Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a degenerative motor neuron (MN) disease caused by loss of functional SMN protein due to SMN1 gene mutations, is a leading cause of infant mortality. Increasing SMN levels ameliorates the disease phenotype and is unanimously accepted as a therapeutic approach for SMA patients. The ubiquitin/proteasome system is known to regulate SMN protein levels; however whether autophagy controls SMN levels remains poorly explored. Here we show that SMN protein is degraded by autophagy. Pharmacological and genetic inhibition of autophagy increase SMN levels, while induction of autophagy decreases SMN. SMN degradation occurs via its interaction with the autophagy adapter p62/SQSTM1. We also show that SMA neurons display reduced autophagosome clearance, increased p62/ubiquitinated protein levels, and hyperactivated mTORC1 signaling. Importantly, reducing p62 levels markedly increases SMN and its binding partner gemin2, promotes MN survival and extends lifespan in fly and mouse SMA models revealing p62 as a new potential therapeutic target to treat SMA.
Natalia Rodriguez-Muela, Andrey Parkhitko, Tobias Grass, Rebecca M. Gibbs, Erika M. Norabuena, Norbert Perrimon, Rajat Singh, Lee L. Rubin
Progression of chronic kidney disease associated with progressive fibrosis and impaired tubular epithelial regeneration is still an unmet biomedical challenge, because once chronic lesions have manifested, no effective therapies are available as of yet for clinical use. Prompted by various studies across multiple organs demonstrating that preconditioning regimens to induce endogenous regenerative mechanisms protect various organs from later incurring acute injuries, we here aimed to gain insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying successful protection and to explore whether such pathways could be utilized to inhibit progression of chronic organ injury. We identified a protective mechanism that is controlled by the transcription factor ARNT, which effectively inhibits progression of chronic kidney injury by transcriptional induction of ALK3, the principal mediator of anti-fibrotic and pro-regenerative BMP signaling responses. We further report that ARNT expression itself is controlled by the FKBP12/YY1 transcriptional repressor complex, and that disruption of such FKBP12/YY1 complexes by picomolar FK506 at sub-immunosuppressive doses increases ARNT expression, subsequently leading to homodimeric ARNT-induced ALK3 transcription. Direct targeting of FKBP12/YY1 with in vivo-morpholino approaches or small molecule inhibitors including GPI-1046 were equally effective to induce ARNT expression with subsequent activation of ALK3-dependent canonical BMP signaling responses and attenuated chronic organ failure in models of chronic kidney, but also cardiac and liver injuries. In summary, we report an organ protective mechanism, which can be pharmacologically modulated by immunophilin ligands FK506, GPI-1046 or therapeutically targeted by in vivo-morpholino approaches.
Björn Tampe, Désirée Tampe, Gunsmaa Nyamsuren, Friederike Klöpper, Gregor Rapp, Anne Kauffels, Thomas Lorf, Elisabeth M. Zeisberg, Gerhard A. Müller, Raghu Kalluri, Samy Hakroush, Michael Zeisberg
Complications of diabetes affect tissues throughout body, including central nervous system. Epidemiological studies show that diabetic patients have increased risk of depression, anxiety, age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Mice lacking insulin receptor in brain or on hypothalamic neurons display an array of metabolic abnormalities, however, the role of insulin action on astrocytes and neurobehaviors remains less well-studied. Here, we demonstrate that astrocytes are a direct insulin target in the brain and that knockout of IR on astrocytes causes increased anxiety and depressive-like behaviors in mice. This can be reproduced in part by deletion of IR on astrocytes in the nucleus accumbens. At a molecular level, loss of insulin signaling in astrocytes impaired tyrosine phosphorylation of Munc18c. This led to decreased exocytosis of ATP from astrocytes, resulting in decreased purinergic signaling on dopaminergic neurons. These reductions contributed to decreased dopamine release from brain slices. Central administration of ATP analogues could reverse depressive-like behaviors in mice with astrocyte IR knockout. Thus, astrocytic insulin signaling plays an important role in dopaminergic signaling, providing a potential mechanism by which astrocytic insulin action may contribute to increased rates of depression in people with diabetes, obesity and other insulin resistant states.
Weikang Cai, Chang Xue, Masaji Sakaguchi, Masahiro Konishi, Alireza Shirazian, Heather A. Ferris, Mengyao Li, Ruichao Yu, Andre Kleinridders, Emmanuel N. Pothos, C. Ronald Kahn
Synthetic lethality-based strategy has been developed to identify therapeutic targets in cancer harboring tumor suppressor gene mutations, as exemplified by the effectiveness of PARP inhibitors in BRCA1/2-mutated tumors. However, many synthetic lethal interactors are less reliable due to the fact that such genes usually do not perform fundamental or indispensable functions in the cell. Here we developed an approach to identify the “essential lethality” arose from these mutated/deleted essential genes, which are largely tolerated in cancer cells due to genetic redundancy. We uncovered the cohesion subunit SA1 as a putative synthetic-essential target in cancers carrying inactivating mutations of its paralog, SA2. In SA2-deficient Ewing sarcoma and bladder cancer, further depletion of SA1 profoundly and specifically suppressed cancer cell proliferation, survival and tumorigenic potential. Mechanistically, inhibition of SA1 in the SA2-mutated cells led to premature chromatid separation, dramatic extension of mitotic duration, and consequently lethal failure of cell division. More importantly, depletion of SA1 rendered those SA2-mutated cells more susceptible to DNA damage, especially double-strand breaks (DSBs), due to reduced functionality of DNA repair. Furthermore, inhibition of SA1 sensitized the SA2-deficient cancer cells to PARP inhibitors in vitro and in vivo, providing a potential therapeutic strategy for patients with SA2-deficient tumors.
Yunhua Liu, Hanchen Xu, Kevin Van der Jeught, Yujing Li, Sheng Liu, Lu Zhang, Yuanzhang Fang, Xinna Zhang, Milan Rodovich, Bryan P. Schneider, Xiaoming He, Cheng Huang, Chi Zhang, Jun Wan, Guang Ji, Xiongbin Lu
BACKGROUND. Monogenic Interferon (IFN)-mediated autoinflammatory diseases present in infancy with systemic inflammation, an IFN-response-gene-signature (IRS), inflammatory organ damage and high mortality. We used the janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor baricitinib with IFN-blocking activity in vitro, to ameliorate disease. METHODS. Between October 2011 and February 2017, 10 patients with CANDLE (chronic atypical neutrophilic dermatosis with lipodystrophy and elevated temperatures), 4 with SAVI (Stimulator of IFN genes (STING)-associated vasculopathy with onset in infancy), and 4 patients with other interferonopathies were enrolled in an Expanded Access Program. Patients underwent dose-escalation, benefit was assessed by reductions in daily disease symptoms and corticosteroid requirement. Quality-of-life, organ inflammation, changes in IFN-induced biomarkers, and safety were longitudinally assessed. RESULTS. 18 patients were treated for a mean duration of 3.0 years (1.5–4.9 years). The median daily symptom score decreased from 1.3 (IQR 0.93–1.78) to 0.25 (IQR 0.1-0.63) (P < 0.0001). In 14 patients receiving steroids at baseline, daily prednisone doses decreased from 0.44 mg/kg/day (IQR 0.31–1.09) to 0.11 mg/kg/day (IQR 0.02–0.24) (P < 0.01); 5 of 10 CANDLE patients achieved lasting clinical remission. Quality of life, height and bone mineral density Z-scores significantly improved, and IFN biomarkers decreased. Three patients discontinued, two with genetically undefined conditions due to lack of efficacy, and one CANDLE patient due to BK viremia and azotemia. The most common adverse events were upper respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, BK viruria and viremia. CONCLUSION. On baricitinib treatment, clinical manifestations, inflammatory and IFN biomarkers improved in patients with the monogenic interferonopathies, CANDLE, SAVI and 2 other interferonopathies. Monitoring safety and efficacy is important in benefit-risk assessment. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01724580 and NCT02974595. FUNDING. NIH, NIAID, NIAMS, NIDDK, NHLBI, NINDS, and the Clinical Center. Baricitinib was provided by Eli Lilly. Eli Lilly is the sponsor of the compassionate use program.
Gina A. Montealegre Sanchez, Adam Reinhardt, Suzanne Ramsey, Helmut Wittkowski, Philip J. Hashkes, Yackov Berkun, Susanne Schalm, Sara Murias, Jason A. Dare, Diane Brown, Deborah L. Stone, Ling Gao, Thomas Klausmeier, Dirk Foell, Adriana A. de Jesus, Dawn C. Chapelle, Hanna Kim, Samantha Dill, Robert Colbert, Laura Failla, Bahar Kost, Michelle O'Brien, James C. Reynolds, Les R. Folio, Katherine R. Calvo, Scott M. Paul, Nargues Weir, Alessandra Brofferio, Ariane Soldatos, Angélique Biancotto, Edward W. Cowen, John G. Digiovanna, Massimo Gadina, Andrew J. Lipton, Colleen Hadigan, Steven M. Holland, Joseph Fontana, Ahmad S. Alawad, Rebecca J. Brown, Kristina I. Rother, Theo Heller, Kristina M. Brooks, Parag Kumar, Stephen R. Brooks, Meryl Waldman, Harsharan K. Singh, Volker Nickeleit, Maria Silk, Apurva Prakash, Jonathan M. Janes, Seza Ozen, Paul G. Wakim, Paul A. Brogan, William L. Macias, Raphaela Goldbach-Mansky
Activation of non-neuronal microglia is thought to play a causal role in spinal processing of neuropathic pain. To specifically investigate microglia-mediated effects in a model of neuropathic pain and overcome methodological limitations of previous approaches exploring microglia function upon nerve injury, we selectively ablated resident microglia by intracerebroventricular (icv) ganciclovir infusion into male CD11b-HSVTK transgenic mice, which was followed by a rapid, complete and persistent (23 weeks) repopulation of the CNS by peripheral myeloid cells. In repopulated mice that underwent sciatic nerve injury, we observed a normal response to mechanical stimuli, but an absence of thermal hypersensitivity ipsilateral to the injured nerve. Furthermore, we found that neuronal expression of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which is a marker of neurons essential for heat responses, was diminished in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord in repopulated mice. These findings demonstrate distinct mechanisms for heat and mechanical hypersensitivity, highlighting a crucial contribution of CNS myeloid cells in the facilitation of noxious heat.
Stefanie Kälin, Kelly R. Miller, Roland E. Kälin, Marina Jendrach, Christian Witzel, Frank L. Heppner
Although aberrant Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) signaling is widespread in cancer, EGFR inhibition is effective only in a subset of NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer) with EGFR activating mutations. A majority of NSCLCs express EGFR wild type (EGFRwt) and do not respond to EGFR inhibition. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a major mediator of inflammation-induced cancer. We find that a rapid increase in TNF level is a universal adaptive response to EGFR inhibition in NSCLC regardless of EGFR status. EGFR signaling actively suppresses TNF mRNA levels by inducing expression of miR-21 resulting in decreased TNF mRNA stability. Conversely, EGFR inhibition results in loss of miR-21 and increased TNF mRNA stability. In addition, TNF-induced NF-kB activation leads to increased TNF transcription in a feedforward loop. Inhibition of TNF signaling renders EGFRwt expressing NSCLC cell lines and an EGFRwt Patient-Derived Xenograft (PDX) model highly sensitive to EGFR inhibition. In EGFR mutant oncogene-addicted cells, blocking TNF enhances the effectiveness of EGFR inhibition. EGFR plus TNF inhibition is also effective in NSCLC with acquired resistance to EGFR inhibition. We suggest concomitant EGFR and TNF inhibition as a new treatment approach that could be beneficial for a majority of lung cancer patients.
Ke Gong, Gao Guo, David E. Gerber, Boning Gao, Michael Peyton, Chun Huang, John D. Minna, Kimmo J. Hatanpaa, Kemp Kernstine, Ling Cai, Yang Xie, Hong Zhu, Farjana Fattah, Shanrong Zhang, Masaya Takahashi, Bipasha Mukherjee, Sandeep Burma, Jonathan Dowell, Kathryn Dao, Vassiliki A. Papadimitrakopoulou, Victor Olivas, Trever G. Bivona, Dawen Zhao, Amyn A. Habib
In situ cancer vaccines are under active clinical investigation due to their reported ability to eradicate both local and disseminated malignancies. Intratumoral vaccine administration is thought to activate a T cell mediated immune response, which begins in the treated tumor and cascades systemically. We describe a positron emission tomography tracer (64Cu-DOTA-AbOX40) that enabled non-invasive and longitudinal imaging of OX40, a cell surface marker of T cell activation. We report the spatiotemporal dynamics of T cell activation following in situ vaccination with CpG oligodeoxynucleotide, in a dual tumor bearing mouse model. We demonstrate that OX40 imaging could predict tumor responses at day 9 post treatment based on tumor tracer uptake at day 2, with higher accuracy than both anatomical and blood-based measurements. These studies provide key insights into global T cell activation following local CpG treatment and indicate that 64Cu-DOTA-AbOX40 is a promising candidate for monitoring clinical cancer immunotherapy strategies.
Israt S. Alam, Aaron T. Mayer, Idit Sagiv-Barfi, Kezheng Wang, Ophir Vermesh, Debra K. Czerwinski, Emily M. Johnson, Michelle L. James, Ronald Levy, Sanjiv S. Gambhir
In the brain, the ventral hypothalamus (VHT) regulates energy and bone metabolism. Whether this regulation uses the same or different neuronal circuits is unknown. Alteration of AP1 signaling in the VHT increases energy expenditure, glucose utilization, and bone density, yet the specific neurons responsible for each or all of these phenotypes are not identified. Using neuron-specific genetically targeted AP1 alterations as a tool in adult mice, we found that AgRP- or POMC- expressing neurons, predominantly present in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) within the VHT, stimulate whole body energy expenditure, glucose utilization and bone formation and density, although their effects on bone resorption differed. In contrast, AP1 alterations in Steroidogenic factor 1 (SF1)-expressing neurons, present in the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH), increase energy, but decrease bone density, suggesting that these effects are independent. Altered AP1 signaling also increased the levels of the neuromediator galanin in the hypothalamus and global galanin deletion, VHT galanin silencing using shRNA, or pharmacological galanin receptor blockade, counteracted the observed effects on energy and bone. Thus, AP1 antagonism reveals that AgRP- and POMC- expressing neurons can stimulate body metabolism and increase bone density, with galanin acting as a central downstream effector. The results obtained with SF1-expressing neurons, however, indicate that bone homeostasis is not always dictated by the global energy status, and vice versa.
Anna Idelevich, Kazusa Sato, Kenichi Nagano, Glenn Rowe, Francesca Gori, Roland Baron
Neurofibromatosis type 1 associates with multiple neoplasms and the Schwann cell tumor neurofibroma is the most prevalent. A hallmark feature of neurofibroma is mast cell infiltration which is recruited by chemoattractant stem cell factor (SCF) that has been suggested to sustain neurofibroma tumorigenesis. In this study, using new genetically engineered Scf mice, we decipher the contributions of tumor-derived SCF and mast cells to neurofibroma development. We demonstrate that mast cell infiltration is dependent on SCF from tumor Schwann cells. However, removal of mast cells by depleting this main SCF source only slightly affects neurofibroma progression. Other inflammation signatures show that all neurofibromas are associated with high levels of macrophages regardless of Scf status. These findings suggest an active inflammation in neurofibromas and partly explain why mast cell removal alone is not sufficient to relieve tumor burden in this experimental neurofibroma model. Furthermore, we show that plexiform neurofibromas are highly associated with injury-prone spinal nerves that are close to flexible vertebras. In summary, our study details the role of inflammation in neurofibromagenesis. These data paired with the observed tumor locations indicate that prevention of inflammation, and possibly nerve injury, are therapeutic approaches for neurofibroma prophylaxis and treatment that should be explored.
Chung-Ping Liao, Reid C. Booker, Jean-Philippe Brosseau, Zhiguo Chen, Juan Mo, Edem Tchegnon, Yong Wang, D. Wade Clapp, Lu Q. Le
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