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1.  Characterisation of Transcriptional Changes in the Spinal Cord of the Progressive Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis Biozzi ABH Mouse Model by RNA Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(6):e0157754.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating immune-mediated neurological disorder affecting young adults. MS is primarily relapsing-remitting, but neurodegeneration and disability accumulate from disease onset. The most commonly used mouse MS models exhibit a monophasic immune response with fast accumulation of neurological damage that does not allow the study of progressive neurodegeneration. The chronic relapsing and secondary progressive EAE (pEAE) Biozzi ABH mouse model of MS exhibits a reproducible relapsing-remitting disease course that slowly accumulates permanent neurological deficit and develops a post-relapsing progressive disease that permits the study of demyelination and neurodegeneration. RNA sequencing (RNAseq) was used to explore global gene expression in the pEAE Biozzi ABH mouse. Spinal cord tissue RNA from pEAE Biozzi ABH mice and healthy age-matched controls was sequenced. 2,072 genes were differentially expressed (q<0.05) from which 1,397 were significantly upregulated and 675 were significantly downregulated. This hypothesis-free investigation characterised the genomic changes that describe the pEAE mouse model. The differentially expressed genes revealed a persistent immunoreactant phenotype, combined with downregulation of the cholesterol biosynthesis superpathway and the LXR/RXR activation pathway. Genes differentially expressed include the myelination genes Slc17a7, Ugt8A and Opalin, the neuroprotective genes Sprr1A, Osm and Wisp2, as well as genes identified as MS risk factors, including RGs14 and Scap2. Novel genes with unestablished roles in EAE or MS were also identified. The identification of differentially expressed novel genes and genes involved in MS pathology, opens the door to their functional study in the pEAE mouse model which recapitulates some of the important clinical features of progressive MS.
PMCID: PMC4927105  PMID: 27355629
2.  A Metabolically-Stabilized Phosphonate Analog of Lysophosphatidic Acid Attenuates Collagen-Induced Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70941.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a destructive arthropathy with systemic manifestations, characterized by chronic synovial inflammation. Under the influence of the pro-inflammatory milieu synovial fibroblasts (SFs), the main effector cells in disease pathogenesis become activated and hyperplastic while releasing a number of signals that include pro-inflammatory factors and tissue remodeling enzymes. Activated RA SFs in mouse or human arthritic joints express significant quantities of autotaxin (ATX), a lysophospholipase D responsible for the majority of lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) production in the serum and inflamed sites. Conditional genetic ablation of ATX from SFs resulted in attenuation of disease symptoms in animal models, an effect attributed to diminished LPA signaling in the synovium, shown to activate SF effector functions. Here we show that administration of 1-bromo-3(S)-hydroxy-4-(palmitoyloxy)butyl-phosphonate (BrP-LPA), a metabolically stabilized analog of LPA and a dual function inhibitor of ATX and pan-antagonist of LPA receptors, attenuates collagen induced arthritis (CIA) development, thus validating the ATX/LPA axis as a novel therapeutic target in RA.
PMCID: PMC3726599  PMID: 23923032
3.  Autotaxin expression from synovial fibroblasts is essential for the pathogenesis of modeled arthritis 
Synovial fibroblasts from patients and mice with arthritis express autotaxin, and ablation of autotaxin in fibroblasts ameliorates disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a destructive arthropathy characterized by chronic synovial inflammation that imposes a substantial socioeconomic burden. Under the influence of the proinflammatory milieu, synovial fibroblasts (SFs), the main effector cells in disease pathogenesis, become activated and hyperplastic, releasing proinflammatory factors and tissue-remodeling enzymes. This study shows that activated arthritic SFs from human patients and animal models express significant quantities of autotaxin (ATX; ENPP2), a lysophospholipase D that catalyzes the conversion of lysophosphatidylcholine to lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). ATX expression from SFs was induced by TNF, and LPA induced SF activation and effector functions in synergy with TNF. Conditional genetic ablation of ATX in mesenchymal cells, including SFs, resulted in disease attenuation in animal models of arthritis, establishing the ATX/LPA axis as a novel player in chronic inflammation and the pathogenesis of arthritis and a promising therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC3348105  PMID: 22493518

Results 1-3 (3)