There is an urgent need for new pharmacologic approaches to combat the clinical consequences of ischemic cardiomyopathy. In this issue of EMBO Molecular Medicine, Kivelä et al show that transgenic expression of VEGF-B in the rat heart leads to expansion of the coronary arterial tree and an increase in functional coronary reserve, accompanied by a shift in myocardial metabolism from fatty acid to glucose utilization. See also: R Kivelä et al (March 2014)
The molecular basis of a significant number of cases of isolated growth hormone deficiency remains unknown. We describe three sisters affected with severe isolated growth hormone deficiency and pituitary hypoplasia caused by biallelic mutations in the RNPC3 gene, which codes for a minor spliceosome protein required for U11/U12 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (snRNP) formation and splicing of U12-type introns. We found anomalies in U11/U12 di-snRNP formation and in splicing of multiple U12-type introns in patient cells. Defective transcripts include preprohormone convertases SPCS2 and SPCS3 and actin-related ARPC5L genes, which are candidates for the somatotroph-restricted dysfunction. The reported novel mechanism for familial growth hormone deficiency demonstrates that general mRNA processing defects of the minor spliceosome can lead to very narrow tissue-specific consequences.
Subject Categories Genetics, Gene Therapy ' Genetic Disease; Metabolism
mRNA splicing; pituitary hypoplasia; U12-type introns
Angiogenic growth factors have recently been linked to tissue metabolism. We have used genetic gain- and loss-of function models to elucidate the effects and mechanisms of action of vascular endothelial growth factor-B (VEGF-B) in the heart. A cardiomyocyte-specific VEGF-B transgene induced an expanded coronary arterial tree and reprogramming of cardiomyocyte metabolism. This was associated with protection against myocardial infarction and preservation of mitochondrial complex I function upon ischemia-reperfusion. VEGF-B increased VEGF signals via VEGF receptor-2 to activate Erk1/2, which resulted in vascular growth. Akt and mTORC1 pathways were upregulated and AMPK downregulated, readjusting cardiomyocyte metabolic pathways to favor glucose oxidation and macromolecular biosynthesis. However, contrasting with a previous theory, there was no difference in fatty acid uptake by the heart between the VEGF-B transgenic, gene-targeted or wildtype rats. Importantly, we also show that VEGF-B expression is reduced in human heart disease. Our data indicate that VEGF-B could be used to increase the coronary vasculature and to reprogram myocardial metabolism to improve cardiac function in ischemic heart disease.
Subject Categories Cardiovascular System; Metabolism
See also: C Kupatt and R Hinkel (March 2014)
angiogenesis; endothelial cell; ischemia; metabolism; VEGF-B
Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMMSCs) are capable of differentiating into multiple cell types and regulating immune cell response. However, the mechanisms that govern the immunomodulatory properties of BMMSCs are still not fully elucidated. Here we show that telomerase-deficient BMMSCs lose their capacity to inhibit T cells and ameliorate the disease phenotype in systemic sclerosis mice. Restoration of telomerase activity by telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) transfection in TERT−/− BMMSCs rescues their immunomodulatory functions. Mechanistically, we reveal that TERT, combined with β-catenin and BRG1, serves as a transcriptional complex, which binds the FAS ligand (FASL) promoter to upregulate FASL expression, leading to an elevated immunomodulatory function. To test the translational value of these findings in the context of potential clinical therapy, we used aspirin treatment to upregulate telomerase activity in BMMSCs, and found a significant improvement in the immunomodulatory capacity of BMMSCs. Taken together, these findings identify a previously unrecognized role of TERT in improving the immunomodulatory capacity of BMMSCs, suggesting that aspirin treatment is a practical approach to significantly reduce cell dosage in BMMSC-based immunotherapies.
Subject Categories Stem Cells; Immunology
immunomodulation; mesenchymal stem cell; telomerase
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, caused by the accumulation of unfolded proteins, is involved in the development of obesity. We demonstrated that flurbiprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), exhibited chaperone activity, which reduced protein aggregation and alleviated ER stress-induced leptin resistance, characterized by insensitivity to the actions of the anti-obesity hormone leptin. This result was further supported by flurbiprofen attenuating high-fat diet-induced obesity in mice. The other NSAIDs tested did not exhibit such effects, which suggested that this anti-obesity action is mediated independent of NSAIDs. Using ferriteglycidyl methacrylate beads, we identified aldehyde dehydrogenase as the target of flurbiprofen, but not of the other NSAIDs. These results suggest that flurbiprofen may have unique pharmacological properties that reduce the accumulation of unfolded proteins and may represent a new class of drug for the fundamental treatment of obesity.
Subject Categories Metabolism; Pharmacology & Drug Discovery
STAT3; aldehyde dehydrogenase; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug
Extraintestinal pathogenic and intestinal pathogenic (diarrheagenic) Escherichia coli differ phylogenetically and by virulence profiles. Classic theory teaches simple linear descent in this species, where non-pathogens acquire virulence traits and emerge as pathogens. However, diarrheagenic Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O2:H6 not only possess and express virulence factors associated with diarrheagenic and uropathogenic E. coli but also cause diarrhea and urinary tract infections. These organisms are phylogenetically positioned between members of an intestinal pathogenic group (STEC) and extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli. STEC O2:H6 is, therefore, a ‘heteropathogen,’ and the first such hybrid virulent E. coli identified. The phylogeny of these E. coli and the repertoire of virulence traits they possess compel consideration of an alternate view of pathogen emergence, whereby one pathogroup of E. coli undergoes phased metamorphosis into another. By understanding the evolutionary mechanisms of bacterial pathogens, rational strategies for counteracting their detrimental effects on humans can be developed.
Subject Categories Microbiology, Virology & Host Pathogen Interaction
heteropathogenicity; phased metamorphosis; phylogeny; Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli; uropathogenic Escherichia coli
Dengue virus (DENV), which consists of four serotypes (DENV1-4), infects over 400 million people annually. Previous studies have indicated most human monoclonal antibodies (HMAbs) from dengue patients are cross-reactive and poorly neutralizing. Rare neutralizing HMAbs are usually serotype-specific and bind to quaternary structure-dependent epitopes. We determined the structure of DENV1 complexed with Fab fragments of a highly potent HMAb 1F4 to 6 Å resolution by cryo-EM. Although HMAb 1F4 appeared to bind to virus and not E proteins in ELISAs in the previous study, our structure showed that the epitope is located within an envelope (E) protein monomer, and not across neighboring E proteins. The Fab molecules bind to domain I (DI), and DI-DII hinge of the E protein. We also showed that HMAb 1F4 can neutralize DENV at different stages of viral entry in a cell type and receptor dependent manner. The structure reveals the mechanism by which this potent and specific antibody blocks viral infection.
Subject Categories Microbiology, Virology & Host Pathogen Interaction; Immunology
cryoEM; dengue virus; human antibody; neutralization; structure
The benzothiazinone lead compound, BTZ043, kills Mycobacterium tuberculosis by inhibiting the essential flavo-enzyme DprE1, decaprenylphosphoryl-beta-D-ribose 2-epimerase. Here, we synthesized a new series of piperazine-containing benzothiazinones (PBTZ) and show that, like BTZ043, the preclinical candidate PBTZ169 binds covalently to DprE1. The crystal structure of the DprE1-PBTZ169 complex reveals formation of a semimercaptal adduct with Cys387 in the active site and explains the irreversible inactivation of the enzyme. Compared to BTZ043, PBTZ169 has improved potency, safety and efficacy in zebrafish and mouse models of tuberculosis (TB). When combined with other TB drugs, PBTZ169 showed additive activity against M. tuberculosis in vitro except with bedaquiline (BDQ) where synergy was observed. A new regimen comprising PBTZ169, BDQ and pyrazinamide was found to be more efficacious than the standard three drug treatment in a murine model of chronic disease. PBTZ169 is thus an attractive drug candidate to treat TB in humans.
Subject Categories Microbiology, Virology & Host Pathogen Interaction; Pharmacology & Drug Discovery
benzothiazinones; combination regimens; DprE1; tuberculosis
Type 1 interferons (IFN) protect the host against viruses by engaging a cognate receptor (consisting of IFNAR1/IFNAR2 chains) and inducing downstream signaling and gene expression. However, inflammatory stimuli can trigger IFNAR1 ubiquitination and downregulation thereby attenuating IFN effects in vitro. The significance of this paradoxical regulation is unknown. Presented here results demonstrate that inability to stimulate IFNAR1 ubiquitination in the Ifnar1SA knock-in mice renders them highly susceptible to numerous inflammatory syndromes including acute and chronic pancreatitis, and autoimmune and toxic hepatitis. Ifnar1SA mice (or their bone marrow-receiving wild type animals) display persistent immune infiltration of inflamed tissues, extensive damage and gravely inadequate tissue regeneration. Pharmacologic stimulation of IFNAR1 ubiquitination is protective against from toxic hepatitis and fulminant generalized inflammation in wild type but not Ifnar1SA mice. These results suggest that endogenous mechanisms that trigger IFNAR1 ubiquitination for limiting the inflammation-induced tissue damage can be purposely mimicked for therapeutic benefits.
Subject Categories Immunology; Digestive System
hepatitis; inflammation; interferon; pancreatitis; receptor
Understanding the role of lipids in synapses and the aberrant molecular mechanisms causing the cognitive deficits that characterize most lipidosis is necessary to develop therapies for these diseases. Here we describe sphingomyelin (SM) as a key modulator of the dendritic spine actin cytoskeleton. We show that increased SM levels in neurons of acid sphingomyelinase knock out mice (ASMko), which mimic Niemann Pick disease type A (NPA), result in reduced spine number and size and low levels of filamentous actin. Mechanistically, SM accumulation decreases the levels of metabotropic glutamate receptors type I (mGluR1/5) at the synaptic membrane impairing membrane attachment and activity of RhoA and its effectors ROCK and ProfilinIIa. Pharmacological enhancement of the neutral sphingomyelinase rescues the aberrant molecular and morphological phenotypes in vitro and in vivo and improves motor and memory deficits in ASMko mice. Altogether, these data demonstrate the influence of SM and its catabolic enzymes in dendritic spine physiology and contribute to our understanding of the cognitive deficits of NPA patients, opening new perspectives for therapeutic interventions.
Subject Categories Genetics, Gene Therapy & Genetic Disease; Neuroscience
dexamethasone; Niemann Pick; RhoA; sphingomyelin
Marinesco-Sjögren syndrome (MSS) is a rare autosomal recessively inherited disorder with mental retardation (MR). Recently, mutations in the SIL1 gene, encoding a co-chaperone which regulates the chaperone HSPA5, were identified as a major cause of MSS. We here examined the pathophysiological significance of SIL1 mutations in abnormal corticogenesis of MSS. SIL1-silencing caused neuronal migration delay during corticogenesis ex vivo. While RNAi-resistant SIL1 rescued the defects, three MSS-causing SIL1 mutants tested did not. These mutants had lower affinities to HSPA5 in vitro, and SIL1-HSPA5 interaction as well as HSPA5 function was found to be crucial for neuronal migration ex vivo. Furthermore time-lapse imaging revealed morphological disorganization associated with abnormal migration of SIL1-deficient neurons. These results suggest that the mutations prevent SIL1 from interacting with and regulating HSPA5, leading to abnormal neuronal morphology and migration. Consistent with this, when SIL1 was silenced in cortical neurons in one hemisphere, axonal growth in the contralateral hemisphere was delayed. Taken together, abnormal neuronal migration and interhemispheric axon development may contribute to MR in MSS.
Subject Categories Genetics; Gene Therapy & Genetic Disease;
axon growth; corticogenesis; Marinesco-Sjögren syndrome; neuronal migration; SIL1
Mutations in mitochondrial DNA are an important cause of human disease and from a therapeutic standpoint, these disorders are currently untreatable. New studies now show that a non-cognate mitochondrial aminoacyl tRNA synthetase can overcome the respiratory defect caused by an mt-tRNA mutation and that the isolated carboxy-terminal domain of human mt-leucyl tRNA synthetase can ameliorate the pathologic phenotype.
See also: HT Hornig-Do et al (February 2014) and E Perli et al (February 2014)
The expectation that genomics would result in new therapeutic interventions for infectious diseases remains unfulfilled. In the post-genomic era, the decade immediately following the availability of the genome sequence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, tuberculosis (TB) drug discovery relied heavily on the target-based approach but this proved unsuccessful leading to a return to whole cell screening. Genomics underpinned screening by providing knowledge and many enabling technologies, most importantly whole genome resequencing to find resistance mutations and targets, and this resulted in a selection of leads and new TB drug candidates that are reviewed here. Unexpectedly, many new targets were found to be ‘promiscuous’ as they were inhibited by a variety of different compounds. In the post-post-genomics era, more advanced technologies have been implemented and these include high-content screening, screening for inhibitors of latency, the use of conditional knock-down mutants for validated targets and siRNA screens. In addition, immunomodulation and pharmacological manipulation of host functions are being explored in an attempt to widen our therapeutic options.
drug candidates; drug discovery; genomics; screening; tuberculosis
Mitochondrial (mt) diseases are multisystem disorders due to mutations in nuclear or mtDNA genes. Among the latter, more than 50% are located in transfer RNA (tRNA) genes and are responsible for a wide range of syndromes, for which no effective treatment is available at present. We show that three human mt aminoacyl-tRNA syntethases, namely leucyl-, valyl-, and isoleucyl-tRNA synthetase are able to improve both viability and bioenergetic proficiency of human transmitochondrial cybrid cells carrying pathogenic mutations in the mt-tRNAIle gene. Importantly, we further demonstrate that the carboxy-terminal domain of human mt leucyl-tRNA synthetase is both necessary and sufficient to improve the pathologic phenotype associated either with these “mild” mutations or with the “severe” m.3243A>G mutation in the mt-tRNALeu(UUR) gene. Furthermore, we provide evidence that this small, non-catalytic domain is able to directly and specifically interact in vitro with human mt-tRNALeu(UUR) with high affinity and stability and, with lower affinity, with mt-tRNAIle. Taken together, our results sustain the hypothesis that the carboxy-terminal domain of human mt leucyl-tRNA synthetase can be used to correct mt dysfunctions caused by mt-tRNA mutations.
aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases; mitochondrial disease; mitochondrial tRNA mutations; molecular therapy
Disorders of the mitochondrial genome cause a wide spectrum of disease, these present mainly as neurological and/or muscle related pathologies. Due to the intractability of the human mitochondrial genome there are currently no effective treatments for these disorders. The majority of the pathogenic mutations lie in the genes encoding mitochondrial tRNAs. Consequently, the biochemical deficiency is due to mitochondrial protein synthesis defects, which manifest as aberrant cellular respiration and ATP synthesis. It has previously been reported that overexpression of mitochondrial aminoacyl tRNA synthetases has been effective, in cell lines, at partially suppressing the defects resulting from mutations in their cognate mt-tRNAs. We now show that leucyl tRNA synthetase is able to partially rescue defects caused by mutations in non-cognate mt-tRNAs. Further, a C terminal peptide alone can enter mitochondria and interact with the same spectrum of mt-tRNAs as the entire synthetase, in intact cells. These data support the possibility that a small peptide could correct at least the biochemical defect associated with many mt-tRNA mutations, inferring a novel therapy for these disorders.
aminoacyl tRNA synthetase; disease; mitochondria; protein synthesis; therapy
Retinal gene therapy with adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors is safe and effective in humans. However, AAV's limited cargo capacity prevents its application to therapies of inherited retinal diseases due to mutations of genes over 5 kb, like Stargardt's disease (STGD) and Usher syndrome type IB (USH1B). Previous methods based on ‘forced’ packaging of large genes into AAV capsids may not be easily translated to the clinic due to the generation of genomes of heterogeneous size which raise safety concerns. Taking advantage of AAV's ability to concatemerize, we generated dual AAV vectors which reconstitute a large gene by either splicing (trans-splicing), homologous recombination (overlapping), or a combination of the two (hybrid). We found that dual trans-splicing and hybrid vectors transduce efficiently mouse and pig photoreceptors to levels that, albeit lower than those achieved with a single AAV, resulted in significant improvement of the retinal phenotype of mouse models of STGD and USH1B. Thus, dual AAV trans-splicing or hybrid vectors are an attractive strategy for gene therapy of retinal diseases that require delivery of large genes.
AAV; ABCA4; gene therapy; MYO7A; retina
Human cancers modeled in Genetically Engineered Mouse Models (GEMMs) can provide important mechanistic insights into the molecular basis of tumor development and enable testing of new intervention strategies. The inherent complexity of these models, with often multiple modified tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes, has hampered their use as preclinical models for validating cancer genes and drug targets. In our newly developed approach for the fast generation of tumor cohorts we have overcome this obstacle, as exemplified for three GEMMs; two lung cancer models and one mesothelioma model. Three elements are central for this system; (i) The efficient derivation of authentic Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs) from established GEMMs, (ii) the routine introduction of transgenes of choice in these GEMM-ESCs by Flp recombinase-mediated integration and (iii) the direct use of the chimeric animals in tumor cohorts. By applying stringent quality controls, the GEMM-ESC approach proofs to be a reliable and effective method to speed up cancer gene assessment and target validation. As proof-of-principle, we demonstrate that MycL1 is a key driver gene in Small Cell Lung Cancer.
cancer; chimeras; embryonic stem cells; mouse models; MycL1
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic demyelinating immune mediated disease of the central nervous system. The immunoproteasome is a distinct class of proteasomes found predominantly in monocytes and lymphocytes. Recently, we demonstrated a novel function of immunoproteasomes in cytokine production and T cell differentiation. In this study, we investigated the therapeutic efficacy of an inhibitor of the immunoproteasome (ONX 0914) in two different mouse models of MS. ONX 0914 attenuated disease progression after active and passive induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), both in MOG35–55 and PLP139–151-induced EAE. Isolation of lymphocytes from the brain or spinal cord revealed a strong reduction of cytokine-producing CD4+ cells in ONX 0914 treated mice. Additionally, ONX 0914 treatment prevented disease exacerbation in a relapsing-remitting model. An analysis of draining lymph nodes after induction of EAE revealed that the differentiation to Th17 or Th1 cells was strongly impaired in ONX 0914 treated mice. These results implicate the immunoproteasome in the development of EAE and suggest that immunoproteasome inhibitors are promising drugs for the treatment of MS.
experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; immunoproteasome; multiple sclerosis; proteasome
Muscular dystrophies are severe genetic diseases for which no efficacious therapies exist. Experimental clinical treatments include intra-arterial administration of vessel-associated stem cells, called mesoangioblasts (MABs). However, one of the limitations of this approach is the relatively low number of cells that engraft the diseased tissue, due, at least in part, to the sub-optimal efficiency of extravasation, whose mechanisms for MAB are unknown. Leukocytes emigrate into the inflamed tissues by crossing endothelial cell-to-cell junctions and junctional proteins direct and control leukocyte diapedesis. Here, we identify the endothelial junctional protein JAM-A as a key regulator of MAB extravasation. We show that JAM-A gene inactivation and JAM-A blocking antibodies strongly enhance MAB engraftment in dystrophic muscle. In the absence of JAM-A, the exchange factors EPAC-1 and 2 are down-regulated, which prevents the activation of the small GTPase Rap-1. As a consequence, junction tightening is reduced, allowing MAB diapedesis. Notably, pharmacological inhibition of Rap-1 increases MAB engraftment in dystrophic muscle, which results into a significant improvement of muscle function offering a novel strategy for stem cell-based therapies.
endothelial cells; junctional adhesion molecule-A; muscular dystrophy; stem cell therapies
Down syndrome (trisomy 21) is the most common viable chromosomal disorder with intellectual impairment and several other developmental abnormalities. Here, we report the generation and characterization of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from monozygotic twins discordant for trisomy 21 in order to eliminate the effects of the variability of genomic background. The alterations observed by genetic analysis at the iPSC level and at first approximation in early development illustrate the developmental disease transcriptional signature of Down syndrome. Moreover, we observed an abnormal neural differentiation of Down syndrome iPSCs in vivo when formed teratoma in NOD-SCID mice, and in vitro when differentiated into neuroprogenitors and neurons. These defects were associated with changes in the architecture and density of neurons, astroglial and oligodendroglial cells together with misexpression of genes involved in neurogenesis, lineage specification and differentiation. Furthermore, we provide novel evidence that dual-specificity tyrosine-(Y)-phosphorylation regulated kinase 1A ( DYRK1A) on chromosome 21 likely contributes to these defects. Importantly, we found that targeting DYRK1A pharmacologically or by shRNA results in a considerable correction of these defects.
disease modelling; Down syndrome; DYRK1A; induced pluripotent stem cells; neurodevelopment
The transmembrane metalloprotease-disintegrin ADAM8 mediates cell adhesion and shedding of ligands, receptors and extracellular matrix components. Here, we report that ADAM8 is abundantly expressed in breast tumors and derived metastases compared to normal tissue, especially in triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs). Furthermore, high ADAM8 levels predicted poor patient outcome. Consistently, ADAM8 promoted an aggressive phenotype of TNBC cells in culture. In a mouse orthotopic model, tumors derived from TNBC cells with ADAM8 knockdown failed to grow beyond a palpable size and displayed poor vascularization. Circulating tumor cells and brain metastases were also significantly reduced. Mechanistically, ADAM8 stimulated both angiogenesis through release of VEGF-A and transendothelial cell migration via β1-integrin activation. In vivo, treatment with an anti-ADAM8 antibody from the time of cell inoculation reduced primary tumor burden and metastases. Furthermore, antibody treatment of established tumors profoundly decreased metastases in a resection model. As a non-essential protein under physiological conditions, ADAM8 represents a promising novel target for treatment of TNBCs, which currently lack targeted therapies and frequently progress with fatal dissemination.
Subject Category Cancer
ADAM8; cancer progression; metastasis; therapeutic target; triple-negative; breast cancer
The so-called Acute Phase Response (APR) begins between 12 and 48 h after the initiation of inflammation. This conserved response mainly involves the production of a set of Acute Phase Proteins (APPs) and the downregulation of other proteins (negative APPs) by hepatocytes. Although the precise identity of the APPs may differ between species, some APPs are common in all mammals.
Recent advances reveal mRNA 3′end processing as a highly regulated process that fine-tunes posttranscriptional gene expression. This process can affect the site and/or the efficiency of 3′end processing, controlling the quality and the quantity of substrate mRNAs. The regulation of 3′end processing plays a central role in fundamental physiology such as blood coagulation and innate immunity. In addition, errors in mRNA 3′end processing have been associated with a broad spectrum of human diseases, including cancer. We summarize and discuss the paradigmatic shift in the understanding of 3′end processing as a mechanism of posttranscriptional gene regulation that has reached clinical medicine.
clinical importance of 3′ end mRNA processing; control of polyadenylation; post-transcriptional gene regulation; regulation of 3′ end mRNA processing
Low-grade inflammation in adipose tissue and liver has been implicated in obesity-associated insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Yet, the contribution of inflammatory cells to the pathogenesis of skeletal muscle insulin resistance remains elusive. In a large cohort of obese human individuals, blood monocyte Fas (CD95) expression correlated with systemic and skeletal muscle insulin resistance. To test a causal role for myeloid cell Fas expression in the development of skeletal muscle insulin resistance, we generated myeloid/haematopoietic cell-specific Fas-depleted mice. Myeloid/haematopoietic Fas deficiency prevented the development of glucose intolerance in high fat-fed mice, in ob/ob mice, and in mice acutely challenged by LPS. In vivo, ex vivo and in vitro studies demonstrated preservation of muscle insulin responsiveness with no effect on adipose tissue or liver. Studies using neutralizing antibodies demonstrated a role for TNFα as mediator between myeloid Fas and skeletal muscle insulin resistance, supported by significant correlations between monocyte Fas expression and circulating TNFα in humans. In conclusion, our results demonstrate an unanticipated crosstalk between myeloid cells and skeletal muscle in the development of obesity-associated insulin resistance.
diabetes mellitus; insulin resistance; obesity