Here we describe a novel method for imaging apoptosis in cells using a near-infrared fluorescent (NIRF) probe selective for caspase-1 (interleukin 1β-converting enzyme, ICE). This biocompatible, optically quenched ICE-NIRF probe incorporates a peptide substrate, which can be selectively cleaved by caspase-1, resulting in the release of fluorescence signal. The specificity of this probe for caspase-1 is supported by various lines of evidence: 1) activation by purified caspase-1, but not another caspase in vitro; 2) activation of the probe by infection of cells with a herpes simplex virus amplicon vector (HGC-ICE-lacZ) expressing a catalytically active caspase-1-lacZ fusion protein; 3) inhibition of HGC-ICE-lacZ vector-induced activation of the probe by coincubation with the caspase-1 inhibitor YVAD-cmk, but not with a caspase-3 inhibitor; and 4) activation of the probe following standard methods of inducing apoptosis with staurosporine, ganciclovir, or ionizing radiation in culture. These results indicate that this novel ICE-NIRF probe can be used in monitoring endogenous and vector-expressed caspase-1 activity in cells. Furthermore, tumor implant experiments indicate that this ICE-NIRF probe can be used to detect caspase-1 activity in living animals. This novel ICE-NIRF probe should prove useful in monitoring endogenous and vector-expressed caspase-1 activity, and potentially apoptosis in cell culture and in vivo.
Caspase-1; near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF); apoptosis; brain tumors; HSV
A specific mutation (ΔE) in torsinA underlies most cases of the dominantly inherited movement disorder, early-onset torsion dystonia (DYT1). TorsinA, a member of the AAA+ ATPase superfamily, is located within the lumen of the nuclear envelope (NE) and endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We investigated an association between torsinA and nesprin-3, which spans the outer nuclear membrane (ONM) of the NE and links it to vimentin via plectin in fibroblasts. Mouse nesprin-3α co-immunoprecipitated with torsinA and this involved the C-terminal region of torsinA and the KASH domain of nesprin-3α. This association with human nesprin-3 appeared to be stronger for torsinAΔE than for torsinA. TorsinA also associated with the KASH domains of nesprin-1 and -2 (SYNE1 and 2), which link to actin. In the absence of torsinA, in knockout mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), nesprin-3 was localized predominantly in the ER. Enrichment of yellow fluorescent protein (YFP)-nesprin-3 in the ER was also seen in the fibroblasts of DYT1 patients, with formation of YFP-positive globular structures enriched in torsinA, vimentin and actin. TorsinA-null MEFs had normal NE structure, but nuclear polarization and cell migration were delayed in a wound-healing assay, as compared with wild-type MEFs. These studies support a role for torsinA in dynamic interactions between the KASH domains of nesprins and their protein partners in the lumen of the NE, with torsinA influencing the localization of nesprins and associated cytoskeletal elements and affecting their role in nuclear and cell movement.
Nesprin; Dystonia; Cell migration; Nuclear polarization; DYT1; Vimentin; Actin
Microvesicles (MVs) play an important role in intercellular communication by carrying mRNAs, microRNAs (miRNAs), non-coding RNAs, proteins, and DNA from cell to cell. To our knowledge, this is the first report of delivery of a therapeutic mRNA/protein via MVs for treatment of cancer. We first generated genetically engineered MVs by expressing high levels of the suicide gene mRNA and protein–cytosine deaminase (CD) fused to uracil phosphoribosyltransferase (UPRT) in MV donor cells. MVs were isolated from these cells and used to treat pre-established nerve sheath tumors (schwannomas) in an orthotopic mouse model. We demonstrated that MV-mediated delivery of CD-UPRT mRNA/protein by direct injection into schwannomas led to regression of these tumors upon systemic treatment with the prodrug (5-fluorocytosine (5-FC)), which is converted within tumor cells to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)–an anticancer agent. Taken together, these studies suggest that MVs can serve as novel cell-derived “liposomes” to effectively deliver therapeutic mRNA/proteins to treatment of diseases.
TorsinA is an AAA+ ATPase located within the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum and nuclear envelope, with a mutant form causing early onset torsion dystonia (DYT1). Here we report a new function for torsinA in endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD). Retro-translocation and proteosomal degradation of a mutant cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTRΔF508) was inhibited by downregulation of torsinA or overexpression of mutant torsinA, and facilitated by increased torsinA. Retro-translocation of cholera toxin was also decreased by downregulation of torsinA. TorsinA associates with proteins implicated in ERAD, including Derlin-1, VIMP, and p97. Further, torsinA reduces endoplasmic reticulum stress in nematodes overexpressing CFTRΔF508, and fibroblasts from DYT1 dystonia patients are more sensitive than controls to endoplasmic reticulum stress and less able to degrade mutant CFTR. Therefore, compromised ERAD function in the cells of DYT1 patients may increase sensitivity to endoplasmic reticulum stress with consequent alterations in neuronal function contributing to the disease state.
dystonia; movement disorder; secretory pathway; retro-translocation; protein degradation; proteosome; cystic fibrosis; cholera toxin
Glioblastomas shed large quantities of small, membrane-bound microvesicles (MVs) into the circulation. While these hold promise as potential biomarkers of therapeutic response, their identification and quantitation remain challenging. Here, we describe a highly sensitive and rapid analytical technique for profiling circulating MVs directly from blood samples of glioblastoma patients. MVs, introduced onto a dedicated microfluidic chip, are labeled with target-specific magnetic nanoparticles and detected by a miniaturized nuclear magnetic resonance system. Compared with current methods, this integrated system has a much higher detection sensitivity, and can differentiate glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) MVs from non-tumor host cell-derived MVs. We also show that circulating GBM MVs can serve as a surrogate for primary tumor mutations and a predictive metric of treatment-induced changes. This platform could provide both an earlier indicator of drug efficacy and a potential molecular stratifier for human clinical trials.
Extracellular vesicles (microvesicles), such as exosomes and shed microvesicles, contain a variety of molecules including proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. Microvesicles appear mostly to originate from multivesicular bodies or to bud from the plasma membrane. Here, we review the convergence of microvesicle biogenesis and aspects of viral assembly and release pathways. Herpesviruses and retroviruses, amongst others, recruit several elements from the microvesicle biogenesis pathways for functional virus release. In addition, noninfectious pleiotropic virus-like vesicles can be released, containing viral and cellular components. We highlight the heterogeneity of microvesicle function during viral infection, addressing microvesicles that can either block or enhance infection, or cause immune dysregulation through bystander action in the immune system. Finally, endogenous retrovirus and retrotransposon elements deposited in our genomes millions of years ago can be released from cells within microvesicles, suggestive of a viral origin of the microvesicle system or perhaps of an evolutionary conserved system of virus-vesicle codependence. More research is needed to further elucidate the complex function of the various microvesicles produced during viral infection, possibly revealing new therapeutic intervention strategies.
Adeno-associated virus (AAV) mediated gene replacement for lysosomal disorders have been spurred by the ability of some serotypes to efficiently transduce neurons in the brain and by the ability of lysosomal enzymes to cross-correct among cells. Here, we explored enzyme replacement therapy in a knock-out mouse model of congenital neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL), the most severe of the NCLs in humans. The missing protease in this disorder, cathepsin D (CathD) has high levels in the central nervous system (CNS). This enzyme has the potential advantage for assessing experimental therapy in that it can be imaged using a near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) probe activated by CathD. Injections of an AAV2/rh8 vector encoding mouse cathepsin D (mCathD) into both cerebral ventricles and peritoneum of newborn knock-out mice resulted in a significant increase in lifespan. Successful delivery of active CathD by the AAV2/rh8-mCathD vector was verified by NIRF imaging of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) from knock-out mice in culture, as well as by ex vivo NIRF imaging of brain and liver after gene transfer. These studies support the potential effectiveness and imaging evaluation of enzyme replacement therapy to the brain and other organs in CathD null mice via AAV-mediated gene delivery in neonatal animals.
near-infrared; fluorescence; lysosomal storage disease; cathepsin D; central nervous system; gene therapy; AAV; neurologic disease
Most cases of early onset DYT1 dystonia in humans are caused by a GAG deletion in the TOR1A gene leading to loss of a glutamic acid (ΔE) in the torsinA protein, which underlies a movement disorder associated with neuronal dysfunction without apparent neurodegeneration. Mutation/deletion of the gene (Dst) encoding dystonin in mice results in a dystonic movement disorder termed dystonia musculorum, which resembles aspects of dystonia in humans. While torsinA and dystonin proteins do not share modular domain architecture, they participate in a similar function by modulating a structural link between the nuclear envelope and the cytoskeleton in neuronal cells. We suggest that through a shared interaction with the nuclear envelope protein nesprin-3α, torsinA and the neuronal dystonin-a2 isoform comprise a bridge complex between the outer nuclear membrane and the cytoskeleton, which is critical for some aspects of neuronal development and function. Elucidation of the overlapping roles of torsinA and dystonin-a2 in nuclear/endoplasmic reticulum dynamics should provide insights into the cellular mechanisms underlying the dystonic phenotype.
The hereditary dystonias comprise a set of diseases defined by a common constellation of motor deficits. These disorders are most likely associated with different molecular etiologies, many of which have yet to be elucidated. Here we discuss recent advances in three forms of hereditary dystonia, DYT1, DYT6 and DYT16, which share a similar clinical picture: onset in childhood or adolescence, progressive spread of symptoms with generalized involvement of body regions and a steady state affliction without treatment. Unlike DYT1, the genes responsible for DYT6 and DYT16 have only recently been identified, with relatively little information about the function of the encoded proteins. Nevertheless, recent data suggest that these proteins may fit together within interacting pathways involved in dopaminergic signaling, transcriptional regulation, and cellular stress responses. This review focuses on these molecular pathways, highlighting potential common themes among these dystonias which may serve as areas for future research.
Dystonia; torsinA; THAP1; PACT; PRKRA; dopamine; endoplasmic reticulum; transcription; stress
Genetic therapy is undergoing a renaissance with expansion of viral and synthetic vectors, use of oligonucleotides (RNA and DNA) and sequence-targeted regulatory molecules, as well as genetically modified cells, including induced pluripotent stem cells from the patients themselves. Several clinical trials for neurologic syndromes appear quite promising. This review covers genetic strategies to ameliorate neurologic syndromes of different etiologies, including lysosomal storage diseases, Alzheimer's disease and other amyloidopathies, Parkinson's disease, spinal muscular atrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and brain tumors. This field has been propelled by genetic technologies, including identifying disease genes and disruptive mutations, design of genomic interacting elements to regulate transcription and splicing of specific precursor mRNAs and use of novel non-coding regulatory RNAs. These versatile new tools for manipulation of genetic elements provide the ability to tailor the mode of genetic intervention to specific aspects of a disease state.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) negatively regulate protein-coding genes at the post-transcriptional level and are critical in tumorigenesis. Schwannomas develop from proliferation of dedifferentiated Schwann cells, which normally wrap nerve fibers to help support and insulate nerves. In this study, we carried out high-throughput miRNA expression profiling of human vestibular schwannomas using an array representing 407 known miRNAs in order to explore the role of miRNAs in tumor growth. Twelve miRNAs were found to be significantly deregulated in tumor samples as compared with control nerve tissue, defining a schwannoma-typical signature. Among these miRNAs, we focused on miR-7 which was one of the most downregulated in these tumors and has several known oncogene targets, including mRNAs for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and p21-activated kinase 1 (Pak1). We found that overexpression of miR-7 inhibited schwannoma cell growth both in culture and in xenograft tumor models in vivo, which correlated with downregulation of these signaling pathways. Furthermore, we identified a novel direct target of miR-7, the mRNA for associated cdc42 kinase 1 (Ack1), with the expression levels of miR-7 and Ack1 being inversely correlated in human schwannoma samples. These results represent the first miRNA profiling of schwannomas and the first report of a tumor suppressor function for miR-7 in these tumors that is mediated by targeting the EGFR, Pak1 and Ack1 oncogenes. Our findings suggest miR-7 as a potential therapeutic molecule for schwannoma treatment, and they prompt clinical evaluation of drugs that can inhibit the EGFR, Pak1, and Ack1 signaling pathways to treat this tumor type.
miRNAs; schwannomas; Ack1; EGFR; Pak1
Despite intensive studies, the molecular mechanisms by which the genetic materials are uploaded into microvesicles (MVs) are still unknown. This is the first study describing a zipcode-like 25 nucleotide (nt) sequence in the 3′-untranslated region (3′UTR) of mRNAs, with variants of this sequence present in many mRNAs enriched in MVs, as compared to their glioblastoma cells of origin. When this sequence was incorporated into the 3′UTR of a reporter message and expressed in a different cell type, it led to enrichment of the reporter mRNA in MVs. Critical features of this sequence are both a CUGCC core presented on a stem-loop structure and a miRNA-binding site, with increased levels of the corresponding miRNA in cells further increasing levels of mRNAs in MVs.
microvesicles; miRNAs; miR-1289; zipcode
Benign schwannomas are common tumors of the cranial and peripheral nerves, causing pain and loss of function. The development of effective therapy for these tumors has been hampered by the lack of relevant experimental in vivo models for convenient testing. Here, we describe a novel schwannoma model in which an immortalized human schwannoma cell line, HEI-193, established from an neurofibromatosis type 2 patient, has been stably transduced with fluorescent protein and luciferase reporters and implanted within the sciatic nerve of nude mice. These cells reliably formed a tumor within several weeks which had pathologic characteristics of schwannoma tumors. This model system will be useful for investigation of schwannoma biology and for preclinical assessment of therapeutic agents.
schwannoma; NF2; sciatic nerve tumor model
RNA from exosomes and other microvesicles contain transcripts of tumour origin. In this study we sought to identify biomarkers of glioblastoma multiforme in microvesicle RNA from serum of affected patients.
Microvesicle RNA from serum from patients with de-novo primary glioblastoma multiforme (N = 9) and normal controls (N = 7) were analyzed by microarray analysis. Samples were collected according to protocols approved by the Institutional Review Board. Differential expressions were validated by qRT-PCR in a separate set of samples (N = 10 in both groups).
Expression profiles of microvesicle RNA correctly separated individuals in two groups by unsupervised clustering. The most significant differences pertained to down-regulated genes (121 genes > 2-fold down) in the glioblastoma multiforme patient microvesicle RNA, validated by qRT-PCR on several genes. Overall, yields of microvesicle RNA from patients was higher than from normal controls, but the additional RNA was primarily of size < 500 nt. Gene ontology of the down-regulated genes indicated these are coding for ribosomal proteins and genes related to ribosome production.
Serum microvesicle RNA from patients with glioblastoma multiforme has significantly down-regulated levels of RNAs coding for ribosome production, compared to normal healthy controls, but a large overabundance of RNA of unknown origin with size < 500 nt.
Exosomes; Microvesicles; Microarray; Biomarkers; Serum; Glioma
Dystonia represents the third most common movement disorder in humans. At least 15 genetic loci (DYT1-15) have been identified and some of these genes have been cloned. TOR1A (formally DYT1), the gene responsible for the most common primary hereditary dystonia, encodes torsinA, an AAA ATPase family protein. However, the function of torsinA has yet to be fully understood. Here, we have generated and characterized a complete loss-of-function mutant for dtorsin, the only Drosophila ortholog of TOR1A. Null mutation of the X-linked dtorsin was semi-lethal with most male flies dying by the pre-pupal stage and the few surviving adults being sterile and slow moving, with reduced cuticle pigmentation and thin, short bristles. Third instar male larvae exhibited locomotion defects that were rescued by feeding dopamine. Moreover, biochemical analysis revealed that the brains of third instar larvae and adults heterozygous for the loss-of-function dtorsin mutation had significantly reduced dopamine levels. The dtorsin mutant showed a very strong genetic interaction with Pu (Punch: GTP cyclohydrolase), the ortholog of the human gene underlying DYT14 dystonia. Biochemical analyses revealed a severe reduction of GTP cyclohydrolase protein and activity, suggesting that dtorsin plays a novel role in dopamine metabolism as a positive-regulator of GTP cyclohydrolase protein. This dtorsin mutant line will be valuable for understanding this relationship and potentially other novel torsin functions that could play a role in human dystonia.
Early-onset torsion dystonia is the most severe heritable form of dystonia, a human movement disorder that typically starts during a developmental window in early adolescence. Deletion in the DYT1 gene, encoding the torsinA protein, is responsible for this dominantly inherited disorder, which is non-degenerative and exhibits reduced penetrance among carriers. Here, we explore the hypothesis that deficits in torsinA function result in an increased vulnerability to stress associated with protein folding and processing in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), where torsinA is located. Using an in vivo quantitative readout for the ER stress response, we evaluated the consequences of torsinA mutations in transgenic nematodes expressing variants of human torsinA. This analysis revealed that, normally, torsinA serves a protective function to maintain a homeostatic threshold against ER stress. Furthermore, we show that the buffering capacity of torsinA is greatly diminished by the DYT1-associated deletion or mutations that prevent its translocation to the ER, block ATPase activity, or increase the levels of torsinA in the nuclear envelope versus ER. Combinations of transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans designed to mimic clinically relevant genetic modifiers of disease susceptibility also exhibit a direct functional correlation to changes in the ER stress response. Furthermore, using mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) from torsinA knockout mice, we demonstrated that loss of endogenous torsinA results in enhanced sensitivity to ER stress. This study extends our understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying dystonia, and establishes a new functional paradigm to evaluate therapeutic strategies to compensate for reduced torsinA activity in the ER as a means to restore homeostatic balance and neuronal function.
Microvesicles (exosomes) shed from both normal and cancerous cells may serve as means of intercellular communication. These microvesicles carry proteins, lipids and nucleic acids derived from the host cell. Their isolation and analysis from blood samples have the potential to provide information about state and progression of malignancy and should prove of great clinical importance as biomarkers for a variety of disease states. However, current protocols for isolation of microvesicles from blood require high-speed centrifugation and filtration, which are cumbersome and time consuming. In order to take full advantage of the potential of microvesicles as biomarkers for clinical applications, faster and simpler methods of isolation will be needed. In this paper, we present an easy and rapid microfluidic immunoaffinity method to isolate microvesicles from small volumes of both serum from blood samples and conditioned medium from cells in culture. RNA of high quality can be extracted from these microvesicles providing a source of information about the genetic status of tumors to serve as biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis of cancer.
We have developed a spectral inversion method for three-dimensional tomography of far-red and near-infrared fluorescent proteins in animals. The method was developed in particular to address the steep light absorption transition of hemoglobin from the visible to the far-red occurring around 600 nm. Using an orthotopic mouse model of brain tumors expressing the red-shifted fluorescent protein mCherry, we demonstrate significant improvements in imaging accuracy over single-wavelength whole body reconstructions. Furthermore, we show an improvement in sensitivity of at least an order of magnitude over green fluorescent protein (GFP) for whole body imaging. We discuss how additional sensitivity gains are expected with the use of further red-shifted fluorescent proteins and we explain the differences and potential advantages of this approach over two-dimensional planar imaging methods.
(170.6960) Tomography; (170.3880) Medical and biological imaging
Oncolytic herpes simplex virus (HSV) vectors have been used in early phase human clinical trials as a therapy for recurrent malignant glioblastoma. This treatment proved safe but limited improvements in patient survival were observed. The potency of these vectors might be enhanced by targeting vector infectivity to tumor cells. Glioma tumors often express a mutant form (vIII) of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) resulting in the presence of a novel epitope on the cell surface. This epitope is specifically recognized by a single chain antibody designated MR1-1. HSV-1 infection involves initial binding to heparan sulfate (HS) on the cell surface mediated primarily by the viral envelope, glycoprotein C (gC). Here we joined the MR1-1 single chain antibody (scFv) to the gC sequence deleted for the HS binding domain (HSBD) as a means of targeting viral attachment to EGFRvIII on glial tumor cells. Virions bearing MR1-1-modified-gC had 5-fold increased infectivity for EGFRvIII-bearing human glioma U87 cells compared to mutant receptor-deficient cells. Further, MR1-1/EGFRvIII mediated infection was more efficient for EGFRvIII-positive cells than was wild-type virus for either positive or negative cells. Sustained infection of EGFRvIII+ glioma cells by MR1-1-modified-gC bearing oncolytic virus, as compared to wild-type gC oncolytic virus, was also shown in subcutaneous tumors in vivo using firefly luciferase as a reporter of infection. These data demonstrate that HSV tropism can be manipulated so that virions recognize a cell specific binding site with increased infectivity for the target cell. The retargeting of HSV infection to tumor cells should enhance vector specificity, tumor cell killing and vector safety.
EGFR; oncolytic; HSV; glioma; tropism; glycoprotein C; mouse tumor model; HSV vector retargeting
miRNAs have been recently implicated as drivers in several carcinogenic processes, where they can act either as oncogenes or as tumor suppressors. Schwannomas arise from Schwann cells, the myelinating cells of the peripheral nervous system. These benign tumors typically result from loss of the neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) tumor suppressor gene. We have recently carried out high-throughput miRNA expression profiling of human vestibular schwannomas using an array representing 407 known miRNAs in order to explore the role of miRNAs in the tumorigenesis of schwannomas. We found that miR-7 functions as a “tumor suppressor” by targeting proteins in three major oncogenic pathways - EGFR, Pak1, and Ack1. Interestingly, in this study, we also observed that several previously described potential tumor suppressor miRNAs that are down-regulated in malignant tumors were up-regulated in schwannomas. Here we discuss the possibility that “tumor suppressor” miRNAs may play a role in the transition stage(s) of cancer from benign to malignant forms.
miR-7; Tumor suppressor miRNAs; Benign tumors; Schwannomas; Neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2); Ack1
Tumour cells release an abundance of microvesicles containing a selected set of proteins and RNAs. Here, we show that tumour microvesicles also carry DNA, which reflects the genetic status of the tumour, including amplification of the oncogene c-Myc. We also find amplified c-Myc in serum microvesicles from tumour-bearing mice. Further, we find remarkably high levels of retrotransposon RNA transcripts, especially for some human endogenous retroviruses, such as LINE-1 and Alu retrotransposon elements, in tumour microvesicles and these transposable elements could be transferred to normal cells. These findings expand the nucleic acid content of tumour microvesicles to include: elevated levels of specific coding and non-coding RNA and DNA, mutated and amplified oncogene sequences and transposable elements. Thus, tumour microvesicles contain a repertoire of genetic information available for horizontal gene transfer and potential use as blood biomarkers for cancer.