antigen presentation; brain; CD8+ T cells; malaria
ADAM protease; inflammatory bowel disease; MMP13; protease web; sepsis
Lipid droplets (LDs) are dynamic, cytosolic lipid-storage organelles found in nearly all cell types. Too many or too few LDs during excess or deficient fat storage lead to many different human diseases. Recent insights into LD biology and LD protein functions shed new light on mechanisms underlying those metabolic pathologies. These findings will likely provide opportunities for treatment of diseases associated with too much or too little fat.
atherosclerosis; lipid droplet; lipodystrophy; metabolic syndrome; triglyceride storage
Cerebral malaria is a devastating complication of Plasmodium falciparum infection. Its pathogenesis is complex, involving both parasite- and immune-mediated events. CD8+ T cells play an effector role in murine experimental cerebral malaria (ECM) induced by Plasmodium berghei ANKA (PbA) infection. We have identified a highly immunogenic CD8 epitope in glideosome-associated protein 50 that is conserved across rodent malaria species. Epitope-specific CD8+ T cells are induced during PbA infection, migrating to the brain just before neurological signs manifest. They are functional, cytotoxic and can damage the blood–brain barrier in vivo. Such CD8+ T cells are also found in the brain during infection with parasite strains/species that do not induce neuropathology. We demonstrate here that PbA infection causes brain microvessels to cross-present parasite antigen, while non-ECM-causing parasites do not. Further, treatment with fast-acting anti-malarial drugs before the onset of ECM reduces parasite load and thus antigen presentation in the brain, preventing ECM death. Thus our data suggest that combined therapies targeting both the parasite and host antigen-presenting cells may improve the outcome of CM patients.
brain; cross-presentation; malaria; pathology; T cells
Several pathological processes, such as sepsis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), are associated with impairment of intestinal epithelial barrier. Here, we investigated the role of matrix metalloproteinase MMP13 in these diseases. We observed that MMP13−/− mice display a strong protection in LPS- and caecal ligation and puncture-induced sepsis. We could attribute this protection to reduced LPS-induced goblet cell depletion, endoplasmic reticulum stress, permeability and tight junction destabilization in the gut of MMP13−/− mice compared to MMP13+/+ mice. Both in vitro and in vivo, we found that MMP13 is able to cleave pro-TNF into bioactive TNF. By LC-MS/MS, we identified three MMP13 cleavage sites, which proves that MMP13 is an alternative TNF sheddase next to the TNF converting enzyme TACE. Similarly, we found that the same mechanism was responsible for the observed protection of the MMP13−/− mice in a mouse model of DSS-induced colitis. We identified MMP13 as an important mediator in sepsis and IBD via the shedding of TNF. Hence, we propose MMP13 as a novel drug target for diseases in which damage to the gut is essential.
IBD; intestinal permeability; matrix metalloproteinase; sepsis; tumour necrosis factor
Activation of inflammatory pathways in the endothelium contributes to vascular diseases, including sepsis and atherosclerosis. We demonstrate that miR-146a and miR-146b are induced in endothelial cells upon exposure to pro-inflammatory cytokines. Despite the rapid transcriptional induction of the miR-146a/b loci, which is in part mediated by EGR-3, miR-146a/b induction is delayed and sustained compared to the expression of leukocyte adhesion molecules, and in fact coincides with the down-regulation of inflammatory gene expression. We demonstrate that miR-146 negatively regulates inflammation. Over-expression of miR-146a blunts endothelial activation, while knock-down of miR-146a/b in vitro or deletion of miR-146a in mice has the opposite effect. MiR-146 represses the pro-inflammatory NF-κB pathway as well as the MAP kinase pathway and downstream EGR transcription factors. Finally, we demonstrate that HuR, an RNA binding protein that promotes endothelial activation by suppressing expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), is a novel miR-146 target. Thus, we uncover an important negative feedback regulatory loop that controls pro-inflammatory signalling in endothelial cells that may impact vascular inflammatory diseases.
atherosclerosis; endothelium; gene regulation; inflammation; microRNA
The theory of cancer immunoediting refers to mechanisms by which the immune system can suppress or promote tumour progression. A major challenge for the development of novel cancer immunotherapies is to find ways to exploit the immune system's antitumour activity while concomitantly reducing its protumour activity. Using the PyVmT model of mammary tumourigenesis, we show that lack of the Usp18 gene significantly inhibits tumour growth by creating a tumour-suppressive microenvironment. Generation of this antitumour environment is driven by elevated secretion of the potent T-cell chemoattractant Cxcl10 by Usp18 deficient mammary epithelial cells (MECs), which leads to recruitment of Th1 subtype CD4+ T cells. Furthermore, we show that Cxcl10 upregulation in MECs is promoted by interferon-λ and that Usp18 is a novel inhibitor of interferon-λ signalling. Knockdown of the interferon-λ specific receptor subunit IL-28R1 in Usp18 deficient MECs dramatically enhances tumour growth. Taken together, our data suggest that targeting Usp18 may be a viable approach to boost antitumour immunity while suppressing the protumour activity of the immune system.
breast cancer; Cxcl10; interferon-λ; UBP43; Usp18
Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is hallmarked by a high degree of heterogeneity. To address this heterogeneity, a classification scheme was developed based on gene expression patterns of 1538 tumours. Five, biologically distinct subgroups — Epi-A, Epi-B, Mes, Stem-A and Stem-B — exhibited significantly distinct clinicopathological characteristics, deregulated pathways and patient prognoses, and were validated using independent datasets. To identify subtype-specific molecular targets, ovarian cancer cell lines representing these molecular subtypes were screened against a genome-wide shRNA library. Focusing on the poor-prognosis Stem-A subtype, we found that two genes involved in tubulin processing, TUBGCP4 and NAT10, were essential for cell growth, an observation supported by a pathway analysis that also predicted involvement of microtubule-related processes. Furthermore, we observed that Stem-A cell lines were indeed more sensitive to inhibitors of tubulin polymerization, vincristine and vinorelbine, than the other subtypes. This subtyping offers new insights into the development of novel diagnostic and personalized treatment for EOC patients.
cell line model for subtype; functional genomic screen; molecular subtype; ovarian cancer; tubulin
SCF (Skp1/Cul1/F-box) ubiquitin ligases act as master regulators of cellular homeostasis by targeting key proteins for ubiquitylation. Here, we identified a hitherto uncharacterized F-box protein, FBXO28 that controls MYC-dependent transcription by non-proteolytic ubiquitylation. SCFFBXO28 activity and stability are regulated during the cell cycle by CDK1/2-mediated phosphorylation of FBXO28, which is required for its efficient ubiquitylation of MYC and downsteam enhancement of the MYC pathway. Depletion of FBXO28 or overexpression of an F-box mutant unable to support MYC ubiquitylation results in an impairment of MYC-driven transcription, transformation and tumourigenesis. Finally, in human breast cancer, high FBXO28 expression and phosphorylation are strong and independent predictors of poor outcome. In conclusion, our data suggest that SCFFBXO28 plays an important role in transmitting CDK activity to MYC function during the cell cycle, emphasizing the CDK-FBXO28-MYC axis as a potential molecular drug target in MYC-driven cancers, including breast cancer.
Breast cancer; CDK; F-box protein; FBXO28; MYC
Metastatic spread is the single-most powerful predictor of poor outcome in Ewing sarcoma (ES). Therefore targeting pathways that drive metastasis has tremendous potential to reduce the burden of disease in ES. We previously showed that activation of the ERBB4 tyrosine kinase suppresses anoikis, or detachment-induced cell death, and induces chemoresistance in ES cell lines in vitro. We now show that ERBB4 is transcriptionally overexpressed in ES cell lines derived from chemoresistant or metastatic ES tumours. ERBB4 activates the PI3K-Akt cascade and focal adhesion kinase (FAK), and both pathways contribute to ERBB4-mediated activation of the Rac1 GTPase in vitro and in vivo. ERBB4 augments tumour invasion and metastasis in vivo, and these effects are blocked by ERBB4 knockdown. ERBB4 expression correlates significantly with reduced disease-free survival, and increased expression is observed in metastatic compared to primary patient-matched ES biopsies. Our findings identify a novel ERBB4-PI3K-Akt-FAK-Rac1 pathway associated with aggressive disease in ES. These results predict that therapeutic targeting of ERBB4, alone or in combination with cytotoxic agents, may suppress the metastatic phenotype in ES.
ERBB4; Ewing sarcoma; FAK; metastasis; Rac1
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a neurodegenerative disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, which primarily targets proximal muscles. About 95% of SMA cases are caused by the loss of both copies of the SMN1 gene. SMN2 is a nearly identical copy of SMN1, which expresses much less functional SMN protein. SMN2 is unable to fully compensate for the loss of SMN1 in motor neurons but does provide an excellent target for therapeutic intervention. Increased expression of functional full-length SMN protein from the endogenous SMN2 gene should lessen disease severity. We have developed and implemented a new high-throughput screening assay to identify small molecules that increase the expression of full-length SMN from a SMN2 reporter gene. Here, we characterize two novel compounds that increased SMN protein levels in both reporter cells and SMA fibroblasts and show that one increases lifespan, motor function, and SMN protein levels in a severe mouse model of SMA.
drug discovery; SMA; SMN; SMN2; spinal muscular atrophy
α-Synuclein accumulation and pathology in Parkinson's disease typically display a caudo-rostral pattern of progression, involving neuronal nuclei in the medulla oblongata at the earliest stages. In this study, selective expression and accumulation of human α-synuclein within medullary neurons was achieved via retrograde transport of adeno-associated viral vectors unilaterally injected into the vagus nerve in the rat neck. The exogenous protein progressively spread toward more rostral brain regions where it could be detected within axonal projections. Propagation to the pons, midbrain and forebrain followed a stereotypical pattern of topographical distribution. It affected areas such as the coeruleus–subcoeruleus complex, dorsal raphae, hypothalamus and amygdala ipsilateral and, to a lesser extent, contralateral to the injection side. Spreading was accompanied by evidence of neuritic pathology in the form of axonal varicosities intensely immunoreactive for human α-synuclein and containing Thioflavin-S-positive fibrils. Thus, overexpression of human α-synuclein in the lower brainstem is sufficient to induce its long-distance caudo-rostral propagation, recapitulating features of Parkinson's disease and mechanisms of disease progression.
Adeno-associated virus; Parkinson's disease; protein transport; rat; vagus nerve
Exon skipping mediated by antisense oligoribonucleotides (AON) is a promising therapeutic approach for genetic disorders, but has not yet been evaluated for cardiac diseases. We investigated the feasibility and efficacy of viral-mediated AON transfer in a Mybpc3-targeted knock-in (KI) mouse model of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). KI mice carry a homozygous G>A transition in exon 6, which results in three different aberrant mRNAs. We identified an alternative variant (Var-4) deleted of exons 5–6 in wild-type and KI mice. To enhance its expression and suppress aberrant mRNAs we designed AON-5 and AON-6 that mask splicing enhancer motifs in exons 5 and 6. AONs were inserted into modified U7 small nuclear RNA and packaged in adeno-associated virus (AAV-U7-AON-5+6). Transduction of cardiac myocytes or systemic administration of AAV-U7-AON-5+6 increased Var-4 mRNA/protein levels and reduced aberrant mRNAs. Injection of newborn KI mice abolished cardiac dysfunction and prevented left ventricular hypertrophy. Although the therapeutic effect was transient and therefore requires optimization to be maintained over an extended period, this proof-of-concept study paves the way towards a causal therapy of HCM.
alternative splicing; antisense oligoribonucleotide; cardiac myosin-binding protein-C; exon skipping; hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
To date, no truly effective therapy has been developed for Alzheimer's disease or mild cognitive impairment. In searching for new approaches that may succeed where previous ones have failed, it may be instructive to consider the successful therapeutic developments for other chronic illnesses such as cancer and human immunodeficiency virus.
aging; Alzheimer's disease; chronic illnesses; dementia; multitherapy
acid ceramidase; ceramide; Farber disease; lysosomal storage disease
limb ischemia; therapeutic neovascularization; angiopoietin-1; PHD2; myeloid cells
Candida spp. are medically important fungi causing severe mucosal and life-threatening invasive infections, especially in immunocompromised hosts. However, not all individuals at risk develop Candida infections, and it is believed that genetic variation plays an important role in host susceptibility. On the one hand, severe fungal infections are associated with monogenic primary immunodeficiencies such as defects in STAT1, STAT3 or CARD9, recently discovered as novel clinical entities. On the other hand, more common polymorphisms in genes of the immune system have also been associated with fungal infections such as recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis and candidemia. The discovery of the genetic susceptibility to Candida infections can lead to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease, as well as to the design of novel immunotherapeutic strategies. This review is part of the review series on host-pathogen interactions. See more reviews from this series.
Candida albicans; primary immunodeficiencies; interferon gamma; interleukin-17; disease susceptibility
Inflammasomes are signalling platforms that sense a diverse range of microbial products and also a number of stress and damage associated endogenous signals. Inflammasome complexes can be formed by members of the Nod-like receptor family or the PYHIN family member AIM2. Upon formation, inflammasomes trigger proteolysis of caspase-1, which subsequently leads to a potent inflammatory response through the maturation and secretion of IL-1 family cytokines, which can be accompanied by an inflammatory cell death termed pyroptosis. Here, we review the sensing mechanisms of the currently characterized inflammasome complexes and discuss how they are involved in the innate immune response against microbial pathogens. We especially highlight recent advances in the molecular understanding of how microbial patterns are detected and discriminated from endogenous compounds by inflammasome sensors. Further, we review how inflammasomes contribute to the anti microbial host defense by cytokine-dependent and cell autonomous mechanisms.
caspase-1; inflammasome; NLRC4; NLRP3; pathogens
Farber disease (FD) is a severe inherited disorder of lipid metabolism characterized by deficient lysosomal acid ceramidase (ACDase) activity, resulting in ceramide accumulation. Ceramide and metabolites have roles in cell apoptosis and proliferation. We introduced a single-nucleotide mutation identified in human FD patients into the murine Asah1 gene to generate the first model of systemic ACDase deficiency. Homozygous Asah1P361R/P361R animals showed ACDase defects, accumulated ceramide, demonstrated FD manifestations and died within 7–13 weeks. Mechanistically, MCP-1 levels were increased and tissues were replete with lipid-laden macrophages. Treatment of neonates with a single injection of human ACDase-encoding lentivector diminished the severity of the disease as highlighted by enhanced growth, decreased ceramide, lessened cellular infiltrations and increased lifespans. This model of ACDase deficiency offers insights into the pathophysiology of FD and the roles of ACDase, ceramide and related sphingolipids in cell signaling and growth, as well as facilitates the development of therapy.
acid ceramidase; Lysosomal storage disorders; Farber disease; MCP-1
Occlusion of the main arterial route redirects blood flow to the collateral circulation. We previously reported that macrophages genetically modified to express low levels of prolyl hydroxylase domain protein 2 (PHD2) display an arteriogenic phenotype, which promotes the formation of collateral vessels and protects the skeletal muscle from ischaemic necrosis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this process are unknown. Here, we demonstrate that femoral artery occlusion induces a switch in macrophage phenotype through angiopoietin-1 (ANG1)-mediated Phd2 repression. ANG blockade by a soluble trap prevented the downregulation of Phd2 expression in macrophages and their phenotypic switch, thus inhibiting collateral growth. ANG1-dependent Phd2 repression initiated a feed-forward loop mediated by the induction of the ANG receptor TIE2 in macrophages. Gene silencing and cell depletion strategies demonstrate that TIE2 induction in macrophages is required to promote their proarteriogenic functions, enabling collateral vessel formation following arterial obstruction. These results indicate an indispensable role for TIE2 in sustaining in situ programming of macrophages to a proarteriogenic, M2-like phenotype, suggesting possible new venues for the treatment of ischaemic disorders.
arteriogenesis; ischaemia; macrophages; PHD2; TIE2
A third of patients with critical limb ischemia (CLI) will eventually require limb amputation. Therapeutic neovascularization using unselected mononuclear cells to salvage ischemic limbs has produced modest results. The TIE2-expressing monocytes/macrophages (TEMs) are a myeloid cell subset known to be highly angiogenic in tumours. This study aimed to examine the kinetics of TEMs in patients with CLI and whether these cells promote neovascularization of the ischemic limb. Here we show that there are 10-fold more circulating TEMs in CLI patients, and removal of ischemia reduces their numbers to normal levels. TEM numbers in ischemic muscle are two-fold greater than normoxic muscle from the same patient. TEMs from patients with CLI display greater proangiogenic activity than TIE2-negative monocytes in vitro. Using a mouse model of hindlimb ischemia, lentiviral-based Tie2 knockdown in TEMs impaired recovery from ischemia, whereas delivery of mouse macrophages overexpressing TIE2, or human TEMs isolated from CLI patients, rescued limb ischemia. These data suggest that enhancing TEM recruitment to the ischemic muscle may have the potential to improve limb neovascularization in CLI patients.
angiogenesis; limb ischemia; macrophages; monocytes; TIE2
The complex of Vacuolar Protein Sorting 34 and 15 (Vps34 and Vps15) has Class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity and putative roles in nutrient sensing, mammalian Target Of Rapamycin (mTOR) activation by amino acids, cell growth, vesicular trafficking and autophagy. Contrary to expectations, here we show that Vps15-deficient mouse tissues are competent for LC3-positive autophagosome formation and maintain mTOR activation. However, an impaired lysosomal function in mutant cells is traced by accumulation of adaptor protein p62, LC3 and Lamp2 positive vesicles, which can be reverted to normal levels after ectopic overexpression of Vps15. Mice lacking Vps15 in skeletal muscles, develop a severe myopathy. Distinct from the autophagy deficient Atg7−/− mutants, pathognomonic morphological hallmarks of autophagic vacuolar myopathy (AVM) are observed in Vps15−/− mutants, including elevated creatine kinase plasma levels, accumulation of autophagosomes, glycogen and sarcolemmal features within the fibres. Importantly, Vps34/Vps15 overexpression in myoblasts of Danon AVM disease patients alleviates the glycogen accumulation. Thus, the activity of the Vps34/Vps15 complex is critical in disease conditions such as AVMs, and possibly a variety of other lysosomal storage diseases.
autophagy; human disease; lysosomal storage disease; mouse model; mTOR signalling