Medulloblastoma, an aggressive cancer of the cerebellum, is among the most common pediatric brain tumors. Approximately one-third of medulloblastomas are associated with misactivation of the Hedgehog (Hh) pathway. GLI family zinc finger 2 (GLI2) coordinates the Hh transcriptional program; however, the GLI2 targets that promote cancer cell proliferation are unknown. Here, we incorporated a Gli2-EGFP allele into 2 different genetic mouse models of Hh-associated medulloblastoma. Hh signaling induced GLI2 binding to the Cdk6 promoter and activated Cdk6 expression, thereby promoting uncontrolled cell proliferation. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of CDK6 in mice repressed the growth of Hh-associated medulloblastoma and prolonged survival through inhibition of cell proliferation. In human medulloblastoma, misactivation of Hh signaling was associated with high levels of CDK6, pointing to CDK6 as a direct transcriptional target of the Hh pathway. These results suggest that CDK6 antagonists may be a promising therapeutic approach for Hh-associated medulloblastoma in humans.
David R. Raleigh, Pervinder K. Choksi, Alexis Leigh Krup, Wasima Mayer, Nicole Santos, Jeremy F. Reiter
Primary immunodeficiencies are often monogenic disorders characterized by vulnerability to specific infectious pathogens. Here, we performed whole-exome sequencing of a patient with disseminated Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Streptococcus viridians bacteremia, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) viremia and identified mutations in 2 genes that regulate distinct IFN pathways. The patient had a homozygous frameshift deletion in IFNGR2, which encodes the signal transducing chain of the IFN-γ receptor, that resulted in minimal protein expression and abolished downstream signaling. The patient also harbored a homozygous deletion in IFNAR1 (IFNAR1*557Gluext*46), which encodes the IFN-α receptor signaling subunit. The IFNAR1*557Gluext*46 resulted in replacement of the stop codon with 46 additional codons at the C-terminus. The level of IFNAR1*557Gluext*46 mutant protein expressed in patient fibroblasts was comparable to levels of WT IFNAR1 in control fibroblasts. IFN-α–induced signaling was impaired in the patient fibroblasts, as evidenced by decreased STAT1/STAT2 phosphorylation, nuclear translocation of STAT1, and expression of IFN-α–stimulated genes critical for CMV immunity. Pretreatment with IFN-α failed to suppress CMV protein expression in patient fibroblasts, whereas expression of WT IFNAR1 restored IFN-α–mediated suppression of CMV. This study identifies a human IFNAR1 mutation and describes a digenic immunodeficiency specific to type I and type II IFNs.
Rodrigo Hoyos-Bachiloglu, Janet Chou, Catherine N. Sodroski, Abdallah Beano, Wayne Bainter, Magdalena Angelova, Eman Al Idrissi, Murad K. Habazi, Hamza Ali Alghamdi, Fahd Almanjomi, Mohamed Al Shehri, Nagi Elsidig, Morsi Alaa Eldin, David M. Knipe, Mofareh AlZahrani, Raif S. Geha
Age-related changes in the hematopoietic compartment are primarily attributed to cell-intrinsic alterations in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs); however, the contribution of the aged microenvironment has not been adequately evaluated. Understanding the role of the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment in supporting HSC function may prove to be beneficial in treating age-related functional hematopoietic decline. Here, we determined that aging of endothelial cells (ECs), a critical component of the BM microenvironment, was sufficient to drive hematopoietic aging phenotypes in young HSCs. We used an ex vivo hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell/EC (HSPC/EC) coculture system as well as in vivo EC infusions following myelosuppressive injury in mice to demonstrate that aged ECs impair the repopulating activity of young HSCs and impart a myeloid bias. Conversely, young ECs restored the repopulating capacity of aged HSCs but were unable to reverse the intrinsic myeloid bias. Infusion of young, HSC-supportive BM ECs enhanced hematopoietic recovery following myelosuppressive injury and restored endogenous HSC function in aged mice. Coinfusion of young ECs augmented aged HSC engraftment and enhanced overall survival in lethally irradiated mice by mitigating damage to the BM vascular microenvironment. These data lay the groundwork for the exploration of EC therapies that can serve as adjuvant modalities to enhance HSC engraftment and accelerate hematopoietic recovery in the elderly population following myelosuppressive regimens.
Michael G. Poulos, Pradeep Ramalingam, Michael C. Gutkin, Pierre Llanos, Katherine Gilleran, Sina Y. Rabbany, Jason M. Butler
The mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) kinase promotes cell growth by activating biosynthetic pathways and suppressing catabolic pathways, particularly that of macroautophagy. A prerequisite for mTORC1 activation is its translocation to the lysosomal surface. Deregulation of mTORC1 has been associated with the pathogenesis of several diseases, but its role in skeletal disorders is largely unknown. Here, we show that enhanced mTORC1 signaling arrests bone growth in lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs). We found that lysosomal dysfunction induces a constitutive lysosomal association and consequent activation of mTORC1 in chondrocytes, the cells devoted to bone elongation. mTORC1 hyperphosphorylates the protein UV radiation resistance–associated gene (UVRAG), reducing the activity of the associated Beclin 1–Vps34 complex and thereby inhibiting phosphoinositide production. Limiting phosphoinositide production leads to a blockage of the autophagy flux in LSD chondrocytes. As a consequence, LSD chondrocytes fail to properly secrete collagens, the main components of the cartilage extracellular matrix. In mouse models of LSD, normalization of mTORC1 signaling or stimulation of the Beclin 1–Vps34–UVRAG complex rescued the autophagy flux, restored collagen levels in cartilage, and ameliorated the bone phenotype. Taken together, these data unveil a role for mTORC1 and autophagy in the pathogenesis of skeletal disorders and suggest potential therapeutic approaches for the treatment of LSDs.
Rosa Bartolomeo, Laura Cinque, Chiara De Leonibus, Alison Forrester, Anna Chiara Salzano, Jlenia Monfregola, Emanuela De Gennaro, Edoardo Nusco, Isabella Azario, Carmela Lanzara, Marta Serafini, Beth Levine, Andrea Ballabio, Carmine Settembre
P-element–induced wimpy testes (Piwi) proteins are known for suppressing retrotransposon activation in the mammalian germline. However, whether Piwi protein or Piwi-dependent functions occur in the mammalian soma is unclear. Contrary to germline-restricted expression, we observed that Piwi-like Miwi2 mRNA is indeed expressed in epithelial cells of the lung in adult mice and that it is induced during pneumonia. Further investigation revealed that MIWI2 protein localized to the cytoplasm of a discrete population of multiciliated airway epithelial cells. Isolation and next-generation sequencing of MIWI2-positive multiciliated cells revealed that they are phenotypically distinct from neighboring MIWI2-negative multiciliated cells. Mice lacking MIWI2 exhibited an altered balance of airway epithelial cells, demonstrating fewer multiciliated cells and an increase in club cells. During pneumococcal pneumonia, Miwi2-deficient mice exhibited increased expression of inflammatory mediators and increased immune cell recruitment, leading to enhanced bacterial clearance. Taken together, our data delineate MIWI2-dependent functions outside of the germline and demonstrate the presence of distinct subsets of airway multiciliated cells that can be discriminated by MIWI2 expression. By demonstrating roles for MIWI2 in airway cell identity and pulmonary innate immunity, these studies elucidate unanticipated physiological functions for Piwi proteins in somatic tissues.
Gregory A. Wasserman, Aleksander D. Szymaniak, Anne C. Hinds, Kazuko Yamamoto, Hirofumi Kamata, Nicole M.S. Smith, Kristie L. Hilliard, Claudia Carrieri, Adam T. Labadorf, Lee J. Quinton, Xingbin Ai, Xaralabos Varelas, Felicia Chen, Joseph P. Mizgerd, Alan Fine, Dónal O’Carroll, Matthew R. Jones
It remains controversial whether current antiretroviral therapy (ART) fully suppresses the cycles of HIV replication and viral evolution in vivo. If replication persists in sanctuary sites such as the lymph nodes, a high priority should be placed on improving ART regimes to target these sites. To investigate the question of ongoing viral replication on current ART regimens, we analyzed HIV populations in longitudinal samples from 10 HIV-1–infected children who initiated ART when viral diversity was low. Eight children started ART at less than ten months of age and showed suppression of plasma viremia for seven to nine years. Two children had uncontrolled viremia for fifteen and thirty months, respectively, before viremia suppression, and served as positive controls for HIV replication and evolution. These latter 2 children showed clear evidence of virus evolution, whereas multiple methods of analysis bore no evidence of virus evolution in any of the 8 children with viremia suppression on ART. Phylogenetic trees simulated with the recently reported evolutionary rate of HIV-1 on ART of 6 × 10–4 substitutions/site/month bore no resemblance to the observed data. Taken together, these data refute the concept that ongoing HIV replication is common with ART and is the major barrier to curing HIV-1 infection.
Gert U. Van Zyl, Mary Grace Katusiime, Ann Wiegand, William R. McManus, Michael J. Bale, Elias K. Halvas, Brian Luke, Valerie F. Boltz, Jonathan Spindler, Barbara Laughton, Susan Engelbrecht, John M. Coffin, Mark F. Cotton, Wei Shao, John W. Mellors, Mary F. Kearney
The tumor suppressor p53, a master regulator of the cellular response to stress, is tightly regulated by the E3 ubiquitin ligase MDM2 via an autoregulatory feedback loop. In addition to its well-established role in tumorigenesis, p53 has also been associated with aging in mice. Several mouse models with aberrantly increased p53 activity display signs of premature aging. However, the relationship between dysfunction of the MDM2/p53 axis and human aging remains elusive. Here, we have identified an antiterminating homozygous germline mutation in MDM2 in a patient affected by a segmental progeroid syndrome. We show that this mutation abrogates MDM2 activity, thereby resulting in enhanced levels and stability of p53. Analysis of the patient’s primary cells, genome-edited cells, and in vitro and in vivo analyses confirmed the MDM2 mutation’s aberrant regulation of p53 activity. Functional data from a zebrafish model further demonstrated that mutant Mdm2 was unable to rescue a p53-induced apoptotic phenotype. Altogether, our findings indicate that mutant MDM2 is a likely driver of the observed segmental form of progeria.
Davor Lessel, Danyi Wu, Carlos Trujillo, Thomas Ramezani, Ivana Lessel, Mohammad K. Alwasiyah, Bidisha Saha, Fuki M. Hisama, Katrin Rading, Ingrid Goebel, Petra Schütz, Günter Speit, Josef Högel, Holger Thiele, Gudrun Nürnberg, Peter Nürnberg, Matthias Hammerschmidt, Yan Zhu, David R. Tong, Chen Katz, George M. Martin, Junko Oshima, Carol Prives, Christian Kubisch
Blood vessels in the tumor periphery have high pericyte coverage and are resistant to vascular disrupting agents (VDAs). VDA treatment resistance leads to a viable peripheral tumor rim that contributes to treatment failure and disease recurrence. Here, we provide evidence to support a hypothesis that shifting the target of VDAs from tumor vessel endothelial cells to pericytes disrupts tumor peripheral vessels and the viable rim, circumventing VDA treatment resistance. Through chemical engineering, we developed Z-GP-DAVLBH (from the tubulin-binding VDA desacetylvinblastine monohydrazide [DAVLBH]) as a prodrug that can be selectively activated by fibroblast activation protein α (FAPα) in tumor pericytes. Z-GP-DAVLBH selectively destroys the cytoskeleton of FAPα-expressing tumor pericytes, disrupting blood vessels both within the core and around the periphery of tumors. As a result, Z-GP-DAVLBH treatment eradicated the otherwise VDA-resistant tumor rim and led to complete regression of tumors in multiple lines of xenografts without producing the drug-related toxicity that is associated with similar doses of DAVLBH. This study demonstrates that targeting tumor pericytes with an FAPα-activated VDA prodrug represents a potential vascular disruption strategy in overcoming tumor resistance to VDA treatments.
Minfeng Chen, Xueping Lei, Changzheng Shi, Maohua Huang, Xiaobo Li, Baojian Wu, Zhengqiu Li, Weili Han, Bin Du, Jianyang Hu, Qiulin Nie, Weiqian Mai, Nan Ma, Nanhui Xu, Xinyi Zhang, Chunlin Fan, Aihua Hong, Minghan Xia, Liangping Luo, Ande Ma, Hongsheng Li, Qiang Yu, Heru Chen, Dongmei Zhang, Wencai Ye
Targeted cancer therapies, which act on specific cancer-associated molecular targets, are predominantly inhibitors of oncogenic kinases. While these drugs have achieved some clinical success, the inactivation of kinase signaling via stimulation of endogenous phosphatases has received minimal attention as an alternative targeted approach. Here, we have demonstrated that activation of the tumor suppressor protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), a negative regulator of multiple oncogenic signaling proteins, is a promising therapeutic approach for the treatment of cancers. Our group previously developed a series of orally bioavailable small molecule activators of PP2A, termed SMAPs. We now report that SMAP treatment inhibited the growth of KRAS-mutant lung cancers in mouse xenografts and transgenic models. Mechanistically, we found that SMAPs act by binding to the PP2A Aα scaffold subunit to drive conformational changes in PP2A. These results show that PP2A can be activated in cancer cells to inhibit proliferation. Our strategy of reactivating endogenous PP2A may be applicable to the treatment of other diseases and represents an advancement toward the development of small molecule activators of tumor suppressor proteins.
Jaya Sangodkar, Abbey Perl, Rita Tohme, Janna Kiselar, David B. Kastrinsky, Nilesh Zaware, Sudeh Izadmehr, Sahar Mazhar, Danica D. Wiredja, Caitlin M. O’Connor, Divya Hoon, Neil S. Dhawan, Daniela Schlatzer, Shen Yao, Daniel Leonard, Alain C. Borczuk, Giridharan Gokulrangan, Lifu Wang, Elena Svenson, Caroline C. Farrington, Eric Yuan, Rita A. Avelar, Agnes Stachnik, Blake Smith, Vickram Gidwani, Heather M. Giannini, Daniel McQuaid, Kimberly McClinch, Zhizhi Wang, Alice C. Levine, Rosalie C. Sears, Edward Y. Chen, Qiaonan Duan, Manish Datt, Shozeb Haider, Avi Ma’ayan, Analisa DiFeo, Neelesh Sharma, Matthew D. Galsky, David L. Brautigan, Yiannis A. Ioannou, Wenqing Xu, Mark R. Chance, Michael Ohlmeyer, Goutham Narla
Accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) protein may cause synapse degeneration and cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by reactivating expression of the developmental synapse repressor protein Ephexin5 (also known as ARHGEF15). Here, we have reported that Aβ is sufficient to acutely promote the production of Ephexin5 in mature hippocampal neurons and in mice expressing human amyloid precursor protein (hAPP mice), a model for familial AD that produces high brain levels of Aβ. Ephexin5 expression was highly elevated in the hippocampi of human AD patients, indicating its potential relevance to AD. We also observed elevated Ephexin5 expression in the hippocampi of hAPP mice. Removal of Ephexin5 expression eliminated hippocampal dendritic spine loss and rescued AD-associated behavioral deficits in the hAPP mice. Furthermore, selective reduction of Ephexin5 expression using shRNA in the dentate gyrus of presymptomatic adolescent hAPP mice was sufficient to protect these mice from developing cognitive impairment. Thus, pathological elevation of Ephexin5 expression critically drives Aβ-induced memory impairment, and strategies aimed at reducing Ephexin5 levels may represent an effective approach to treating AD.
Gabrielle L. Sell, Thomas B. Schaffer, Seth S. Margolis
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