Human hematopoiesis proceeds transiently in the extraembryonic yolk sac and embryonic, then fetal liver before being stabilized in the bone marrow during the third month of gestation. In addition to this classic developmental sequence, we have previously shown that the aorta-gonad-mesonephros (AGM) embryonic territory produces stem cells for definitive hematopoiesis from 27 to 40 days of human development, through an intermediate blood-forming endothelium stage. These studies have relied on the use of traditional markers of human hematopoietic and endothelial cells. In addition, we have recently identified and characterized a novel surface molecule, BB9, which typifies the earliest founders of the human angiohematopoietic system. BB9, which was initially identified with a monoclonal antibody raised to Stro-1+ bone marrow stromal cells, recognizes in the adult the most primitive Thy-1+ CD133+ Lin−, non-obese diabetic—severe combined immunodeficiency disease (NOD–SCID) mouse engrating hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). In the 3- to 4-week embryo,BB9expression typifies a subset of splanchnopleural mesodermal cells that migrate dorsally and colonize the ventral aspect of the aorta where they establish a population of hemogenic endothelial cells. We have indeed confirmed that hematopoietic potential in the human embryo, as assessed by long-term culture-initiating cell (LTC-IC) and SCID mouse reconstituting cell (SRC) activities, is confined to BB9-expressing cells. We have further validated these results in the model of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in which we have modeled, through the development of hematopoietic embryoid bodies (EBs), primitive and definitive hematopoieses. In this setting, we have documented the emergence of BB9+ hemangioblast-like clonogenic angiohematopoietic progenitors that currently represent the earliest known founders of the human vascular and blood systems.
hematopoietic stem cell; embryonic stem cell; hemangioblast; embryo; blood vessel
Heteromorphic sex chromosomes, where one sex has two different types of sex chromosomes, face very different evolutionary consequences than do the autosomes. Two important features of sex chromosomes arise from being present in only copy in one of the sexes: dosage compensation and the meiotic silencing of sex chromosomes. Other differences arise because sex chromosomes spend unequal amounts of time in each sex. Thus, the impact of evolutionary processes (mutation, selection, genetic drift, and meiotic drive) differs substantially between each sex chromosome, and between the sex chromosomes and the autosomes. Sex chromosomes also play a disproportionate role in Haldane’s rule and other important patterns related to hybrid incompatibility, and thus speciation. We review the consequences of sex chromosomes on hybrid incompatibility. A theme running through this review is that epigenetic processes, notably those related to chromatin, may be more important to the evolution of sex chromosomes and the evolution of hybrid incompatibility than previously recognized.
sex chromosomes; hybrid incompatibility; speciation; evolution
Hemorrhagic transformation (HT) associated with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) complicates and limits its use in stroke. Here, we provide a focused review on the involvement of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) in rt-PA–associated HT in cerebral ischemia, and we review emerging evidence that the selective inhibitor of the sulfonylurea receptor 1 (Sur1), glibenclamide (U.S. adopted name, glyburide), may provide protection against rt-PA–associated HT in cerebral ischemia. Glyburide inhibits activation of MMP-9, ameliorates edema formation, swelling, and symptomatic hemorrhagic transformation, and improves preclinical outcomes in several clinically relevant models of stroke, both without and with rt-PA treatment. A retrospective clinical study comparing outcomes in diabetic patients with stroke treated with rt-PA showed that those who were previously on and were maintained on a sulfonylurea fared significantly better than those whose diabetes was managed without sulfonylureas. Inhibition of Sur1 with injectable glyburide holds promise for ameliorating rt-PA–associated HT in stroke.
rt-PA; Sur1; glyburide; MMP-9; cerebral ischemia; stroke
Cellular ferritin is central for iron balance during transfusions therapies; serum ferritin is a small fraction of body ferritin, albeit a convenient reporter. Iron overload induces extra ferritin protein synthesis but the protein is overfilled with the extra iron that damages ferritin, with conversion to toxic hemosiderin. Three new approaches that manipulate ferritin to address excess iron, hemosiderin, and associated oxidative damage in Cooley’s Anemia and other iron overload conditions, are faster removal of ferritin iron with chelators guided to ferritin gated pores by peptides; more ferritin protein synthesis using ferritin mRNA activators, by metal complexes that target mRNA 3D structures; and determining if endocytotic absorption of iron from legumes, which is mostly ferritin, is regulated during iron overload to prevent excess iron entry while providing protein. More of a focus on ferritin features, including protein cage structure, iron mineral, regulatable mRNA, and specific gut absorption properties, will achieve the three novel experimental goals for managing iron homeostasis with transfusion therapies.
iron; ferritin; chelator
Nuclear receptors (NRs) control cell fate and regulate tissue function. Some of the NRs are expressed in a circadian and tissue specific manner. Clock genes are part of the circadian network and fine tune gene expression in adipose and skeletal tissues. Pparg, a master transcription factor that determines adipogenesis exhibits a circadian expression pattern in white adipose tissue and liver. In this paper we found that message and protein for a peripheral clock gene, nocturnin, is markedly up-regulated with Pparg activation in adipocytes and bone marrow stromal cells. Nocturnin is also expressed in relatively high amounts in other tissues which may have physiologic relevance for bone, including the brain and hypothalamus. Importantly, we found polymorphic strain differences in bone marrow nocturnin expression that relate to phenotypic determinants of skeletal acquisition. Defining the function of nocturnin in peripheral tissues should provide new insights into lineage allocation and the intimate relationship between nuclear receptors and physiologic timekeeping.
The most important milestone in understanding a genetic disease is the identification of the causative mutation. However, such knowledge is often insufficient to decipher the pathophysiology of the disorder or to effectively treat those affected. Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is a rare, disabling, genetic disease of progressive heterotopic endochondral ossification (HEO) enabled by missense mutations that promiscuously and provisionally activate ACVR1/ALK2, a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) type I receptor, in all affected individuals. While activating mutations of the ACVR1/ALK2 receptor are necessary, disease activity and progression also depend on altered cell and tissue physiology. Recent findings identify inflammatory and immunological factors, vascular-derived mesenchymal stem cells, and a hypoxic lesional microenvironment that trigger, promote, and enable episodic progression of FOP in the setting of the genetic mutation. Effective therapies for FOP will need to consider these seminal pathophysiologic interactions.
fibrodysplasia; ossificans progressiva; heterotopic ossification; BMP; ACVR1; ALK2
Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of mortality worldwide. While the etiology for the majority of cardiovascular disease is presumed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors, developments in our understanding of the basic biology of cardiac disorders have been greatly advanced through discoveries made studying heart diseases that exhibit Mendelian forms of inheritance. Most of these diseases primarily affect children and young adults and include cardiomyopathies, arrhythmias, aortic aneurysms and congenital heart defects. The discovery of the genetic etiologies for these diseases have had significant impact on our understanding of more complex forms of cardiovascular disease and in some cases led to novel diagnostic and treatment modalities. In this review, we will summarize these seminal genetic discoveries, highlighting a few that have resulted in significant impact on human disease, and discuss the potential utility of studying Mendelian-inherited heart disease with the development of new genetic technologies and our increased understanding of the human genome.
The role of circadian proteins in regulating whole body metabolism and bone turnover has been studied in detail and has led to the discovery of an elemental system for timekeeping involving the core genes Clock, Bmal1, Per, and Cry. Nocturnin, a peripheral circadian-regulated gene has been shown to play a very important role in regulating adipogenesis by deadenylation of key mRNAs and intra-cytoplasmic transport of PPARγ. The role that it plays in osteogenesis has previously not been studied in detail. In this report we examined in vitro and in vivo osteogenesis in the presence and absence of Nocturnin and show that loss of Nocturnin enhances bone formation and can rescue Rosiglitazone induced bone loss in mice. The circadian rhythm of Nocturnin is likely to be an essential element of marrow stromal cell fate.
Nocturnin; rosiglitazone; PPARγ
Inflammation plays a key role in excessive bone loss in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and periodontitis. An important paradigm in immunology is that inflammatory factors activate feedback inhibition mechanisms to restrain inflammation and limit associated tissue damage. We hypothesized that inflammatory factors would activate similar feedback mechanisms to restrain bone loss in inflammatory settings. We have identified three mechanisms that inhibit osteoclastogenesis and are induced by inflammatory factors, such as toll-like receptor ligands and cytokines: downregulation of expression of costimulatory molecules such as TREM-2; induction of shedding and thereby inactivation of the M-CSF receptor c-Fms, leading to decreased RANK transcription; and induction of transcriptional repressors such as interferon regulatory factor 8. It is likely that these mechanisms work in a complementary and cooperative manner to fine tune the extent of osteoclastogenesis in inflammatory settings, and their augmentation may represent an alternative therapeutic approach to suppress bone resorption.
inflammation; osteoclasts; toll-like receptors; M-CSF; c-Fms; IRF8
Aging human lens crystallins are progressively modified by yellow glycation, oxidation, and cross-linked carbonyl compounds that have deleterious properties on protein structure and stability. In order to test the hypothesis that some of these compounds originate from oxidized vitamin C, we have overexpressed the human vitamin C transporter 2 (hSCVT2) in the mouse lens. We find that levels of ascorbic and dehydroascorbic acid are highly elevated compared to the wild type and that the lenses have accumulated yellow color and advanced Maillard reaction products identical with those of the human lens. Treatment of the mice with nucleophilic inhibitors can slow down the process, opening new avenues for the pharmacological prevention of senile cataractogenesis.
glycation; ascorbic acid; crystallin; cross-linking; aging
The analysis of complex genetic traits, including mapping and identification of causative genes, has long been an enigma of genetic biology, whether in the animal sciences or in medical sciences. Traits of agricultural interest and traits of medical interest are often under the influence of both environmental factors and multiple genes, each with modest contributions to the total variance in the trait. Although the number of known mutations underlying complex traits is still relatively small, advances in genomics have greatly enhanced traditional pathways to their analysis and gene mining. The candidate gene approach, linkage analysis, and association studies are all significantly more powerful with recent advances in genome mapping, sequencing, and analysis of individual variation. Avenues to gene discovery are discussed with emphasis on genome wide association studies (GWAS) and the use of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) as revealed by increasingly powerful commercially available microarrays.
genomics; complex traits; animals, disease resistance; GWAS
We begin this article by considering the following critical conceptual issues in research on resilience: (1) distinctions between protective, promotive, and vulnerability factors; (2) the need to unpack underlying processes; (3) the benefits of within-group experimental designs; and (4) the advantages and potential pitfalls of an overwhelming scientific focus on biological and genetic factors (to the relative exclusion of familial and contextual ones). The next section of the article is focused on guidelines for the selection of vulnerability and protective processes in future research. From a basic science standpoint, it is useful and appropriate to investigate all types of processes that might significantly affect adjustment among at-risk individuals. If the research is fundamentally applied in nature, however, it would be most expedient to focus on risk modifiers that have high potential to alter individuals’ overall life circumstances. The final section of this article considers conceptual differences between contemporary resilience research on children versus adults. Issues include differences in the types and breadth of outcomes (e.g., the tendencies to focus on others’ ratings of competence among children and on self-reports of well-being among adults respectively).
resilience; protective processes; risk modifiers; interventions
Voluntary movement mediated by skeletal muscle relies on endplate acetylcholine receptors (AChR) to detect nerve-released ACh and depolarize themuscle fiber. Recent structural and mechanistic studies of the endplate AChR have catalyzed a leap in our understanding of the molecular steps in this chemical-to-electrical transduction process. Studies of acetylcholine binding protein (AChBP) give insight into ACh recognition, the first step in activation of the AChR. An atomic structural model of the Torpedo AChR at a resolution of 0.4 nm, together with single-ion channel recording methods, allow tracing of the link between the agonist binding event and gating of the ion channel, as well as determination of how the channel moves when it opens to allow flow of cations. Structural models of the human AChR enable precise mapping of disease-causing mutations, while studies of the speed with which single AChR channels open and close cast light on pathogenic mechanisms.
acetylcholine receptor; acetylcholine binding protein; agonist recognition; binding-gating coupling mechanism; congenital myasthenic syndrome
During the past five years many patients suffering from congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMS) have been identified worldwide and novel causative genes and mutations have been discovered. The disease genes now include those encoding each subunit of the acetylcholine receptor (AChR), the ColQ part of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), choline acetyltransferase, Nav 1.4, MuSK, and Dok-7. Moreover, emerging genotype-phenotype correlations are providing clues for targeted mutation analysis. This review focuses on the recent observations in selected CMS.
congenital myasthenic syndromes; acetylcholinesterase; choline acetyltransferase; acetylcholine receptor; Dok-7
We previously identified cyclin B1-specific T cells and antibodies in cancer patients with cyclin B1+ tumors and also in some healthy individuals. We also demonstrated that these responses may be important in cancer immunosurveillance by showing that vaccination against cyclin B1 prevents growth of transplantable cyclin B1+ tumors in mice. Constitutive overexpression of cyclin B1 was determined to correlate with the lack of p53 function. This allowed us to use p53−/− mice as a model that better approximates human disease. p53−/− mice spontaneously develop cyclin B1+ tumors. At 5–6 weeks of age, when the mice were still healthy with no evidence of tumor, they received the cyclin B1 vaccine and were then observed for tumor growth. We demonstrate that cyclin B1 vaccination can delay spontaneous cyclin B1+ tumor growth and increases median survival of tumor bearing p53−/− mice.
cancer vaccines; immunosurveillance; mouse model
Studies have suggested that manipulations of the central melanocortin circuitry by pharmacological agents produce robust effects on the regulation of body weight and glucose homeostasis. In this review, we discuss recent findings from genetic mouse models that have further established the physiological relevance of this circuitry in the context of glucose and energy balance. In addition, we will discuss distinct neuronal populations that respond to central melanocortins to regulate food intake, energy expenditure, insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion, respectively. Finally, multiple hormonal and neural cues (e.g., leptin, estrogen, and serotonin) that use the melanocortin systems to regulate energy and glucose homeostasis will be reviewed. These findings suggest that targeting the specific branches of melanocortin circuits may be potential avenues to combat the current obesity and diabetes epidemics.
melanocortins; leptin; estrogen; serotonin; body weight
Circulating growth hormone (GH) levels rise in response to nutrient deprivation and fall in states of nutrient excess. Since GH regulates carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolism, defining the mechanisms by which changes in metabolism alters GH secretion will aid in our understanding of the cause, progression and treatment of metabolic diseases. This review will summarize what is currently known regarding the impact of systemic metabolic signals on GH-axis function. In addition, ongoing studies using the Cre/loxP system to generate mouse models with selective somatotrope resistance to metabolic signals, will be discussed, where these models will serve to enhance our understanding of the specific role the somatotrope plays in sensing the metabolic environment and adjusting GH output in metabolic extremes.
growth hormone; somatotrope; fasting; obesity
This paper provides an overview of racial variations in health and shows that differences in socioeconomic status (SES) across racial groups are a major contributor to racial disparities in health. However, race reflects multiple dimensions of social inequality and individual and household indicators of SES capture relevant but limited aspects of this phenomenon. Research is needed that will comprehensively characterize the critical pathogenic features of social environments and identify how they combine with each other to affect health over the life course. Migration history and status are also important predictors of health and research is needed that will enhance understanding of the complex ways in which race, SES, and immigrant status combine to affect health. Fully capturing the role of race in health also requires rigorous examination of the conditions under which medical care and genetic factors can contribute to racial and SES differences in health. The paper identifies research priorities in all of these areas.
Saccade-generating burst neurons (BN) are inhibited by omnipause neurons (OPN), except during saccades. OPN activity pauses before saccade onset and resumes at the saccade end. Microstimulation of OPN stops saccades in mid-flight, which shows that OPN can end saccades. However, OPN pause duration does not correlate well with saccade duration, and saccades are normometric after OPN lesions. We tested whether OPN were responsible for stopping saccades both in late-onset Tay–Sachs, which causes premature saccadic termination, and in individuals with cerebellar hypermetria. We studied gaze shifts between two targets at different distances aligned on one eye, which consist of a disjunctive saccade followed by vergence. High-frequency conjugate oscillations during the vergence movements that followed saccades were present in all subjects studied, indicating OPN silence. Thus, mechanisms other than OPN discharge (e.g., cerebellar caudal fastigial nucleus–promoting inhibitory BN discharge) must contribute to saccade termination.
Tay–Sachs disease; saccades; omnipause neurons; fastigial nucleus; Müller paradigm
The cerebellum plays an important role in programming accurate saccades. Cerebellar lesions affecting the ocular motor region of the fastigial nucleus (FOR) cause saccadic hypermetria; however, if a second target is presented before a saccade can be initiated (double-step paradigm), saccade hypermetria may be decreased. We tested the hypothesis that the cerebellum, especially FOR, plays a pivotal role in programming sequences of saccades. We studied patients with saccadic hypermetria due either to genetic cerebellar ataxia or surgical lesions affecting FOR and confirmed that the gain of initial saccades made to double-step stimuli was reduced compared with the gain of saccades to single target jumps. Based on measurements of the intersaccadic interval, we found that the ability to perform parallel processing of saccades was reduced or absent in all of our patients with cerebellar disease. Our results support the crucial role of the cerebellum, especially FOR, in programming sequences of saccades.
fastigial nucleus; double-step; saccade; latency; spinocerebellar ataxia; hypermetria; parallel processing
Disturbance of vertical saccadesis a cardinal feature of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). We investigated whether the amplitude and peak velocity of saccades is affected by the orbital position fromwhich movements start in PSP patients and age-matched control subjects. Subjects made vertical saccades in response to ± 5 degree vertical target jumps with their heads in one of three positions: head “center,” head pitched forward ~15 degrees, and head pitched back ~ 15 degrees.All patients showed some effect of starting eye position, whether beginning in the upward or downward field of gaze, on saccade amplitude, peak velocity (PV), and net range of movement. Generally, reduction of amplitude and PV were commensurate and bidirectional in the affected hemifield of gaze. Such findings are unlikelyto be due to orbital factors and could be explained by varying degrees of involvement of rostral midbrain nucleiin the pathological process.
saccades; midbrain; neural integrator; eyeball; parkinsonian disorders