. Pripp, Aslan Lashkarivand, Bjørnar Hassel, Hege Christensen, Markus Herberg Hovd, Geir Ringstad
Abs that neutralize SARS-CoV-2 are thought to provide the most immediate and effective treatment for those severely afflicted by this virus. Because coronavirus potentially diversifies by mutation, broadly neutralizing Abs are especially sought. Here, we report a possibly novel approach to rapid generation of potent broadly neutralizing human anti–SARS-CoV-2 Abs. We isolated SARS-CoV-2 spike protein–specific memory B cells by panning from the blood of convalescent subjects after infection with SARS-CoV-2 and sequenced and expressed Ig genes from individual B cells as human mAbs. All of 43 human mAbs generated in this way neutralized SARS-CoV-2. Eighteen of the forty-three human mAbs exhibited half-maximal inhibitory concentrations (IC50) of 6.7 × 10–12 M to 6.7 × 10–15 M for spike-pseudotyped virus. Seven of the human mAbs also neutralized (with IC50 < 6.7 × 10–12 M) viruses pseudotyped with mutant spike proteins (including receptor-binding domain mutants and the S1 C-terminal D614G mutant). Neutralization of the Wuhan Hu-1 founder strain and of some variants decreased when coding sequences were reverted to germline, suggesting that potency of neutralization was acquired by somatic hypermutation and selection of B cells. These results indicate that infection with SARS-CoV-2 evokes high-affinity B cell responses, some products of which are broadly neutralizing and others highly strain specific. We also identify variants that would potentially resist immunity evoked by infection with the Wuhan Hu-1 founder strain or by vaccines developed with products of that strain, suggesting evolutionary courses that SARS-CoV-2 could take.
Mayara Garcia de Mattos Barbosa, Hui Liu, Daniel Huynh, Greg Shelley, Evan T. Keller, Brian T. Emmer, Emily Sherman, David Ginsburg, Andrew A. Kennedy, Andrew W. Tai, Christiane Wobus, Carmen Mirabeli, Thomas M. Lanigan, Milagros Samaniego, Wenzhao Meng, Aaron M. Rosenfeld, Eline T. Luning Prak, Jeffrey L. Platt, Marilia Cascalho
Lupus nephritis (LN) is a serious complication occurring in 50% of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) for which there is a lack of biomarkers, a lack of specific medications, and a lack of a clear understanding of its pathogenesis. The expression of calcium/calmodulin kinase IV (CaMK4) is increased in podocytes of patients with LN and lupus-prone mice, and its podocyte-targeted inhibition averts the development of nephritis in mice. Nephrin is a key podocyte molecule essential for the maintenance of the glomerular slit diaphragm. Here, we show that the presence of fucose on N-glycans of IgG induces, whereas the presence of galactose ameliorates, podocyte injury through CaMK4 expression. Mechanistically, CaMK4 phosphorylates NF-κB, upregulates the transcriptional repressor SNAIL, and limits the expression of nephrin. In addition, we demonstrate that increased expression of CaMK4 in biopsy specimens and in urine podocytes from people with LN is linked to active kidney disease. Our data shed light on the role of IgG glycosylation in the development of podocyte injury and propose the development of “liquid kidney biopsy” approaches to diagnose LN.
Rhea Bhargava, Sylvain Lehoux, Kayaho Maeda, Maria G. Tsokos, Suzanne Krishfield, Lena Ellezian, Martin Pollak, Isaac E. Stillman, Richard D. Cummings, George C. Tsokos
Activating mutations in the fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) or inactivating mutations in guanylyl cyclase–B (GC-B), also known as NPR-B or Npr2, cause short-limbed dwarfism. FGFR3 activation causes dephosphorylation and inactivation of GC-B, but the contribution of GC-B dephosphorylation to achondroplasia (ACH) is unknown. GC-B7E/7E mice that express a glutamate-substituted version of GC-B that cannot be inactivated by dephosphorylation were bred with mice expressing FGFR3-G380R, the most common human ACH mutation, to determine if GC-B dephosphorylation is required for ACH. Crossing GC-B7E/7E mice with FGFR3G380R/G380R mice increased naso-anal and long (tibia and femur), but not cranial, bone length twice as much as crossing GC-B7E/7E mice with FGFR3WT/WT mice from 4 to 16 weeks of age. Consistent with increased GC-B activity rescuing ACH, long bones from the GC-B7E/7E/FGFR3G380R/G380R mice were not shorter than those from GC-BWT/WT/FGFR3WT/WT mice. At 2 weeks of age, male but not female FGFR3G380R/G380R mice had shorter long bones and smaller growth plate hypertrophic zones, whereas female but not male GC-B7E/7E mice had longer bones and larger hypertrophic zones. In 2-week-old males, crossing FGFR3G380R/G380R mice with GC-B7E/7E mice increased long bone length and hypertrophic zone area to levels observed in mice expressing WT versions of both receptors. We conclude that preventing GC-B dephosphorylation rescues reduced axial and appendicular skeleton growth in a mouse model of achondroplasia.
Brandon M. Wagner, Jerid W. Robinson, Yun-Wen Lin, Yi-Ching Lee, Nabil Kaci, Laurence Legeai-Mallet, Lincoln R. Potter
SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a novel viral pathogen that causes a clinical disease called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Although most COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic or involve mild upper respiratory tract symptoms, a significant number of patients develop severe or critical disease. Patients with severe COVID-19 commonly present with viral pneumonia that may progress to life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Patients with COVID-19 are also predisposed to venous and arterial thromboses that are associated with a poorer prognosis. The present study identified the emergence of a low-density inflammatory neutrophil (LDN) population expressing intermediate levels of CD16 (CD16Int) in patients with COVID-19. These cells demonstrated proinflammatory gene signatures, activated platelets, spontaneously formed neutrophil extracellular traps, and enhanced phagocytic capacity and cytokine production. Strikingly, CD16Int neutrophils were also the major immune cells within the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, exhibiting increased CXCR3 but loss of CD44 and CD38 expression. The percentage of circulating CD16Int LDNs was associated with D-dimer, ferritin, and systemic IL-6 and TNF-α levels and changed over time with altered disease status. Our data suggest that the CD16Int LDN subset contributes to COVID-19–associated coagulopathy, systemic inflammation, and ARDS. The frequency of that LDN subset in the circulation could serve as an adjunct clinical marker to monitor disease status and progression.
Samantha M. Morrissey, Anne E. Geller, Xiaoling Hu, David Tieri, Chuanlin Ding, Christopher K. Klaes, Elizabeth A. Cooke, Matthew R. Woeste, Zachary C. Martin, Oscar Chen, Sarah E. Bush, Huang-ge Zhang, Rodrigo Cavallazzi, Sean P. Clifford, James Chen, Smita Ghare, Shirish S. Barve, Lu Cai, Maiying Kong, Eric C. Rouchka, Kenneth R. McLeish, Silvia M. Uriarte, Corey T. Watson, Jiapeng Huang, Jun Yan
BACKGROUND Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is more benign in children compared with adults for unknown reasons. This contrasts with other respiratory viruses where disease manifestations are often more severe in children. We hypothesize that a more robust early innate immune response to SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) protects against severe disease.METHODS Clinical outcomes, SARS-CoV-2 viral copies, and cellular gene expression were compared in nasopharyngeal swabs obtained at the time of presentation to the emergency department from 12 children and 27 adults using bulk RNA sequencing and quantitative reverse-transcription PCR. Total protein, cytokines, and anti–SARS-CoV-2 IgG and IgA were quantified in nasal fluid.RESULTS SARS-CoV-2 copies, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, and TMPRSS2 gene expression were similar in children and adults, but children displayed higher expression of genes associated with IFN signaling, NLRP3 inflammasome, and other innate pathways. Higher levels of IFN-α2, IFN-γ, IP-10, IL-8, and IL-1β protein were detected in nasal fluid in children versus adults. Children also expressed higher levels of genes associated with immune cells, whereas expression of those associated with epithelial cells did not differ in children versus adults. Anti–SARS-CoV-2 IgA and IgG were detected at similar levels in nasal fluid from both groups. None of the children required supplemental oxygen, whereas 7 adults did (P = 0.03); 4 adults died.CONCLUSION These findings provide direct evidence of a more vigorous early mucosal immune response in children compared with adults and suggest that this contributes to favorable clinical outcomes.FUNDING NIH grants R01 AI134367, UL1 TR002556, T32 AI007501, T32GM007288, P30 AI124414; an Albert Einstein College of Medicine Dean’s COVID-19 Pilot Research Award; and the Eric J. Heyer, MD, PhD Translational Research Pilot Project Award.
Carl A. Pierce, Sharlene Sy, Benjamin Galen, Doctor Y. Goldstein, Erika Orner, Marla J. Keller, Kevan C. Herold, Betsy C. Herold