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The Journal of Clinical Investigation RSS feed -- Current issue

Loss of ABCG1 influences regulatory T cell differentiation and atherosclerosis
  By: Hsin-Yuan Cheng, Dalia E. Gaddis, Runpei Wu, Chantel McSkimming, LaTeira D. Haynes, Angela M. Taylor, Coleen A. McNamara, Mary Sorci-Thomas, Catherine C. Hedrick

ATP-binding cassette transporter G1 (ABCG1) promotes cholesterol accumulation and alters T cell homeostasis, which may contribute to progression of atherosclerosis. Here, we investigated how the selective loss of ABCG1 in T cells impacts atherosclerosis in LDL receptor–deficient (LDLR-deficient) mice, a model of the disease. In LDLR-deficient mice fed a high-cholesterol diet, T cell–specific ABCG1 deficiency protected against atherosclerotic lesions. Furthermore, T cell–specific ABCG1 deficiency led to a 30% increase in Treg percentages in aorta and aorta-draining lymph nodes (LNs) of these mice compared with animals with only LDLR deficiency. When Abcg1 was selectively deleted in Tregs of LDLR-deficient mice, we observed a 30% increase in Treg percentages in aorta and aorta-draining LNs and reduced atherosclerosis. In the absence of ABCG1, intracellular cholesterol accumulation led to downregulation of the mTOR pathway, which increased the differentiation of naive CD4 T cells into Tregs. The increase in Tregs resulted in reduced T cell activation and increased IL-10 production by T cells. Last, we found that higher ABCG1 expression in Tregs was associated with a higher frequency of these cells in human blood samples. Our study indicates that ABCG1 regulates T cell differentiation into Tregs, highlighting a pathway by which cholesterol accumulation can influence T cell homeostasis in atherosclerosis.

Dasatinib induces lung vascular toxicity and predisposes to pulmonary hypertension
  By: Christophe Guignabert, Carole Phan, Andrei Seferian, Alice Huertas, Ly Tu, Raphaël Thuillet, Caroline Sattler, Morane Le Hiress, Yuichi Tamura, Etienne-Marie Jutant, Marie-Camille Chaumais, Stéphane Bouchet, Benjamin Manéglier, Mathieu Molimard, Philippe Rousselot, Olivier Sitbon, Gérald Simonneau, David Montani, Marc Humbert

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a life-threatening disease that can be induced by dasatinib, a dual Src and BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor that is used to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Today, key questions remain regarding the mechanisms involved in the long-term development of dasatinib-induced PAH. Here, we demonstrated that chronic dasatinib therapy causes pulmonary endothelial damage in humans and rodents. We found that dasatinib treatment attenuated hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction responses and increased susceptibility to experimental pulmonary hypertension (PH) in rats, but these effects were absent in rats treated with imatinib, another BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Furthermore, dasatinib treatment induced pulmonary endothelial cell apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner, while imatinib did not. Dasatinib treatment mediated endothelial cell dysfunction via increased production of ROS that was independent of Src family kinases. Consistent with these findings, we observed elevations in markers of endothelial dysfunction and vascular damage in the serum of CML patients who were treated with dasatinib, compared with CML patients treated with imatinib. Taken together, our findings indicate that dasatinib causes pulmonary vascular damage, induction of ER stress, and mitochondrial ROS production, which leads to increased susceptibility to PH development.

EGFR regulates macrophage activation and function in bacterial infection
  By: Dana M. Hardbower, Kshipra Singh, Mohammad Asim, Thomas G. Verriere, Danyvid Olivares-Villagómez, Daniel P. Barry, Margaret M. Allaman, M. Kay Washington, Richard M. Peek Jr., M. Blanca Piazuelo, Keith T. Wilson

EGFR signaling regulates macrophage function, but its role in bacterial infection has not been investigated. Here, we assessed the role of macrophage EGFR signaling during infection with Helicobacter pylori, a bacterial pathogen that causes persistent inflammation and gastric cancer. EGFR was phosphorylated in murine and human macrophages during H. pylori infection. In human gastric tissues, elevated levels of phosphorylated EGFR were observed throughout the histologic cascade from gastritis to carcinoma. Deleting Egfr in myeloid cells attenuated gastritis and increased H. pylori burden in infected mice. EGFR deficiency also led to a global defect in macrophage activation that was associated with decreased cytokine, chemokine, and NO production. We observed similar alterations in macrophage activation and disease phenotype in the Citrobacter rodentium model of murine infectious colitis. Mechanistically, EGFR signaling activated NF-κB and MAPK1/3 pathways to induce cytokine production and macrophage activation. Although deletion of Egfr had no effect on DC function, EGFR-deficient macrophages displayed impaired Th1 and Th17 adaptive immune responses to H. pylori, which contributed to decreased chronic inflammation in infected mice. Together, these results indicate that EGFR signaling is central to macrophage function in response to enteric bacterial pathogens and is a potential therapeutic target for infection-induced inflammation and associated carcinogenesis.

Rationally designed BCL6 inhibitors target activated B cell diffuse large B cell lymphoma
  By: Mariano G. Cardenas, Wenbo Yu, Wendy Beguelin, Matthew R. Teater, Huimin Geng, Rebecca L. Goldstein, Erin Oswald, Katerina Hatzi, Shao-Ning Yang, Joanna Cohen, Rita Shaknovich, Kenno Vanommeslaeghe, Huimin Cheng, Dongdong Liang, Hyo Je Cho, Joshua Abbott, Wayne Tam, Wei Du, John P. Leonard, Olivier Elemento, Leandro Cerchietti, Tomasz Cierpicki, Fengtian Xue, Alexander D. MacKerell Jr., Ari M. Melnick

Diffuse large B cell lymphomas (DLBCLs) arise from proliferating B cells transiting different stages of the germinal center reaction. In activated B cell DLBCLs (ABC-DLBCLs), a class of DLBCLs that respond poorly to current therapies, chromosomal translocations and amplification lead to constitutive expression of the B cell lymphoma 6 (BCL6) oncogene. The role of BCL6 in maintaining these lymphomas has not been investigated. Here, we designed small-molecule inhibitors that display higher affinity for BCL6 than its endogenous corepressor ligands to evaluate their therapeutic efficacy for targeting ABC-DLBCL. We used an in silico drug design functional-group mapping approach called SILCS to create a specific BCL6 inhibitor called FX1 that has 10-fold greater potency than endogenous corepressors and binds an essential region of the BCL6 lateral groove. FX1 disrupted formation of the BCL6 repression complex, reactivated BCL6 target genes, and mimicked the phenotype of mice engineered to express BCL6 with corepressor binding site mutations. Low doses of FX1 induced regression of established tumors in mice bearing DLBCL xenografts. Furthermore, FX1 suppressed ABC-DLBCL cells in vitro and in vivo, as well as primary human ABC-DLBCL specimens ex vivo. These findings indicate that ABC-DLBCL is a BCL6-dependent disease that can be targeted by rationally designed inhibitors that exceed the binding affinity of natural BCL6 ligands.

Posttranscriptional manipulation of TERC reverses molecular hallmarks of telomere disease
  By: Baris Boyraz, Diane H. Moon, Matthew Segal, Maud Z. Muosieyiri, Asli Aykanat, Albert K. Tai, Patrick Cahan, Suneet Agarwal

The telomerase RNA component (TERC) is a critical determinant of cellular self-renewal. Poly(A)-specific ribonuclease (PARN) is required for posttranscriptional maturation of TERC. PARN mutations lead to incomplete 3′ end processing and increased destruction of nascent TERC RNA transcripts, resulting in telomerase deficiency and telomere diseases. Here, we determined that overexpression of TERC increased telomere length in PARN-deficient cells and hypothesized that decreasing posttranscriptional 3′ oligo-adenylation of TERC would counteract the deleterious effects of PARN mutations. Inhibition of the noncanonical poly(A) polymerase PAP-associated domain–containing 5 (PAPD5) increased TERC levels in PARN-mutant patient cells. PAPD5 inhibition was also associated with increases in TERC stability, telomerase activity, and telomere elongation. Our results demonstrate that manipulating posttranscriptional regulatory pathways may be a potential strategy to reverse the molecular hallmarks of telomere disease.

Mechanistically distinct cancer-associated mTOR activation clusters predict sensitivity to rapamycin
  By: Jianing Xu, Can G. Pham, Steven K. Albanese, Yiyu Dong, Toshinao Oyama, Chung-Han Lee, Vanessa Rodrik-Outmezguine, Zhan Yao, Song Han, David Chen, Daniel L. Parton, John D. Chodera, Neal Rosen, Emily H. Cheng, James J. Hsieh

Genomic studies have linked mTORC1 pathway–activating mutations with exceptional response to treatment with allosteric inhibitors of mTORC1 called rapalogs. Rapalogs are approved for selected cancer types, including kidney and breast cancers. Here, we used sequencing data from 22 human kidney cancer cases to identify the activating mechanisms conferred by mTOR mutations observed in human cancers and advance precision therapeutics. mTOR mutations that clustered in focal adhesion kinase targeting domain (FAT) and kinase domains enhanced mTORC1 kinase activity, decreased nutrient reliance, and increased cell size. We identified 3 distinct mechanisms of hyperactivation, including reduced binding to DEP domain–containing MTOR-interacting protein (DEPTOR), resistance to regulatory associated protein of mTOR–mediated (RAPTOR-mediated) suppression, and altered kinase kinetics. Of the 28 mTOR double mutants, activating mutations could be divided into 6 complementation groups, resulting in synergistic Rag- and Ras homolog enriched in brain–independent (RHEB-independent) mTORC1 activation. mTOR mutants were resistant to DNA damage–inducible transcript 1–mediated (REDD1-mediated) inhibition, confirming that activating mutations can bypass the negative feedback pathway formed between HIF1 and mTORC1 in the absence of von Hippel–Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor expression. Moreover, VHL-deficient cells that expressed activating mTOR mutants grew tumors that were sensitive to rapamycin treatment. These data may explain the high incidence of mTOR mutations observed in clear cell kidney cancer, where VHL loss and HIF activation is pathognomonic. Our study provides mechanistic and therapeutic insights concerning mTOR mutations in human diseases.

Local TNF causes NFATc1-dependent cholesterol-mediated podocyte injury
  By: Christopher E. Pedigo, Gloria Michelle Ducasa, Farah Leclercq, Alexis Sloan, Alla Mitrofanova, Tahreem Hashmi, Judith Molina-David, Mengyuan Ge, Mariann I. Lassenius, Carol Forsblom, Markku Lehto, Per-Henrik Groop, Matthias Kretzler, Sean Eddy, Sebastian Martini, Heather Reich, Patricia Wahl, GianMarco Ghiggeri, Christian Faul, George W. Burke III, Oliver Kretz, Tobias B. Huber, Armando J. Mendez, Sandra Merscher, Alessia Fornoni

High levels of circulating TNF and its receptors, TNFR1 and TNFR2, predict the progression of diabetic kidney disease (DKD), but their contribution to organ damage in DKD remains largely unknown. Here, we investigated the function of local and systemic TNF in podocyte injury. We cultured human podocytes with sera collected from DKD patients, who displayed elevated TNF levels, and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) patients, whose TNF levels resembled those of healthy patients. Exogenous TNF administration or local TNF expression was equally sufficient to cause free cholesterol–dependent apoptosis in podocytes by acting through a dual mechanism that required a reduction in ATP-binding cassette transporter A1–mediated (ABCA1-mediated) cholesterol efflux and reduced cholesterol esterification by sterol-O-acyltransferase 1 (SOAT1). TNF-induced albuminuria was aggravated in mice with podocyte-specific ABCA1 deficiency and was partially prevented by cholesterol depletion with cyclodextrin. TNF-stimulated free cholesterol–dependent apoptosis in podocytes was mediated by nuclear factor of activated T cells 1 (NFATc1). ABCA1 overexpression or cholesterol depletion was sufficient to reduce albuminuria in mice with podocyte-specific NFATc1 activation. Our data implicate an NFATc1/ABCA1-dependent mechanism in which local TNF is sufficient to cause free cholesterol–dependent podocyte injury irrespective of TNF, TNFR1, or TNFR2 serum levels.

The impact of hypoxia on tumor-associated macrophages
  By: Anne-Theres Henze, Massimiliano Mazzone

The role of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) in cancer is often correlated with poor prognosis, even though this statement should be interpreted with care, as the effects of macrophages primarily depend on their localization within the tumor. This versatile cell type orchestrates a broad spectrum of biological functions and exerts very complex and even opposing functions on cell death, immune stimulation or suppression, and angiogenesis, resulting in an overall pro- or antitumoral effect. We are only beginning to understand the environmental cues that contribute to transient retention of macrophages in a specific phenotype. It has become clear that hypoxia shapes and induces specific macrophage phenotypes that serve tumor malignancy, as hypoxia promotes immune evasion, angiogenesis, tumor cell survival, and metastatic dissemination. Additionally, TAMs in the hypoxic niches within the tumor are known to mediate resistance to several anticancer treatments and to promote cancer relapse. Thus, a careful characterization and understanding of this macrophage differentiation state is needed in order to efficiently tailor cancer therapy.

Phase I trials using Sleeping Beauty to generate CD19-specific CAR T cells
  By: Partow Kebriaei, Harjeet Singh, M. Helen Huls, Matthew J. Figliola, Roland Bassett, Simon Olivares, Bipulendu Jena, Margaret J. Dawson, Pappanaicken R. Kumaresan, Shihuang Su, Sourindra Maiti, Jianliang Dai, Branden Moriarity, Marie-Andrée Forget, Vladimir Senyukov, Aaron Orozco, Tingting Liu, Jessica McCarty, Rineka N. Jackson, Judy S. Moyes, Gabriela Rondon, Muzaffar Qazilbash, Stefan Ciurea, Amin Alousi, Yago Nieto, Katy Rezvani, David Marin, Uday Popat, Chitra Hosing, Elizabeth J. Shpall, Hagop Kantarjian, Michael Keating, William Wierda, Kim Anh Do, David A. Largaespada, Dean A. Lee, Perry B. Hackett, Richard E. Champlin, Laurence J.N. Cooper

BACKGROUND. T cells expressing antigen-specific chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) improve outcomes for CD19-expressing B cell malignancies. We evaluated a human application of T cells that were genetically modified using the Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon/transposase system to express a CD19-specific CAR.

METHODS. T cells were genetically modified using DNA plasmids from the SB platform to stably express a second-generation CD19-specific CAR and selectively propagated ex vivo with activating and propagating cells (AaPCs) and cytokines. Twenty-six patients with advanced non-Hodgkin lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia safely underwent hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and infusion of CAR T cells as adjuvant therapy in the autologous (n = 7) or allogeneic settings (n = 19).

RESULTS. SB-mediated genetic transposition and stimulation resulted in 2,200- to 2,500-fold ex vivo expansion of genetically modified T cells, with 84% CAR expression, and without integration hotspots. Following autologous HSCT, the 30-month progression-free and overall survivals were 83% and 100%, respectively. After allogeneic HSCT, the respective 12-month rates were 53% and 63%. No acute or late toxicities and no exacerbation of graft-versus-host disease were observed. Despite a low antigen burden and unsupportive recipient cytokine environment, CAR T cells persisted for an average of 201 days for autologous recipients and 51 days for allogeneic recipients.

CONCLUSIONS. CD19-specific CAR T cells generated with SB and AaPC platforms were safe, and may provide additional cancer control as planned infusions after HSCT. These results support further clinical development of this nonviral gene therapy approach.

TRIAL REGISTRATION. Autologous, NCT00968760; allogeneic, NCT01497184; long-term follow-up, NCT01492036.

FUNDING. National Cancer Institute, private foundations, and institutional funds. Please see Acknowledgments for details.

Recurrent EZH1 mutations are a second hit in autonomous thyroid adenomas
  By: Davide Calebiro, Elisa S. Grassi, Markus Eszlinger, Cristina L. Ronchi, Amod Godbole, Kerstin Bathon, Fabiana Guizzardi, Tiziana de Filippis, Knut Krohn, Holger Jaeschke, Thomas Schwarzmayr, Rifat Bircan, Hulya Iliksu Gozu, Seda Sancak, Marek Niedziela, Tim M. Strom, Martin Fassnacht, Luca Persani, Ralf Paschke

Autonomous thyroid adenomas (ATAs) are a frequent cause of hyperthyroidism. Mutations in the genes encoding the TSH receptor (TSHR) or the Gs protein α subunit (GNAS) are found in approximately 70% of ATAs. The involvement of other genes and the pathogenesis of the remaining cases are presently unknown. Here, we performed whole-exome sequencing in 19 ATAs that were paired with normal DNA samples and identified a recurrent hot-spot mutation (c.1712A>G; p.Gln571Arg) in the enhancer of zeste homolog 1 (EZH1) gene, which codes for a catalytic subunit of the polycomb complex. Targeted screening in an independent cohort confirmed that this mutation occurs with high frequency (27%) in ATAs. EZH1 mutations were strongly associated with known (TSHR, GNAS) or presumed (adenylate cyclase 9 [ADCY9]) alterations in cAMP pathway genes. Furthermore, functional studies revealed that the p.Gln571Arg EZH1 mutation caused increased histone H3 trimethylation and increased proliferation of thyroid cells. In summary, this study revealed that a hot-spot mutation in EZH1 is the second most frequent genetic alteration in ATAs. The association between EZH1 and TSHR mutations suggests a 2-hit model for the pathogenesis of these tumors, whereby constitutive activation of the cAMP pathway and EZH1 mutations cooperate to induce the hyperproliferation of thyroid cells.

Disruption of Gpr45 causes reduced hypothalamic POMC expression and obesity
  By: Jing Cui, Yi Ding, Shu Chen, Xiaoqiang Zhu, Yichen Wu, Mingliang Zhang, Yaxin Zhao, Tong-Ruei R. Li, Ling V. Sun, Shimin Zhao, Yuan Zhuang, Weiping Jia, Lei Xue, Min Han, Tian Xu, Xiaohui Wu

A rise in the occurrence of obesity has driven exploration of its underlying genetic basis and potential targets for intervention. GWAS studies have identified obesity susceptibility pathways involving several neuropeptides that control energy homeostasis, suggesting that variations in the genes that regulate food intake and energy expenditure may contribute to obesity. In this study, we identified 5 additional obesity loci, including a neuronal orphan GPCR called Gpr45, in a forward genetic screen of mutant mice generated by piggyBac insertional mutagenesis. Disruption of Gpr45 led to increased adiposity at the time of weaning and increases in body mass, fat content, glucose intolerance, and hepatic steatosis with advancing age. Mice with disruptions in Gpr45 also displayed a reduction in expression of the metabolic regulator POMC and less energy expenditure prior to the onset of obesity. Mechanistically, we determined that GPR45 regulates POMC expression via the JAK/STAT pathway in a cell-autonomous manner. Consistent with this finding, intraventricular administration of melanotan-2, an analog of the POMC derivative α-MSH, suppressed adult obesity in Gpr45 mutants. These results reveal that GPR45 is a regulator of POMC signaling and energy expenditure, which suggests that it may be a potential intervention target to combat obesity.

ZEB1 drives epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in lung cancer
  By: Jill E. Larsen, Vaishnavi Nathan, Jihan K. Osborne, Rebecca K. Farrow, Dhruba Deb, James P. Sullivan, Patrick D. Dospoy, Alexander Augustyn, Suzie K. Hight, Mitsuo Sato, Luc Girard, Carmen Behrens, Ignacio I. Wistuba, Adi F. Gazdar, Nicholas K. Hayward, John D. Minna

Increased expression of zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) is associated with tumor grade and metastasis in lung cancer, likely due to its role as a transcription factor in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Here, we modeled malignant transformation in human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) and determined that EMT and ZEB1 expression are early, critical events in lung cancer pathogenesis. Specific oncogenic mutations in TP53 and KRAS were required for HBECs to engage EMT machinery in response to microenvironmental (serum/TGF-β) or oncogenetic (MYC) factors. Both TGF-β– and MYC-induced EMT required ZEB1, but engaged distinct TGF-β–dependent and vitamin D receptor–dependent (VDR-dependent) pathways, respectively. Functionally, we found that ZEB1 causally promotes malignant progression of HBECs and tumorigenicity, invasion, and metastases in non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) lines. Mechanistically, ZEB1 expression in HBECs directly repressed epithelial splicing regulatory protein 1 (ESRP1), leading to increased expression of a mesenchymal splice variant of CD44 and a more invasive phenotype. In addition, ZEB1 expression in early stage IB primary NSCLC correlated with tumor-node-metastasis stage. These findings indicate that ZEB1-induced EMT and associated molecular changes in ESRP1 and CD44 contribute to early pathogenesis and metastatic potential in established lung cancer. Moreover, TGF-β and VDR signaling and CD44 splicing pathways associated with ZEB1 are potential EMT chemoprevention and therapeutic targets in NSCLC.

MondoA coordinately regulates skeletal myocyte lipid homeostasis and insulin signaling
  By: Byungyong Ahn, Mangala M. Soundarapandian, Hampton Sessions, Satyamaheshwar Peddibhotla, Gregory P. Roth, Jian-Liang Li, Eliot Sugarman, Ada Koo, Siobhan Malany, Miao Wang, Kyungmoo Yea, Jeanne Brooks, Teresa C. Leone, Xianlin Han, Rick B. Vega, Daniel P. Kelly

Intramuscular lipid accumulation is a common manifestation of chronic caloric excess and obesity that is strongly associated with insulin resistance. The mechanistic links between lipid accumulation in myocytes and insulin resistance are not completely understood. In this work, we used a high-throughput chemical biology screen to identify a small-molecule probe, SBI-477, that coordinately inhibited triacylglyceride (TAG) synthesis and enhanced basal glucose uptake in human skeletal myocytes. We then determined that SBI-477 stimulated insulin signaling by deactivating the transcription factor MondoA, leading to reduced expression of the insulin pathway suppressors thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) and arrestin domain–containing 4 (ARRDC4). Depleting MondoA in myocytes reproduced the effects of SBI-477 on glucose uptake and myocyte lipid accumulation. Furthermore, an analog of SBI-477 suppressed TXNIP expression, reduced muscle and liver TAG levels, enhanced insulin signaling, and improved glucose tolerance in mice fed a high-fat diet. These results identify a key role for MondoA-directed programs in the coordinated control of myocyte lipid balance and insulin signaling and suggest that this pathway may have potential as a therapeutic target for insulin resistance and lipotoxicity.

Biallelic inactivation of REV7 is associated with Fanconi anemia
  By: Dominique Bluteau, Julien Masliah-Planchon, Connor Clairmont, Alix Rousseau, Raphael Ceccaldi, Catherine Dubois d’Enghien, Olivier Bluteau, Wendy Cuccuini, Stéphanie Gachet, Régis Peffault de Latour, Thierry Leblanc, Gérard Socié, André Baruchel, Dominique Stoppa-Lyonnet, Alan D. D’Andrea, Jean Soulier

Fanconi anemia (FA) is a recessive genetic disease characterized by congenital abnormalities, chromosome instability, progressive bone marrow failure (BMF), and a strong predisposition to cancer. Twenty FA genes have been identified, and the FANC proteins they encode cooperate in a common pathway that regulates DNA crosslink repair and replication fork stability. We identified a child with severe BMF who harbored biallelic inactivating mutations of the translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) gene REV7 (also known as MAD2L2), which encodes the mutant REV7 protein REV7-V85E. Patient-derived cells demonstrated an extended FA phenotype, which included increased chromosome breaks and G2/M accumulation upon exposure to DNA crosslinking agents, γH2AX and 53BP1 foci accumulation, and enhanced p53/p21 activation relative to cells derived from healthy patients. Expression of WT REV7 restored normal cellular and functional phenotypes in the patient’s cells, and CRISPR/Cas9 inactivation of REV7 in a non-FA human cell line produced an FA phenotype. Finally, silencing Rev7 in primary hematopoietic cells impaired progenitor function, suggesting that the DNA repair defect underlies the development of BMF in FA. Taken together, our genetic and functional analyses identified REV7 as a previously undescribed FA gene, which we term FANCV.

Mitochondrial calcium uptake underlies ROS generation during aminoglycoside-induced hair cell death
  By: Robert Esterberg, Tor Linbo, Sarah B. Pickett, Patricia Wu, Henry C. Ou, Edwin W. Rubel, David W. Raible

Exposure to aminoglycoside antibiotics can lead to the generation of toxic levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) within mechanosensory hair cells of the inner ear that have been implicated in hearing and balance disorders. Better understanding of the origin of aminoglycoside-induced ROS could focus the development of therapies aimed at preventing this event. In this work, we used the zebrafish lateral line system to monitor the dynamic behavior of mitochondrial and cytoplasmic oxidation occurring within the same dying hair cell following exposure to aminoglycosides. The increased oxidation observed in both mitochondria and cytoplasm of dying hair cells was highly correlated with mitochondrial calcium uptake. Application of the mitochondrial uniporter inhibitor Ru360 reduced mitochondrial and cytoplasmic oxidation, suggesting that mitochondrial calcium drives ROS generation during aminoglycoside-induced hair cell death. Furthermore, targeting mitochondria with free radical scavengers conferred superior protection against aminoglycoside exposure compared with identical, untargeted scavengers. Our findings suggest that targeted therapies aimed at preventing mitochondrial oxidation have therapeutic potential to ameliorate the toxic effects of aminoglycoside exposure.

Oxygen metabolism and barrier regulation in the intestinal mucosa
  By: Louise E. Glover, J. Scott Lee, Sean P. Colgan

Mucosal surfaces are lined by epithelial cells and provide an important barrier to the flux of antigens from the outside. This barrier is provided at a number of levels, including epithelial junctional complexes, mucus production, and mucosa-derived antimicrobials. Tissue metabolism is central to the maintenance of homeostasis in the mucosa. In the intestine, for example, baseline pO2 levels are uniquely low due to counter-current blood flow and the presence of large numbers of bacteria. As such, hypoxia and HIF signaling predominates normal intestinal metabolism and barrier regulation during both homeostasis and active inflammation. Contributing factors that elicit important adaptive responses within the mucosa include the transcriptional regulation of tight junction proteins, metabolic regulation of barrier components, and changes in autophagic flux. Here, we review recent literature around the topic of hypoxia and barrier function in health and during disease.

BRPF1 is essential for development of fetal hematopoietic stem cells
  By: Linya You, Lin Li, Jinfeng Zou, Kezhi Yan, Jad Belle, Anastasia Nijnik, Edwin Wang, Xiang-Jiao Yang

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) serve as a life-long reservoir for all blood cell types and are clinically useful for a variety of HSC transplantation-based therapies. Understanding the role of chromatin organization and regulation in HSC homeostasis may provide important insights into HSC development. Bromodomain- and PHD finger–containing protein 1 (BRPF1) is a multivalent chromatin regulator that possesses 4 nucleosome-binding domains and activates 3 lysine acetyltransferases (KAT6A, KAT6B, and KAT7), suggesting that this protein has the potential to stimulate crosstalk between different chromatin modifications. Here, we investigated the function of BRPF1 in hematopoiesis by selectively deleting its gene in murine blood cells. Brpf1-deficient pups experienced early lethality due to acute bone marrow failure and aplastic anemia. The mutant bone marrow and fetal liver exhibited severe deficiency in HSCs and hematopoietic progenitors, along with elevated reactive oxygen species, senescence, and apoptosis. BRPF1 deficiency also reduced the expression of multipotency genes, including Slamf1, Mecom, Hoxa9, Hlf, Gfi1, Egr, and Gata3. Furthermore, BRPF1 was required for acetylation of histone H3 at lysine 23, a highly abundant but not well-characterized epigenetic mark. These results identify an essential role of the multivalent chromatin regulator BRPF1 in definitive hematopoiesis and illuminate a potentially new avenue for studying epigenetic networks that govern HSC ontogeny.

A colitogenic memory CD4+ T cell population mediates gastrointestinal graft-versus-host disease
  By: Vivian Zhou, Kimberle Agle, Xiao Chen, Amy Beres, Richard Komorowski, Ludovic Belle, Carolyn Taylor, Fenlu Zhu, Dipica Haribhai, Calvin B. Williams, James Verbsky, Wendy Blumenschein, Svetlana Sadekova, Eddie Bowman, Christie Ballantyne, Casey Weaver, David A. Serody, Benjamin Vincent, Jonathan Serody, Daniel J. Cua, William R. Drobyski

Damage to the gastrointestinal tract is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and is attributable to T cell–mediated inflammation. In this work, we identified a unique CD4+ T cell population that constitutively expresses the β2 integrin CD11c and displays a biased central memory phenotype and memory T cell transcriptional profile, innate-like properties, and increased expression of the gut-homing molecules α4β7 and CCR9. Using several complementary murine GVHD models, we determined that adoptive transfer and early accumulation of β2 integrin–expressing CD4+ T cells in the gastrointestinal tract initiated Th1-mediated proinflammatory cytokine production, augmented pathological damage in the colon, and increased mortality. The pathogenic effect of this CD4+ T cell population critically depended on coexpression of the IL-23 receptor, which was required for maximal inflammatory effects. Non–Foxp3-expressing CD4+ T cells produced IL-10, which regulated colonic inflammation and attenuated lethality in the absence of functional CD4+Foxp3+ T cells. Thus, the coordinate expression of CD11c and the IL-23 receptor defines an IL-10–regulated, colitogenic memory CD4+ T cell subset that is poised to initiate inflammation when there is loss of tolerance and breakdown of mucosal barriers.

Tumor immune profiling predicts response to anti–PD-1 therapy in human melanoma
  By: Adil I. Daud, Kimberly Loo, Mariela L. Pauli, Robert Sanchez-Rodriguez, Priscila Munoz Sandoval, Keyon Taravati, Katy Tsai, Adi Nosrati, Lorenzo Nardo, Michael D. Alvarado, Alain P. Algazi, Miguel H. Pampaloni, Iryna V. Lobach, Jimmy Hwang, Robert H. Pierce, Iris K. Gratz, Matthew F. Krummel, Michael D. Rosenblum

BACKGROUND. Immune checkpoint blockade is revolutionizing therapy for advanced cancer, but many patients do not respond to treatment. The identification of robust biomarkers that predict clinical response to specific checkpoint inhibitors is critical in order to stratify patients and to rationally select combinations in the context of an expanding array of therapeutic options.

METHODS. We performed multiparameter flow cytometry on freshly isolated metastatic melanoma samples from 2 cohorts of 20 patients each prior to treatment and correlated the subsequent clinical response with the tumor immune phenotype.

RESULTS. Increasing fractions of programmed cell death 1 high/cytotoxic T lymphocyte–associated protein 4 high (PD-1hiCTLA-4hi) cells within the tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cell subset strongly correlated with response to therapy (RR) and progression-free survival (PFS). Functional analysis of these cells revealed a partially exhausted T cell phenotype. Assessment of metastatic lesions during anti–PD-1 therapy demonstrated a release of T cell exhaustion, as measured by an accumulation of highly activated CD8+ T cells within tumors, with no effect on Tregs.

CONCLUSIONS. Our data suggest that the relative abundance of partially exhausted tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells predicts response to anti–PD-1 therapy. This information can be used to appropriately select patients with a high likelihood of achieving a clinical response to PD-1 pathway inhibition.

FUNDING. This work was funded by a generous gift provided by Inga-Lill and David Amoroso as well as a generous gift provided by Stephen Juelsgaard and Lori Cook.

Hypoxia-Inducible Factors: a central link between inflammation and cancer
  By: Daniel Triner, Yatrik M. Shah

The tumor immune response is in a dynamic balance between antitumor mechanisms, which serve to decrease cancer growth, and the protumor inflammatory response, which increases immune tolerance, cell survival, and proliferation. Hypoxia and expression of HIF-1α and HIF-2α are characteristic features of all solid tumors. HIF signaling serves as a major adaptive mechanism in tumor growth in a hypoxic microenvironment. HIFs represent a critical signaling node in the switch to protumorigenic inflammatory responses through recruitment of protumor immune cells and altered immune cell effector functions to suppress antitumor immune responses and promote tumor growth through direct growth-promoting cytokine production, angiogenesis, and ROS production. Modulating HIF function will be an important mechanism to dampen the tumor-promoting inflammatory response and inhibit cancer growth.

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