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Journal of Clinical Investigation RSS feed -- Current issue

Elevated copper impairs hepatic nuclear receptor function in Wilson’s disease
  By: Clavia Ruth Wooton-Kee, Ajay K. Jain, Martin Wagner, Michael A. Grusak, Milton J. Finegold, Svetlana Lutsenko, David D. Moore

Wilson’s disease (WD) is an autosomal recessive disorder that results in accumulation of copper in the liver as a consequence of mutations in the gene encoding the copper-transporting P-type ATPase (ATP7B). WD is a chronic liver disorder, and individuals with the disease present with a variety of complications, including steatosis, cholestasis, cirrhosis, and liver failure. Similar to patients with WD, Atp7b–/– mice have markedly elevated levels of hepatic copper and liver pathology. Previous studies have demonstrated that replacement of zinc in the DNA-binding domain of the estrogen receptor (ER) with copper disrupts specific binding to DNA response elements. Here, we found decreased binding of the nuclear receptors FXR, RXR, HNF4α, and LRH-1 to promoter response elements and decreased mRNA expression of nuclear receptor target genes in Atp7b–/– mice, as well as in adult and pediatric WD patients. Excessive hepatic copper has been described in progressive familial cholestasis (PFIC), and we found that similar to individuals with WD, patients with PFIC2 or PFIC3 who have clinically elevated hepatic copper levels exhibit impaired nuclear receptor activity. Together, these data demonstrate that copper-mediated nuclear receptor dysfunction disrupts liver function in WD and potentially in other disorders associated with increased hepatic copper levels.

Inflammatory IL-15 is required for optimal memory T cell responses
  By: Martin J. Richer, Lecia L. Pewe, Lisa S. Hancox, Stacey M. Hartwig, Steven M. Varga, John T. Harty

Due to their ability to rapidly proliferate and produce effector cytokines, memory CD8+ T cells increase protection following reexposure to a pathogen. However, low inflammatory immunizations do not provide memory CD8+ T cells with a proliferation advantage over naive CD8+ T cells, suggesting that cell-extrinsic factors enhance memory CD8+ T cell proliferation in vivo. Herein, we demonstrate that inflammatory signals are critical for the rapid proliferation of memory CD8+ T cells following infection. Using murine models of viral infection and antigen exposure, we found that type I IFN–driven expression of IL-15 in response to viral infection prepares memory CD8+ T cells for rapid division independently of antigen reexposure by transiently inducing cell-cycle progression via a pathway dependent on mTOR complex-1 (mTORC1). Moreover, exposure to IL-15 allowed more rapid division of memory CD8+ T cells following antigen encounter and enhanced their protective capacity against viral infection. Together, these data reveal that inflammatory IL-15 promotes optimal responses by memory CD8+ T cells.

2015 American Society for Clinical Investigation Presidential AddressAdvancing the mission
  By: Mukesh K. Jain

Alternatively spliced proline-rich cassettes link WNK1 to aldosterone action
  By: Ankita Roy, Lama Al-Qusairi, Bridget F. Donnelly, Caroline Ronzaud, Allison L. Marciszyn, Fan Gong, Y.P. Christy Chang, Michael B. Butterworth, Núria M. Pastor-Soler, Kenneth R. Hallows, Olivier Staub, Arohan R. Subramanya

The thiazide-sensitive NaCl cotransporter (NCC) is important for renal salt handling and blood-pressure homeostasis. The canonical NCC-activating pathway consists of With-No-Lysine (WNK) kinases and their downstream effector kinases SPAK and OSR1, which phosphorylate NCC directly. The upstream mechanisms that connect physiological stimuli to this system remain obscure. Here, we have shown that aldosterone activates SPAK/OSR1 via WNK1. We identified 2 alternatively spliced exons embedded within a proline-rich region of WNK1 that contain PY motifs, which bind the E3 ubiquitin ligase NEDD4-2. PY motif–containing WNK1 isoforms were expressed in human kidney, and these isoforms were efficiently degraded by the ubiquitin proteasome system, an effect reversed by the aldosterone-induced kinase SGK1. In gene-edited cells, WNK1 deficiency negated regulatory effects of NEDD4-2 and SGK1 on NCC, suggesting that WNK1 mediates aldosterone-dependent activity of the WNK/SPAK/OSR1 pathway. Aldosterone infusion increased proline-rich WNK1 isoform abundance in WT mice but did not alter WNK1 abundance in hypertensive Nedd4-2 KO mice, which exhibit high baseline WNK1 and SPAK/OSR1 activity toward NCC. Conversely, hypotensive Sgk1 KO mice exhibited low WNK1 expression and activity. Together, our findings indicate that the proline-rich exons are modular cassettes that convert WNK1 into a NEDD4-2 substrate, thereby linking aldosterone and other NEDD4-2–suppressing antinatriuretic hormones to NCC phosphorylation status.

2015 Association of American Physicians Presidential AddressMedicine in 2055
  By: Paul B. Rothman

2015 Association of American Physicians George M. Kober LectureA doctor’s dilemma: choices amidst change
  By: P. Frederick Sparling

Kruppel-like factor 4 is critical for transcriptional control of cardiac mitochondrial homeostasis
  By: Xudong Liao, Rongli Zhang, Yuan Lu, Domenick A. Prosdocimo, Panjamaporn Sangwung, Lilei Zhang, Guangjin Zhou, Puneet Anand, Ling Lai, Teresa C. Leone, Hisashi Fujioka, Fang Ye, Mariana G. Rosca, Charles L. Hoppel, P. Christian Schulze, E. Dale Abel, Jonathan S. Stamler, Daniel P. Kelly, Mukesh K. Jain

Mitochondrial homeostasis is critical for tissue health, and mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to numerous diseases, including heart failure. Here, we have shown that the transcription factor Kruppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) governs mitochondrial biogenesis, metabolic function, dynamics, and autophagic clearance. Adult mice with cardiac-specific Klf4 deficiency developed cardiac dysfunction with aging or in response to pressure overload that was characterized by reduced myocardial ATP levels, elevated ROS, and marked alterations in mitochondrial shape, size, ultrastructure, and alignment. Evaluation of mitochondria isolated from KLF4-deficient hearts revealed a reduced respiration rate that is likely due to defects in electron transport chain complex I. Further, cardiac-specific, embryonic Klf4 deletion resulted in postnatal premature mortality, impaired mitochondrial biogenesis, and altered mitochondrial maturation. We determined that KLF4 binds to, cooperates with, and is requisite for optimal function of the estrogen-related receptor/PPARγ coactivator 1 (ERR/PGC-1) transcriptional regulatory module on metabolic and mitochondrial targets. Finally, we found that KLF4 regulates autophagy flux through transcriptional regulation of a broad array of autophagy genes in cardiomyocytes. Collectively, these findings identify KLF4 as a nodal transcriptional regulator of mitochondrial homeostasis.

Restoration of Na+/H+ exchanger NHE3-containing macrocomplexes ameliorates diabetes-associated fluid loss
  By: Peijian He, Luqing Zhao, Lixin Zhu, Edward J. Weinman, Roberto De Giorgio, Michael Koval, Shanthi Srinivasan, C. Chris Yun

Diarrhea is one of the troublesome complications of diabetes, and the underlying causes of this problem are complex. Here, we investigated whether altered electrolyte transport contributes to diabetic diarrhea. We found that the expression of Na+/H+ exchanger NHE3 and several scaffold proteins, including NHE3 regulatory factors (NHERFs), inositol trisphosphate (IP3) receptor-binding protein released with IP3 (IRBIT), and ezrin, was decreased in the intestinal brush border membrane (BBM) of mice with streptozotocin-induced diabetes. Treatment of diabetic mice with insulin restored intestinal NHE3 activity and fluid absorption. Molecular analysis revealed that NHE3, NHERF1, IRBIT, and ezrin form macrocomplexes, which are perturbed under diabetic conditions, and insulin administration reconstituted these macrocomplexes and restored NHE3 expression in the BBM. Silencing of NHERF1 or IRBIT prevented NHE3 trafficking to the BBM and insulin-dependent NHE3 activation. IRBIT facilitated the interaction of NHE3 with NHERF1 via protein kinase D2–dependent phosphorylation. Insulin stimulated ezrin phosphorylation, which enhanced the interaction of ezrin with NHERF1, IRBIT, and NHE3. Additionally, oral administration of lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) increased NHE3 activity and fluid absorption in diabetic mice via an insulin-independent pathway. Together, these findings indicate the importance of NHE3 in diabetic diarrhea and suggest LPA administration as a potential therapeutic strategy for management of diabetic diarrhea.

Arginine methyltransferase PRMT5 is essential for sustaining normal adult hematopoiesis
  By: Fan Liu, Guoyan Cheng, Pierre-Jacques Hamard, Sarah Greenblatt, Lan Wang, Na Man, Fabiana Perna, Haiming Xu, Madhavi Tadi, Luisa Luciani, Stephen D. Nimer

Epigenetic regulators play critical roles in normal hematopoiesis, and the activity of these enzymes is frequently altered in hematopoietic cancers. The major type II protein arginine methyltransferase PRMT5 catalyzes the formation of symmetric dimethyl arginine and has been implicated in various cellular processes, including pluripotency and tumorigenesis. Here, we generated Prmt5 conditional KO mice to evaluate the contribution of PRMT5 to adult hematopoiesis. Loss of PRMT5 triggered an initial but transient expansion of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs); however, Prmt5 deletion resulted in a concurrent loss of hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs), leading to fatal BM aplasia. PRMT5-specific effects on hematopoiesis were cell intrinsic and depended on PRMT5 methyltransferase activity. We found that PRMT5-deficient hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells exhibited severely impaired cytokine signaling as well as upregulation of p53 and expression of its downstream targets. Together, our results demonstrate that PRMT5 plays distinct roles in the behavior of HSCs compared with HPCs and is essential for the maintenance of adult hematopoietic cells.

A molecular trigger for intercontinental epidemics of group A Streptococcus
  By: Luchang Zhu, Randall J. Olsen, Waleed Nasser, Stephen B. Beres, Jaana Vuopio, Karl G. Kristinsson, Magnus Gottfredsson, Adeline R. Porter, Frank R. DeLeo, James M. Musser

The identification of the molecular events responsible for strain emergence, enhanced virulence, and epidemicity has been a long-pursued goal in infectious diseases research. A recent analysis of 3,615 genomes of serotype M1 group A Streptococcus strains (the so-called “flesh-eating” bacterium) identified a recombination event that coincides with the global M1 pandemic beginning in the early 1980s. Here, we have shown that the allelic variation that results from this recombination event, which replaces the chromosomal region encoding secreted NADase and streptolysin O, is the key driver of increased toxin production and enhanced infection severity of the M1 pandemic strains. Using isoallelic mutant strains, we found that 3 polymorphisms in this toxin gene region increase resistance to killing by human polymorphonuclear leukocytes, increase bacterial proliferation, and increase virulence in animal models of pharyngitis and necrotizing fasciitis. Genome sequencing of an additional 1,125 streptococcal strains and virulence studies revealed that a highly similar recombinational replacement event underlies an ongoing intercontinental epidemic of serotype M89 group A Streptococcus infections. By identifying the molecular changes that enhance upper respiratory tract fitness, increased resistance to innate immunity, and increased tissue destruction, we describe a mechanism that underpins epidemic streptococcal infections, which have affected many millions of people.

Reversal of microRNA-150 silencing disadvantages crizotinib-resistant NPM-ALK(+) cell growth
  By: Coralie Hoareau-Aveilla, Thibaud Valentin, Camille Daugrois, Cathy Quelen, Géraldine Mitou, Samuel Quentin, Jinsong Jia, Salvatore Spicuglia, Pierre Ferrier, Monica Ceccon, Sylvie Giuriato, Carlo Gambacorti-Passerini, Pierre Brousset, Laurence Lamant, Fabienne Meggetto

The regulatory microRNA miR-150 is involved in the development of hemopathies and is downregulated in T-lymphomas, such as anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) tumors. ALCL is defined by the presence or absence of translocations that activate the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), with nucleophosmin-ALK (NPM-ALK) fusions being the most common. Here, we compared samples of primary NPM-ALK(+) and NPM-ALK(–) ALCL to investigate the role of miR-150 downstream of NPM-ALK. Methylation of the MIR150 gene was substantially elevated in NPM-ALK(+) biopsies and correlated with reduced miR-150 expression. In NPM-ALK(+) cell lines, DNA hypermethylation–mediated miR-150 repression required ALK-dependent pathways, as ALK inhibition restored miR-150 expression. Moreover, epigenetic silencing of miR-150 was due to the activation of STAT3, a major downstream substrate of NPM-ALK, in cooperation with DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1). Accordingly, miR-150 repression was turned off following treatment with the DNMT inhibitor, decitabine. In murine NPM-ALK(+) xenograft models, miR-150 upregulation induced antineoplastic activity. Treatment of crizotinib-resistant NPM-ALK(+) KARPAS-299-CR06 cells with decitabine or ectopic miR-150 expression reduced viability and growth. Altogether, our results suggest that hypomethylating drugs, alone or in combination with other agents, may benefit ALK(+) patients harboring tumors resistant to crizotinib and other anti-ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Moreover, these results support further work on miR-150 in these and other ALK(+) malignancies.

Rapamycin improves TIE2-mutated venous malformation in murine model and human subjects
  By: Elisa Boscolo, Nisha Limaye, Lan Huang, Kyu-Tae Kang, Julie Soblet, Melanie Uebelhoer, Antonella Mendola, Marjut Natynki, Emmanuel Seront, Sophie Dupont, Jennifer Hammer, Catherine Legrand, Carlo Brugnara, Lauri Eklund, Miikka Vikkula, Joyce Bischoff, Laurence M. Boon

Venous malformations (VMs) are composed of ectatic veins with scarce smooth muscle cell coverage. Activating mutations in the endothelial cell tyrosine kinase receptor TIE2 are a common cause of these lesions. VMs cause deformity, pain, and local intravascular coagulopathy, and they expand with time. Targeted pharmacological therapies are not available for this condition. Here, we generated a model of VMs by injecting HUVECs expressing the most frequent VM-causing TIE2 mutation, TIE2-L914F, into immune-deficient mice. TIE2-L914F–expressing HUVECs formed VMs with ectatic blood-filled channels that enlarged over time. We tested both rapamycin and a TIE2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TIE2-TKI) for their effects on murine VM expansion and for their ability to inhibit mutant TIE2 signaling. Rapamycin prevented VM growth, while TIE2-TKI had no effect. In cultured TIE2-L914F–expressing HUVECs, rapamycin effectively reduced mutant TIE2-induced AKT signaling and, though TIE2-TKI did target the WT receptor, it only weakly suppressed mutant-induced AKT signaling. In a prospective clinical pilot study, we analyzed the effects of rapamycin in 6 patients with difficult–to-treat venous anomalies. Rapamycin reduced pain, bleeding, lesion size, functional and esthetic impairment, and intravascular coagulopathy. This study provides a VM model that allows evaluation of potential therapeutic strategies and demonstrates that rapamycin provides clinical improvement in patients with venous malformation.

Mucosally transplanted mesenchymal stem cells stimulate intestinal healing by promoting angiogenesis
  By: Nicholas A. Manieri, Madison R. Mack, Molly D. Himmelrich, Daniel L. Worthley, Elaine M. Hanson, Lars Eckmann, Timothy C. Wang, Thaddeus S. Stappenbeck

Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy is an emerging field of regenerative medicine; however, it is often unclear how these cells mediate repair. Here, we investigated the use of MSCs in the treatment of intestinal disease and modeled abnormal repair by creating focal wounds in the colonic mucosa of prostaglandin-deficient mice. These wounds developed into ulcers that infiltrated the outer intestinal wall. We determined that penetrating ulcer formation in this model resulted from increased hypoxia and smooth muscle wall necrosis. Prostaglandin I2 (PGI2) stimulated VEGF-dependent angiogenesis to prevent penetrating ulcers. Treatment of mucosally injured WT mice with a VEGFR inhibitor resulted in the development of penetrating ulcers, further demonstrating that VEGF is critical for mucosal repair. We next used this model to address the role of transplanted colonic MSCs (cMSCs) in intestinal repair. Compared with intravenously injected cMSCs, mucosally injected cMSCs more effectively prevented the development of penetrating ulcers, as they were more efficiently recruited to colonic wounds. Importantly, mucosally injected cMSCs stimulated angiogenesis in a VEGF-dependent manner. Together, our results reveal that penetrating ulcer formation results from a reduction of local angiogenesis and targeted injection of MSCs can optimize transplantation therapy. Moreover, local MSC injection has potential for treating diseases with features of abnormal angiogenesis and repair.

SLFN14 mutations underlie thrombocytopenia with excessive bleeding and platelet secretion defects
  By: Sarah J. Fletcher, Ben Johnson, Gillian C. Lowe, Danai Bem, Sian Drake, Marie Lordkipanidzé, Isabel Sánchez Guiú, Ban Dawood, José Rivera, Michael A. Simpson, Martina E. Daly, Jayashree Motwani, Peter W. Collins, Steve P. Watson, Neil V. Morgan, on behalf of the UK Genotyping and Phenotyping of Platelets study group

Inherited thrombocytopenias are a group of disorders that are characterized by a low platelet count and are sometimes associated with excessive bleeding that ranges from mild to severe. We evaluated 36 unrelated patients and 17 family members displaying thrombocytopenia that were recruited to the UK Genotyping and Phenotyping of Platelets (GAPP) study. All patients had a history of excessive bleeding of unknown etiology. We performed platelet phenotyping and whole-exome sequencing (WES) on all patients and identified mutations in schlafen 14 (SLFN14) in 12 patients from 3 unrelated families. Patients harboring SLFN14 mutations displayed an analogous phenotype that consisted of moderate thrombocytopenia, enlarged platelets, decreased ATP secretion, and a dominant inheritance pattern. Three heterozygous missense mutations were identified in affected family members and predicted to encode substitutions (K218E, K219N, and V220D) within an ATPase-AAA-4, GTP/ATP-binding region of SLFN14. Endogenous SLFN14 expression was reduced in platelets from all patients, and mutant SLFN14 expression was markedly decreased compared with that of WT SLFN14 when overexpressed in transfected cells. Electron microscopy revealed a reduced number of dense granules in affected patients platelets, correlating with a decreased ATP secretion observed in lumiaggregometry studies. These results identify SLFN14 mutations as cause for an inherited thrombocytopenia with excessive bleeding, outlining a fundamental role for SLFN14 in platelet formation and function.

Sex ratio following preconception low-dose aspirin in women with prior pregnancy loss
  By: Rose G. Radin, Sunni L. Mumford, Robert M. Silver, Laurie L. Lesher, Noya Galai, David Faraggi, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Janet M. Townsend, Anne M. Lynch, Hyagriv N. Simhan, Lindsey A. Sjaarda, Neil J. Perkins, Shvetha M. Zarek, Karen C. Schliep, Enrique F. Schisterman

BACKGROUND. Several lines of evidence suggest that male embryos may have greater vulnerability than female embryos to disordered inflammation; therefore, antiinflammatory drugs, such as low-dose aspirin (LDA), may alter the sex ratio. Here, we assessed the effect of LDA on male live birth and male offspring, incorporating pregnancy losses (n = 56) via genetic assessment, as part of a parallel-design, block-randomized, placebo-controlled trial of preconception LDA.

METHODS. Participants (615 treated with LDA, 613 treated with placebo) ranged in age from 18 to 40 years of age, with 1 to 2 prior pregnancy losses. We estimated the intention-to-treat (ITT) risk ratio (RR) and 95% CI and assessed interaction with baseline high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) serum concentration — a marker of systemic inflammation.

RESULTS. Among the 1,078 women who completed follow-up (535 treated with LDA, 543 treated with placebo), the male live birth ITT RR equaled 1.31 (95% CI: 1.07–1.59). With increasing tertile of hsCRP, the proportion of males at birth decreased in the placebo group, and the effect of LDA on male live birth increased (first tertile: 48% male in LDA vs. 52% in placebo, ITT RR = 0.97, 95% CI: 0.70–1.35; second tertile: 57% male in LDA vs. 43% in placebo, ITT RR = 1.36, 95% CI: 0.98–1.90; third tertile: 53% male in LDA vs. 35% in placebo, ITT RR = 1.70, 95% CI: 1.13–2.57; P interaction = 0.03). Analysis of pregnancy with male offspring yielded similar results.

CONCLUSION. Initiation of LDA prior to conception restored numbers of male live births and pregnancy with male offspring among women with 1 to 2 prior pregnancy losses. Moreover, our data suggest that LDA modulates inflammation that would otherwise reduce the conception or survival of male embryos.


FUNDING. Intramural Research Program of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.

2015 Association of American Physicians George M. Kober MedalIntroduction of Francis S. Collins
  By: David Ginsburg

RAP1-mediated MEK/ERK pathway defects in Kabuki syndrome
  By: Nina Bögershausen, I-Chun Tsai, Esther Pohl, Pelin Özlem Simsek Kiper, Filippo Beleggia, E. Ferda Percin, Katharina Keupp, Angela Matchan, Esther Milz, Yasemin Alanay, Hülya Kayserili, Yicheng Liu, Siddharth Banka, Andrea Kranz, Martin Zenker, Dagmar Wieczorek, Nursel Elcioglu, Paolo Prontera, Stanislas Lyonnet, Thomas Meitinger, A. Francis Stewart, Dian Donnai, Tim M. Strom, Koray Boduroglu, Gökhan Yigit, Yun Li, Nicholas Katsanis, Bernd Wollnik

The genetic disorder Kabuki syndrome (KS) is characterized by developmental delay and congenital anomalies. Dominant mutations in the chromatin regulators lysine (K)–specific methyltransferase 2D (KMT2D) (also known as MLL2) and lysine (K)–specific demethylase 6A (KDM6A) underlie the majority of cases. Although the functions of these chromatin-modifying proteins have been studied extensively, the physiological systems regulated by them are largely unknown. Using whole-exome sequencing, we identified a mutation in RAP1A that was converted to homozygosity as the result of uniparental isodisomy (UPD) in a patient with KS and a de novo, dominant mutation in RAP1B in a second individual with a KS-like phenotype. We elucidated a genetic and functional interaction between the respective KS-associated genes and their products in zebrafish models and patient cell lines. Specifically, we determined that dysfunction of known KS genes and the genes identified in this study results in aberrant MEK/ERK signaling as well as disruption of F-actin polymerization and cell intercalation. Moreover, these phenotypes could be rescued in zebrafish models by rebalancing MEK/ERK signaling via administration of small molecule inhibitors of MEK. Taken together, our studies suggest that the KS pathophysiology overlaps with the RASopathies and provide a potential direction for treatment design.

Analysis of conditional heterozygous STXBP1 mutations in human neurons
  By: Christopher Patzke, Yan Han, Jason Covy, Fei Yi, Stephan Maxeiner, Marius Wernig, Thomas C. Südhof

Heterozygous mutations in the syntaxin-binding protein 1 (STXBP1) gene, which encodes Munc18-1, a core component of the presynaptic membrane-fusion machinery, cause infantile early epileptic encephalopathy (Ohtahara syndrome), but it is unclear how a partial loss of Munc18-1 produces this severe clinical presentation. Here, we generated human ES cells designed to conditionally express heterozygous and homozygous STXBP1 loss-of-function mutations and studied isogenic WT and STXBP1-mutant human neurons derived from these conditionally mutant ES cells. We demonstrated that heterozygous STXBP1 mutations lower the levels of Munc18-1 protein and its binding partner, the t-SNARE-protein Syntaxin-1, by approximately 30% and decrease spontaneous and evoked neurotransmitter release by nearly 50%. Thus, our results confirm that using engineered human embryonic stem (ES) cells is a viable approach to studying disease-associated mutations in human neurons on a controlled genetic background, demonstrate that partial STXBP1 loss of function robustly impairs neurotransmitter release in human neurons, and suggest that heterozygous STXBP1 mutations cause early epileptic encephalopathy specifically through a presynaptic impairment.

2015 Association of American Physicians George M. Kober MedalAll the Good People
  By: Francis S. Collins

HDAC inhibitor–dependent transcriptome and memory reinstatement in cognitive decline models
  By: Eva Benito, Hendrik Urbanke, Binu Ramachandran, Jonas Barth, Rashi Halder, Ankit Awasthi, Gaurav Jain, Vincenzo Capece, Susanne Burkhardt, Magdalena Navarro-Sala, Sankari Nagarajan, Anna-Lena Schütz, Steven A. Johnsen, Stefan Bonn, Reinhardt Lührmann, Camin Dean, André Fischer

Aging and increased amyloid burden are major risk factors for cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Effective therapies for these diseases are lacking. Here, we evaluated mouse models of age-associated memory impairment and amyloid deposition to study transcriptome and cell type–specific epigenome plasticity in the brain and peripheral organs. We determined that aging and amyloid pathology are associated with inflammation and impaired synaptic function in the hippocampal CA1 region as the result of epigenetic-dependent alterations in gene expression. In both amyloid and aging models, inflammation was associated with increased gene expression linked to a subset of transcription factors, while plasticity gene deregulation was differentially mediated. Amyloid pathology impaired histone acetylation and decreased expression of plasticity genes, while aging altered H4K12 acetylation–linked differential splicing at the intron-exon junction in neurons, but not nonneuronal cells. Furthermore, oral administration of the clinically approved histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat not only restored spatial memory, but also exerted antiinflammatory action and reinstated epigenetic balance and transcriptional homeostasis at the level of gene expression and exon usage. This study provides a systems-level investigation of transcriptome plasticity in the hippocampal CA1 region in aging and AD models and suggests that histone deacetylase inhibitors should be further explored as a cost-effective therapeutic strategy against age-associated cognitive decline.

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