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Journal of Clinical Investigation RSS feed -- Current issue

Viral-mediated RdCVF and RdCVFL expression protects cone and rod photoreceptors in retinal degeneration
  By: Leah C. Byrne, Deniz Dalkara, Gabriel Luna, Steven K. Fisher, Emmanuelle Clérin, Jose-Alain Sahel, Thierry Léveillard, John G. Flannery

Alternative splicing of nucleoredoxin-like 1 (Nxnl1) results in 2 isoforms of the rod-derived cone viability factor. The truncated form (RdCVF) is a thioredoxin-like protein secreted by rods that promotes cone survival, while the full-length isoform (RdCVFL), which contains a thioredoxin fold, is involved in oxidative signaling and protection against hyperoxia. Here, we evaluated the effects of these different isoforms in 2 murine models of rod-cone dystrophy. We used adeno-associated virus (AAV) to express these isoforms in mice and found that both systemic and intravitreal injection of engineered AAV vectors resulted in RdCVF and RdCVFL expression in the eye. Systemic delivery of AAV92YF vectors in neonates resulted in earlier onset of RdCVF and RdCVFL expression compared with that observed with intraocular injection using the same vectors at P14. We also evaluated the efficacy of intravitreal injection using a recently developed photoreceptor-transducing AAV variant (7m8) at P14. Systemic administration of AAV92YF-RdCVF improved cone function and delayed cone loss, while AAV92YF-RdCVFL increased rhodopsin mRNA and reduced oxidative stress by-products. Intravitreal 7m8-RdCVF slowed the rate of cone cell death and increased the amplitude of the photopic electroretinogram. Together, these results indicate different functions for Nxnl1 isoforms in the retina and suggest that RdCVF gene therapy has potential for treating retinal degenerative disease.

Podoplanin negatively regulates CD4+ effector T cell responses
  By: Anneli Peters, Patrick R. Burkett, Raymond A. Sobel, Christopher D. Buckley, Steve P. Watson, Estelle Bettelli, Vijay K. Kuchroo

Podoplanin (PDPN, also known as Gp38) is highly expressed on the surface of lymphatic endothelial cells, where it regulates development of lymphatic vessels. We have recently observed that PDPN is also expressed on effector T cells that infiltrate target tissues during autoimmune inflammation; however, the function of PDPN in T cells is largely unclear. Here, we demonstrated that global deletion of Pdpn results in exaggerated T cell responses and spontaneous experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in mice with a susceptible genetic background. In contrast, T cell–specific overexpression of PDPN resulted in profound defects in IL-7–mediated T cell expansion and survival. Consequently, these animals exhibited a more rapid resolution of CNS inflammation, characterized by a reduced effector CD4+ T cell population in the CNS. Mice harboring a T cell–specific deletion of Pdpn developed exacerbated EAE, with increased accumulation of effector CD4+ T cells in the CNS. Transcriptional profiling of naturally occurring PDPN+ effector T cells in the CNS revealed increased expression of other inhibitory receptors, such as Pd1 and Tim3, and decreased expression of prosurvival factors, including Il7ra. Together, our data suggest that PDPN functions as an inhibitory molecule on T cells, thereby promoting tissue tolerance by limiting long-term survival and maintenance of CD4+ effector T cells in target organs.

Protein tyrosine phosphatase–σ regulates hematopoietic stem cell–repopulating capacity
  By: Mamle Quarmyne, Phuong L. Doan, Heather A. Himburg, Xiao Yan, Mai Nakamura, Liman Zhao, Nelson J. Chao, John P. Chute

Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) function is regulated by activation of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). Receptor protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs) counterbalance RTK signaling; however, the functions of receptor PTPs in HSCs remain incompletely understood. We found that a receptor PTP, PTPσ, was substantially overexpressed in mouse and human HSCs compared with more mature hematopoietic cells. Competitive transplantation of bone marrow cells from PTPσ-deficient mice revealed that the loss of PTPσ substantially increased long-term HSC-repopulating capacity compared with BM cells from control mice. While HSCs from PTPσ-deficient mice had no apparent alterations in cell-cycle status, apoptosis, or homing capacity, these HSCs exhibited increased levels of activated RAC1, a RhoGTPase that regulates HSC engraftment capacity. shRNA-mediated silencing of PTPσ also increased activated RAC1 levels in wild-type HSCs. Functionally, PTPσ-deficient BM cells displayed increased cobblestone area–forming cell (CAFC) capacity and augmented transendothelial migration capacity, which was abrogated by RAC inhibition. Specific selection of human cord blood CD34+CD38CD45RAlin PTPσ cells substantially increased the repopulating capacity of human HSCs compared with CD34+CD38CD45RAlin cells and CD34+CD38CD45RAlinPTPσ+ cells. Our results demonstrate that PTPσ regulates HSC functional capacity via RAC1 inhibition and suggest that selecting for PTPσ-negative human HSCs may be an effective strategy for enriching human HSCs for transplantation.

Human pDCs preferentially sense enveloped hepatitis A virions
  By: Zongdi Feng, You Li, Kevin L. McKnight, Lucinda Hensley, Robert E. Lanford, Christopher M. Walker, Stanley M. Lemon

Unlike other picornaviruses, hepatitis A virus (HAV) is cloaked in host membranes when released from cells, providing protection from neutralizing antibodies and facilitating spread in the liver. Acute HAV infection is typified by minimal type I IFN responses; therefore, we questioned whether plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), which produce IFN when activated, are capable of sensing enveloped virions (eHAV). Although concentrated nonenveloped virus failed to activate freshly isolated human pDCs, these cells produced substantial amounts of IFN-α via TLR7 signaling when cocultured with infected cells. pDCs required either close contact with infected cells or exposure to concentrated culture supernatants for IFN-α production. In isopycnic and rate-zonal gradients, pDC-activating material cosedimented with eHAV but not membrane-bound acetylcholinesterase, suggesting that eHAV, and not viral RNA exosomes, is responsible for IFN-α induction. pDC activation did not require virus replication and was associated with efficient eHAV uptake, which was facilitated by phosphatidylserine receptors on pDCs. In chimpanzees, pDCs were transiently recruited to the liver early in infection, during or shortly before maximal intrahepatic IFN-stimulated gene expression, but disappeared prior to inflammation onset. Our data reveal that, while membrane envelopment protects HAV against neutralizing antibody, it also facilitates an early but limited detection of HAV infection by pDCs.

Anti–microRNA-21 oligonucleotides prevent Alport nephropathy progression by stimulating metabolic pathways
  By: Ivan G. Gomez, Deidre A. MacKenna, Bryce G. Johnson, Vivek Kaimal, Allie M. Roach, Shuyu Ren, Naoki Nakagawa, Cuiyan Xin, Rick Newitt, Shweta Pandya, Tai-He Xia, Xueqing Liu, Dorin-Bogdan Borza, Monica Grafals, Stuart J. Shankland, Jonathan Himmelfarb, Didier Portilla, Shiguang Liu, B. Nelson Chau, Jeremy S. Duffield

MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) contributes to the pathogenesis of fibrogenic diseases in multiple organs, including the kidneys, potentially by silencing metabolic pathways that are critical for cellular ATP generation, ROS production, and inflammatory signaling. Here, we developed highly specific oligonucleotides that distribute to the kidney and inhibit miR-21 function when administered subcutaneously and evaluated the therapeutic potential of these anti–miR-21 oligonucleotides in chronic kidney disease. In a murine model of Alport nephropathy, miR-21 silencing did not produce any adverse effects and resulted in substantially milder kidney disease, with minimal albuminuria and dysfunction, compared with vehicle-treated mice. miR-21 silencing dramatically improved survival of Alport mice and reduced histological end points, including glomerulosclerosis, interstitial fibrosis, tubular injury, and inflammation. Anti–miR-21 enhanced PPARα/retinoid X receptor (PPARα/RXR) activity and downstream signaling pathways in glomerular, tubular, and interstitial cells. Moreover, miR-21 silencing enhanced mitochondrial function, which reduced mitochondrial ROS production and thus preserved tubular functions. Inhibition of miR-21 was protective against TGF-β–induced fibrogenesis and inflammation in glomerular and interstitial cells, likely as the result of enhanced PPARα/RXR activity and improved mitochondrial function. Together, these results demonstrate that inhibition of miR-21 represents a potential therapeutic strategy for chronic kidney diseases including Alport nephropathy.

Survivin-specific T cell receptor targets tumor but not T cells
  By: Caroline Arber, Xiang Feng, Harshal Abhyankar, Errika Romero, Meng-Fen Wu, Helen E. Heslop, Patrick Barth, Gianpietro Dotti, Barbara Savoldo

Survivin is a tumor-associated antigen (TAA) that inhibits apoptosis and is widely overexpressed in cancer cells; therefore, survivin has potential as a target for cancer immunotherapy. Application of HLA-A2–restricted survivin-specific T cell receptors (TCRs) isolated from allogeneic HLA–mismatched TCR repertoires has, however, been impeded by the inability of these TCRs to distinguish healthy cells expressing low levels of survivin from cancer cells with high survivin expression levels. Here, we identified an HLA-A2–restricted survivin-specific TCR isolated from autologous TCR repertoires that targets tumor cells in vitro and in vivo but does not cause fratricidal toxicity. Molecular modeling of the TCR-peptide-HLA ternary complexes and alanine scanning revealed that the autologously derived TCRs had tighter interactions with the survivin peptide than did fratricidal TCRs. Similar recognition patterns were observed among 7 additional TAA-specific TCRs isolated from allogeneic versus autologous repertoires. Together, the results from this study indicate that maximal peptide recognition is key for TCR selectivity and likely critical for reducing unwanted off-target toxicities. Moreover, isolating TCRs from autologous repertoires to maximize TCR selectivity has potential as a useful strategy to identify and select other shared tumor- and self-antigen–specific TCRs and ensure selective antitumor activity.

mTORC2 regulates renal tubule sodium uptake by promoting ENaC activity
  By: Catherine E. Gleason, Gustavo Frindt, Chih-Jen Cheng, Michael Ng, Atif Kidwai, Priyanka Rashmi, Florian Lang, Michel Baum, Lawrence G. Palmer, David Pearce

The epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC) is essential for Na+ homeostasis, and dysregulation of this channel underlies many forms of hypertension. Recent studies suggest that mTOR regulates phosphorylation and activation of serum/glucocorticoid regulated kinase 1 (SGK1), which is known to inhibit ENaC internalization and degradation; however, it is not clear whether mTOR contributes to the regulation of renal tubule ion transport. Here, we evaluated the effect of selective mTOR inhibitors on kidney tubule Na+ and K+ transport in WT and Sgk1–/– mice, as well as in isolated collecting tubules. We found that 2 structurally distinct competitive inhibitors (PP242 and AZD8055), both of which prevent all mTOR-dependent phosphorylation, including that of SGK1, caused substantial natriuresis, but not kaliuresis, in WT mice, which indicates that mTOR preferentially influences ENaC function. PP242 also substantially inhibited Na+ currents in isolated perfused cortical collecting tubules. Accordingly, patch clamp studies on cortical tubule apical membranes revealed that mTOR inhibition markedly reduces ENaC activity, but does not alter activity of K+ inwardly rectifying channels (ROMK channels). Together, these results demonstrate that mTOR regulates kidney tubule ion handling and suggest that mTOR regulates Na+ homeostasis through SGK1-dependent modulation of ENaC activity.

Metabolic programming and PDHK1 control CD4+ T cell subsets and inflammation
  By: Valerie A. Gerriets, Rigel J. Kishton, Amanda G. Nichols, Andrew N. Macintyre, Makoto Inoue, Olga Ilkayeva, Peter S. Winter, Xiaojing Liu, Bhavana Priyadharshini, Marta E. Slawinska, Lea Haeberli, Catherine Huck, Laurence A. Turka, Kris C. Wood, Laura P. Hale, Paul A. Smith, Martin A. Schneider, Nancie J. MacIver, Jason W. Locasale, Christopher B. Newgard, Mari L. Shinohara, Jeffrey C. Rathmell

Activation of CD4+ T cells results in rapid proliferation and differentiation into effector and regulatory subsets. CD4+ effector T cell (Teff) (Th1 and Th17) and Treg subsets are metabolically distinct, yet the specific metabolic differences that modify T cell populations are uncertain. Here, we evaluated CD4+ T cell populations in murine models and determined that inflammatory Teffs maintain high expression of glycolytic genes and rely on high glycolytic rates, while Tregs are oxidative and require mitochondrial electron transport to proliferate, differentiate, and survive. Metabolic profiling revealed that pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) is a key bifurcation point between T cell glycolytic and oxidative metabolism. PDH function is inhibited by PDH kinases (PDHKs). PDHK1 was expressed in Th17 cells, but not Th1 cells, and at low levels in Tregs, and inhibition or knockdown of PDHK1 selectively suppressed Th17 cells and increased Tregs. This alteration in the CD4+ T cell populations was mediated in part through ROS, as N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) treatment restored Th17 cell generation. Moreover, inhibition of PDHK1 modulated immunity and protected animals against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, decreasing Th17 cells and increasing Tregs. Together, these data show that CD4+ subsets utilize and require distinct metabolic programs that can be targeted to control specific T cell populations in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Long-term potentiation decay and memory loss are mediated by AMPAR endocytosis
  By: Zhifang Dong, Huili Han, Hongjie Li, Yanrui Bai, Wei Wang, Man Tu, Yan Peng, Limin Zhou, Wenting He, Xiaobin Wu, Tao Tan, Mingjing Liu, Xiaoyan Wu, Weihui Zhou, Wuyang Jin, Shu Zhang, Todd Charlton Sacktor, Tingyu Li, Weihong Song, Yu Tian Wang

Long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic strength between hippocampal neurons is associated with learning and memory, and LTP dysfunction is thought to underlie memory loss. LTP can be temporally and mechanistically classified into decaying (early-phase) LTP and nondecaying (late-phase) LTP. While the nondecaying nature of LTP is thought to depend on protein synthesis and contribute to memory maintenance, little is known about the mechanisms and roles of decaying LTP. Here, we demonstrated that inhibiting endocytosis of postsynaptic α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-isoxazole-4-propionic acid receptors (AMPARs) prevents LTP decay, thereby converting it into nondecaying LTP. Conversely, restoration of AMPAR endocytosis by inhibiting protein kinase Mζ (PKMζ) converted nondecaying LTP into decaying LTP. Similarly, inhibition of AMPAR endocytosis prolonged memory retention in normal animals and reduced memory loss in a murine model of Alzheimer’s disease. These results strongly suggest that an active process that involves AMPAR endocytosis mediates the decay of LTP and that inhibition of this process can prolong the longevity of LTP as well as memory under both physiological and pathological conditions.

Exome sequencing reveals MCM8 mutation underlies ovarian failure and chromosomal instability
  By: Saleh AlAsiri, Sulman Basit, Michelle A. Wood-Trageser, Svetlana A. Yatsenko, Elizabeth P. Jeffries, Urvashi Surti, Deborah M. Ketterer, Sibtain Afzal, Khushnooda Ramzan, Muhammad Faiyaz-Ul Haque, Huaiyang Jiang, Michael A. Trakselis, Aleksandar Rajkovic

Premature ovarian failure (POF) is a genetically and phenotypically heterogeneous disorder that includes individuals with manifestations ranging from primary amenorrhea to loss of menstrual function prior to age 40. POF presents as hypergonadotropic hypogonadism and can be part of a syndrome or occur in isolation. Here, we studied 3 sisters with primary amenorrhea, hypothyroidism, and hypergonadotropic hypogonadism. The sisters were born to parents who are first cousins. SNP analysis and whole-exome sequencing revealed the presence of a pathogenic variant of the minichromosome maintenance 8 gene (MCM8, c.446C>G; p.P149R) located within a region of homozygosity that was present in the affected daughters but not in their unaffected sisters. Because MCM8 participates in homologous recombination and dsDNA break repair, we tested fibroblasts from the affected sisters for hypersensitivity to chromosomal breaks. Compared with fibroblasts from unaffected daughters, chromosomal break repair was deficient in fibroblasts from the affected individuals, likely due to inhibited recruitment of MCM8 p.P149R to sites of DNA damage. Our study identifies an autosomal recessive disorder caused by an MCM8 mutation that manifests with endocrine dysfunction and genomic instability.

Intronic locus determines SHROOM3 expression and potentiates renal allograft fibrosis
  By: Madhav C. Menon, Peter Y. Chuang, Zhengzhe Li, Chengguo Wei, Weijia Zhang, Yi Luan, Zhengzi Yi, Huabao Xiong, Christopher Woytovich, Ilana Greene, Jessica Overbey, Ivy Rosales, Emilia Bagiella, Rong Chen, Meng Ma, Li Li, Wei Ding, Arjang Djamali, Millagros Saminego, Philip J. O’Connell, Lorenzo Gallon, Robert Colvin, Bernd Schroppel, John Cijiang He, Barbara Murphy

Fibrosis underlies the loss of renal function in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and in kidney transplant recipients with chronic allograft nephropathy (CAN). Here, we studied the effect of an intronic SNP in SHROOM3, which has previously been linked to CKD, on the development of CAN in a prospective cohort of renal allograft recipients. The presence of the rs17319721 allele at the SHROOM3 locus in the donor correlated with increased SHROOM3 expression in the allograft. In vitro, we determined that the sequence containing the risk allele at rs17319721 is a transcription factor 7–like 2–dependent (TCF7L2-dependent) enhancer element that functions to increase SHROOM3 transcription. In renal tubular cells, TGF-β1 administration upregulated SHROOM3 expression in a β-catenin/TCF7L2–mediated manner, while SHROOM3 in turn facilitated canonical TGF-β1 signaling and increased α1 collagen (COL1A1) expression. Inducible and tubular cell–specific knockdown of Shroom3 markedly abrogated interstitial fibrosis in mice with unilateral ureteric obstruction. Moreover, SHROOM3 expression in allografts at 3 months after transplant and the presence of the SHROOM3 risk allele in the donor correlated with increased allograft fibrosis and with reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate at 12 months after transplant. Our findings suggest that rs17319721 functions as a cis-acting expression quantitative trait locus of SHROOM3 that facilitates TGF-β1 signaling and contributes to allograft injury.

Clinical trial demonstrates exercise following bariatric surgery improves insulin sensitivity
  By: Paul M. Coen, Charles J. Tanner, Nicole L. Helbling, Gabriel S. Dubis, Kazanna C. Hames, Hui Xie, George M. Eid, Maja Stefanovic-Racic, Frederico G.S. Toledo, John M. Jakicic, Joseph A. Houmard, Bret H. Goodpaster

BACKGROUND. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery causes profound weight loss and improves insulin sensitivity (SI) in obese patients. Regular exercise can also improve SI in obese individuals; however, it is unknown whether exercise and RYGB surgery–induced weight loss would additively improve SI and other cardiometabolic factors.

METHODS. We conducted a single-blind, prospective, randomized trial with 128 men and women who recently underwent RYGB surgery (within 1–3 months). Participants were randomized to either a 6-month semi-supervised moderate exercise protocol (EX, n = 66) or a health education control (CON; n = 62) intervention. Main outcomes measured included SI and glucose effectiveness (SG), which were determined from an intravenous glucose tolerance test and minimal modeling. Secondary outcomes measured were cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2 peak) and body composition. Data were analyzed using an intention-to-treat (ITT) and per-protocol (PP) approach to assess the efficacy of the exercise intervention (>120 min of exercise/week).

RESULTS. 119 (93%) participants completed the interventions, 95% for CON and 91% for EX. There was a significant decrease in body weight and fat mass for both groups (P < 0.001 for time effect). SI improved in both groups following the intervention (ITT: CON vs. EX; +1.64 vs. +2.24 min–1/μU/ml, P = 0.18 for Δ, P < 0.001 for time effect). A PP analysis revealed that exercise produced an additive SI improvement (PP: CON vs. EX; +1.57 vs. +2.69 min–1/μU/ml, P = 0.019) above that of surgery. Exercise also improved SG (ITT: CON vs. EX; +0.0023 vs. +0.0063 min–1, P = 0.009) compared with the CON group. Exercise improved cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2 peak) compared with the CON group.

CONCLUSION. Moderate exercise following RYGB surgery provides additional improvements in SI, SG, and cardiorespiratory fitness compared with a sedentary lifestyle during similar weight loss.

TRIAL REGISTRATION. identifier: NCT00692367.

FUNDING. This study was funded by the NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (R01 DK078192) and an NIH/National Center for Research Resources/Clinical and Translational Science Award (UL1 RR024153).

Rare codons capacitate Kras-driven de novo tumorigenesis
  By: Nicole L.K. Pershing, Benjamin L. Lampson, Jason A. Belsky, Erin Kaltenbrun, David M. MacAlpine, Christopher M. Counter

The KRAS gene is commonly mutated in human cancers, rendering the encoded small GTPase constitutively active and oncogenic. This gene has the unusual feature of being enriched for rare codons, which limit protein expression. Here, to determine the effect of the rare codon bias of the KRAS gene on de novo tumorigenesis, we introduced synonymous mutations that converted rare codons into common codons in exon 3 of the Kras gene in mice. Compared with control animals, mice with at least 1 copy of this Krasex3op allele had fewer tumors following carcinogen exposure, and this allele was mutated less often, with weaker oncogenic mutations in these tumors. This reduction in tumorigenesis was attributable to higher expression of the Krasex3op allele, which induced growth arrest when oncogenic and exhibited tumor-suppressive activity when not mutated. Together, our data indicate that the inherent rare codon bias of KRAS plays an integral role in tumorigenesis.

Hepatic TRAP80 selectively regulates lipogenic activity of liver X receptor
  By: Geun Hyang Kim, Gyun-Sik Oh, Jin Yoon, Gang Gu Lee, Ki-Up Lee, Seung-Whan Kim

Inflammation in response to excess low-density lipoproteins in the blood is an important driver of atherosclerosis development. Due to its ability to enhance ATP–binding cassette A1–dependent (ABCA1-dependent) reverse cholesterol transport (RCT), liver X receptor (LXR) is an attractive target for the treatment of atherosclerosis. However, LXR also upregulates the expression of sterol regulatory element–binding protein 1c (SREBP-1c), leading to increased hepatic triglyceride synthesis, an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis. Here, we developed a strategy to separate the favorable and unfavorable effects of LXR by exploiting the specificity of the coactivator thyroid hormone receptor–associated protein 80 (TRAP80). Using human hepatic cell lines, we determined that TRAP80 selectively promotes the transcription of SREBP-1c but not ABCA1. Adenovirus-mediated expression of shTRAP80 inhibited LXR-dependent SREBP-1c expression and RNA polymerase II recruitment to the LXR responsive element (LXRE) of SREBP-1c, but not to the LXRE of ABCA1. In murine models, liver-specific knockdown of TRAP80 ameliorated liver steatosis and hypertriglyceridemia induced by LXR activation and maintained RCT stimulation by the LXR ligand. Together, these data indicate that TRAP80 is a selective regulator of hepatic lipogenesis and is required for LXR-dependent SREBP-1c activation. Moreover, targeting the interaction between TRAP80 and LXR should facilitate the development of potential LXR agonists that effectively prevent atherosclerosis.

Follicular helper T cell signature in type 1 diabetes
  By: Rupert Kenefeck, Chun Jing Wang, Tauseef Kapadi, Lukasz Wardzinski, Kesley Attridge, Louise E. Clough, Frank Heuts, Alexandros Kogimtzis, Sapna Patel, Miranda Rosenthal, Masahiro Ono, David M. Sansom, Parth Narendran, Lucy S.K. Walker

The strong genetic association between particular HLA alleles and type 1 diabetes (T1D) indicates a key role for CD4+ T cells in disease; however, the differentiation state of the responsible T cells is unclear. T cell differentiation originally was considered a dichotomy between Th1 and Th2 cells, with Th1 cells deemed culpable for autoimmune islet destruction. Now, multiple additional T cell differentiation fates are recognized with distinct roles. Here, we used a transgenic mouse model of diabetes to probe the gene expression profile of islet-specific T cells by microarray and identified a clear follicular helper T (Tfh) cell differentiation signature. Introduction of T cells with a Tfh cell phenotype from diabetic animals efficiently transferred diabetes to recipient animals. Furthermore, memory T cells from patients with T1D expressed elevated levels of Tfh cell markers, including CXCR5, ICOS, PDCD1, BCL6, and IL21. Defects in the IL-2 pathway are associated with T1D, and IL-2 inhibits Tfh cell differentiation in mice. Consistent with these previous observations, we found that IL-2 inhibited human Tfh cell differentiation and identified a relationship between IL-2 sensitivity in T cells from patients with T1D and acquisition of a Tfh cell phenotype. Together, these findings identify a Tfh cell signature in autoimmune diabetes and suggest that this population could be used as a biomarker and potentially targeted for T1D interventions.

LMP1-deficient Epstein-Barr virus mutant requires T cells for lymphomagenesis
  By: Shi-Dong Ma, Xuequn Xu, Julie Plowshay, Erik A. Ranheim, William J. Burlingham, Jeffrey L. Jensen, Fotis Asimakopoulos, Weihua Tang, Margaret L. Gulley, Ethel Cesarman, Jenny E. Gumperz, Shannon C. Kenney

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection transforms B cells in vitro and is associated with human B cell lymphomas. The major EBV oncoprotein, latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1), mimics constitutively active CD40 and is essential for outgrowth of EBV-transformed B cells in vitro; however, EBV-positive diffuse large B cell lymphomas and Burkitt lymphomas often express little or no LMP1. Thus, EBV may contribute to the development and maintenance of human lymphomas even in the absence of LMP1. Here, we found that i.p. injection of human cord blood mononuclear cells infected with a LMP1-deficient EBV into immunodeficient mice induces B cell lymphomas. In this model, lymphoma development required the presence of CD4+ T cells in cord blood and was inhibited by CD40-blocking Abs. In contrast, LMP1-deficient EBV established persistent latency but did not induce lymphomas when directly injected into mice engrafted with human fetal CD34+ cells and human thymus. WT EBV induced lymphomas in both mouse models and did not require coinjected T cells in the cord blood model. Together, these results demonstrate that LMP1 is not essential for EBV-induced lymphomas in vivo and suggest that T cells supply signals that substitute for LMP1 in EBV-positive B cell lymphomagenesis.

Purkinje neuron Ca2+ influx reduction rescues ataxia in SCA28 model
  By: Francesca Maltecca, Elisa Baseggio, Francesco Consolato, Davide Mazza, Paola Podini, Samuel M. Young Jr., Ilaria Drago, Ben A. Bahr, Aldamaria Puliti, Franca Codazzi, Angelo Quattrini, Giorgio Casari

Spinocerebellar ataxia type 28 (SCA28) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by mutations of the mitochondrial protease AFG3L2. The SCA28 mouse model, which is haploinsufficient for Afg3l2, exhibits a progressive decline in motor function and displays dark degeneration of Purkinje cells (PC-DCD) of mitochondrial origin. Here, we determined that mitochondria in cultured Afg3l2-deficient PCs ineffectively buffer evoked Ca2+ peaks, resulting in enhanced cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentrations, which subsequently triggers PC-DCD. This Ca2+-handling defect is the result of negative synergism between mitochondrial depolarization and altered organelle trafficking to PC dendrites in Afg3l2-mutant cells. In SCA28 mice, partial genetic silencing of the metabotropic glutamate receptor mGluR1 decreased Ca2+ influx in PCs and reversed the ataxic phenotype. Moreover, administration of the β-lactam antibiotic ceftriaxone, which promotes synaptic glutamate clearance, thereby reducing Ca2+ influx, improved ataxia-associated phenotypes in SCA28 mice when given either prior to or after symptom onset. Together, the results of this study indicate that ineffective mitochondrial Ca2+ handling in PCs underlies SCA28 pathogenesis and suggest that strategies that lower glutamate stimulation of PCs should be further explored as a potential treatment for SCA28 patients.

Cell-surface MHC density profiling reveals instability of autoimmunity-associated HLA
  By: Hiroko Miyadera, Jun Ohashi, Åke Lernmark, Toshio Kitamura, Katsushi Tokunaga

Polymorphisms within HLA gene loci are strongly associated with susceptibility to autoimmune disorders; however, it is not clear how genetic variations in these loci confer a disease risk. Here, we devised a cell-surface MHC expression assay to detect allelic differences in the intrinsic stability of HLA-DQ proteins. We found extreme variation in cell-surface MHC density among HLA-DQ alleles, indicating a dynamic allelic hierarchy in the intrinsic stability of HLA-DQ proteins. Using the case-control data for type 1 diabetes (T1D) for the Swedish and Japanese populations, we determined that T1D risk–associated HLA-DQ haplotypes, which also increase risk for autoimmune endocrinopathies and other autoimmune disorders, encode unstable proteins, whereas the T1D–protective haplotypes encode the most stable HLA-DQ proteins. Among the amino acid variants of HLA-DQ, alterations in 47α, the residue that is located on the outside of the peptide-binding groove and acts as a key stability regulator, showed strong association with T1D. Evolutionary analysis suggested that 47α variants have been the target of positive diversifying selection. Our study demonstrates a steep allelic hierarchy in the intrinsic stability of HLA-DQ that is associated with T1D risk and protection, suggesting that HLA instability mediates the development of autoimmune disorders.

Smooth-muscle BMAL1 participates in blood pressure circadian rhythm regulation
  By: Zhongwen Xie, Wen Su, Shu Liu, Guogang Zhao, Karyn Esser, Elizabeth A. Schroder, Mellani Lefta, Harald M. Stauss, Zhenheng Guo, Ming Cui Gong

As the central pacemaker, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) has long been considered the primary regulator of blood pressure circadian rhythm; however, this dogma has been challenged by the discovery that each of the clock genes present in the SCN is also expressed and functions in peripheral tissues. The involvement and contribution of these peripheral clock genes in the circadian rhythm of blood pressure remains uncertain. Here, we demonstrate that selective deletion of the circadian clock transcriptional activator aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator–like (Bmal1) from smooth muscle, but not from cardiomyocytes, compromised blood pressure circadian rhythm and decreased blood pressure without affecting SCN-controlled locomotor activity in murine models. In mesenteric arteries, BMAL1 bound to the promoter of and activated the transcription of Rho-kinase 2 (Rock2), and Bmal1 deletion abolished the time-of-day variations in response to agonist-induced vasoconstriction, myosin phosphorylation, and ROCK2 activation. Together, these data indicate that peripheral inputs contribute to the daily control of vasoconstriction and blood pressure and suggest that clock gene expression outside of the SCN should be further evaluated to elucidate pathogenic mechanisms of diseases involving blood pressure circadian rhythm disruption.

Sumoylated HSP90 is a dominantly inherited plasma cell dyscrasias risk factor
  By: Klaus-Dieter Preuss, Michael Pfreundschuh, Natalie Fadle, Evi Regitz, Boris Kubuschok

Posttranslationally modified proteins serve as autoimmunogenic targets in a wide spectrum of autoimmune diseases. Here, we identified a posttranslationally modified paraprotein target (paratargs) in monoclonal gammopathies of undetermined significance (MGUS), multiple myelomas (MM), and Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemias (WM) using protein macroarrays that were sumoylated and screened for reactivity with paraproteins from MGUS, MM, and WM patients. We found that paraproteins from a proportion of European, African-American, and Japanese patients specifically reacted with the sumoylated heat-shock protein 90 β isoform-α (HSP90-SUMO1, where SUMO indicates small ubiquitin-like modifier), while no reactivity with HSP90-SUMO1 was detected in over 800 controls. HSP90-SUMO1 was present in blood cells from all patients with HSP90-SUMO1–binding paraproteins. We determined that the HSP90-SUMO1 carrier state is autosomal-dominantly inherited and caused by the inability of SUMO peptidase sentrin/SUMO-specific protease 2 (SENP2) to desumoylate HSP90-SUMO1. HSP90-SUMO1 was detected in a small percentage of healthy individuals from all backgrounds; however, only MGUS, MM, and WM patients who were HSP90-SUMO1 carriers produced HSP90-SUMO1–specific paraproteins, suggesting that sumoylated HSP90 promotes pathogenesis of these diseases through chronic antigenic stimulation. This study demonstrates that harboring HSP90-SUMO1 identifies healthy individuals at risk for plasma cell dyscrasias and that dominant inheritance of posttranslationally modified autoantigenic paratargs is one of the strongest molecular defined risk factors for MGUS, MM, and WM.

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