The blood-brain barrier is formed by capillary endothelial cells expressing connexin 37 (Cx37), Cx40, and Cx43 and is joined by closely apposed astrocytes expressing Cx43 and Cx30. We investigated whether connexin-targeting peptides could limit barrier leakage triggered by LPS-induced systemic inflammation in mice. Intraperitoneal LPS administration increased endothelial and astrocytic Cx43 expression; elevated TNF-α, IL-1β, IFN-γ, and IL-6 in plasma and IL-6 in the brain; and induced barrier leakage recorded over 24 hours. Barrier leakage was largely prevented by global Cx43 knockdown and Cx43/Cx30 double knockout in astrocytes, slightly diminished by endothelial Cx43 knockout, and not protected by global Cx30 knockout. Intravenous administration of Gap27 or Tat-Gap19 peptides just before LPS also prevented barrier leakage, and intravenously administered BAPTA-AM to chelate intracellular calcium was equally effective. Patch-clamp experiments demonstrated LPS-induced Cx43 hemichannel opening in endothelial cells, which was suppressed by Gap27, Gap19, and BAPTA. LPS additionally triggered astrogliosis that was prevented by intravenous Tat-Gap19 or BAPTA-AM. Cortically applied Tat-Gap19 or BAPTA-AM to primarily target astrocytes also strongly diminished barrier leakage. In vivo dye uptake and in vitro patch-clamp showed Cx43 hemichannel opening in astrocytes that was induced by IL-6 in a calcium-dependent manner. We conclude that targeting endothelial and astrocytic connexins is a powerful approach to limit barrier failure and astrogliosis.
Marijke De Bock, Maarten De Smet, Stijn Verwaerde, Hanane Tahiri, Steffi Schumacher, Valérie Van Haver, Katja Witschas, Christian Steinhäuser, Nathalie Rouach, Roosmarijn E. Vandenbroucke, Luc Leybaert
Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type-9 (PCSK9) is a posttranslational regulator of the LDL receptor (LDLR). Recent studies have proposed a role for PCSK9 in regulating immune responses. Using RNA-Seq–based variant discovery, we identified a possible psoriasis-susceptibility locus at 1p32.3, located within PCSK9 (rs662145 C > T). This finding was verified in independently acquired genomic and RNA-Seq data sets. Single-cell RNA-Seq (scRNA-Seq) identified keratinocytes as the primary source of PCSK9 in human skin. PCSK9 expression, however, was not uniform across keratinocyte subpopulations. scRNA-Seq and IHC demonstrated an epidermal gradient of PCSK9, with expression being highest in basal and early spinous layer keratinocytes and lowest in granular layer keratinocytes. IL36G expression followed the opposite pattern, with expression highest in granular layer keratinocytes. PCSK9 siRNA knockdown experiments confirmed this inverse relationship between PCSK9 and IL36G expression. Other immune genes were also linked to PCSK9 expression, including IL27RA, IL1RL1, ISG20, and STX3. In both cultured keratinocytes and nonlesional human skin, homozygosity for PCSK9 SNP rs662145 C > T was associated with lower PCSK9 expression and higher IL36G expression, when compared with heterozygous skin or cell lines. Together, these results support PCSK9 as a psoriasis-susceptibility locus and establish a putative link between PCSK9 and inflammatory cytokine expression.
Alexander Merleev, Antonio Ji-Xu, Atrin Toussi, Lam C. Tsoi, Stephanie T. Le, Guillaume Luxardi, Xianying Xing, Rachael Wasikowski, William Liakos, Marie-Charlotte Brüggen, James T. Elder, Iannis E. Adamopoulos, Yoshihiro Izumiya, Annie R. Leal, Qinyuan Li, Nikolay Y. Kuzminykh, Amanda Kirane, Alina I. Marusina, Johann E. Gudjonsson, Emanual Maverakis
Key molecular regulators of acquired radiation resistance in recurrent glioblastoma (GBM) are largely unknown, with a dearth of accurate preclinical models. To address this, we generated 8 GBM patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models of acquired radiation therapy–selected (RTS) resistance compared with same-patient, treatment-naive (radiation-sensitive, unselected; RTU) PDXs. These likely unique models mimic the longitudinal evolution of patient recurrent tumors following serial radiation therapy. Indeed, while whole-exome sequencing showed retention of major genomic alterations in the RTS lines, we did detect a chromosome 12q14 amplification that was associated with clinical GBM recurrence in 2 RTS models. A potentially novel bioinformatics pipeline was applied to analyze phenotypic, transcriptomic, and kinomic alterations, which identified long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) and targetable, PDX-specific kinases. We observed differential transcriptional enrichment of DNA damage repair pathways in our RTS models, which correlated with several lncRNAs. Global kinomic profiling separated RTU and RTS models, but pairwise analyses indicated that there are multiple molecular routes to acquired radiation resistance. RTS model–specific kinases were identified and targeted with clinically relevant small molecule inhibitors. This cohort of in vivo RTS patient-derived models will enable future preclinical therapeutic testing to help overcome the treatment resistance seen in patients with GBM.
Christian T. Stackhouse, Joshua C. Anderson, Zongliang Yue, Thanh Nguyen, Nicholas J. Eustace, Catherine P. Langford, Jelai Wang, James R. Rowland IV, Chuan Xing, Fady M. Mikhail, Xiangqin Cui, Hasan Alrefai, Ryan E. Bash, Kevin J. Lee, Eddy S. Yang, Anita B. Hjelmeland, C. Ryan Miller, Jake Y. Chen, G. Yancey Gillespie, Christopher D. Willey
Inactivating mutations of ARMC5 are responsible for the development of bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia (BMAH). Although ARMC5 inhibits adrenocortical tumor growth and is considered a tumor-suppressor gene, its molecular function is poorly understood. In this study, through biochemical purification using SREBF (SREBP) as bait, we identified the interaction between SREBF and ARMC5 through its Armadillo repeat. We also found that ARMC5 interacted with CUL3 through its BTB domain and underwent self-ubiquitination. ARMC5 colocalized with SREBF1 in the cytosol and induced proteasome-dependent degradation of full-length SREBF through ubiquitination. Introduction of missense mutations in Armadillo repeat of ARMC5 attenuated the interaction between SREBF, and introduction of mutations found in BMAH completely abolished its ability to degrade full-length SREBF. In H295R adrenocortical cells, silencing of ARMC5 increased full-length SREBFs and upregulated SREBF2 target genes. siARMC5-mediated cell growth was abrogated by simultaneous knockdown of SREBF2 in H295R cells. Our results demonstrate that ARMC5 was a substrate adaptor protein between full-length SREBF and CUL3-based E3 ligase, and they suggest the involvement of the SREBF pathway in the development of BMAH.
Yosuke Okuno, Atsunori Fukuhara, Michio Otsuki, Iichiro Shimomura
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic disease of unmet medical need. It is characterized by formation of scar tissue leading to a progressive and irreversible decline in lung function. IPF is associated with repeated injury, which may alter the composition of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Here, we demonstrate that IPF patient–derived pulmonary ECM drives profibrotic response in normal human lung fibroblasts (NHLF) in a 3D spheroid assay. Next, we reveal distinct alterations in composition of the diseased ECM, identifying potentially novel associations with IPF. Growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) was identified among the most significantly upregulated proteins in the IPF lung–derived ECM. In vivo, GDF15 neutralization in a bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis model led to significantly less fibrosis. In vitro, recombinant GDF15 (rGDF15) stimulated α smooth muscle actin (αSMA) expression in NHLF, and this was mediated by the activin receptor-like kinase 5 (ALK5) receptor. Furthermore, in the presence of rGDF15, the migration of NHLF in collagen gel was reduced. In addition, we observed a cell type–dependent effect of GDF15 on the expression of cell senescence markers. Our data suggest that GDF15 mediates lung fibrosis through fibroblast activation and differentiation, implicating a potential direct role of this matrix-associated cytokine in promoting aberrant cell responses in disease.
Agata Radwanska, Christopher Travis Cottage, Antonio Piras, Catherine Overed-Sayer, Carina Sihlbom, Ramachandramouli Budida, Catherine Wrench, Jane Connor, Susan Monkley, Petra Hazon, Holger Schluter, Matthew J. Thomas, Cory M. Hogaboam, Lynne A. Murray
Adaptation to increased insulin demand is mediated by β cell proliferation and neogenesis, among other mechanisms. Although it is known that pancreatic β cells can arise from ductal progenitors, these observations have been limited mostly to the neonatal period. We have recently reported that the duct is a source of insulin-secreting cells in adult insulin-resistant states. To further explore the signaling pathways underlying the dynamic β cell reserve during insulin resistance, we undertook human islet and duct transplantations under the kidney capsule of immunodeficient NOD/SCID-γ (NSG) mouse models that were pregnant, were insulin-resistant, or had insulin resistance superimposed upon pregnancy (insulin resistance + pregnancy), followed by single-nucleus RNA-Seq (snRNA-Seq) on snap-frozen graft samples. We observed an upregulation of proliferation markers (e.g., NEAT1) and expression of islet endocrine cell markers (e.g., GCG and PPY), as well as mature β cell markers (e.g., INS), in transplanted human duct grafts in response to high insulin demand. We also noted downregulation of ductal cell identity genes (e.g., KRT19 and ONECUT2) coupled with upregulation of β cell development and insulin signaling pathways. These results indicate that subsets of ductal cells are able to gain β cell identity and reflect a form of compensation during the adaptation to insulin resistance in both physiological and pathological states.
Ercument Dirice, Giorgio Basile, Sevim Kahraman, Danielle Diegisser, Jiang Hu, Rohit N. Kulkarni
Metastatic pancreatic cancer (PDAC) has a poor clinical outcome with a 5-year survival rate below 3%. Recent transcriptome profiling of PDAC biopsies has identified 2 clinically distinct subtypes — the “basal-like” (BL) subtype with poor prognosis and therapy resistance compared with the less aggressive and drug-susceptible “classical” (CLA) subtype. However, the mechanistic events and environmental factors that promote the BL subtype identity are not very clear. Using preclinical models, patient-derived xenografts, and FACS-sorted PDAC patient biopsies, we report here that the axon guidance receptor, roundabout guidance receptor 3 (ROBO3), promotes the BL metastatic program via a potentially unique AXL/IL-6/phosphorylated STAT3 (p-STAT3) regulatory axis. RNA-Seq identified a ROBO3-mediated BL-specific gene program, while tyrosine kinase profiling revealed AXL as the key mediator of the p-STAT3 activation. CRISPR/dCas9-based ROBO3 silencing disrupted the AXL/p-STAT3 signaling axis, thereby halting metastasis and enhancing therapy sensitivity. Transcriptome analysis of resected patient tumors revealed that AXLhi neoplastic cells associated with the inflammatory stromal program. Combining AXL inhibitor and chemotherapy substantially restored a CLA phenotypic state and reduced disease aggressiveness. Thus, we conclude that a ROBO3-driven hierarchical network determines the inflammatory and prometastatic programs in a specific PDAC subtype.
Niklas Krebs, Lukas Klein, Florian Wegwitz, Elisa Espinet, Hans Carlo Maurer, Mengyu Tu, Frederike Penz, Stefan Küffer, Xingbo Xu, Hanibal Bohnenberger, Silke Cameron, Marius Brunner, Albrecht Neesse, Uday Kishore, Elisabeth Hessmann, Andreas Trumpp, Philipp Ströbel, Rolf A. Brekken, Volker Ellenrieder, Shiv K. Singh
Identification of molecular subtypes that reflect different prognoses and treatment responses, especially immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), is essential for treatment decisions. We performed targeted sequencing in 201 patients with ESCC to discover genetic subtypes and validate our findings via multiple data sets. We identified 3 driver genes (FCGBP, GRIN2B, and FRY), and recurrent truncating mutations in FRY impaired its tumor-suppressive function and promoted tumor proliferation. A 3-gene mutation signature (FAT1, FAT3, and FRY) recognized a molecular subtype named “FAT/FRY” with frequent Hippo pathway–related mutations. In multiple ESCC cohorts, the patients with the FAT/FRY subtype had poorer prognosis than did patients in the WT group. Transcriptome analysis indicated that the FAT/FRY subtype was characterized by inactivation of the Hippo pathway, hypoxia, chemoresistance, higher infiltration of CD8+ T cells and activated DCs, and a transcriptome similar to that of cancer responders. Furthermore, the 3-gene signature predicted better survival for patients treated with ICIs, partially explained by its positive correlation with the tumor mutation burden and neoantigen burden. The 3-gene signature is a biomarker to recognize the FAT/FRY molecular subtype, evaluate prognosis, and select potential beneficiaries of ICIs in ESCC.
Zihang Mai, Jianye Yuan, Hong Yang, Shuogui Fang, Xiuying Xie, Xinye Wang, Jiaxin Xie, Jing Wen, Jianhua Fu
Metastatic urothelial carcinoma is generally incurable with current systemic therapies. Chromatin modifiers are frequently mutated in bladder cancer, with ARID1A-inactivating mutations present in about 20% of tumors. EZH2, a histone methyltransferase, acts as an oncogene that functionally opposes ARID1A. In addition, PI3K signaling is activated in more than 20% of bladder cancers. Using a combination of in vitro and in vivo data, including patient-derived xenografts, we show that ARID1A-mutant tumors were more sensitive to EZH2 inhibition than ARID1A WT tumors. Mechanistic studies revealed that (a) ARID1A deficiency results in a dependency on PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling via upregulation of a noncanonical PI3K regulatory subunit, PIK3R3, and downregulation of MAPK signaling and (b) EZH2 inhibitor sensitivity is due to upregulation of PIK3IP1, a protein inhibitor of PI3K signaling. We show that PIK3IP1 inhibited PI3K signaling by inducing proteasomal degradation of PIK3R3. Furthermore, ARID1A-deficient bladder cancer was sensitive to combination therapies with EZH2 and PI3K inhibitors in a synergistic manner. Thus, our studies suggest that bladder cancers with ARID1A mutations can be treated with inhibitors of EZH2 and/or PI3K and revealed mechanistic insights into the role of noncanonical PI3K constituents in bladder cancer biology.
Hasibur Rehman, Darshan S. Chandrashekar, Chakravarthi Balabhadrapatruni, Saroj Nepal, Sai Akshaya Hodigere Balasubramanya, Abigail K. Shelton, Kasey R. Skinner, Ai-Hong Ma, Ting Rao, Sumit Agarwal, Marie-Lisa Eich, Alyncia D. Robinson, Gurudatta Naik, Upender Manne, George J. Netto, C. Ryan Miller, Chong-xian Pan, Guru Sonpavde, Sooryanarayana Varambally, James E. Ferguson III
CD4+ T cells drive the immunopathogenesis of chronic beryllium disease (CBD), and their recruitment to the lung heralds the onset of granulomatous inflammation. We have shown that CD4+ Tregs control granuloma formation in an HLA-DP2 Tg model of CBD. In these mice, beryllium oxide (BeO) exposure resulted in the accumulation of 3 distinct CD4+ T cell subsets in the lung, with the majority of tissue-resident memory cells expressing FoxP3. The amount of Be regulated the number of total and antigen-specific CD4+ T cells and Tregs in the lungs of HLA-DP2 Tg mice. Depletion of Tregs increased the number of IFN-γ–producing CD4+ T cells and enhanced lung injury, while mice treated with IL-2/αIL-2 complexes had increased Tregs and reduced inflammation and Be-responsive T cells in the lung. BeO-experienced resident Tregs suppressed anti-CD3–induced proliferation of CD4+ T cells in a contact-dependent manner. CTLA-4 and ICOS blockade, as well as the addition of LPS to BeO-exposed mice, increased the effector T cell (Teff)/Treg ratio and enhanced lung injury. Collectively, these data show that the protective role of tissue-resident Tregs is dependent on quantity of Be exposure and is overcome by blocking immune regulatory molecules or additional environmental insults.
Shaikh M. Atif, Douglas G. Mack, Allison K. Martin, Andrew P. Fontenot
Usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) is a histological pattern characteristic of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The UIP pattern is patchy with histologically normal lung adjacent to dense fibrotic tissue. At this interface, fibroblastic foci (FF) are present and are sites where myofibroblasts and extracellular matrix (ECM) accumulate. Utilizing laser capture microdissection-coupled mass spectrometry, we interrogated the FF, adjacent mature scar, and adjacent alveoli in 6 fibrotic (UIP/IPF) specimens plus 6 nonfibrotic alveolar specimens as controls. The data were subjected to qualitative and quantitative analysis and histologically validated. We found that the fibrotic alveoli protein signature is defined by immune deregulation as the strongest category. The fibrotic mature scar classified as end-stage fibrosis whereas the FF contained an overabundance of a distinctive ECM compared with the nonfibrotic control. Furthermore, FF were positive for both TGFB1 and TGFB3, whereas the aberrant basaloid cell lining of FF was predominantly positive for TGFB2. In conclusion, spatial proteomics demonstrated distinct protein compositions in the histologically defined regions of UIP/IPF tissue. These data revealed that FF are the main site of collagen biosynthesis and that the adjacent alveoli are abnormal. This essential information will inform future mechanistic studies on fibrosis progression.
Jeremy A. Herrera, Lewis Dingle, M. Angeles Montero, Rajamiyer V. Venkateswaran, John F. Blaikley, Craig Lawless, Martin A. Schwartz
Expression of the tight junction–associated protein junctional adhesion molecule-A (JAM-A) is increased in sepsis, although the significance of this is unknown. Here, we show that septic JAM-A –/– mice have increased gut permeability, yet paradoxically have decreased bacteremia and systemic TNF and IL-1β expression. Survival is improved in JAM-A–/– mice. However, intestine-specific JAM-A–/– deletion does not alter mortality, suggesting that the mortality benefit conferred in mice lacking JAM-A is independent of the intestine. Septic JAM-A–/– mice have increased numbers of splenic CD44hiCD4+ T cells, decreased frequency of TNF+CD4+ cells, and elevated frequency of IL-2+CD4+ cells. Septic JAM-A–/– mice have increased numbers of B cells in mesenteric lymph nodes with elevated serum IgA and intraepithelial lymphocyte IgA production. JAM-A–/– × RAG–/– mice have improved survival compared with RAG–/– mice and identical mortality as WT mice. Gut neutrophil infiltration and neutrophil phagocytosis are increased in JAM-A–/– mice, while septic JAM-A–/– mice depleted of neutrophils lose their survival advantage. Therefore, increased bacterial clearance via neutrophils and an altered systemic inflammatory response with increased opsonizing IgA produced through the adaptive immune system results in improved survival in septic JAM-A–/– mice. JAM-A may be a therapeutic target in sepsis via immune mechanisms not related to its role in permeability.
Nathan J. Klingensmith, Katherine T. Fay, David A. Swift, Julia M.R. Bazzano, John D. Lyons, Ching-wen Chen, Mei Meng, Kimberly M. Ramonell, Zhe Liang, Eileen M. Burd, Charles A. Parkos, Mandy L. Ford, Craig M. Coopersmith
Pathogenic variants in the human F-box and leucine-rich repeat protein 4 (FBXL4) gene result in an autosomal recessive, multisystemic, mitochondrial disorder involving variable mitochondrial depletion and respiratory chain complex deficiencies with lactic acidemia. As no FDA-approved effective therapies for this disease exist, we sought to characterize translational C. elegans and zebrafish animal models, as well as human fibroblasts, to study FBXL4–/– disease mechanisms and identify preclinical therapeutic leads. Developmental delay, impaired fecundity and neurologic and/or muscular activity, mitochondrial dysfunction, and altered lactate metabolism were identified in fbxl-1(ok3741) C. elegans. Detailed studies of a PDHc activator, dichloroacetate (DCA), in fbxl-1(ok3741) C. elegans demonstrated its beneficial effects on fecundity, neuromotor activity, and mitochondrial function. Validation studies were performed in fbxl4sa12470 zebrafish larvae and in FBXL4–/– human fibroblasts; they showed DCA efficacy in preventing brain death, impairment of neurologic and/or muscular function, mitochondrial biochemical dysfunction, and stress-induced morphologic and ultrastructural mitochondrial defects. These data demonstrate that fbxl-1(ok3741) C. elegans and fbxl4sa12470 zebrafish provide robust translational models to study mechanisms and identify preclinical therapeutic candidates for FBXL4–/– disease. Furthermore, DCA is a lead therapeutic candidate with therapeutic benefit on diverse aspects of survival, neurologic and/or muscular function, and mitochondrial physiology that warrants rigorous clinical trial study in humans with FBXL4–/– disease.
Manuela Lavorato, Eiko Nakamaru-Ogiso, Neal D. Mathew, Elizabeth Herman, Nina Shah, Suraiya Haroon, Rui Xiao, Christoph Seiler, Marni J. Falk
Aristolochic acid nephropathy (AAN) is characterized by acute proximal tubule necrosis and immune cell infiltration, contributing to the global burden of chronic kidney disease and urothelial cancer. Although the proximal tubule has been defined as the primary target of aristolochic acids I (AAI), the mechanistic underpinning of gross renal deterioration caused by AAI has not been explicitly explained, prohibiting effective therapeutic intervention. To this point, we employed integrated single-cell RNA-Seq, bulk RNA-Seq, and mass spectrometry–based proteomics to analyze the mouse kidney after acute AAI exposure. Our results reveal a dramatic reduction of proximal tubule epithelial cells, associated with apoptotic and inflammatory pathways, indicating permanent damage beyond repair. We found the enriched development pathways in other nephron segments, suggesting activation of reparative programs triggered by AAI. The divergent response may be attributed to the segment-specific distribution of organic anion channels along the nephron, including OAT1 and OAT3. Moreover, we observed dramatic activation and recruitment of cytotoxic T and macrophage M1 cells, highlighting inflammation as a principal contributor to permanent renal injury. Ligand-receptor pairing revealed that critical intercellular crosstalk underpins damage-induced activation of immune cells. These results provide potentially novel insight into the AAI-induced kidney injury and point out possible pathways for future therapeutic intervention.
Jiayun Chen, Piao Luo, Chen Wang, Chuanbin Yang, Yunmeng Bai, Xueling He, Qian Zhang, Junzhe Zhang, Jing Yang, Shuang Wang, Jigang Wang
We reported previously that neural progenitor cell (NPC) grafts form neural relays across sites of subacute spinal cord injury (SCI) and support functional recovery. Here, we examine whether NPC grafts after chronic delays also support recovery and whether intensive rehabilitation further enhances recovery. One month after severe bilateral cervical contusion, rats received daily intensive rehabilitation, NPC grafts, or both rehabilitation and grafts. Notably, only the combination of rehabilitation and grafting significantly improved functional recovery. Moreover, improved functional outcomes were associated with a rehabilitation-induced increase in host corticospinal axon regeneration into grafts. These findings identify a critical and synergistic role of rehabilitation and neural stem cell therapy in driving neural plasticity to support functional recovery after chronic and severe SCI.
Paul Lu, Camila M. Freria, Lori Graham, Amanda N. Tran, Ashley Villarta, Dena Yassin, J. Russell Huie, Adam R. Ferguson, Mark H. Tuszynski
Preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality worldwide. One of every 4 preterm neonates is born to a mother with intra-amniotic inflammation driven by invading bacteria. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this hostile immune response remain unclear. Here, we used a translationally relevant model of preterm birth in Nlrp3-deficient and -sufficient pregnant mice to identify what we believe is a previously unknown dual role for the NLRP3 pathway in the fetal and maternal signaling required for the premature onset of the labor cascade leading to fetal injury and neonatal death. Specifically, the NLRP3 sensor molecule and/or inflammasome is essential for triggering intra-amniotic and decidual inflammation, fetal membrane activation, uterine contractility, and cervical dilation. NLRP3 also regulates the functional status of neutrophils and macrophages in the uterus and decidua, without altering their influx, as well as maternal systemic inflammation. Finally, both embryo transfer experimentation and heterozygous mating systems provided mechanistic evidence showing that NLRP3 signaling in both the fetus and the mother is required for the premature activation of the labor cascade. These data provide insights into the mechanisms of fetal-maternal dialog in the syndrome of preterm labor and indicate that targeting the NLRP3 pathway could prevent adverse perinatal outcomes.
Kenichiro Motomura, Roberto Romero, Jose Galaz, Li Tao, Valeria Garcia-Flores, Yi Xu, Bogdan Done, Marcia Arenas-Hernandez, Derek Miller, Pedro Gutierrez-Contreras, Marcelo Farias-Jofre, Siddhesh Aras, Lawrence I. Grossman, Adi L. Tarca, Nardhy Gomez-Lopez
Accumulation of activated natural killer (NK) cells in tissues during Ebola virus infection contributes to Ebola virus disease (EVD) pathogenesis. Yet, immunization with Ebola virus-like particles (VLPs) comprising glycoprotein and matrix protein VP40 provides rapid, NK cell–mediated protection against Ebola challenge. We used Ebola VLPs as the viral surrogates to elucidate the molecular mechanism by which Ebola virus triggers heightened NK cell activity. Incubation of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells with Ebola VLPs or VP40 protein led to increased expression of IFN-γ, TNF-α, granzyme B, and perforin by CD3–CD56+ NK cells, along with increases in degranulation and cytotoxic activity of these cells. Optimal activation required accessory cells like CD14+ myeloid and CD14– cells and triggered increased secretion of numerous inflammatory cytokines. VP40-induced IFN-γ and TNF-α secretion by NK cells was dependent on IL-12 and IL-18 and suppressed by IL-10. In contrast, their increased degranulation was dependent on IL-12 with little influence of IL-18 or IL-10. These results demonstrate that Ebola VP40 stimulates NK cell functions in an IL-12– and IL-18–dependent manner that involves CD14+ and CD14– accessory cells. These potentially novel findings may help in designing improved intervention strategies required to control viral transmission during Ebola outbreaks.
Hung Le, Paul Spearman, Stephen N. Waggoner, Karnail Singh
The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin. Here, we used targeted lipid profiling to characterize the biogeographic alterations of human epidermal lipids across 12 anatomically distinct body sites, and we used single-cell RNA-Seq to compare keratinocyte gene expression at acral and nonacral sites. We demonstrate that acral skin has low expression of EOS acyl-ceramides and the genes involved in their synthesis, as well as low expression of genes involved in filaggrin and keratin citrullination (PADI1 and PADI3) and corneodesmosome degradation, changes that are consistent with increased corneocyte retention. Several overarching principles governing epidermal lipid expression were also noted. For example, there was a strong negative correlation between the expression of 18-carbon and 22-carbon sphingoid base ceramides. Disease-specific alterations in epidermal lipid gene expression and their corresponding alterations to the epidermal lipidome were characterized. Lipid biomarkers with diagnostic utility for inflammatory and precancerous conditions were identified, and a 2-analyte diagnostic model of psoriasis was constructed using a step-forward algorithm. Finally, gene coexpression analysis revealed a strong connection between lipid and immune gene expression. This work highlights (a) mechanisms by which the epidermis is uniquely adapted for the specific environmental insults encountered at different body surfaces and (b) how inflammation-associated alterations in gene expression affect the epidermal lipidome.
Alexander A. Merleev, Stephanie T. Le, Claire Alexanian, Atrin Toussi, Yixuan Xie, Alina I. Marusina, Steven M. Watkins, Forum Patel, Allison C. Billi, Julie Wiedemann, Yoshihiro Izumiya, Ashish Kumar, Ranjitha Uppala, J. Michelle Kahlenberg, Fu-Tong Liu, Iannis E. Adamopoulos, Elizabeth A. Wang, Chelsea Ma, Michelle Y. Cheng, Halani Xiong, Amanda Kirane, Guillaume Luxardi, Bogi Andersen, Lam C. Tsoi, Carlito B. Lebrilla, Johann E. Gudjonsson, Emanual Maverakis
Celiac disease is an immune-mediated intestinal disorder that results from loss of oral tolerance (LOT) to dietary gluten. Reovirus elicits inflammatory Th1 cells and suppresses Treg responses to dietary antigen in a strain-dependent manner. Strain type 1 Lang (T1L) breaks oral tolerance, while strain type 3 Dearing reassortant virus (T3D-RV) does not. We discovered that intestinal infection by T1L in mice leads to the recruitment and activation of NK cells in mesenteric lymph nodes (MLNs) in a type I IFN–dependent manner. Once activated following infection, NK cells produce type II IFN and contribute to IFN-stimulated gene expression in the MLNs, which in turn induces inflammatory DC and T cell responses. Immune depletion of NK cells impairs T1L-induced LOT to newly introduced food antigen. These studies indicate that NK cells modulate the response to dietary antigen in the presence of a viral infection.
Pamela H. Brigleb, Elaine Kouame, Kay L. Fiske, Gwen M. Taylor, Kelly Urbanek, Luzmariel Medina Sanchez, Reinhard Hinterleitner, Bana Jabri, Terence S. Dermody
Bisphosphonate-related (BP-related) osteonecrosis of the jaw (BRONJ) is one of the severe side effects of administration of BPs, such as zoledronic acid (ZA), which can disrupt the patient’s quality of life. Although the direct target of skeletal vasculature and bone resorption activity by BPs has been phenomenally observed, the underlying mechanism in BRONJ remains largely elusive. Thus, it is urgently necessary to discover effective therapeutic targets based on the multifaceted underlying mechanisms in the development of BRONJ. Here, we determined the inhibitory role of ZA-treated macrophages on osteoclast differentiation and type H vessel formation during tooth extraction socket (TES) healing. Mechanistically, ZA activated the NF-κB signaling pathway and then induced p65 nuclear translocation in macrophages to promote miR-149-5p transcription, resulting in impaired osteoclast differentiation via directly binding to the Traf6 3′-UTR region. Moreover, we identified that miR-149-5p–loaded extracellular vesicles derived from ZA-treated bone marrow–derived macrophages could regulate biological functions of endothelial cells via the Rap1a/Rap1b/VEGFR2 pathway. Furthermore, local administration of chemically modified antagomiR-149-5p was proven to be therapeutically effective in BRONJ mice. In conclusion, our findings illuminate the dual effects of miR-149-5p on skeletal angiogenesis and bone remolding, suggesting it as a promising preventive and therapeutic target for BRONJ.
Xin Shen, Weiwen Zhu, Ping Zhang, Yu Fu, Jie Cheng, Laikui Liu, Rongyao Xu, Hongbing Jiang
Dysregulation in neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation and degradation may play a role in the pathogenesis and severity of COVID-19; however, its role in the pediatric manifestations of this disease, including multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and chilblain-like lesions (CLLs), otherwise known as “COVID toes,” remains unclear. Studying multinational cohorts, we found that, in CLLs, NETs were significantly increased in serum and skin. There was geographic variability in the prevalence of increased NETs in MIS-C, in association with disease severity. MIS-C and CLL serum samples displayed decreased NET degradation ability, in association with C1q and G-actin or anti-NET antibodies, respectively, but not with genetic variants of DNases. In adult COVID-19, persistent elevations in NETs after disease diagnosis were detected but did not occur in asymptomatic infection. COVID-19–affected adults displayed significant prevalence of impaired NET degradation, in association with anti-DNase1L3, G-actin, and specific disease manifestations, but not with genetic variants of DNases. NETs were detected in many organs of adult patients who died from COVID-19 complications. Infection with the Omicron variant was associated with decreased NET levels when compared with other SARS-CoV-2 strains. These data support a role for NETs in the pathogenesis and severity of COVID-19 in pediatric and adult patients.
Carmelo Carmona-Rivera, Yu Zhang, Kerry Dobbs, Tovah E. Markowitz, Clifton L. Dalgard, Andrew J. Oler, Dillon R. Claybaugh, Deborah Draper, Meng Truong, Ottavia M. Delmonte, Francesco Licciardi, Ugo Ramenghi, Nicoletta Crescenzio, Luisa Imberti, Alessandra Sottini, Virginia Quaresima, Chiara Fiorini, Valentina Discepolo, Andrea Lo Vecchio, Alfredo Guarino, Luca Pierri, Andrea Catzola, Andrea Biondi, Paolo Bonfanti, Maria C. Poli Harlowe, Yasmin Espinosa, Camila Astudillo, Emma Rey-Jurado, Cecilia Vial, Javiera de la Cruz, Ricardo Gonzalez, Cecilia Pinera, Jacqueline W. Mays, Ashley Ng, Andrew Platt, NIH COVID Autopsy Consortium, COVID STORM Clinicians, Beth Drolet, John Moon, Edward W. Cowen, Heather Kenney, Sarah E. Weber, Riccardo Castagnoli, Mary Magliocco, Michael A. Stack, Gina Montealegre, Karyl Barron, Danielle L. Fink, Douglas B. Kuhns, Stephen M. Hewitt, Lisa M. Arkin, Daniel S. Chertow, Helen C. Su, Luigi D. Notarangelo, Mariana J. Kaplan
CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) restrain inflammation and immunity. However, the mechanisms underlying Treg suppressor function in inflamed nonlymphoid tissues remain largely unexplored. Here, we restricted immune responses to nonlymphoid tissues and used intravital microscopy to visualize Treg suppression of rejection by effector T cells (Teffs) within inflamed allogeneic islet transplants. Despite their elevated motility, Tregs preferentially contacted antigen-presenting cells (APCs) over Teffs. Interestingly, Tregs specifically targeted APCs that were extensively and simultaneously contacted by Teffs. In turn, Tregs decreased MHC-II expression on APCs and hindered Teff function. Last, we demonstrate that Treg suppressive function within inflamed allografts required ectonucleotidase CD73 activity, which generated the antiinflammatory adenosine. Consequently, CD73–/– Tregs exhibited fewer contacts with APCs within inflamed allografts compared with WT Tregs, but not in spleen. Overall, our findings demonstrate that Tregs suppress immunity within inflamed grafts through CD73 activity and suggest that Treg-APC direct contacts are central to this process.
Hehua Dai, Andressa Pena, Lynne Bauer, Amanda Williams, Simon C. Watkins, Geoffrey Camirand
There is a paucity of information about potential molecular brakes on the activation of fibroblasts that drive tissue fibrosis. The transcription factor Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) is best known as a determinant of cell stemness and a tumor suppressor. We found that its expression was diminished in fibroblasts from fibrotic lung. Gain- and loss-of-function studies showed that KLF4 inhibited fibroblast proliferation, collagen synthesis, and differentiation to myofibroblasts, while restoring their sensitivity to apoptosis. Conditional deletion of KLF4 from fibroblasts potentiated the peak degree of pulmonary fibrosis and abrogated the subsequent spontaneous resolution in a model of transient fibrosis. A small molecule inducer of KLF4 was able to restore its expression in fibrotic fibroblasts and elicit resolution in an experimental model characterized by more clinically relevant persistent pulmonary fibrosis. These data identify KLF4 as a pivotal brake on fibroblast activation whose induction represents a therapeutic approach in fibrosis of the lung and perhaps other organs.
Loka R. Penke, Jennifer M. Speth, Steven K. Huang, Sean M. Fortier, Jared Baas, Marc Peters-Golden
Recent clinical trials have shown promising results for the next-generation Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor evobrutinib in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). BTK has a central role in signaling pathways that govern the development of B cells. Whether and how BTK activity shapes B cells as key drivers of MS is currently unclear. Compared with levels of BTK protein, we found higher levels of phospho-BTK in ex vivo blood memory B cells from patients with relapsing-remitting MS and secondary progressive MS compared with controls. In these MS groups, BTK activity was induced to a lesser extent after anti-IgM stimulation. BTK positively correlated with CXCR3 expression, both of which were increased in blood B cells from clinical responders to natalizumab (anti–VLA-4 antibody) treatment. Under in vitro T follicular helper–like conditions, BTK phosphorylation was enhanced by T-bet–inducing stimuli, IFN-γ and CpG-ODN, while the expression of T-bet and T-bet–associated molecules CXCR3, CD21, and CD11c was affected by evobrutinib. Furthermore, evobrutinib interfered with in vitro class switching, as well as memory recall responses, and disturbed CXCL10-mediated migration of CXCR3+ switched B cells through human brain endothelial monolayers. These findings demonstrate a functional link between BTK activity and disease-relevant B cells and offer valuable insights into how next-generation BTK inhibitors could modulate the clinical course of patients with MS.
Liza Rijvers, Jamie van Langelaar, Laurens Bogers, Marie-José Melief, Steven C. Koetzier, Katelijn M. Blok, Annet F. Wierenga-Wolf, Helga E. de Vries, Jasper Rip, Odilia B.J. Corneth, Rudi W. Hendriks, Roland Grenningloh, Ursula Boschert, Joost Smolders, Marvin M. van Luijn