Concise Communication

Abstract

For gene therapy of gain-of-function autosomal dominant diseases, either correcting or deleting the disease allele is potentially curative. To test whether there may be an advantage of one approach over the other for WHIM (warts, hypogammaglobulinemia, infections, and myelokathexis) syndrome — a primary immunodeficiency disorder caused by gain-of-function autosomal dominant mutations in chemokine receptor CXCR4 — we performed competitive transplantation experiments using both lethally irradiated WT (Cxcr4+/+) and unconditioned WHIM (Cxcr4+/w) recipient mice. In both models, hematopoietic reconstitution was markedly superior using BM cells from donors hemizygous for Cxcr4 (Cxcr4+/o) compared with BM cells from Cxcr4+/+ donors. Remarkably, only approximately 6% Cxcr4+/o hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) chimerism after transplantation in unconditioned Cxcr4+/w recipient BM supported more than 70% long-term donor myeloid chimerism in blood and corrected myeloid cell deficiency in blood. Donor Cxcr4+/o HSCs differentiated normally and did not undergo exhaustion as late as 465 days after transplantation. Thus, disease allele deletion resulting in Cxcr4 haploinsufficiency was superior to disease allele repair in a mouse model of gene therapy for WHIM syndrome, allowing correction of leukopenia without recipient conditioning.

Authors

Ji-Liang Gao, Erin Yim, Marie Siwicki, Alexander Yang, Qian Liu, Ari Azani, Albert Owusu-Ansah, David H. McDermott, Philip M. Murphy

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Abstract

T cells play a key role in immune-mediated glomerulonephritis, but how cytotoxic T cells interact with podocytes remains unclear. To address this, we injected EGFP-specific CD8+ T cells from just EGFP death inducing (Jedi) mice into transgenic mice with podocyte-specific expression of EGFP. In healthy mice, Jedi T cells could not access EGFP+ podocytes. Conversely, when we induced nephrotoxic serum nephritis (NTSN) and injected Jedi T cells, EGFP+ podocyte transgenic mice showed enhanced proteinuria and higher blood urea levels. Morphometric analysis showed greater loss of EGFP+ podocytes, which was associated with severe crescentic and necrotizing glomerulonephritis. Notably, only glomeruli with disrupted Bowman’s capsule displayed massive CD8+ T cell infiltrates that were in direct contact with EGFP+ podocytes, causing their apoptosis. Thus, under control conditions with intact Bowman’s capsule, podocytes are not accessible to CD8+ T cells. However, breaches in Bowman’s capsule, as also noted in human crescentic glomerulonephritis, allow access of CD8+ T cells to the glomerular tuft and podocytes, resulting in their destruction. Through these mechanisms, a potentially reversible glomerulonephritis undergoes an augmentation process to a rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis, leading to end-stage kidney disease. Translating these mechanistic insights to human crescentic nephritis should direct future therapeutic interventions at blocking CD8+ T cells, especially in progressive stages of rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis.

Authors

Anqun Chen, Kyung Lee, Vivette D. D’Agati, Chengguo Wei, Jia Fu, Tian-Jun Guan, John Cijiang He, Detlef Schlondorff, Judith Agudo

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Abstract

Intestinal homeostasis depends on a slowly proliferating stem cell compartment in crypt cells, followed by rapid proliferation of committed progenitor cells in the transit amplifying (TA) compartment. The balance between proliferation and differentiation in intestinal stem cells (ISCs) is regulated by Wnt/β-catenin signaling, although the mechanism remains unclear. We previously targeted PORCN, an enzyme essential for all Wnt secretion, and demonstrated that stromal production of Wnts was required for intestinal homeostasis. Here, a PORCN inhibitor was used to acutely suppress Wnt signaling. Unexpectedly, the treatment induced an initial burst of proliferation in the stem cell compartment of the small intestine, due to conversion of ISCs into TA cells with a loss of intrinsic ISC self-renewal. This process involved MAPK pathway activation, as the proliferating cells in the base of the intestinal crypt contained phosphorylated ERK1/2, and a MEK inhibitor attenuated the proliferation of ISCs and their differentiation into TA cells. These findings suggest a role for Wnt signaling in suppressing the MAPK pathway at the crypt base to maintain a pool of ISCs. The interaction between Wnt and MAPK pathways in vivo has potential therapeutic applications in cancer and regenerative medicine.

Authors

Zahra Kabiri, Gediminas Greicius, Hamed Zaribafzadeh, Amanda Hemmerich, Christopher M. Counter, David M. Virshup

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Abstract

Ciliopathies are clinically overlapping genetic disorders involving structural and functional abnormalities of cilia. Currently, there are no small-molecule drugs available to treat ciliary defects in ciliopathies. Our phenotype-based screen identified the flavonoid eupatilin and its analogs as lead compounds for developing ciliopathy medication. CEP290, a gene mutated in several ciliopathies, encodes a protein that forms a complex with NPHP5 to support the function of the ciliary transition zone. Eupatilin relieved ciliogenesis and ciliary receptor delivery defects resulting from deletion of CEP290. In rd16 mice harboring a blinding Cep290 in-frame deletion, eupatilin treatment improved both opsin transport to the photoreceptor outer segment and electrophysiological responses of the retina to light stimulation. The rescue effect was due to eupatilin-mediated inhibition of calmodulin binding to NPHP5, which promoted NPHP5 recruitment to the ciliary base. Our results suggest that deficiency of a ciliopathy protein could be mitigated by small-molecule compounds that target other ciliary components that interact with the ciliopathy protein.

Authors

Yong Joon Kim, Sungsoo Kim, Yooju Jung, Eunji Jung, Ho Jeong Kwon, Joon Kim

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Abstract

Rearrangements involving the neurotrophic receptor kinase genes (NTRK1, NTRK2, and NTRK3; hereafter referred to as TRK) produce oncogenic fusions in a wide variety of cancers in adults and children. Although TRK fusions occur in <1% of all solid tumors, inhibition of TRK results in profound therapeutic responses resulting in breakthrough FDA-approval of the TRK inhibitor larotrectinib for adult and pediatric solid tumor patients regardless of histology. In contrast to solid tumors, the frequency of TRK fusions and clinical effects of targeting TRK in hematologic malignancies is unknown. Here, through an evaluation for TRK fusions across > 7,000 patients with hematologic malignancies, we identified TRK fusions in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), histiocytosis, multiple myeloma and dendritic cell neoplasms. Although TRK fusions occurred in only 0.1% of patients (8 out of 7,311 patients), they conferred responsiveness to TRK inhibition in vitro and in vivo in a patient-derived xenograft and a corresponding AML patient with ETV6-NTRK2 fusion. These data identify that despite their individual rarity, collectively TRK fusions are present in a wide variety of hematologic malignancies and predict clinically significant therapeutic responses to TRK inhibition.

Authors

Justin Taylor, Dean Pavlick, Akihide Yoshimi, Christina Marcelus, Stephen S. Chung, Jaclyn F. Hechtman, Ryma Benayed, Emiliano Cocco, Benjamin H. Durham, Lillian Bitner, Daichi Inoue, Young Rock Chung, Kerry Mullaney, Justin M. Watts, Eli L. Diamond, Lee A. Albacker, Tariq I. Mughal, Kevin Ebata, Brian B. Tuch, Nora Ku, Maurizio Scaltriti, Mikhail Roshal, Maria Arcila, Siraj Ali, David M. Hyman, Jae H. Park, Omar Abdel-Wahab

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Abstract

EZH2-mediated epigenetic regulation of T cell differentiation and regulatory T cell function has been described previously; however, the role of EZH2 in T cell–mediated anti-tumor immunity, especially in the context of immune checkpoint therapy, is not understood. Here, we showed that genetic depletion of EZH2 in regulatory T cells (FoxP3creEZH2fl/fl mice) leads to robust anti-tumor immunity. In addition, pharmacological inhibition of EZH2 in human T cells using CPI-1205 elicited phenotypic and functional alterations of the regulatory T cells and enhanced cytotoxic activity of effector T cells. We observed that ipilimumab (anti–CTLA-4) increased EZH2 expression in peripheral T cells from treated patients. We hypothesized that inhibition of EZH2 expression in T cells would increase the effectiveness of anti–CTLA-4 therapy, which we tested in murine models. Collectively, our data demonstrated that modulating EZH2 expression in T cells can improve anti-tumor responses elicited by anti–CTLA-4 therapy, which provides a strong rationale for a combination trial of CPI-1205 plus ipilimumab.

Authors

Sangeeta Goswami, Irina Apostolou, Jan Zhang, Jill Skepner, Swetha Anandhan, Xuejun Zhang, Liangwen Xiong, Patrick Trojer, Ana Aparicio, Sumit K. Subudhi, James P. Allison, Hao Zhao, Padmanee Sharma

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Abstract

The transcription factor GATA6 has been shown to be important for lung development and branching morphogenesis in mouse models, but its role in human lung development is largely unknown. Here, we studied the role of GATA6 during lung differentiation using human pluripotent stem cells. We found that the human stem cell lines most efficient at generating NKX2.1+ lung progenitors express lower endogenous levels of GATA6 during endoderm patterning and that knockdown of GATA6 during endoderm patterning increased the generation of these cells. Complete ablation of GATA6 resulted in the generation of lung progenitors displaying increased cell proliferation with up to a 15-fold expansion compared with control cells, whereas the null cell line displayed a defect in further development into mature lung cell types. Furthermore, transgenic expression of GATA6 at the endoderm anteriorization stage skewed development toward a liver fate at the expense of lung progenitors. Our results suggest a critical dosage effect of GATA6 during human endoderm patterning and a later requirement during terminal lung differentiation. These studies offer an approach of modulating GATA6 expression to enhance the production of lung progenitors from human stem cell sources.

Authors

Chia-Min Liao, Somdutta Mukherjee, Amita Tiyaboonchai, Jean Ann Maguire, Fabian L. Cardenas-Diaz, Deborah L. French, Paul Gadue

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Abstract

Understanding the molecular basis of the regenerative response following hepatic injury holds promise for improved treatment of liver diseases. Here, we report an innovative method to profile gene expression specifically in the hepatocytes that regenerate the liver following toxic injury. We used the Fah–/– mouse, a model of hereditary tyrosinemia, which conditionally undergoes severe liver injury unless fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase (FAH) expression is reconstituted ectopically. We used translating ribosome affinity purification followed by high-throughput RNA sequencing (TRAP-seq) to isolate mRNAs specific to repopulating hepatocytes. We uncovered upstream regulators and important signaling pathways that are highly enriched in genes changed in regenerating hepatocytes. Specifically, we found that glutathione metabolism, particularly the gene Slc7a11 encoding the cystine/glutamate antiporter (xCT), is massively upregulated during liver regeneration. Furthermore, we show that Slc7a11 overexpression in hepatocytes enhances, and its suppression inhibits, repopulation following toxic injury. TRAP-seq allows cell type–specific expression profiling in repopulating hepatocytes and identified xCT, a factor that supports antioxidant responses during liver regeneration. xCT has potential as a therapeutic target for enhancing liver regeneration in response to liver injury.

Authors

Amber W. Wang, Kirk J. Wangensteen, Yue J. Wang, Adam M. Zahm, Nicholas G. Moss, Noam Erez, Klaus H. Kaestner

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Abstract

HIV-1 acquisition occurs most commonly after sexual contact. To establish infection, HIV-1 must infect cells that support high level replication, namely CD4+ T cells, which are absent from the outermost genital epithelium. Dendritic cells (DCs), present in mucosal epithelia, potentially facilitate HIV-1 acquisition. We show that vaginal epithelial DCs, termed CD1a+ VEDCs, are unlike other blood and tissue derived DCs because they express langerin but not DC-SIGN, and unlike skin-based langerin+ DC subset, Langerhans cells (LC), they do not harbor Birbeck granules. Individuals primarily acquire HIV-1 that utilize the CCR5 receptor (termed either R5 or R5X4) during heterosexual transmission, and the mechanism for the block against variants that only use the CXCR4 receptor (classified as X4) remains unclear. We show that X4 as compared to R5 HIV-1 show limited to no replication in CD1a+ VEDCs. This differential replication occurs post-fusion suggesting that receptor usage influences post-entry steps in the virus life-cycle. Furthermore, CD1a+ VEDCs isolated from HIV-1 infected virologically suppressed women harbor HIV-1 DNA. Thus, CD1a+ VEDCs are potentially both infected early during heterosexual transmission and retain virus during treatment. Understanding the interplay between HIV-1 and CD1a+ VEDCs will be important for future prevention and cure strategies.

Authors

Victor Pena-Cruz, Luis M. Agosto, Hisashi Akiyama, Alex Olson, Yvetane Moreau, Jean-Robert Larrieux, Andrew Henderson, Suryaram Gummuluru, Manish Sagar

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Abstract

Immunotherapy prolongs survival in only a subset of melanoma patients, highlighting the need to better understand the driver tumor microenvironment. We conducted bioinformatic analyses of 703 transcriptomes to probe the immune landscape of primary cutaneous melanomas in a population-ascertained cohort. We identified and validated 6 immunologically distinct subgroups, with the largest having the lowest immune scores and the poorest survival. This poor-prognosis subgroup exhibited expression profiles consistent with β-catenin–mediated failure to recruit CD141+ DCs. A second subgroup displayed an equally bad prognosis when histopathological factors were adjusted for, while 4 others maintained comparable survival profiles. The 6 subgroups were replicated in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) melanomas, where β-catenin signaling was also associated with low immune scores predominantly related to hypomethylation. The survival benefit of high immune scores was strongest in patients with double-WT tumors for BRAF and NRAS, less strong in BRAF-V600 mutants, and absent in NRAS (codons 12, 13, 61) mutants. In summary, we report evidence for a β-catenin–mediated immune evasion in 42% of melanoma primaries overall and in 73% of those with the worst outcome. We further report evidence for an interaction between oncogenic mutations and host response to melanoma, suggesting that patient stratification will improve immunotherapeutic outcomes.

Authors

Jérémie Nsengimana, Jon Laye, Anastasia Filia, Sally O’Shea, Sathya Muralidhar, Joanna Poźniak, Alastair Droop, May Chan, Christy Walker, Louise Parkinson, Joanne Gascoyne, Tracey Mell, Minttu Polso, Rosalyn Jewell, Juliette Randerson-Moor, Graham P. Cook, D. Timothy Bishop, Julia Newton-Bishop

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