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Journal of Clinical Investigation RSS feed -- Current issue

Interactions between Siglec-7/9 receptors and ligands influence NK cell–dependent tumor immunosurveillance
  By: Camilla Jandus, Kayluz Frias Boligan, Obinna Chijioke, He Liu, Meike Dahlhaus, Thomas Démoulins, Christoph Schneider, Marc Wehrli, Robert E. Hunger, Gabriela M. Baerlocher, Hans-Uwe Simon, Pedro Romero, Christian Münz, Stephan von Gunten

Alteration of the surface glycosylation pattern on malignant cells potentially affects tumor immunity by directly influencing interactions with glycan-binding proteins (lectins) on the surface of immunomodulatory cells. The sialic acid–binding Ig-like lectins Siglec-7 and -9 are MHC class I–independent inhibitory receptors on human NK cells that recognize sialic acid–containing carbohydrates. Here, we found that the presence of Siglec-9 defined a subset of cytotoxic NK cells with a mature phenotype and enhanced chemotactic potential. Interestingly, this Siglec-9+ NK cell population was reduced in the peripheral blood of cancer patients. Broad analysis of primary tumor samples revealed that ligands of Siglec-7 and -9 were expressed on human cancer cells of different histological types. Expression of Siglec-7 and -9 ligands was associated with susceptibility of NK cell–sensitive tumor cells and, unexpectedly, of presumably NK cell–resistant tumor cells to NK cell–mediated cytotoxicity. Together, these observations have direct implications for NK cell–based therapies and highlight the requirement to consider both MHC class I haplotype and tumor-specific glycosylation.

Pegylated IFN-α regulates hepatic gene expression through transient Jak/STAT activation
  By: Michael T. Dill, Zuzanna Makowska, Gaia Trincucci, Andreas J. Gruber, Julia E. Vogt, Magdalena Filipowicz, Diego Calabrese, Ilona Krol, Daryl T. Lau, Luigi Terracciano, Erik van Nimwegen, Volker Roth, Markus H. Heim

The use of pegylated interferon-α (pegIFN-α) has replaced unmodified recombinant IFN-α for the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis. While the superior antiviral efficacy of pegIFN-α is generally attributed to improved pharmacokinetic properties, the pharmacodynamic effects of pegIFN-α in the liver have not been studied. Here, we analyzed pegIFN-α–induced signaling and gene regulation in paired liver biopsies obtained prior to treatment and during the first week following pegIFN-α injection in 18 patients with chronic hepatitis C. Despite sustained high concentrations of pegIFN-α in serum, the Jak/STAT pathway was activated in hepatocytes only on the first day after pegIFN-α administration. Evaluation of liver biopsies revealed that pegIFN-α induces hundreds of genes that can be classified into four clusters based on different temporal expression profiles. In all clusters, gene transcription was mainly driven by IFN-stimulated gene factor 3 (ISGF3). Compared with conventional IFN-α therapy, pegIFN-α induced a broader spectrum of gene expression, including many genes involved in cellular immunity. IFN-induced secondary transcription factors did not result in additional waves of gene expression. Our data indicate that the superior antiviral efficacy of pegIFN-α is not the result of prolonged Jak/STAT pathway activation in hepatocytes, but rather is due to induction of additional genes that are involved in cellular immune responses.

IL-7 receptor blockade following T cell depletion promotes long-term allograft survival
  By: Hoa-Le Mai, Françoise Boeffard, Julie Longis, Richard Danger, Bernard Martinet, Fabienne Haspot, Bernard Vanhove, Sophie Brouard, Jean-Paul Soulillou

T cell depletion is commonly used in organ transplantation for immunosuppression; however, a restoration of T cell homeostasis following depletion leads to increased memory T cells, which may promote transplant rejection. The cytokine IL-7 is important for controlling lymphopoiesis under both normal and lymphopenic conditions. Here, we investigated whether blocking IL-7 signaling with a mAb that targets IL-7 receptor α (IL-7Rα) alone or following T cell depletion confers an advantage for allograft survival in murine transplant models. We found that IL-7R blockade alone induced indefinite pancreatic islet allograft survival if anti–IL-7R treatment was started 3 weeks before graft. IL-7R blockade following anti-CD4– and anti-CD8–mediated T cell depletion markedly prolonged skin allograft survival. Furthermore, IL-7 inhibition in combination with T cell depletion synergized with either CTLA-4Ig administration or suboptimal doses of tacrolimus to induce long-term skin graft acceptance in this stringent transplant model. Together, these therapies inhibited T cell reconstitution, decreased memory T cell numbers, increased the relative frequency of Tregs, and abrogated both cellular and humoral alloimmune responses. Our data suggest that IL-7R blockade following T cell depletion has potential as a robust, immunosuppressive therapy in transplantation.

Oncogenic and sorafenib-sensitive ARAF mutations in lung adenocarcinoma
  By: Marcin Imielinski, Heidi Greulich, Bethany Kaplan, Luiz Araujo, Joseph Amann, Leora Horn, Joan Schiller, Miguel A. Villalona-Calero, Matthew Meyerson, David P. Carbone

Targeted cancer therapies often induce “outlier” responses in molecularly defined patient subsets. One patient with advanced-stage lung adenocarcinoma, who was treated with oral sorafenib, demonstrated a near-complete clinical and radiographic remission for 5 years. Whole-genome sequencing and RNA sequencing of primary tumor and normal samples from this patient identified a somatic mutation, ARAF S214C, present in the cancer genome and expressed at high levels. Additional mutations affecting this residue of ARAF and a nearby residue in the related kinase RAF1 were demonstrated across 1% of an independent cohort of lung adenocarcinoma cases. The ARAF mutations were shown to transform immortalized human airway epithelial cells in a sorafenib-sensitive manner. These results suggest that mutant ARAF is an oncogenic driver in lung adenocarcinoma and an indicator of sorafenib response.

Hematopoiesis and RAS-driven myeloid leukemia differentially require PI3K isoform p110α
  By: Kira Gritsman, Haluk Yuzugullu, Thanh Von, Howard Yan, Linda Clayton, Christine Fritsch, Sauveur-Michel Maira, Gregory Hollingworth, Christine Choi, Tulasi Khandan, Mahnaz Paktinat, Rachel O. Okabe, Thomas M. Roberts, Jean J. Zhao

The genes encoding RAS family members are frequently mutated in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). RAS proteins are difficult to target pharmacologically; therefore, targeting the downstream PI3K and RAF/MEK/ERK pathways represents a promising approach to treat RAS-addicted tumors. The p110α isoform of PI3K (encoded by Pik3ca) is an essential effector of oncogenic KRAS in murine lung tumors, but it is unknown whether p110α contributes to leukemia. To specifically examine the role of p110α in murine hematopoiesis and in leukemia, we conditionally deleted p110α in HSCs using the Cre-loxP system. Postnatal deletion of p110α resulted in mild anemia without affecting HSC self-renewal; however, deletion of p110α in mice with KRASG12D-associated JMML markedly delayed their death. Furthermore, the p110α-selective inhibitor BYL719 inhibited growth factor–independent KRASG12D BM colony formation and sensitized cells to a low dose of the MEK inhibitor MEK162. Furthermore, combined inhibition of p110α and MEK effectively reduced proliferation of RAS-mutated AML cell lines and disease in an AML murine xenograft model. Together, our data indicate that RAS-mutated myeloid leukemias are dependent on the PI3K isoform p110α, and combined pharmacologic inhibition of p110α and MEK could be an effective therapeutic strategy for JMML and AML.

Randomized trial of the anti-FGF23 antibody KRN23 in X-linked hypophosphatemia
  By: Thomas O. Carpenter, Erik A. Imel, Mary D. Ruppe, Thomas J. Weber, Mark A. Klausner, Margaret M. Wooddell, Tetsuyoshi Kawakami, Takahiro Ito, Xiaoping Zhang, Jeffrey Humphrey, Karl L. Insogna, Munro Peacock

Background. X-linked hypophosphatemia (XLH) is the most common heritable form of rickets and osteomalacia. XLH-associated mutations in phosphate-regulating endopeptidase (PHEX) result in elevated serum FGF23, decreased renal phosphate reabsorption, and low serum concentrations of phosphate (inorganic phosphorus, Pi) and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D]. KRN23 is a human anti-FGF23 antibody developed as a potential treatment for XLH. Here, we have assessed the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics (PK), pharmacodynamics (PD), and immunogenicity of KRN23 following a single i.v. or s.c. dose of KRN23 in adults with XLH.

Methods. Thirty-eight XLH patients were randomized to receive a single dose of KRN23 (0.003–0.3 mg/kg i.v. or 0.1–1 mg/kg s.c.) or placebo. PK, PD, immunogenicity, safety, and tolerability were assessed for up to 50 days.

Results. KRN23 significantly increased the maximum renal tubular threshold for phosphate reabsorption (TmP/GFR), serum Pi, and 1,25(OH)2D compared with that of placebo (P < 0.01). The maximum serum Pi concentration occurred later following s.c. dosing (8–15 days) compared with that seen with i.v. dosing (0.5–4 days). The effect duration was dose related and persisted longer in patients who received s.c. administration. Changes from baseline in TmP/GFR, serum Pi, and serum 1,25(OH)2D correlated with serum KRN23 concentrations. The mean t1/2 of KRN23 was 8–12 days after i.v. administration and 13–19 days after s.c. administration. Patients did not exhibit increased nephrocalcinosis or develop hypercalciuria, hypercalcemia, anti-KRN23 antibodies, or elevated serum parathyroid hormone (PTH) or creatinine.

Conclusion. KRN23 increased TmP/GFR, serum Pi, and serum 1,25(OH)2D. The positive effect of KR23 on serum Pi and its favorable safety profile suggest utility for KRN23 in XLH patients.

Trial registration. NCT00830674.

Funding. Kyowa Hakko Kirin Pharma, Inc.

Soluble TNFRp75 regulates host protective immunity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  By: Roanne Keeton, Nasiema Allie, Ivy Dambuza, Brian Abel, Nai-Jen Hsu, Boipelo Sebesho, Philippa Randall, Patricia Burger, Elizabeth Fick, Valerie F.J. Quesniaux, Bernhard Ryffel, Muazzam Jacobs

Development of host protective immunity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection is critically dependent on the inflammatory cytokine TNF. TNF signals through 2 receptors, TNFRp55 and TNFRp75; however, the role of TNFRp75-dependent signaling in immune regulation is poorly defined. Here we found that mice lacking TNFRp75 exhibit greater control of M. tuberculosis infection compared with WT mice. TNFRp75–/– mice developed effective bactericidal granulomas and demonstrated increased pulmonary recruitment of activated DCs. Moreover, IL-12p40–dependent migration of DCs to lung draining LNs of infected TNFRp75–/– mice was substantially higher than that observed in WT M. tuberculosis–infected animals and was associated with enhanced frequencies of activated M. tuberculosis–specific IFN-γ–expressing CD4+ T cells. In WT mice, TNFRp75 shedding correlated with markedly reduced bioactive TNF levels and IL-12p40 expression. Neutralization of TNFRp75 in M. tuberculosis–infected WT BM-derived DCs (BMDCs) increased production of bioactive TNF and IL-12p40 to a level equivalent to that produced by TNFRp75–/– BMDCs. Addition of exogenous TNFRp75 to TNFRp75–/– BMDCs infected with M. tuberculosis decreased IL-12p40 synthesis, demonstrating that TNFRp75 shedding regulates DC activation. These data indicate that TNFRp75 shedding downmodulates protective immune function and reduces host resistance and survival; therefore, targeting TNFRp75 may be beneficial for improving disease outcome.

Familial Alzheimer’s disease–associated presenilin-1 alters cerebellar activity and calcium homeostasis
  By: Diego Sepulveda-Falla, Alvaro Barrera-Ocampo, Christian Hagel, Anne Korwitz, Maria Fernanda Vinueza-Veloz, Kuikui Zhou, Martijn Schonewille, Haibo Zhou, Luis Velazquez-Perez, Roberto Rodriguez-Labrada, Andres Villegas, Isidro Ferrer, Francisco Lopera, Thomas Langer, Chris I. De Zeeuw, Markus Glatzel

Familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD) is characterized by autosomal dominant heritability and early disease onset. Mutations in the gene encoding presenilin-1 (PS1) are found in approximately 80% of cases of FAD, with some of these patients presenting cerebellar damage with amyloid plaques and ataxia with unclear pathophysiology. A Colombian kindred carrying the PS1-E280A mutation is the largest known cohort of PS1-FAD patients. Here, we investigated PS1-E280A–associated cerebellar dysfunction and found that it occurs early in PS1-E208A carriers, while cerebellar signs are highly prevalent in patients with dementia. Postmortem analysis of cerebella of PS1-E280A carrier revealed greater Purkinje cell (PC) loss and more abnormal mitochondria compared with controls. In PS1-E280A tissue, ER/mitochondria tethering was impaired, Ca2+ channels IP3Rs and CACNA1A were downregulated, and Ca2+-dependent mitochondrial transport proteins MIRO1 and KIF5C were reduced. Accordingly, expression of PS1-E280A in a neuronal cell line altered ER/mitochondria tethering and transport compared with that in cells expressing wild-type PS1. In a murine model of PS1-FAD, animals exhibited mild ataxia and reduced PC simple spike activity prior to cerebellar β-amyloid deposition. Our data suggest that impaired calcium homeostasis and mitochondrial dysfunction in PS1-FAD PCs reduces their activity and contributes to motor coordination deficits prior to Aβ aggregation and dementia. We propose that PS1-E280A affects both Ca2+ homeostasis and Aβ precursor processing, leading to FAD and neurodegeneration.

Hematopoiesis and RAS-driven myeloid leukemia differentially require PI3K isoform p110α
  By: Kira Gritsman, Haluk Yuzugullu, Thanh Von, Howard Yan, Linda Clayton, Christine Fritsch, Sauveur-Michel Maira, Gregory Hollingworth, Christine Choi, Tulasi Khandan, Mahnaz Paktinat, Rachel O. Okabe, Thomas M. Roberts, Jean J. Zhao

The genes encoding RAS family members are frequently mutated in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). RAS proteins are difficult to target pharmacologically; therefore, targeting the downstream PI3K and RAF/MEK/ERK pathways represents a promising approach to treat RAS-addicted tumors. The p110α isoform of PI3K (encoded by Pik3ca) is an essential effector of oncogenic KRAS in murine lung tumors, but it is unknown whether p110α contributes to leukemia. To specifically examine the role of p110α in murine hematopoiesis and in leukemia, we conditionally deleted p110α in HSCs using the Cre-loxP system. Postnatal deletion of p110α resulted in mild anemia without affecting HSC self-renewal; however, deletion of p110α in mice with KRASG12D-associated JMML markedly delayed their death. Furthermore, the p110α-selective inhibitor BYL719 inhibited growth factor–independent KRASG12D BM colony formation and sensitized cells to a low dose of the MEK inhibitor MEK162. Furthermore, combined inhibition of p110α and MEK effectively reduced proliferation of RAS-mutated AML cell lines and disease in an AML murine xenograft model. Together, our data indicate that RAS-mutated myeloid leukemias are dependent on the PI3K isoform p110α, and combined pharmacologic inhibition of p110α and MEK could be an effective therapeutic strategy for JMML and AML.

SOX2 and p63 colocalize at genetic loci in squamous cell carcinomas
  By: Hideo Watanabe, Qiuping Ma, Shouyong Peng, Guillaume Adelmant, Danielle Swain, Wenyu Song, Cameron Fox, Joshua M. Francis, Chandra Sekhar Pedamallu, David S. DeLuca, Angela N. Brooks, Su Wang, Jianwen Que, Anil K. Rustgi, Kwok-kin Wong, Keith L. Ligon, X. Shirley Liu, Jarrod A. Marto, Matthew Meyerson, Adam J. Bass

The transcription factor SOX2 is an essential regulator of pluripotent stem cells and promotes development and maintenance of squamous epithelia. We previously reported that SOX2 is an oncogene and subject to highly recurrent genomic amplification in squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). Here, we have further characterized the function of SOX2 in SCC. Using ChIP-seq analysis, we compared SOX2-regulated gene profiles in multiple SCC cell lines to ES cell profiles and determined that SOX2 binds to distinct genomic loci in SCCs. In SCCs, SOX2 preferentially interacts with the transcription factor p63, as opposed to the transcription factor OCT4, which is the preferred SOX2 binding partner in ES cells. SOX2 and p63 exhibited overlapping genomic occupancy at a large number of loci in SCCs; however, coordinate binding of SOX2 and p63 was absent in ES cells. We further demonstrated that SOX2 and p63 jointly regulate gene expression, including the oncogene ETV4, which was essential for SOX2-amplified SCC cell survival. Together, these findings demonstrate that the action of SOX2 in SCC differs substantially from its role in pluripotency. The identification of the SCC-associated interaction between SOX2 and p63 will enable deeper characterization the downstream targets of this interaction in SCC and normal squamous epithelial physiology.

Fibrotic extracellular matrix activates a profibrotic positive feedback loop
  By: Matthew W. Parker, Daniel Rossi, Mark Peterson, Karen Smith, Kristina Sikström, Eric S White, John E. Connett, Craig A. Henke, Ola Larsson, Peter B. Bitterman

Pathological remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM) by fibroblasts leads to organ failure. Development of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is characterized by a progressive fibrotic scarring in the lung that ultimately leads to asphyxiation; however, the cascade of events that promote IPF are not well defined. Here, we examined how the interplay between the ECM and fibroblasts affects both the transcriptome and translatome by culturing primary fibroblasts generated from IPF patient lung tissue or nonfibrotic lung tissue on decellularized lung ECM from either IPF or control patients. Surprisingly, the origin of the ECM had a greater impact on gene expression than did cell origin, and differences in translational control were more prominent than alterations in transcriptional regulation. Strikingly, genes that were translationally activated by IPF-derived ECM were enriched for those encoding ECM proteins detected in IPF tissue. We determined that genes encoding IPF-associated ECM proteins are targets for miR-29, which was downregulated in fibroblasts grown on IPF-derived ECM, and baseline expression of ECM targets could be restored by overexpression of miR-29. Our data support a model in which fibroblasts are activated to pathologically remodel the ECM in IPF via a positive feedback loop between fibroblasts and aberrant ECM. Interrupting this loop may be a strategy for IPF treatment.

SPARC promotes leukemic cell growth and predicts acute myeloid leukemia outcome
  By: Houda Alachkar, Ramasamy Santhanam, Kati Maharry, Klaus H. Metzeler, Xiaomeng Huang, Jessica Kohlschmidt, Jason H. Mendler, Juliana M. Benito, Christopher Hickey, Paolo Neviani, Adrienne M. Dorrance, Mirela Anghelina, Jihane Khalife, Somayeh S. Tarighat, Stefano Volinia, Susan P. Whitman, Peter Paschka, Pia Hoellerbauer, Yue-Zhong Wu, Lina Han, Brad N. Bolon, William Blum, Krzysztof Mrózek, Andrew J. Carroll, Danilo Perrotti, Michael Andreeff, Michael A. Caligiuri, Marina Konopleva, Ramiro Garzon, Clara D. Bloomfield, Guido Marcucci

Aberrant expression of the secreted protein, acidic, cysteine-rich (osteonectin) (SPARC) gene, which encodes a matricellular protein that participates in normal tissue remodeling, is associated with a variety of diseases including cancer, but the contribution of SPARC to malignant growth remains controversial. We previously reported that SPARC was among the most upregulated genes in cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukemia (CN-AML) patients with gene-expression profiles predictive of unfavorable outcome, such as mutations in isocitrate dehydrogenase 2 (IDH2-R172) and overexpression of the oncogenes brain and acute leukemia, cytoplasmic (BAALC) and v-ets erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homolog (ERG). In contrast, SPARC was downregulated in CN-AML patients harboring mutations in nucleophosmin (NPM1) that are associated with favorable prognosis. Based on these observations, we hypothesized that SPARC expression is clinically relevant in AML. Here, we found that SPARC overexpression is associated with adverse outcome in CN-AML patients and promotes aggressive leukemia growth in murine models of AML. In leukemia cells, SPARC expression was mediated by the SP1/NF-κB transactivation complex. Furthermore, secreted SPARC activated the integrin-linked kinase/AKT (ILK/AKT) pathway, likely via integrin interaction, and subsequent β-catenin signaling, which is involved in leukemia cell self-renewal. Pharmacologic inhibition of the SP1/NF-κB complex resulted in SPARC downregulation and leukemia growth inhibition. Together, our data indicate that evaluation of SPARC expression has prognosticative value and SPARC is a potential therapeutic target for AML.

Disrupting hedgehog and WNT signaling interactions promotes cleft lip pathogenesis
  By: Hiroshi Kurosaka, Angelo Iulianella, Trevor Williams, Paul A. Trainor

Cleft lip, which results from impaired facial process growth and fusion, is one of the most common craniofacial birth defects. Many genes are known to be involved in the etiology of this disorder; however, our understanding of cleft lip pathogenesis remains incomplete. In the present study, we uncovered a role for sonic hedgehog (SHH) signaling during lip fusion. Mice carrying compound mutations in hedgehog acyltransferase (Hhat) and patched1 (Ptch1) exhibited perturbations in the SHH gradient during frontonasal development, which led to hypoplastic nasal process outgrowth, epithelial seam persistence, and cleft lip. Further investigation revealed that enhanced SHH signaling restricts canonical WNT signaling in the lambdoidal region by promoting expression of genes encoding WNT inhibitors. Moreover, reduction of canonical WNT signaling perturbed p63/interferon regulatory factor 6 (p63/IRF6) signaling, resulting in increased proliferation and decreased cell death, which was followed by persistence of the epithelial seam and cleft lip. Consistent with our results, mutations in genes that disrupt SHH and WNT signaling have been identified in both mice and humans with cleft lip. Collectively, our data illustrate that altered SHH signaling contributes to the etiology and pathogenesis of cleft lip through antagonistic interactions with other gene regulatory networks, including the canonical WNT and p63/IRF6 signaling pathways.

Endothelial mitochondrial oxidative stress determines podocyte depletion in segmental glomerulosclerosis
  By: Ilse Daehn, Gabriella Casalena, Taoran Zhang, Shaolin Shi, Franz Fenninger, Nicholas Barasch, Liping Yu, Vivette D’Agati, Detlef Schlondorff, Wilhelm Kriz, Borje Haraldsson, Erwin P. Bottinger

Focal segmental glomerular sclerosis (FSGS) is a primary kidney disease that is commonly associated with proteinuria and progressive loss of glomerular function, leading to development of chronic kidney disease (CKD). FSGS is characterized by podocyte injury and depletion and collapse of glomerular capillary segments. Progression of FSGS is associated with TGF-β activation in podocytes; however, it is not clear how TGF-β signaling promotes disease. Here, we determined that podocyte-specific activation of TGF-β signaling in transgenic mice and BALB/c mice with Adriamycin-induced glomerulosclerosis is associated with endothelin-1 (EDN1) release by podocytes, which mediates mitochondrial oxidative stress and dysfunction in adjacent endothelial cells via paracrine EDN1 receptor type A (EDNRA) activation. Endothelial dysfunction promoted podocyte apoptosis, and inhibition of EDNRA or scavenging of mitochondrial-targeted ROS prevented podocyte loss, albuminuria, glomerulosclerosis, and renal failure. We confirmed reciprocal crosstalk between podocytes and endothelial cells in a coculture system. Biopsies from patients with FSGS exhibited increased mitochondrial DNA damage, consistent with EDNRA-mediated glomerular endothelial mitochondrial oxidative stress. Our studies indicate that segmental glomerulosclerosis develops as a result of podocyte-endothelial crosstalk mediated by EDN1/EDNRA-dependent mitochondrial dysfunction and suggest that targeting the reciprocal interaction between podocytes and endothelia may provide opportunities for therapeutic intervention in FSGS.

Assembly of the cochlear gap junction macromolecular complex requires connexin 26
  By: Kazusaku Kamiya, Sabrina W. Yum, Nagomi Kurebayashi, Miho Muraki, Kana Ogawa, Keiko Karasawa, Asuka Miwa, Xueshui Guo, Satoru Gotoh, Yoshinobu Sugitani, Hitomi Yamanaka, Shioko Ito-Kawashima, Takashi Iizuka, Takashi Sakurai, Tetsuo Noda, Osamu Minowa, Katsuhisa Ikeda

Hereditary deafness affects approximately 1 in 2,000 children. Mutations in the gene encoding the cochlear gap junction protein connexin 26 (CX26) cause prelingual, nonsyndromic deafness and are responsible for as many as 50% of hereditary deafness cases in certain populations. Connexin-associated deafness is thought to be the result of defective development of auditory sensory epithelium due to connexion dysfunction. Surprisingly, CX26 deficiency is not compensated for by the closely related connexin CX30, which is abundantly expressed in the same cochlear cells. Here, using two mouse models of CX26-associated deafness, we demonstrate that disruption of the CX26-dependent gap junction plaque (GJP) is the earliest observable change during embryonic development of mice with connexin-associated deafness. Loss of CX26 resulted in a drastic reduction in the GJP area and protein level and was associated with excessive endocytosis with increased expression of caveolin 1 and caveolin 2. Furthermore, expression of deafness-associated CX26 and CX30 in cell culture resulted in visible disruption of GJPs and loss of function. Our results demonstrate that deafness-associated mutations in CX26 induce the macromolecular degradation of large gap junction complexes accompanied by an increase in caveolar structures.

DLC1-dependent parathyroid hormone–like hormone inhibition suppresses breast cancer bone metastasis
  By: Yufeng Wang, Rong Lei, Xueqian Zhuang, Ning Zhang, Hong Pan, Gang Li, Jing Hu, Xiaoqi Pan, Qian Tao, Da Fu, Jianru Xiao, Y. Eugene Chin, Yibin Kang, Qifeng Yang, Guohong Hu

Bone metastasis is a frequent complication of breast cancer that is often accelerated by TGF-β signaling; however, little is known about how the TGF-β pathway is regulated during bone metastasis. Here we report that deleted in liver cancer 1 (DLC1) is an important regulator of TGF-β responses and osteolytic metastasis of breast cancer cells. In murine models, breast cancer cells lacking DLC1 expression exhibited enhanced capabilities of bone metastasis. Knockdown of DLC1 in cancer cells promoted bone metastasis, leading to manifested osteolysis and accelerated death in mice, while DLC1 overexpression suppressed bone metastasis. Activation of Rho-ROCK signaling in the absence of DLC1 mediated SMAD3 linker region phosphorylation and TGF-β–induced expression of parathyroid hormone–like hormone (PTHLH), leading to osteoclast maturation for osteolytic colonization. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of Rho-ROCK effectively reduced PTHLH production and breast cancer bone metastasis in vitro and in vivo. Evaluation of clinical breast tumor samples revealed that reduced DLC1 expression was linked to elevated PTHLH expression and organ-specific metastasis to bone. Overall, our findings define a stroma-dependent paradigm of Rho signaling in cancer and implicate Rho–TGF-β crosstalk in osteolytic bone metastasis.

Dysregulation of ubiquitin homeostasis and β-catenin signaling promote spinal muscular atrophy
  By: Thomas M. Wishart, Chantal A. Mutsaers, Markus Riessland, Michell M. Reimer, Gillian Hunter, Marie L. Hannam, Samantha L. Eaton, Heidi R. Fuller, Sarah L. Roche, Eilidh Somers, Robert Morse, Philip J. Young, Douglas J. Lamont, Matthias Hammerschmidt, Anagha Joshi, Peter Hohenstein, Glenn E. Morris, Simon H. Parson, Paul A. Skehel, Thomas Becker, Iain M. Robinson, Catherina G. Becker, Brunhilde Wirth, Thomas H. Gillingwater

The autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disease spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) results from low levels of survival motor neuron (SMN) protein; however, it is unclear how reduced SMN promotes SMA development. Here, we determined that ubiquitin-dependent pathways regulate neuromuscular pathology in SMA. Using mouse models of SMA, we observed widespread perturbations in ubiquitin homeostasis, including reduced levels of ubiquitin-like modifier activating enzyme 1 (UBA1). SMN physically interacted with UBA1 in neurons, and disruption of Uba1 mRNA splicing was observed in the spinal cords of SMA mice exhibiting disease symptoms. Pharmacological or genetic suppression of UBA1 was sufficient to recapitulate an SMA-like neuromuscular pathology in zebrafish, suggesting that UBA1 directly contributes to disease pathogenesis. Dysregulation of UBA1 and subsequent ubiquitination pathways led to β-catenin accumulation, and pharmacological inhibition of β-catenin robustly ameliorated neuromuscular pathology in zebrafish, Drosophila, and mouse models of SMA. UBA1-associated disruption of β-catenin was restricted to the neuromuscular system in SMA mice; therefore, pharmacological inhibition of β-catenin in these animals failed to prevent systemic pathology in peripheral tissues and organs, indicating fundamental molecular differences between neuromuscular and systemic SMA pathology. Our data indicate that SMA-associated reduction of UBA1 contributes to neuromuscular pathogenesis through disruption of ubiquitin homeostasis and subsequent β-catenin signaling, highlighting ubiquitin homeostasis and β-catenin as potential therapeutic targets for SMA.

CDK4 deficiency promotes genomic instability and enhances Myc-driven lymphomagenesis
  By: Yuanzhi Lu, Yongsheng Wu, Xiaoling Feng, Rulong Shen, Jing H. Wang, Mohammad Fallahi, Weimin Li, Chunying Yang, William Hankey, Weiqiang Zhao, Ramesh K. Ganju, Ming O. Li, John L. Cleveland, Xianghong Zou

The G1 kinase CDK4 is amplified or overexpressed in some human tumors and promotes tumorigenesis by inhibiting known tumor suppressors. Here, we report that CDK4 deficiency markedly accelerated lymphoma development in the Eμ-Myc transgenic mouse model of B lymphoma and that silencing or loss of CDK4 augmented the tumorigenic potential of Myc-driven mouse and human B cell lymphoma in transplant models. Accelerated disease in CDK4-deficient Eμ-Myc transgenic mice was associated with rampant genomic instability that was provoked by dysregulation of a FOXO1/RAG1/RAG2 pathway. Specifically, CDK4 phosphorylated and inactivated FOXO1, which prevented FOXO1-dependent induction of Rag1 and Rag2 transcription. CDK4-deficient Eμ-Myc B cells had high levels of the active form of FOXO1 and elevated RAG1 and RAG2. Furthermore, overexpression of RAG1 and RAG2 accelerated lymphoma development in a transplant model, with RAG1/2-expressing tumors exhibiting hallmarks of genomic instability. Evaluation of human tumor samples revealed that CDK4 expression was markedly suppressed, while FOXO1 expression was elevated, in several subtypes of human non-Hodgkin B cell lymphoma. Collectively, these findings establish a context-specific tumor suppressor function for CDK4 that prevents genomic instability, which contributes to B cell lymphoma. Furthermore, our data suggest that targeting CDK4 may increase the risk for the development and/or progression of lymphoma.

iNKT cells require TSC1 for terminal maturation and effector lineage fate decisions
  By: Jinhong Wu, Jialong Yang, Kai Yang, Hongxia Wang, Balachandra Gorentla, Jinwook Shin, Yurong Qiu, Loretta G. Que, W. Michael Foster, Zhenwei Xia, Hongbo Chi, Xiao-Ping Zhong

Terminal maturation of invariant NKT (iNKT) cells from stage 2 (CD44+NK1.1) to stage 3 (CD44+NK1.1+) is accompanied by a functional acquisition of a predominant IFN-γ–producing (iNKT-1) phenotype; however, some cells develop into IL-17–producing iNKT (iNKT-17) cells. iNKT-17 cells are rare and restricted to a CD44+NK1.1 lineage. It is unclear how iNKT terminal maturation is regulated and what factors mediate the predominance of iNKT-1 compared with iNKT-17. The tumor suppressor tuberous sclerosis 1 (TSC1) is an important negative regulator of mTOR signaling, which regulates T cell differentiation, function, and trafficking. Here, we determined that mice lacking TSC1 exhibit a developmental block of iNKT differentiation at stage 2 and skew from a predominantly iNKT-1 population toward a predominantly iNKT-17 population, leading to enhanced airway hypersensitivity. Evaluation of purified iNKT cells revealed that TSC1 promotes T-bet, which regulates iNKT maturation, but downregulates ICOS expression in iNKT cells by inhibiting mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1). Furthermore, mice lacking T-bet exhibited both a terminal maturation defect of iNKT cells and a predominance of iNKT-17 cells, and increased ICOS expression was required for the predominance of iNKT-17 cells in the population of TSC1-deficient iNKT cells. Our data indicate that TSC1-dependent control of mTORC1 is crucial for terminal iNKT maturation and effector lineage decisions, resulting in the predominance of iNKT-1 cells.

Protein kinetic signatures of the remodeling heart following isoproterenol stimulation
  By: Maggie P.Y. Lam, Ding Wang, Edward Lau, David A. Liem, Allen K. Kim, Dominic C.M. Ng, Xiangbo Liang, Brian J. Bleakley, Chenguang Liu, Jason D. Tabaraki, Martin Cadeiras, Yibin Wang, Mario C. Deng, Peipei Ping

Protein temporal dynamics play a critical role in time-dimensional pathophysiological processes, including the gradual cardiac remodeling that occurs in early-stage heart failure. Methods for quantitative assessments of protein kinetics are lacking, and despite knowledge gained from single-protein studies, integrative views of the coordinated behavior of multiple proteins in cardiac remodeling are scarce. Here, we developed a workflow that integrates deuterium oxide (2H2O) labeling, high-resolution mass spectrometry (MS), and custom computational methods to systematically interrogate in vivo protein turnover. Using this workflow, we characterized the in vivo turnover kinetics of 2,964 proteins in a mouse model of β-adrenergic–induced cardiac remodeling. The data provided a quantitative and longitudinal view of cardiac remodeling at the molecular level, revealing widespread kinetic regulations in calcium signaling, metabolism, proteostasis, and mitochondrial dynamics. We translated the workflow to human studies, creating a reference dataset of 496 plasma protein turnover rates from 4 healthy adults. The approach is applicable to short, minimal label enrichment and can be performed on as little as a single biopsy, thereby overcoming critical obstacles to clinical investigations. The protein turnover quantitation experiments and computational workflow described here should be widely applicable to large-scale biomolecular investigations of human disease mechanisms with a temporal perspective.

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