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Journal of Clinical Investigation RSS feed -- Current issue

A GRHL3-regulated repair pathway suppresses immune-mediated epidermal hyperplasia
  By: William M. Gordon, Michael D. Zeller, Rachel H. Klein, William R. Swindell, Hsiang Ho, Francisco Espetia, Johann E. Gudjonsson, Pierre F. Baldi, Bogi Andersen

Dermal infiltration of T cells is an important step in the onset and progression of immune-mediated skin diseases such as psoriasis; however, it is not known whether epidermal factors play a primary role in the development of these diseases. Here, we determined that the prodifferentiation transcription factor grainyhead-like 3 (GRHL3), which is essential during epidermal development, is dispensable for adult skin homeostasis, but required for barrier repair after adult epidermal injury. Consistent with activation of a GRHL3-regulated repair pathway in psoriasis, we found that GRHL3 is upregulated in lesional skin and binds known epidermal differentiation gene targets. Using an imiquimod-induced model of immune-mediated epidermal hyperplasia, we found that mice lacking GRHL3 have an exacerbated epidermal damage response, greater sensitivity to disease induction, delayed resolution of epidermal lesions, and resistance to anti–IL-22 therapy compared with WT animals. ChIP-Seq and gene expression profiling of murine skin revealed that while GRHL3 regulates differentiation pathways both during development and during repair from immune-mediated damage, it targets distinct sets of genes in the 2 processes. In particular, GRHL3 suppressed a number of alarmin and other proinflammatory genes after immune injury. This study identifies a GRHL3-regulated epidermal barrier repair pathway that suppresses disease initiation and helps resolve existing lesions in immune-mediated epidermal hyperplasia.

Circulating T follicular regulatory and helper cells have memory-like properties
  By: Peter T. Sage, David Alvarez, Jernej Godec, Ulrich H. von Andrian, Arlene H. Sharpe

Follicular Tregs (Tfr cells) inhibit antibody production, whereas follicular Th cells (Tfh cells) stimulate it. Tfr cells are found in blood; however, relatively little is known about the developmental signals for these cells or their functions. Here we demonstrated that circulating Tfr and Tfh cells share properties of memory cells and are distinct from effector Tfr and Tfh cells found within lymph nodes (LNs). Circulating memory-like Tfh cells were potently reactivated by DCs, homed to germinal centers, and produced more cytokines than did effector LN Tfh cells. Circulating memory-like Tfr cells persisted for long periods of time in vivo and homed to germinal centers after reactivation. Effector LN Tfr cells suppressed Tfh cell activation and production of cytokines, including IL-21, and inhibited class switch recombination and B cell activation. The suppressive function of this population was not dependent on specific antigen. Similar to LN effector Tfr cells, circulating Tfr cells also suppressed B and Tfh cells, but with a much lower capacity. Our data indicate that circulating memory-like Tfr cells are less suppressive than LN Tfr cells and circulating memory-like Tfh cells are more potent than LN effector Tfh cells; therefore, these circulating populations can provide rapid and robust systemic B cell help during secondary antigen exposure.

Ketogenesis prevents diet-induced fatty liver injury and hyperglycemia
  By: David G. Cotter, Baris Ercal, Xiaojing Huang, Jamison M. Leid, D. André d’Avignon, Mark J. Graham, Dennis J. Dietzen, Elizabeth M. Brunt, Gary J. Patti, Peter A. Crawford

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) spectrum disorders affect approximately 1 billion individuals worldwide. However, the drivers of progressive steatohepatitis remain incompletely defined. Ketogenesis can dispose of much of the fat that enters the liver, and dysfunction in this pathway could promote the development of NAFLD. Here, we evaluated mice lacking mitochondrial 3-hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA synthase (HMGCS2) to determine the role of ketogenesis in preventing diet-induced steatohepatitis. Antisense oligonucleotide–induced loss of HMGCS2 in chow-fed adult mice caused mild hyperglycemia, increased hepatic gluconeogenesis from pyruvate, and augmented production of hundreds of hepatic metabolites, a suite of which indicated activation of the de novo lipogenesis pathway. High-fat diet feeding of mice with insufficient ketogenesis resulted in extensive hepatocyte injury and inflammation, decreased glycemia, deranged hepatic TCA cycle intermediate concentrations, and impaired hepatic gluconeogenesis due to sequestration of free coenzyme A (CoASH). Supplementation of the CoASH precursors pantothenic acid and cysteine normalized TCA intermediates and gluconeogenesis in the livers of ketogenesis-insufficient animals. Together, these findings indicate that ketogenesis is a critical regulator of hepatic acyl-CoA metabolism, glucose metabolism, and TCA cycle function in the absorptive state and suggest that ketogenesis may modulate fatty liver disease.

Hair keratin mutations in tooth enamel increase dental decay risk
  By: Olivier Duverger, Takahiro Ohara, John R. Shaffer, Danielle Donahue, Patricia Zerfas, Andrew Dullnig, Christopher Crecelius, Elia Beniash, Mary L. Marazita, Maria I. Morasso

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body and has a unique combination of hardness and fracture toughness that protects teeth from dental caries, the most common chronic disease worldwide. In addition to a high mineral content, tooth enamel comprises organic material that is important for mechanical performance and influences the initiation and progression of caries; however, the protein composition of tooth enamel has not been fully characterized. Here, we determined that epithelial hair keratins, which are crucial for maintaining the integrity of the sheaths that support the hair shaft, are expressed in the enamel organ and are essential organic components of mature enamel. Using genetic and intraoral examination data from 386 children and 706 adults, we found that individuals harboring known hair disorder–associated polymorphisms in the gene encoding keratin 75 (KRT75), KRT75A161T and KRT75E337K, are prone to increased dental caries. Analysis of teeth from individuals carrying the KRT75A161T variant revealed an altered enamel structure and a marked reduction of enamel hardness, suggesting that a functional keratin network is required for the mechanical stability of tooth enamel. Taken together, our results identify a genetic locus that influences enamel structure and establish a connection between hair disorders and susceptibility to dental caries.

Sphingosine-1-phosphate lyase downregulation promotes colon carcinogenesis through STAT3-activated microRNAs
  By: Emilie Degagné, Ashok Pandurangan, Padmavathi Bandhuvula, Ashok Kumar, Abeer Eltanawy, Meng Zhang, Yuko Yoshinaga, Mikhail Nefedov, Pieter J. de Jong, Loren G. Fong, Stephen G. Young, Robert Bittman, Yasmin Ahmedi, Julie D. Saba

Growing evidence supports a link between inflammation and cancer; however, mediators of the transition between inflammation and carcinogenesis remain incompletely understood. Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) lyase (SPL) irreversibly degrades the bioactive sphingolipid S1P and is highly expressed in enterocytes but downregulated in colon cancer. Here, we investigated the role of SPL in colitis-associated cancer (CAC). We generated mice with intestinal epithelium-specific Sgpl1 deletion and chemically induced colitis and tumor formation in these animals. Compared with control animals, mice lacking intestinal SPL exhibited greater disease activity, colon shortening, cytokine levels, S1P accumulation, tumors, STAT3 activation, STAT3-activated microRNAs (miRNAs), and suppression of miR-targeted anti-oncogene products. This phenotype was attenuated by STAT3 inhibition. In fibroblasts, silencing SPL promoted tumorigenic transformation through a pathway involving extracellular transport of S1P through S1P transporter spinster homolog 2 (SPNS2), S1P receptor activation, JAK2/STAT3-dependent miR-181b-1 induction, and silencing of miR-181b-1 target cylindromatosis (CYLD). Colon biopsies from patients with inflammatory bowel disease revealed enhanced S1P and STAT3 signaling. In mice with chemical-induced CAC, oral administration of plant-type sphingolipids called sphingadienes increased colonic SPL levels and reduced S1P levels, STAT3 signaling, cytokine levels, and tumorigenesis, indicating that SPL prevents transformation and carcinogenesis. Together, our results suggest that dietary sphingolipids can augment or prevent colon cancer, depending upon whether they are metabolized to S1P or promote S1P metabolism through the actions of SPL.

Membrane protein CNNM4–dependent Mg2+ efflux suppresses tumor progression
  By: Yosuke Funato, Daisuke Yamazaki, Shin Mizukami, Lisa Du, Kazuya Kikuchi, Hiroaki Miki

Intracellular Mg2+ levels are strictly regulated; however, the biological importance of intracellular Mg2+ levels and the pathways that regulate them remain poorly understood. Here, we determined that intracellular Mg2+ is important in regulating both energy metabolism and tumor progression. We determined that CNNM4, a membrane protein that stimulates Mg2+ efflux, binds phosphatase of regenerating liver (PRL), which is frequently overexpressed in malignant human cancers. Biochemical analyses of cultured cells revealed that PRL prevents CNNM4-dependent Mg2+ efflux and that regulation of intracellular Mg2+ levels by PRL and CNNM4 is linked to energy metabolism and AMPK/mTOR signaling. Indeed, treatment with the clinically available mTOR inhibitor rapamycin suppressed the growth of cancer cells in which PRL was overexpressed. In ApcΔ14/+ mice, which spontaneously form benign polyps in the intestine, deletion of Cnnm4 promoted malignant progression of intestinal polyps to adenocarcinomas. IHC analyses of tissues from patients with colon cancer demonstrated an inverse relationship between CNNM4 expression and colon cancer malignancy. Together, these results indicate that CNNM4-dependent Mg2+ efflux suppresses tumor progression by regulating energy metabolism.

Targeting miR-23a in CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes prevents tumor-dependent immunosuppression
  By: Regina Lin, Ling Chen, Gang Chen, Chunyan Hu, Shan Jiang, Jose Sevilla, Ying Wan, John H. Sampson, Bo Zhu, Qi-Jing Li

CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) have potent antitumor activity and therefore are leading candidates for use in tumor immunotherapy. The application of CTLs for clinical use has been limited by the susceptibility of ex vivo–expanded CTLs to become dysfunctional in response to immunosuppressive microenvironments. Here, we developed a microRNA-targeting (miRNA-targeting) approach that augments CTL cytotoxicity and preserves immunocompetence. Specifically, we screened for miRNAs that modulate cytotoxicity and identified miR-23a as a strong functional repressor of the transcription factor BLIMP-1, which promotes CTL cytotoxicity and effector cell differentiation. In a cohort of advanced lung cancer patients, miR-23a was upregulated in tumor-infiltrating CTLs, and expression correlated with impaired antitumor potential of patient CTLs. We determined that tumor-derived TGF-β directly suppresses CTL immune function by elevating miR-23a and downregulating BLIMP-1. Functional blocking of miR-23a in human CTLs enhanced granzyme B expression, and in mice with established tumors, immunotherapy with just a small number of tumor-specific CTLs in which miR-23a was inhibited robustly hindered tumor progression. Together, our findings provide a miRNA-based strategy that subverts the immunosuppression of CTLs that is often observed during adoptive cell transfer tumor immunotherapy and identify a TGF-β–mediated tumor immune-evasion pathway.

Inherited BCL10 deficiency impairs hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic immunity
  By: Juan Manuel Torres, Rubén Martinez-Barricarte, Sonia García-Gómez, Marina S. Mazariegos, Yuval Itan, Bertrand Boisson, Rita Álvarez, Anaïs Jiménez-Reinoso, Lucia del Pino, Rebeca Rodríguez-Pena, Antonio Ferreira, Enrique Hernández-Jiménez, Victor Toledano, Carolina Cubillos-Zapata, Mariana Díaz-Almirón, Eduardo López-Collazo, José L. Unzueta-Roch, Silvia Sánchez-Ramón, Jose R. Regueiro, Eduardo López-Granados, Jean-Laurent Casanova, Rebeca Pérez de Diego

Heterotrimers composed of B cell CLL/lymphoma 10 (BCL10), mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma translocation protein 1 (MALT1), and caspase recruitment domain–containing (CARD) family adaptors play a role in NF-κB activation and have been shown to be involved in both the innate and the adaptive arms of immunity in murine models. Moreover, individuals with inherited defects of MALT1, CARD9, and CARD11 present with immunological and clinical phenotypes. Here, we characterized a case of autosomal-recessive, complete BCL10 deficiency in a child with a broad immunodeficiency, including defects of both hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic immunity. The patient died at 3 years of age and was homozygous for a loss-of-expression, loss-of-function BCL10 mutation. The effect of BCL10 deficiency was dependent on the signaling pathway, and, for some pathways, the cell type affected. Despite the noted similarities to BCL10 deficiency in mice, including a deficient adaptive immune response, human BCL10 deficiency in this patient resulted in a number of specific features within cell populations. Treatment of the patient’s myeloid cells with a variety of pathogen-associated molecular pattern molecules (PAMPs) elicited a normal response; however, NF-κB–mediated fibroblast functions were dramatically impaired. The results of this study indicate that inherited BCL10 deficiency should be considered in patients with combined immunodeficiency with B cell, T cell, and fibroblast defects.

Altered trafficking and stability of polycystins underlie polycystic kidney disease
  By: Yiqiang Cai, Sorin V. Fedeles, Ke Dong, Georgia Anyatonwu, Tamehito Onoe, Michihiro Mitobe, Jian-Dong Gao, Dayne Okuhara, Xin Tian, Anna-Rachel Gallagher, Zhangui Tang, Xiaoli Xie, Maria D. Lalioti, Ann-Hwee Lee, Barbara E. Ehrlich, Stefan Somlo

The most severe form of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease occurs in patients with mutations in the gene (PKD1) encoding polycystin-1 (PC1). PC1 is a complex polytopic membrane protein expressed in cilia that undergoes autoproteolytic cleavage at a G protein–coupled receptor proteolytic site (GPS). A quarter of PKD1 mutations are missense variants, though it is not clear how these mutations promote disease. Here, we established a cell-based system to evaluate these mutations and determined that GPS cleavage is required for PC1 trafficking to cilia. A common feature among a subset of pathogenic missense mutations is a resulting failure of PC1 to traffic to cilia regardless of GPS cleavage. The application of our system also identified a missense mutation in the gene encoding polycystin-2 (PC2) that prevented this protein from properly trafficking to cilia. Using a Pkd1-BAC recombineering approach, we developed murine models to study the effects of these mutations and confirmed that only the cleaved form of PC1 exits the ER and can rescue the embryonically lethal Pkd1-null mutation. Additionally, steady-state expression levels of the intramembranous COOH-terminal fragment of cleaved PC1 required an intact interaction with PC2. The results of this study demonstrate that PC1 trafficking and expression require GPS cleavage and PC2 interaction, respectively, and provide a framework for functional assays to categorize the effects of missense mutations in polycystins.

Spastic paraplegia proteins spastizin and spatacsin mediate autophagic lysosome reformation
  By: Jaerak Chang, Seongju Lee, Craig Blackstone

Autophagy allows cells to adapt to changes in their environment by coordinating the degradation and recycling of cellular components and organelles to maintain homeostasis. Lysosomes are organelles critical for terminating autophagy via their fusion with mature autophagosomes to generate autolysosomes that degrade autophagic materials; therefore, maintenance of the lysosomal population is essential for autophagy-dependent cellular clearance. Here, we have demonstrated that the two most common autosomal recessive hereditary spastic paraplegia gene products, the SPG15 protein spastizin and the SPG11 protein spatacsin, are pivotal for autophagic lysosome reformation (ALR), a pathway that generates new lysosomes. Lysosomal targeting of spastizin required an intact FYVE domain, which binds phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate. Loss of spastizin or spatacsin resulted in depletion of free lysosomes, which are competent to fuse with autophagosomes, and an accumulation of autolysosomes, reflecting a failure in ALR. Moreover, spastizin and spatacsin were essential components for the initiation of lysosomal tubulation. Together, these results link dysfunction of the autophagy/lysosomal biogenesis machinery to neurodegeneration.

Thymic stromal lymphopoietin–mediated epicutaneous inflammation promotes acute diarrhea and anaphylaxis
  By: Hongwei Han, Tennille D. Thelen, Michael R. Comeau, Steven F. Ziegler

Atopic dermatitis (AD) and food allergy are closely linked; however, the mechanisms that guide the progression of AD to allergic inflammatory responses at other mucosal surfaces, including the gastrointestinal tract, are not well understood. Here, we determined that exposure of mice that have been epicutaneously sensitized with thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) and antigen to repeated oral doses of the same antigen induced acute diarrhea and anaphylaxis. In this model, loss of TSLP signaling specifically in DCs led to loss of induced allergic diarrhea through lack of sensitization. While TSLP responses were not required during oral allergen challenge, CD4+ T cells were required and transferred disease when introduced into naive hosts. In addition, oral exposure to the antigen prior to skin sensitization blocked development of allergic disease. Finally, mice lacking the receptor for IL-25 failed to develop acute diarrhea and anaphylaxis, highlighting a role for IL-25 in the initiation of type 2 immunity in the intestine. These results demonstrate a role for TSLP and IL-25 in the atopic march from skin sensitization to food allergic responses and provide a model system for the generation of potential therapeutic interventions.

TGR5 reduces macrophage migration through mTOR-induced C/EBPβ differential translation
  By: Alessia Perino, Thijs Willem Hendrik Pols, Mitsunori Nomura, Sokrates Stein, Roberto Pellicciari, Kristina Schoonjans

The bile acid–responsive G protein–coupled receptor TGR5 is involved in several metabolic processes, and recent studies suggest that TGR5 activation may promote pathways that are protective against diet-induced diabetes. Here, we investigated the role of macrophage-specific TGR5 signaling in protecting adipose tissue from inflammation and associated insulin resistance. Examination of adipose tissue from obese mice lacking macrophage Tgr5 revealed enhanced inflammation, increased chemokine expression, and higher macrophage numbers compared with control obese animals. Moreover, macrophage-specific deletion of Tgr5 exacerbated insulin resistance in obese animals. Conversely, pharmacological activation of TGR5 markedly decreased LPS-induced chemokine expression in primary macrophages. This reduction was mediated by AKT-dependent activation of mTOR complex 1, which in turn induced the differential translation of the dominant-negative C/EBPβ isoform, liver inhibitory protein (LIP). Overall, these studies reveal a signaling pathway downstream of TGR5 that modulates chemokine expression in response to high-fat diet and suggest that targeting this pathway has the potential to be therapeutically exploited for prevention of chronic inflammatory diseases and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

TRPV4 mediates myofibroblast differentiation and pulmonary fibrosis in mice
  By: Shaik O. Rahaman, Lisa M. Grove, Sailaja Paruchuri, Brian D. Southern, Susamma Abraham, Kathryn A. Niese, Rachel G. Scheraga, Sudakshina Ghosh, Charles K. Thodeti, David X. Zhang, Magdalene M. Moran, William P. Schilling, Daniel J. Tschumperlin, Mitchell A. Olman

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a fatal fibrotic lung disorder with no effective medical treatments available. The generation of myofibroblasts, which are critical for fibrogenesis, requires both a mechanical signal and activated TGF-β; however, it is not clear how fibroblasts sense and transmit the mechanical signal(s) that promote differentiation into myofibroblasts. As transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) channels are activated in response to changes in plasma membrane stretch/matrix stiffness, we investigated whether TRPV4 contributes to generation of myofibroblasts and/or experimental lung fibrosis. We determined that TRPV4 activity is upregulated in lung fibroblasts derived from patients with IPF. Moreover, TRPV4-deficient mice were protected from fibrosis. Furthermore, genetic ablation or pharmacological inhibition of TRPV4 function abrogated myofibroblast differentiation, which was restored by TRPV4 reintroduction. TRPV4 channel activity was elevated when cells were plated on matrices of increasing stiffness or on fibrotic lung tissue, and matrix stiffness–dependent myofibroblast differentiation was reduced in response to TRVP4 inhibition. TRPV4 activity modulated TGF-β1–dependent actions in a SMAD-independent manner, enhanced actomyosin remodeling, and increased nuclear translocation of the α-SMA transcription coactivator (MRTF-A). Together, these data indicate that TRPV4 activity mediates pulmonary fibrogenesis and suggest that manipulation of TRPV4 channel activity has potential as a therapeutic approach for fibrotic diseases.

Sustained increase in α5GABAA receptor function impairs memory after anesthesia
  By: Agnieszka A. Zurek, Jieying Yu, Dian-Shi Wang, Sean C. Haffey, Erica M. Bridgwater, Antonello Penna, Irene Lecker, Gang Lei, Tom Chang, Eric W.R. Salter, Beverley A. Orser

Many patients who undergo general anesthesia and surgery experience cognitive dysfunction, particularly memory deficits that can persist for days to months. The mechanisms underlying this postoperative cognitive dysfunction in the adult brain remain poorly understood. Depression of brain function during anesthesia is attributed primarily to increased activity of γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptors (GABAARs), and it is assumed that once the anesthetic drug is eliminated, the activity of GABAARs rapidly returns to baseline and these receptors no longer impair memory. Here, using a murine model, we found that a single in vivo treatment with the injectable anesthetic etomidate increased a tonic inhibitory current generated by α5 subunit–containing GABAARs (α5GABAARs) and cell-surface expression of α5GABAARs for at least 1 week. The sustained increase in α5GABAAR activity impaired memory performance and synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. Inhibition of α5GABAARs completely reversed the memory deficits after anesthesia. Similarly, the inhaled anesthetic isoflurane triggered a persistent increase in tonic current and cell-surface expression of α5GABAARs. Thus, α5GABAAR function does not return to baseline after the anesthetic is eliminated, suggesting a mechanism to account for persistent memory deficits after general anesthesia.

Targeting an IKBKE cytokine network impairs triple-negative breast cancer growth
  By: Thanh U. Barbie, Gabriela Alexe, Amir R. Aref, Shunqiang Li, Zehua Zhu, Xiuli Zhang, Yu Imamura, Tran C. Thai, Ying Huang, Michaela Bowden, John Herndon, Travis J. Cohoon, Timothy Fleming, Pablo Tamayo, Jill P. Mesirov, Shuji Ogino, Kwok-Kin Wong, Matthew J. Ellis, William C. Hahn, David A. Barbie, William E. Gillanders

Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are a heterogeneous set of cancers that are defined by the absence of hormone receptor expression and HER2 amplification. Here, we found that inducible IκB kinase–related (IKK-related) kinase IKBKE expression and JAK/STAT pathway activation compose a cytokine signaling network in the immune-activated subset of TNBC. We found that treatment of cultured IKBKE-driven breast cancer cells with CYT387, a potent inhibitor of TBK1/IKBKE and JAK signaling, impairs proliferation, while inhibition of JAK alone does not. CYT387 treatment inhibited activation of both NF-κB and STAT and disrupted expression of the protumorigenic cytokines CCL5 and IL-6 in these IKBKE-driven breast cancer cells. Moreover, in 3D culture models, the addition of CCL5 and IL-6 to the media not only promoted tumor spheroid dispersal but also stimulated proliferation and migration of endothelial cells. Interruption of cytokine signaling by CYT387 in vivo impaired the growth of an IKBKE-driven TNBC cell line and patient-derived xenografts (PDXs). A combination of CYT387 therapy with a MEK inhibitor was particularly effective, abrogating tumor growth and angiogenesis in an aggressive PDX model of TNBC. Together, these findings reveal that IKBKE-associated cytokine signaling promotes tumorigenicity of immune-driven TNBC and identify a potential therapeutic strategy using clinically available compounds.

Hyaluronan in cervical epithelia protects against infection-mediated preterm birth
  By: Yucel Akgul, R. Ann Word, Laura M. Ensign, Yu Yamaguchi, John Lydon, Justin Hanes, Mala Mahendroo

Increased synthesis of cervical hyaluronan (HA) from early to late pregnancy has long been proposed to play an essential role in disorganization of the collagen-rich extracellular matrix to allow for maximal compliance and dilation of the cervix during the birth process. Here, we show that HA is not essential for increased cervical distensibility during late pregnancy. Rather, cervicovaginal HA plays an unanticipated important role in epithelial barrier protection of the lower reproductive tract. Specifically, HA depletion in the cervix and vagina resulted in inappropriate differentiation of epithelial cells, increased epithelial and mucosal permeability, and strikingly increased preterm birth rates in a mouse model of ascending vaginal infection. Collectively, these findings revealed that although HA is not obligatory for cervical compliance, it is crucial for maintaining an epithelial and mucosal barrier to limit pathogen infiltration of the lower reproductive tract during pregnancy and thereby is protective against infection-mediated preterm birth.

Tumor-associated neutrophils stimulate T cell responses in early-stage human lung cancer
  By: Evgeniy B. Eruslanov, Pratik S. Bhojnagarwala, Jon G. Quatromoni, Tom Li Stephen, Anjana Ranganathan, Charuhas Deshpande, Tatiana Akimova, Anil Vachani, Leslie Litzky, Wayne W. Hancock, José R. Conejo-Garcia, Michael Feldman, Steven M. Albelda, Sunil Singhal

Infiltrating inflammatory cells are highly prevalent within the tumor microenvironment and mediate many processes associated with tumor progression; however, the contribution of specific populations remains unclear. For example, the nature and function of tumor-associated neutrophils (TANs) in the cancer microenvironment is largely unknown. The goal of this study was to provide a phenotypic and functional characterization of TANs in surgically resected lung cancer patients. We found that TANs constituted 5%–25% of cells isolated from the digested human lung tumors. Compared with blood neutrophils, TANs displayed an activated phenotype (CD62LloCD54hi) with a distinct repertoire of chemokine receptors that included CCR5, CCR7, CXCR3, and CXCR4. TANs produced substantial quantities of the proinflammatory factors MCP-1, IL-8, MIP-1α, and IL-6, as well as the antiinflammatory IL-1R antagonist. Functionally, both TANs and neutrophils isolated from distant nonmalignant lung tissue were able to stimulate T cell proliferation and IFN-γ release. Cross-talk between TANs and activated T cells led to substantial upregulation of CD54, CD86, OX40L, and 4-1BBL costimulatory molecules on the neutrophil surface, which bolstered T cell proliferation in a positive-feedback loop. Together our results demonstrate that in the earliest stages of lung cancer, TANs are not immunosuppressive, but rather stimulate T cell responses.

NOTCH-induced aldehyde dehydrogenase 1A1 deacetylation promotes breast cancer stem cells
  By: Di Zhao, Yan Mo, Meng-Tian Li, Shao-Wu Zou, Zhou-Li Cheng, Yi-Ping Sun, Yue Xiong, Kun-Liang Guan, Qun-Ying Lei

High aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity is a marker commonly used to isolate stem cells, particularly breast cancer stem cells (CSCs). Here, we determined that ALDH1A1 activity is inhibited by acetylation of lysine 353 (K353) and that acetyltransferase P300/CBP–associated factor (PCAF) and deacetylase sirtuin 2 (SIRT2) are responsible for regulating the acetylation state of ALDH1A1 K353. Evaluation of breast carcinoma tissues from patients revealed that cells with high ALDH1 activity have low ALDH1A1 acetylation and are capable of self-renewal. Acetylation of ALDH1A1 inhibited both the stem cell population and self-renewal properties in breast cancer. Moreover, NOTCH signaling activated ALDH1A1 through the induction of SIRT2, leading to ALDH1A1 deacetylation and enzymatic activation to promote breast CSCs. In breast cancer xenograft models, replacement of endogenous ALDH1A1 with an acetylation mimetic mutant inhibited tumorigenesis and tumor growth. Together, the results from our study reveal a function and mechanism of ALDH1A1 acetylation in regulating breast CSCs.

GP130 activation induces myeloma and collaborates with MYC
  By: Tobias Dechow, Sabine Steidle, Katharina S. Götze, Martina Rudelius, Kerstin Behnke, Konstanze Pechloff, Susanne Kratzat, Lars Bullinger, Falko Fend, Valeria Soberon, Nadya Mitova, Zhoulei Li, Markus Thaler, Jan Bauer, Elke Pietschmann, Corinna Albers, Rebekka Grundler, Marc Schmidt-Supprian, Jürgen Ruland, Christian Peschel, Justus Duyster, Stefan Rose-John, Florian Bassermann, Ulrich Keller

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a plasma cell neoplasm that results from clonal expansion of an Ig-secreting terminally differentiated B cell. Advanced MM is characterized by tissue damage that involves bone, kidney, and other organs and is typically associated with recurrent genetic abnormalities. IL-6 signaling via the IL-6 signal transducer GP130 has been implicated as an important driver of MM pathogenesis. Here, we demonstrated that ectopic expression of constitutively active GP130 (L-GP130) in a murine retroviral transduction-transplantation model induces rapid MM development of high penetrance. L-GP130–expressing mice recapitulated all of the characteristics of human disease, including monoclonal gammopathy, BM infiltration with lytic bone lesions, and protein deposition in the kidney. Moreover, the disease was easily transplantable and allowed different therapeutic options to be evaluated in vitro and in vivo. Using this model, we determined that GP130 signaling collaborated with MYC to induce MM and was responsible and sufficient for directing the plasma cell phenotype. Accordingly, we identified Myc aberrations in the L-GP130 MM model. Evaluation of human MM samples revealed recurrent activation of STAT3, a downstream target of GP130 signaling. Together, our results indicate that deregulated GP130 activity contributes to MM pathogenesis and that pathways downstream of GP130 activity have potential as therapeutic targets in MM.

RASAL2 activates RAC1 to promote triple-negative breast cancer progression
  By: Min Feng, Yi Bao, Zhimei Li, Juntao Li, Min Gong, Stella Lam, Jinhua Wang, Diego M. Marzese, Nicholas Donovan, Ern Yu Tan, Dave S.B. Hoon, Qiang Yu

Patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) have a high incidence of early relapse and metastasis; however, the molecular basis for recurrence in these individuals remains poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that RASAL2, which encodes a RAS-GTPase–activating protein (RAS-GAP), is a functional target of anti-invasive microRNA-203 and is overexpressed in a subset of triple-negative or estrogen receptor–negative (ER-negative) breast tumors. As opposed to luminal B ER-positive breast cancers, in which RASAL2 has been shown to act as a RAS-GAP tumor suppressor, we found that RASAL2 is oncogenic in TNBC and drives mesenchymal invasion and metastasis. Moreover, high RASAL2 expression was predictive of poor disease outcomes in patients with TNBC. RASAL2 acted independently of its RAS-GAP catalytic activity in TNBC; however, RASAL2 promoted small GTPase RAC1 signaling, which promotes mesenchymal invasion, through binding and antagonizing the RAC1-GAP protein ARHGAP24. Together, these results indicate that activation of a RASAL2/ARHGAP24/RAC1 module contributes to TNBC tumorigenesis and identify a context-dependent role of RASAL2 in breast cancer.

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