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Feed: JOURNAL OF CLINICAL INVESTIGATION -- CURRENT ISSUE

Journal of Clinical Investigation RSS feed -- Current issue


Incorporation of therapeutically modified bacteria into gut microbiota inhibits obesity
  By: Zhongyi Chen, Lilu Guo, Yongqin Zhang, Rosemary L. Walzem, Julie S. Pendergast, Richard L. Printz, Lindsey C. Morris, Elena Matafonova, Xavier Stien, Li Kang, Denis Coulon, Owen P. McGuinness, Kevin D. Niswender, Sean S. Davies

Metabolic disorders, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, are widespread in Westernized nations. Gut microbiota composition is a contributing factor to the susceptibility of an individual to the development of these disorders; therefore, altering a person’s microbiota may ameliorate disease. One potential microbiome-altering strategy is the incorporation of modified bacteria that express therapeutic factors into the gut microbiota. For example, N-acylphosphatidylethanolamines (NAPEs) are precursors to the N-acylethanolamide (NAE) family of lipids, which are synthesized in the small intestine in response to feeding and reduce food intake and obesity. Here, we demonstrated that administration of engineered NAPE-expressing E. coli Nissle 1917 bacteria in drinking water for 8 weeks reduced the levels of obesity in mice fed a high-fat diet. Mice that received modified bacteria had dramatically lower food intake, adiposity, insulin resistance, and hepatosteatosis compared with mice receiving standard water or control bacteria. The protective effects conferred by NAPE-expressing bacteria persisted for at least 4 weeks after their removal from the drinking water. Moreover, administration of NAPE-expressing bacteria to TallyHo mice, a polygenic mouse model of obesity, inhibited weight gain. Our results demonstrate that incorporation of appropriately modified bacteria into the gut microbiota has potential as an effective strategy to inhibit the development of metabolic disorders.



RNA-binding protein RBM20 represses splicing to orchestrate cardiac pre-mRNA processing
  By: Henrike Maatz, Marvin Jens, Martin Liss, Sebastian Schafer, Matthias Heinig, Marieluise Kirchner, Eleonora Adami, Carola Rintisch, Vita Dauksaite, Michael H. Radke, Matthias Selbach, Paul J.R. Barton, Stuart A. Cook, Nikolaus Rajewsky, Michael Gotthardt, Markus Landthaler, Norbert Hubner

Mutations in the gene encoding the RNA-binding protein RBM20 have been implicated in dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a major cause of chronic heart failure, presumably through altering cardiac RNA splicing. Here, we combined transcriptome-wide crosslinking immunoprecipitation (CLIP-seq), RNA-seq, and quantitative proteomics in cell culture and rat and human hearts to examine how RBM20 regulates alternative splicing in the heart. Our analyses revealed the presence of a distinct RBM20 RNA-recognition element that is predominantly found within intronic binding sites and linked to repression of exon splicing with RBM20 binding near 3′ and 5′ splice sites. Proteomic analysis determined that RBM20 interacts with both U1 and U2 small nuclear ribonucleic particles (snRNPs) and suggested that RBM20-dependent splicing repression occurs through spliceosome stalling at complex A. Direct RBM20 targets included several genes previously shown to be involved in DCM as well as genes not typically associated with this disease. In failing human hearts, reduced expression of RBM20 affected alternative splicing of several direct targets, indicating that differences in RBM20 expression may affect cardiac function. Together, these findings identify RBM20-regulated targets and provide insight into the pathogenesis of human heart failure.



The deubiquitinase USP28 controls intestinal homeostasis and promotes colorectal cancer
  By: Markus E. Diefenbacher, Nikita Popov, Sophia M. Blake, Christina Schülein-Völk, Emma Nye, Bradley Spencer-Dene, Laura A. Jaenicke, Martin Eilers, Axel Behrens

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide. Although the transcription factor c-MYC is misregulated in the majority of colorectal tumors, it is difficult to target directly. The deubiquitinase USP28 stabilizes oncogenic factors, including c-MYC; however, the contribution of USP28 in tumorigenesis, particularly in the intestine, is unknown. Here, using murine genetic models, we determined that USP28 antagonizes the ubiquitin-dependent degradation of c-MYC, a known USP28 substrate, as well as 2 additional oncogenic factors, c-JUN and NOTCH1, in the intestine. Mice lacking Usp28 had no apparent adverse phenotypes, but exhibited reduced intestinal proliferation and impaired differentiation of secretory lineage cells. In a murine model of colorectal cancer, Usp28 deletion resulted in fewer intestinal tumors, and importantly, in established tumors, Usp28 deletion reduced tumor size and dramatically increased lifespan. Moreover, we identified Usp28 as a c-MYC target gene highly expressed in murine and human intestinal cancers, which indicates that USP28 and c-MYC form a positive feedback loop that maintains high c-MYC protein levels in tumors. Usp28 deficiency promoted tumor cell differentiation accompanied by decreased proliferation, which suggests that USP28 acts similarly in intestinal homeostasis and colorectal cancer models. Hence, inhibition of the enzymatic activity of USP28 may be a potential target for cancer therapy.



KLHL40 deficiency destabilizes thin filament proteins and promotes nemaline myopathy
  By: Ankit Garg, Jason O’Rourke, Chengzu Long, Jonathan Doering, Gianina Ravenscroft, Svetlana Bezprozvannaya, Benjamin R. Nelson, Nadine Beetz, Lin Li, She Chen, Nigel G. Laing, Robert W. Grange, Rhonda Bassel-Duby, Eric N. Olson

Nemaline myopathy (NM) is a congenital myopathy that can result in lethal muscle dysfunction and is thought to be a disease of the sarcomere thin filament. Recently, several proteins of unknown function have been implicated in NM, but the mechanistic basis of their contribution to disease remains unresolved. Here, we demonstrated that loss of a muscle-specific protein, kelch-like family member 40 (KLHL40), results in a nemaline-like myopathy in mice that closely phenocopies muscle abnormalities observed in KLHL40-deficient patients. We determined that KLHL40 localizes to the sarcomere I band and A band and binds to nebulin (NEB), a protein frequently implicated in NM, as well as a putative thin filament protein, leiomodin 3 (LMOD3). KLHL40 belongs to the BTB-BACK-kelch (BBK) family of proteins, some of which have been shown to promote degradation of their substrates. In contrast, we found that KLHL40 promotes stability of NEB and LMOD3 and blocks LMOD3 ubiquitination. Accordingly, NEB and LMOD3 were reduced in skeletal muscle of both Klhl40–/– mice and KLHL40-deficient patients. Loss of sarcomere thin filament proteins is a frequent cause of NM; therefore, our data that KLHL40 stabilizes NEB and LMOD3 provide a potential basis for the development of NM in KLHL40-deficient patients.



The Rothmund-Thomson syndrome helicase RECQL4 is essential for hematopoiesis
  By: Monique F. Smeets, Elisabetta DeLuca, Meaghan Wall, Julie M. Quach, Alistair M. Chalk, Andrew J. Deans, Jörg Heierhorst, Louise E. Purton, David J. Izon, Carl R. Walkley

Mutations within the gene encoding the DNA helicase RECQL4 underlie the autosomal recessive cancer-predisposition disorder Rothmund-Thomson syndrome, though it is unclear how these mutations lead to disease. Here, we demonstrated that somatic deletion of Recql4 causes a rapid bone marrow failure in mice that involves cells from across the myeloid, lymphoid, and, most profoundly, erythroid lineages. Apoptosis was markedly elevated in multipotent progenitors lacking RECQL4 compared with WT cells. While the stem cell compartment was relatively spared in RECQL4-deficent mice, HSCs from these animals were not transplantable and even selected against. The requirement for RECQL4 was intrinsic in hematopoietic cells, and loss of RECQL4 in these cells was associated with increased replicative DNA damage and failed cell-cycle progression. Concurrent deletion of p53, which rescues loss of function in animals lacking the related helicase BLM, did not rescue BM phenotypes in RECQL4-deficient animals. In contrast, hematopoietic defects in cells from Recql4Δ/Δ mice were fully rescued by a RECQL4 variant without RecQ helicase activity, demonstrating that RECQL4 maintains hematopoiesis independently of helicase activity. Together, our data indicate that RECQL4 participates in DNA replication rather than genome stability and identify RECQL4 as a regulator of hematopoiesis with a nonredundant role compared with other RecQ helicases.



HTLV-1 induces a Th1-like state in CD4+CCR4+ T cells
  By: Natsumi Araya, Tomoo Sato, Hitoshi Ando, Utano Tomaru, Mari Yoshida, Ariella Coler-Reilly, Naoko Yagishita, Junji Yamauchi, Atsuhiko Hasegawa, Mari Kannagi, Yasuhiro Hasegawa, Katsunori Takahashi, Yasuo Kunitomo, Yuetsu Tanaka, Toshihiro Nakajima, Kusuki Nishioka, Atae Utsunomiya, Steven Jacobson, Yoshihisa Yamano

Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is linked to multiple diseases, including the neuroinflammatory disease HTLV-1–associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) and adult T cell leukemia/lymphoma. Evidence suggests that HTLV-1, via the viral protein Tax, exploits CD4+ T cell plasticity and induces transcriptional changes in infected T cells that cause suppressive CD4+CD25+CCR4+ Tregs to lose expression of the transcription factor FOXP3 and produce IFN-γ, thus promoting inflammation. We hypothesized that transformation of HTLV-1–infected CCR4+ T cells into Th1-like cells plays a key role in the pathogenesis of HAM/TSP. Here, using patient cells and cell lines, we demonstrated that Tax, in cooperation with specificity protein 1 (Sp1), boosts expression of the Th1 master regulator T box transcription factor (T-bet) and consequently promotes production of IFN-γ. Evaluation of CSF and spinal cord lesions of HAM/TSP patients revealed the presence of abundant CD4+CCR4+ T cells that coexpressed the Th1 marker CXCR3 and produced T-bet and IFN-γ. Finally, treatment of isolated PBMCs and CNS cells from HAM/TSP patients with an antibody that targets CCR4+ T cells and induces cytotoxicity in these cells reduced both viral load and IFN-γ production, which suggests that targeting CCR4+ T cells may be a viable treatment option for HAM/TSP.



A phosphotyrosine switch determines the antitumor activity of ERβ
  By: Bin Yuan, Long Cheng, Huai-Chin Chiang, Xiaojie Xu, Yongjian Han, Hang Su, Lingxue Wang, Bo Zhang, Jing Lin, Xiaobing Li, Xiangyang Xie, Tao Wang, Rajeshwar R. Tekmal, Tyler J. Curiel, Zhi-Min Yuan, Richard Elledge, Yanfen Hu, Qinong Ye, Rong Li

Estrogen receptors ERα and ERβ share considerable sequence homology yet exert opposite effects on breast cancer cell proliferation. While the proliferative role of ERα in breast tumors is well characterized, it is not clear whether the antitumor activity of ERβ can be mobilized in breast cancer cells. Here, we have shown that phosphorylation of a tyrosine residue (Y36) present in ERβ, but not in ERα, dictates ERβ-specific activation of transcription and is required for ERβ-dependent inhibition of cancer cell growth in culture and in murine xenografts. Additionally, the c-ABL tyrosine kinase and EYA2 phosphatase directly and diametrically controlled the phosphorylation status of Y36 and subsequent ERβ function. A nonphosphorylatable, transcriptionally active ERβ mutant retained antitumor activity but circumvented control by upstream regulators. Phosphorylation of Y36 was required for ERβ-mediated coactivator recruitment to ERβ target promoters. In human breast cancer samples, elevated phosphorylation of Y36 in ERβ correlated with high levels of c-ABL but low EYA2 levels. Furthermore, compared with total ERβ, the presence of phosphorylated Y36–specific ERβ was strongly associated with both disease-free and overall survival in patients with stage II and III disease. Together, these data identify a signaling circuitry that regulates ERβ-specific antitumor activity and has potential as both a prognostic tool and a molecular target for cancer therapy.



Systems-level regulation of microRNA networks by miR-130/301 promotes pulmonary hypertension
  By: Thomas Bertero, Yu Lu, Sofia Annis, Andrew Hale, Balkrishen Bhat, Rajan Saggar, Rajeev Saggar, W. Dean Wallace, David J. Ross, Sara O. Vargas, Brian B. Graham, Rahul Kumar, Stephen M. Black, Sohrab Fratz, Jeffrey R. Fineman, James D. West, Kathleen J. Haley, Aaron B. Waxman, B. Nelson Chau, Katherine A. Cottrill, Stephen Y. Chan

Development of the vascular disease pulmonary hypertension (PH) involves disparate molecular pathways that span multiple cell types. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) may coordinately regulate PH progression, but the integrative functions of miRNAs in this process have been challenging to define with conventional approaches. Here, analysis of the molecular network architecture specific to PH predicted that the miR-130/301 family is a master regulator of cellular proliferation in PH via regulation of subordinate miRNA pathways with unexpected connections to one another. In validation of this model, diseased pulmonary vessels and plasma from mammalian models and human PH subjects exhibited upregulation of miR-130/301 expression. Evaluation of pulmonary arterial endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells revealed that miR-130/301 targeted PPARγ with distinct consequences. In endothelial cells, miR-130/301 modulated apelin-miR-424/503-FGF2 signaling, while in smooth muscle cells, miR-130/301 modulated STAT3-miR-204 signaling to promote PH-associated phenotypes. In murine models, induction of miR-130/301 promoted pathogenic PH-associated effects, while miR-103/301 inhibition prevented PH pathogenesis. Together, these results provide insight into the systems-level regulation of miRNA-disease gene networks in PH with broad implications for miRNA-based therapeutics in this disease. Furthermore, these findings provide critical validation for the evolving application of network theory to the discovery of the miRNA-based origins of PH and other diseases.



Systems-level regulation of microRNA networks by miR-130/301 promotes pulmonary hypertension
  By: Thomas Bertero, Yu Lu, Sofia Annis, Andrew Hale, Balkrishen Bhat, Rajan Saggar, Rajeev Saggar, W. Dean Wallace, David J. Ross, Sara O. Vargas, Brian B. Graham, Rahul Kumar, Stephen M. Black, Sohrab Fratz, Jeffrey R. Fineman, James D. West, Kathleen J. Haley, Aaron B. Waxman, B. Nelson Chau, Katherine A. Cottrill, Stephen Y. Chan

Development of the vascular disease pulmonary hypertension (PH) involves disparate molecular pathways that span multiple cell types. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) may coordinately regulate PH progression, but the integrative functions of miRNAs in this process have been challenging to define with conventional approaches. Here, analysis of the molecular network architecture specific to PH predicted that the miR-130/301 family is a master regulator of cellular proliferation in PH via regulation of subordinate miRNA pathways with unexpected connections to one another. In validation of this model, diseased pulmonary vessels and plasma from mammalian models and human PH subjects exhibited upregulation of miR-130/301 expression. Evaluation of pulmonary arterial endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells revealed that miR-130/301 targeted PPARγ with distinct consequences. In endothelial cells, miR-130/301 modulated apelin-miR-424/503-FGF2 signaling, while in smooth muscle cells, miR-130/301 modulated STAT3-miR-204 signaling to promote PH-associated phenotypes. In murine models, induction of miR-130/301 promoted pathogenic PH-associated effects, while miR-130/301 inhibition prevented PH pathogenesis. Together, these results provide insight into the systems-level regulation of miRNA-disease gene networks in PH with broad implications for miRNA-based therapeutics in this disease. Furthermore, these findings provide critical validation for the evolving application of network theory to the discovery of the miRNA-based origins of PH and other diseases.



Endogenous intrahepatic IFNs and association with IFN-free HCV treatment outcome
  By: Eric G. Meissner, David Wu, Anu Osinusi, Dimitra Bon, Kimmo Virtaneva, Dan Sturdevant, Steve Porcella, Honghui Wang, Eva Herrmann, John McHutchison, Anthony F. Suffredini, Michael Polis, Stephen Hewitt, Ludmila Prokunina-Olsson, Henry Masur, Anthony S. Fauci, Shyamasundaran Kottilil

BACKGROUND. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects approximately 170 million people worldwide and may lead to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in chronically infected individuals. Treatment is rapidly evolving from IFN-α–based therapies to IFN-α–free regimens that consist of directly acting antiviral agents (DAAs), which demonstrate improved efficacy and tolerability in clinical trials. Virologic relapse after DAA therapy is a common cause of treatment failure; however, it is not clear why relapse occurs or whether certain individuals are more prone to recurrent viremia.

METHODS. We conducted a clinical trial using the DAA sofosbuvir plus ribavirin (SOF/RBV) and performed detailed mRNA expression analysis in liver and peripheral blood from patients who achieved either a sustained virologic response (SVR) or relapsed.

RESULTS. On-treatment viral clearance was accompanied by rapid downregulation of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) in liver and blood, regardless of treatment outcome. Analysis of paired pretreatment and end of treatment (EOT) liver biopsies from SVR patients showed that viral clearance was accompanied by decreased expression of type II and III IFNs, but unexpectedly increased expression of the type I IFN IFNA2. mRNA expression of ISGs was higher in EOT liver biopsies of patients who achieved SVR than in patients who later relapsed.

CONCLUSION. These results suggest that restoration of type I intrahepatic IFN signaling by EOT may facilitate HCV eradication and prevention of relapse upon withdrawal of SOF/RBV.

TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01441180.

FUNDING. Intramural Programs of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, and National Cancer Institute; German Research Foundation.





Altered miRNA processing disrupts brown/white adipocyte determination and associates with lipodystrophy
  By: Marcelo A. Mori, Thomas Thomou, Jeremie Boucher, Kevin Y. Lee, Susanna Lallukka, Jason K. Kim, Martin Torriani, Hannele Yki-Järvinen, Steven K. Grinspoon, Aaron M. Cypess, C. Ronald Kahn

miRNAs are important regulators of biological processes in many tissues, including the differentiation and function of brown and white adipocytes. The endoribonuclease dicer is a major component of the miRNA-processing pathway, and in adipose tissue, levels of dicer have been shown to decrease with age, increase with caloric restriction, and influence stress resistance. Here, we demonstrated that mice with a fat-specific KO of dicer develop a form of lipodystrophy that is characterized by loss of intra-abdominal and subcutaneous white fat, severe insulin resistance, and enlargement and “whitening” of interscapular brown fat. Additionally, KO of dicer in cultured brown preadipocytes promoted a white adipocyte–like phenotype and reduced expression of several miRNAs. Brown preadipocyte whitening was partially reversed by expression of miR-365, a miRNA known to promote brown fat differentiation; however, introduction of other miRNAs, including miR-346 and miR-362, also contributed to reversal of the loss of the dicer phenotype. Interestingly, fat samples from patients with HIV-related lipodystrophy exhibited a substantial downregulation of dicer mRNA expression. Together, these findings indicate the importance of miRNA processing in white and brown adipose tissue determination and provide a potential link between this process and HIV-related lipodystrophy.



Factor XIII activity mediates red blood cell retention in venous thrombi
  By: Maria M. Aleman, James R. Byrnes, Jian-Guo Wang, Reginald Tran, Wilbur A. Lam, Jorge Di Paola, Nigel Mackman, Jay L. Degen, Matthew J. Flick, Alisa S. Wolberg

Venous thrombi, fibrin- and rbc-rich clots triggered by inflammation and blood stasis, underlie devastating, and sometimes fatal, occlusive events. During intravascular fibrin deposition, rbc are thought to become passively trapped in thrombi and therefore have not been considered a modifiable thrombus component. In the present study, we determined that activity of the transglutaminase factor XIII (FXIII) is critical for rbc retention within clots and directly affects thrombus size. Compared with WT mice, mice carrying a homozygous mutation in the fibrinogen γ chain (Fibγ390–396A) had a striking 50% reduction in thrombus weight due to reduced rbc content. Fibrinogen from mice harboring the Fibγ390–396A mutation exhibited reduced binding to FXIII, and plasma from these mice exhibited delayed FXIII activation and fibrin crosslinking, indicating these residues mediate FXIII binding and activation. FXIII-deficient mice phenocopied mice carrying Fibγ390–396A and produced smaller thrombi with fewer rbc than WT mice. Importantly, FXIII-deficient human clots also exhibited reduced rbc retention. The addition of FXIII to FXIII-deficient clots increased rbc retention, while inhibition of FXIII activity in normal blood reduced rbc retention and produced smaller clots. These findings establish the FXIII-fibrinogen axis as a central determinant in venous thrombogenesis and identify FXIII as a potential therapeutic target for limiting venous thrombosis.



Non-self recognition by monocytes initiates allograft rejection
  By: Martin H. Oberbarnscheidt, Qiang Zeng, Qi Li, Hehua Dai, Amanda L. Williams, Warren D. Shlomchik, David M. Rothstein, Fadi G. Lakkis

Maturation of T cell–activating APCs directly links innate and adaptive immunity and is typically triggered by microbial infection. Transplantation of allografts, which are sterile, generates strong T cell responses; however, it is unclear how grafts induce APC maturation in the absence of microbial-derived signals. A widely accepted hypothesis is that dying cells in the graft release “danger” molecules that induce APC maturation and initiate the adaptive alloimmune response. Here, we demonstrated that danger signals associated with dying cells are not sufficient to initiate alloimmunity, but that recognition of allogeneic non-self by the innate immune system is required. In WT as well as in T cell–, B cell–, and innate lymphoid cell–deficient mice, allogeneic grafts elicited persistent differentiation of monocytes into mature DCs that expressed IL-12 and stimulated T cell proliferation and IFN-γ production. In contrast, syngeneic grafts in the same mice elicited transient and less pronounced differentiation of monocytes into DCs, which neither expressed IL-12 nor stimulated IFN-γ production. In a model in which T cell recognition is restricted to a single foreign antigen on the graft, rejection occurred only if the allogeneic non-self signal was also sensed by the host’s innate immune system. These findings underscore the importance of innate recognition of allogeneic non-self by monocytes in initiating graft rejection.



Fragile TIM-4–expressing tissue resident macrophages are migratory and immunoregulatory
  By: Thomas B. Thornley, Zemin Fang, Savithri Balasubramanian, Rafael A. Larocca, Weihua Gong, Shipra Gupta, Eva Csizmadia, Nicolas Degauque, Beom Seok Kim, Maria Koulmanda, Vijay K. Kuchroo, Terry B. Strom

Macrophages characterized as M2 and M2-like regulate immune responses associated with immune suppression and healing; however, the relationship of this macrophage subset to CD169+ tissue-resident macrophages and their contribution to shaping alloimmune responses is unknown. Here we identified a population of M2-like tissue-resident macrophages that express high levels of the phosphatidylserine receptor TIM-4 and CD169 (TIM-4hiCD169+). Labeling and tracking of TIM-4hiCD169+ macrophages in mice revealed that this population is a major subset of tissue-resident macrophages, homes to draining LNs following oxidative stress, exhibits an immunoregulatory and hypostimulatory phenotype that is maintained after migration to secondary lymphoid organs, favors preferential induction of antigen-stimulated Tregs, and is highly susceptible to apoptosis. Moreover, CD169+ tissue-resident macrophages were resistant to oxidative stress–induced apoptosis in mice lacking TIM-4. Compared with heart allografts from WT mice, Tim4–/– heart allografts survived much longer and were more easily tolerized by non-immunosuppressed recipients. Furthermore, Tim4–/– allograft survival was associated with the infiltration of Tregs into the graft. Together, our data provide evidence that M2-like TIM-4hiCD169+ tissue-resident macrophages are immunoregulatory and promote engraftment of cardiac allografts, but their influence is diminished by TIM-4–dependent programmed cell death.



Integrin-mediated type II TGF-β receptor tyrosine dephosphorylation controls SMAD-dependent profibrotic signaling
  By: Xiwu Chen, Hongtao Wang, Hong-Jun Liao, Wen Hu, Leslie Gewin, Glenda Mernaugh, Sheng Zhang, Zhong-Yin Zhang, Lorenzo Vega-Montoto, Roberto M. Vanacore, Reinhard Fässler, Roy Zent, Ambra Pozzi

Tubulointerstitial fibrosis underlies all forms of end-stage kidney disease. TGF-β mediates both the development and the progression of kidney fibrosis through binding and activation of the serine/threonine kinase type II TGF-β receptor (TβRII), which in turn promotes a TβRI-mediated SMAD-dependent fibrotic signaling cascade. Autophosphorylation of serine residues within TβRII is considered the principal regulatory mechanism of TβRII-induced signaling; however, there are 5 tyrosine residues within the cytoplasmic tail that could potentially mediate TβRII-dependent SMAD activation. Here, we determined that phosphorylation of tyrosines within the TβRII tail was essential for SMAD-dependent fibrotic signaling within cells of the kidney collecting duct. Conversely, the T cell protein tyrosine phosphatase (TCPTP) dephosphorylated TβRII tail tyrosine residues, resulting in inhibition of TβR-dependent fibrotic signaling. The collagen-binding receptor integrin α1β1 was required for recruitment of TCPTP to the TβRII tail, as mice lacking this integrin exhibited impaired TCPTP-mediated tyrosine dephosphorylation of TβRII that led to severe fibrosis in a unilateral ureteral obstruction model of renal fibrosis. Together, these findings uncover a crosstalk between integrin α1β1 and TβRII that is essential for TβRII-mediated SMAD activation and fibrotic signaling pathways.



TAK1-mediated autophagy and fatty acid oxidation prevent hepatosteatosis and tumorigenesis
  By: Sayaka Inokuchi-Shimizu, Eek Joong Park, Yoon Seok Roh, Ling Yang, Bi Zhang, Jingyi Song, Shuang Liang, Michael Pimienta, Koji Taniguchi, Xuefeng Wu, Kinji Asahina, William Lagakos, Mason R. Mackey, Shizuo Akira, Mark H. Ellisman, Dorothy D. Sears, Jerrold M. Olefsky, Michael Karin, David A. Brenner, Ekihiro Seki

The MAP kinase kinase kinase TGFβ-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) is activated by TLRs, IL-1, TNF, and TGFβ and in turn activates IKK-NF-κB and JNK, which regulate cell survival, growth, tumorigenesis, and metabolism. TAK1 signaling also upregulates AMPK activity and autophagy. Here, we investigated TAK1-dependent regulation of autophagy, lipid metabolism, and tumorigenesis in the liver. Fasted mice with hepatocyte-specific deletion of Tak1 exhibited severe hepatosteatosis with increased mTORC1 activity and suppression of autophagy compared with their WT counterparts. TAK1-deficient hepatocytes exhibited suppressed AMPK activity and autophagy in response to starvation or metformin treatment; however, ectopic activation of AMPK restored autophagy in these cells. Peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor α (PPARα) target genes and β-oxidation, which regulate hepatic lipid degradation, were also suppressed in hepatocytes lacking TAK1. Due to suppression of autophagy and β-oxidation, a high-fat diet challenge aggravated steatohepatitis in mice with hepatocyte-specific deletion of Tak1. Notably, inhibition of mTORC1 restored autophagy and PPARα target gene expression in TAK1-deficient livers, indicating that TAK1 acts upstream of mTORC1. mTORC1 inhibition also suppressed spontaneous liver fibrosis and hepatocarcinogenesis in animals with hepatocyte-specific deletion of Tak1. These data indicate that TAK1 regulates hepatic lipid metabolism and tumorigenesis via the AMPK/mTORC1 axis, affecting both autophagy and PPARα activity.



The vestigial enzyme D-dopachrome tautomerase protects the heart against ischemic injury
  By: Dake Qi, Kwame Atsina, Lintao Qu, Xiaoyue Hu, Xiaohong Wu, Bin Xu, Marta Piecychna, Lin Leng, Günter Fingerle-Rowson, Jiasheng Zhang, Richard Bucala, Lawrence H. Young

The cellular response to stress involves the recruitment and coordination of molecular signaling pathways that prevent cell death. D-dopachrome tautomerase (DDT) is an enzyme that lacks physiologic substrates in mammalian cells, but shares partial sequence and structural homology with macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF). Here, we observed that DDT is highly expressed in murine cardiomyocytes and secreted by the heart after ischemic stress. Antibody-dependent neutralization of secreted DDT exacerbated both ischemia-induced cardiac contractile dysfunction and necrosis. We generated cardiomyocyte-specific DDT knockout mice (Myh6-Cre Ddtfl/fl), which demonstrated normal baseline cardiac size and function, but had an impaired physiologic response to ischemia-reperfusion. Hearts from Myh6-Cre Ddtfl/fl mice exhibited more necrosis and LV contractile dysfunction than control hearts after coronary artery ligation and reperfusion. Furthermore, treatment with DDT protected isolated hearts against injury and contractile dysfunction after ischemia-reperfusion. The protective effect of DDT required activation of the metabolic stress enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which was mediated by a CD74/CaMKK2-dependent mechanism. Together, our data indicate that cardiomyocyte secretion of DDT has important autocrine/paracrine effects during ischemia-reperfusion that protect the heart against injury.



Chronic viral infection promotes sustained Th1-derived immunoregulatory IL-10 via BLIMP-1
  By: Ian A. Parish, Heather D. Marshall, Matthew M. Staron, Philipp A. Lang, Anne Brüstle, Jonathan H. Chen, Weiguo Cui, Yao-Chen Tsui, Curtis Perry, Brian J. Laidlaw, Pamela S. Ohashi, Casey T. Weaver, Susan M. Kaech

During the course of many chronic viral infections, the antiviral T cell response becomes attenuated through a process that is regulated in part by the host. While elevated expression of the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-10 is involved in the suppression of viral-specific T cell responses, the relevant cellular sources of IL-10, as well as the pathways responsible for IL-10 induction, remain unclear. In this study, we traced IL-10 production over the course of chronic lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection in an IL-10 reporter mouse line. Using this model, we demonstrated that virus-specific T cells with reduced inflammatory function, particularly Th1 cells, display elevated and sustained IL-10 expression during chronic LCMV infection. Furthermore, ablation of IL-10 from the T cell compartment partially restored T cell function and reduced viral loads in LCMV-infected animals. We found that viral persistence is needed for sustained IL-10 production by Th1 cells and that the transcription factor BLIMP-1 is required for IL-10 expression by Th1 cells. Restimulation of Th1 cells from LCMV-infected mice promoted BLIMP-1 and subsequent IL-10 expression, suggesting that constant antigen exposure likely induces the BLIMP-1/IL-10 pathway during chronic viral infection. Together, these data indicate that effector T cells self-limit their responsiveness during persistent viral infection via an IL-10–dependent negative feedback loop.



Trace amounts of sporadically reappearing HCV RNA can cause infection
  By: Naga Suresh Veerapu, Su-Hyung Park, Damien C. Tully, Todd M. Allen, Barbara Rehermann

Successful hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment is defined as the absence of viremia 6 months after therapy cessation. We previously reported that trace amounts of HCV RNA, below the sensitivity of the standard clinical assay, can reappear sporadically in treatment responders. Here, we assessed the infectivity of this RNA and infused 3 chimpanzees sequentially at 9-week intervals with plasma or PBMCs from patients who tested positive for trace amounts of HCV RNA more than 6 months after completing pegylated IFN-α/ribavirin therapy. A fourth chimpanzee received HCV RNA–negative plasma and PBMCs from healthy blood donors. The 3 experimental chimpanzees, but not the control chimpanzee, generated HCV-specific T cell responses against nonstructural and structural HCV sequences 6–10 weeks after the first infusion of patient plasma and during subsequent infusions. In 1 chimpanzee, T cell responses declined, and this animal developed high-level viremia at week 27. Deep sequencing of HCV demonstrated transmission of a minor HCV variant from the first infusion donor that persisted in the chimpanzee for more than 6 months despite undetectable systemic viremia. Collectively, these results demonstrate that trace amounts of HCV RNA, which appear sporadically in successfully treated patients, can be infectious; furthermore, transmission can be masked in the recipient by an extended eclipse phase prior to establishing high-level viremia.



RAS interaction with PI3K p110α is required for tumor-induced angiogenesis
  By: Miguel Manuel Murillo, Santiago Zelenay, Emma Nye, Esther Castellano, Francois Lassailly, Gordon Stamp, Julian Downward

Direct interaction of RAS with the PI3K p110α subunit mediates RAS-driven tumor development: however, it is not clear how p110α/RAS-dependant signaling mediates interactions between tumors and host tissues. Here, using a murine tumor cell transfer model, we demonstrated that disruption of the interaction between RAS and p110α within host tissue reduced tumor growth and tumor-induced angiogenesis, leading to improved survival of tumor-bearing mice, even when this interaction was intact in the transferred tumor. Furthermore, functional interaction of RAS with p110α in host tissue was required for efficient establishment and growth of metastatic tumors. Inhibition of RAS and p110α interaction prevented proper VEGF-A and FGF-2 signaling, which are required for efficient angiogenesis. Additionally, disruption of the RAS and p110α interaction altered the nature of tumor-associated macrophages, inducing expression of markers typical for macrophage populations with reduced tumor-promoting capacity. Together, these results indicate that a functional RAS interaction with PI3K p110α in host tissue is required for the establishment of a growth-permissive environment for the tumor, particularly for tumor-induced angiogenesis. Targeting the interaction of RAS with PI3K has the potential to impair tumor formation by altering the tumor-host relationship, in addition to previously described tumor cell–autonomous effects.







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