T-bet is a critical transcription factor for T helper-1 (Th1) cell differentiation. To study the regulation and functions of T-bet, we developed a T-bet-ZsGreen reporter mouse strain. We determined that interleukin-12 (IL-12) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) were redundant in inducing T-bet in mice infected with Toxoplasma gondii and that T-bet did not contribute to its own expression when induced by IL-12 and IFN-γ. By contrast, T-bet and the transcription factor Stat4 were critical for IFN-γ production whereas IFN-γ signaling was dispensable for inducing IFN-γ. Loss of T-bet resulted in activation of an endogenous program driving Th2 cell differentiation in cells expressing T-bet-ZsGreen. Genome-wide analyses indicated that T-bet directly induced many Th1 cell-related genes but indirectly suppressed Th2 cell-related genes. Our study revealed redundancy and synergy among several Th1 cell-inducing pathways in regulating the expression of T-bet and IFN-γ, and a critical role of T-bet in suppressing an endogenous Th2 cell-associated program.
Our previous studies have shown that HOXB7 mRNA is overexpressed in ~50% of invasive breast carcinomas and promotes tumor progression in breast cancer cells grown as xenografts in mice. In silico analysis of published microarray data showed that high levels of HOXB7 predict a poor outcome in HER-2–positive (P = 0.046), but not in HER-2–negative breast cancers (P = 0.94). To study the function of HOXB7 in vivo in the context of HER-2 overexpression, we generated mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV)-Hoxb7 transgenic mice, and then crossed them with MMTV-HER-2/neu transgenic mice. In the mice carrying both Hoxb7 and HER-2/neu transgenes, Hoxb7 plays a dual role in mammary tumorigenesis. In double transgenic mice, overexpression of Hoxb7 delayed tumor onset and lowered tumor multiplicity. However, consistent with the clinical data, once the tumors appeared, their growth was faster and metastasis to the lungs occurred at a higher frequency. Our data show, for the first time, that deregulated expression of Hoxb7 in mammary tumor cells can significantly modulate HER-2/neu-oncogene induced tumorigenesis in vivo.
Prostate stem cells are thought to be responsible for generation of all prostate epithelial cells and for tissue maintenance. The lineage relationship between basal and luminal cells in the prostate is not well clarified. We developed a mouse model to trace cell fate and a mouse model with a slowly cycling cell label to provide insight into this question. The results obtained indicate that putative mouse prostate stem cells are likely to reside in the basal layer.
Two cytokines that signal through the common gamma chain receptor, IL-7 and IL-15, are responsible for the differentiation of developing thymocytes into CD8+ cytotoxic lineage T cells in mice.
The thymus generates T cells with diverse specificities and functions. To assess the contribution of cytokine receptors to the differentiation of T cell subsets in the thymus, we constructed conditional knockout mice in which IL-7Rα or common cytokine receptor γ chain (γc) genes were deleted in thymocytes just before positive selection. We found that γc expression was required to signal the differentiation of MHC class I (MHC-I)–specific thymocytes into CD8+ cytotoxic lineage T cells and into invariant natural killer T cells but did not signal the differentiation of MHC class II (MHC-II)–specific thymocytes into CD4+ T cells, even into regulatory Foxp3+CD4+ T cells which require γc signals for survival. Importantly, IL-7 and IL-15 were identified as the cytokines responsible for CD8+ cytotoxic T cell lineage specification in vivo. Additionally, we found that small numbers of aberrant CD8+ T cells expressing Runx3d could arise without γc signaling, but these cells were developmentally arrested before expressing cytotoxic lineage genes. Thus, γc-transduced cytokine signals are required for cytotoxic lineage specification in the thymus and for inducing the differentiation of MHC-I–selected thymocytes into functionally mature T cells.
Segmentation is an organizing principle of body plans. The segmentation clock, a molecular oscillator best illustrated by the cyclic expression of Notch signaling genes, controls the periodic cleavage of somites from unsegmented presomitic mesoderm (PSM) during vertebrate segmentation. Wnt3a controls the spatiotemporal expression of cyclic Notch genes, however the underlying mechanisms remain obscure. Transcriptional profiling of Wnt3a−/− embryos led to the identification of the bHLH transcription factor, Mesogenin1 (Msgn1), as a direct target gene of Wnt3a. To identify Msgn1 targets, we performed genome-wide studies of Msgn1 activity in embryonic stem cells. Here we show that Msgn1 is a major transcriptional activator of a Notch signaling program, synergizing with Notch to trigger clock gene expression. Msgn1 also indirectly regulates cyclic genes in the Fgf and Wnt pathways. Thus, Msgn1 is a central component of a transcriptional cascade that translates a spatial Wnt3a gradient into a temporal pattern of clock gene expression.
In contrast to ATM-null mice, mice expressing a kinase-dead ATM variant exhibit embryonic lethality, associated with greater deficiency in homologous recombination.
Ataxia telangiectasia (A-T) mutated (ATM) is a key deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) damage signaling kinase that regulates DNA repair, cell cycle checkpoints, and apoptosis. The majority of patients with A-T, a cancer-prone neurodegenerative disease, present with null mutations in Atm. To determine whether the functions of ATM are mediated solely by its kinase activity, we generated two mouse models containing single, catalytically inactivating point mutations in Atm. In this paper, we show that, in contrast to Atm-null mice, both D2899A and Q2740P mutations cause early embryonic lethality in mice, without displaying dominant-negative interfering activity. Using conditional deletion, we find that the D2899A mutation in adult mice behaves largely similar to Atm-null cells but shows greater deficiency in homologous recombination (HR) as measured by hypersensitivity to poly (adenosine diphosphate-ribose) polymerase inhibition and increased genomic instability. These results may explain why missense mutations with no detectable kinase activity are rarely found in patients with classical A-T. We propose that ATM kinase-inactive missense mutations, unless otherwise compensated for, interfere with HR during embryogenesis.
Type I interferons (IFN-I) are normally produced during antiviral responses, yet high levels of chronic IFN-I expression correlate with autoimmune disease. A variety of viral sensors generate IFN-I in their response, but other than TLRs it is not fully known which pathways are directly involved in the development of spontaneous immune pathologies. To further explore the link between IFN-I induced by viral pathways and autoimmunity, we generated a new transgenic (Tg) mouse line containing multiple copies of Ifih1, a gene encoding the cytoplasmic dsRNA sensor MDA5 with proven linkage to diabetes and lupus. We show that MDA5 overexpression led to a chronic IFN-I state characterized by resistance to a lethal viral infection through rapid clearance of virus in the absence of a CD8+ or antibody response. Spontaneous MDA5 activation was not sufficient to initiate autoimmune or inflammatory pathology by itself even though every immune cell population had signs of interferon activation. When combined with the lupus-susceptible background of the FcγR2B deficiency, MDA5 overexpression did accelerate the production of switched autoantibodies, the incidence of glomerulonephritis and early lethality. Thus, MDA5 Tg mice provide evidence that chronic elevated levels of IFN-I are not sufficient to initiate autoimmunity or inflammation although they might exacerbate an ongoing autoimmune pathology.
MDA5; Ifih1; type one IFN; virus; autoimmunity
Immature CD4+CD8+ (double-positive (DP)) thymocytes are signaled via T cell antigen receptors (TCRs) to undergo positive selection and become responsive to intrathymic cytokines such as interleukin 7 (IL-7). We report here that cytokine signaling is required for positively selected thymocytes to express the transcription factor Runx3, specify CD8 lineage choice and differentiate into cytotoxic-lineage T cells. In DP thymocytes genetically engineered to be cytokine responsive, IL-7 signaling induced TCR-unsignaled DP thymocytes to express Runx3 and to differentiate into mature CD8+ T cells, completely circumventing positive selection. We conclude that TCR-mediated positive selection converts DP cells into cytokine-responsive thymocytes, but it is subsequent signaling by intrathymic cytokines that specifies CD8 lineage choice and promotes differentiation into cytotoxic-lineage T cells.
Th17 cells have been described as short-lived but this view is at odds with their capacity to trigger protracted damage to normal and transformed tissues. We report that Th17 cells, despite displaying low expression of CD27 and other phenotypic markers of terminal differentiation, efficiently eradicated tumors and caused autoimmunity, were long-lived and maintained a core molecular signature resembling early memory CD8+ cells with stem cell-like properties. In addition, we found that Th17 cells had high expression of Tcf7, a direct target of the Wnt and β-catenin signaling axis, and accumulated β-catenin, a feature observed in stem cells. In vivo, Th17 cells gave rise to Th1-like effector cell progeny and also self-renewed and persisted as IL-17A-secreting cells. Multipotency was required for Th17 cell-mediated tumor eradication because effector cells deficient in IFN-γ or IL-17A had impaired activity. Thus, Th17 cells are not always short-lived and are a less-differentiated subset capable of superior persistence and functionality.
Clonal deletion of autoreactive thymocytes is important for self-tolerance, but the intra-thymic signals that induce clonal deletion have not been clearly identified. We now report that clonal deletion during negative selection requires CD28 costimulation of autoreactive thymocytes at the CD4+CD8lo intermediate stage of differentiation. Autoreactive thymocytes were prevented from undergoing clonal deletion by either absent CD28 costimulation or transgenic over-expression of the anti-apoptotic factors Bcl-2 or Mcl-1, with surviving thymocytes differentiating into anergic T cell receptor αβ+ double negative thymocytes that preferentially migrated to the intestine where they re-expressed CD8α and were sequestered as CD8αα intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs). This study identifies CD28 costimulation as the intrathymic signal required for clonal deletion and identifies CD8αα IELs as the developmental fate of autoreactive thymocytes that survive negative selection.
tolerance; autoimmunity; CD8αα; IEL; Runx3
How CD4-CD8 expression is maintained in mature T cells is largely unknown. The present study has examined the role in this process of the zinc finger protein Zbtb7b, a critical factor for the commitment of MHC II-restricted thymocytes to the CD4 lineage, that remains expressed in mature CD4 cells. We show that Zbtb7b acts in peripheral CD4 cells to suppress CD8-lineage gene expression, including that of CD8 and cytotoxic effector genes perforin and Granzyme B, and is important for the proper repression of IFNγ during effector differentiation. The inappropriate expression of IFNγ by Zbtb7b-deficient CD4 cells required the activities of Eomesodermin and Runx3 transcription factors. Runx activity was needed for Granzyme B expression, indicating that Runx proteins control expression of the cytotoxic program. We conclude that a key function of Zbtb7b in the mature CD4 T cell compartment is to repress CD8-lineage gene expression.
Interleukin 22 (IL-22), which acts as either a pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory cytokine in various disease models, is markedly upregulated in chronic liver diseases, including hepatitis B and C. In this report, we demonstrate a strong correlation between IL-22 expression in the liver with active, inflammatory human liver disease. To clarify the role of IL-22 upregulation in the pathogenesis of liver diseases, liver specific IL-22 transgenic (IL-22TG) mice, under the control of albumin promoter, were developed. Despite elevated IL-22 serum levels ranging from 4000 to 7000 pg/ml, IL-22TG mice developed normally without obvious adverse phenotypes or evidence of chronic inflammation except slightly thicker epidermis and minor inflammation in the skin compared with wild-type mice. Most interestingly, IL-22TG mice were completely resistant to Concanavalin A-induced T cell hepatitis with minimal effect on liver inflammation and had accelerated liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy. Although they did not spontaneously develop liver tumors, IL-22TG mice were more susceptible to diethylnitrosamine-induced liver cancer. Microarray analyses revealed that a variety of anti-oxidant, mitogenic, acute phase genes were upregulated in the livers from IL-22TG mice compared with those from wild-type mice. These findings indicate that localized production of IL-22 in the liver promotes hepatocyte survival and proliferation but primes the liver to be more susceptible to tumor development without significantly affecting liver inflammation.
IL-22; transgenic mice; liver; cancer
Adipose-specific inactivation of both AP-1 and C/EBP families of B-ZIP transcription factors in transgenic mice causes severe lipoatrophy. To evaluate if inactivation of only C/EBP members was critical for lipoatrophy, A-C/EBP, a dominant-negative protein that specifically inhibits the DNA binding of the C/EBP members, was expressed in adipose tissue. For first 2 weeks after birth, aP2-A-C/EBP mice had no white adipose tissue(WAT), drastically reduced brown adipose tissue(BAT) and exhibited marked hepatic steatosis, hyperinsulinemia, and hyperlipidemia. However, WAT appeared during the third week, coinciding with significantly improved metabolic functioning. In adults, BAT remained reduced, causing cold intolerance. At 30 weeks, the aP2-A-C/EBP mice had only 35% reduced WAT, with clear morphological signs of lipodystrophy in subcutaneous fat. Circulating leptin and adiponectin levels were less than the wild type levels and these mice exhibited impaired triglyceride clearance. Insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and reduced free fatty acid release in response to β3-adrenergic agonist suggest improper functioning of the residual WAT. Gene-expression analysis of inguinal WAT identified reduced mRNA levels of several enzymes involved in fatty acid synthesis and glucose metabolism that are known C/EBPα transcriptional targets. There were increased levels for genes involved in inflammation and muscle differentiation. However, when dermal-fibroblasts from aP2-A-C/EBP mice were differentiated into adipocytes in tissue culture, muscle markers were elevated more than the inflammatory markers. These results demonstrate that the C/EBP family is essential for adipose tissue development during the early postnatal period, contribute to glucose and lipid homeostasis in adults, and the suppression of the muscle lineage.
C/EBP; dominant negative; adipose tissue; diabetes; lipodystrophy; transgenic mouse
Missense mutations in the C-terminal B30.2 domain of pyrin cause familial Mediterranean fever (FMF), the most common Mendelian autoinflammatory disease. However, it remains controversial as to whether FMF is due to the loss of an inhibitor of inflammation or to the activity of a proinflammatory molecule. We generated both pyrin-deficient mice and “knockin” mice harboring mutant human B30.2 domains. Homozygous knockin, but not pyrin-deficient, mice exhibited spontaneous bone marrow-dependent inflammation similar to but more severe than human FMF. Caspase-1 was constitutively activated in knockin macrophages and active IL-1β was secreted when stimulated with lipopolysaccharide alone, which is also observed in FMF patients. The inflammatory phenotype of knockin mice was completely ablated by crossing with IL-1 receptor-deficient or adapter molecule ASC-deficient mice, but not NLRP3-deficient mice. Thus, our data provide evidence for a heretofore unrecognized ASC-dependent NLRP3-independent inflammasome in which gain-of-function pyrin mutations cause autoinflammatory disease.
While most CD4+ T cells are MHC class II-restricted, a small subset, including CD1d-restricted ‘invariant’ iNKT cells, are selected on non-classical MHC-I or MHC-I-like molecules. We previously showed that the sequential activation of two zinc finger transcription factors, Gata3 and Thpok, promotes the differentiation of conventional, MHC II-restricted thymocytes into CD4+ T cells. In the current study, we show that a Gata3-Thpok cascade is required for the differentiation of CD4+ iNKT cells. Gata3 is required for iNKT cells to express Thpok, whereas Thpok is needed for their proper differentiation, and notably for them to maintain CD4 and terminate CD8 expression. These findings identify the sequential activation of Gata3 and Thpok as a hallmark of CD4+ T-cell differentiation, regardless of MHC restriction.
The process of regeneration is most readily studied in species of sponge, hydra, planarian and salamander (i.e., newt and axolotl). The closure of MRL mouse ear pinna through-and-through holes provides a mammalian model of unusual wound healing/regeneration in which a blastema-like structure closes the ear hole and cartilage and hair follicles are replaced. Recent studies, based on a broad level of DNA damage and a cell cycle pattern of G2/M “arrest,” showed that p21Cip1/Waf1 was missing from the MRL mouse ear and that a p21-null mouse could close its ear holes. Given the p53/p21 axis of control of DNA damage, cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and senescence, we tested the role of p53 in the ear hole regenerative response. Using backcross mice, we found that loss of p53 in MRL mice did not show reduced healing. Furthermore, cross sections of MRL. p53−/− mouse ears at 6 weeks post-injury showed an increased level of adipocytes and chondrocytes in the region of healing whereas MRL or p21−/− mice showed chondrogenesis alone in this same region, though at later time points. In addition, we also investigated other cell cyclerelated mutant mice to determine how p21 was being regulated. We demonstrate that p16 and Gadd45 null mice show little healing capacity. Interestingly, a partial healing phenotype in mice with a dual Tgfβ/Rag2 knockout mutation was seen. These data demonstrate an independence of p53 signaling for mouse appendage regeneration and suggest that the role of p21 in this process is possibly through the abrogation of the Tgfβ/Smad pathway.
mouse; regeneration; p53; p21; MRL; ear-hole; Tgfβ
Cutaneous malignant melanoma is a highly aggressive and frequently chemoresistant cancer, whose incidence continues to rise. Epidemiological studies reveal that the major etiological melanoma risk factor is ultraviolet (UV) solar radiation, with the highest risk associated with intermittent burning doses, especially during childhood1,2. We have experimentally validated these epidemiological findings using the hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF) transgenic mouse model, which develops lesions in stages highly reminiscent of human melanoma with respect to biological, genetic and etiologic criteria, but only when irradiated as neonatal pups with UVB, not UVA3,4. However, mechanisms underlying UVB-initiated, neonatal-specific melanomagenesis remain largely unknown. Here we introduce a mouse model permitting fluorescence-aided melanocyte imaging and isolation following in vivo UV irradiation. We use expression profiling to show that activated neonatal skin melanocytes isolated following a melanomagenic UVB dose bear a distinct, persistent interferon response signature, including genes associated with immunoevasion. UVB-induced melanocyte activation, characterized by aberrant growth and migration, was abolished by antibody-mediated systemic blockade of interferon-γ (IFN-γ), but not type-I interferons. IFN-γ was produced by macrophages recruited to neonatal skin by UVB-induced ligands to the chemokine receptor Ccr2. Admixed recruited skin macrophages enhanced transplanted melanoma growth by inhibiting apoptosis; notably, IFN-γ blockade abolished macrophage-enhanced melanoma growth and survival. IFN-γ-producing macrophages were also identified in 70% of human melanomas examined. Our data reveal an unanticipated role for IFN-γ in promoting melanocytic cell survival/immunoevasion, and suggest that IFN-γ-R signaling represents a novel therapeutic melanoma target.
The lineage fate of developing thymocytes is determined by the persistence or cessation of TCR signaling during positive selection, with persistent TCR signaling required for CD4 lineage choice. We now report that transcriptional upregulation of CD4 expression is essential for error-free lineage choice during MHC-II specific positive selection and is especially critical for error-free lineage choice in TCR transgenic mice whose thymocytes compete for the identical selecting ligand. CD4 upregulation occurs only for endogenously encoded CD4 coreceptors as CD4 transgenes are downregulated during positive selection, disrupting MHC-II specific TCR signaling and causing lineage errors regardless of the absolute number or signaling strength of transgenic CD4 proteins. Thus, the kinetics of CD4 coreceptor expression during MHC-II specific positive selection determines the integrity of CD4 lineage choice, revealing an elegant symmetry between coreceptor kinetics and lineage choice.
Improving the efficiency of PrP translocation into the ER decreases levels of transmembrane bound protein and rescues mice from prion disease.
Protein translocation into the endoplasmic reticulum is mediated by signal sequences that vary widely in primary structure. In vitro studies suggest that such signal sequence variations may correspond to subtly different functional properties. Whether comparable functional differences exist in vivo and are of sufficient magnitude to impact organism physiology is unknown. Here, we investigate this issue by analyzing in transgenic mice the impact of signal sequence efficiency for mammalian prion protein (PrP). We find that replacement of the average efficiency signal sequence of PrP with more efficient signals rescues mice from neurodegeneration caused by otherwise pathogenic PrP mutants in a downstream hydrophobic domain (HD). This effect is explained by the demonstration that efficient signal sequence function precludes generation of a cytosolically exposed, disease-causing transmembrane form of PrP mediated by the HD mutants. Thus, signal sequences are functionally nonequivalent in vivo, with intrinsic inefficiency of the native PrP signal being required for pathogenesis of a subset of disease-causing PrP mutations.
Many antigens recognized by tumor-reactive cytotoxic CD8+ T cells are self-antigens. Tyrosinase-related protein 2 (TRP-2) is a melanogenic enzyme expressed by both melanocytes and melanomas that is reported to be a candidate melanoma rejection antigen. To study the role of self-reactive CD8+ T cells in tumor immunity and autoimmunity, we generated mice which bear a T cell receptor transgene (TCR Tg) specific for the TRP-2(180-188) epitope. TRP-2 TCR Tg mice did not spontaneously develop depigmentation despite systemic expression of TRP-2 in the skin. Peripheral T cells from these TCR Tg mice exhibited a naïve phenotype and proliferated in response to TRP-2 in vitro. In addition, transfer of in vitro-activated Tg T cells reduced B16 pulmonary tumor burden, but not subcutaneous tumors. We next sought to determine the in vivo responses of the Tg T cells to endogenous and tumor-derived TRP-2. Adoptive transfer of naïve TCR Tg T cells into wild-type C57BL/6 mice, in combination with a TRP-2-pulsed dendritic cell vaccine, induced proliferation of the Tg T cells and resulted in migration of the Tg T cells into a subcutaneous B16 melanoma tumor. Although these tumor-infiltrating Tg T cells remained reactive against TRP-2, they did not reduce growth of the primary subcutaneous tumor; similarly, these in vivo-primed effector cells had no significant effect on growth of pulmonary nodules. These data demonstrate that despite in vivo priming, tumor-infiltrating T cells may fail to reduce tumor burden. Determining the basis for the inability of the tumor micro-environment to sustain effective anti-tumor responses will be critical for designing newer, more potent anti-tumor immunotherapies.
melanoma; T cells; adoptive immunotherapy; T cell receptor transgene
The transcription factors Gata3 and Zbtb7b are required for intrathymic CD4 T cell differentiation, but their precise roles in this process remain unclear. Here we show that, contrary to previous findings, Gata3 disruption blocked CD4 T cell lineage differentiation before CD4 lineage commitment, and in some contexts permitted ‘redirection’ of MHC class II-restricted thymocytes into the CD8 lineage. We found that Gata3 promotes Zbtb7b expression, and binds within a region of the Zbtb7b locus established as critical for Zbtb7b expression. Finally, Zbtb7b promoted CD4 lineage differentiation in a manner dependent on Gata3, but inhibited CD8 lineage differentiation independently of Gata3. We propose that Gata3 acts as a specification factor for the CD4 lineage, “upstream” of the Zbtb7b-controlled CD4 commitment checkpoint.
Interleukin-7 (IL-7) is required for lymphocyte development and homeostasis although the actual sites of IL-7 production have never been clearly identified. We produced a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) transgenic mouse expressing ECFP in the Il7 locus. The construct lacked a signal peptide and ECFP (enhanced cyan fluorescent protein ) accumulated inside IL-7-producing stromal cells in thoracic thymus, cervical thymus and bone marrow. In thymus, an extensive reticular network of IL-7-containing processes extended from cortical and medullary epithelial cells, closely contacting thymocytes. Central memory CD8 T cells, which require IL-7 and home to bone marrow, physically associated with IL-7-producing cells as we demonstrate by intravital imaging.
STAF [Sec (selenocysteine) tRNA gene transcription activating factor] is a transcription activating factor for a number of RNA Pol III- and RNA Pol II-dependent genes including the Trsp [Sec tRNA gene], which in turn controls the expression of all selenoproteins. Here, the role of STAF in regulating expression of Sec tRNA and selenoproteins was examined. We generated transgenic mice expressing the Trsp transgene lacking the STAF-binding site and made these mice dependent on the transgene for survival by removing the wild-type Trsp. The level of Sec tRNA was unaffected or slightly elevated in heart and testis, but reduced ∼60% in liver and kidney, ∼70% in lung and spleen and ∼80% in brain and muscle compared with the corresponding organs in control mice. Moreover, the ratio of the two isoforms of Sec tRNA that differ by methylation at position 34 (Um34) was altered significantly, and the Um34-containing form was substantially reduced in all tissues examined. Selenoprotein expression in these animals was most affected in tissues in which the Sec tRNA levels were most severely reduced. Importantly, mice had a neurological phenotype strikingly similar to that of mice in which the selenoprotein P gene had been removed and their life span was substantially reduced. The results indicate that STAF influences selenoprotein expression by enhancing Trsp synthesis in an organ-specific manner and by controlling Sec tRNA modification in each tissue examined.
selenium; selenocysteine (Sec) tRNA gene (Trsp); selenoprotein; Sec tRNA gene transcription activating factor (STAF); survival rate; tRNA transcription
During acute stress in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), mammalian prion protein (PrP) is temporarily prevented from translocation into the ER and instead routed directly for cytosolic degradation. This ‘pre-emptive’ quality control (pQC) system benefits cells by minimizing PrP aggregation in the secretory pathway during ER stress. However, the potential toxicity of cytosolic PrP raised the possibility that persistent pQC of PrP contributes to neurodegeneration in prion diseases. Here, we find evidence of ER stress and decreased translocation of nascent PrP during prion infection. Transgenic mice expressing a PrP variant with reduced translocation at levels expected during ER stress was sufficient to cause several mild age-dependent clinical and histological manifestations of PrP-mediated neurodegeneration. Thus, an ordinarily adaptive quality control pathway can be contextually detrimental over long time periods. We propose that one mechanism of prion-mediated neurodegeneration involves an indirect ER stress-dependent effect on nascent PrP biosynthesis and metabolism.
The brain is increasingly being recognized as a sanctuary site for metastatic tumor cells in women with HER2-overexpressing breast cancer who receive trastuzumab therapy. There are no approved or widely accepted treatments for brain metastases other than steroids, cranial radiotherapy, and surgical resection. We examined the efficacy of lapatinib, an inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and HER2 kinases, for preventing the outgrowth of breast cancer cells in the brain in a mouse xenograft model of brain metastasis.
EGFR-overexpressing MDA-MB-231-BR (231-BR) brain-seeking breast cancer cells were transfected with an expression vector that contained or lacked the HER2 cDNA and used to examine the effect of lapatinib on the activation (ie, phosphorylation) of cell signaling proteins by immunoblotting, on cell growth by the tetrazolium salt 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide assay, and on cell migration using a Boyden chamber assay. The outgrowth of large (ie, >50 μm2) and micrometastases was counted in brain sections from nude mice that had been injected into the left cardiac ventricle with 231-BR cells and, beginning 5 days later, treated by oral gavage with lapatinib or vehicle (n = 22–26 mice per treatment group). All statistical tests were two-sided.
In vitro, lapatinib inhibited the phosphorylation of EGFR, HER2, and downstream signaling proteins; cell proliferation; and migration in 231-BR cells (both with and without HER2). Among mice injected with 231-BR-vector cells, those treated with 100 mg lapatinib/kg body weight had 54% fewer large metastases 24 days after starting treatment than those treated with vehicle (mean number of large metastases per brain section: 1.56 vs 3.36, difference = 1.80, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.92 to 2.68, P < .001), whereas treatment with 30 mg lapatinib/kg body weight had no effect. Among mice injected with 231-BR-HER2 cells, those treated with either dose of lapatinib had 50%–53% fewer large metastases than those treated with vehicle (mean number of large metastases per brain section, 30 mg/kg vs vehicle: 3.21 vs 6.83, difference = 3.62, 95% CI = 2.30 to 4.94, P < .001; 100 mg/kg vs vehicle: 3.44 vs 6.83, difference = 3.39, 95% CI = 2.08 to 4.70, P < .001). Immunohistochemical analysis revealed reduced phosphorylation of HER2 in 231-BR-HER2 cell–derived brain metastases from mice treated with the higher dose of lapatinib compared with 231-BR-HER2 cell–derived brain metastases from vehicle-treated mice (P < .001).
Lapatinib is the first HER2-directed drug to be validated in a preclinical model for activity against brain metastases of breast cancer.