The development of acute kidney injury (AKI) in patients with sepsis causes significant morbidity and mortality. The pathogenesis of AKI in sepsis is incompletely understood. In this issue of the JCI, Hato et al. investigate the renal translatome during bacterial sepsis and identify the global shutdown of renal protein translation mediated by the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2-α kinase 2/eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (EIF2AK2/eIF2α) axis as a major pathway in mediating septic AKI. The results of this study suggest that inhibiting this pathway could be a potential therapeutic strategy for preventing septic AKI.
Sarah C. Huen
Individuals with the rs671 SNP in the gene encoding aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD); however, it has been unclear if this mutation contributes to CVD development. In this issue of the JCI, Zhong et al. perform an elegant set of experiments that reveal a pathway wherein the ALDH2 rs671 mutant is phosphorylated by AMPK and translocates to the nucleus where it represses the transcription of a lysosomal H+ pump subunit that is critical for lipid degradation and foam cell formation, as occurs in atherosclerosis. The discovery of this pathway may explain how subjects harboring ALDH2 rs671 are at a greater risk for numerous other disease states and thereby provide new targets for therapeutic intervention.
Andrew A. Gibb, John W. Elrod
Lipins play important roles in adipogenesis, insulin sensitivity, and gene regulation, and mutations in these genes cause lipodystrophy, myoglobinuria, and inflammatory disorders. While all lipins (lipin 1, 2, and 3) act as phosphatidic acid phosphatase (PAP) enzymes, which are required for triacylglycerol (TAG) synthesis from glycerol 3-phosphate, lipin 1 has been the focus of most of the lipin-related research. In the current issue of the JCI, Zhang et al. show that while lipin 2 and 3 are expendable for the incorporation of dietary fatty acids into triglycerides, lipin 2/3 PAP activity has a critical role in phospholipid homeostasis and chylomicron assembly in enterocytes.
Ira J. Goldberg, M. Mahmood Hussain
Treatment of hypothyroidism involves the endogenous conversion of thyroxine (T4) to 3,5,3′-triiodothyronine (T3) and may not be optimal in some cases when based on T4 alone. In the current issue of the JCI, Jo et al. present results that explain the reduced enzymatic activity of a common genetic variant of the enzyme responsible for this conversion, type 2 deiodinase (DIO2). The authors further explore the functional consequences of this variant on brain T3 activity, endoplasmic reticulum stress in glial cells, and cognitive function. These findings have important implications for the clinical treatment of hypothyroidism and for susceptibility to other neurological and metabolic diseases.
Insulin-secreting β cell loss or dysfunction is a feature of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Strategies to restore β cell mass are limited, as sources of healthy islets are scarce and mature β cells are not readily expanded in vitro. In this issue of the JCI, Ou et al. report that mature β cell expansion can be induced in situ through epigenetic editing of regulatory elements in pancreatic tissue. Specifically, hypomethylation at imprinting control region 2 (ICR2) in human islets promoted β cell expansion. Importantly, transplantation of these epigenetically edited islets into diabetic mice reduced blood glucose levels. Together, these results support further evaluation of this strategy for restoring β cell mass in patients with diabetes.
Tao Wang, Duanqing Pei
Interactions between IgG Fc and its receptors (FcγRs) have been shown to augment broadly neutralizing Ab–mediated (BnAb-mediated) protection from simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenge. In the current issue of the JCI, Parsons and collaborators compared the BnAb PGT121 with a version engineered to have impaired FcγR binding for their ability to protect macaques from an intravenous challenge with SHIV-infected cells as well as to treat already infected animals. Unexpectedly, and in contrast to previous studies, both versions of the Ab were equally able to prevent infection and decrease viral loads in infected animals. Thus, FcγR engagement does not always improve the in vivo antiviral activity of BnAbs.
Donald Forthal, Andrés Finzi
Graft-versus-tumor (GVT) effects have been thought to mostly result from allogeneic transplants; however, there is a growing body of research that supports a possible autologous GVT effect. In early clinical studies, a positive correlation between lymphocyte count recovery after autologous transplantation and overall survival has been observed. However, mechanistic studies to identify the mediators of autologous GVT responses have been lacking. In this issue of the JCI, Vuckovic et al. observed a T cell–dependent autologous GVT effect in the Vk*MYC myeloma model. Moreover, the authors showed that CD8+ T cells mediate myeloma control through IFN-γ secretion, which could be further augmented with a CD137 agonist, suggesting a therapeutic approach for enhancing autologous GVT.
Shuai Dong, Irene M. Ghobrial
βIV-Spectrin, along with ankyrin and Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII), has been shown to form local signaling domains at the intercalated disc, while playing a key role in the regulation of Na+ and K+ channels in cardiomyocytes. In this issue of the JCI, Unudurthi et al. show that under chronic pressure overload conditions, CaMKII activation leads to βIV-spectrin degradation, resulting in the release of sequestered STAT3 from the intercalated discs. This in turn leads to dysregulation of STAT3-mediated gene transcription, maladaptive remodeling, fibrosis, and decreased cardiac function. Overall, this study presents interesting findings regarding the role of CaMKII and βIV-spectrin under physiological as well as pathological conditions.
Mohit Hulsurkar, Ann P. Quick, Xander H.T. Wehrens
Ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) sets off a devastating cascade of events, leading to cell death and possible organ failure. Treatments to limit I/R-associated damage are lacking, and the pathways that drive injury are poorly understood. In this issue of the JCI, Wei and colleagues identify microRNA-668 (miR-668) as a protective factor in acute kidney injury (AKI). miR-668 was shown to repress mitochondrial fission–associated protein MTP18, thereby inhibiting pathogenic mitochondrial fragmentation. In murine models of I/R-induced AKI, treatment with a miR-668 mimetic reduced mitochondrial fragmentation and improved renal function. Moreover, HIF-1α was shown to be required for miR-688 expression in response to I/R. Importantly, Wei et al. show miR-668 upregulation in a cohort of human patients with AKI. Together, these results identify a HIF-1α/miR-668/MTP18 axis that may have potential as a therapeutic target for AKI.
Nicholas Chun, Steven G. Coca, John Cijiang He
People with diabetes mellitus are at higher risk of developing serious ascending infections of the urinary tract. The traditional explanation has focused on the role of glycosuria in promoting bacterial growth. Using mouse models, Murtha et al. demonstrate that when the intracellular insulin signaling pathway is compromised, antimicrobial defenses are compromised too, and the mice are unable to effectively handle uropathogenic E. coli introduced experimentally into the urinary tract. These observations strongly support the hypothesis that the antimicrobial defenses of the kidney are dependent on insulin, and the urinary tract infections associated with diabetes occur due to reduced expression of these key effectors of innate immunity.
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