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The Journal of Clinical Investigation RSS feed -- Current issue

Evaluation of direct-to-consumer low-volume lab tests in healthy adults
  By: Brian A. Kidd, Gabriel Hoffman, Noah Zimmerman, Li Li, Joseph W. Morgan, Patricia K. Glowe, Gregory J. Botwin, Samir Parekh, Nikolina Babic, Matthew W. Doust, Gregory B. Stock, Eric E. Schadt, Joel T. Dudley

BACKGROUND. Clinical laboratory tests are now being prescribed and made directly available to consumers through retail outlets in the USA. Concerns with these test have been raised regarding the uncertainty of testing methods used in these venues and a lack of open, scientific validation of the technical accuracy and clinical equivalency of results obtained through these services.

METHODS. We conducted a cohort study of 60 healthy adults to compare the uncertainty and accuracy in 22 common clinical lab tests between one company offering blood tests obtained from finger prick (Theranos) and 2 major clinical testing services that require standard venipuncture draws (Quest and LabCorp). Samples were collected in Phoenix, Arizona, at an ambulatory clinic and at retail outlets with point-of-care services.

RESULTS. Theranos flagged tests outside their normal range 1.6× more often than other testing services (P < 0.0001). Of the 22 lab measurements evaluated, 15 (68%) showed significant interservice variability (P < 0.002). We found nonequivalent lipid panel test results between Theranos and other clinical services. Variability in testing services, sample collection times, and subjects markedly influenced lab results.

CONCLUSION. While laboratory practice standards exist to control this variability, the disparities between testing services we observed could potentially alter clinical interpretation and health care utilization. Greater transparency and evaluation of testing technologies would increase their utility in personalized health management.

FUNDING. This work was supported by the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology, a gift from the Harris Family Charitable Foundation (to J.T. Dudley), and grants from the NIH (R01 DK098242 and U54 CA189201, to J.T. Dudley, and R01 AG046170 and U01 AI111598, to E.E. Schadt).

Hedgehog inhibits β-catenin activity in synovial joint development and osteoarthritis
  By: Jason S. Rockel, Chunying Yu, Heather Whetstone, April M. Craft, Katherine Reilly, Henry Ma, Hidetoshi Tsushima, Vijitha Puviindran, Mushriq Al-Jazrawe, Gordon M. Keller, Benjamin A. Alman

Both the WNT/β-catenin and hedgehog signaling pathways are important in the regulation of limb development, chondrocyte differentiation, and degeneration of articular cartilage in osteoarthritis (OA). It is not clear how these signaling pathways interact in interzone cell differentiation and synovial joint morphogenesis. Here, we determined that constitutive activation of hedgehog signaling specifically within interzone cells induces joint morphological changes by selectively inhibiting β-catenin–induced Fgf18 expression. Stabilization of β-catenin or treatment with FGF18 rescued hedgehog-induced phenotypes. Hedgehog signaling induced expression of a dominant negative isoform of TCF7L2 (dnTCF7L2) in interzone progeny, which may account for the selective regulation of β-catenin target genes observed. Knockdown of TCF7L2 isoforms in mouse chondrocytes rescued hedgehog signaling–induced Fgf18 downregulation, while overexpression of the human dnTCF7L2 orthologue (dnTCF4) in human chondrocytes promoted the expression of catabolic enzymes associated with OA. Similarly, expression of dnTCF4 in human chondrocytes positively correlated with the aggrecanase ADAMTS4. Consistent with our developmental findings, activation of β-catenin also attenuated hedgehog-induced or surgically induced articular cartilage degeneration in mouse models of OA. Thus, our results demonstrate that hedgehog inhibits selective β-catenin target gene expression to direct interzone progeny fates and articular cartilage development and disease. Moreover, agents that increase β-catenin activity have the potential to therapeutically attenuate articular cartilage degeneration as part of OA.

Protease-resistant modified human β-hexosaminidase B ameliorates symptoms in GM2 gangliosidosis model
  By: Keisuke Kitakaze, Yasumichi Mizutani, Eiji Sugiyama, Chikako Tasaki, Daisuke Tsuji, Nobuo Maita, Takatsugu Hirokawa, Daisuke Asanuma, Mako Kamiya, Kohei Sato, Mitsutoshi Setou, Yasuteru Urano, Tadayasu Togawa, Akira Otaka, Hitoshi Sakuraba, Kohji Itoh

GM2 gangliosidoses, including Tay-Sachs and Sandhoff diseases, are neurodegenerative lysosomal storage diseases that are caused by deficiency of β-hexosaminidase A, which comprises an αβ heterodimer. There are no effective treatments for these diseases; however, various strategies aimed at restoring β-hexosaminidase A have been explored. Here, we produced a modified human hexosaminidase subunit β (HexB), which we have termed mod2B, composed of homodimeric β subunits that contain amino acid sequences from the α subunit that confer GM2 ganglioside–degrading activity and protease resistance. We also developed fluorescent probes that allow visualization of endocytosis of mod2B via mannose 6-phosphate receptors and delivery of mod2B to lysosomes in GM2 gangliosidosis models. In addition, we applied imaging mass spectrometry to monitor efficacy of this approach in Sandhoff disease model mice. Following i.c.v. administration, mod2B was widely distributed and reduced accumulation of GM2, asialo-GM2, and bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate in brain regions including the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and cerebellum. Moreover, mod2B administration markedly improved motor dysfunction and a prolonged lifespan in Sandhoff disease mice. Together, the results of our study indicate that mod2B has potential for intracerebrospinal fluid enzyme replacement therapy and should be further explored as a gene therapy for GM2 gangliosidoses.

MEIS1-mediated transactivation of synaptotagmin-like 1 promotes CXCL12/CXCR4 signaling and leukemogenesis
  By: Takashi Yokoyama, Mayuka Nakatake, Takeshi Kuwata, Arnaud Couzinet, Ryo Goitsuka, Shuichi Tsutsumi, Hiroyuki Aburatani, Peter J.M. Valk, Ruud Delwel, Takuro Nakamura

The TALE-class homeoprotein MEIS1 specifically collaborates with HOXA9 to drive myeloid leukemogenesis. Although MEIS1 alone has only a moderate effect on cell proliferation in vitro, it is essential for the development of HOXA9-induced leukemia in vivo. Here, using murine models of leukemogenesis, we have shown that MEIS1 promotes leukemic cell homing and engraftment in bone marrow and enhances cell-cell interactions and cytokine-mediated cell migration. We analyzed global DNA binding of MEIS1 in leukemic cells as well as gene expression alterations in MEIS1-deficent cells and identified synaptotagmin-like 1 (Sytl1, also known as Slp1) as the MEIS1 target gene that cooperates with Hoxa9 in leukemogenesis. Replacement of SYTL1 in MEIS1-deficent cells restored both cell migration and engraftment. Further analysis revealed that SYTL1 promotes cell migration via activation of the CXCL12/CXCR4 axis, as SYTL1 determines intracellular trafficking of CXCR4. Together, our results reveal that MEIS1, through induction of SYTL1, promotes leukemogenesis and supports leukemic cell homing and engraftment, facilitating interactions between leukemic cells and bone marrow stroma.

Activation of mTORC1 is essential for β-adrenergic stimulation of adipose browning
  By: Dianxin Liu, Marica Bordicchia, Chaoying Zhang, Huafeng Fang, Wan Wei, Jian-Liang Li, Adilson Guilherme, Kalyani Guntur, Michael P. Czech, Sheila Collins

A classic metabolic concept posits that insulin promotes energy storage and adipose expansion, while catecholamines stimulate release of adipose energy stores by hydrolysis of triglycerides through β-adrenergic receptor (βARs) and protein kinase A (PKA) signaling. Here, we have shown that a key hub in the insulin signaling pathway, activation of p70 ribosomal S6 kinase (S6K1) through mTORC1, is also triggered by PKA activation in both mouse and human adipocytes. Mice with mTORC1 impairment, either through adipocyte-specific deletion of Raptor or pharmacologic rapamycin treatment, were refractory to the well-known βAR-dependent increase of uncoupling protein UCP1 expression and expansion of beige/brite adipocytes (so-called browning) in white adipose tissue (WAT). Mechanistically, PKA directly phosphorylated mTOR and RAPTOR on unique serine residues, an effect that was independent of insulin/AKT signaling. Abrogation of the PKA site within RAPTOR disrupted βAR/mTORC1 activation of S6K1 without affecting mTORC1 activation by insulin. Conversely, a phosphomimetic RAPTOR augmented S6K1 activity. Together, these studies reveal a signaling pathway from βARs and PKA through mTORC1 that is required for adipose browning by catecholamines and provides potential therapeutic strategies to enhance energy expenditure and combat metabolic disease.

4-Dimensional light-sheet microscopy to elucidate shear stress modulation of cardiac trabeculation
  By: Juhyun Lee, Peng Fei, René R. Sevag Packard, Hanul Kang, Hao Xu, Kyung In Baek, Nelson Jen, Junjie Chen, Hilary Yen, C.-C. Jay Kuo, Neil C. Chi, Chih-Ming Ho, Rongsong Li, Tzung K. Hsiai

Hemodynamic shear forces are intimately linked with cardiac development, during which trabeculae form a network of branching outgrowths from the myocardium. Mutations that alter Notch signaling also result in trabeculation defects. Here, we assessed whether shear stress modulates trabeculation to influence contractile function. Specifically, we acquired 4D (3D + time) images with light sheets by selective plane illumination microscopy (SPIM) for rapid scanning and deep axial penetration during zebrafish morphogenesis. Reduction of blood viscosity via gata1a morpholino oligonucleotides (MO) reduced shear stress, resulting in downregulation of Notch signaling and attenuation of trabeculation. Arrest of cardiomyocyte contraction either by troponin T type 2a (tnnt2a) MO or in weak atriumm58 (wea) mutants resulted in reduced shear stress and downregulation of Notch signaling and trabeculation. Integrating 4D SPIM imaging with synchronization algorithm demonstrated that coinjection of neuregulin1 mRNA with gata1 MO rescued trabeculation to restore contractile function in association with upregulation of Notch-related genes. Crossbreeding of Tg(flk:mCherry) fish, which allows visualization of the vascular system with the Tg(tp1:gfp) Notch reporter line, revealed that shear stress–mediated Notch activation localizes to the endocardium. Deleting endocardium via the clochesk4 mutants downregulated Notch signaling, resulting in nontrabeculated ventricle. Subjecting endothelial cells to pulsatile flow in the presence of the ADAM10 inhibitor corroborated shear stress–activated Notch signaling to modulate trabeculation.

c-Met–mediated endothelial plasticity drives aberrant vascularization and chemoresistance in glioblastoma
  By: Menggui Huang, Tianrun Liu, Peihong Ma, R. Alan Mitteer Jr., Zhenting Zhang, Hyun Jun Kim, Eujin Yeo, Duo Zhang, Peiqiang Cai, Chunsheng Li, Lin Zhang, Botao Zhao, Laura Roccograndi, Donald M. O’Rourke, Nadia Dahmane, Yanqing Gong, Constantinos Koumenis, Yi Fan

Aberrant vascularization is a hallmark of cancer progression and treatment resistance. Here, we have shown that endothelial cell (EC) plasticity drives aberrant vascularization and chemoresistance in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). By utilizing human patient specimens, as well as allograft and genetic murine GBM models, we revealed that a robust endothelial plasticity in GBM allows acquisition of fibroblast transformation (also known as endothelial mesenchymal transition [Endo-MT]), which is characterized by EC expression of fibroblast markers, and determined that a prominent population of GBM-associated fibroblast-like cells have EC origin. Tumor ECs acquired the mesenchymal gene signature without the loss of EC functions, leading to enhanced cell proliferation and migration, as well as vessel permeability. Furthermore, we identified a c-Met/ETS-1/matrix metalloproteinase–14 (MMP-14) axis that controls VE-cadherin degradation, Endo-MT, and vascular abnormality. Pharmacological c-Met inhibition induced vessel normalization in patient tumor–derived ECs. Finally, EC-specific KO of Met inhibited vascular transformation, normalized blood vessels, and reduced intratumoral hypoxia, culminating in suppressed tumor growth and prolonged survival in GBM-bearing mice after temozolomide treatment. Together, these findings illustrate a mechanism that controls aberrant tumor vascularization and suggest that targeting Endo-MT may offer selective and efficient strategies for antivascular and vessel normalization therapies in GBM, and possibly other malignant tumors.

A2A adenosine receptor modulates drug efflux transporter P-glycoprotein at the blood-brain barrier
  By: Do-Geun Kim, Margaret S. Bynoe

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) protects the brain from toxic substances within the peripheral circulation. It maintains brain homeostasis and is a hurdle for drug delivery to the CNS to treat neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and brain tumors. The drug efflux transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp) is highly expressed on brain endothelial cells and blocks the entry of most drugs delivered to the brain. Here, we show that activation of the A2A adenosine receptor (AR) with an FDA-approved A2A AR agonist (Lexiscan) rapidly and potently decreased P-gp expression and function in a time-dependent and reversible manner. We demonstrate that downmodulation of P-gp expression and function coincided with chemotherapeutic drug accumulation in brains of WT mice and in primary mouse and human brain endothelial cells, which serve as in vitro BBB models. Lexiscan also potently downregulated the expression of BCRP1, an efflux transporter that is highly expressed in the CNS vasculature and other tissues. Finally, we determined that multiple pathways, including MMP9 cleavage and ubiquitinylation, mediated P-gp downmodulation. Based on these data, we propose that A2A AR activation on BBB endothelial cells offers a therapeutic window that can be fine-tuned for drug delivery to the brain and has potential as a CNS drug-delivery technology.

SOX9 drives WNT pathway activation in prostate cancer
  By: Fen Ma, Huihui Ye, Housheng Hansen He, Sean J. Gerrin, Sen Chen, Benjamin A. Tanenbaum, Changmeng Cai, Adam G. Sowalsky, Lingfeng He, Hongyun Wang, Steven P. Balk, Xin Yuan

The transcription factor SOX9 is critical for prostate development, and dysregulation of SOX9 is implicated in prostate cancer (PCa). However, the SOX9-dependent genes and pathways involved in both normal and neoplastic prostate epithelium are largely unknown. Here, we performed SOX9 ChIP sequencing analysis and transcriptome profiling of PCa cells and determined that SOX9 positively regulates multiple WNT pathway genes, including those encoding WNT receptors (frizzled [FZD] and lipoprotein receptor-related protein [LRP] family members) and the downstream β-catenin effector TCF4. Analyses of PCa xenografts and clinical samples both revealed an association between the expression of SOX9 and WNT pathway components in PCa. Finally, treatment of SOX9-expressing PCa cells with a WNT synthesis inhibitor (LGK974) reduced WNT pathway signaling in vitro and tumor growth in murine xenograft models. Together, our data indicate that SOX9 expression drives PCa by reactivating the WNT/β−catenin signaling that mediates ductal morphogenesis in fetal prostate and define a subgroup of patients who would benefit from WNT-targeted therapy.

Multiple myeloma–derived MMP-13 mediates osteoclast fusogenesis and osteolytic disease
  By: Jing Fu, Shirong Li, Rentian Feng, Huihui Ma, Farideh Sabeh, G. David Roodman, Ji Wang, Samuel Robinson, X. Edward Guo, Thomas Lund, Daniel Normolle, Markus Y. Mapara, Stephen J. Weiss, Suzanne Lentzsch

Multiple myeloma (MM) cells secrete osteoclastogenic factors that promote osteolytic lesions; however, the identity of these factors is largely unknown. Here, we performed a screen of human myeloma cells to identify pro-osteoclastogenic agents that could potentially serve as therapeutic targets for ameliorating MM-associated bone disease. We found that myeloma cells express high levels of the matrix metalloproteinase MMP-13 and determined that MMP-13 directly enhances osteoclast multinucleation and bone-resorptive activity by triggering upregulation of the cell fusogen DC-STAMP. Moreover, this effect was independent of the proteolytic activity of the enzyme. Further, in mouse xenograft models, silencing MMP-13 expression in myeloma cells inhibited the development of osteolytic lesions. In patient cohorts, MMP-13 expression was localized to BM-associated myeloma cells, while elevated MMP-13 serum levels were able to correctly predict the presence of active bone disease. Together, these data demonstrate that MMP-13 is critical for the development of osteolytic lesions in MM and that targeting the MMP-13 protein — rather than its catalytic activity — constitutes a potential approach to mitigating bone disease in affected patients.

mTORC2 critically regulates renal potassium handling
  By: Florian Grahammer, Viatcheslav Nesterov, Azaz Ahmed, Frederic Steinhardt, Lukas Sandner, Frederic Arnold, Tomke Cordts, Silvio Negrea, Marko Bertog, Marcus A. Ruegg, Michael N. Hall, Gerd Walz, Christoph Korbmacher, Ferruh Artunc, Tobias B. Huber

The mTOR pathway orchestrates cellular homeostasis. The rapamycin-sensitive mTOR complex (mTORC1) in the kidney has been widely studied; however, mTORC2 function in renal tubules is poorly characterized. Here, we generated mice lacking mTORC2 in the distal tubule (Rictorfl/fl Ksp-Cre mice), which were viable and had no obvious phenotype, except for a 2.5-fold increase in plasma aldosterone. Challenged with a low-Na+ diet, these mice adequately reduced Na+ excretion; however, Rictorfl/fl Ksp-Cre mice rapidly developed hyperkalemia on a high-K+ diet, despite a 10-fold increase in serum aldosterone levels, implying that mTORC2 regulates kaliuresis. Phosphorylation of serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase 1 (SGK1) and PKC-α was absent in Rictorfl/fl Ksp-Cre mice, indicating a functional block in K+ secretion activation via ROMK channels. Indeed, patch-clamp experiments on split-open tubular segments from the transition zone of the late connecting tubule and early cortical collecting duct demonstrated that Ba2+-sensitive apical K+ currents were barely detectable in the majority of Rictorfl/fl Ksp-Cre mice. Conversely, epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) activity was largely preserved, suggesting that the reduced ability to maintain K+ homeostasis is the result of impaired apical K+ conductance and not a reduced electrical driving force for K+ secretion. Thus, these data unravel a vital and nonredundant role of mTORC2 for distal tubular K+ handling.

Targeting mitochondrial biogenesis to overcome drug resistance to MAPK inhibitors
  By: Gao Zhang, Dennie T. Frederick, Lawrence Wu, Zhi Wei, Clemens Krepler, Satish Srinivasan, Young Chan Chae, Xiaowei Xu, Harry Choi, Elaida Dimwamwa, Omotayo Ope, Batool Shannan, Devraj Basu, Dongmei Zhang, Manti Guha, Min Xiao, Sergio Randell, Katrin Sproesser, Wei Xu, Jephrey Liu, Giorgos C. Karakousis, Lynn M. Schuchter, Tara C. Gangadhar, Ravi K. Amaravadi, Mengnan Gu, Caiyue Xu, Abheek Ghosh, Weiting Xu, Tian Tian, Jie Zhang, Shijie Zha, Qin Liu, Patricia Brafford, Ashani Weeraratna, Michael A. Davies, Jennifer A. Wargo, Narayan G. Avadhani, Yiling Lu, Gordon B. Mills, Dario C. Altieri, Keith T. Flaherty, Meenhard Herlyn

Targeting multiple components of the MAPK pathway can prolong the survival of patients with BRAFV600E melanoma. This approach is not curative, as some BRAF-mutated melanoma cells are intrinsically resistant to MAPK inhibitors (MAPKi). At the systemic level, our knowledge of how signaling pathways underlie drug resistance needs to be further expanded. Here, we have shown that intrinsically resistant BRAF-mutated melanoma cells with a low basal level of mitochondrial biogenesis depend on this process to survive MAPKi. Intrinsically resistant cells exploited an integrated stress response, exhibited an increase in mitochondrial DNA content, and required oxidative phosphorylation to meet their bioenergetic needs. We determined that intrinsically resistant cells rely on the genes encoding TFAM, which controls mitochondrial genome replication and transcription, and TRAP1, which regulates mitochondrial protein folding. Therefore, we targeted mitochondrial biogenesis with a mitochondrium-targeted, small-molecule HSP90 inhibitor (Gamitrinib), which eradicated intrinsically resistant cells and augmented the efficacy of MAPKi by inducing mitochondrial dysfunction and inhibiting tumor bioenergetics. A subset of tumor biopsies from patients with disease progression despite MAPKi treatment showed increased mitochondrial biogenesis and tumor bioenergetics. A subset of acquired drug-resistant melanoma cell lines was sensitive to Gamitrinib. Our study establishes mitochondrial biogenesis, coupled with aberrant tumor bioenergetics, as a potential therapy escape mechanism and paves the way for a rationale-based combinatorial strategy to improve the efficacy of MAPKi.

NLRP3 tyrosine phosphorylation is controlled by protein tyrosine phosphatase PTPN22
  By: Marianne R. Spalinger, Stephanie Kasper, Claudia Gottier, Silvia Lang, Kirstin Atrott, Stephan R. Vavricka, Sylvie Scharl, Petrus M. Gutte, Markus G. Grütter, Hans-Dietmar Beer, Emmanuel Contassot, Andrew C. Chan, Xuezhi Dai, David J. Rawlings, Florian Mair, Burkhard Becher, Werner Falk, Michael Fried, Gerhard Rogler, Michael Scharl

Inflammasomes form as the result of the intracellular presence of danger-associated molecular patterns and mediate the release of active IL-1β, which influences a variety of inflammatory responses. Excessive inflammasome activation results in severe inflammatory conditions, but physiological IL-1β secretion is necessary for intestinal homeostasis. Here, we have described a mechanism of NLRP3 inflammasome regulation by tyrosine phosphorylation of NLRP3 at Tyr861. We demonstrated that protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor 22 (PTPN22), variants in which are associated with chronic inflammatory disorders, dephosphorylates NLRP3 upon inflammasome induction, allowing efficient NLRP3 activation and subsequent IL-1β release. In murine models, PTPN22 deficiency resulted in pronounced colitis, increased NLRP3 phosphorylation, but reduced levels of mature IL-1β. Conversely, patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that carried an autoimmunity-associated PTPN22 variant had increased IL-1β levels. Together, our results identify tyrosine phosphorylation as an important regulatory mechanism for NLRP3 that prevents aberrant inflammasome activation.

Amyloid precursor protein–mediated endocytic pathway disruption induces axonal dysfunction and neurodegeneration
  By: Wei Xu, April M. Weissmiller, Joseph A. White II, Fang Fang, Xinyi Wang, Yiwen Wu, Matthew L. Pearn, Xiaobei Zhao, Mariko Sawa, Shengdi Chen, Shermali Gunawardena, Jianqing Ding, William C. Mobley, Chengbiao Wu

The endosome/lysosome pathway is disrupted early in the course of both Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Down syndrome (DS); however, it is not clear how dysfunction in this pathway influences the development of these diseases. Herein, we explored the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which endosomal dysfunction contributes to the pathogenesis of AD and DS. We determined that full-length amyloid precursor protein (APP) and its β-C-terminal fragment (β-CTF) act though increased activation of Rab5 to cause enlargement of early endosomes and to disrupt retrograde axonal trafficking of nerve growth factor (NGF) signals. The functional impacts of APP and its various products were investigated in PC12 cells, cultured rat basal forebrain cholinergic neurons (BFCNs), and BFCNs from a mouse model of DS. We found that the full-length wild-type APP (APPWT) and β-CTF both induced endosomal enlargement and disrupted NGF signaling and axonal trafficking. β-CTF alone induced atrophy of BFCNs that was rescued by the dominant-negative Rab5 mutant, Rab5S34N. Moreover, expression of a dominant-negative Rab5 construct markedly reduced APP-induced axonal blockage in Drosophila. Therefore, increased APP and/or β-CTF impact the endocytic pathway to disrupt NGF trafficking and signaling, resulting in trophic deficits in BFCNs. Our data strongly support the emerging concept that dysregulation of Rab5 activity contributes importantly to early pathogenesis of AD and DS.

Dendritic cell dysfunction and diabetic sensory neuropathy in the cornea
  By: Nan Gao, Chenxi Yan, Patrick Lee, Haijing Sun, Fu-Shin Yu

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) often leads to neurotrophic ulcerations in the cornea and skin; however, the underlying cellular mechanisms of this complication are poorly understood. Here, we used post-wound corneal sensory degeneration and regeneration as a model and tested the hypothesis that diabetes adversely affects DC populations and infiltration, resulting in disrupted DC-nerve communication and DPN. In streptozotocin-induced type 1 diabetic mice, there was a substantial reduction in sensory nerve density and the number of intraepithelial DCs in unwounded (UW) corneas. In wounded corneas, diabetes markedly delayed sensory nerve regeneration and reduced the number of infiltrating DCs, which were a major source of ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) in the cornea. While CNTF neutralization retarded reinnervation in normal corneas, exogenous CNTF accelerated nerve regeneration in the wounded corneas of diabetic mice and healthy animals, in which DCs had been locally depleted. Moreover, blockade of the CNTF-specific receptor CNTFRα induced sensory nerve degeneration and retarded regeneration in normal corneas. Soluble CNTFRα also partially restored the branching of diabetes-suppressed sensory nerve endings and regeneration in the diabetic corneas. Collectively, our data show that DCs mediate sensory nerve innervation and regeneration through CNTF and that diabetes reduces DC populations in UW and wounded corneas, resulting in decreased CNTF and impaired sensory nerve innervation and regeneration.

Cortical astrocytes rewire somatosensory cortical circuits for peripheral neuropathic pain
  By: Sun Kwang Kim, Hideaki Hayashi, Tatsuya Ishikawa, Keisuke Shibata, Eiji Shigetomi, Youichi Shinozaki, Hiroyuki Inada, Seung Eon Roh, Sang Jeong Kim, Gihyun Lee, Hyunsu Bae, Andrew J. Moorhouse, Katsuhiko Mikoshiba, Yugo Fukazawa, Schuichi Koizumi, Junichi Nabekura

Long-term treatments to ameliorate peripheral neuropathic pain that includes mechanical allodynia are limited. While glial activation and altered nociceptive transmission within the spinal cord are associated with the pathogenesis of mechanical allodynia, changes in cortical circuits also accompany peripheral nerve injury and may represent additional therapeutic targets. Dendritic spine plasticity in the S1 cortex appears within days following nerve injury; however, the underlying cellular mechanisms of this plasticity and whether it has a causal relationship to allodynia remain unsolved. Furthermore, it is not known whether glial activation occurs within the S1 cortex following injury or whether it contributes to this S1 synaptic plasticity. Using in vivo 2-photon imaging with genetic and pharmacological manipulations of murine models, we have shown that sciatic nerve ligation induces a re-emergence of immature metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) signaling in S1 astroglia, which elicits spontaneous somatic Ca2+ transients, synaptogenic thrombospondin 1 (TSP-1) release, and synapse formation. This S1 astrocyte reactivation was evident only during the first week after injury and correlated with the temporal changes in S1 extracellular glutamate levels and dendritic spine turnover. Blocking the astrocytic mGluR5-signaling pathway suppressed mechanical allodynia, while activating this pathway in the absence of any peripheral injury induced long-lasting (>1 month) allodynia. We conclude that reawakened astrocytes are a key trigger for S1 circuit rewiring and that this contributes to neuropathic mechanical allodynia.

Tyrosine kinase inhibitor NVP-BGJ398 functionally improves FGFR3-related dwarfism in mouse model
  By: Davide Komla-Ebri, Emilie Dambroise, Ina Kramer, Catherine Benoist-Lasselin, Nabil Kaci, Cindy Le Gall, Ludovic Martin, Patricia Busca, Florent Barbault, Diana Graus-Porta, Arnold Munnich, Michaela Kneissel, Federico Di Rocco, Martin Biosse-Duplan, Laurence Legeai-Mallet

Achondroplasia (ACH) is the most frequent form of dwarfism and is caused by gain-of-function mutations in the fibroblast growth factor receptor 3–encoding (FGFR3-encoding) gene. Although potential therapeutic strategies for ACH, which aim to reduce excessive FGFR3 activation, have emerged over many years, the use of tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) to counteract FGFR3 hyperactivity has yet to be evaluated. Here, we have reported that the pan-FGFR TKI, NVP-BGJ398, reduces FGFR3 phosphorylation and corrects the abnormal femoral growth plate and calvaria in organ cultures from embryos of the Fgfr3Y367C/+ mouse model of ACH. Moreover, we demonstrated that a low dose of NVP-BGJ398, injected subcutaneously, was able to penetrate into the growth plate of Fgfr3Y367C/+ mice and modify its organization. Improvements to the axial and appendicular skeletons were noticeable after 10 days of treatment and were more extensive after 15 days of treatment that started from postnatal day 1. Low-dose NVP-BGJ398 treatment reduced intervertebral disc defects of lumbar vertebrae, loss of synchondroses, and foramen-magnum shape anomalies. NVP-BGJ398 inhibited FGFR3 downstream signaling pathways, including MAPK, SOX9, STAT1, and PLCγ, in the growth plates of Fgfr3Y367C/+ mice and in cultured chondrocyte models of ACH. Together, our data demonstrate that NVP-BGJ398 corrects pathological hallmarks of ACH and support TKIs as a potential therapeutic approach for ACH.

FAK regulates platelet extravasation and tumor growth after antiangiogenic therapy withdrawal
  By: Monika Haemmerle, Justin Bottsford-Miller, Sunila Pradeep, Morgan L. Taylor, Hyun-Jin Choi, Jean M. Hansen, Heather J. Dalton, Rebecca L. Stone, Min Soon Cho, Alpa M. Nick, Archana S. Nagaraja, Tony Gutschner, Kshipra M. Gharpure, Lingegowda S. Mangala, Rajesha Rupaimoole, Hee Dong Han, Behrouz Zand, Guillermo N. Armaiz-Pena, Sherry Y. Wu, Chad V. Pecot, Alan R. Burns, Gabriel Lopez-Berestein, Vahid Afshar-Kharghan, Anil K. Sood

Recent studies in patients with ovarian cancer suggest that tumor growth may be accelerated following cessation of antiangiogenesis therapy; however, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. In this study, we aimed to compare the effects of therapy withdrawal to those of continuous treatment with various antiangiogenic agents. Cessation of therapy with pazopanib, bevacizumab, and the human and murine anti-VEGF antibody B20 was associated with substantial tumor growth in mouse models of ovarian cancer. Increased tumor growth was accompanied by tumor hypoxia, increased tumor angiogenesis, and vascular leakage. Moreover, we found hypoxia-induced ADP production and platelet infiltration into tumors after withdrawal of antiangiogenic therapy, and lowering platelet counts markedly inhibited tumor rebound after withdrawal of antiangiogenic therapy. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) in platelets regulated their migration into the tumor microenvironment, and FAK-deficient platelets completely prevented the rebound tumor growth. Additionally, combined therapy with a FAK inhibitor and the antiangiogenic agents pazopanib and bevacizumab reduced tumor growth and inhibited negative effects following withdrawal of antiangiogenic therapy. In summary, these results suggest that FAK may be a unique target in situations in which antiangiogenic agents are withdrawn, and dual targeting of FAK and VEGF could have therapeutic implications for ovarian cancer management.

Hypomorphism of Fto and Rpgrip1l causes obesity in mice
  By: George Stratigopoulos, Lisa Cole Burnett, Richard Rausch, Richard Gill, David Barth Penn, Alicja A. Skowronski, Charles A. LeDuc, Anthony J. Lanzano, Pumin Zhang, Daniel R. Storm, Dieter Egli, Rudolph L. Leibel

Noncoding polymorphisms in the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene represent common alleles that are strongly associated with effects on food intake and adiposity in humans. Previous studies have suggested that the obesity-risk allele rs8050136 in the first intron of FTO alters a regulatory element recognized by the transcription factor CUX1, thereby leading to decreased expression of FTO and retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator-interacting protein-1 like (RPGRIP1L). Here, we evaluated the effects of rs8050136 and another potential CUX1 element in rs1421085 on expression of nearby genes in human induced pluripotent stem cell–derived (iPSC-derived) neurons. There were allele-dosage effects on FTO, RPGRIP1L, and AKT-interacting protein (AKTIP) expression, but expression of other vicinal genes, including IRX3, IRX5, and RBL2, which have been implicated in mediating functional effects, was not altered. In vivo manipulation of CUX1, Fto, and/or Rpgrip1l expression in mice affected adiposity in a manner that was consistent with CUX1 influence on adiposity via remote effects on Fto and Rpgrip1l expression. In support of a mechanism, mice hypomorphic for Rpgrip1l exhibited hyperphagic obesity, as the result of diminished leptin sensitivity in Leprb-expressing neurons. Together, the results of this study indicate that the effects of FTO-associated SNPs on energy homeostasis are due in part to the effects of these genetic variations on hypothalamic FTO, RPGRIP1L, and possibly other genes.

Stress-impaired transcription factor expression and insulin secretion in transplanted human islets
  By: Chunhua Dai, Nora S. Kayton, Alena Shostak, Greg Poffenberger, Holly A. Cyphert, Radhika Aramandla, Courtney Thompson, Ioannis G. Papagiannis, Christopher Emfinger, Masakazu Shiota, John M. Stafford, Dale L. Greiner, Pedro L. Herrera, Leonard D. Shultz, Roland Stein, Alvin C. Powers

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, and progressive β cell dysfunction. Excess glucose and lipid impair β cell function in islet cell lines, cultured rodent and human islets, and in vivo rodent models. Here, we examined the mechanistic consequences of glucotoxic and lipotoxic conditions on human islets in vivo and developed and/or used 3 complementary models that allowed comparison of the effects of hyperglycemic and/or insulin-resistant metabolic stress conditions on human and mouse islets, which responded quite differently to these challenges. Hyperglycemia and/or insulin resistance impaired insulin secretion only from human islets in vivo. In human grafts, chronic insulin resistance decreased antioxidant enzyme expression and increased superoxide and amyloid formation. In human islet grafts, expression of transcription factors NKX6.1 and MAFB was decreased by chronic insulin resistance, but only MAFB decreased under chronic hyperglycemia. Knockdown of NKX6.1 or MAFB expression in a human β cell line recapitulated the insulin secretion defect seen in vivo. Contrary to rodent islet studies, neither insulin resistance nor hyperglycemia led to human β cell proliferation or apoptosis. These results demonstrate profound differences in how excess glucose or lipid influence mouse and human insulin secretion and β cell activity and show that reduced expression of key islet-enriched transcription factors is an important mediator of glucotoxicity and lipotoxicity.

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