Liver damage is typically inferred from serum measurements of cytoplasmic liver enzymes. DNA molecules released from dying hepatocytes are an alternative biomarker, unexplored so far, potentially allowing for quantitative assessment of liver cell death. Here we describe a method for detecting acute hepatocyte death, based on quantification of circulating, cell-free DNA (cfDNA) fragments carrying hepatocyte-specific methylation patterns. We identified 3 genomic loci that are unmethylated specifically in hepatocytes, and used bisulfite conversion, PCR, and massively parallel sequencing to quantify the concentration of hepatocyte-derived DNA in mixed samples. Healthy donors had, on average, 30 hepatocyte genomes/ml plasma, reflective of basal cell turnover in the liver. We identified elevations of hepatocyte cfDNA in patients shortly after liver transplantation, during acute rejection of an established liver transplant, and also in healthy individuals after partial hepatectomy. Furthermore, patients with sepsis had high levels of hepatocyte cfDNA, which correlated with levels of liver enzymes aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT). Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients, in which elevated AST and ALT derive from damaged muscle rather than liver, did not have elevated hepatocyte cfDNA. We conclude that measurements of hepatocyte-derived cfDNA can provide specific and sensitive information on hepatocyte death, for monitoring human liver dynamics, disease, and toxicity.
Roni Lehmann-Werman, Judith Magenheim, Joshua Moss, Daniel Neiman, Ofri Abraham, Sheina Piyanzin, Hai Zemmour, Ilana Fox, Talya Dor, Markus Grompe, Giora Landesberg, Bao-Li Loza, Abraham Shaked, Kim Olthoff, Benjamin Glaser, Ruth Shemer, Yuval Dor
Mucin 1 (MUC1) is a heterodimeric protein that is aberrantly overexpressed on the surface of diverse human carcinomas and is an attractive target for the development of mAb-based therapeutics. However, attempts at targeting the shed MUC1 N-terminal subunit have been unsuccessful. We report here the generation of mAb 3D1 against the nonshed oncogenic MUC1 C-terminal (MUC1-C) subunit. We show that mAb 3D1 binds with low nM affinity to the MUC1-C extracellular domain at the restricted α3 helix. mAb 3D1 reactivity is selective for MUC1-C–expressing human cancer cell lines and primary cancer cells. Internalization of mAb 3D1 into cancer cells further supported the conjugation of mAb 3D1 to monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE). The mAb 3D1-MMAE antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) (a) kills MUC1-C–positive cells in vitro, (b) is nontoxic in MUC1-transgenic (MUC1.Tg) mice, and (c) is active against human HCC827 lung tumor xenografts. Humanized mAb (humAb) 3D1 conjugated to MMAE also exhibited antitumor activity in (a) MUC1.Tg mice harboring syngeneic MC-38/MUC1 tumors, (b) nude mice bearing human ZR-75-1 breast tumors, and (c) NCG mice engrafted with a patient-derived triple-negative breast cancer. These findings and the absence of associated toxicities support clinical development of humAb 3D1-MMAE ADCs as a therapeutic for the many cancers with MUC1-C overexpression.
Govind Panchamoorthy, Caining Jin, Deepak Raina, Ajit Bharti, Masaaki Yamamoto, Dennis Adeebge, Qing Zhao, Roderick Bronson, Shirley Jiang, Linjing Li, Yozo Suzuki, Ashujit Tagde, P. Peter Ghoroghchian, Kwok-Kin Wong, Surender Kharbanda, Donald Kufe
Loss of the NF1 tumor suppressor gene causes the autosomal dominant condition, neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). Children and adults with NF1 suffer from pathologies including benign and malignant tumors to cognitive deficits, seizures, growth abnormalities, and peripheral neuropathies. NF1 encodes neurofibromin, a Ras-GTPase activating protein, and NF1 mutations result in hyperactivated Ras signaling in patients. Existing NF1 mutant mice mimic individual aspects of NF1, but none comprehensively models the disease. We describe a potentially novel Yucatan miniswine model bearing a heterozygotic mutation in NF1 (exon 42 deletion) orthologous to a mutation found in NF1 patients. NF1+/ex42del miniswine phenocopy the wide range of manifestations seen in NF1 patients, including café au lait spots, neurofibromas, axillary freckling, and neurological defects in learning and memory. Molecular analyses verified reduced neurofibromin expression in swine NF1+/ex42del fibroblasts, as well as hyperactivation of Ras, as measured by increased expression of its downstream effectors, phosphorylated ERK1/2, SIAH, and the checkpoint regulators p53 and p21. Consistent with altered pain signaling in NF1, dysregulation of calcium and sodium channels was observed in dorsal root ganglia expressing mutant NF1. Thus, these NF1+/ex42del miniswine recapitulate the disease and provide a unique, much-needed tool to advance the study and treatment of NF1.
Katherine A. White, Vicki J. Swier, Jacob T. Cain, Jordan L. Kohlmeyer, David K. Meyerholz, Munir R. Tanas, Johanna Uthoff, Emily Hammond, Hua Li, Frank A. Rohret, Adam Goeken, Chun-Hung Chan, Mariah R. Leidinger, Shaikamjad Umesalma, Margaret R. Wallace, Rebecca D. Dodd, Karin Panzer, Amy H. Tang, Benjamin W. Darbro, Aubin Moutal, Song Cai, Wennan Li, Shreya S. Bellampalli, Rajesh Khanna, Christopher S. Rogers, Jessica C. Sieren, Dawn E. Quelle, Jill M. Weimer
We developed a potentially novel and robust antibody discovery methodology, termed selection of phage-displayed accessible recombinant targeted antibodies (SPARTA). This combines an in vitro screening step of a naive human antibody library against known tumor targets, with in vivo selections based on tumor-homing capabilities of a preenriched antibody pool. This unique approach overcomes several rate-limiting challenges to generate human antibodies amenable to rapid translation into medical applications. As a proof of concept, we evaluated SPARTA on 2 well-established tumor cell surface targets, EphA5 and GRP78. We evaluated antibodies that showed tumor-targeting selectivity as a representative panel of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and were highly efficacious. Our results validate a discovery platform to identify and validate monoclonal antibodies with favorable tumor-targeting attributes. This approach may also extend to other diseases with known cell surface targets and affected tissues easily isolated for in vivo selection.
Sara D’Angelo, Fernanda I. Staquicini, Fortunato Ferrara, Daniela I. Staquicini, Geetanjali Sharma, Christy A. Tarleton, Huynh Nguyen, Leslie A. Naranjo, Richard L. Sidman, Wadih Arap, Andrew R.M. Bradbury, Renata Pasqualini
Major advances in donor identification, antigen probe design, and experimental methods to clone pathogen-specific antibodies have led to an exponential growth in the number of newly characterized broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) that recognize the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein. Characterization of these bnAbs has defined new epitopes and novel modes of recognition that can result in potent neutralization of HIV-1. However, the translation of envelope recognition profiles in biophysical assays into an understanding of in vivo activity has lagged behind, and identification of subjects and mAbs with potent antiviral activity has remained reliant on empirical evaluation of neutralization potency and breadth. To begin to address this discrepancy between recombinant protein recognition and virus neutralization, we studied the fine epitope specificity of a panel of CD4-binding site (CD4bs) antibodies to define the molecular recognition features of functionally potent humoral responses targeting the HIV-1 envelope site bound by CD4. Whereas previous studies have used neutralization data and machine-learning methods to provide epitope maps, here, this approach was reversed, demonstrating that simple binding assays of fine epitope specificity can prospectively identify broadly neutralizing CD4bs–specific mAbs. Building on this result, we show that epitope mapping and prediction of neutralization breadth can also be accomplished in the assessment of polyclonal serum responses. Thus, this study identifies a set of CD4bs bnAb signature amino acid residues and demonstrates that sensitivity to mutations at signature positions is sufficient to predict neutralization breadth of polyclonal sera with a high degree of accuracy across cohorts and across clades.
Hao D. Cheng, Sebastian K. Grimm, Morgan S.A. Gilman, Luc Christian Gwom, Devin Sok, Christopher Sundling, Gina Donofrio, Gunilla B. Karlsson Hedestam, Mattia Bonsignori, Barton F. Haynes, Timothy P. Lahey, Isaac Maro, C. Fordham von Reyn, Miroslaw K. Gorny, Susan Zolla-Pazner, Bruce D. Walker, Galit Alter, Dennis R. Burton, Merlin L. Robb, Shelly J. Krebs, Michael S. Seaman, Chris Bailey-Kellogg, Margaret E. Ackerman
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
Malaria eradication necessitates new tools to fight the evolving and complex Plasmodium pathogens. These tools include prophylactic drugs that eliminate Plasmodium liver stages and consequently prevent clinical disease, decrease transmission, and reduce the propensity for resistance development. Currently, the identification of these drugs relies on in vitro P. falciparum liver stage assays or in vivo causal prophylaxis assays using rodent malaria parasites; there is no method to directly test in vivo liver stage activity of candidate antimalarials against the human malaria–causing parasite P. falciparum. Here, we use a liver-chimeric humanized mouse (FRG huHep) to demonstrate in vivo P. falciparum liver stage development and describe the efficacy of clinically used and candidate antimalarials with prophylactic activity. We show that daily administration of atovaquone-proguanil (ATQ-PG; ATQ, 30 mg/kg, and PG, 10 mg/kg) protects 5 of 5 mice from liver stage infection, consistent with the use in humans as a causal prophylactic drug. Single-dose primaquine (60 mg/kg) has similar activity to that observed in humans, demonstrating the activity of this drug (and its active metabolites) in FRG huHep mice. We also show that DSM265, a selective Plasmodial dihydroorotate dehydrogenase inhibitor with causal prophylactic activity in humans, reduces liver stage burden in FRG huHep mice. Finally, we measured liver stage–to–blood stage transition of the parasite, the ultimate readout of prophylactic activity and measurement of infective capacity of parasites in the liver, to show that ATQ-PG reduces blood stage patency to below the limit of quantitation by quantitative PCR (qPCR). The FRG huHep model, thus, provides a platform for preclinical evaluation of drug candidates for liver stage causal prophylactic activity, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamics studies, and biological studies to investigate the mechanism of action of liver stage active antimalarials.
Erika L. Flannery, Lander Foquet, Vorada Chuenchob, Matthew Fishbaugher, Zachary Billman, Mary Jane Navarro, William Betz, Tayla M. Olsen, Joshua Lee, Nelly Camargo, Thao Nguyen, Carola Schafer, Brandon K. Sack, Elizabeth M. Wilson, Jessica Saunders, John Bial, Brice Campo, Susan A. Charman, Sean C. Murphy, Margaret A. Phillips, Stefan H.I. Kappe, Sebastian A. Mikolajczak
Oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) is a widely used model to study ischemia-driven neovascularization (NV) in the retina and to serve in proof-of-concept studies in evaluating antiangiogenic drugs for ocular, as well as nonocular, diseases. The primary parameters that are analyzed in this mouse model include the percentage of retina with vaso-obliteration (VO) and NV areas. However, quantification of these two key variables comes with a great challenge due to the requirement of human experts to read the images. Human readers are costly, time-consuming, and subject to bias. Using recent advances in machine learning and computer vision, we trained deep learning neural networks using over a thousand segmentations to fully automate segmentation in OIR images. While determining the percentage area of VO, our algorithm achieved a similar range of correlation coefficients to that of expert inter-human correlation coefficients. In addition, our algorithm achieved a higher range of correlation coefficients compared with inter-expert correlation coefficients for quantification of the percentage area of neovascular tufts. In summary, we have created an open-source, fully automated pipeline for the quantification of key values of OIR images using deep learning neural networks.
Sa Xiao, Felicitas Bucher, Yue Wu, Ariel Rokem, Cecilia S. Lee, Kyle V. Marra, Regis Fallon, Sophia Diaz-Aguilar, Edith Aguilar, Martin Friedlander, Aaron Y. Lee
Accurate HIV-1 incidence estimation is critical to the success of HIV-1 prevention strategies. Current assays are limited by high false recent rates (FRRs) in certain populations and a short mean duration of recent infection (MDRI). Dynamic early HIV-1 antibody response kinetics were harnessed to identify biomarkers for improved incidence assays. We conducted retrospective analyses on circulating antibodies from known recent and longstanding infections and evaluated binding and avidity measurements of Env and non-Env antigens and multiple antibody forms (i.e., IgG, IgA, IgG3, IgG4, dIgA, and IgM) in a diverse panel of 164 HIV-1–infected participants (clades A, B, C). Discriminant function analysis identified an optimal set of measurements that were subsequently evaluated in a 324-specimen blinded biomarker validation panel. These biomarkers included clade C gp140 IgG3, transmitted/founder clade C gp140 IgG4 avidity, clade B gp140 IgG4 avidity, and gp41 immunodominant region IgG avidity. MDRI was estimated at 215 day or alternatively, 267 days. FRRs in untreated and treated subjects were 5.0% and 3.6%, respectively. Thus, computational analysis of dynamic HIV-1 antibody isotype and antigen interactions during infection enabled design of a promising HIV-1 recency assay for improved cross-sectional incidence estimation.
Kelly E. Seaton, Nathan A. Vandergrift, Aaron W. Deal, Wes Rountree, John Bainbridge, Eduard Grebe, David A. Anderson, Sheetal Sawant, Xiaoying Shen, Nicole L. Yates, Thomas N. Denny, Hua-Xin Liao, Barton F. Haynes, Merlin L. Robb, Neil Parkin, Breno R. Santos, Nigel Garrett, Matthew A. Price, Denise Naniche, Ann C. Duerr, The CEPHIA group, Sheila Keating, Dylan Hampton, Shelley Facente, Kara Marson, Alex Welte, Christopher D. Pilcher, Myron S. Cohen, Georgia D. Tomaras
Currently, there is a limited ability to interactively study developmental cardiac mechanics and physiology. We therefore combined light-sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM) with virtual reality (VR) to provide a hybrid platform for 3D architecture and time-dependent cardiac contractile function characterization. By taking advantage of the rapid acquisition, high axial resolution, low phototoxicity, and high fidelity in 3D and 4D (3D spatial + 1D time or spectra), this VR-LSFM hybrid methodology enables interactive visualization and quantification otherwise not available by conventional methods, such as routine optical microscopes. We hereby demonstrate multiscale applicability of VR-LSFM to (a) interrogate skin fibroblasts interacting with a hyaluronic acid–based hydrogel, (b) navigate through the endocardial trabecular network during zebrafish development, and (c) localize gene therapy-mediated potassium channel expression in adult murine hearts. We further combined our batch intensity normalized segmentation algorithm with deformable image registration to interface a VR environment with imaging computation for the analysis of cardiac contraction. Thus, the VR-LSFM hybrid platform demonstrates an efficient and robust framework for creating a user-directed microenvironment in which we uncovered developmental cardiac mechanics and physiology with high spatiotemporal resolution.
Yichen Ding, Arash Abiri, Parinaz Abiri, Shuoran Li, Chih-Chiang Chang, Kyung In Baek, Jeffrey J. Hsu, Elias Sideris, Yilei Li, Juhyun Lee, Tatiana Segura, Thao P. Nguyen, Alexander Bui, René R. Sevag Packard, Peng Fei, Tzung K. Hsiai
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