In cystic fibrosis (CF), deletion of phenylalanine 508 (F508del) in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) anion channel causes misfolding and premature degradation. Considering the numerous effects of the F508del mutation on the assembly and processing of CFTR protein, combination therapy with several pharmacological correctors is likely to be required to treat CF patients. Recently, it has been reported that thymosin α-1 (Tα-1) has multiple beneficial effects that could lead to a single-molecule-based therapy for CF patients with F508del. Such effects include suppression of inflammation, improvement in F508del-CFTR maturation and gating, and stimulation of chloride secretion through the calcium-activated chloride channel (CaCC). Given the importance of such a drug, we aimed to characterize the underlying molecular mechanisms of action of Tα-1. In-depth analysis of Tα-1 effects was performed using well-established microfluorimetric, biochemical, and electrophysiological techniques on epithelial cell lines and primary bronchial epithelial cells from CF patients. The studies, which were conducted in 2 independent laboratories with identical outcome, demonstrated that Tα-1 is devoid of activity on mutant CFTR as well as on CaCC. Although Tα-1 may still be useful as an antiinflammatory agent, its ability to target defective anion transport in CF remains to be further investigated.
Valeria Tomati, Emanuela Caci, Loretta Ferrera, Emanuela Pesce, Elvira Sondo, Deborah M. Cholon, Nancy L. Quinney, Susan E. Boyles, Andrea Armirotti, Roberto Ravazzolo, Luis J.V. Galietta, Martina Gentzsch, Nicoletta Pedemonte
Intraocular injection of adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors has been an evident route for delivering gene drugs into the retina. However, gaps in our understanding of AAV transduction patterns within the anatomically unique environments of the subretinal and intravitreal space of the primate eye impeded the establishment of noninvasive and efficient gene delivery to foveal cones in the clinic. Here, we establish new vector-promoter combinations to overcome the limitations associated with AAV-mediated cone transduction in the fovea with supporting studies in mouse models, human induced pluripotent stem cell–derived organoids, postmortem human retinal explants, and living macaques. We show that an AAV9 variant provides efficient foveal cone transduction when injected into the subretinal space several millimeters away from the fovea, without detaching this delicate region. An engineered AAV2 variant provides gene delivery to foveal cones with a well-tolerated dose administered intravitreally. Both delivery modalities rely on a cone-specific promoter and result in high-level transgene expression compatible with optogenetic vision restoration. The model systems described here provide insight into the behavior of AAV vectors across species to obtain safety and efficacy needed for gene therapy in neurodegenerative disorders.
Hanen Khabou, Marcela Garita-Hernandez, Antoine Chaffiol, Sacha Reichman, Céline Jaillard, Elena Brazhnikova, Stéphane Bertin, Valérie Forster, Mélissa Desrosiers, Céline Winckler, Olivier Goureau, Serge Picaud, Jens Duebel, José-Alain Sahel, Deniz Dalkara
The genome-wide activity of transcription factors (TFs) on multiple regulatory elements precludes their use as gene-specific regulators. Here we show that ectopic expression of a TF in a cell-specific context can be used to silence the expression of a specific gene as a therapeutic approach to regulate gene expression in human disease. We selected the TF Krüppel-like factor 15 (KLF15) based on its putative ability to recognize a specific DNA sequence motif present in the rhodopsin (RHO) promoter and its lack of expression in terminally differentiated rod photoreceptors (the RHO-expressing cells). Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector–mediated ectopic expression of KLF15 in rod photoreceptors of pigs enables Rho silencing with limited genome-wide transcriptional perturbations. Suppression of a RHO mutant allele by KLF15 corrects the phenotype of a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa with no observed toxicity. Cell-specific-context conditioning of TF activity may prove a novel mode for somatic gene–targeted manipulation.
Salvatore Botta, Nicola de Prisco, Elena Marrocco, Mario Renda, Martina Sofia, Fabiola Curion, Maria Laura Bacci, Domenico Ventrella, Cathal Wilson, Carlo Gesualdo, Settimio Rossi, Francesca Simonelli, Enrico Maria Surace
BACKGROUND. In patients with limited response to conventional therapeutics, repositioning of already approved drugs can bring new, more effective options. Current drug repositioning methods, however, frequently rely on retrospective computational analyses and genetic testing — time consuming methods that delay application of repositioned drugs. Here, we show how proteomic analysis of liquid biopsies successfully guided treatment of neovascular inflammatory vitreoretinopathy (NIV), an inherited autoinflammatory disease with otherwise poor clinical outcomes. METHODS. Vitreous biopsies from NIV patients were profiled by an antibody array for expression of 200 cytokine-signaling proteins. Non-NIV controls were compared with NIV samples from various stages of disease progression. Patterns were identified by 1-way ANOVA, hierarchical clustering, and pathway analysis. Subjects treated with repositioned therapies were followed longitudinally. RESULTS. Proteomic profiles revealed molecular pathways in NIV pathologies and implicated superior and inferior targets for therapy. Anti-VEGF injections resolved vitreous hemorrhages without the need for vitrectomy surgery. Methotrexate injections reversed inflammatory cell reactions without the side effects of corticosteroids. Anti–IL-6 therapy prevented recurrent fibrosis and retinal detachment where all prior antiinflammatory interventions had failed. The cytokine array also showed that TNF-α levels were normal and that corticosteroid-sensitive pathways were absent in fibrotic NIV, helping explain prior failure of these conventional therapeutic approaches. CONCLUSIONS. Personalized proteomics can uncover highly personalized therapies for autoinflammatory disease that can be timed with specific pathologic activities. This precision medicine strategy can also help prevent delivery of ineffective drugs. Importantly, proteomic profiling of liquid biopsies offers an endpoint analysis that can directly guide treatment using available drugs.
Gabriel Velez, Alexander G. Bassuk, Diana Colgan, Stephen H. Tsang, Vinit B. Mahajan
Pridopidine is currently under clinical development for Huntington disease (HD), with on-going studies to better characterize its therapeutic benefit and mode of action. Pridopidine was administered either prior to the appearance of disease phenotypes or in advanced stages of disease in the YAC128 mouse model of HD. In the early treatment cohort, animals received 0, 10, or 30 mg/kg pridopidine for a period of 10.5 months. In the late treatment cohort, animals were treated for 8 weeks with 0 mg/kg or an escalating dose of pridopidine (10 to 30 mg/kg over 3 weeks). Early treatment improved motor coordination and reduced anxiety- and depressive-like phenotypes in YAC128 mice, but it did not rescue striatal and corpus callosum atrophy. Late treatment, conversely, only improved depressive-like symptoms. RNA-seq analysis revealed that early pridopidine treatment reversed striatal transcriptional deficits, upregulating disease-specific genes that are known to be downregulated during HD, a finding that is experimentally confirmed herein. This suggests that pridopidine exerts beneficial effects at the transcriptional level. Taken together, our findings support continued clinical development of pridopidine for HD, particularly in the early stages of disease, and provide valuable insight into the potential therapeutic mode of action of pridopidine.
Marta Garcia-Miralles, Michal Geva, Jing Ying Tan, Nur Amirah Binte Mohammad Yusof, Yoonjeong Cha, Rebecca Kusko, Liang Juin Tan, Xiaohong Xu, Iris Grossman, Aric Orbach, Michael R. Hayden, Mahmoud A. Pouladi
The monocyte lineage is essential to normal wound healing. Macrophage inhibition or knockout in mice results in impaired wound healing through reduced neovascularization, granulation tissue formation, and reepithelialization. Numerous studies have either depleted macrophages or reduced their activity in the context of wound healing. Here, we demonstrate that by increasing the number of macrophages or monocytes in the wound site above physiologic levels via pullulan-collagen composite dermal hydrogel scaffold delivery, the rate of wound healing can be significantly accelerated in both wild-type and diabetic mice, with no adverse effect on the quality of repair. Macrophages transplanted onto wounds differentiate into M1 and M2 phenotypes of different proportions at various time points, ultimately increasing angiogenesis. Given that monocytes can be readily isolated from peripheral blood without in vitro manipulation, these findings hold promise for translational medicine aimed at accelerating wound healing across a broad spectrum of diseases.
Michael S. Hu, Graham G. Walmsley, Leandra A. Barnes, Kipp Weiskopf, Robert C. Rennert, Dominik Duscher, Michael Januszyk, Zeshaan N. Maan, Wan Xing Hong, Alexander T.M. Cheung, Tripp Leavitt, Clement D. Marshall, Ryan C. Ransom, Samir Malhotra, Alessandra L. Moore, Jayakumar Rajadas, H. Peter Lorenz, Irving L. Weissman, Geoffrey C. Gurtner, Michael T. Longaker
We have recently reported that tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) promote early transcoelomic metastasis of ovarian cancer by facilitating TAM–ovarian cancer cell spheroid formation. ASK1 is known to be important for macrophage activation and inflammation-mediated tumorigenesis. In the present study, we show that ASK1 deficiency attenuates TAM-spheroid formation and ovarian cancer progression in an orthotopic ovarian cancer model. Interestingly, ASK1 in stroma, but not in TAMs, is critical for peritoneal tumor growth of ovarian cancer. Moreover, overexpression of an ASK1 inhibitory protein (suppressor of cytokine signaling-1; SOCS1) in vascular endothelium attenuates vascular permeability, TAM infiltration, and ovarian cancer growth. Mechanistically, we show that ASK1 mediates degradation of endothelial junction protein VE-cadherin via a lysosomal pathway to promote macrophage transmigration. Importantly, a pharmacological ASK1 inhibitor prevents tumor-induced vascular leakage, macrophage infiltration, and tumor growth in two mouse models. Since transcoelomic metastasis is also associated with many other cancers, such as pancreatic and colon cancers, our study provides ASK1 as a therapeutic target for the treatment of ovarian cancer and other transcoelomic metastasis cancers.
Mingzhu Yin, Huanjiao Jenny Zhou, Jiqin Zhang, Caixia Lin, Hongmei Li, Xia Li, Yonghao Li, Haifeng Zhang, David G. Breckenridge, Weidong Ji, Wang Min
V-domain immunoglobulin suppressor of T cell activation (VISTA) is a recently discovered immune checkpoint ligand that functions to suppress T cell activity. The therapeutic potential of activating this immune checkpoint pathway to reduce inflammatory responses remains untapped, largely due to the inability to derive agonists targeting its unknown receptor. A dimeric construct of the IgV domain of VISTA (VISTA-Fc) was shown to suppress the activation of T cells in vitro. However, this effect required its immobilization on a solid surface, suggesting that VISTA-Fc may display limited efficacy as a VISTA-receptor agonist in vivo. Herein, we have designed a stable pentameric VISTA construct (VISTA.COMP) by genetically fusing its IgV domain to the pentamerization domain from the cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP). In contrast to VISTA-Fc, VISTA.COMP does not require immobilization to inhibit the proliferation of CD4+ T cells undergoing polyclonal activation. Furthermore, we show that VISTA.COMP, but not VISTA-Fc, functions as an immunosuppressive agonist in vivo capable of prolonging the survival of skin allografts in a mouse transplant model as well as rescuing mice from acute concanavalin-A–induced hepatitis. Collectively, we believe our data demonstrate that VISTA.COMP is a checkpoint receptor agonist and the first agent to our knowledge targeting the putative VISTA-receptor to suppress T cell–mediated immune responses.
Aaron Prodeus, Aws Abdul-Wahid, Amanda Sparkes, Nicholas W. Fischer, Marzena Cydzik, Nicholas Chiang, Mays Alwash, Alessandra Ferzoco, Nathalie Vacaresse, Michael Julius, Reginald M. Gorczysnki, Jean Gariépy
Alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are among the most frequent causes of chronic liver disease in the United States. Although the two entities are triggered by different etiologies — chronic alcohol consumption (ASH) and obesity-associated lipotoxicity (NASH) — they share overlapping histological and clinical features owing to common pathogenic mechanisms. These pathogenic processes include altered hepatocyte lipid metabolism, organelle dysfunction (i.e., ER stress), hepatocyte apoptosis, innate immune system activation, and hepatic stellate cell activation. Nonetheless, there are several disease-specific molecular signaling pathways, such as differential pathway activation downstream of TLR4 (MyD88-dependence in NASH versus MyD88-independence in ASH), inflammasome activation and IL-1β signaling in ASH, insulin resistance and lipotoxicity in NASH, and dysregulation of different microRNAs, which clearly highlight that ASH and NASH are two distinct biological entities. Both pathogenic similarities and differences have therapeutic implications. In this Review, we discuss these pathogenic mechanisms and their therapeutic implications for each disease, focusing on both shared and distinct targets.
Thomas Greuter, Harmeet Malhi, Gregory J. Gores, Vijay H. Shah
BACKGROUND. Right-sided heart failure is the leading cause of death in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Similar to left heart failure, sympathetic overactivation and β-adrenoreceptor (βAR) abnormalities are found in PAH. Based on successful therapy of left heart failure with β-blockade, the safety and benefits of the nonselective β-blocker/vasodilator carvedilol were evaluated in PAH. METHODS. PAH Treatment with Carvedilol for Heart Failure (PAHTCH) is a single-center, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial. Following 1-week run-in, 30 participants were randomized to 1 of 3 arms for 24 weeks: placebo, low-fixed-dose, or dose-escalating carvedilol. Outcomes included clinical measures and mechanistic biomarkers. RESULTS. Decreases in heart rate and blood pressure with carvedilol were well tolerated; heart rate correlated with carvedilol dose. Carvedilol-treated groups had no decrease in exercise capacity measured by 6-minute walk, but had lower heart rates at peak and after exercise, and faster heart rate recovery. Dose-escalating carvedilol was associated with reduction in right ventricular (RV) glycolytic rate and increase in βAR levels. There was no evidence of RV functional deterioration; rather, cardiac output was maintained. CONCLUSIONS. Carvedilol is likely safe in PAH over 6 months of therapy and has clinical and mechanistic benefits associated with improved outcomes. The data provide support for longer and larger studies to establish guidelines for use of β-blockers in PAH. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01586156 FUNDING. This project was supported by NIH R01HL115008 and R01HL60917 and in part by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, UL1TR000439.
Samar Farha, Didem Saygin, Margaret M. Park, Hoi I. Cheong, Kewal Asosingh, Suzy A.A. Comhair, Olivia R. Stephens, Emir C. Roach, Jacqueline Sharp, Kristin B. Highland, Frank P. DiFilippo, Donald R. Neumann, W.H. Wilson Tang, Serpil C. Erzurum
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