Transitions between cell fates commonly occur in development and disease. However, reversing an unwanted cell transition in order to treat disease remains an unexplored area. Here, we report a successful process of guiding ill-fated transitions toward normalization in vascular calcification. Vascular calcification is a severe complication that increases all-cause mortality of cardiovascular disease but lacks medical therapy. The vascular endothelium is a contributor of osteoprogenitor cells to vascular calcification through endothelial-mesenchymal transitions, in which endothelial cells (ECs) gain plasticity and ability to differentiate into osteoblast-like cells. We created a high throughput screening and identified SB216763, an inhibitor of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3), as an inducer of osteoblastic-endothelial transition. We demonstrated that SB216763 limits osteogenic differentiation in ECs at an early stage of vascular calcification. Lineage tracing showed that SB216763 redirected osteoblast-like cells to the endothelial lineage and reduced late-stage calcification. We also find that deletion of GSK3beta in osteoblasts recapitulated osteoblastic-endothelial transition and reduced vascular calcification. Overall, inhibition of GSK3beta promoted the transition of cells with osteoblastic characteristic to endothelial differentiation thereby ameliorating vascular calcification.
Jiayi Yao, Xiuju Wu, Xiaojing Qiao, Daoqin Zhang, Li Zhang, Jocelyn A. Ma, Xinjiang Cai, Kristina I. Boström, Yucheng Yao
The molecular mechanisms by which endothelial cells (ECs) regulate pulmonary vascularization and contribute to alveolar epithelial cell development during lung morphogenesis remain unknown. We tested the hypothesis that delta-like 4 (DLL4), an EC Notch ligand, is critical for alveolarization by combining lung mapping and functional studies in human tissue and DLL4-haploinsufficient mice (Dll4+/lacz). DLL4 expressed in a PECAM-restricted manner in capillaries, arteries, and the alveolar septum from the canalicular to alveolar stage in mice and humans. Dll4 haploinsufficiency resulted in exuberant, nondirectional vascular patterning at E17.5 and P6, followed by smaller capillaries and fewer intermediate blood vessels at P14. Vascular defects coincided with polarization of lung EC expression toward JAG1-NICD-HES1 signature and decreased tip cell-like (Car4) markers. Dll4+/lacZ mice had impaired terminal bronchiole development at the canalicular stage and impaired alveolarization upon lung maturity. We discovered that alveolar type I cell (Aqp5) markers progressively decreased in Dll4+/lacZ mice after birth. Moreover, in human lung EC, DLL4 deficiency programmed a hypersprouting angiogenic phenotype cell autonomously. In conclusion, DLL4 is expressed from the canalicular to alveolar stage in mice and humans, and Dll4 haploinsufficiency programs dysmorphic microvascularization, impairing alveolarization. Our study reveals an obligate role for DLL4-regulated angiogenesis in distal lung morphogenesis.
Sheng Xia, Heather L. Menden, Nick Townley, Sherry M. Mabry, Jeffrey Johnston, Michael F. Nyp, Daniel P. Heruth, Thomas Korfhagen, Venkatesh Sampath
After 9/11, threat of nuclear attack on American urban centers prompted government agencies to develop medical radiation countermeasures to mitigate hematopoietic-acute radiation syndrome (H-ARS) and higher-dose gastrointestinal-ARS (GI-ARS) lethality. While re-purposing leukemia drugs that enhance bone marrow repopulation successfully treats H-ARS in pre-clinical models, no mitigator potentially deliverable under mass casualty conditions preserves GI tract. Here we generate anti-ceramide 6B5 single-chain variable fragment (scFv) and show subcutaneous 6B5 scFv delivery at 24h after a 90% lethal GI-ARS dose of 15Gy mitigates mouse lethality, despite administration after DNA repair is complete. We define an alternate target to DNA repair, an evolving pattern of ceramide-mediated endothelial apoptosis post-radiation, which when disrupted by 6B5 scFv, initiates a durable program of tissue repair, permitting crypt, organ and mouse survival. We posit successful pre-clinical development will render anti-ceramide 6B5 scFv a candidate for inclusion in the Strategic National Stockpile for distribution after a radiation catastrophe.
Jimmy A. Rotolo, Chii Shyang Fong, Sahra Bodo, Prashanth K. B. Nagesh, John D. Fuller, Thivashnee Sharma, Alessandra Piersigilli, Zhigang Zhang, Zvi Fuks, Vijay K. Singh, Richard Kolesnick
Excess macrophages and smooth muscle cells (SMCs) characterize many cardiovascular diseases, but crosstalk between these cell types is poorly defined. Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a lethal disease in which lung arteriole SMCs proliferate and migrate, coating the normally unmuscularized distal arteriole. We hypothesized that increased macrophage platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-B induces pathological SMC burden in PH. Our results indicate that clodronate attenuates hypoxia-induced macrophage accumulation, distal muscularization, PH and right ventricle hypertrophy (RVH). With hypoxia exposure, macrophage Pdgfb mRNA is upregulated in mice, and LysM Cre mice carrying floxed alleles for hypoxia-inducible factor 1a, 2a, or Pdgfb have reduced macrophage Pdgfb and are protected against distal muscularization and PH. Conversely, LysM Cre, von-Hippel Lindau(flox/flox) mice have increased macrophage Hifa and Pdgfb and develop distal muscularization, PH and RVH in normoxia. Similarly, Pdgfb is upregulated in macrophages from human idiopathic or systemic sclerosis-induced pulmonary arterial hypertension patients, and macrophage-conditioned medium from these patients increases SMC proliferation and migration via PDGF-B. Finally, in mice, orotracheal administration of nanoparticles loaded with Pdgfb siRNA specifically reduces lung macrophage Pdgfb and prevents hypoxia-induced distal muscularization, PH and RVH. Thus, macrophage-derived PDGF-B is critical for pathological SMC expansion in PH, and nanoparticle-mediated inhibition of lung macrophage PDGF-B has profound implications as an interventional strategy for PH.
Aglaia Ntokou, Jui M. Dave, Amy C. Kauffman, Maor Sauler, Changwan Ryu, John Hwa, Erica L. Herzog, Inderjit Singh, W. Mark Saltzman, Daniel M. Greif
Cantu Syndrome (CS) is caused by gain-of-function (GOF) mutations in pore-forming (Kir6.1, KCNJ8) and accessory (SUR2, ABCC9) KATP channel subunits, the most common mutations being SUR2[R1154Q] and SUR2[R1154W], carried by ~30% of patients. We used CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering to introduce the equivalent of human SUR2[R1154Q] mutation to the mouse ABCC9 gene. Along with minimal CS disease features, R1154Q cardiomyocytes and vascular smooth muscle showed much lower KATP current density and pinacidil activation than WT cells. Almost complete loss of SUR2-dependent protein and KATP in homozygous R1154Q ventricles revealed an underlying diazoxide-sensitive SUR1-dependent KATP channel activity. Surprisingly, sequencing of SUR2 cDNA revealed divergent transcripts, one encoding full length SUR2 protein, and the other with in-frame deletion of 93 bases (corresponding to 31 amino acids encoded by exon 28) that was present in ~40% and ~90% of transcripts from hetero- and homozygous R1154Q tissues, respectively. Recombinant expression of SUR2A protein lacking exon 28 resulted in non-functional channels. SUR2[R1154Q] CS patient tissue and iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes showed only full length SUR2 transcripts, although further studies will be required to fully test whether SUR2[R1154Q] or other CS mutations might result in aberrant splicing and variable expressivity of disease features in human CS.
Haixia Zhang, Alex M. Hanson, Tobias U. Scherf de Almeida, Christopher H. Emfinger, Conor McClenaghan, Theresa Harter, Zihan Yan, Paige E. Cooper, G. Schuyler Brown, Eric C. Arakel, Robert P. Mecham, Attila Kovacs, Carmen M. Halabi, Blanche Schwappach, Maria S. Remedi, Colin G. Nichols
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a life-threatening degenerative vascular disease. Endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction is implicated in AAA. Our group recently demonstrated that Krüppel-like factor 11 (KLF11) plays an essential role in maintaining vascular homeostasis, at least partially through inhibition of EC inflammatory activation. However, the functions of endothelial KLF11 in AAA remain unknown. Here we found that endothelial KLF11 expression was reduced in the ECs from human aneurysms and was time-dependently decreased in the aneurysmal endothelium from both elastase- and Pcsk9/AngII-induced AAA mouse models. KLF11 deficiency in ECs markedly aggravated AAA formation, whereas EC-selective KLF11 overexpression significantly inhibited AAA formation. Mechanistically, KLF11 not only inhibited the EC inflammatory response but also diminished MMP9 expression and activity and reduced NADPH oxidase 2-mediated production of reactive oxygen species in ECs. In addition, KLF11-deficient ECs induce smooth muscle cell dedifferentiation and apoptosis. Overall, we established endothelial KLF11 as a novel factor protecting against AAA and a potential target for intervention in aortic aneurysms.
Guizhen Zhao, Ziyi Chang, Yang Zhao, Yanhong Guo, Haocheng Lu, Wenying Liang, Oren Rom, Huilun Wang, Jinjian Sun, Tianqing Zhu, Yanbo Fan, Lin Chang, Bo Yang, Minerva Garcia-Barrio, Eugene Chen, Jifeng Zhang
Reduced expression of the plasma membrane citrate transporter INDY (acronym I’m Not Dead, Yet) extends life span in lower organisms. Deletion of the mammalian Indy (mIndy) gene in rodents improves metabolism via mechanisms akin to caloric restriction, known to lower blood pressure (BP) by sympathoadrenal inhibition. We hypothesized that mIndy deletion attenuates sympathoadrenal support of BP. Continuous arterial BP and heart rate (HR) were reduced in mINDY-KO mice. Concomitantly, urinary catecholamine content was lower, and the decreases in BP and HR by mIndy deletion were attenuated after autonomic ganglionic blockade. Catecholamine biosynthesis pathways were reduced in mINDY-KO adrenals using unbiased microarray analysis. Citrate, the main mINDY substrate, increased catecholamine content in pheochromocytoma cells, while pharmacological inhibition of citrate uptake blunted the effect. Our data suggest that deletion of mIndy reduces sympathoadrenal support of BP and HR by attenuating catecholamine biosynthesis. Deletion of mIndy recapitulates beneficial cardiovascular and metabolic responses to caloric restriction, making it an attractive therapeutic target.
Diana M. Willmes, Martin Daniels, Anica Kurzbach, Stefanie Lieske, Nicole Bechmann, Tina Schumann, Christine Henke, Nermeen N. El-Agroudy, Andrey C. Da Costa Goncalves, Mirko Peitzsch, Anja Hofmann, Waldemar Kanczkowski, Kristin Kräker, Dominik N. Müller, Henning Morawietz, Andreas Deussen, Michael Wagner, Ali El-Armouche, Stephen L. Helfand, Stephan R. Bornstein, Rafael de Cabo, Michel Bernier, Graeme Eisenhofer, Jens Tank, Jens Jordan, Andreas L. Birkenfeld
Infantile hemangioma is a vascular tumor characterized by the rapid growth of disorganized blood vessels followed by slow spontaneous involution. The underlying molecular mechanisms that regulate hemangioma proliferation and involution still are not well elucidated. Our previous studies reported that NOGOB receptor (NGBR), a transmembrane protein, is required for the translocation of prenylated RAS from the cytosol to the plasma membrane and promotes RAS activation. Here, we show that NGBR is highly expressed in the proliferating phase of infantile hemangioma, but its expression decreases in the involuting phase, suggesting that NGBR may be involved in regulating the growth of proliferating hemangioma. Moreover, we demonstrated that NGBR knockdown in hemangioma stem cells (HemSCs) attenuates growth factors-stimulated RAS activation and diminishes the migration and proliferation of HemSCs, which is consistent with the effects of RAS knockdown in HemSCs. In vivo differentiation assay further showed that NGBR knockdown inhibits blood vessel formation and adipocyte differentiation of HemSCs in immunodeficient mice. Our data suggest that NGBR serves as a RAS modulator in controlling the growth and differentiation of HemSCs.
Wenquan Hu, Zhong Liu, Valerie Salato, Paula E. North, Joyce Bischoff, Suresh N. Kumar, Zhi Fang, Sujith Rajan, M. Mahmood Hussain, Qing R. Miao
Recent in vivo tracer studies demonstrated that targeted mass spectrometry (MS) on the Q Exactive Orbitrap could determine the metabolism of HDL proteins 100s-fold less abundant than APOA1. In this study, we demonstrate that the Orbitrap Lumos can measure tracer in proteins whose abundances are 1000s-fold less than APOA1, specifically the lipid transfer proteins PLTP, CETP, and LCAT. Relative to the Q Exactive, the Lumos improved tracer detection by reducing tracer enrichment compression, thereby providing consistent enrichment data across multiple HDL sizes from six participants. We determined by compartmental modeling that PLTP is secreted in medium and large HDL (alpha2, 1, and 0), and is transferred from medium to larger sizes during circulation from where it is catabolized. CETP is secreted mainly in alpha1 and alpha2, and remains in these sizes during circulation. LCAT is secreted mainly in medium and small HDL (alpha2, 3, prebeta). Unlike PLTP and CETP, LCAT appearance on HDL is markedly delayed compared to APOA1 and the other transfer proteins, indicating that LCAT may reside for a time outside of systemic circulation before attaching to HDL in plasma. The determination of these lipid transfer proteins’ unique metabolic structures was possible due to advances in MS technologies.
Sasha A. Singh, Allison B. Andraski, Hideyuki Higashi, Lang Ho Lee, Ashisha Ramsaroop, Frank M. Sacks, Masanori Aikawa
Atherosclerosis develops preferentially in areas of the arterial system, in which blood flow is disturbed. Exposure of endothelial cells to disturbed flow has been shown to induce inflammatory signaling, including NF-κB activation, which leads to the expression of leukocyte adhesion molecules and chemokines. Here, we show that disturbed flow promotes the release of adrenomedullin from endothelial cells, which in turn activates its Gs-coupled receptor calcitonin receptor–like receptor (CALCRL). This induces antiinflammatory signaling through cAMP and PKA, and it results in reduced endothelial inflammation in vitro and in vivo. Suppression of endothelial expression of Gαs, the α subunit of the G-protein Gs; CALCRL; or adrenomedullin leads to increased disturbed flow–induced inflammatory signaling in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, mice with induced endothelial-specific deficiency of Gαs, CALCRL, or adrenomedullin show increased atherosclerotic lesions. Our data identify an antiinflammatory signaling pathway in endothelial cells stimulated by disturbed flow and suggest activation of the endothelial adrenomedullin/CALCRL/Gs system as a promising approach to inhibit progression of atherosclerosis.
Akiko Nakayama, Julián Albarrán-Juárez, Guozheng Liang, Kenneth Anthony Roquid, András Iring, Sarah Tonack, Min Chen, Oliver J. Müller, Lee S. Weinstein, Stefan Offermanns
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