Vascular patterning is critical for organ function. In the eye, there is simultaneous regression of embryonic hyaloid vasculature1 (important to clear the optical path) and formation of the retinal vasculature2 (important for the high metabolic demands of retinal neurons). These events occur postnatally in the mouse. Here we have identified a light-response pathway that regulates both processes. We show that when mice are mutated in the gene (Opn4) for the atypical opsin melanopsin3–5, or are dark-reared from late gestation, the hyaloid vessels are persistent at 8 days post-partum and the retinal vasculature overgrows. We provide evidence that these vascular anomalies are explained by a light-response pathway that suppresses retinal neuron number, limits hypoxia and, as a consequence, holds local expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGFA) in check. We also show that the light response for this pathway occurs in late gestation at about embryonic day 16 and requires the photopigment in the fetus and not the mother. Measurements show that visceral cavity photon flux is probably sufficient to activate melanopsin-expressing retinal ganglion cells in the mouse fetus. These data thus show that light—the stimulus for function of the mature eye—is also critical in preparing the eye for vision by regulating retinal neuron number and initiating a series of events that ultimately pattern the ocular blood vessels.
Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) respond to antigenic peptides presented on MHC class I molecules. On most cells, these peptides are exclusively of endogenous, cytosolic origin. Bone marrow-derived antigen-presenting cells, however, harbor a unique pathway for MHC I presentation of exogenous antigens. This mechanism permits cross-presentation of pathogen-infected cells and the priming of CTL responses against intracellular microbial infections. Here, we report a novel diphtheria toxin-based system that allows the inducible, short-term ablation of dendritic cells (DC) in vivo. We show that in vivo DC are required to cross-prime CTL precursors. Our results thus define a unique in vivo role of DC, i.e., the sensitization of the immune system for cell-associated antigens. DC-depleted mice fail to mount CTL responses to infection with the intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes and the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium yoelii.
The Wnt-signaling pathway is necessary in a variety of developmental processes and has been implicated in numerous pathologies. Wntless (Wls) binds to Wnt proteins and facilitates Wnt sorting and secretion. Conventional deletion of Wls results in early fetal lethality due to defects in body axis establishment. To gain insight into the function of Wls in later stages of development, we have generated a conditional null allele. Homozygous germline deletion of Wls confirmed prenatal lethality and failure of embryonic axis formation. Deletion of Wls using Wnt1-cre phenocopied Wnt1 null abnormalities in the midbrain and hindbrain. In addition, conditional deletion of Wls in pancreatic precursor cells resulted in pancreatic hypoplasia similar to that previously observed after conditional β-catenin deletion. This Wls conditional null allele will be valuable in detecting novel Wnt functions in development and disease.
Wnt; Evi; Gpr177; Sprinter; Wnt transporter
Macrophages have a critical function in the recognition and engulfment of dead cells. In some settings, macrophages also actively signal programmed cell death. Here we show that during developmentally scheduled vascular regression, resident macrophages are an obligatory participant in a signaling switch that favors death over survival. This switch occurs when the signaling ligand angiopoietin 2 has the dual effect of suppressing survival signaling in vascular endothelial cells (VECs) and stimulating Wnt ligand production by macrophages. In response to the Wnt ligand, VECs enter the cell cycle and in the absence of survival signals, die from G1 phase of the cell cycle. We propose that this mechanism represents an adaptation to ensure that the macrophage and its disposal capability are on hand when cell death occurs.
Macrophage; Angiopoietin; Wnt; Programmed cell death; Vascular regression; Cell cycle
The cytoskeletal protein Shroom3 is a potent inducer of epithelial cell shape change and is required for lens and neural plate morphogenesis. Analysis of gut morphogenesis in Shroom3 deficient mouse embryos revealed that the direction of gut rotation is also disrupted. It was recently established that Pitx2-dependent, asymmetrical cellular behaviors in the dorsal mesentery (DM) of the early mid-gut, a structure connecting the gut-tube to the rest of the embryo, contribute to the direction of gut rotation in chicken embryos by influencing the direction of the dorsal mesenteric tilt. Asymmetric cell shapes in the DM epithelium are hypothesized to contribute to the tilt, however, it is unclear what lies downstream of Pitx2 to alter epithelial cell shape. The cells of the left DM epithelium in either Pitx2 or Shroom3 deficient embryos are shorter and wider than those in control embryos and resemble the shape of those on the right, demonstrating that like Pitx2, Shroom3 is required for cell shape asymmetry and the leftward DM tilt. Because N-cadherin expression is specific to the left side and is Pitx2 dependent, we determined whether Shroom3 and N-cadherin function together to regulate cell shape in the left DM epithelium. Analysis of mouse embryos lacking one allele of both Shroom3 and N-cadherin revealed that they possess shorter and wider left epithelial DM cells when compared with Shroom3 or N-cadherin heterozygous embryos. This indicates a genetic interaction. Together these data provide evidence that Shroom3 and N-cadherin function cooperatively downstream of Pitx2 to directly regulate cell shape changes necessary for early gut tube morphogenesis.
RhoA is a key regulator of cytoskeletal dynamics with a variety of effects on cellular processes. Loss of RhoA in neural progenitor cells disrupts adherens junctions and causes disorganization of the neuroepithelium in the developing nervous system. However, it remains largely unknown how the loss of RhoA physiologically affects neural circuit formation. Here we show that proper neuroepithelial organization maintained by RhoA GTPase in both the ventral and dorsal spinal cord is critical for left-right locomotor behavior. We examined the roles of RhoA in the ventral and dorsal spinal cord by deleting the gene in neural progenitors using Olig2-Cre and Wnt1-Cre mice, respectively. RhoA-deleted neural progenitors in both mutants exhibit defects in the formation of apical adherens junctions and disorganization of the neuroepithelium. Consequently, the ventricular zone and lumen of the dysplastic region are lost, causing the left and right sides of the gray matter to be directly connected. Furthermore, the dysplastic region lacks ephrinB3 expression at the midline that is required for preventing EphA4-expressing corticospinal neurons and spinal interneurons from crossing the midline. As a result, aberrant neuronal projections are observed in that region. Finally, both RhoA mutants develop a rabbit-like hopping gait. These results demonstrate that RhoA functions to maintain neuroepithelial structures in the developing spinal cord and that proper organization of the neuroepithelium is required for appropriate left-right motor behavior.
Morphogenesis and shape of the ocular lens depend on epithelial cell elongation and differentiation into fiber cells, followed by the symmetric and compact organization of fiber cells within an enclosed extracellular matrix-enriched elastic capsule. The cellular mechanisms orchestrating these different events however, remain obscure. We investigated the role of the Rac1 GTPase in these processes by targeted deletion of expression using the conditional gene knockout (cKO) approach. Rac1 cKO mice were derived from two different Cre (Le-Cre and MLR-10) transgenic mice in which lens-specific Cre expression starts at embryonic day 8.75 and 10.5, respectively, in both the lens epithelium and fiber cells. The Le-Cre/Rac1 cKO mice exhibited an early-onset (E12.5) and severe lens phenotype compared to the MLR-10/Rac1 cKO (E15.5) mice. While the Le-Cre/Rac1 cKO lenses displayed delayed primary fiber cell elongation, lenses from both Rac1 cKO strains were characterized by abnormal shape, impaired secondary fiber cell migration, sutural defects and thinning of the posterior capsule which often led to rupture. Lens fiber cell N-cadherin/β-catenin/Rap1/Nectin-based cell-cell junction formation and WAVE-2/Abi-2/Nap1-regulated actin polymerization were impaired in the Rac1 deficient mice. Additionally, the Rac1 cKO lenses were characterized by a shortened epithelial sheet, reduced levels of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and increased apoptosis. Taken together, these data uncover the essential role of Rac1 GTPase activity in establishment and maintenance of lens shape, suture formation and capsule integrity, and in fiber cell migration, adhesion and survival, via regulation of actin cytoskeletal dynamics, cell adhesive interactions and ECM turnover.
Rac1 GTPase; lens fibers; conditional knockout; migration; cell adhesion
Over the past decade, modern genetic tools have permitted scientists to study the function of myeloid lineage cells, including macrophages, as never before. Macrophages were first detected more than a century ago as cells that ingested bacteria and other microbes, but it is now known that their functional roles are far more numerous. In this review, we focus on the prevailing functions of macrophages beyond their role in innate immunity. We highlight examples of macrophages acting as regulators of development, tissue homoeostasis, remodeling (the reorganization or renovation of existing tissues), and repair. We also detail how modern genetic tools have facilitated new insights into these mysterious cells.
Genetic deletion of mouse genes has played a crucial role in our understanding of embryonic eye development. Transgenic, tissue specific Cre recombinase expression in various eye structures has facilitated these experiments. However, an early expressing, temporally-regulated, optic vesicle-specific Cre line has not been available. In this report, we detail the generation and analysis of a knock-in, inducible Cre line designed to drive recombination specifically within the Rx expression domain. Crossing this line with a reporter line demonstrates that recombination can be mediated within the early optic vesicle and throughout retinal development. Recombination can also be mediated in the Rx-expressing, ventral diencephalon and future posterior pituitary gland. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that dietary doxycycline could effectively modulate Cre activity. This line has the potential to facilitate conditional knock-out experimentation to study early retina and/or posterior pituitary development.
Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and related diseases represent major health threats to modern society. Related pathophysiology of impaired neuronal function in hypothalamic control centers regulating metabolism and body weight has been dissected extensively and recent studies have started focusing on potential roles of astrocytes and microglia. The hypothalamic vascular system, however, which maintains the microenvironment necessary for appropriate neuronal function, has been largely understudied. We recently discovered that high fat/high sucrose diet exposure leads to increased hypothalamic presence of immunoglobulin G (IgG1). Investigating this phenomenon further, we have discovered a significant increase in blood vessel length and density in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) of the hypothalamus in mice fed a high fat/high sucrose diet, compared to matched controls fed standard chow diet. We also found a clearly increased presence of α-smooth muscle actin immunoreactive vessels, which are rarely present in the ARC and indicate an increase in the formation of new arterial vessels. Along the blood brain barrier, an increase of degenerated endothelial cells are observed. Moreover, such hypothalamic angiogenesis was not limited to rodent models. We also found an increase in the number of arterioles of the infundibular nucleus (the human equivalent of the mouse ARC) in patients with type 2 diabetes, suggesting angiogenesis occurs in the human hypothalamus of diabetics. Our discovery reveals novel hypothalamic pathophysiology, which is reminiscent of diabetic retinopathy and suggests a potential functional involvement of the hypothalamic vasculature in the later stage pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome.
Obesity; Diabetes; Blood brain barrier; Capillary; Fluorescent angiography; Endothelial cell
The classical cadherins are known to have both adhesive and signaling functions. It has also been proposed that localized regulation of cadherin activity may be important in cell assortment during development. In the context of eye development, it has been suggested that cadherins are important for separation of the invaginated lens vesicle from the surface ectoderm. To test this hypothesis, we conditionally deleted N-cadherin or E-cadherin from the presumptive lens ectoderm of the mouse. Conditional deletion of either cadherin alone did not produce a lens vesicle separation defect. However, these conditional mutants did exhibit common structural deficits, including microphthalmia, severe iris hyperplasia, persistent vacuolization within the fibre cell region, and eventual lens epithelial cell deterioration. To assess the co-operative roles of E-cadherin and N-cadherin within the developing lens, double conditional knockout embryos were generated. These mice displayed distinct defects in lens vesicle separation and persistent expression of another classical cadherin, P-cadherin, within the cells of the persistent lens stalk. Double mutant lenses also exhibited severe defects in lens epithelial cell adhesion and survival. Finally, the severity of the lens phenotype was shown to be sensitive to the number of wild-type E- and N-cadherin alleles. These data suggest that the co-operative expression of both E- and N-cadherin during lens development is essential for normal cell sorting and subsequent lens vesicle separation.
Eyes Absents (EYA) are multifunctional proteins best known for their role in organogenesis. There is accumulating evidence that overexpression of EYAs in breast and ovarian cancers, and in malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors, correlates with tumor growth and increased metastasis. The EYA protein is both a transcriptional activator and a tyrosine phosphatase, and the tyrosine phosphatase activity promotes single cell motility of mammary epithelial cells. Since EYAs are expressed in vascular endothelial cells and cell motility is a critical feature of angiogenesis we investigated the role of EYAs in this process. Using RNA interference techniques we show that EYA3 depletion in human umbilical vein endothelial cells inhibits transwell migration as well as Matrigel-induced tube formation. To specifically query the role of the EYA tyrosine phosphatase activity we employed a chemical biology approach. Through an experimental screen the uricosuric agents Benzbromarone and Benzarone were found to be potent EYA inhibitors, and Benzarone in particular exhibited selectivity towards EYA versus a representative classical protein tyrosine phosphatase, PTP1B. These compounds inhibit the motility of mammary epithelial cells over-expressing EYA2 as well as the motility of endothelial cells. Furthermore, they attenuate tubulogenesis in matrigel and sprouting angiogenesis in the ex vivo aortic ring assay in a dose-dependent fashion. The anti-angiogenic effect of the inhibitors was also demonstrated in vivo, as treatment of zebrafish embryos led to significant and dose-dependent defects in the developing vasculature. Taken together our results demonstrate that the EYA tyrosine phosphatase activity is pro-angiogenic and that Benzbromarone and Benzarone are attractive candidates for repurposing as drugs for the treatment of cancer metastasis, tumor angiogenesis, and vasculopathies.
RhoA is a member of the Rho family small GTPases that are implicated in various cell functions including proliferation and survival. However, the physiological role of RhoA in vivo remains largely unknown. Here, we deleted RhoA in the B cell and hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) populations in RhoAflox/flox mice with CD19 and Mx promoter-driven Cre expression, respectively. Deletion of RhoA by CD19Cre/+ significantly blocked B cell development in spleen, leading to a marked reduction in the number of transitional, marginal zone, and follicular B cells. Surprisingly, neither B cell proliferation in response to either LPS or B cell receptor (BCR) engagement nor B cell survival rate in vivo was affected by RhoA deletion. Furthermore, RhoA−/− B cells, like control cells, were rescued from apoptosis by BCR crosslinking in vitro. In contrast, RhoA deficiency led to a defect in B cell activating factor (BAFF)-mediated B cell survival that was associated with a dampened expression of BAFF receptor and a loss of BAFF-mediated Akt activation. Finally, HSC deletion of RhoA by Mx-Cre severely reduced proB/preB and immature B cell populations in bone marrow while common lymphoid progenitors were increased, indicating that RhoA is also required for B cell progenitor/precursor differentiation. Taken together, our results uncover an important role for RhoA at multiple stages of B cell development.
In multicellular organisms, morphogenesis is a highly coordinated process that requires dynamically regulated adhesion between cells. An excellent example of cellular morphogenesis is the formation of the neural tube from the flattened epithelium of the neural plate. Cysteine-rich motor neuron protein 1 (CRIM1) is a single-pass (type 1) transmembrane protein that is expressed in neural structures beginning at the neural plate stage. In the frog Xenopus laevis, loss of function studies using CRIM1 antisense morpholino oligonucleotides resulted in a failure of neural development. The CRIM1 knockdown phenotype was, in some cases, mild and resulted in perturbed neural fold morphogenesis. In severely affected embryos there was a dramatic failure of cell adhesion in the neural plate and complete absence of neural structures subsequently. Investigation of the mechanism of CRIM1 function revealed that it can form complexes with ß-catenin and cadherins, albeit indirectly, via the cytosolic domain. Consistent with this, CRIM1 knockdown resulted in diminished levels of cadherins and ß-catenin in junctional complexes in the neural plate. We conclude that CRIM1 is critical for cell-cell adhesion during neural development because it is required for the function of cadherin-dependent junctions.
RhoA, a member of the Rho family small GTPases, has been shown to play important roles in axon guidance. However, to date, the physiological function of RhoA in axon guidance events in vivo has not been determined genetically in animals. Here we show that RhoA mRNA is strongly expressed by sensory neurons in the developing mouse dorsal root ganglia (DRG). We have deleted RhoA in sensory neurons of the DRG using RhoA-floxed mice under the Wnt1-Cre driver in which Cre is strongly expressed in sensory neurons. Peripheral projections of sensory neurons appear normal and there are no detectable defects in the central projections of either cutaneous or proprioceptive sensory neurons in RhoAf/f; Wnt1-Cre mice. Furthermore, a co-culture assay using DRG explants from RhoAf/f; Wnt1-Cre embryos, and 293T cells expressing semaphorin3A (Sema3A) reveals that RhoA is not required for Sema3A-mediated axonal repulsion of sensory neurons. Expression of RhoC, a closely related family member, is increased in RhoA-deficient sensory neurons and may play a compensatory role in this context. Taken together, these genetic studies demonstrate that RhoA is dispensable for peripheral and central projections of sensory neurons in the DRG.
RhoA; axon guidance; semaphorin; dorsal root ganglia; cutaneous sensory neurons; proprioceptive sensory neurons; spinal cord
Myeloid cells are a feature of most tissues. Here we show that during development, retinal myeloid cells (RMCs) produce Wnt ligands to regulate blood vessel branching. In the mouse retina, where angiogenesis occurs postnatally1, somatic deletion in RMCs of the Wnt ligand transporter Wntless2,3 results in increased angiogenesis in the deeper layers. We also show that mutation of Wnt5a and Wnt11 results in increased angiogenesis and that these ligands elicit RMC responses via a non-canonical Wnt pathway. Using cultured myeloid-like cells and RMC somatic deletion of Flt1, we show that an effector of Wnt-dependent suppression of angiogenesis by RMCs is Flt1, a naturally occurring inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)4-6. These findings indicate that resident myeloid cells can use a non-canonical, Wnt-Flt1 pathway to suppress angiogenic branching.
The small GTPase RhoA serves as a nodal point for signaling through hormones and mechanical stretch. However, the role of RhoA signaling in cardiac pathophysiology is poorly understood. To address this issue, we generated mice with cardiomyocyte-specific conditional expression of low levels of activated RhoA (CA-RhoA mice) and demonstrated that they exhibited no overt cardiomyopathy. When challenged by in vivo or ex vivo ischemia/reperfusion (I/R), however, the CA-RhoA mice exhibited strikingly increased tolerance to injury, which was manifest as reduced myocardial lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release and infarct size and improved contractile function. PKD was robustly activated in CA-RhoA hearts. The cardioprotection afforded by RhoA was reversed by PKD inhibition. The hypothesis that activated RhoA and PKD serve protective physiological functions during I/R was supported by several lines of evidence. In WT mice, both RhoA and PKD were rapidly activated during I/R, and blocking PKD augmented I/R injury. In addition, cardiac-specific RhoA-knockout mice showed reduced PKD activation after I/R and strikingly decreased tolerance to I/R injury, as shown by increased infarct size and LDH release. Collectively, our findings provide strong support for the concept that RhoA signaling in adult cardiomyocytes promotes survival. They also reveal unexpected roles for PKD as a downstream mediator of RhoA and in cardioprotection against I/R.
Eye development is a complex process that involves the formation of the retina and the lens, collectively called the eyeball, as well as the formation of auxiliary eye structures such as the eyelid, lacrimal gland, cornea and conjunctiva. The developmental requirements for the formation of each individual structure are only partially understood. We have shown previously that the homeobox-containing gene Rx is a key component in eye formation, as retinal structures do not develop and retina-specific gene expression is not observed in Rx-deficient mice. In addition, Rx−/− embryos do not develop any lens structure, despite the fact that Rx is not expressed in the lens. This demonstrates that during normal mammalian development, retina-specific gene expression is necessary for lens formation. In this paper we show that lens formation can be restored in Rx-deficient embryos experimentally, by the elimination of β-catenin expression in the head surface ectoderm. This suggests that β-catenin is involved in lens specification either through Wnt signaling or through its function in cell adhesion. In contrast to lens formation, we demonstrate that the development of auxiliary eye structures does not depend on retina-specific gene expression or retinal morphogenesis. These results point to the existence of two separate developmental processes involved in the formation of the eye and its associated structures. One involved in the formation of the eyeball and the second involved in the formation of the auxiliary eye structures.
β-catenin; Conjunctiva; Crystallin; Development; Eyelid; Foxe3; Lacrimal gland; Lens; Pax6; Periocular mesenchyme; RAX; Retina; Rx; Wnt
Myeloid cells have been associated with physiological and pathological angiogenesis, but their exact functions in these processes remain poorly defined. Monocyte-derived tissue macrophages of the CNS, or microglial cells, invade the mammalian retina before it becomes vascularized. Recent studies correlate the presence of microglia in the developing CNS with vascular network formation, but it is not clear whether the effect is directly caused by microglia and their contact with the endothelium.
We combined in vivo studies of the developing mouse retina with in vitro studies using the aortic ring model to address the role of microglia in developmental angiogenesis. Our in vivo analyses are consistent with previous findings that microglia are present at sites of endothelial tip-cell anastomosis, and genetic ablation of microglia caused a sparser vascular network associated with reduced number of filopodia-bearing sprouts. Addition of microglia in the aortic ring model was sufficient to stimulate vessel sprouting. The effect was independent of physical contact between microglia and endothelial cells, and could be partly mimicked using microglial cell-conditioned medium. Addition of VEGF-A promoted angiogenic sprouts of different morphology in comparison with the microglial cells, and inhibition of VEGF-A did not affect the microglia-induced angiogenic response, arguing that the proangiogenic factor(s) released by microglia is distinct from VEGF-A. Finally, microglia exhibited oriented migration towards the vessels in the aortic ring cultures.
Microglia stimulate vessel sprouting in the aortic ring cultures via a soluble microglial-derived product(s), rather than direct contact with endothelial cells. The observed migration of microglia towards the growing sprouts suggests that their position near endothelial tip-cells could result from attractive cues secreted by the vessels. Our data reveals a two-way communication between microglia and vessels that depends on soluble factors and should extend the understanding of how microglia promote vascular network formation.
The Eyes Absent (EYA) proteins combine transactivation, tyrosine phosphatase and threonine phosphatase activities in their role as part of a conserved regulatory cascade involved in embryonic organ development. EYA tyrosine phosphatase activity contributes to fly eye development, and vertebrate EYA is involved in promoting DNA damage repair subsequent to genotoxic stress. EYAs are known to be expressed at elevated levels in ovarian and breast cancers. Here we show that the tyrosine phosphatase activity of the EYAs promotes tumor cell migration, invasion, and transformation. These cellular effects are accompanied by alterations of the actin cytoskeleton and increased levels of active Rac and Cdc42. The invasiveness conferred by EYA is reflected in vivo by inhibition of metastasis seen when EYA3 expression is silenced in the invasive breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231. Together our data directly associate the tyrosine phosphatase activity of the EYAs with the oncogenesis-associated cellular properties of motility and invasiveness.
EYA; cell migration; cell invasion; metastasis; tyrosine phosphatase
The developmental activities of morphogens are controlled by the gradients that they form in the extracellular matrix (ECM). In this report, we show that differences in the binding of fibroblast growth factor 7 (FGF7) and FGF10 to heparan sulfate (HS) underlie the formation of different gradients that dictate distinct activities during branching morphogenesis. Reducing the binding affinity of FGF10 for HS by mutating a single residue in its HS-binding pocket converted FGF10 into a functional mimic of FGF7 with respect to gradient formation and regulation of branching morphogenesis; in particular by causing lacrimal and salivary gland epithelium to branch rather than elongate. In contrast, mutations that reduced the affinity of the FGF10 for its receptor affected the extent, but not the nature, of the response. Our data may provide a general model for understanding how binding to HS regulates other morphogenetic gradients.
The bronchioles of the murine lung are lined by a simple columnar epithelium composed of ciliated, Clara, and goblet cells that together mediate barrier function, mucociliary clearance and innate host defense, vital for pulmonary homeostasis. In the present work, we demonstrate that expression of Sox2 in Clara cells is required for the differentiation of ciliated, Clara, and goblet cells that line the bronchioles of the postnatal lung. The gene was selectively deleted in Clara cells utilizing Scgb1a1-Cre, causing the progressive loss of Sox2 in the bronchioles during perinatal and postnatal development. The rate of bronchiolar cell proliferation was decreased and associated with the formation of an undifferentiated, cuboidal-squamous epithelium lacking the expression of markers of Clara cells (Scgb1a1), ciliated cells (FoxJ1 and α-tubulin), and goblet cells (Spdef and Muc5AC). By adulthood, bronchiolar cell numbers were decreased and Sox2 was absent in extensive regions of the bronchiolar epithelium, at which time residual Sox2 expression was primarily restricted to selective niches of CGRP staining neuroepithelial cells. Allergen-induced goblet cell differentiation and mucus production was absent in the respiratory epithelium lacking Sox2. In vitro, Sox2 activated promoter-luciferase reporter constructs for differentiation markers characteristic of Clara, ciliated, and goblet cells, Scgb1a1, FoxJ1, and Agr2, respectively. Sox2 physically interacted with Smad3 and inhibited TGF-β1/Smad3-mediated transcriptional activity in vitro, a pathway that negatively regulates proliferation. Sox2 is required for proliferation and differentiation of Clara cells that serve as the progenitor cells from which Clara, ciliated, and goblet cells are derived.
The stromal microenvironment and particularly the macrophage component of primary tumors influence their malignant potential. However, at the metastatic site the role of these cells and their mechanism of actions for establishment and growth of metastases remain largely unknown.
Using animal models of breast cancer metastasis, we show that a population of host macrophages displaying a distinct phenotype is recruited to extravasating pulmonary metastatic cells regardless of species of origin. Ablation of this macrophage population through three independent means (genetic and chemical) showed that these macrophages are required for efficient metastatic seeding and growth. Importantly, even after metastatic growth is established, ablation of this macrophage population inhibited subsequent growth. Furthermore, imaging of intact lungs revealed that macrophages are required for efficient tumor cell extravasation.
These data indicate a direct enhancement of metastatic growth by macrophages through their effects on tumor cell extravasation, survival and subsequent growth and identifies these cells as a new therapeutic target for treatment of metastatic disease.
Although monocytes/macrophages are considered important in atherogenesis, their role in established plaques is unclear. For example, macrophage content is associated with plaque instability, but their loss through cell death is observed at sites of plaque rupture. To examine the role of monocytes/macrophages in atherosclerosis, we developed CD11b–diphtheria toxin (DT) receptor (DTR) transgenic mice, whereby administration of DT selectively kills monocytes/macrophages. DT treatment reduced peripheral blood monocytes and tissue macrophages and inhibited macrophage function in CD11b-DTR mice and apolipoprotein E–null (apoE−/−) mice transplanted with CD11b-DTR bone marrow. In atherogenesis experiments, DT markedly reduced plaque development and altered plaque composition, reducing collagen content and necrotic core formation. In mice with established plaques, acute DT treatment induced macrophage apoptosis and reduced macrophage content but did not induce plaque inflammation, thrombosis, or rupture. Furthermore, despite a 50% reduction in monocytes, chronic DT treatment of these mice did not alter plaque extent or composition, most likely because of ongoing recruitment/proliferation of monocytes with recovery of macrophage content. We conclude that monocytes/macrophages are critical to atherogenesis, but established plaques are more resistant to reductions in monocytes.
apoptosis; atherosclerosis; macrophages