XBP1 is a key regulator of the unfolded protein response (UPR), which is involved in a wide range of physiological and pathological processes. XBP1 ablation in liver causes profound hypolipidemia in mice, highlighting its critical role in lipid metabolism. XBP1 deficiency triggers feedback activation of its upstream enzyme IRE1α, instigating regulated IRE1-dependent decay (RIDD) of cytosolic mRNAs. Here, we identify RIDD as a crucial control mechanism of lipid homeostasis. Suppression of RIDD by RNA interference or genetic ablation of IRE1α reversed hypolipidemia in XBP1 deficient mice. Comprehensive microarray analysis of XBP1 and/or IRE1α deficient liver identified genes involved in lipogenesis and lipoprotein metabolism as RIDD substrates, which might contribute to the suppression of plasma lipid levels by activated IRE1α. Ablation of XBP1 ameliorated hepatosteatosis, liver damage and hypercholesterolemia in dyslipidemic animal models, suggesting that direct targeting of either IRE1α or XBP1 might be a feasible strategy to treat dyslipidemias.
Insulin resistance leads to hypertriglyceridemia and hepatic steatosis and is associated with increased SREBP-1c, a transcription factor that activates fatty acid synthesis. Here, we show that steatosis in insulin-resistant ob/ob mice was abolished by deletion of Scap, an escort protein necessary for generating nuclear isoforms of all three SREBPs. Scap deletion reduced lipid synthesis and prevented fatty livers despite persistent obesity, hyperinsulinemia, and hyperglycemia. Scap deficiency also prevented steatosis in mice fed high-fat diets. Steatosis was also prevented when siRNAs were used to silence Scap in livers of sucrose-fed hamsters, a model of diet-induced steatosis and hypertriglyceridemia. This silencing reduced all three nuclear SREBPs, decreasing lipid biosynthesis and abolishing sucrose-induced hypertriglyceridemia. These results demonstrate that SREBP activation is essential for development of diabetic hepatic steatosis and carbohydrate-induced hypertriglyceridemia, but not insulin resistance. Inhibition of SREBP activation has therapeutic potential for treatment of hypertriglyceridemia and fatty liver disease.
Mitochondrial calcium uptake is present in nearly all vertebrate tissues and is believed to be critical in shaping calcium signaling, regulating ATP synthesis and controlling cell death. Calcium uptake occurs through a channel called the uniporter that resides in the inner mitochondrial membrane. Recently, we used comparative genomics to identify MICU1 and MCU as the key regulatory and putative pore-forming subunits of this channel, respectively. Using bioinformatics, we now report that the human genome encodes two additional paralogs of MICU1, which we call MICU2 and MICU3, each of which likely arose by gene duplication and exhibits distinct patterns of organ expression. We demonstrate that MICU1 and MICU2 are expressed in HeLa and HEK293T cells, and provide multiple lines of biochemical evidence that MCU, MICU1 and MICU2 reside within a complex and cross-stabilize each other's protein expression in a cell-type dependent manner. Using in vivo RNAi technology to silence MICU1, MICU2 or both proteins in mouse liver, we observe an additive impairment in calcium handling without adversely impacting mitochondrial respiration or membrane potential. The results identify MICU2 as a new component of the uniporter complex that may contribute to the tissue-specific regulation of this channel.
Mitochondria from diverse organisms are capable of transporting large amounts of Ca2+ via a ruthenium-red-sensitive, membrane-potential-dependent mechanism called the uniporter1–4. Although the uniporter’s biophysical properties have been studied extensively, its molecular composition remains elusive. We recently used comparative proteomics to identify MICU1 (also known as CBARA1), an EF-hand-containing protein that serves as a putative regulator of the uniporter5. Here, we use whole-genome phylogenetic profiling, genome-wide RNA co-expression analysis and organelle-wide protein coexpression analysis to predict proteins functionally related to MICU1. All three methods converge on a novel predicted transmembrane protein, CCDC109A, that we now call ‘mitochondrial calcium uniporter’ (MCU). MCU forms oligomers in the mitochondrial inner membrane, physically interacts with MICU1, and resides within a large molecular weight complex. Silencing MCU in cultured cells or in vivo in mouse liver severely abrogates mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake, whereas mitochondrial respiration and membrane potential remain fully intact. MCU has two predicted transmembrane helices, which are separated by a highly conserved linker facing the intermembrane space. Acidic residues in this linker are required for its full activity. However, an S259A point mutation retains function but confers resistance to Ru360, the most potent inhibitor of the uniporter. Our genomic, physiological, biochemical and pharmacological data firmly establish MCU as an essential component of the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter.
Mice lacking the transcription factor XBP1 exhibit constitutive activation of the stress sensor IRE1α and are protected from acetaminophen overdose–induced acute liver failure.
The mammalian stress sensor IRE1α plays a central role in the unfolded protein, or endoplasmic reticulum (ER), stress response by activating its downstream transcription factor XBP1 via an unconventional splicing mechanism. IRE1α can also induce the degradation of a subset of mRNAs in a process termed regulated IRE1-dependent decay (RIDD). Although diverse mRNA species can be degraded by IRE1α in vitro, the pathophysiological functions of RIDD are only beginning to be explored. Acetaminophen (APAP) overdose is the most frequent cause of acute liver failure in young adults in the United States and is primarily caused by CYP1A2-, CYP2E1-, and CYP3A4-driven conversion of APAP into hepatotoxic metabolites. We demonstrate here that genetic ablation of XBP1 results in constitutive IRE1α activation in the liver, leading to RIDD of Cyp1a2 and Cyp2e1 mRNAs, reduced JNK activation, and protection of mice from APAP-induced hepatotoxicity. A pharmacological ER stress inducer that activated IRE1α suppressed the expression of Cyp1a2 and Cyp2e1 in WT, but not IRE1α-deficient mouse liver, indicating the essential role of IRE1α in the down-regulation of these mRNAs upon ER stress. Our study reveals an unexpected function of RIDD in drug metabolism.
Inflammatory monocytes -- but not the non-inflammatory subset -- depend on the chemokine receptor CCR2 for distribution to injured tissue and stimulate disease progression. Precise therapeutic targeting of this inflammatory monocyte subset could spare innate immunity's essential functions for maintenance of homeostasis and thus limit unwanted effects. Here we developed siRNA nanoparticles targeting CCR2 expression in inflammatory monocytes. We identified an optimized lipid nanoparticle and silencing siRNA sequence that when administered systemically, had rapid blood clearance, accumulated in spleen and bone marrow and showed high cellular localization of fluorescently tagged siRNA inside monocytes. Efficient degradation of CCR2 mRNA in monocytes prevented their accumulation in sites of inflammation. Specifically, the treatment attenuated their number in atherosclerotic plaques, reduced infarct size following coronary artery occlusion, prolonged normoglycemia in diabetic mice after pancreatic islet transplantation and resulted in reduced tumor volumes and lower numbers of tumor-associated macrophages. Taken together, siRNA nanoparticle-mediated CCR2 gene silencing in leukocytes selectively modulates functions of innate immune cell subtypes and may allow for the development of specific anti-inflammatory therapy.
Leukocytes are central regulators of inflammation and the target cells of therapies for key diseases, including autoimmune, cardiovascular, and malignant disorders. Efficient in vivo delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA) to immune cells could thus enable novel treatment strategies with broad applicability. In this report, we develop systemic delivery methods of siRNA encapsulated in lipid nanoparticles (LNP) for durable and potent in vivo RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated silencing in myeloid cells. This work provides the first demonstration of siRNA-mediated silencing in myeloid cell types of nonhuman primates (NHPs) and establishes the feasibility of targeting multiple gene targets in rodent myeloid cells. The therapeutic potential of these formulations was demonstrated using siRNA targeting tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) which induced substantial attenuation of disease progression comparable to a potent antibody treatment in a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In summary, we demonstrate a broadly applicable and therapeutically relevant platform for silencing disease genes in immune cells.
delivery; immune cell; siRNA
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified a locus on chromosome 1p13 as strongly associated with both serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and myocardial infarction (MI) in humans. Here we show through a series of studies in human cohorts and human-derived hepatocytes that a common noncoding polymorphism at the 1p13 locus, rs12740374, creates a C/EBP transcription factor binding site and alters the hepatic expression of the SORT1 gene. With siRNA knockdown and viral overexpression in mouse liver, we demonstrate that Sort1 alters plasma LDL-C and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) particle levels by modulating hepatic VLDL secretion. Thus, we provide functional evidence for a novel regulatory pathway for lipoprotein metabolism and suggest that modulation of this pathway may alter risk for MI in humans. We also demonstrate that common noncoding DNA variants identified by GWASs can directly contribute to clinical phenotypes.
Systemic administration of synthetic small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) effectively silences hepatocyte gene expression in rodents and primates1–3. Whether or not in vivo gene silencing by synthetic siRNA can disrupt the endogenous microRNA (miRNA) pathway remains to be addressed. Here we show that effective target-gene silencing in the mouse and hamster liver can be achieved by systemic administration of synthetic siRNA without any demonstrable effect on miRNA levels or activity. Indeed, siRNA targeting two hepatocyte-specific genes (apolipo-protein B and factor VII) that achieved efficient (~80%) silencing of messenger RNA transcripts and a third irrelevant siRNA control were administered to mice without significant changes in the levels of three hepatocyte-expressed miRNAs (miR-122, miR-16 and let-7a) or an effect on miRNA activity. Moreover, multiple administrations of an siRNA targeting the hepatocyte-expressed gene Scap in hamsters achieved long-term mRNA silencing without significant changes in miR-122 levels. This study advances the use of siRNAs as safe and effective tools to silence gene transcripts in animal studies, and supports the continued advancement of RNA interference therapeutics using synthetic siRNA.
The safe and effective delivery of RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics remains an important challenge for clinical development. The diversity of current delivery materials remains limited, in part because of their slow, multi-step syntheses. Here we describe a new class of lipid-like delivery molecules, termed lipidoids, as delivery agents for RNAi therapeutics. Chemical methods were developed to allow the rapid synthesis of a large library of over 1,200 structurally diverse lipidoids. From this library, we identified lipidoids that facilitate high levels of specific silencing of endogenous gene transcripts when formulated with either double-stranded small interfering RNA (siRNA) or single-stranded antisense 2′-O-methyl (2′-O Me) oligoribonucleotides targeting microRNA (miRNA). The safety and efficacy of lipidoids were evaluated in three animal models: mice, rats and nonhuman primates. The studies reported here suggest that these materials may have broad utility for both local and systemic delivery of RNA therapeutics.
Analysis of mononuclear cells in the adult mouse liver revealed that B cells represent as much as half of the intrahepatic lymphocyte population. Intrahepatic B cells (IHB cells) are phenotypically similar to splenic B2 cells but express lower levels of CD23 and CD21 and higher levels of CD5. IHB cells proliferate as well as splenic B cells in response to anti-IgM and LPS stimulation in vitro. VDJ gene rearrangements in IHB cells contain insertions of N,P region nucleotides characteristic of B cells maturing in the adult bone marrow rather than in the fetal liver. To evaluate whether B cells can have an impact on liver pathology, we compared CCl4-induced fibrosis development in B cell–deficient and wild-type mice. CCl4 caused similar acute liver injury in mutant and wild-type mice. However, following 6 weeks of CCl4 treatment, histochemical analyses showed markedly reduced collagen deposition in B cell–deficient as compared with wild-type mice. By analyzing mice that have normal numbers of B cells but lack either T cells or immunoglobulin in the serum, we established that B cells have an impact on fibrosis in an antibody- and T cell–independent manner.
During hepatic wound healing, activation of key effectors of the wounding
response known as stellate cells leads to a multitude of pathological
processes, including increased production of endothelin-1 (ET-1). This latter
process has been linked to enhanced expression of endothelin-converting
enzyme-1 (ECE-1, the enzyme that converts precursor ET-1 to the mature
peptide) in activated stellate cells. Herein, we demonstrate up-regulation of
56- and 62-kDa ECE-1 3′-untranslated region (UTR) mRNA binding proteins
in stellate cells after liver injury and stellate cell activation. Binding of
these proteins was localized to a CC-rich region in the proximal ECE-1
3′ UTR base pairs (the 56-kDa protein) and to a region between 60 and
193 base pairs in the ECE-1 3′ UTR mRNA (62 kDa). A functional role for
the 3′ UTR mRNA/protein interaction was established in a series of
reporter assays. Additionally, transforming growth factor-β1, a cytokine
integral to wound healing, stimulated ET-1 production. This effect was due to
ECE-1 mRNA stabilization and increased ECE-1 expression in stellate cells,
which in turn was a result of de novo synthesis of the identified 56- and
62-kDa ECE-1 3′ UTR mRNA binding proteins. These data indicate that
liver injury and the hepatic wound healing response lead to ECE-1 mRNA
stabilization in stellate cells via binding of 56- and 62-kDa proteins, which
in turn are regulated by transforming growth factor-β. The possibility
that the same or similar regulatory events are present in other forms of wound
healing is raised.
Central to inflammatory responses are the integrin-mediated adhesive interactions of cells with their ECM-rich environment. We investigated the role of the collagen-binding integrin α1β1 in intestinal inflammation using the mouse model of colitis induced by dextran sodium sulfate (DSS). mAb’s directed against murine α1 were found to significantly attenuate inflammation and injury in DSS-treated wild-type mice; similar protection was seen in mice deficient for α1β1 integrin. Blockade or loss of α1β1 was also associated with decreased mucosal inflammatory cell infiltrate and cytokine production. Importantly, we demonstrated that development and α1-mediated inhibition of DSS-induced colitis occurred independently of lymphocytes (Rag-2–/– mice), and identified the monocyte as a key α1β1-expressing cell type involved in the development of colitis in this model. In response to DSS, both α1 deficiency and anti-α1 mAb treatment significantly reduced monocyte accumulation and activation within the lamina propria. In summary, the data demonstrate that engagement of leukocyte-associated α1β1 receptors with ECM plays a pivotal role in mediating intestinal inflammation via promotion of monocyte movement and/or activation within the inflamed interstitium. Therapeutic strategies designed to disrupt such interactions may prove beneficial in treating intestinal inflammation.
GeneCalling, a genome-wide method of mRNA profiling, reveals that endothelial cells adhering to fibronectin through the α5β1 integrin, but not to laminin through the α2β1 integrin, undergo a complex program of gene expression. Several of the genes identified are regulated by the NF-κB transcription factor, and many are implicated in the regulation of inflammation and angiogenesis. Adhesion of endothelial cells to fibronectin activates NF-κB through a signaling pathway requiring Ras, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, and Rho family proteins, whereas adhesion to laminin has a limited effect. Retroviral transfer of the superrepressor of NF-κB, IκB-2A, blocks basic fibroblast growth factor-induced angiogenesis in vivo. These results suggest that engagement of the α5β1 integrin promotes an NF-κB-dependent program of gene expression that coordinately regulates angiogenesis and inflammation.
TGF-βs are potent inhibitors of epithelial cell proliferation. However, in established carcinomas, autocrine/paracrine TGF-β interactions can enhance tumor cell viability and progression. Thus, we studied the effect of a soluble Fc:TGF-β type II receptor fusion protein (Fc:TβRII) on transgenic and transplantable models of breast cancer metastases. Systemic administration of Fc:TβRII did not alter primary mammary tumor latency in MMTV-Polyomavirus middle T antigen transgenic mice. However, Fc:TβRII increased apoptosis in primary tumors, while reducing tumor cell motility, intravasation, and lung metastases. These effects correlated with inhibition of Akt activity and FKHRL1 phosphorylation. Fc:TβRII also inhibited metastases from transplanted 4T1 and EMT-6 mammary tumors in syngeneic BALB/c mice. Tumor microvessel density in a mouse dorsal skin window chamber was unaffected by Fc:TβRII. Therefore, blockade of TGF-β signaling may reduce tumor cell viability and migratory potential and represents a testable therapeutic approach against metastatic carcinomas.
Interleukin (IL)-13 is a key mediator of tissue fibrosis caused by T helper cell type 2 inflammation. We hypothesized that the fibrogenic effects of IL-13 are mediated by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. To test this hypothesis we compared the regulation of TGF-β in lungs from wild-type mice and CC10-IL-13 mice in which IL-13 overexpression causes pulmonary fibrosis. IL-13 selectively stimulated TGF-β1 production in transgenic animals and macrophages were the major site of TGF-β1 production and deposition in these tissues. IL-13 also activated TGF-β1 in vivo. This activation was associated with decreased levels of mRNA encoding latent TGF-β–binding protein-1 and increased mRNA encoding urinary plasminogen activator, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9, and CD44. TGF-β1 activation was abrogated by the plasmin/serine protease antagonist aprotinin. It was also decreased in progeny of crosses of CC10-IL-13 mice and MMP-9 null mice but was not altered in crosses with CD44 null animals. IL-13–induced fibrosis was also significantly ameliorated by treatment with the TGF-β antagonist soluble TGFβR-Fc (sTGFβR-Fc). These studies demonstrate that IL-13 is a potent stimulator and activator of TGF-β1 in vivo. They also demonstrate that this activation is mediated by a plasmin/serine protease- and MMP-9–dependent and CD44-independent mechanism(s) and that the fibrogenic effects of IL-13 are mediated, in great extent, by this TGF-β pathway.
lung; plasmin; matrix metalloproteinase-9; CD44; asthma
We have shown that the integrin αvβ6 activates latent TGF-β in the lungs and skin. We show here that mice lacking this integrin are completely protected from pulmonary edema in a model of bleomycin-induced acute lung injury (ALI). Pharmacologic inhibition of TGF-β also protected wild-type mice from pulmonary edema induced by bleomycin or Escherichia coli endotoxin. TGF-β directly increased alveolar epithelial permeability in vitro by a mechanism that involved depletion of intracellular glutathione. These data suggest that integrin-mediated local activation of TGF-β is critical to the development of pulmonary edema in ALI and that blocking TGF-β or its activation could be effective treatments for this currently untreatable disorder.
Adhesive interactions play an important role in inflammation by promoting leukocyte attachment and extravasation from the vasculature into the peripheral tissues. However, the importance of adhesion molecules within the extracellular matrix–rich environment of peripheral tissues, in which cells must migrate and be activated, has not been well explored. We investigated the role of the major collagen-binding integrins, α1β1 and α2β1, in several in vivo models of inflammation. mAb’s against murine α1 and α2 were found to significantly inhibit effector phase inflammatory responses in animal models of delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH), contact hypersensitivity (CHS), and arthritis. Mice that were α1-deficient also showed decreased inflammatory responses in the CHS and arthritis models when compared with wild-type mice. Decreased leukocyte infiltration and edema formation accompanied inhibition of antigen-specific models of inflammation, as nonspecific inflammation induced by croton oil was not inhibited. This study demonstrates the importance in vivo of α1β1 and α2β1, the collagen-binding integrins, in inflammatory diseases. The study also extends the role of integrins in inflammation beyond leukocyte attachment and extravasation at the vascular endothelial interface, revealing the extracellular matrix environment of peripheral tissues as a new point of intervention for adhesion-based therapies.
Expression of muscle-specific β1D integrin with an alternatively spliced cytoplasmic domain in CHO and GD25, β1 integrin-minus cells leads to their phenotypic conversion. β1D-transfected nonmuscle cells display rounded morphology, lack of pseudopodial activity, retarded spreading, reduced migration, and significantly enhanced contractility compared with their β1A-expressing counterparts. The transfected β1D is targeted to focal adhesions and efficiently displaces the endogenous β1A and αvβ3 integrins from the sites of cell–matrix contact. This displacement is observed on several types of extracellular matrix substrata and leads to elevated stability of focal adhesions in β1D transfectants. Whereas a significant part of cellular β1A integrin is extractable in digitonin, the majority of the transfected β1D is digitonin-insoluble and is strongly associated with the detergent-insoluble cytoskeleton. Increased interaction of β1D integrin with the actin cytoskeleton is consistent with and might be mediated by its enhanced binding to talin. In contrast, β1A interacts more strongly with α-actinin, than β1D. Inside-out driven activation of the β1D ectodomain increases ligand binding and fibronectin matrix assembly by β1D transfectants. Phenotypic effects of β1D integrin expression in nonmuscle cells are due to its enhanced interactions with both cytoskeletal and extracellular ligands. They parallel the transitions that muscle cells undergo during differentiation. Modulation of β1 integrin adhesive function by alternative splicing serves as a physiological mechanism reinforcing the cytoskeleton– matrix link in muscle cells. This reflects the major role for β1D integrin in muscle, where extremely stable association is required for contraction.