Spontaneous electrical activity generated by developing sensory cells and neurons is crucial for the maturation of neural circuits. The full maturation of mammalian auditory inner hair cells (IHCs) depends on patterns of spontaneous action potentials during a ‘critical period’ of development. The intrinsic spiking activity of IHCs can be modulated by inhibitory input from cholinergic efferent fibres descending from the brainstem, which transiently innervate immature IHCs. However, it remains unknown whether this transient efferent input to developing IHCs is required for their functional maturation. We used a mouse model that lacks the α9-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit (α9nAChR) in IHCs and another lacking synaptotagmin-2 in the efferent terminals to remove or reduce efferent input to IHCs, respectively. We found that the efferent system is required for the developmental linearization of the Ca2+-sensitivity of vesicle fusion at IHC ribbon synapses, without affecting their general cell development. This provides the first direct evidence that the efferent system, by modulating IHC electrical activity, is required for the maturation of the IHC synaptic machinery. The central control of sensory cell development is unique among sensory systems.
hair cell; development; cochlea; calcium current; exocytosis; efferent system
Ca2+-triggered synchronous neurotransmitter release is well described, but asynchronous release – in fact, its very existence – remains enigmatic. Here, we report a quantitative description of asynchronous neurotransmitter release in calyx of Held synapses. We show that deletion of synaptotagmin-2 in mice selectively abolishes synchronous release, allowing us to study pure asynchronous release in isolation. Using photolysis experiments of caged-Ca2+, we demonstrate that asynchronous release displays a Ca2+-cooperativity of ~2 with a Ca2+-affinity of ~44 µM, in contrast to synchronous release which exhibits a Ca2+-cooperativity of ~5 with a Ca2+-affinity of ~38 µM. Our results reveal that release triggered in wild-type synapses at low Ca2+-concentrations is physiologically asynchronous, and that asynchronous release completely empties the readily-releasable pool of vesicles during sustained elevations in Ca2+. We propose a two Ca2+-sensor model of release that quantitatively describes the contributions of synchronous and asynchronous release under different presynaptic Ca2+-dynamics conditions.
synaptotagmin; SNARE proteins; Ca2+-channel
Airway mucin secretion and MC (mast cell) degranulation must be tightly controlled for homoeostasis of the lungs and immune system respectively. We found the exocytic protein Munc18b to be highly expressed in mouse airway epithelial cells and MCs, and localized to the apical pole of airway secretory cells. To address its functions, we created a mouse with a severely hypomorphic Munc18b allele such that protein expression in heterozygotes was reduced by ~50%. Homozygous mutant mice were not viable, but heterozygotes showed a ~50% reduction in stimulated release of mucin from epithelial cells and granule contents from MCs. The defect in MCs affected only regulated secretion and not constitutive or transporter-mediated secretion. The severity of passive cutaneous anaphylaxis was also reduced by ~50%, showing that reduction of Munc18b expression results in an attenuation of physiological responses dependent on MC degranulation. The Munc18b promoter is controlled by INR (initiator), Sp1 (specificity protein 1), Ets, CRE (cAMP-response element), GRE (glucocorticoid-response element), GATA and E-box elements in airway epithelial cells; however, protein levels did not change during mucous metaplasia induced by allergic inflammation. Taken together, the results of the present study identify Munc18b as an essential gene that is a limiting component of the exocytic machinery of epithelial cells and MCs.
exocytosis; mast cell; mucin; mucus; Munc18; secretion; AB-PAS, Alcian Blue/periodic acid/Schiff reagent; bHLH, basic helix–loop–helix; CCSP, Clara cell secretory protein; Clca3, chloride channel, calcium-activated, family member 3; CRE, cAMP-response element; DNP, 2,4-dinitrophenol; FBS, fetal bovine serum; FcϵRIα, high-affinity IgE receptor, α subunit; FRT, flippase recognition target; GAPDH, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase; GRE, glucocorticoid-response element; HA, haemagglutinin; HSA, human serum albumin; HRP, horseradish peroxidase; IL-3, interleukin-3; INR, initiator; ISH, in situ hybridization; MC, mast cell; mBMMC, mouse bone-marrow-derived MC; mClca3, mouse Clca3; MFI, mean fluorescent intensity; mtCC, mouse transformed Clara cell; NK, natural killer; OCT, optimal cutting temperature compound; PAFS, periodic acid/fluorescent Schiff reagent; PBST, PBS containing 0.05% Tween 20; PGD2, prostaglandin D2; PGK, phosphoglucokinase; SCF, stem cell factor; SM, Sec1/Munc18; SNAP, soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor-attachment protein; SNARE, SNAP receptor; Stxbp2, syntaxin-binding protein 2; TK, thymidine kinase; TNFα, tumour necrosis factor α; WT, wild-type; YFP, yellow fluorescent protein
Mast cells (MCs) contribute to formation of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) by producing biologically active mediators. Tryptase is the most abundant MC granule protein and participates in MC activation, protease maturation, leukocyte recruitment, and angiogenesis — all processes critical to AAA pathogenesis.
To test the hypothesis that tryptase functions directly in AAA formation.
Methods and Results
Immunoreactive tryptase localized in the media and adventitia of human and mouse AAA lesions. Serum tryptase levels correlated significantly with the annual expansion rate of AAA before (r=0.30, P=0.003) and after (r=0.29, P=0.005) adjustment for common AAA risk factors in a patient follow-up study, and associated with risks for later surgical repair or overall mortality before (P=0.009, P=0.065) and after (P=0.004, P=0.001) the adjustment. Using MC protease-6–deficient mice (Mcpt6−/−) and experimental AAAs induced by aortic elastase perfusion, we proved a direct role of this tryptase in AAA pathogenesis. While all wild-type (WT) mice developed AAA at 14 or 56 days post-perfusion, Mcpt6−/− mice had full protection. AAA lesions from Mcpt6−/− mice contained fewer inflammatory and apoptotic cells, and lower chemokine levels than those from WT mice. MC from WT mice restored reduced AAA lesions and lesion inflammatory cell content in MC–deficient KitW-sh/W-sh mice, but those prepared from Mcpt6−/− mice did not. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that tryptase deficiency affected endothelial cell (EC) chemokine and cytokine expression, monocyte transmigration, smooth-muscle cell apoptosis, and MC and AAA lesion cysteinyl cathepsin expression and activities.
This study establishes the direct participation of MC tryptase in the pathogenesis of experimental AAAs, and suggests that levels of this protease can serve as a novel biomarker for abdominal aortic expansion.
abdominal aortic aneurysm; tryptase; mMCP-6; macrophage; T cell; apoptosis
A second degree epidermal scald burn in mice elicits an inflammatory response mediated by natural IgM directed to non-muscle myosin with complement activation that results in ulceration and scarring. We find that such burn injury is associated with early mast cell (MC) degranulation and is absent in WBB6F1-KitW/KitWv mice which lack MCs in a context of other defects due to a mutation of the KIT receptor. To further address a MC role, we used transgenic strains with normal lineage development and a deficiency in a specific secretory granule component. Mouse strains lacking the MC-restricted chymase, mouse MC protease (mMCP)-4, or elastase, mMCP-5, show decreased injury following a second degree scald burn while mice lacking the MC-restricted tryptases, mMCP-6 and mMCP-7, or the MC-specific carboxypeptidase A3 activity are not protected. Histologic sections showed some disruption of the epidermis at the scald site in the protected strains suggesting the possibility of topical reconstitution of full injury. Topical application of recombinant mMCP-5 or human neutrophil elastase to the scalded area increases epidermal injury with subsequent ulceration and scarring, both clinically and morphologically, in mMCP-5-deficent mice. Restoration of injury requires that topical administration of recombinant mMCP-5 occurs within the first h post burn. Importantly, topical application of human MC chymase restores burn injury to scalded mMCP-4-deficient mice but not to mMCP-5-deficient mice revealing non-redundant actions for these two MC proteases in a model of innate inflammatory injury with remodeling.
Although mast cells (MCs) often are abundant in the synovial tissues of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), MC’s contribution to joint inflammation and cartilage loss remains poorly understood. MC-restricted tryptase•heparin complexes have pro-inflammatory activity, and significant amounts of hTryptase-β are present in RA synovial fluid. Mouse MC protease-6 (mMCP-6) is the ortholog of hTryptase-β, and this serine protease is abundant in the synovium of arthritic mice. We now report that C57BL/6 (B6) mice lacking their tryptase•heparin complexes have attenuated arthritic responses, with mMCP-6 as the dominant tryptase responsible for augmenting neutrophil infiltration in the K/B×N mouse serum-transfer arthritis model. While inflammation in this experimental arthritis model was not dependent on protease activated receptor-2, it was dependent on the chemokine receptor CXCR2. In support of the latter data, exposure of synovial fibroblasts to hTryptase-β•heparin or mMCP-6•heparin complexes resulted in expression of the neutrophil chemotactic factors CXCL1/KC, CXCL5/LIX, and CXCL8/IL-8. Our proteomics, histochemistry, and immunohistochemistry data also revealed substantial loss of cartilage-derived aggrecan proteoglycans in the arthritic joints of wild-type B6 mice but not mMCP-6-null B6 mice. These observations demonstrate the functional contribution of MC-restricted tryptase•heparin complexes in the K/B×N mouse arthritis model and connect our mouse findings with RA pathophysiology.
mast cell; rheumatoid arthritis; inflammation; chemokines; transgenic/knockout mice
Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis is the most common form of infection by Aspergillus species among immunocompromised patients. Although this infection frequently involves the lung parenchyma, it is unusual to find it limited to the tracheobronchial tree, a condition known as invasive aspergillus tracheobronchitis.
A 65 year-old Hispanic man from Bolivia with a history of chronic lymphocytic leukemia developed cough and malaise eight months after having an allogenic stem cell transplant. A computed tomography of the chest revealed an area of diffuse soft tissue thickening around the left main stem bronchus, which was intensely fluorodeoxyglucose-avid on positron emission tomography scanning. An initial bronchoscopic exam revealed circumferential narrowing of the entire left main stem bronchus with necrotic and friable material on the medial wall. Neither aspirates from this necrotic area nor bronchial washing were diagnostic. A second bronchoscopy with endobronchial ultrasound evidenced a soft tissue thickening on the medial aspect of the left main stem bronchus underlying the area of necrosis visible endoluminally. Endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration performed in this area revealed multiple fungal elements suggestive of Aspergillus species.
We describe the first case of invasive aspergillus tracheobronchitis in which the diagnosis was facilitated by the use of endobronchial ultrasound guided trans-bronchial needle aspiration. To the best of our knowledge, we are also presenting the first positron emission tomography scan images of this condition in the literature. We cautiously suggest that endobronchial ultrasound imaging may be a useful tool to evaluate the degree of invasion and the involvement of vascular structures in these patients prior to bronchoscopic manipulation of the affected areas in an effort to avoid potentially fatal hemorrhage.
Exocytosis at synapses generally refers to fusion between vesicles and the plasma membrane1. Although compound fusion between vesicles2,3 was proposed at ribbon-type synapses4,5, whether it exists, how it is mediated, and what role it plays at conventional synapses remain unclear. Here we addressed this issue at a nerve terminal containing conventional active zones. High potassium application and high frequency firing induced giant capacitance up-steps reflecting exocytosis of vesicles larger than regular ones, followed by giant down-steps reflecting bulk endocytosis. They also induced giant vesicle-like structures, as observed with electron microscopy, and giant miniature EPSCs (mEPSCs) reflecting more transmitter release. Calcium and its sensor for vesicle fusion, synaptotagmin, were required for these giant events. After high frequency firing, calcium/synaptotagmin-dependent mEPSC size increase was paralleled by calcium/synaptotagmin-dependent post-tetanic potentiation (PTP). These results suggest that calcium/synaptotagmin mediates compound fusion between vesicles, that exocytosis of compound vesicles increases quantal size which enhances synaptic strength and thus contributes to the generation of PTP, and that exocytosed compound vesicles may be retrieved via bulk endocytosis. We suggest to include a new vesicle cycling route, compound exocytosis followed by bulk endocytosis, into models of synapses, where currently only vesicle fusion with the plasma membrane is considered (Fig. S1)1.
Rationale: The lungs are a common site of serious infection in both healthy and immunocompromised subjects, and the most likely route of delivery of a bioterror agent. Since the airway epithelium shows great structural plasticity in response to inflammatory stimuli, we hypothesized it might also show functional plasticity.
Objectives: To test the inducibility of lung defenses against bacterial challenge.
Methods: Mice were treated with an aerosolized lysate of ultraviolet-killed nontypeable (unencapsulated) Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), then challenged with a lethal dose of live Streptococcus pneumoniae (Spn) delivered by aerosol.
Measurements and Main Results: Treatment with the NTHi lysate induced complete protection against challenge with a lethal dose of Spn if treatment preceded challenge by 4 to 24 hours. Lesser levels of protection occurred at shorter (83% at 2 h) and longer (83% at 48–72 h) intervals between treatment and challenge. There was also some protection when treatment was given 2 hours after challenge (survival increased from 14 to 57%), but not 24 hours after challenge. Protection did not depend on recruited neutrophils or resident mast cells and alveolar macrophages. Protection was specific to the airway route of infection, correlated in magnitude and time with rapid bacterial killing within the lungs, and was associated with increases of multiple antimicrobial polypeptides in lung lining fluid.
Conclusions: We infer that protection derives from stimulation of local innate immune mechanisms, and that activated lung epithelium is the most likely cellular effector of this response. Augmentation of innate antimicrobial defenses of the lungs might have therapeutic value.
innate immunity; pneumonia; immunocompromised host; lung epithelium
Mucus hypersecretion contributes to morbidity and mortality in many obstructive lung diseases. Gel-forming mucins are the chief glycoprotein components of airway mucus, and elevated expression of these during mucous metaplasia precedes the hypersecretory phenotype. Five orthologous genes (MUC2, MUC5AC, MUC5B, MUC6, and MUC19) encode the mammalian gel-forming mucin family, and several have been implicated in asthma, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease pathologies. However, in the absence of a comprehensive analysis, their relative contributions remain unclear. Here, we assess the expression of the entire gel-forming mucin gene family in allergic mouse airways and show that Muc5ac is the predominant gel-forming mucin induced. We previously showed that the induction of mucous metaplasia in ovalbumin-sensitized and -challenged mouse lungs occurs within bronchial Clara cells. The temporal induction and localization of Muc5ac transcripts correlate with the induced expression and localization of mucin glycoproteins in bronchial airways. To better understand the tight regulation of Muc5ac expression, we analyzed all available 5′-flanking sequences of mammalian MUC5AC orthologs and identified evolutionarily conserved regions within domains proximal to the mRNA coding region. Analysis of luciferase reporter gene activity in a mouse transformed Clara cell line demonstrates that this region possesses strong promoter activity and harbors multiple conserved transcription factor–binding motifs. In particular, SMAD4 and HIF-1α bind to the promoter, and mutation of their recognition motifs abolishes promoter function. In conclusion, Muc5ac expression is the central event in antigen-induced mucous metaplasia, and phylogenetically conserved 5′ noncoding domains control its regulation.
mucin; metaplasia; airway; lung; epithelium
Synaptotagmins (Syts) I and II are believed to act as Ca2+ sensors in the control of neurotransmission. Here we demonstrate that mast cells express Syt II in their lysosomal fraction. We further show that activation of mast cells by either aggregation of FcεRI or by Ca2+ ionophores results in exocytosis of lysosomes, in addition to the well documented exocytosis of their secretory granules. Syt II directly regulates lysosomal exocytosis, whereby overexpression of Syt II inhibited Ca2+-triggered release of the lysosomal processed form of cathepsin D, whereas suppression of Syt II expression markedly potentiated this release. These findings provide evidence for a novel function of Syt II in negatively regulating Ca2+-triggered exocytosis of lysosomes, and suggest that Syt II–regulated secretion from lysosomes may play an important role in mast cell biology.
mast cells; lysosomes; calcium binding proteins; exocytosis; immunoglobulin E