Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive neuromuscular disease and one of the leading inherited causes of infant mortality. SMA results from insufficient levels of the survival motor neuron (SMN) protein, and studies in animal models of the disease have shown that increasing SMN protein levels ameliorates the disease phenotype. Our group previously identified and optimized a new series of small molecules, with good potency and toxicity profiles and reasonable pharmacokinetics, that were able to increase SMN protein levels in SMA patient–derived cells. We show here that ML372, a representative of this series, almost doubles the half-life of residual SMN protein expressed from the SMN2 locus by blocking its ubiquitination and subsequent degradation by the proteasome. ML372 increased SMN protein levels in muscle, spinal cord, and brain tissue of SMA mice. Importantly, ML372 treatment improved the righting reflex and extended survival of a severe mouse model of SMA. These results demonstrate that slowing SMN degradation by selectively inhibiting its ubiquitination can improve the motor phenotype and lifespan of SMA model mice.
Mahlet B. Abera, Jingbo Xiao, Jonathan Nofziger, Steve Titus, Noel Southall, Wei Zheng, Kasey E. Moritz, Marc Ferrer, Jonathan J. Cherry, Elliot J. Androphy, Amy Wang, Xin Xu, Christopher Austin, Kenneth H. Fischbeck, Juan J. Marugan, Barrington G. Burnett
Bcl-2–associated athanogene 3 (BAG3) is an evolutionarily conserved protein expressed at high levels in the heart and the vasculature and in many cancers. While altered BAG3 expression has been associated with cardiac dysfunction, its role in ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) is unknown. To test the hypothesis that BAG3 protects the heart from reperfusion injury, in vivo cardiac function was measured in hearts infected with either recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype 9–expressing (rAAV9-expressing) BAG3 or GFP and subjected to I/R. To elucidate molecular mechanisms by which BAG3 protects against I/R injury, neonatal mouse ventricular cardiomyocytes (NMVCs) in which BAG3 levels were modified by adenovirus expressing (Ad-expressing) BAG3 or siBAG3 were exposed to hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R). H/R significantly reduced NMVC BAG3 levels, which were associated with enhanced expression of apoptosis markers, decreased expression of autophagy markers, and reduced autophagy flux. The deleterious effects of H/R on apoptosis and autophagy were recapitulated by knockdown of BAG3 with Ad-siBAG3 and were rescued by Ad-BAG3. In vivo, treatment of mice with rAAV9-BAG3 prior to I/R significantly decreased infarct size and improved left ventricular function when compared with mice receiving rAAV9-GFP and improved markers of autophagy and apoptosis. These findings suggest that BAG3 may provide a therapeutic target in patients undergoing reperfusion after myocardial infarction.
Feifei Su, Valerie D. Myers, Tijana Knezevic, JuFang Wang, Erhe Gao, Muniswamy Madesh, Farzaneh G. Tahrir, Manish K. Gupta, Jennifer Gordon, Joseph Rabinowitz, Frederick V. Ramsey, Douglas G. Tilley, Kamel Khalili, Joseph Y. Cheung, Arthur M. Feldman
The small intestine has an underappreciated role as a lipid storage organ. Under conditions of high dietary fat intake, enterocytes can minimize the extent of postprandial lipemia by storing newly absorbed dietary fat in cytoplasmic lipid droplets. Lipid droplets can be subsequently mobilized for the production of chylomicrons. The mechanisms that regulate this process are poorly understood. We report here that the milk protein Mfge8 regulates hydrolysis of cytoplasmic lipid droplets in enterocytes after interacting with the αvβ3 and αvβ5 integrins. Mice deficient in Mfge8 or the αvβ3 and αvβ5 integrins accumulate excess cytoplasmic lipid droplets after a fat challenge. Mechanistically, interruption of the Mfge8-integrin axis leads to impaired enterocyte intracellular triglyceride hydrolase activity in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, Mfge8 increases triglyceride hydrolase activity through a PI3 kinase/mTORC2–dependent signaling pathway. These data identify a key role for Mfge8 and the αvβ3 and αvβ5 integrins in regulating enterocyte lipid processing.
Amin Khalifeh-Soltani, Deepti Gupta, Arnold Ha, Jahangir Iqbal, Mahmood Hussain, Michael J. Podolsky, Kamran Atabai
Loss of functional pancreatic β cells is a hallmark of both type 1 and 2 diabetes. Identifying the pathways that promote β cell proliferation and/or block β cell apoptosis is a potential strategy for diabetes therapy. The transcriptional coactivator Yes-associated protein (YAP), a major downstream effector of the Hippo signaling pathway, is a key regulator of organ size and tissue homeostasis by modulating cell proliferation and apoptosis. YAP is not expressed in mature primary human and mouse β cells. We aimed to identify whether reexpression of a constitutively active form of YAP promotes β cell proliferation/survival. Overexpression of YAP remarkably induced β cell proliferation in isolated human islets, while β cell function and functional identity genes were fully preserved. The transcription factor forkhead box M1 (FOXM1) was upregulated upon YAP overexpression and necessary for YAP-dependent β cell proliferation. YAP overexpression protected β cells from apoptosis triggered by multiple diabetic conditions. The small redox proteins thioredoxin-1 and thioredoxin-2 (Trx1/2) were upregulated by YAP; disruption of the Trx system revealed that Trx1/2 was required for the antiapoptotic action of YAP in insulin-producing β cells. Our data show the robust proproliferative and antiapoptotic function of YAP in pancreatic β cells. YAP reconstitution may represent a disease-modifying approach to restore a functional β cell mass in diabetes.
Ting Yuan, Sahar Rafizadeh, Zahra Azizi, Blaz Lupse, Kanaka Durga Devi Gorrepati, Sushil Awal, Jose Oberholzer, Kathrin Maedler, Amin Ardestani
Adipose tissue is a key endocrine organ that governs systemic homeostasis. PPARγ is a master regulator of adipose tissue signaling that plays an essential role in insulin sensitivity, making it an important therapeutic target. The selective PPARγ agonist rosiglitazone (RSG) has been used to treat diabetes. However, adverse cardiovascular effects have seriously hindered its clinical application. Experimental models have revealed that PPARγ activation increases cardiac hypertrophy. RSG stimulates cardiac hypertrophy and oxidative stress in cardiomyocyte-specific PPARγ knockout mice, implying that RSG might stimulate cardiac hypertrophy independently of cardiomyocyte PPARγ. However, candidate cell types responsible for RSG-induced cardiomyocyte hypertrophy remain unexplored. Utilizing cocultures of adipocytes and cardiomyocytes, we found that stimulation of PPARγ signaling in adipocytes increased miR-200a expression and secretion. Delivery of miR-200a in adipocyte-derived exosomes to cardiomyocytes resulted in decreased TSC1 and subsequent mTOR activation, leading to cardiomyocyte hypertrophy. Treatment with an antagomir to miR-200a blunted this hypertrophic response in cardiomyocytes. In vivo, specific ablation of PPARγ in adipocytes was sufficient to blunt hypertrophy induced by RSG treatment. By delineating mechanisms by which RSG elicits cardiac hypertrophy, we have identified pathways that mediate the crosstalk between adipocytes and cardiomyocytes to regulate cardiac remodeling.
Xi Fang, Matthew J. Stroud, Kunfu Ouyang, Li Fang, Jianlin Zhang, Nancy D. Dalton, Yusu Gu, Tongbin Wu, Kirk L. Peterson, Hsien-Da Huang, Ju Chen, Nanping Wang
Emerging knowledge indicates the difficulty in categorizing unusual cystic fibrosis (CF) mutations, with regard to both pathogenic mechanism and theratype. As case in point, we present data concerning P67L mutation of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), a defect carried by a small number of individuals with CF and sometimes attributed to a channel conductance abnormality. Findings from our laboratory and others establish that P67L causes protein misfolding, disrupts maturation, confers gating defects, is thermally stable, and exhibits near normal conductance. These results provide one framework by which rare CF alleles such as P67L can be more comprehensively profiled vis-à-vis molecular pathogenesis. We also demonstrate that emerging CF treatments — ivacaftor and lumacaftor — can mediate pronounced pharmacologic activation of P67L CFTR. Infrequent CF alleles are often improperly characterized, in part, due to the small numbers of patients involved. Moreover, access to new personalized treatments among patients with ultra-orphan genotypes has been limited by difficulty arranging phase III clinical trials, and off-label prescribing has been impaired by high drug cost and difficulty arranging third party reimbursement. Rare CFTR mutations such as P67L are emblematic of the challenges to “precision” medicine, including use of the best available mechanistic knowledge to treat patients with unusual forms of disease.
Carleen M. Sabusap, Wei Wang, Carmel M. McNicholas, W. Joon Chung, Lianwu Fu, Hui Wen, Marina Mazur, Kevin L. Kirk, James F. Collawn, Jeong S. Hong, Eric J. Sorscher
Kidney fibrosis following kidney injury is an unresolved health problem and causes significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. In a study into its molecular mechanism, we identified essential causative features. Acute or chronic kidney injury causes sustained elevation of a disintegrin and metalloprotease 17 (ADAM17); of its cleavage-activated proligand substrates, in particular of pro-TNFα and the EGFR ligand amphiregulin (pro-AREG); and of the substrates’ receptors. As a consequence, EGFR is persistently activated and triggers the synthesis and release of proinflammatory and profibrotic factors, resulting in macrophage/neutrophil ingress and fibrosis. ADAM17 hypomorphic mice, specific ADAM17 inhibitor–treated WT mice, or mice with inducible KO of ADAM17 in proximal tubule (Slc34a1-Cre) were significantly protected against these effects. In vitro, in proximal tubule cells, we show that AREG has unique profibrotic actions that are potentiated by TNFα-induced AREG cleavage. In vivo, in acute kidney injury (AKI) and chronic kidney disease (CKD, fibrosis) patients, soluble AREG is indeed highly upregulated in human urine, and both ADAM17 and AREG expression show strong positive correlation with fibrosis markers in related kidney biopsies. Our results indicate that targeting of the ADAM17 pathway represents a therapeutic target for human kidney fibrosis.
Eirini Kefaloyianni, Muthu Lakshmi Muthu, Jakob Kaeppler, Xiaoming Sun, Venkata Sabbisetti, Athena Chalaris, Stefan Rose-John, Eitan Wong, Irit Sagi, Sushrut S. Waikar, Helmut Rennke, Benjamin D. Humphreys, Joseph V. Bonventre, Andreas Herrlich
Motile airway cilia that propel contaminants out of the lung are oriented in a common direction by planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling, which localizes PCP protein complexes to opposite cell sides throughout the epithelium to orient cytoskeletal remodeling. In airway epithelia, PCP is determined in a 2-phase process. First, cell-cell communication via PCP complexes polarizes all cells with respect to the proximal-distal tissue axis. Second, during ciliogenesis, multiciliated cells (MCCs) undergo cytoskeletal remodeling to orient their cilia in the proximal direction. The second phase not only directs cilium polarization, but also consolidates polarization across the epithelium. Here, we demonstrate that in airway epithelia, PCP depends on MCC differentiation. PCP mutant epithelia have misaligned cilia, and also display defective barrier function and regeneration, indicating that PCP regulates multiple aspects of airway epithelial homeostasis. In humans, MCCs are often sparse in chronic inflammatory diseases, and these airways exhibit PCP dysfunction. The presence of insufficient MCCs impairs mucociliary clearance in part by disrupting PCP-driven polarization of the epithelium. Consistent with defective PCP, barrier function and regeneration are also disrupted. Pharmacological stimulation of MCC differentiation restores PCP and reverses these defects, suggesting its potential for broad therapeutic benefit in chronic inflammatory disease.
Eszter K. Vladar, Jayakar V. Nayak, Carlos E. Milla, Jeffrey D. Axelrod
Senescent cells accumulate in many tissues as animals age and are considered to underlie several aging-associated pathologies. The tumor suppressors p19ARF and p16INK4a, both of which are encoded in the
Michihiro Hashimoto, Azusa Asai, Hiroyuki Kawagishi, Ryuta Mikawa, Yuji Iwashita, Kazuki Kanayama, Kazushi Sugimoto, Tadashi Sato, Mitsuo Maruyama, Masataka Sugimoto
Following the advent of molecular assays that measure T cell receptor excision circles (TRECs) present in recent thymic emigrants, it has been conclusively shown that thymopoiesis persists in most adults, but that functional output decreases with age, influencing the maintenance of a diverse and functional T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire. Space flight has been shown to result in a variety of phenotypic and functional changes in human T cells and in the reactivation of latent viruses. While space flight has been shown to influence thymic architecture in rodents, thymopoiesis has not previously been assessed in astronauts. Here, we assessed thymopoiesis longitudinally over a 1-year period prior to and after long-term space flight (median duration, 184 days) in 16 astronauts. While preflight assessments of thymopoiesis remained quite stable in individual astronauts, we detected significant suppression of thymopoiesis in all subjects upon return from space flight. We also found significant increases in urine and plasma levels of endogenous glucocorticoids coincident with the suppression of thymopoiesis. The glucocorticoid induction and thymopoiesis suppression were transient, and they normalized shortly after return to Earth. This is the first report to our knowledge to prospectively demonstrate a significant change in thymopoiesis in healthy individuals in association with a defined physiologic emotional and physical stress event. These results suggest that suppression of thymopoiesis has the potential to influence the maintenance of the TCR repertoire during extended space travel. Further studies of thymopoiesis and endogenous glucocorticoids in other stress states, including illness, are warranted.
Cara L. Benjamin, Raymond P. Stowe, Lisa St. John, Clarence F. Sams, Satish K. Mehta, Brian E. Crucian, Duane L. Pierson, Krishna V. Komanduri
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