Non-integrative AAV-mediated gene therapy in the liver is effective in adult patients, but faces limitations in pediatric settings due to episomal DNA loss during hepatocyte proliferation. Gene targeting is a promising approach by permanently modifying the genome. We previously rescued neonatal lethality in Crigler-Najjar mice by inserting a promoterless human uridine glucuronosyl transferase A1 (UGT1A1) cDNA in exon 14 of the albumin gene, without the use of nucleases. To increase recombination rate and therapeutic efficacy, here we used CRISPR/SaCas9. Neonatal mice were transduced with two AAVs: one expressing the SaCas9 and sgRNA, and one containing a promoterless cDNA flanked by albumin homology regions. Targeting efficiency increased ~26-fold with an eGFP reporter cDNA, reaching up to 24% of eGFP-positive hepatocytes. Next, we fully corrected the diseased phenotype of Crigler-Najjar mice by targeting the hUGT1A1 cDNA. Treated mice had normal plasma bilirubin up to 10 months after administration, hUGT1A1 protein levels were ~6-fold higher than in WT liver, with a 90-fold increase in recombination rate. Liver histology, inflammatory markers, and plasma albumin were normal in treated mice, with no off-targets in predicted sites. Thus, the improved efficacy and reassuring safety profile support the potential application of the proposed approach to other liver diseases.
Alessia De Caneva, Fabiola Porro, Giulia Bortolussi, Riccardo Sola, Michela Lisjak, Adi Barzel, Mauro Giacca, Mark A. Kay, Kristian Vlahoviček, Lorena Zentilin, Andrés F. Muro
Genetic susceptibility to chronic pancreatitis in humans is frequently associated with mutations that increase activation of the digestive protease trypsin. Intrapancreatic trypsin activation is an early event in experimental acute pancreatitis in rodents, suggesting that trypsin is a key driver of pathology. In contrast to trypsin, the pancreatic protease chymotrypsin serves a protective function by mitigating trypsin activation through degradation. In humans, loss-of-function mutations in chymotrypsin C (CTRC) are common risk factors for chronic pancreatitis; however, the pathogenic effect of CTRC deficiency has not been corroborated in animal models yet. Here we report that C57BL/6 mice that are widely used for genetic manipulations do not express functional CTRC due to a single-nucleotide deletion in exon 2 of the Ctrc gene. We restored a functional Ctrc locus in C57BL/6N mice and demonstrated that in the novel Ctrc+ strain the severity of cerulein-induced experimental acute and chronic pancreatitis was significantly ameliorated. Improved disease parameters were associated with reduced intrapancreatic trypsin activation suggesting a causal link between CTRC-mediated trypsinogen degradation and protection against pancreatitis. Taken together with prior human genetic and biochemical studies, the observations provide conclusive evidence for the protective role of CTRC against pancreatitis.
Andrea Geisz, Zsanett Jancsó, Balázs Csaba Németh, Eszter Hegyi, Miklós Sahin-Tóth
NK cell exhaustion (NCE) due to sustained proliferation results in impaired NK cell function with loss of cytokine production and lytic activity. Using murine models of chronic NK cell stimulation, we have identified a phenotypic signature of NCE characterized by up-regulation of the terminal differentiation marker KLRG1 and by down-regulation of eomesodermin and the activating receptor NKG2D. Chronic stimulation of mice lacking NKG2D resulted in minimized NCE compared to control mice, thus identifying NKG2D as a crucial mediator of NCE. NKG2D internalization and downregulations on NK cells has been previously observed in the presence of tumor cells with high expression of NKG2D ligands (NKG2DL) due to the activation of the DNA damage repair pathways. Interestingly, our study revealed that during NK cell activation there is an increase of MULT1, and NKG2DL, that correlates with an induction of DNA damage. Treatment with the ATM DNA damage repair pathway inhibitor KU55933 (KU) during activation reduced NCE by improving expression of activation markers and genes involved in cell survival, by sustaining NKG2D expression and by preserving cell functionality. Importantly, NK cells expanded ex vivo in the presence of KU displayed increased anti-tumor efficacy in both NKG2D-dependent and -independent mouse models. Collectively, these data demonstrate that NCE is caused by DNA damage and regulated, at least in part, by NKG2D. Further, the prevention of NCE is a promising strategy to improve NK cell-based immunotherapy.
Maite Alvarez, Federico Simonetta, Jeanette Baker, Antonio Pierini, Arielle S. Wenokur, Alyssa R. Morrison, William J. Murphy, Robert S. Negrin
Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy (ACM) is an inherited disorder with variable genetic etiologies. Here we focused on understanding the precise molecular pathology of a single clinical variant in DSP, the gene encoding desmoplakin. We initially identified a novel missense desmoplakin variant (p.R451G) in a patient diagnosed with biventricular ACM. An extensive single-family ACM cohort was assembled, revealing a pattern of coinheritance for R451G desmoplakin and the ACM phenotype. An in vitro model system using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell lines showed depressed levels of desmoplakin in the absence of abnormal electrical propagation. Molecular dynamics simulations of desmoplakin R451G revealed no overt structural changes, but a significant loss of intramolecular interactions surrounding a putative calpain target site was observed. Protein degradation assays of recombinant desmoplakin R451G confirmed increased calpain vulnerability. In silico screening identified a subset of 3 additional ACM-linked desmoplakin missense mutations with apparent enhanced calpain susceptibility, predictions that were confirmed experimentally. Like R451G, these mutations are found in families with biventricular ACM. We conclude that augmented calpain-mediated degradation of desmoplakin represents a shared pathological mechanism for select ACM-linked missense variants. This approach for identifying variants with shared molecular pathologies may represent a powerful new strategy for understanding and treating inherited cardiomyopathies.
Ronald Ng, Heather R Manring, Nikolaos Papoutsidakis, Taylor Albertelli, Nicole Tsai, Claudia See, Xia Li, Jinkyu Park, Tyler L. Stevens, Prameela J. Bobbili, Muhammad Riaz, Yongming Ren, Christopher E. Stoddard, Paul M.L. Janssen, T. Jared Bunch, Stephen P. Hall, Ying-Chun Lo, Daniel L. Jacoby, Yibing Qyang, Nathan Wright, Maegen A. Ackermann, Stuart G. Campbell
Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) represent an easy, repeatable and representative access to information regarding solid tumors. However, their detection remains difficult because of their paucity, their short half-life, and the lack of reliable surface biomarkers. Flow cytometry (FC) is a fast, sensitive and affordable technique, ideal for rare cells detection. Adapted to CTCs detection (i.e. extremely rare cells), most FC-based techniques require a time-consuming pre-enrichment step, followed by a 2-hours staining procedure, impeding on the efficiency of CTCs detection. We overcame these caveats and reduced the procedure to less than one hour, with minimal manipulation. First, cells were simultaneously fixed, permeabilized, then stained. Second, using low-speed FC acquisition conditions and two discriminators (cell size and pan-cytokeratin expression), we suppressed the pre-enrichment step. Applied to blood from donors with or without known malignant diseases, this protocol ensures a high recovery of the cells of interest independently of their epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity and can predict which samples are derived from cancer donors. This proof-of-concept study lays the bases of a sensitive tool to detect CTCs from a small amount of blood upstream of in-depth analyses.
Alexia Lopresti, Fabrice Malergue, François Bertucci, Maria Lucia Liberatoscioli, Severine Garnier, Quentin DaCosta, Pascal Finetti, Marine Gilabert, Jean Luc Raoul, Daniel Birnbaum, Claire Acquaviva, Emilie Mamessier
Immunotherapy holds promise for multiple myeloma (MM) patients but little is known about how MM-induced immunosuppression influences response to therapy. Here, we investigated the impact of disease progression on immunotherapy efficacy in the Vk*MYC mouse model. Treatment with agonistic anti-CD137 (4-1BB) mAbs efficiently protected mice when administered early but failed to contain MM growth when delayed more than three weeks after Vk*MYC tumor cell challenge. The quality of CD8+ T cell response to CD137 stimulation was not altered by the presence of MM, but CD8+ T cell numbers were profoundly reduced at the time of treatment. Our data suggest that an insufficient ratio of CD8+ T cells over MM cells (CD8/MM) accounts for the loss of anti-CD137 mAb efficacy. We established serum M-protein levels prior to therapy as a predictive factor of response. Moreover, we developed an in silico model to capture the dynamic interactions between CD8+ T cells and MM cells. Finally, we explored two methods to improve the CD8/MM ratio: anti-CD137 mAb immunotherapy combined with Treg-depletion or administered after chemotherapy treatment with cyclophosphamide or melphalan efficiently reduced MM burden and prolonged survival. Altogether, our data indicate that consolidation treatment with anti-CD137 mAbs might prevent MM relapse.
Camille Guillerey, Kyohei Nakamura, Andrea C. Pichler, Deborah Barkauskas, Sophie Krumeich, Kimberley Stannard, Kim Miles, Heidi Harjunpää, Yuan Yu, Mika Casey, Alina I. Doban, Mircea Lazar, Gunter Hartel, David Smith, Slavica Vuckovic, Michele W.L. Teng, P. Leif Bergsagel, Marta Chesi, Geoffrey R. Hill, Ludovic Martinet, Mark J. Smyth
Cellular senescence is a tumor suppressive mechanism that can paradoxically contribute to aging pathologies. Despite evidence of immune clearance in mouse models, it is not known how senescent cells (SnCs) persist and accumulate with age or in tumors in individuals. Here, we identify cooperative mechanisms that orchestrate the immunoevasion and persistence of normal and cancer human SnCs through extracellular targeting of natural killer receptor signaling. Damaged SnCs avoid immune recognition through MMPs-dependent shedding of NKG2D-ligands reinforced via paracrine suppression of NKG2D receptor-mediated immunosurveillance. These coordinated immunoediting processes are evident in residual, drug-resistant tumors from cohorts of >700 prostate and breast cancer patients treated with senescence-inducing genotoxic chemotherapies. Unlike in mice, these reversible senescence-subversion mechanisms are independent of p53/p16 and exacerbated in oncogenic RAS-induced senescence. Critically, the p16INK4A tumor suppressor can disengage the senescence growth arrest from the damage-associated immune senescence program, which is manifest in benign nevi lesions where indolent SnCs accumulate over time and preserve a non-pro-inflammatory tissue microenvironment maintaining NKG2D-mediated immunosurveillance. Our study shows how subpopulations of SnCs elude immunosurveillance, and reveals secretome-targeted therapeutic strategies to selectively eliminate –and restore the clearance of– the detrimental SnCs that actively persist after chemotherapy and accumulate at sites of aging pathologies.
Denise P. Muñoz, Steve M. Yannone, Anneleen Daemen, Yu Sun, Funda Vakar-Lopez, Misako Kawahara, Adam M. Freund, Francis Rodier, Jennifer D. Wu, Pierre-Yves Desprez, David H. Raulet, Peter S. Nelson, Laura J. van 't Veer, Judith Campisi, Jean-Philippe Coppé
Patients with mutations in Cullin-3 (CUL3) exhibit severe early onset hypertension but the contribution of the smooth muscle remains unclear. Conditional genetic ablation of CUL3 in vascular smooth muscle (S-CUL3KO) causes progressive impairment in responsiveness to nitric oxide (NO), rapid development of severe hypertension, and increased arterial stiffness. Loss of CUL3 in primary aortic smooth muscle cells or aorta resulted in decreased expression of the NO receptor, soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC), causing a marked reduction in cGMP production and impaired vasodilation to cGMP analogues. Vasodilation responses to a selective large conductance Ca2+-activated K+-channel activator were normal suggesting that downstream signals which promote smooth muscle-dependent relaxation remained intact. We conclude that smooth muscle specific CUL3 ablation impairs both cGMP production and cGMP responses and that loss of CUL3 function selectively in smooth muscle is sufficient to cause severe hypertension by interfering with the NO-sGC-cGMP pathway. Our study provides compelling evidence for the sufficiency of vascular smooth muscle CUL3 as a major regulator of BP. CUL3 mutations cause severe vascular dysfunction, arterial stiffness and hypertension due to defects in vascular smooth muscle.
Larry N. Agbor, Anand R. Nair, Jing Wu, Ko-Ting Lu, Deborah R. Davis, Henry L. Keen, Frederick W. Quelle, James A. McCormick, Jeffrey D. Singer, Curt D. Sigmund
In the United States, poison ivy exposure is the most common naturally occurring allergen to cause allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). The immune and pruritic mechanisms associated with poison ivy ACD remain largely unexplored. Here, we compared skin whole transcriptomes and itch mediator levels in mouse ACD models induced by the poison ivy allergen, urushiol, and the synthetic allergen, oxazolone. The urushiol model produced a Th2-biased immune response and scratching behavior, resembling findings in poison ivy patients. Urushiol-challenged skin contained elevated levels of the cytokine thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), a T-cell regulator and itch mediator, and pruritogenic serotonin (5-HT) and endothelin (ET-1), but not substance P (SP) or histamine. The oxazolone model generated a mixed Th1/Th2 response associated with increased levels of substance P, 5-HT, ET-1, but not TSLP or histamine. Injections of a TSLP monoclonal neutralizing antibody, serotonergic or endothelin inhibitors, but not SP inhibitors or antihistamines, reduced scratching behaviors in urushiol-challenged mice. Our findings suggest that the mouse urushiol model may serve as a translational model of human poison ivy ACD study. Inhibiting signaling by TSLP and other cytokines may represent alternatives to the standard steroid/antihistamine regimen for steroid-resistant or -intolerant patients and in exaggerated systemic responses to poison ivy.
Boyi Liu, Yan Tai, Boyu Liu, Ana I. Caceres, Chengyu Yin, Sven-Eric Jordt
Airway neutrophilia occurs in approximately 50% of patients with asthma and is associated with particularly severe disease. Unfortunately, this form of asthma is usually refractory to corticosteroid treatment, and there is an unmet need for new therapies. Pulmonary neutrophilic inflammation is associated with Th17 cells, whose differentiation is controlled by the nuclear receptor, RORγt. Here, we tested whether VTP-938, a selective inverse agonist of this receptor, can reduce disease parameters in animal models of neutrophilic asthma. When administered prior to allergic sensitization through the airway, the RORγt inverse agonist blunted allergen-specific Th17 cell development in lung-draining lymph nodes and attenuated allergen-induced production of IL-17. VTP-938 also reduced pulmonary production of IL-17 and airway neutrophilia when given during the allergen challenge of the model. Finally, in an environmentally relevant model of allergic responses to house dust extracts, VTP-938 suppressed production of IL-17 and neutrophilic inflammation, and also markedly diminished airway hyperresponsiveness. Together, these findings suggest that orally available inverse agonists of RORγt might provide an effective therapy to treat glucocorticoid-resistant neutrophilic asthma.
Gregory S. Whitehead, Hong Soon Kang, Seddon Y. Thomas, Alexander Medvedev, Tadeusz P. Karcz, Gentaro Izumi, Keiko Nakano, Sergei S. Makarov, Hideki Nakano, Anton M. Jetten, Donald N. Cook
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