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Journal of Clinical Investigation RSS feed -- Current issue

X-linked macrocytic dyserythropoietic anemia in females with an ALAS2 mutation
  By: Vijay G. Sankaran, Jacob C. Ulirsch, Vassili Tchaikovskii, Leif S. Ludwig, Aoi Wakabayashi, Senkottuvelan Kadirvel, R. Coleman Lindsley, Rafael Bejar, Jiahai Shi, Scott B. Lovitch, David F. Bishop, David P. Steensma

Macrocytic anemia with abnormal erythropoiesis is a common feature of megaloblastic anemias, congenital dyserythropoietic anemias, and myelodysplastic syndromes. Here, we characterized a family with multiple female individuals who have macrocytic anemia. The proband was noted to have dyserythropoiesis and iron overload. After an extensive diagnostic evaluation that did not provide insight into the cause of the disease, whole-exome sequencing of multiple family members revealed the presence of a mutation in the X chromosomal gene ALAS2, which encodes 5′-aminolevulinate synthase 2, in the affected females. We determined that this mutation (Y365C) impairs binding of the essential cofactor pyridoxal 5′-phosphate to ALAS2, resulting in destabilization of the enzyme and consequent loss of function. X inactivation was not highly skewed in wbc from the affected individuals. In contrast, and consistent with the severity of the ALAS2 mutation, there was a complete skewing toward expression of the WT allele in mRNA from reticulocytes that could be recapitulated in primary erythroid cultures. Together, the results of the X inactivation and mRNA studies illustrate how this X-linked dominant mutation in ALAS2 can perturb normal erythropoiesis through cell-nonautonomous effects. Moreover, our findings highlight the value of whole-exome sequencing in diagnostically challenging cases for the identification of disease etiology and extension of the known phenotypic spectrum of disease.

Co-clinical assessment identifies patterns of BRAF inhibitor resistance in melanoma
  By: Lawrence N. Kwong, Genevieve M. Boland, Dennie T. Frederick, Timothy L. Helms, Ahmad T. Akid, John P. Miller, Shan Jiang, Zachary A. Cooper, Xingzhi Song, Sahil Seth, Jennifer Kamara, Alexei Protopopov, Gordon B. Mills, Keith T. Flaherty, Jennifer A. Wargo, Lynda Chin

Multiple mechanisms have been described that confer BRAF inhibitor resistance to melanomas, yet the basis of this resistance remains undefined in a sizable portion of patient samples. Here, we characterized samples from a set of patients with melanoma that included individuals at baseline diagnosis, on BRAF inhibitor treatment, and with resistant tumors at both the protein and RNA levels. Using RNA and DNA sequencing, we identified known resistance-conferring mutations in 50% (6 of 12) of the resistant samples. In parallel, targeted proteomic analysis by protein array categorized the resistant samples into 3 stable groups, 2 of which were characterized by reactivation of MAPK signaling to different levels and 1 that was MAPK independent. The molecular relevance of these classifications identified in patients was supported by both mutation data and the similarity of resistance patterns that emerged during a co-clinical trial in a genetically engineered mouse (GEM) model of melanoma that recapitulates the development of BRAF inhibitor resistance. Additionally, we defined candidate biomarkers in pre- and early-treatment patient samples that have potential for predicting clinical responses. On the basis of these observations, we suggest that BRAF inhibitor–resistant melanomas can be actionably classified using protein expression patterns, even without identification of the underlying genetic alteration.

Cherubism allele heterozygosity amplifies microbe-induced inflammatory responses in murine macrophages
  By: Virginie Prod’Homme, Laurent Boyer, Nicholas Dubois, Aude Mallavialle, Patrick Munro, Xavier Mouska, Isabelle Coste, Robert Rottapel, Sophie Tartare-Deckert, Marcel Deckert

Cherubism is a rare autoinflammatory bone disorder that is associated with point mutations in the SH3-domain binding protein 2 (SH3BP2) gene, which encodes the adapter protein 3BP2. Individuals with cherubism present with symmetrical fibro-osseous lesions of the jaw, which are attributed to exacerbated osteoclast activation and defective osteoblast differentiation. Although it is a dominant trait in humans, cherubism appears to be recessively transmitted in mice, suggesting the existence of additional factors in the pathogenesis of cherubism. Here, we report that macrophages from 3BP2-deficient mice exhibited dramatically reduced inflammatory responses to microbial challenge and reduced phagocytosis. 3BP2 was necessary for LPS-induced activation of signaling pathways involved in macrophage function, including SRC, VAV1, p38MAPK, IKKα/β, RAC, and actin polymerization pathways. Conversely, we demonstrated that the presence of a single Sh3bp2 cherubic allele and pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) stimulation had a strong cooperative effect on macrophage activation and inflammatory responses in mice. Together, the results from our study in murine genetic models support the notion that infection may represent a driver event in the etiology of cherubism in humans and suggest limiting inflammation in affected individuals may reduce manifestation of cherubic lesions.

Caspase-1–mediated pathway promotes generation of thromboinflammatory microparticles
  By: Andrea S. Rothmeier, Patrizia Marchese, Brian G. Petrich, Christian Furlan-Freguia, Mark H. Ginsberg, Zaverio M. Ruggeri, Wolfram Ruf

Extracellular ATP is a signal of tissue damage and induces macrophage responses that amplify inflammation and coagulation. Here we demonstrate that ATP signaling through macrophage P2X7 receptors uncouples the thioredoxin (TRX)/TRX reductase (TRXR) system and activates the inflammasome through endosome-generated ROS. TRXR and inflammasome activity promoted filopodia formation, cellular release of reduced TRX, and generation of extracellular thiol pathway–dependent, procoagulant microparticles (MPs). Additionally, inflammasome-induced activation of an intracellular caspase-1/calpain cysteine protease cascade degraded filamin, thereby severing bonds between the cytoskeleton and tissue factor (TF), the cell surface receptor responsible for coagulation activation. This cascade enabled TF trafficking from rafts to filopodia and ultimately onto phosphatidylserine-positive, highly procoagulant MPs. Furthermore, caspase-1 specifically facilitated cell surface actin exposure, which was required for the final release of highly procoagulant MPs from filopodia. Together, the results of this study delineate a thromboinflammatory pathway and suggest that components of this pathway have potential as pharmacological targets to simultaneously attenuate inflammation and innate immune cell–induced thrombosis.

RASA3 is a critical inhibitor of RAP1-dependent platelet activation
  By: Lucia Stefanini, David S. Paul, Raymond F. Robledo, E. Ricky Chan, Todd M. Getz, Robert A. Campbell, Daniel O. Kechele, Caterina Casari, Raymond Piatt, Kathleen M. Caron, Nigel Mackman, Andrew S. Weyrich, Matthew C. Parrott, Yacine Boulaftali, Mark D. Adams, Luanne L. Peters, Wolfgang Bergmeier

The small GTPase RAP1 is critical for platelet activation and thrombus formation. RAP1 activity in platelets is controlled by the GEF CalDAG-GEFI and an unknown regulator that operates downstream of the adenosine diphosphate (ADP) receptor, P2Y12, a target of antithrombotic therapy. Here, we provide evidence that the GAP, RASA3, inhibits platelet activation and provides a link between P2Y12 and activation of the RAP1 signaling pathway. In mice, reduced expression of RASA3 led to premature platelet activation and markedly reduced the life span of circulating platelets. The increased platelet turnover and the resulting thrombocytopenia were reversed by concomitant deletion of the gene encoding CalDAG-GEFI. Rasa3 mutant platelets were hyperresponsive to agonist stimulation, both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, activation of Rasa3 mutant platelets occurred independently of ADP feedback signaling and was insensitive to inhibitors of P2Y12 or PI3 kinase. Together, our results indicate that RASA3 ensures that circulating platelets remain quiescent by restraining CalDAG-GEFI/RAP1 signaling and suggest that P2Y12 signaling is required to inhibit RASA3 and enable sustained RAP1-dependent platelet activation and thrombus formation at sites of vascular injury. These findings provide insight into the antithrombotic effect of P2Y12 inhibitors and may lead to improved diagnosis and treatment of platelet-related disorders.

Identification of a human synaptotagmin-1 mutation that perturbs synaptic vesicle cycling
  By: Kate Baker, Sarah L. Gordon, Detelina Grozeva, Margriet van Kogelenberg, Nicola Y. Roberts, Michael Pike, Edward Blair, Matthew E. Hurles, W. Kling Chong, Torsten Baldeweg, Manju A. Kurian, Stewart G. Boyd, Michael A. Cousin, F. Lucy Raymond

Synaptotagmin-1 (SYT1) is a calcium-binding synaptic vesicle protein that is required for both exocytosis and endocytosis. Here, we describe a human condition associated with a rare variant in SYT1. The individual harboring this variant presented with an early onset dyskinetic movement disorder, severe motor delay, and profound cognitive impairment. Structural MRI was normal, but EEG showed extensive neurophysiological disturbances that included the unusual features of low-frequency oscillatory bursts and enhanced paired-pulse depression of visual evoked potentials. Trio analysis of whole-exome sequence identified a de novo SYT1 missense variant (I368T). Expression of rat SYT1 containing the equivalent human variant in WT mouse primary hippocampal cultures revealed that the mutant form of SYT1 correctly localizes to nerve terminals and is expressed at levels that are approximately equal to levels of endogenous WT protein. The presence of the mutant SYT1 slowed synaptic vesicle fusion kinetics, a finding that agrees with the previously demonstrated role for I368 in calcium-dependent membrane penetration. Expression of the I368T variant also altered the kinetics of synaptic vesicle endocytosis. Together, the clinical features, electrophysiological phenotype, and in vitro neuronal phenotype associated with this dominant negative SYT1 mutation highlight presynaptic mechanisms that mediate human motor control and cognitive development.

Normalization of Naxos plakoglobin levels restores cardiac function in mice
  By: Zhiwei Zhang, Matthew J. Stroud, Jianlin Zhang, Xi Fang, Kunfu Ouyang, Kensuke Kimura, Yongxin Mu, Nancy D. Dalton, Yusu Gu, William H. Bradford, Kirk L. Peterson, Hongqiang Cheng, Xinmin Zhou, Ju Chen

Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy (AC) is associated with mutations in genes encoding intercalated disc proteins and ultimately results in sudden cardiac death. A subset of patients with AC have the autosomal recessive cardiocutaneous disorder Naxos disease, which is caused by a 2–base pair deletion in the plakoglobin-encoding gene JUP that results in a truncated protein with reduced expression. In mice, cardiomyocyte-specific plakoglobin deficiency recapitulates many aspects of human AC, and overexpression of the truncated Naxos-associated plakoglobin also results in an AC-like phenotype; therefore, it is unclear whether Naxos disease results from loss or gain of function consequent to the plakoglobin mutation. Here, we generated 2 knockin mouse models in which endogenous Jup was engineered to express the Naxos-associated form of plakoglobin. In one model, Naxos plakoglobin bypassed the nonsense-mediated mRNA decay pathway, resulting in normal levels of the truncated plakoglobin. Moreover, restoration of Naxos plakoglobin to WT levels resulted in normal heart function. Together, these data indicate that a gain of function in the truncated form of the protein does not underlie the clinical phenotype of patients with Naxos disease and instead suggest that insufficiency of the truncated Naxos plakoglobin accounts for disease manifestation. Moreover, these results suggest that increasing levels of truncated or WT plakoglobin has potential as a therapeutic approach to Naxos disease.

Human prion protein sequence elements impede cross-species chronic wasting disease transmission
  By: Timothy D. Kurt, Lin Jiang, Natalia Fernández-Borges, Cyrus Bett, Jun Liu, Tom Yang, Terry R. Spraker, Joaquín Castilla, David Eisenberg, Qingzhong Kong, Christina J. Sigurdson

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal prion disease of North American deer and elk and poses an unclear risk for transmission to humans. Human exposure to CWD occurs through hunting activities and consumption of venison from prion-infected animals. Although the amino acid residues of the prion protein (PrP) that prevent or permit human CWD infection are unknown, NMR-based structural studies suggest that the β2-α2 loop (residues 165–175) may impact species barriers. Here we sought to define PrP sequence determinants that affect CWD transmission to humans. We engineered transgenic mice that express human PrP with four amino acid substitutions that result in expression of PrP with a β2-α2 loop (residues 165–175) that exactly matches that of elk PrP. Compared with transgenic mice expressing unaltered human PrP, mice expressing the human-elk chimeric PrP were highly susceptible to elk and deer CWD prions but were concurrently less susceptible to human Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease prions. A systematic in vitro survey of amino acid differences between humans and cervids identified two additional residues that impacted CWD conversion of human PrP. This work identifies amino acids that constitute a substantial structural barrier for CWD transmission to humans and helps illuminate the molecular requirements for cross-species prion transmission.

BAI1 regulates spatial learning and synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus
  By: Dan Zhu, Chenchen Li, Andrew M. Swanson, Rosa M. Villalba, Jidong Guo, Zhaobin Zhang, Shannon Matheny, Tatsuro Murakami, Jason R. Stephenson, Sarah Daniel, Masaki Fukata, Randy A. Hall, Jeffrey J. Olson, Gretchen N. Neigh, Yoland Smith, Donald G. Rainnie, Erwin G. Van Meir

Synaptic plasticity is the ability of synapses to modulate the strength of neuronal connections; however, the molecular factors that regulate this feature are incompletely understood. Here, we demonstrated that mice lacking brain-specific angiogenesis inhibitor 1 (BAI1) have severe deficits in hippocampus-dependent spatial learning and memory that are accompanied by enhanced long-term potentiation (LTP), impaired long-term depression (LTD), and a thinning of the postsynaptic density (PSD) at hippocampal synapses. We showed that compared with WT animals, mice lacking Bai1 exhibit reduced protein levels of the canonical PSD component PSD-95 in the brain, which stems from protein destabilization. We determined that BAI1 prevents PSD-95 polyubiquitination and degradation through an interaction with murine double minute 2 (MDM2), the E3 ubiquitin ligase that regulates PSD-95 stability. Restoration of PSD-95 expression in hippocampal neurons in BAI1-deficient mice by viral gene therapy was sufficient to compensate for Bai1 loss and rescued deficits in synaptic plasticity. Together, our results reveal that interaction of BAI1 with MDM2 in the brain modulates PSD-95 levels and thereby regulates synaptic plasticity. Moreover, these results suggest that targeting this pathway has therapeutic potential for a variety of neurological disorders.

MicroRNA-188 regulates age-related switch between osteoblast and adipocyte differentiation
  By: Chang-Jun Li, Peng Cheng, Meng-Ke Liang, Yu-Si Chen, Qiong Lu, Jin-Yu Wang, Zhu-Ying Xia, Hou-De Zhou, Xu Cao, Hui Xie, Er-Yuan Liao, Xiang-Hang Luo

Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) exhibit an age-dependent reduction in osteogenesis that is accompanied by an increased propensity toward adipocyte differentiation. This switch increases adipocyte numbers and decreases the number of osteoblasts, contributing to age-related bone loss. Here, we found that the level of microRNA-188 (miR-188) is markedly higher in BMSCs from aged compared with young mice and humans. Compared with control mice, animals lacking miR-188 showed a substantial reduction of age-associated bone loss and fat accumulation in bone marrow. Conversely, mice with transgenic overexpression of miR-188 in osterix+ osteoprogenitors had greater age-associated bone loss and fat accumulation in bone marrow relative to WT mice. Moreover, using an aptamer delivery system, we found that BMSC-specific overexpression of miR-188 in mice reduced bone formation and increased bone marrow fat accumulation. We identified histone deacetylase 9 (HDAC9) and RPTOR-independent companion of MTOR complex 2 (RICTOR) as the direct targets of miR-188. Notably, BMSC-specific inhibition of miR-188 by intra–bone marrow injection of aptamer-antagomiR-188 increased bone formation and decreased bone marrow fat accumulation in aged mice. Together, our results indicate that miR-188 is a key regulator of the age-related switch between osteogenesis and adipogenesis of BMSCs and may represent a potential therapeutic target for age-related bone loss.

CXCR3 blockade protects against Listeria monocytogenes infection–induced fetal wastage
  By: Vandana Chaturvedi, James M. Ertelt, Tony T. Jiang, Jeremy M. Kinder, Lijun Xin, Kathryn J. Owens, Helen N. Jones, Sing Sing Way

Mammalian pregnancy requires protection against immunological rejection of the developing fetus bearing discordant paternal antigens. Immune evasion in this developmental context entails silenced expression of chemoattractant proteins (chemokines), thereby preventing harmful immune cells from penetrating the maternal-fetal interface. Here, we demonstrate that fetal wastage triggered by prenatal Listeria monocytogenes infection is driven by placental recruitment of CXCL9-producing inflammatory neutrophils and macrophages that promote infiltration of fetal-specific T cells into the decidua. Maternal CD8+ T cells with fetal specificity upregulated expression of the chemokine receptor CXCR3 and, together with neutrophils and macrophages, were essential for L. monocytogenes–induced fetal resorption. Conversely, decidual accumulation of maternal T cells with fetal specificity and fetal wastage were extinguished by CXCR3 blockade or in CXCR3-deficient mice. Remarkably, protection against fetal wastage and in utero L. monocytogenes invasion was maintained even when CXCR3 neutralization was initiated after infection, and this protective effect extended to fetal resorption triggered by partial ablation of immune-suppressive maternal Tregs, which expand during pregnancy to sustain fetal tolerance. Together, our results indicate that functionally overriding chemokine silencing at the maternal-fetal interface promotes the pathogenesis of prenatal infection and suggest that therapeutically reinforcing this pathway represents a universal approach for mitigating immune-mediated pregnancy complications.

RNF4-mediated polyubiquitination regulates the Fanconi anemia/BRCA pathway
  By: Jenny Xie, Hyungjin Kim, Lisa A. Moreau, Shannon Puhalla, Judy Garber, Muthana Al Abo, Shunichi Takeda, Alan D. D’Andrea

The Fanconi anemia/BRCA (FA/BRCA) pathway is a DNA repair pathway that is required for excision of DNA interstrand cross-links. The 17 known FA proteins, along with several FA-associated proteins (FAAPs), cooperate in this pathway to detect, unhook, and excise DNA cross-links and to subsequently repair the double-strand breaks generated in the process. In the current study, we identified a patient with FA with a point mutation in FANCA, which encodes a mutant FANCA protein (FANCAI939S). FANCAI939S failed to bind to the FAAP20 subunit of the FA core complex, leading to decreased stability. Loss of FAAP20 binding exposed a SUMOylation site on FANCA at amino acid residue K921, resulting in E2 SUMO-conjugating enzyme UBC9-mediated SUMOylation, RING finger protein 4–mediated (RNF4-mediated) polyubiquitination, and proteasome-mediated degradation of FANCA. Mutation of the SUMOylation site of FANCA rescued the expression of the mutant protein. Wild-type FANCA was also subject to SUMOylation, RNF4-mediated polyubiquitination, and degradation, suggesting that regulated release of FAAP20 from FANCA is a critical step in the normal FA pathway. Consistent with this model, cells lacking RNF4 exhibited interstrand cross-linker hypersensitivity, and the gene encoding RNF4 was epistatic with the other genes encoding members of the FA/BRCA pathway. Together, the results from our study underscore the importance of analyzing unique patient-derived mutations for dissecting complex DNA repair processes.

A versatile modular vector system for rapid combinatorial mammalian genetics
  By: Joachim Albers, Claudia Danzer, Markus Rechsteiner, Holger Lehmann, Laura P. Brandt, Tomas Hejhal, Antonella Catalano, Philipp Busenhart, Ana Filipa Gonçalves, Simone Brandt, Peter K. Bode, Beata Bode-Lesniewska, Peter J. Wild, Ian J. Frew

Here, we describe the multiple lentiviral expression (MuLE) system that allows multiple genetic alterations to be introduced simultaneously into mammalian cells. We created a toolbox of MuLE vectors that constitute a flexible, modular system for the rapid engineering of complex polycistronic lentiviruses, allowing combinatorial gene overexpression, gene knockdown, Cre-mediated gene deletion, or CRISPR/Cas9-mediated (where CRISPR indicates clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) gene mutation, together with expression of fluorescent or enzymatic reporters for cellular assays and animal imaging. Examples of tumor engineering were used to illustrate the speed and versatility of performing combinatorial genetics using the MuLE system. By transducing cultured primary mouse cells with single MuLE lentiviruses, we engineered tumors containing up to 5 different genetic alterations, identified genetic dependencies of molecularly defined tumors, conducted genetic interaction screens, and induced the simultaneous CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout of 3 tumor-suppressor genes. Intramuscular injection of MuLE viruses expressing oncogenic H-RasG12V together with combinations of knockdowns of the tumor suppressors cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (Cdkn2a), transformation-related protein 53 (Trp53), and phosphatase and tensin homolog (Pten) allowed the generation of 3 murine sarcoma models, demonstrating that genetically defined autochthonous tumors can be rapidly generated and quantitatively monitored via direct injection of polycistronic MuLE lentiviruses into mouse tissues. Together, our results demonstrate that the MuLE system provides genetic power for the systematic investigation of the molecular mechanisms that underlie human diseases.

KIM-1–mediated phagocytosis reduces acute injury to the kidney
  By: Li Yang, Craig R. Brooks, Sheng Xiao, Venkata Sabbisetti, Melissa Y. Yeung, Li-Li Hsiao, Takaharu Ichimura, Vijay Kuchroo, Joseph V. Bonventre

Kidney injury molecule 1 (KIM-1, also known as TIM-1) is markedly upregulated in the proximal tubule after injury and is maladaptive when chronically expressed. Here, we determined that early in the injury process, however, KIM-1 expression is antiinflammatory due to its mediation of phagocytic processes in tubule cells. Using various models of acute kidney injury (AKI) and mice expressing mutant forms of KIM-1, we demonstrated a mucin domain–dependent protective effect of epithelial KIM-1 expression that involves downregulation of innate immunity. Deletion of the mucin domain markedly impaired KIM-1–mediated phagocytic function, resulting in increased proinflammatory cytokine production, decreased antiinflammatory growth factor secretion by proximal epithelial cells, and a subsequent increase in tissue macrophages. Mice expressing KIM-1Δmucin had greater functional impairment, inflammatory responses, and mortality in response to ischemia- and cisplatin-induced AKI. Compared with primary renal proximal tubule cells isolated from KIM-1Δmucin mice, those from WT mice had reduced proinflammatory cytokine secretion and impaired macrophage activation. The antiinflammatory effect of KIM-1 expression was due to the interaction of KIM-1 with p85 and subsequent PI3K-dependent downmodulation of NF-κB. Hence, KIM-1–mediated epithelial cell phagocytosis of apoptotic cells protects the kidney after acute injury by downregulating innate immunity and inflammation.

Mucosal-associated invariant T cell alterations in obese and type 2 diabetic patients
  By: Isabelle Magalhaes, Karine Pingris, Christine Poitou, Stéphanie Bessoles, Nicolas Venteclef, Badr Kiaf, Lucie Beaudoin, Jennifer Da Silva, Omran Allatif, Jamie Rossjohn, Lars Kjer-Nielsen, James McCluskey, Séverine Ledoux, Laurent Genser, Adriana Torcivia, Claire Soudais, Olivier Lantz, Christian Boitard, Judith Aron-Wisnewsky, Etienne Larger, Karine Clément, Agnès Lehuen

Obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) are associated with low-grade inflammation, activation of immune cells, and alterations of the gut microbiota. Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, which are innate-like T cells that recognize bacterial ligands, are present in blood and enriched in mucosal and inflamed tissues. Here, we analyzed MAIT cells in the blood and adipose tissues of patients with T2D and/or severe obesity. We determined that circulating MAIT cell frequency was dramatically decreased in both patient groups, and this population was even undetectable in some obese patients. Moreover, in both patient groups, circulating MAIT cells displayed an activated phenotype that was associated with elevated Th1 and Th17 cytokine production. In obese patients, MAIT cells were more abundant in adipose tissue than in the blood and exhibited a striking IL-17 profile. Bariatric surgery in obese patients not only improved their metabolic parameters but also increased circulating MAIT cell frequency at 3 months after surgery. Similarly, cytokine production by blood MAIT cells was strongly decreased after surgery. This study reveals profound MAIT cell abnormalities in patients harboring metabolic disorders, suggesting their potential role in these pathologies.

Palivizumab epitope–displaying virus-like particles protect rodents from RSV challenge
  By: Jeanne H. Schickli, David C. Whitacre, Roderick S. Tang, Jasmine Kaur, Heather Lawlor, Cory J. Peters, Joyce E. Jones, Darrell L. Peterson, Michael P. McCarthy, Gary Van Nest, David R. Milich

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of serious viral bronchiolitis in infants, young children, and the elderly. Currently, there is not an FDA-approved vaccine available for RSV, though the mAb palivizumab is licensed to reduce the incidence of RSV disease in premature or at-risk infants. The palivizumab epitope is a well-characterized, approximately 24-aa helix-loop-helix structure on the RSV fusion (F) protein (F254–277). Here, we genetically inserted this epitope and multiple site variants of this epitope within a versatile woodchuck hepadnavirus core–based virus-like particle (WHcAg-VLP) to generate hybrid VLPs that each bears 240 copies of the RSV epitope in a highly immunogenic arrayed format. A challenge of such an epitope-focused approach is that to be effective, the conformational F254–277 epitope must elicit antibodies that recognize the intact virus. A number of hybrid VLPs containing RSV F254–277 were recognized by palivizumab in vitro and elicited high-titer and protective neutralizing antibody in rodents. Together, the results from this proof-of-principle study suggest that the WHcAg-VLP technology may be an applicable approach to eliciting a response to other structural epitopes.

Frequent somatic reversion of KRT1 mutations in ichthyosis with confetti
  By: Keith A. Choate, Yin Lu, Jing Zhou, Peter M. Elias, Samir Zaidi, Amy S. Paller, Anita Farhi, Carol Nelson-Williams, Debra Crumrine, Leonard M. Milstone, Richard P. Lifton

Widespread reversion of genetic disease is rare; however, such events are particularly evident in some skin disorders in which normal clones develop on a background of affected skin. We previously demonstrated that mutations in keratin 10 (KRT10) cause ichthyosis with confetti (IWC), a severe dominant disorder that is characterized by progressive development of hundreds of normal skin spots via revertant mosaicism. Here, we report on a clinical and histological IWC subtype in which affected subjects have red, scaly skin at birth, experience worsening palmoplantar keratoderma in childhood, and develop hundreds of normal skin spots, beginning at around 20 years of age, that increase in size and number over time. We identified a causal de novo mutation in keratin 1 (KRT1). Similar to IWC-causing KRT10 mutations, this mutation in KRT1 resulted in a C-terminal frameshift, replacing 22 C-terminal amino acids with an alternate 30-residue peptide. Mutant KRT1 caused partial collapse of the cytoplasmic intermediate filament network and mislocalized to the nucleus. As with KRT10 mutations causing IWC, reversion of KRT1 mutations occurred via mitotic recombination. Because reversion is not observed with other disease-causing keratin mutations, the results of this study implicate KRT1 and KRT10 C-terminal frameshift mutations in the high frequency of revertant mosaicism in IWC.

Severe myopathy in mice lacking the MEF2/SRF-dependent gene leiomodin-3
  By: Bercin K. Cenik, Ankit Garg, John R. McAnally, John M. Shelton, James A. Richardson, Rhonda Bassel-Duby, Eric N. Olson, Ning Liu

Maintenance of skeletal muscle structure and function requires a precise stoichiometry of sarcomeric proteins for proper assembly of the contractile apparatus. Absence of components of the sarcomeric thin filaments causes nemaline myopathy, a lethal congenital muscle disorder associated with aberrant myofiber structure and contractility. Previously, we reported that deficiency of the kelch-like family member 40 (KLHL40) in mice results in nemaline myopathy and destabilization of leiomodin-3 (LMOD3). LMOD3 belongs to a family of tropomodulin-related proteins that promote actin nucleation. Here, we show that deficiency of LMOD3 in mice causes nemaline myopathy. In skeletal muscle, transcription of Lmod3 was controlled by the transcription factors SRF and MEF2. Myocardin-related transcription factors (MRTFs), which function as SRF coactivators, serve as sensors of actin polymerization and are sequestered in the cytoplasm by actin monomers. Conversely, conditions that favor actin polymerization de-repress MRTFs and activate SRF-dependent genes. We demonstrated that the actin nucleator LMOD3, together with its stabilizing partner KLHL40, enhances MRTF-SRF activity. In turn, SRF cooperated with MEF2 to sustain the expression of LMOD3 and other components of the contractile apparatus, thereby establishing a regulatory circuit to maintain skeletal muscle function. These findings provide insight into the molecular basis of the sarcomere assembly and muscle dysfunction associated with nemaline myopathy.

Progesterone and HMOX-1 promote fetal growth by CD8+ T cell modulation
  By: María Emilia Solano, Mirka Katharina Kowal, Greta Eugenia O’Rourke, Andrea Kristina Horst, Kathrin Modest, Torsten Plösch, Roja Barikbin, Chressen Catharina Remus, Robert G. Berger, Caitlin Jago, Hoang Ho, Gabriele Sass, Victoria J. Parker, John P. Lydon, Francesco J. DeMayo, Kurt Hecher, Khalil Karimi, Petra Clara Arck

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) affects up to 10% of pregnancies in Western societies. IUGR is a strong predictor of reduced short-term neonatal survival and impairs long-term health in children. Placental insufficiency is often associated with IUGR; however, the molecular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of placental insufficiency and IUGR are largely unknown. Here, we developed a mouse model of fetal-growth restriction and placental insufficiency that is induced by a midgestational stress challenge. Compared with control animals, pregnant dams subjected to gestational stress exhibited reduced progesterone levels and placental heme oxygenase 1 (Hmox1) expression and increased methylation at distinct regions of the placental Hmox1 promoter. These stress-triggered changes were accompanied by an altered CD8+ T cell response, as evidenced by a reduction of tolerogenic CD8+CD122+ T cells and an increase of cytotoxic CD8+ T cells. Using progesterone receptor– or Hmox1-deficient mice, we identified progesterone as an upstream modulator of placental Hmox1 expression. Supplementation of progesterone or depletion of CD8+ T cells revealed that progesterone suppresses CD8+ T cell cytotoxicity, whereas the generation of CD8+CD122+ T cells is supported by Hmox1 and ameliorates fetal-growth restriction in Hmox1 deficiency. These observations in mice could promote the identification of pregnancies at risk for IUGR and the generation of clinical interventional strategies.

Tumor cell migration screen identifies SRPK1 as breast cancer metastasis determinant
  By: Wies van Roosmalen, Sylvia E. Le Dévédec, Ofra Golani, Marcel Smid, Irina Pulyakhina, Annemieke M. Timmermans, Maxime P. Look, Di Zi, Chantal Pont, Marjo de Graauw, Suha Naffar-Abu-Amara, Catherine Kirsanova, Gabriella Rustici, Peter A.C. ‘t Hoen, John W.M. Martens, John A. Foekens, Benjamin Geiger, Bob van de Water

Tumor cell migration is a key process for cancer cell dissemination and metastasis that is controlled by signal-mediated cytoskeletal and cell matrix adhesion remodeling. Using a phagokinetic track assay with migratory H1299 cells, we performed an siRNA screen of almost 1,500 genes encoding kinases/phosphatases and adhesome- and migration-related proteins to identify genes that affect tumor cell migration speed and persistence. Thirty candidate genes that altered cell migration were validated in live tumor cell migration assays. Eight were associated with metastasis-free survival in breast cancer patients, with integrin β3–binding protein (ITGB3BP), MAP3K8, NIMA-related kinase (NEK2), and SHC-transforming protein 1 (SHC1) being the most predictive. Examination of genes that modulate migration indicated that SRPK1, encoding the splicing factor kinase SRSF protein kinase 1, is relevant to breast cancer outcomes, as it was highly expressed in basal breast cancer. Furthermore, high SRPK1 expression correlated with poor breast cancer disease outcome and preferential metastasis to the lungs and brain. In 2 independent murine models of breast tumor metastasis, stable shRNA-based SRPK1 knockdown suppressed metastasis to distant organs, including lung, liver, and spleen, and inhibited focal adhesion reorganization. Our study provides comprehensive information on the molecular determinants of tumor cell migration and suggests that SRPK1 has potential as a drug target for limiting breast cancer metastasis.

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