The most frequent chromosomal structural loss in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is of the short arm of chromosome 8 (8p). Genes on the remaining homologous chromosome, however, are not recurrently mutated, and the identity of key 8p tumor-suppressor genes (TSG) is unknown. In this work, analysis of minimal commonly deleted 8p segments to identify candidate TSG implicated GATA4, a master transcription factor driver of hepatocyte epithelial lineage fate. In a murine model, liver-conditional deletion of 1 Gata4 allele to model the haploinsufficiency seen in HCC produced enlarged livers with a gene expression profile of persistent precursor proliferation and failed hepatocyte epithelial differentiation. HCC mimicked this gene expression profile, even in cases that were morphologically classified as well differentiated. HCC with intact chromosome 8p also featured GATA4 loss of function via GATA4 germline mutations that abrogated GATA4 interactions with a coactivator, MED12, or by inactivating mutations directly in GATA4 coactivators, including ARID1A. GATA4 reintroduction into GATA4-haploinsufficient HCC cells or ARID1A reintroduction into ARID1A-mutant/GATA4-intact HCC cells activated hundreds of hepatocyte genes and quenched the proliferative precursor program. Thus, disruption of GATA4-mediated transactivation in HCC suppresses hepatocyte epithelial differentiation to sustain replicative precursor phenotype.
Francis O. Enane, Wai Ho Shuen, Xiaorong Gu, Ebrahem Quteba, Bartlomiej Przychodzen, Hideki Makishima, Juraj Bodo, Joanna Ng, Chit Lai Chee, Rebecca Ba, Lip Seng Koh, Janice Lim, Rachael Cheong, Marissa Teo, Zhenbo Hu, Kwok Peng Ng, Jaroslaw Maciejewski, Tomas Radivoyevitch, Alexander Chung, London Lucien Ooi, Yu Meng Tan, Peng Chung Cheow, Pierce Chow, Chung Yip Chan, Kiat Hon Lim, Lisa Yerian, Eric Hsi, Han Chong Toh, Yogen Saunthararajah
Teriparatide, a recombinant form of parathyroid hormone (PTH), is the only approved treatment for osteoporosis that increases the rate of bone formation. Teriparatide increases osteoblast numbers by suppressing osteoblast apoptosis and activating bone-lining cells. No direct evidence for teriparatide’s actions on early cells of the osteoblast lineage has been demonstrated. Here, we have employed a lineage-tracing strategy that uses a tamoxifen-dependent, promoter-driven cre to mark early cells of the osteoblast lineage in adult mice. We show that teriparatide increases the numbers of osteoblast precursors and drives their differentiation into mature osteoblasts. Unexpectedly, following withdrawal of teriparatide therapy, bone marrow adipocytes increased dramatically in number. Some of these adipocytes derived from cells marked by Sox9-cre expression weeks earlier. Continued therapy with teriparatide prevented the appearance of adipocytes. Selective, inducible deletion of the PTH receptor in Sox9-cre cells demonstrated that PTH receptor expression is required for teriparatide-mediated increases in early osteoblast precursors. The increase in early precursors after teriparatide administration was associated with robust suppression of precursor apoptosis without affecting their rate of proliferation. Thus, teriparatide increases the numbers of early cells of the osteoblast lineage, hastens their differentiation into osteoblasts, and suppresses their differentiation into adipocytes in vivo.
Deepak H. Balani, Noriaki Ono, Henry M. Kronenberg
Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is a rare and intractable disease characterized by extraskeletal bone formation through endochondral ossification. Patients with FOP harbor point mutations in ACVR1, a type I receptor for BMPs. Although mutated ACVR1 (FOP-ACVR1) has been shown to render hyperactivity in BMP signaling, we and others have uncovered a mechanism by which FOP-ACVR1 mistransduces BMP signaling in response to Activin-A, a molecule that normally transduces TGF-β signaling. Although Activin-A evokes enhanced chondrogenesis in vitro and heterotopic ossification (HO) in vivo, the underlying mechanisms have yet to be revealed. To this end, we developed a high-throughput screening (HTS) system using FOP patient–derived induced pluripotent stem cells (FOP-iPSCs) to identify pivotal pathways in enhanced chondrogenesis that are initiated by Activin-A. In a screen of 6,809 small-molecule compounds, we identified mTOR signaling as a critical pathway for the aberrant chondrogenesis of mesenchymal stromal cells derived from FOP-iPSCs (FOP-iMSCs). Two different HO mouse models, an FOP model mouse expressing FOP-ACVR1 and an FOP-iPSC–based HO model mouse, revealed critical roles for mTOR signaling in vivo. Moreover, we identified ENPP2, an enzyme that generates lysophosphatidic acid, as a linker of FOP-ACVR1 and mTOR signaling in chondrogenesis. These results uncovered the crucial role of the Activin-A/FOP-ACVR1/ENPP2/mTOR axis in FOP pathogenesis.
Kyosuke Hino, Kazuhiko Horigome, Megumi Nishio, Shingo Komura, Sanae Nagata, Chengzhu Zhao, Yonghui Jin, Koichi Kawakami, Yasuhiro Yamada, Akira Ohta, Junya Toguchida, Makoto Ikeya
Proinflammatory leukotrienes (LTs) are produced by 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) aided by 5-LO–activating protein (FLAP). LT biosynthesis inhibitors are currently under clinical investigation as treatments for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Here, we have revealed a sex bias in the efficiency of clinically relevant LT biosynthesis inhibitors, showing that their effects are superior in females. We found that androgens cause these sex differences by impeding the LT-biosynthetic 5-LO/FLAP complex assembly. Lower doses of the FLAP inhibitor MK886 were required to reduce LTB4 levels in exudates of female versus male mice and rats. Following platelet-activating factor–induced shock, MK886 increased survival exclusively in female mice, and this effect was abolished by testosterone administration. FLAP inhibitors and the novel-type 5-LO inhibitors licofelone and sulindac sulfide exhibited higher potencies in human blood from females, and bioactive 5-LO/FLAP complexes were formed in female, but not male, human and murine leukocytes. Supplementation of female blood or leukocytes with 5α-dihydrotestosterone abolished the observed sex differences. Our data suggest that females may benefit from anti-LT therapy to a greater extent than males, prompting consideration of sex issues in LT modifier development.
Simona Pace, Carlo Pergola, Friederike Dehm, Antonietta Rossi, Jana Gerstmeier, Fabiana Troisi, Helmut Pein, Anja M. Schaible, Christina Weinigel, Silke Rummler, Hinnak Northoff, Stefan Laufer, Thorsten J. Maier, Olof Rådmark, Bengt Samuelsson, Andreas Koeberle, Lidia Sautebin, Oliver Werz
Accumulating evidence suggests that glioma stem cells (GSCs) are important therapeutic targets in glioblastoma (GBM). In this study, we identified NIMA-related kinase 2 (NEK2) as a functional binding protein of enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) that plays a critical role in the posttranslational regulation of EZH2 protein in GSCs. NEK2 was among the most differentially expressed kinase-encoding genes in GSC-containing cultures (glioma spheres), and it was required for in vitro clonogenicity, in vivo tumor propagation, and radioresistance. Mechanistically, the formation of a protein complex comprising NEK2 and EZH2 in glioma spheres phosphorylated and then protected EZH2 from ubiquitination-dependent protein degradation in a NEK2 kinase activity–dependent manner. Clinically, NEK2 expression in patients with glioma was closely associated with EZH2 expression and correlated with a poor prognosis. NEK2 expression was also substantially elevated in recurrent tumors after therapeutic failure compared with primary untreated tumors in matched GBM patients. We designed a NEK2 kinase inhibitor, compound 3a (CMP3a), which efficiently attenuated GBM growth in a mouse model and exhibited a synergistic effect with radiotherapy. These data demonstrate a key role for NEK2 in maintaining GSCs in GBM by stabilizing the EZH2 protein and introduce the small-molecule inhibitor CMP3a as a potential therapeutic agent for GBM.
Jia Wang, Peng Cheng, Marat S. Pavlyukov, Hai Yu, Zhuo Zhang, Sung-Hak Kim, Mutsuko Minata, Ahmed Mohyeldin, Wanfu Xie, Dongquan Chen, Violaine Goidts, Brendan Frett, Wenhao Hu, Hongyu Li, Yong Jae Shin, Yeri Lee, Do-Hyun Nam, Harley I. Kornblum, Maode Wang, Ichiro Nakano
Lesions and neurologic disability in inflammatory CNS diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) result from the translocation of leukocytes and humoral factors from the vasculature, first across the endothelial blood-brain barrier (BBB) and then across the astrocytic glia limitans (GL). Factors secreted by reactive astrocytes open the BBB by disrupting endothelial tight junctions (TJs), but the mechanisms that control access across the GL are unknown. Here, we report that in inflammatory lesions, a second barrier composed of reactive astrocyte TJs of claudin 1 (CLDN1), CLDN4, and junctional adhesion molecule A (JAM-A) subunits is induced at the GL. In a human coculture model, CLDN4-deficient astrocytes were unable to control lymphocyte segregation. In models of CNS inflammation and MS, mice with astrocyte-specific Cldn4 deletion displayed exacerbated leukocyte and humoral infiltration, neuropathology, motor disability, and mortality. These findings identify a second inducible barrier to CNS entry at the GL. This barrier may be therapeutically targetable in inflammatory CNS disease.
Sam Horng, Anthony Therattil, Sarah Moyon, Alexandra Gordon, Karla Kim, Azeb Tadesse Argaw, Yuko Hara, John N. Mariani, Setsu Sawai, Per Flodby, Edward D. Crandall, Zea Borok, Michael V. Sofroniew, Candice Chapouly, Gareth R. John
Adoptive transfer of T cells engineered to express a hepatitis B virus–specific (HBV-specific) T cell receptor (TCR) may supplement HBV-specific immune responses in chronic HBV patients and facilitate HBV control. However, the risk of triggering unrestrained proliferation of permanently engineered T cells raises safety concerns that have hampered testing of this approach in patients. The aim of the present study was to generate T cells that transiently express HBV-specific TCRs using mRNA electroporation and to assess their antiviral and pathogenetic activity in vitro and in HBV-infected human liver chimeric mice. We assessed virological and gene-expression changes using quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR), immunofluorescence, and Luminex technology. HBV-specific T cells lysed HBV-producing hepatoma cells in vitro. In vivo, 3 injections of HBV-specific T cells caused progressive viremia reduction within 12 days of treatment in animals reconstituted with haplotype-matched hepatocytes, whereas viremia remained stable in mice receiving irrelevant T cells redirected toward hepatitis C virus–specific TCRs. Notably, increases in alanine aminotransferase levels, apoptotic markers, and human inflammatory cytokines returned to pretreatment levels within 9 days after the last injection. T cell transfer did not trigger inflammation in uninfected mice. These data support the feasibility of using mRNA electroporation to engineer HBV TCR–redirected T cells in patients with chronic HBV infection.
Janine Kah, Sarene Koh, Tassilo Volz, Erica Ceccarello, Lena Allweiss, Marc Lütgehetmann, Antonio Bertoletti, Maura Dandri
Obesity promotes a chronic inflammatory and hypercoagulable state that drives cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and several cancers. Elevated thrombin activity underlies obesity-linked thromboembolic events, but the mechanistic links between the thrombin/fibrin(ogen) axis and obesity-associated pathologies are incompletely understood. In this work, immunohistochemical studies identified extravascular fibrin deposits within white adipose tissue and liver as distinct features of mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) as well as obese patients. Fibγ390–396A mice carrying a mutant form of fibrinogen incapable of binding leukocyte αMβ2-integrin were protected from HFD-induced weight gain and elevated adiposity. Fibγ390–396A mice had markedly diminished systemic, adipose, and hepatic inflammation with reduced macrophage counts within white adipose tissue, as well as near-complete protection from development of fatty liver disease and glucose dysmetabolism. Homozygous thrombomodulin-mutant ThbdPro mice, which have elevated thrombin procoagulant function, gained more weight and developed exacerbated fatty liver disease when fed a HFD compared with WT mice. In contrast, treatment with dabigatran, a direct thrombin inhibitor, limited HFD-induced obesity development and suppressed progression of sequelae in mice with established obesity. Collectively, these data provide proof of concept that targeting thrombin or fibrin(ogen) may limit pathologies in obese patients.
Anna K. Kopec, Sara R. Abrahams, Sherry Thornton, Joseph S. Palumbo, Eric S. Mullins, Senad Divanovic, Hartmut Weiler, A. Phillip Owens III, Nigel Mackman, Ashley Goss, Joanne van Ryn, James P. Luyendyk, Matthew J. Flick
Defective protein quality control (PQC) systems are implicated in multiple diseases. Molecular chaperones and co-chaperones play a central role in functioning PQC. Constant mechanical and metabolic stress in cardiomyocytes places great demand on the PQC system. Mutation and downregulation of the co-chaperone protein BCL-2–associated athanogene 3 (BAG3) are associated with cardiac myopathy and heart failure, and a BAG3 E455K mutation leads to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). However, the role of BAG3 in the heart and the mechanisms by which the E455K mutation leads to DCM remain obscure. Here, we found that cardiac-specific Bag3-KO and E455K-knockin mice developed DCM. Comparable phenotypes in the 2 mutants demonstrated that the E455K mutation resulted in loss of function. Further experiments revealed that the E455K mutation disrupted the interaction between BAG3 and HSP70. In both mutants, decreased levels of small heat shock proteins (sHSPs) were observed, and a subset of proteins required for cardiomyocyte function was enriched in the insoluble fraction. Together, these observations suggest that interaction between BAG3 and HSP70 is essential for BAG3 to stabilize sHSPs and maintain cardiomyocyte protein homeostasis. Our results provide insight into heart failure caused by defects in BAG3 pathways and suggest that increasing BAG3 protein levels may be of therapeutic benefit in heart failure.
Xi Fang, Julius Bogomolovas, Tongbin Wu, Wei Zhang, Canzhao Liu, Jennifer Veevers, Matthew J. Stroud, Zhiyuan Zhang, Xiaolong Ma, Yongxin Mu, Dieu-Hung Lao, Nancy D. Dalton, Yusu Gu, Celine Wang, Michael Wang, Yan Liang, Stephan Lange, Kunfu Ouyang, Kirk L. Peterson, Sylvia M. Evans, Ju Chen
Adipocytes secrete the hormone leptin to signal the sufficiency of energy stores. Reductions in circulating leptin concentrations reflect a negative energy balance, which augments sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation in response to metabolically demanding emergencies. This process ensures adequate glucose mobilization despite low energy stores. We report that leptin receptor–expressing neurons (LepRb neurons) in the periaqueductal gray (PAG), the largest population of LepRb neurons in the brain stem, mediate this process. Application of noxious stimuli, which often signal the need to mobilize glucose to support an appropriate response, activated PAG LepRb neurons, which project to and activate parabrachial nucleus (PBN) neurons that control SNS activation and glucose mobilization. Furthermore, activating PAG LepRb neurons increased SNS activity and blood glucose concentrations, while ablating LepRb in PAG neurons augmented glucose mobilization in response to noxious stimuli. Thus, decreased leptin action on PAG LepRb neurons augments the autonomic response to noxious stimuli, ensuring sufficient glucose mobilization during periods of acute demand in the face of diminished energy stores.
Jonathan N. Flak, Deanna Arble, Warren Pan, Christa Patterson, Thomas Lanigan, Paulette B. Goforth, Jamie Sacksner, Maja Joosten, Donald A. Morgan, Margaret B. Allison, John Hayes, Eva Feldman, Randy J. Seeley, David P. Olson, Kamal Rahmouni, Martin G. Myers Jr.