Promoting brown adipose tissue (BAT) formation and function may reduce obesity. Recent data link retinoids to energy balance, but a specific role for retinoid metabolism in white versus brown fat is unknown. Retinaldehyde dehydrogenases (Aldhs), also known as aldehyde dehydrogenases, are rate-limiting enzymes that convert retinaldehyde (Rald) to retinoic acid. Here we show that Aldh1a1 is expressed predominately in white adipose tissue (WAT), including visceral depots in mice and humans. Deficiency of the Aldh1a1 gene induced a BAT-like transcriptional program in WAT that drove uncoupled respiration and adaptive thermogenesis. WAT-selective Aldh1a1 knockdown conferred this BAT program in obese mice, limiting weight gain and improving glucose homeostasis. Rald induced uncoupling protein-1 (Ucp1) mRNA and protein levels in white adipocytes by selectively activating the retinoic acid receptor (RAR), recruiting the coactivator PGC-1α and inducing Ucp1 promoter activity. These data establish Aldh1a1 and its substrate Rald as previously unrecognized determinants of adipocyte plasticity and adaptive thermogenesis, which may have potential therapeutic implications.
To understand why cancer vaccine-induced T cells often fail to eradicate tumors, we studied immune responses in mice vaccinated with gp100 melanoma peptide in incomplete Freund’s adjuvant (IFA), commonly used in clinical cancer vaccine trials. Peptide/IFA vaccination primed tumor-specific CD8+ T cells, which accumulated not in tumors but at the persisting, antigen-rich vaccination site. Once there, primed T cells became dysfunctional and underwent antigen-driven, Interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and Fas ligand (FasL)-mediated apoptosis, resulting in hyporesponsiveness to subsequent vaccination. Provision of anti-CD40 antibody, Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) agonist and interleukin-2 (IL-2) reduced T cell apoptosis but did not prevent vaccination site sequestration. A non-persisting vaccine formulation shifted T cell localization towards tumors, inducing superior anti-tumor activity while reducing systemic T cell dysfunction and promoting memory formation. Persisting peptide/IFA vaccine depots can induce specific T cell sequestration, dysfunction and deletion at vaccination sites; short-lived formulations may overcome these limitations and result in greater therapeutic efficacy of peptide-based cancer vaccines.
Rifampicin and isoniazid co–therapy frequently causes liver injury in humans. A pregnane X receptor–humanized mouse model revealed that rifampicin and isoniazid co–treatment causes accumulation of protoporphyrin IX, an endogenous hepatotoxin, in the liver via a pregnane X receptor–mediated alteration of heme biosynthesis pathway. These results provide novel insight into the mechanism of rifampicin and isoniazid–induced liver injury that may be applied to clinical management of the hepatotoxicity associated with tuberculosis chemotherapy.
Regulation of erythropoiesis is achieved by integration of distinct signals. Among these, macrophages are emerging as erythropoietin-complementary regulators of erythroid development, particularly under stress conditions. We investigated the contribution of macrophages for physiological and pathological conditions of enhanced erythropoiesis. We utilized mouse models of induced anemia, Polycythemia vera and β-thalassemia in which macrophages were chemically depleted. Our data indicate that macrophages contribute decisively for recovery from induced anemia as well as the pathological progression of Polycythemia vera and β-thalassemia by modulating erythroid proliferation and differentiation. We validated these observations in primary human cultures, showing a critical direct impact of macrophages on proliferation and enucleation of erythroblasts from healthy individuals and Polycythemia vera or β-thalassemic patients. In summary, we identify a new mechanism that we named “Stress Erythropoiesis Macrophage-supporting Activity” (SEMA) that contributes to the pathophysiology of these disorders and will have critical scientific and therapeutic implications in the near future.
Although susceptibility of neurons in the brain to microbial infection is a major determinant of clinical outcome, little is known about the molecular factors governing this. Here, we show that two types of neurons from distinct brain regions exhibited differential permissivity to replication of several positive-stranded RNA viruses. Granule cell neurons (GCN) of the cerebellum and cortical neurons (CN) from the cerebral cortex have unique innate immune programs that confer differential susceptibility to viral infection ex vivo and in vivo. By transducing CN with genes that were expressed more highly in GCN, we identified three interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs; Ifi27, Irg1, and Rsad2/Viperin) that mediated antiviral effects against different neurotropic viruses. Moreover, we found that the epigenetic state and microRNA-mediated regulation of ISGs correlates with enhanced antiviral response in GCN. Thus, neurons from evolutionarily distinct brain regions have unique innate immune signatures, which likely contribute to their relative permissiveness to infection.
The role of skeletal muscle in nonshivering thermogenesis (NST) is not well understood. Here we show that sarcolipin (Sln), a newly identified regulator of the sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (Serca) pump1–5, is necessary for muscle-based thermogenesis. When challenged to acute cold (4 °C), Sln−/− mice were not able to maintain their core body temperature (37 °C) and developed hypothermia. Surgical ablation of brown adipose tissue and functional knockdown of Ucp1 allowed us to highlight the role of muscle in NST. Overexpression of Sln in the Sln-null background fully restored muscle-based thermogenesis, suggesting that Sln is the basis for Serca-mediated heat production. We show that ryanodine receptor 1 (Ryr1)-mediated Ca2+ leak is an important mechanism for Serca-activated heat generation. Here we present data to suggest that Sln can continue to interact with Serca in the presence of Ca2+, which can promote uncoupling of the Serca pump and cause futile cycling. We further show that loss of Sln predisposes mice to diet-induced obesity, which suggests that Sln-mediated NST is recruited during metabolic overload. These data collectively suggest that SLN is an important mediator of muscle thermogenesis and whole-body energy metabolism.
PMID: 22961106 CAMSID: cams2942
We examined rodent models with altered levels of mitoNEET, a protein residing in the mitochondrial outer membrane. Adipocyte-specific overexpression of mitoNEET enhances lipid-uptake and storage, leading to an expansion of adipose tissue mass. Despite the resulting massive obesity, benign aspects of adipose tissue expansion prevail and insulin sensitivity is preserved. MitoNEET inhibits mitochondrial iron transport into the matrix. Since iron is a rate-limiting component for electron transport, mitoNEET reduces β-oxidation rates. This is associated with reduced mitochondrial membrane potential and reduced reactive oxygen species damage, along with higher levels of adiponectin production. Conversely, the reduction of mitoNEET enhances mitochondrial respiratory capacity through enhanced iron content in the matrix, with reduced weight gain on a high fat diet. However, a reduction of mitoNEET also causes heightened oxidative-stress and glucose-intolerance. MitoNEET is therefore a potent regulator of mitochondrial function that profoundly impacts the dynamics of cellular and whole-body lipid homeostasis.
We report that K5.Smad7 mice, which express Smad7 transgene by a keratin-5 promoter, were resistant to radiation-induced oral mucositis, a painful oral ulceration. In addition to NF-κB activation known to contribute to oral mucositis, we found activated TGF-β signaling in oral mucositis. Smad7 dampened both pathways to attenuate inflammation, growth inhibition and apoptosis. Additionally, Smad7 promoted oral epithelial migration to close the wound. Further analyses revealed that TGF-β signaling Smads and their co-repressor CtBP1 transcriptionally repressed Rac1, and Smad7 abrogated this repression. Knocking down Rac1 in mouse keratinocytes abrogated Smad7-induced migration. Topically applying Smad7 protein with a cell permeable Tat-tag (Tat-Smad7) to oral mucosa showed preventive and therapeutic effects on radiation-induced oral mucositis in mice. Thus, we have identified novel molecular mechanisms involved in oral mucositis pathogenesis and our data suggest an alternative therapeutic strategy to block multiple pathological processes of oral mucositis.
Reproduction is required for the survival of all mammalian species, and thousands of essential ‘sex’ genes are conserved through evolution. Basic research helps to define these genes and the mechanisms responsible for the development, function and regulation of the male and female reproductive systems. However, many infertile couples continue to be labeled with the diagnosis of idiopathic infertility or given descriptive diagnoses that do not provide a cause for their defect. For other individuals with a known etiology, effective cures are lacking, although their infertility is often bypassed with assisted reproductive technologies (ART), some accompanied by safety or ethical concerns. Certainly, progress in the field of reproduction has been realized in the twenty-first century with advances in the understanding of the regulation of fertility, with the production of over 400 mutant mouse models with a reproductive phenotype and with the promise of regenerative gonadal stem cells. Indeed, the past six years have witnessed a virtual explosion in the identification of gene mutations or polymorphisms that cause or are linked to human infertility. Translation of these findings to the clinic remains slow, however, as do new methods to diagnose and treat infertile couples. Additionally, new approaches to contraception remain elusive. Nevertheless, the basic and clinical advances in the understanding of the molecular controls of reproduction are impressive and will ultimately improve patient care.
The immune response goes haywire during sepsis, a deadly condition triggered by infection. Richard S. Hotchkiss and his colleagues take the focus off of the prevailing view that the key aspect of this response is an exuberant inflammatory reaction. They assess recent human studies bolstering the notion that immunosuppression is also a major contributor to the disease. Many people with sepsis succumb to cardiac dysfunction, a process examined by Peter Ward. He showcases the factors that cause cardiomyocyte contractility to wane during the disease.
Conventional anti-cancer drug screening is typically performed in the absence of accessory cells of the tumor microenvironment, which can profoundly alter anti-tumor drug activity. To address this major limitation, we developed the tumor cell-specific in vitro bioluminescence imaging (CS-BLI) assay. Tumor cells (e.g. myeloma, leukemia and solid tumors) stably expressing luciferase are co-cultured with non-malignant accessory cells (e.g. stromal cells) for selective quantification of tumor cell viability, in presence vs. absence of stromal cells or drug treatment. CS-BLI is high-throughput scalable and identifies stroma-induced chemoresistance in diverse malignancies, including imatinib-resistance in leukemic cells. A stromal-induced signature in tumor cells correlates with adverse clinical prognosis and includes signatures for activated Akt, Ras, NF-κB, HIF-1α, myc, hTERT, and IRF4; signatures for biological aggressiveness and for self-renewal. Unlike conventional screening, CS-BLI can also identify agents with increased activity against tumor cells interacting with stroma. One such compound, reversine, exhibits more potent activity in an orthotopic model of diffuse myeloma bone lesions than in conventional subcutaneous xenografts. Use of CS-BLI, therefore, enables refined screening of candidate anti-cancer agents to enrich preclinical pipelines with potential therapeutics that overcome stroma-mediated drug resistance and can act in a synthetic lethal manner in the context of tumor-stromal interactions.
Better understanding of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) pathogenesis at the molecular level will facilitate the discovery of tumor initiating events. Herein, transcriptome sequencing revealed that adenosine (A)-to-inosine (I) RNA editing of antizyme inhibitor 1 (AZIN1) displays a high modification rate in HCC specimens. A-to-I editing of AZIN1 transcripts is specifically regulated by adenosine deaminase acting on RNA-1 (ADAR1). The serine (S) → glycine (G) substitution at residue 367, located in β-strand 15 (β15), predicted a conformational change, induced a cytoplasmic-to-nuclear translocation, and conferred “gain-of-function” phenotypes manifested by augmented tumor initiating potential and more aggressive behavior. Compared with wild-type AZIN1 protein, the edited form possesses stronger affinity to antizyme, and the resultant higher protein stability promotes cell proliferation via the neutralization of antizyme-mediated degradation of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and cyclin D1 (CCND1). Collectively, A-to-I RNA editing of AZIN1 may be a potential driver in the pathogenesis of human cancers, particularly HCC.
A-to-I; RNA editing; AZIN1; ADAR1; antizyme; ODC; CCND1; HCC
Adipocytes store excess energy in the form of triglycerides and signal the levels of stored energy to the brain. Here we show that adipocyte-specific deletion of Arntl (also known as Bmal1), a gene encoding a core molecular clock component, results in obesity in mice with a shift in the diurnal rhythm of food intake, a result that is not seen when the gene is disrupted in hepatocytes or pancreatic islets. Changes in the expression of hypothalamic neuropeptides that regulate appetite are consistent with feedback from the adipocyte to the central nervous system to time feeding behavior. Ablation of the adipocyte clock is associated with a reduced number of polyunsaturated fatty acids in adipocyte triglycerides. This difference between mutant and wild-type mice is reflected in the circulating concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids and nonesterified polyunsaturated fatty acids in hypothalamic neurons that regulate food intake. Thus, this study reveals a role for the adipocyte clock in the temporal organization of energy regulation, highlights timing as a modulator of the adipocyte-hypothalamic axis and shows the impact of timing of food intake on body weight.
Adenosine deaminase-deficient severe combined immunodeficiency was the first disease investigated for gene therapy because of a postulated production or survival advantage for gene-corrected T lymphocytes, which may overcome inefficient gene transfer. Four years after three newborns with this disease were given infusions of transduced autologous umbilical cord blood CD34+ cells, the frequency of gene-containing T lymphocytes has risen to 1–10%, whereas the frequencies of other hematopoietic and lymphoid cells containing the gene remain at 0.01–0.1%. Cessation of polyethylene glycol-conjugated adenosine deaminase enzyme replacement in one subject led to a decline in immune function, despite the persistence of gene-containing T lymphocytes. Thus, despite the long-term engraftment of transduced stem cells and selective accumulation of gene-containing T lymphocytes, improved gene transfer and expression will be needed to attain a therapeutic effect.
The discovery of potent BRAF inhibitors has revolutionized therapy for BRAF-mutant melanoma, yet NRAS-mutant melanoma remains without effective therapy. Since direct pharmacological inhibition of RAS has thus far been unsuccessful, we explored system biology approaches to identify synergistic drug combination(s) that can mimic direct RAS inhibition. Here, leveraging an inducible mouse model of NRAS-mutant melanoma, we show that pharmacological MEK inhibition activates apoptosis but fails to trigger cell cycle arrest, in contrast to complete NRAS extinction in vivo by genetic means. Network modeling pinpointed CDK4 as a key driver of this differential phenotype. Accordingly, combined pharmacological inhibition of MEK and CDK4 in vivo led to significant synergy in therapeutic efficacy. Taken together, our data suggest a gradient model of oncogenic NRAS signaling to the canonical MAPK cascade, where the output is gated, resulting in de-coupling of discrete downstream biological phenotypes in the setting of incomplete inhibition. Such a gated signaling model provides a novel framework to identify non-obvious co-extinction target(s) for combined pharmacological inhibition in NRAS-mutant melanomas.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a major cause of cancer mortality. Whereas some patients respond well to therapy, others do not, and thus more precise, individualized treatment strategies are needed. To that end, we analyzed gene expression profiles from 1,290 CRC tumors using consensus-based unsupervised clustering. The resultant clusters were then associated with therapeutic response data to the epidermal growth factor receptor–targeted drug cetuximab in 80 patients. The results of these studies define six clinically relevant CRC subtypes. Each subtype shares similarities to distinct cell types within the normal colon crypt and shows differing degrees of ‘stemness’ and Wnt signaling. Subtype-specific gene signatures are proposed to identify these subtypes. Three subtypes have markedly better disease-free survival (DFS) after surgical resection, suggesting these patients might be spared from the adverse effects of chemotherapy when they have localized disease. One of these three subtypes, identified by filamin A expression, does not respond to cetuximab but may respond to cMET receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors in the metastatic setting. Two other subtypes, with poor and intermediate DFS, associate with improved response to the chemotherapy regimen FOLFIRI1 in adjuvant or metastatic settings. Development of clinically deployable assays for these subtypes and of subtype-specific therapies may contribute to more effective management of this challenging disease.
The canonical IKKβ/NF-κB1 pathway has been well documented to promote insulin resistance; however, the noncanonical NIK/NF-κB2 pathway is poorly understood in obesity. Additionally, the contribution of counterregulatory hormones, particularly glucagon, to hyperglycemia in obesity remains unclear. Here we show that NIK promotes glucagon responses in obesity. Hepatic NIK was abnormally-activated in mice with dietary or genetic obesity. Systemic deletion of NIK decreased glucagon responses and hepatic glucose production (HGP). Obesity is associated with increased glucagon responses, and liver-specific inhibition of NIK decreased glucagon responses and HGP and protected against hyperglycemia and glucose intolerance. Conversely, hepatocyte-specific overexpression of NIK increased glucagon responses and HGP. In isolated livers and primary hepatocytes, NIK also promoted glucagon action and glucose production, at least in part by increasing CREB stability. Therefore, overactivation of liver NIK in obesity promotes hyperglycemia and glucose intolerance by increasing the hyperglycemic response to glucagon and other factors that activate CREB.
NIK; Obesity; glucagon; type 2 diabetes; gluconeogenesis; glucose counterregulation; CREB; inflammation
Widespread antibiotic resistance among important bacterial pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus1 calls for alternative routes of drug development. Interfering with critical virulence determinants is considered a promising novel approach to control bacterial infection2. Phenol-soluble modulins (PSMs) are peptide toxins with multiple key roles in pathogenesis3–5 and a major impact on the ability of highly virulent S. aureus to cause disease3,6. However, targeting PSMs for therapeutic intervention is hampered by their multitude and diversity. Here, we report that an ABC transporter with previously unknown function is responsible for the export of all PSM classes, thus representing a single target to interfere simultaneously with the production of all PSMs. The transporter had a strong effect on virulence phenotypes, such as neutrophil lysis, and the development of S. aureus infection, similar in extent to the sum of all PSMs. Furthermore, it proved essential for bacterial growth. Moreover, it protected the producer from the antimicrobial activity of secreted PSMs and contributed to defense against PSM-mediated bacterial interference. Our study reveals a non-canonical, dedicated secretion mechanism for an important toxin class and identifies this mechanism as a comprehensive potential target for the development of drugs efficiently inhibiting growth and virulence of pathogenic staphylococci.
T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain-containing-3 (Tim-3) is an inhibitory receptor expressed on exhausted T cells during HIV-1 and HCV infection. By contrast, Tim-3 expression and function are defective in multiple human autoimmune diseases. However, the molecular mechanisms governing Tim-3 function remain poorly understood. Here we show that HLA-B-associated transcript 3 (Bat3) binds to, and represses the function of Tim-3. Bat3-deficient T cells display elevated expression of exhaustion markers, and knocking down Bat3 in myelin antigen-specific CD4+ T cells dramatically inhibits the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis while promoting the expansion of a dysfunctional Tim-3hiIFNγlo CD4+ cell population. Furthermore, exhausted Tim-3+ T cells from murine tumors and HIV-1-infected individuals display substantially reduced Bat3 expression and targeted deletion of Bat3 induces an exhausted phenotype in T cells. These data indicate that Bat3 acts as a molecular safety catch that inhibits Tim-3-dependent cell death/exhaustion, suggesting that Bat3 may represent a viable therapeutic target in autoimmune disorders, chronic infections and cancers.
Emerging evidence suggests that inflammation provides a link between obesity and insulin resistance. The noncanonical IκB kinases IKKε and TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) are induced in liver and fat after high fat diet by NF-κB activation, and in turn initiate a program of counter-inflammation that preserves energy storage. Here, we report the discovery of a small molecule inhibitor of these kinases called amlexanox. Treatment of obese mice with amlexanox elevates energy expenditure through increased thermogenesis, producing weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity and decreased steatosis in obese mice. Because of its record of safety in patients, amlexanox may be an interesting candidate for clinical evaluation in the treatment of obesity and related disorders.
Delayed T-cell recovery and restricted T-cell receptor (TCR) diversity after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) are associated with increased risks of infection and cancer relapse. Technical challenges have limited faithful measurement of TCR diversity following allo-HSCT. Here we combined 5′-RACE PCR with deep sequencing, to quantify TCR diversity in 28 allo-HSCT recipients using a single oligonucleotide pair. Analysis of duplicate blood samples confirmed that the frequency of individual TCRs was accurately determined. After 6 months, cord blood graft recipients approximated the TCR diversity of healthy individuals, whereas recipients of T-cell-depleted peripheral blood stem cell grafts had a 28-fold and 14-fold lower CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell diversity, respectively. After 12 months, these deficiencies had improved for the CD4+, but not the CD8+ T-cell compartment. Overall, this method provides unprecedented views of T-cell repertoire recovery after allo-HSCT and may identify patients at high risk of infection or relapse.
The mechanisms which regulate HSC regeneration following myelosuppressive injury are not well understood. We identified epidermal growth factor (EGF) to be highly enriched in the bone marrow (BM) serum of mice bearing deletion of Bak and Bax in Tie2+ cells (Tie2Cre;Bak1−/−;Baxfl/− mice), which displayed radioprotection of the HSC pool and 100% survival following lethal dose total body irradiation (TBI). BM HSCs from wild type mice expressed functional EGFR and systemic administration of EGF promoted the recovery of the HSC pool in vivo and the improved survival of mice following TBI. Conversely, administration of erlotinib, an EGFR antagonist, significantly decreased both HSC regeneration and mice survival following TBI. VavCre;EGFRfl/+ mice also demonstrated delayed recovery of BM stem/progenitor cells following TBI compared to VavCre;EGFR+/+ mice. Mechanistically, EGF reduced radiation-induced apoptosis of HSCs and mediated this effect via repression of the proapoptotic protein, PUMA. EGFR signaling regulates HSC regeneration following myelosuppressive injury.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is an aggressive hematological tumor resulting from the malignant transformation of lymphoid progenitors. Despite intensive chemotherapy, 20% of pediatric and over 50% of adult ALL patients fail to achieve a complete remission or relapse after intensified chemotherapy, making disease relapse and resistance to therapy the most significant challenge in the treatment of this disease1,2. Using whole exome sequencing, here we identify mutations in the cytosolic 5'-nucleotidase II gene (NT5C2), which encodes a 5'-nucleotidase enzyme responsible for inactivation of nucleoside analog chemotherapy drugs, in 20/103 (19%) relapse T-ALLs and in 1/35 (3%) relapse B-precursor ALLs analyzed. NT5C2 mutant proteins show increased nucleotidase activity in vitro and conferred resistance to chemotherapy with 6-mercaptopurine and 6-thioguanine when expressed in ALL lymphoblasts. These results support a prominent role for activating mutations in NT5C2 and increased nucleoside analog metabolism in disease progression and chemotherapy resistance in ALL.