Hyperuricemia is implicated in numerous pathologies but the mechanisms underlying uric acid production are poorly understood. Using a combination of mouse studies, cultured cell studies, and human serum samples, we sought to determine the cellular source of uric acid. In mice, fasting and glucocorticoid treatment increased serum uric acid and uric acid release from ex vivo incubated skeletal muscle. In vitro, glucocorticoids and the transcription factor FoxO3 increased purine nucleotide degradation and purine release from differentiated muscle cells, which coincided with the transcriptional upregulation of AMP deaminase 3, a rate-limiting enzyme in adenine nucleotide degradation. Heavy isotope tracing during co-culture experiments revealed that oxidation of muscle purines to uric acid required their transfer from muscle cells to a cell type that expresses xanthine oxidoreductase, such as endothelial cells. Lastly, in healthy women, matched for age and body composition, serum uric acid was greater in individuals scoring below average on standard physical function assessments. Together, these studies reveal skeletal muscle purine degradation is an underlying driver of uric acid production, with the final step of uric acid production occurring primarily in a non-muscle cell type. This suggests that skeletal muscle fiber purine degradation may represent a therapeutic target to reduce serum uric acid and treat numerous pathologies.
Spencer G. Miller, Catalina Matias, Paul S. Hafen, Andrew S. Law, Carol A. Witczak, Jeffrey J. Brault
Circadian rhythm dysfunction is a hallmark of Parkinson Disease (PD), and diminished expression of the core clock gene Bmal1 has been described in PD patients. BMAL1 is required for core circadian clock function, but also serves non-rhythmic functions. Germline Bmal1 deletion can cause brain oxidative stress and synapse loss in mice, and can exacerbate dopaminergic neurodegeneration in response to the toxin MPTP. Here we examined the impact of cell type-specific Bmal1 deletion on dopaminergic neuron viability in vivo. We observed that global, post-natal deletion of Bmal1 caused spontaneous loss of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive (TH+) dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). This was not replicated by light-induced disruption of behavioral circadian rhythms, and was not induced by astrocyte- or microglia-specific Bmal1 deletion. However, either pan-neuronal or TH neuron-specific Bmal1 deletion caused cell-autonomous loss of TH+ neurons in the SNpc. Bmal1 deletion did not change the percentage of TH neuron loss after alpha-synuclein fibril injection, though Bmal1 KO mice had fewer TH neurons at baseline. Transcriptomic analysis revealed dysregulation of pathways involved in oxidative phosphorylation and Parkinson Disease. These findings demonstrate a cell-autonomous role for BMAL1 in regulating dopaminergic neuronal survival, and may have important implications for neuroprotection in PD.
Michael K. Kanan, Patrick W. Sheehan, Jessica N. Haines, Pedro G. Gomez, Adya Dhuler, Collin J. Nadarajah, Zachary M. Wargel, Brittany M. Freeberg, Hemanth R. Nelvagal, Mariko Izumo, Joseph S. Takahashi, Jonathan D. Cooper, Albert A. Davis, Erik S. Musiek
Drug-induced liver injury (DILI), especially acetaminophen overdose, is the leading cause of acute liver failure. Pregnane X receptor (PXR) is a nuclear receptor and the master regulator of drug metabolism. Aberrant activation of PXR plays a pathogenic role in the acetaminophen hepatotoxicity. Here, we aimed to examine the PXR S-nitrosylation (SNO) in response to acetaminophen. We found that PXR was S-nitrosylated in hepatocytes and the mouse livers after exposure to acetaminophen or S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO). Mass-spectrometry and site-directed mutagenesis identified the cysteine 307 as the primary residue for SNO-modification. In hepatocytes, SNO suppressed both agonist (rifampicin and SR12813)-induced and constitutively active PXR (VP-PXR) activations. Furthermore, in acetaminophen overdosed mouse livers, PXR protein was decreased at the centrilobular regions overlapping with increased SNO. In PXR-deficient (PXR-/-) mice, replenishing the livers with the SNO-deficient PXR significantly aggravated hepatic necrosis, increased HMGB1 release, and exacerbated liver injury and inflammation. Particularly, we demonstrated that S-nitrosoglutathione reductase (GSNOR) inhibitor N6022 promoted hepatoprotection by increasing the levels of PXR S-nitrosylation. In conclusion, PXR is post-translationally modified by S-nitrosylation in hepatocytes in response to acetaminophen. This modification mitigated the acetaminophen-induced PXR hyperactivity. It may serve as a target for therapeutical intervention.
Qi Cui, Tingting Jiang, Xinya Xie, Haodong Wang, Lei Qian, Yanyan Cheng, Qiang Li, Tingxu Lu, Qinyu Yao, Jia Liu, Baochang Lai, Chang Chen, Lei Xiao, Nanping Wang
Tuberculosis, a chronic infectious disease caused by a single pathogen, holds the highest mortality rate worldwide. RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) are involved in autophagy — a key defense mechanism against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection — by modulating RNA stability and forming intricate regulatory networks. However, the functions of host RBPs during Mtb infection remain relatively unexplored. ZNFX1, a conserved RBP critically involved in immune deficiency diseases and mycobacterial infections, is significantly upregulated in Mtb-infected macrophages. Here, we aimed to explore the immune regulatory functions of ZNFX1 during Mtb infection. We observed that Znfx1 knockout markedly compromised the multifaceted immune responses mediated by macrophages. This compromise resulted in reduced phagocytosis, suppressed macrophage activation, increased Mtb burden, progressive lung tissue injury, and chronic inflammation in Mtb-infected mice. Mechanistic investigations revealed that the absence of ZNFX1 inhibited autophagy, consequently mediating immune suppression. ZNFX1 critically maintained AMPK-regulated autophagic flux by stabilizing Prkaa2 mRNA, which encodes a key catalytic α subunit of AMPK, through its zinc finger region. This process contributed to Mtb growth suppression. These findings reveal a function of ZNFX1 in establishing anti-Mtb immune responses, enhancing our understanding of the roles of RBPs in tuberculosis immunity and providing a promising approach to bolster anti-tuberculosis immunotherapy.
Honglin Liu, Zhenyu Han, Liru Chen, Jing Zhang, Zhanqing Zhang, Yaoxin Chen, Feichang Liu, Ke Wang, Jieyu Liu, Na Sai, Xinying Zhou, Chaoying Zhou, Shengfeng Hu, Qian Wen, Li Ma
Pulmonary fibrosis is a chronic and often fatal disease. The pathogenesis is characterized by aberrant repair of lung parenchyma resulting in loss of physiological homeostasis, respiratory failure and death. The immune response in pulmonary fibrosis is dysregulated. The gut microbiome is a key regulator of immunity. The role of the gut microbiome in regulating the pulmonary immunity in lung fibrosis is poorly understood. Here, we determine the impact of gut microbiota on pulmonary fibrosis in C57BL/6 mice derived from different vendors (C57BL/6J and C57BL/6NCrl). We use germ free models, fecal microbiota transplantation and cohousing to transmit gut microbiota. Metagenomic studies of feces establish keystone species between sub-strains. Pulmonary fibrosis is microbiota dependent in C57BL/6 mice. Gut microbiota are distinct by β diversity (PERMANOVA P<0.001) and α diversity (P<0.0001). Mortality and lung fibrosis are attenuated in C57BL/6NCrl mice. Elevated CD4+ IL-10+ T cells and lower IL-6 occur in C57BL/6NCrl mice. Horizontal transmission of microbiota by cohousing attenuates mortality in C57BL/6J mice and promotes a transcriptionally altered pulmonary immunity. Temporal changes in lung and gut microbiota demonstrates that gut microbiota contribute largely to immunological phenotype. Key regulatory gut microbiota contribute to lung fibrosis generating rationale for human studies.
Stephen J. Gurczynski, Jay H. Lipinski, Joshua Y. Strauss, Shafiul Alam, Gary B. Huffnagle, Piyush Ranjan, Lucy H. Kennedy, Bethany B. Moore, David N. O'Dwyer
Weaver syndrome is a Mendelian disorder of the epigenetic machinery (MDEM) caused by germline pathogenic variants in EZH2, which encodes the predominant H3K27 methyltransferase and key enzymatic component of Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). Weaver syndrome is characterized by striking overgrowth and advanced bone age, intellectual disability, and distinctive facies. We generated a mouse model for the most common Weaver syndrome missense variant, EZH2 p.R684C. Ezh2R684C/R684C mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) showed global depletion of H3K27me3. Ezh2R684C/+ mice had abnormal bone parameters indicative of skeletal overgrowth, and Ezh2R684C/+ osteoblasts showed increased osteogenic activity. RNA-seq comparing osteoblasts differentiated from Ezh2R684C/+ and Ezh2+/+ bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) indicated collective dysregulation of the BMP pathway and osteoblast differentiation. Inhibition of the opposing H3K27 demethylases KDM6A/6B substantially reversed the excessive osteogenesis in Ezh2R684C/+ cells both at the transcriptional and phenotypic levels. This supports both the ideas that writers and erasers of histone marks exist in a fine balance to maintain epigenome state, and that epigenetic modulating agents have therapeutic potential for the treatment of MDEMs.
Christine W. Gao, WanYing Lin, Ryan C. Riddle, Priyanka Kushwaha, Leandros Boukas, Hans T. Björnsson, Kasper D. Hansen, Jill A. Fahrner
Interorgan crosstalk via secreted hormones and metabolites is a fundamental aspect of mammalian metabolic physiology. Beyond the highly specialized endocrine cells, peripheral tissues are emerging as an important source of metabolic hormones that influence energy and nutrient metabolism and contribute to disease pathogenesis. Neuregulin 4 (Nrg4) is a fat-derived hormone that protects mice from nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and NASH-associated liver cancer by shaping hepatic lipid metabolism and the liver immune microenvironment. Despite its enriched expression in brown fat, whether NRG4 plays a role in thermogenic response and mediates the metabolic benefits of cold exposure remain unexplored. Here we show that Nrg4 expression in inguinal white adipose tissue (iWAT) is highly responsive to chronic cold exposure. Nrg4 deficiency impairs beige fat induction and renders mice more susceptible to diet-induced metabolic disorders under mild cold conditions. Using mice with adipocyte and hepatocyte-specific Nrg4 deletion, we reveal that adipose tissue-derived NRG4, but not hepatic NRG4, is essential for beige fat induction following cold acclimation. Furthermore, treatment with recombinant NRG4-Fc fusion protein promotes beige fat induction in iWAT and improves metabolic health in diet-induced obese mice. These findings highlight a critical role of NRG4 in mediating beige fat induction and preserving metabolic health under mild cold conditions.
Zhimin Chen, Peng Zhang, Tongyu Liu, Xiaoxue Qiu, Siming Li, Jiandie D. Lin
We previously showed that ablation of tumor hypoxia can sensitize tumors to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB). Here, we used a Kras+/G12DTP53+/R172HPdx1-Cre (KPC) derived model of pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC) to examine the tumor response and adaptive resistance mechanisms involved in response to two established methods of hypoxia-reducing therapy: the hypoxia-activated prodrug TH-302 and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR-2) blockade. The combination of both modalities normalized tumor vasculature, increased DNA damage and cell death, and delayed tumor growth. In contrast to prior cancer models, the combination did not alleviate overall tissue hypoxia or sensitize these KPC tumors to ICB therapy despite qualitative improvements to the CD8 T cell response. Bulk-tumor RNA sequencing, flow cytometry, and adoptive myeloid cell transfer suggested that treated tumor cells increased their capacity to recruit granulocytic myeloid derived suppressor cells (G-MDSC) through CCL9 secretion. Blockade of the CCL9-CCR1 axis could limit G-MDSC migration, and depletion of Ly6G-positive cells could sensitize tumors to the combination of TH-302 and anti-VEGFR-2 with ICB. Together, these data suggest that pancreatic tumors modulate G-MDSC migration as an adaptive response to vascular normalization, and that these immunosuppressive myeloid cells act in a setting of persistent hypoxia to maintain adaptive immune resistance.
Arthur Liu, Seth T. Gammon, Federica Pisaneschi, Akash Boda, Casey R. Ager, David Piwnica-Worms, David S. Hong, Michael A. Curran
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the nodular proliferation of the prostate transition zone in older men, leading to urinary storage and voiding problems that can be recalcitrant to therapy. Decades ago, John McNeal proposed that BPH originates with the “reawakening” of embryonic inductive activity by adult prostate stroma, which spurs new ductal proliferation and branching morphogenesis. Here, by laser microdissection and transcriptional profiling of the BPH stroma adjacent to hyperplastic branching ducts, we identified secreted factors likely mediating stromal induction of prostate glandular epithelium and coinciding processes. The top stromal factors were Insulin Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF1) and C-X-C Motif Chemokine Ligand 13 (CXCL13), which we confirmed by RNA in situ hybridization to be co-expressed in BPH fibroblasts, along with their cognate receptors (IGF1R and CXCR5) on adjacent epithelium. In contrast, IGF1 but not CXCL13 was expressed in human embryonic prostate stroma. Finally, we demonstrated that IGF1 is necessary for the generation of BPH-1 cell spheroids and patient-derived BPH cell organoids in three-dimensional culture. Our findings partially support historic speculations on the etiology of BPH, and provide what we believe to be new molecular targets for rational therapies directed against the underlying processes driving BPH.
Anna S. Pollack, Christian A. Kunder, Noah Brazer, Zhewei Shen, Sushama Varma, Robert B. West, Gerald R. Cunha, Laurence S. Baskin, James D. Brooks, Jonathan R. Pollack
Syndromic ciliopathies and retinal degenerations are large heterogeneous groups of genetic diseases. Pathogenic variants in the CFAP418 gene may cause both disorders, and its protein sequence is evolutionarily conserved. However, the disease mechanism underlying CFAP418 mutations has not been explored. Here, we apply quantitative lipidomic, proteomic, and phosphoproteomic profiling and affinity purification coupled with mass spectrometry to address the molecular function of CFAP418 in retinas. We show that CFAP418 protein binds to lipid metabolism precursor phosphatidic acid (PA) and mitochondrion-specific lipid cardiolipin but does not form a tight and static complex with proteins. Loss of Cfap418 in mice disturbs membrane lipid homeostasis and membrane-protein association, which subsequently causes mitochondrial defects and membrane remodeling abnormalities across multiple vesicular trafficking pathways in photoreceptors, especially the endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT) pathway. Ablation of Cfap418 also increases the activity of PA-binding protein kinase Cα in the retina. Overall, our results indicate that membrane lipid imbalance is a pathological mechanism underlying syndromic ciliopathies and retinal degenerations, which is associated with other known causative genes of these diseases.
Anna M. Clark, Dongmei Yu, Grace Neiswanger, Daniel Zhu, Junhuang Zou, J. Alan Maschek, Thomas Burgoyne, Jun Yang
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