Generation of homogeneous populations of subtype-specific cardiomyocytes (CMs) derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and their comprehensive phenotyping is crucial for a better understanding of the subtype-related disease mechanisms and as tools for the development of chamber-specific drugs. The goals of this study were to apply a simple and efficient method for differentiation of iPSCs into defined functional CM subtypes in feeder-free conditions and to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the molecular, cell biological, and functional properties of atrial and ventricular iPSC-CMs on both the single-cell and engineered heart muscle (EHM) level. By a stage-specific activation of retinoic acid signaling in monolayer-based and well-defined culture, we showed that cardiac progenitors can be directed towards a highly homogeneous population of atrial CMs. By combining the transcriptome and proteome profiling of the iPSC-CM subtypes with functional characterizations via optical action potential and calcium imaging, and with contractile analyses in EHM, we demonstrated that atrial and ventricular iPSC-CMs and -EHM highly correspond to the atrial and ventricular heart muscle, respectively. This study provides a comprehensive understanding of the molecular and functional identities characteristic of atrial and ventricular iPSC-CMs and -EHM and supports their suitability in disease modeling and chamber-specific drug screening.
Lukas Cyganek, Malte Tiburcy, Karolina Sekeres, Kathleen Gerstenberg, Hanibal Bohnenberger, Christof Lenz, Sarah Henze, Michael Stauske, Gabriela Salinas, Wolfram-Hubertus Zimmermann, Gerd Hasenfuss, Kaomei Guan
Oncogenic Kras expression specifically in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) induces a rapidly fatal myeloproliferative neoplasm in mice, suggesting that Kras signaling plays a dominant role in normal hematopoiesis. However, such a conclusion is based on expression of an oncogenic version of Kras. Hence, we sought to determine the effect of simply increasing the amount of endogenous wild-type Kras on HSC fate. To this end, we utilized a codon-optimized version of the murine Kras gene (Krasex3op) that we developed, in which silent mutations in exon 3 render the encoded mRNA more efficiently translated, leading to increased protein expression without disruption to the normal gene architecture. We found that Kras protein levels were significantly increased in bone marrow (BM) HSCs in Krasex3op/ex3op mice, demonstrating that the translation of Kras in HSCs is normally constrained by rare codons. Krasex3op/ex3op mice displayed expansion of BM HSCs, progenitor cells, and B lymphocytes, but no evidence of myeloproliferative disease or leukemia in mice followed for 12 months. BM HSCs from Krasex3op/ex3op mice demonstrated increased multilineage repopulating capacity in primary competitive transplantation assays, but secondary competitive transplants revealed exhaustion of long-term HSCs. Following total body irradiation, Krasex3op/ex3op mice displayed accelerated hematologic recovery and increased survival. Mechanistically, HSCs from Krasex3op/ex3op mice demonstrated increased proliferation at baseline, with a corresponding increase in Erk1/2 phosphorylation and cyclin-dependent kinase 4 and 6 (Cdk4/6) activation. Furthermore, both the enhanced colony-forming capacity and in vivo repopulating capacity of HSCs from Krasex3op/ex3op mice were dependent on Cdk4/6 activation. Finally, BM transplantation studies revealed that augmented Kras expression produced expansion of HSCs, progenitor cells, and B cells in a hematopoietic cell–autonomous manner, independent from effects on the BM microenvironment. This study provides fundamental demonstration of codon usage in a mammal having a biological consequence, which may speak to the importance of codon usage in mammalian biology.
Joshua P. Sasine, Heather A. Himburg, Christina M. Termini, Martina Roos, Evelyn Tran, Liman Zhao, Jenny Kan, Michelle Li, Yurun Zhang, Stéphanie C. de Barros, Dinesh S. Rao, Christopher M. Counter, John P. Chute
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) — known to be resistant to genotoxic radiation and chemotherapy — are fundamental to therapy failure and cancer relapse. Here, we reveal that glioma CSCs are hypersensitive to radiation, but a temporal DNA repair mechanism converts the intrinsic sensitivity to genomic instability and treatment resistance. Transcriptome analysis identifies DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) as a predominant DNA repair enzyme in CSCs. Notably, DNA-PK activity is suppressed after irradiation when ROS induce the dissociation of DNA-PKcs with Ku70/80, resulting in delayed DNA repair and radiosensitivity; subsequently, after ROS clearance, the accumulated DNA damage and robust activation of DNA-PK induce genomic instability, facilitated by Rad50-mediated cell-cycle arrest, leading to enhanced malignancy, CSC overgrowth, and radioresistance. Finally, we show a requisite in vivo role for DNA-PK in CSC-mediated radioresistance and glioma progression. These findings identify a time-sensitive mechanism controlling CSC resistance to DNA-damaging treatments and suggest DNA-PK/Rad50 as promising targets for CSC eradication.
Yanling Wang, Haineng Xu, Tianrun Liu, Menggui Huang, Param-Puneet Butter, Chunsheng Li, Lin Zhang, Gary D. Kao, Yanqing Gong, Amit Maity, Constantinos Koumenis, Yi Fan
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can give rise to both adipocytes and osteoblasts, but the molecular mechanisms underlying MSC fate determination remain poorly understood. IκB kinase β (IKKβ), a central coordinator of inflammation and immune responses through activation of NF-κB, has been implicated as a critical molecular link between obesity and metabolic disorders. Here, we show that IKKβ can reciprocally regulate adipocyte and osteoblast differentiation of murine and human MSCs through an NF-κB–independent mechanism. IKKβ is a β-catenin kinase that phosphorylates the conserved degron motif of β-catenin to prime it for β-TrCP–mediated ubiquitination and degradation, thereby increasing adipogenesis and inhibiting osteogenesis in MSCs. Animal studies demonstrated that deficiency of IKKβ in BM mesenchymal stromal cells increased bone mass and decreased BM adipocyte formation in adult mice. In humans, IKKβ expression in adipose tissue was also positively associated with increased adiposity and elevated β-catenin phosphorylation. These findings suggest IKKβ as a key molecular switch that regulates MSC fate, and they provide potentially novel mechanistic insights into the understanding of the cross-regulation between the evolutionarily conserved IKKβ and Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathways. The IKKβ-Wnt axis we uncovered may also have important implications for development, homeostasis, and disease pathogenesis.
Yipeng Sui, Zun Liu, Se-Hyung Park, Sean E. Thatcher, Beibei Zhu, Joseph P. Fernandez, Henrik Molina, Philip A. Kern, Changcheng Zhou
It is currently controversially discussed whether mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) facilitate cartilage regeneration in vivo by a progenitor- or a nonprogenitor-mediated mechanism. Here, we describe a potentially novel unbiased in vivo cell tracking system based on transgenic donor and corresponding immunocompetent marker–tolerant recipient mouse and rat lines in inbred genetic backgrounds. Tolerance of recipients was achieved by transgenic expression of an immunologically neutral but physicochemically distinguishable variant of the marker human placental alkaline phosphatase (ALPP). In this dual transgenic system, donor lines ubiquitously express WT, heat-resistant ALPP protein, whereas recipient lines express a heat-labile ALPP mutant (ALPPE451G) resulting from a single amino acid substitution. Tolerance of recipient lines to ALPP-expressing cells and tissues was verified by skin transplantation. Using this model, we show that intraarticularly injected MSC contribute to regeneration of articular cartilage in full-thickness cartilage defects mainly via a nonprogenitor-mediated mechanism.
Daniela Zwolanek, María Satué, Verena Proell, José R. Godoy, Kathrin I. Odörfer, Magdalena Flicker, Sigrid C. Hoffmann, Thomas Rülicke, Reinhold G. Erben
Genotypic and phenotypic alterations in the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment, in particular in osteoprogenitor cells, have been shown to support leukemogenesis. However, it is unclear how leukemia cells alter the BM microenvironment to create a hospitable niche. Here, we report that acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells, but not normal CD34+ or CD33+ cells, induce osteogenic differentiation in mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs). In addition, AML cells inhibited adipogenic differentiation of MSCs. Mechanistic studies identified that AML-derived BMPs activate Smad1/5 signaling to induce osteogenic differentiation in MSCs. Gene expression array analysis revealed that AML cells induce connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) expression in BM-MSCs irrespective of AML type. Overexpression of CTGF in a transgenic mouse model greatly enhanced leukemia engraftment in vivo. Together, our data suggest that AML cells induce a preosteoblast-rich niche in the BM that in turn enhances AML expansion.
V. Lokesh Battula, Phuong M. Le, Jeffrey C. Sun, Khoa Nguyen, Bin Yuan, Ximin Zhou, Sonali Sonnylal, Teresa McQueen, Vivian Ruvolo, Keith A. Michel, Xiaoyang Ling, Rodrigo Jacamo, Elizabeth Shpall, Zhiqiang Wang, Arvind Rao, Gheath Al-Atrash, Marina Konopleva, R. Eric Davis, Melvyn A. Harrington, Catherine W. Cahill, Carlos Bueso-Ramos, Michael Andreeff
Adult cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) display a low capacity to differentiate into cardiomyocytes in injured hearts, strongly limiting the regenerative capacity of the mammalian myocardium. To identify new mechanisms regulating CPC differentiation, we used primary and clonally expanded Sca-1+ CPCs from murine adult hearts in homotypic culture or coculture with cardiomyocytes. Expression kinetics analysis during homotypic culture differentiation showed downregulation of Wnt target genes concomitant with increased expression of the Wnt antagonist, Wnt inhibitory factor 1 (Wif1), which is necessary to stimulate CPC differentiation. We show that the expression of the Wif1 gene is repressed by DNA methylation and regulated by the de novo DNA methyltransferase Dnmt3a. In addition, miR-29a is upregulated early during CPC differentiation and downregulates Dnmt3a expression, thereby decreasing Wif1 gene methylation and increasing the efficiency of differentiation of Sca-1+ CPCs in vitro. Extending these findings in vivo, transient silencing of Dnmt3a in CPCs subsequently injected in the border zone of infarcted mouse hearts improved CPC differentiation in situ and remote cardiac remodeling. In conclusion, miR-29a and Dnmt3a epigenetically regulate CPC differentiation through Wnt inhibition. Remote effects on cardiac remodeling support paracrine signaling beyond the local injection site, with potential therapeutic interest for cardiac repair.
Aurelia De Pauw, Emilie Andre, Belaid Sekkali, Caroline Bouzin, Hrag Esfahani, Nicolas Barbier, Axelle Loriot, Charles De Smet, Laetitia Vanhoutte, Stéphane Moniotte, Bernhard Gerber, Vittoria di Mauro, Daniele Catalucci, Olivier Feron, Denise Hilfiker-Kleiner, Jean-Luc Balligand
Memory Th2 cell responses underlie the development and perpetuation of allergic diseases. Because these states result from immune dysregulation, established Th2 cell responses represent a significant challenge for conventional immunotherapies. New approaches that overcome the detrimental effects of immune dysregulation are required. We tested whether memory Th2 cell responses were silenced using a therapeutic approach where allergen expression in DCs is transferred to sensitized recipients using BM cells as a vector for therapeutic gene transfer. Development of allergen-specific Th2 responses and allergen-induced airway inflammation was blocked by expression of allergen in DCs. Adoptive transfer studies showed that Th2 responses were inactivated by a combination of deletion and induction of T cell unresponsiveness. Transfer of BM encoding allergen expression targeted to DCs terminated, in an allergen-specific manner, Th2 responses in sensitized recipients. Importantly, when preexisting airway inflammation was present, there was effective silencing of Th2 cell responses, airway inflammation was alleviated, and airway hyperreactivity was reversed. The effectiveness of DC-targeted allergen expression to terminate established Th2 responses in sensitized animals indicates that exploiting cell-intrinsic T cell tolerance pathways could lead to development of highly effective immunotherapies.
Jane AL-Kouba, Andrew N. Wilkinson, Malcolm R. Starkey, Rajeev Rudraraju, Rhiannon B. Werder, Xiao Liu, Soi-Cheng Law, Jay C. Horvat, Jeremy F. Brooks, Geoffrey R. Hill, Janet M. Davies, Simon Phipps, Philip M. Hansbro, Raymond J. Steptoe
Metabolic dysregulation promotes cancer growth through not only energy production, but also epigenetic reprogramming. Here, we report that a critical node in methyl donor metabolism, nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT), ranked among the most consistently overexpressed metabolism genes in glioblastoma relative to normal brain. NNMT was preferentially expressed by mesenchymal glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs). NNMT depletes S-adenosyl methionine (SAM), a methyl donor generated from methionine. GSCs contained lower levels of methionine, SAM, and nicotinamide, but they contained higher levels of oxidized nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) than differentiated tumor cells. In concordance with the poor prognosis associated with DNA hypomethylation in glioblastoma, depletion of methionine, a key upstream methyl group donor, shifted tumors toward a mesenchymal phenotype and accelerated tumor growth. Targeting NNMT expression reduced cellular proliferation, self-renewal, and in vivo tumor growth of mesenchymal GSCs. Supporting a mechanistic link between NNMT and DNA methylation, targeting NNMT reduced methyl donor availability, methionine levels, and unmethylated cytosine, with increased levels of DNA methyltransferases, DNMT1 and DNMT3A. Supporting the clinical significance of these findings, NNMT portended poor prognosis for glioblastoma patients. Collectively, our findings support NNMT as a GSC-specific therapeutic target in glioblastoma by disrupting oncogenic DNA hypomethylation.
Jinkyu Jung, Leo J.Y. Kim, Xiuxing Wang, Qiulian Wu, Tanwarat Sanvoranart, Christopher G. Hubert, Briana C. Prager, Lisa C. Wallace, Xun Jin, Stephen C. Mack, Jeremy N. Rich
Vascular abnormalities are a common component of eye diseases that often lead to vision loss. Vaso-obliteration is associated with inherited retinal degenerations, since photoreceptor atrophy lowers local metabolic demands and vascular support to those regions is no longer required. Given the degree of neurovascular crosstalk in the retina, it may be possible to use one cell type to rescue another cell type in the face of severe stress, such as hypoxia or genetically encoded cell-specific degenerations. Here, we show that intravitreally injected human endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs) that can be isolated and differentiated from cord blood in xeno-free media collect in the vitreous cavity and rescue vaso-obliteration and neurodegeneration in animal models of retinal disease. Furthermore, we determined that a subset of the ECFCs was more effective at anatomically and functionally preventing retinopathy; these cells expressed high levels of CD44, the hyaluronic acid receptor, and IGFBPs (insulin-like growth factor–binding proteins). Injection of cultured media from ECFCs or only recombinant human IGFBPs also rescued the ischemia phenotype. These results help us to understand the mechanism of ECFC-based therapies for ischemic insults and retinal neurodegenerative diseases.
Susumu Sakimoto, Valentina Marchetti, Edith Aguilar, Kelsey Lee, Yoshihiko Usui, Salome Murinello, Felicitas Bucher, Jennifer K. Trombley, Regis Fallon, Ravenska Wagey, Carrie Peters, Elizabeth L. Scheppke, Peter D. Westenskow, Martin Friedlander
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