Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by the progressive loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the midbrain projecting to the striatum, which leads to motor dysfunctions, such as bradykinesia (slowed movement), rigidity, and tremors. To replace the lost cells, the transplantation of DA neurons derived from embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has been considered. In this issue of the JCI, Song et al. report on their development of an iPSC induction and differentiation protocol that can promote the realization of autologous transplantation to treat PD patients with their own cells.
Asthma is a common chronic respiratory disease that has a heritable component. Polymorphisms in the endoplasmic reticular protein orosomucoid-like protein 3 (ORMDL3), which regulates sphingolipid homeostasis, have been strongly linked with childhood-onset asthma. Despite extensive investigation, a link between ORMDL3 asthma–risk genotypes and altered sphingolipid synthesis has been lacking. In this issue of the JCI, Ono et al. establish a clear association between nonallergic childhood asthma, lower whole-blood sphingolipids, and asthma-risk 17q21 genotypes. These results demonstrate that genetic variants in ORMDL3 may confer a risk of developing childhood asthma through dysregulation of sphingolipid synthesis. As such, modulation of sphingolipids may represent a promising avenue of therapeutic development for childhood asthma.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder associated with loss of striatal dopamine, secondary to degeneration of midbrain dopamine (mDA) neurons in the substantia nigra, rendering cell transplantation a promising therapeutic strategy. To establish human induced pluripotent stem cell–based (hiPSC-based) autologous cell therapy, we report a platform of core techniques for the production of mDA progenitors as a safe and effective therapeutic product. First, by combining metabolism-regulating microRNAs with reprogramming factors, we developed a method to more efficiently generate clinical grade iPSCs, as evidenced by genomic integrity and unbiased pluripotent potential. Second, we established a “spotting”-based in vitro differentiation methodology to generate functional and healthy mDA cells in a scalable manner. Third, we developed a chemical method that safely eliminates undifferentiated cells from the final product. Dopaminergic cells thus produced express high levels of characteristic mDA markers, produce and secrete dopamine, and exhibit electrophysiological features typical of mDA cells. Transplantation of these cells into rodent models of PD robustly restores motor function and reinnervates host brain, while showing no evidence of tumor formation or redistribution of the implanted cells. We propose that this platform is suitable for the successful implementation of human personalized autologous cell therapy for PD.
Bin Song, Young Cha, Sanghyeok Ko, Jeha Jeon, Nayeon Lee, Hyemyung Seo, Kyung-Joon Park, In-Hee Lee, Claudia Lopes, Melissa Feitosa, María José Luna, Jin Hyuk Jung, Jisun Kim, Dabin Hwang, Bruce M. Cohen, Martin H. Teicher, Pierre Leblanc, Bob S. Carter, Jeffrey H. Kordower, Vadim Y. Bolshakov, Sek Won Kong, Jeffrey S. Schweitzer, Kwang-Soo Kim
Risk for childhood asthma is conferred by alleles within the 17q21 locus affecting ORMDL sphingolipid biosynthesis regulator 3 (ORMDL3) expression. ORMDL3 inhibits sphingolipid de novo synthesis. Although the effects of 17q21 genotypes on sphingolipid synthesis in human asthma remain unclear, both decreased sphingolipid synthesis and ORMDL3 overexpression are linked to airway hyperreactivity. To characterize the relationship of genetic asthma susceptibility with sphingolipid synthesis, we analyzed asthma-associated 17q21 genotypes (rs7216389, rs8076131, rs4065275, rs12603332, and rs8067378) in both children with asthma and those without asthma, quantified plasma and whole-blood sphingolipids, and assessed sphingolipid de novo synthesis in peripheral blood cells by measuring the incorporation of stable isotope–labeled serine (substrate) into sphinganine and sphinganine-1-phosphate. Whole-blood dihydroceramides and ceramides were decreased in subjects with the 17q21 asthma–risk alleles rs7216389 and rs8076131. Children with nonallergic asthma had lower dihydroceramides, ceramides, and sphingomyelins than did controls. Children with allergic asthma had higher dihydroceramides, ceramides, and sphingomyelins compared with children with nonallergic asthma. Additionally, de novo sphingolipid synthesis was lower in children with asthma compared with controls. These findings connect genetic 17q21 variations that are associated with asthma risk and higher ORMDL3 expression to lower sphingolipid synthesis in humans. Altered sphingolipid synthesis may therefore be a critical factor in asthma pathogenesis and may guide the development of future therapeutics.
Jennie G. Ono, Benjamin I. Kim, Yize Zhao, Paul J. Christos, Yohannes Tesfaigzi, Tilla S. Worgall, Stefan Worgall
Glucocorticoids (GCs) are a central component of therapy for patients with T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), and although resistance to GCs is a strong negative prognostic indicator in T-ALL, the mechanisms of GC resistance remain poorly understood. Using diagnostic samples from patients enrolled in the frontline Children’s Oncology Group (COG) T-ALL clinical trial AALL1231, we demonstrated that one-third of primary T-ALLs were resistant to GCs when cells were cultured in the presence of IL-7, a cytokine that is critical for normal T cell function and that plays a well-established role in leukemogenesis. We demonstrated that in these T-ALLs and in distinct populations of normal developing thymocytes, GCs paradoxically induced their own resistance by promoting upregulation of IL-7 receptor (IL-7R) expression. In the presence of IL-7, this augmented downstream signal transduction, resulting in increased STAT5 transcriptional output and upregulation of the prosurvival protein BCL-2. Taken together, we showed that IL-7 mediates an intrinsic and physiologic mechanism of GC resistance in normal thymocyte development that is retained during leukemogenesis in a subset of T-ALLs and is reversible with targeted inhibition of the IL-7R/JAK/STAT5/BCL-2 axis.
Lauren K. Meyer, Benjamin J. Huang, Cristina Delgado-Martin, Ritu P. Roy, Aaron Hechmer, Anica M. Wandler, Tiffaney L. Vincent, Paolo Fortina, Adam B. Olshen, Brent L. Wood, Terzah M. Horton, Kevin M. Shannon, David T. Teachey, Michelle L. Hermiston
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after exposure to severe psychological trauma, leaving patients with disabling anxiety, nightmares, and flashbacks. Current treatments are only partially effective, and development of better treatments is hampered by limited knowledge of molecular mechanisms underlying PTSD. We have discovered that the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and FK506 binding protein 51 (FKBP51) form a protein complex that is elevated in PTSD patients compared with unaffected control subjects, subjects exposed to trauma without PTSD, and patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). The GR-FKBP51 complex is also elevated in fear-conditioned mice, an aversive learning paradigm that models some aspects of PTSD. Both PTSD patients and fear-conditioned mice had decreased GR phosphorylation, decreased nuclear GR, and lower expression of 14-3-3ε, a gene regulated by GR. We created a peptide that disrupts GR-FKBP51 binding and reverses behavioral and molecular changes induced by fear conditioning. This peptide reduces freezing time and increases GR phosphorylation, GR-FKBP52 binding, GR nuclear translocation, and 14-3-3ε expression in fear-conditioned mice. These experiments demonstrate a molecular mechanism contributing to PTSD and suggest that the GR-FKBP51 complex may be a diagnostic biomarker and a potential therapeutic target for preventing or treating PTSD.
Haiyin Li, Ping Su, Terence K.Y. Lai, Anlong Jiang, Jing Liu, Dongxu Zhai, Charlie T.G. Campbell, Frankie H.F. Lee, WeiDong Yong, Suvercha Pasricha, Shupeng Li, Albert H.C. Wong, Kerry J. Ressler, Fang Liu
Successful infection by mucosal pathogens requires overcoming the mucus barrier. To better understand this key step, we performed a survey of the interactions between human respiratory mucus and the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae. Pneumococcal adherence to adult human nasal fluid was seen only by isolates expressing pilus-1. Robust binding was independent of pilus-1 adhesive properties but required Fab-dependent recognition of RrgB, the pilus shaft protein, by naturally acquired secretory IgA (sIgA). Pilus-1 binding by specific sIgA led to bacterial agglutination, but adherence required interaction of agglutinated pneumococci and entrapment in mucus particles. To test the effect of these interactions in vivo, pneumococci were preincubated with human sIgA before intranasal challenge in a mouse model of colonization. sIgA treatment resulted in rapid immune exclusion of pilus-expressing pneumococci. Our findings predict that immune exclusion would select for nonpiliated isolates in individuals who acquired RrgB-specific sIgA from prior episodes of colonization with piliated strains. Accordingly, genomic data comparing isolates carried by mothers and their children showed that mothers are less likely to be colonized with pilus-expressing strains. Our study provides a specific example of immune exclusion involving naturally acquired antibody in the human host, a major factor driving pneumococcal adaptation.
Ulrike Binsker, John A. Lees, Alexandria J. Hammond, Jeffrey N. Weiser
Technological advances in rapid data acquisition have transformed medical biology into a data mining field, where new data sets are routinely dissected and analyzed by statistical models of ever-increasing complexity. Many hypotheses can be generated and tested within a single large data set, and even small effects can be statistically discriminated from a sea of noise. On the other hand, the development of therapeutic interventions moves at a much slower pace. They are determined from carefully randomized and well-controlled experiments with explicitly stated outcomes as the principal mechanism by which a single hypothesis is tested. In this paradigm, only a small fraction of interventions can be tested, and an even smaller fraction are ultimately deemed therapeutically successful. In this Review, we propose strategies to leverage large-cohort data to inform the selection of targets and the design of randomized trials of novel therapeutics. Ultimately, the incorporation of big data and experimental medicine approaches should aim to reduce the failure rate of clinical trials as well as expedite and lower the cost of drug development.
Eugene Melamud, D. Leland Taylor, Anurag Sethi, Madeleine Cule, Anastasia Baryshnikova, Danish Saleheen, Nick van Bruggen, Garret A. FitzGerald
Pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) are crucial for responses to infections and tissue damage; however, their role in autoimmunity is less clear. Herein we demonstrate that 2 C-type lectin receptors (CLRs), Mcl and Mincle, play an important role in the pathogenesis of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of multiple sclerosis (MS). Congenic rats expressing lower levels of Mcl and Mincle on myeloid cells exhibited a drastic reduction in EAE incidence. In vivo silencing of Mcl and Mincle or blockade of their endogenous ligand SAP130 revealed that these receptors’ expression in the central nervous system is crucial for T cell recruitment and reactivation into a pathogenic Th17/GM-CSF phenotype. Consistent with this, we uncovered MCL- and MINCLE-expressing cells in brain lesions of MS patients and we further found an upregulation of the MCL/MINCLE signaling pathway and an increased response following MCL/MINCLE stimulation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from MS patients. Together, these data support a role for CLRs in autoimmunity and implicate the MCL/MINCLE pathway as a potential therapeutic target in MS.
Marie N’diaye, Susanna Brauner, Sevasti Flytzani, Lara Kular, Andreas Warnecke, Milena Z. Adzemovic, Eliane Piket, Jin-Hong Min, Will Edwards, Filia Mela, Hoi Ying Choi, Vera Magg, Tojo James, Magdalena Linden, Holger M. Reichardt, Michael R. Daws, Jack van Horssen, Ingrid Kockum, Robert A. Harris, Tomas Olsson, Andre O. Guerreiro-Cacais, Maja Jagodic
The corneocyte lipid envelope, composed of covalently bound ceramides and fatty acids, is important to the integrity of the permeability barrier in the stratum corneum, and its absence is a prime structural defect in various skin diseases associated with defective skin barrier function. SDR9C7 encodes a short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase family 9C member 7 (SDR9C7) recently found mutated in ichthyosis. In a patient with SDR9C7 mutation and a mouse Sdr9c7 knockout model, we show loss of covalent binding of epidermal ceramides to protein, a structural fault in the barrier. For reasons unresolved, protein binding requires lipoxygenase-catalyzed transformations of linoleic acid (18:2) esterified in ω-O-acylceramides. In Sdr9c7–/– epidermis, quantitative liquid chromatography–mass spectometry (LC-MS) assays revealed almost complete loss of a species of ω-O-acylceramide esterified with linoleate-9,10-trans-epoxy-11E-13-ketone; other acylceramides related to the lipoxygenase pathway were in higher abundance. Recombinant SDR9C7 catalyzed NAD+-dependent dehydrogenation of linoleate 9,10-trans-epoxy-11E-13-alcohol to the corresponding 13-ketone, while ichthyosis mutants were inactive. We propose, therefore, that the critical requirement for lipoxygenases and SDR9C7 is in producing acylceramide containing the 9,10-epoxy-11E-13-ketone, a reactive moiety known for its nonenzymatic coupling to protein. This suggests a mechanism for coupling of ceramide to protein and provides important insights into skin barrier formation and pathogenesis.
Takuya Takeichi, Tetsuya Hirabayashi, Yuki Miyasaka, Akane Kawamoto, Yusuke Okuno, Shijima Taguchi, Kana Tanahashi, Chiaki Murase, Hiroyuki Takama, Kosei Tanaka, William E. Boeglin, M. Wade Calcutt, Daisuke Watanabe, Michihiro Kono, Yoshinao Muro, Junko Ishikawa, Tamio Ohno, Alan R. Brash, Masashi Akiyama
Susan E. Pacheco
Oncogene-targeted and immune checkpoint therapies have revolutionized the clinical management of malignant melanoma and now offer hope to patients with advanced disease. Intimately connected to patients’ overall clinical risk is whether the initial primary melanoma lesion will metastasize and cause advanced disease, but underlying mechanisms are not entirely understood. A subset of melanomas display heightened peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ coactivator 1-α (PGC1α) expression that maintains cell survival cues by promoting mitochondrial function, but also suppresses metastatic spread. Here, we show that PGC1α expression in melanoma cells was silenced by chromatin modifications that involve promoter H3K27 trimethylation. Pharmacological EZH2 inhibition diminished H3K27me3 histone markers, increased PGC1α expression, and functionally suppressed invasion within PGC1α-silenced melanoma cells. Mechanistically, PGC1α silencing activated transcription factor 12 (TCF12), to increase expression of WNT5A, which in turn stabilized YAP protein levels to promote melanoma migration and metastasis. Accordingly, inhibition of components of this transcription-signaling axis, including TCF12, WNT5A, or YAP, blocked melanoma migration in vitro and metastasis in vivo. These results indicate that epigenetic control of melanoma metastasis involved altered expression of PGC1α and an association with the inherent metabolic state of the tumor.
Chi Luo, Eduardo Balsa, Elizabeth A. Perry, Jiaxin Liang, Clint D. Tavares, Francisca Vazquez, Hans R. Widlund, Pere Puigserver
Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is characterized by persistent high-level viremia and defective cellular immunity, including a lack of functional HCV-specific CD4+ T cells. We previously described an exceptional period of viral control that occurs in some chronically infected women after childbirth. Here, we investigated whether reduced HCV replication after pregnancy is associated with recovery of CD4+ T cell immunity. Class II tetramer analysis revealed significantly greater frequencies of circulating HCV-specific CD4+ T cells at 3 months postpartum in women with concurrent declines in viremia compared with those with stable viremia. These HCV-specific CD4+ T cells had an effector-memory phenotype. Inhibitory coreceptor expression on these cells corresponded to the degree of viral control. Circulating CD4+ T cells produced IL-2 and IFN-γ after HCV antigen stimulation, demonstrating Th1 functionality. These data provide direct evidence that the profound loss of HCV-specific CD4+ T cell help that results in chronic infection is reversible following pregnancy, and this recovery of CD4+ T cells is associated with at least transient control of persistent viral replication.
Samantha L. Coss, Almudena Torres-Cornejo, Mona R. Prasad, Melissa Moore-Clingenpeel, Arash Grakoui, Georg M. Lauer, Christopher M. Walker, Jonathan R. Honegger
Liver disease as a result of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a global problem. While some HCV infections resolve spontaneously, viral persistence associates with compromised T cell immunity. In this issue of the JCI, Chen et al. and Coss et al. explored virus-specific CD4+ T cell response during HCV infection. Both studies evaluated the HCV-specific T cells of patients with different courses of infection. Chen et al. revealed that initial CD4+ T cell responses are similar during early infection and that T cell failure resulted from loss of the virus-specific T cells themselves. Coss et al. showed that HCV-specific CD4+ T cells temporarily recovered in some women following childbirth. These studies contribute to our understanding of CD4+ T cell functionality during different natural courses of infection, with the notable implication that restoring CD4+ T cell immunity might contribute to controlling HCV infection.
Benedikt Binder, Robert Thimme
Rexford S. Ahima
Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) is an emerging hemorrhagic fever caused by a tick-borne banyangvirus and is associated with high fatality. Despite increasing incidence of SFTS and serious public health concerns in East Asia, the pathogenesis of lethal SFTS virus (SFTSV) infection in humans is not fully understood. Numbers of postmortem examinations to determine target cells of the viral infection have so far been limited. Here we showed that B cells differentiating into plasmablasts and macrophages in secondary lymphoid organs were targets for SFTSV at the end stage of lethal infection, and the majority of SFTSV-infected cells were B cell–lineage lymphocytes. In affected individuals, B cell–lineage lymphocytes with SFTSV infection were widely distributed in both lymphoid and nonlymphoid organs, and infiltration of these cells into the capillaries of the organs could be observed occasionally. Moreover, a human plasmablastic lymphoma cell line, PBL-1, was susceptible to SFTSV propagation, and had a similar immunophenotype to that of target cells of SFTSV in fatal SFTS. PBL-1 can therefore provide a potential in vitro model for human SFTSV infection. These results extend our understanding of the pathogenesis of human lethal SFTSV infection, and can facilitate the development of SFTSV countermeasures.
Tadaki Suzuki, Yuko Sato, Kaori Sano, Takeshi Arashiro, Harutaka Katano, Noriko Nakajima, Masayuki Shimojima, Michiyo Kataoka, Kenta Takahashi, Yuji Wada, Shigeru Morikawa, Shuetsu Fukushi, Tomoki Yoshikawa, Masayuki Saijo, Hideki Hasegawa
Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) is an emerging disease in China, South Korea, and Japan caused by the tick-borne SFTS virus (SFTSV). Severe and fatal SFTS presents as a hemorrhagic fever characterized by high viral load, uncontrolled inflammatory response, dysregulated adaptive immunity, coagulation abnormalities, hemorrhage, and multiorgan failure with up to 33% case fatality rates (CFRs). Despite its public health significance in Asia, vaccines and specific therapeutics against SFTS are still unavailable. A better understanding of the pathogenesis of SFTS is crucial to improving medical countermeasures against this devastating disease. In this issue of the JCI, Suzuki and colleagues analyzed histopathological samples from 22 individuals who succumbed to SFTS, and identified antibody-producing B cell–lineage plasmablasts and macrophages as principal target cells for SFTSV infection in fatal SFTS. Their results suggest that SFTSV-infected post–germinal center B cells, plasmablasts, and macrophages affect systemic immunopathology and dysregulation, which likely leads to fatal outcomes.
Satoko Yamaoka, Carla Weisend, Hideki Ebihara
William H. Dietz
Although the impact of Th17 cells on autoimmunity is undisputable, their pathogenic effector mechanism is still enigmatic. We discovered soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor attachment receptor (SNARE) complex proteins in Th17 cells that enable a vesicular glutamate release pathway that induces local intracytoplasmic calcium release and subsequent damage in neurons. This pathway is glutamine dependent and triggered by binding of β1-integrin to vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) on neurons in the inflammatory context. Glutamate secretion could be blocked by inhibiting either glutaminase or KV1.3 channels, which are known to be linked to integrin expression and highly expressed on stimulated T cells. Although KV1.3 is not expressed in CNS tissue, intrathecal administration of a KV1.3 channel blocker or a glutaminase inhibitor ameliorated disability in experimental neuroinflammation. In humans, T cells from patients with multiple sclerosis secreted higher levels of glutamate, and cerebrospinal fluid glutamine levels were increased. Altogether, our findings demonstrate that β1-integrin– and KV1.3 channel–dependent signaling stimulates glutamate release from Th17 cells upon direct cell-cell contact between Th17 cells and neurons.
Katharina Birkner, Beatrice Wasser, Tobias Ruck, Carine Thalman, Dirk Luchtman, Katrin Pape, Samantha Schmaul, Lynn Bitar, Eva-Maria Krämer-Albers, Albrecht Stroh, Sven G. Meuth, Frauke Zipp, Stefan Bittner