Concise Communication

Abstract

Huntington’s disease (HD) is a fatal, inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expanded CAG repeat in the gene encoding huntingtin (HTT). Therapeutic approaches to lower mutant HTT (mHTT) levels are expected to proceed to human trials, but noninvasive quantification of mHTT is not currently possible. The importance of the peripheral immune system in neurodegenerative disease is becoming increasingly recognized. Peripheral immune cells have been implicated in HD pathogenesis, but HTT levels in these cells have not been quantified before. A recently described time-resolved Förster resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET) immunoassay was used to quantify mutant and total HTT protein levels in leukocytes from patients with HD. Mean mHTT levels in monocytes, T cells, and B cells differed significantly between patients with HD and controls and between pre-manifest mutation carriers and those with clinical onset. Monocyte and T cell mHTT levels were significantly associated with disease burden scores and caudate atrophy rates in patients with HD. mHTT N-terminal fragments detected in HD PBMCs may explain the progressive increase in mHTT levels in these cells. These findings indicate that quantification of mHTT in peripheral immune cells by TR-FRET holds significant promise as a noninvasive disease biomarker.

Authors

Andreas Weiss, Ulrike Träger, Edward J. Wild, Stephan Grueninger, Ruth Farmer, Christian Landles, Rachael I. Scahill, Nayana Lahiri, Salman Haider, Douglas Macdonald, Chris Frost, Gillian P. Bates, Graeme Bilbe, Rainer Kuhn, Ralph Andre, Sarah J. Tabrizi

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Abstract

Although long considered a promising treatment option for type 1 diabetes, pancreatic islet cell transformation has been hindered by immune system rejection of engrafted tissue. The identification of pathways that regulate post-transplant detrimental inflammatory events would improve management and outcome of transplanted patients. Here, we found that CXCR1/2 chemokine receptors and their ligands are crucial negative determinants for islet survival after transplantation. Pancreatic islets released abundant CXCR1/2 ligands (CXCL1 and CXCL8). Accordingly, intrahepatic CXCL1 and circulating CXCL1 and CXCL8 were strongly induced shortly after islet infusion. Genetic and pharmacological blockade of the CXCL1-CXCR1/2 axis in mice improved intrahepatic islet engraftment and reduced intrahepatic recruitment of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and NKT cells after islet infusion. In humans, the CXCR1/2 allosteric inhibitor reparixin improved outcome in a phase 2 randomized, open-label pilot study with a single infusion of allogeneic islets. These findings indicate that the CXCR1/2-mediated pathway is a regulator of islet damage and should be a target for intervention to improve the efficacy of transplantation.

Authors

Antonio Citro, Elisa Cantarelli, Paola Maffi, Rita Nano, Raffaella Melzi, Alessia Mercalli, Erica Dugnani, Valeria Sordi, Paola Magistretti, Luisa Daffonchio, Pier Adelchi Ruffini, Marcello Allegretti, Antonio Secchi, Ezio Bonifacio, Lorenzo Piemonti

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Abstract

Asthma is a chronic condition with unknown pathogenesis, and recent evidence suggests that enhanced airway epithelial chloride (Cl–) secretion plays a role in the disease. However, the molecular mechanism underlying Cl– secretion and its relevance in asthma pathophysiology remain unknown. To determine the role of the solute carrier family 26, member 9 (SLC26A9) Cl– channel in asthma, we induced Th2-mediated inflammation via IL-13 treatment in wild-type and Slc26a9-deficient mice and compared the effects on airway ion transport, morphology, and mucus content. We found that IL-13 treatment increased Cl– secretion in the airways of wild-type but not Slc26a9-deficient mice. While IL-13–induced mucus overproduction was similar in both strains, treated Slc26a9-deficient mice exhibited airway mucus obstruction, which did not occur in wild-type controls. In a study involving healthy children and asthmatics, a polymorphism in the 3′ UTR of SLC26A9 that reduced protein expression in vitro was associated with asthma. Our data demonstrate that the SLC26A9 Cl– channel is activated in airway inflammation and suggest that SLC26A9-mediated Cl– secretion is essential for preventing airway obstruction in allergic airway disease. These results indicate that SLC26A9 may serve as a therapeutic target for airway diseases associated with mucus plugging.

Authors

Pinelopi Anagnostopoulou, Brigitte Riederer, Julia Duerr, Sven Michel, Aristea Binia, Raman Agrawal, Xuemei Liu, Katrin Kalitzki, Fang Xiao, Mingmin Chen, Jolanthe Schatterny, Dorothee Hartmann, Thomas Thum, Michael Kabesch, Manoocher Soleimani, Ursula Seidler, Marcus A. Mall

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Abstract

Mutations in the photoreceptor-specific flippase ABCA4 are associated with Stargardt disease and many other forms of retinal degeneration that currently lack curative therapies. Gene replacement is a logical strategy for ABCA4-associated disease, particularly given the current success of traditional viral-mediated gene delivery, such as with adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors. However, the large size of the ABCA4 cDNA (6.8 kbp) has hampered progress in the development of genetic treatments. Nonviral DNA nanoparticles (NPs) can accommodate large genes, unlike traditional viral vectors, which have capacity limitations. We utilized an optimized DNA NP technology to subretinally deliver ABCA4 to Abca4-deficient mice. We detected persistent ABCA4 transgene expression for up to 8 months after injection and found marked correction of functional and structural Stargardt phenotypes, such as improved recovery of dark adaptation and reduced lipofuscin granules. These data suggest that DNA NPs may be an excellent, clinically relevant gene delivery approach for genes too large for traditional viral vectors.

Authors

Zongchao Han, Shannon M. Conley, Rasha S. Makkia, Mark J. Cooper, Muna I. Naash

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Abstract

Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas (ICCs) are primary liver tumors with a poor prognosis. The development of effective therapies has been hampered by a limited understanding of the biology of ICCs. Although ICCs exhibit heterogeneity in location, histology, and marker expression, they are currently thought to derive invariably from the cells lining the bile ducts, biliary epithelial cells (BECs), or liver progenitor cells (LPCs). Despite lack of experimental evidence establishing BECs or LPCs as the origin of ICCs, other liver cell types have not been considered. Here we show that ICCs can originate from fully differentiated hepatocytes. Using a mouse model of hepatocyte fate tracing, we found that activated NOTCH and AKT signaling cooperate to convert normal hepatocytes into biliary cells that act as precursors of rapidly progressing, lethal ICCs. Our findings suggest a previously overlooked mechanism of human ICC formation that may be targetable for anti-ICC therapy.

Authors

Biao Fan, Yann Malato, Diego F. Calvisi, Syed Naqvi, Nataliya Razumilava, Silvia Ribback, Gregory J. Gores, Frank Dombrowski, Matthias Evert, Xin Chen, Holger Willenbring

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Abstract

Cancer is principally considered a genetic disease, and numerous mutations are thought essential to drive its growth. However, the existence of genomically stable cancers and the emergence of mutations in genes that encode chromatin remodelers raise the possibility that perturbation of chromatin structure and epigenetic regulation are capable of driving cancer formation. Here we sequenced the exomes of 35 rhabdoid tumors, highly aggressive cancers of early childhood characterized by biallelic loss of SMARCB1, a subunit of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex. We identified an extremely low rate of mutation, with loss of SMARCB1 being essentially the sole recurrent event. Indeed, in 2 of the cancers there were no other identified mutations. Our results demonstrate that high mutation rates are dispensable for the genesis of cancers driven by mutation of a chromatin remodeling complex. Consequently, cancer can be a remarkably genetically simple disease.

Authors

Ryan S. Lee, Chip Stewart, Scott L. Carter, Lauren Ambrogio, Kristian Cibulskis, Carrie Sougnez, Michael S. Lawrence, Daniel Auclair, Jaume Mora, Todd R. Golub, Jaclyn A. Biegel, Gad Getz, Charles W.M. Roberts

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Abstract

Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA) is a hypoplastic anemia characterized by impaired production of red blood cells, with approximately half of all cases attributed to ribosomal protein gene mutations. We performed exome sequencing on two siblings who had no known pathogenic mutations for DBA and identified a mutation in the gene encoding the hematopoietic transcription factor GATA1. This mutation, which occurred at a splice site of the GATA1 gene, impaired production of the full-length form of the protein. We further identified an additional patient carrying a distinct mutation at the same splice site of the GATA1 gene. These findings provide insight into the pathogenesis of DBA, showing that the reduction in erythropoiesis associated with the disease can arise from causes other than defects in ribosomal protein genes. These results also illustrate the multifactorial role of GATA1 in human hematopoiesis.

Authors

Vijay G. Sankaran, Roxanne Ghazvinian, Ron Do, Prathapan Thiru, Jo-Anne Vergilio, Alan H. Beggs, Colin A. Sieff, Stuart H. Orkin, David G. Nathan, Eric S. Lander, Hanna T. Gazda

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Abstract

Telomere shortening limits the proliferative capacity of a cell, but perhaps surprisingly, shortening is also known to be associated with increased rates of tumor initiation. A current hypothesis suggests that telomere dysfunction increases tumor initiation by induction of chromosomal instability, but that initiated tumors need to reactivate telomerase for genome stabilization and tumor progression. This concept has not been tested in vivo, since appropriate mouse models were lacking. Here, we analyzed hepatocarcinogenesis in a mouse model of inducible telomere dysfunction on a telomerase-proficient background, in telomerase knockout mice with chronic telomere dysfunction (G3 mTerc–/–), and in WT mice with functional telomeres and telomerase. Transient or chronic telomere dysfunction enhanced the rates of chromosomal aberrations during hepatocarcinogenesis, but only telomerase-proficient mice exhibited significantly increased rates of macroscopic tumor formation in response to telomere dysfunction. In contrast, telomere dysfunction resulted in pronounced accumulation of DNA damage, cell-cycle arrest, and apoptosis in telomerase-deficient liver tumors. Together, these data provide in vivo evidence that transient telomere dysfunction during early or late stages of tumorigenesis promotes chromosomal instability and carcinogenesis in telomerase-proficient mice.

Authors

Yvonne Begus-Nahrmann, Daniel Hartmann, Johann Kraus, Parisa Eshraghi, Annika Scheffold, Melanie Grieb, Volker Rasche, Peter Schirmacher, Han-Wong Lee, Hans A. Kestler, André Lechel, K. Lenhard Rudolph

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Abstract

Acute graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) is a serious complication of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT) that results from donor allogeneic T cell attack on host tissues. Based on previous work implicating immune cell–derived C3a and C5a as regulators of T cell immunity, we examined the effects of locally produced C3a and C5a on murine T cell–mediated GvHD. We found that total body irradiation, a conditioning regimen required to permit engraftment of allo-HCT, caused upregulation and activation of alternative pathway complement components by recipient APCs. Allo-HCT with decay accelerating factor–null (Daf1–/–) host BM and Daf1–/– donor lymphocytes led to exacerbated GvHD outcome and resulted in splenic and organ-infiltrating T cell expansion. T cells deficient in C3a receptor (C3aR) and/or C5a receptor (C5aR) responded weakly in allogeneic hosts and exhibited limited ability to induce GvHD. Using a clinically relevant treatment strategy, we showed that pharmacological C5aR blockade reduced GvHD morbidity. Our data mechanistically link APC-derived complement to T cell–mediated GvHD and support complement inhibition as a therapeutic strategy for GvHD in humans.

Authors

Wing-Hong Kwan, Daigo Hashimoto, Estela Paz-Artal, Katya Ostrow, Melanie Greter, Hugo Raedler, M. Edward Medof, Miriam Merad, Peter S. Heeger

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Abstract

Effective control and eradication of malaria will require new tools to prevent transmission. Current antimalarial therapies targeting the asexual stage of Plasmodium do not prevent transmission of circulating gametocytes from infected humans to mosquitoes. Here, we describe a new class of transmission-blocking compounds, bumped kinase inhibitors (BKIs), which inhibit microgametocyte exflagellation. Oocyst formation and sporozoite production, necessary for transmission to mammals, were inhibited in mosquitoes fed on either BKI-1–treated human blood or mice treated with BKI-1. BKIs are hypothesized to act via inhibition of Plasmodium calcium-dependent protein kinase 4 and predicted to have little activity against mammalian kinases. Our data show that BKIs do not inhibit proliferation of mammalian cell lines and are well tolerated in mice. Used in combination with drugs active against asexual stages of Plasmodium, BKIs could prove an important tool for malaria control and eradication.

Authors

Kayode K. Ojo, Claudia Pfander, Natascha R. Mueller, Charlotte Burstroem, Eric T. Larson, Cassie M. Bryan, Anna M.W. Fox, Molly C. Reid, Steven M. Johnson, Ryan C. Murphy, Mark Kennedy, Henning Mann, David J. Leibly, Stephen N. Hewitt, Christophe L.M.J. Verlinde, Stefan Kappe, Ethan A. Merritt, Dustin J. Maly, Oliver Billker, Wesley C. Van Voorhis

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