The devastating sequelae of diabetes mellitus include microvascular permeability, which results in retinopathy. Despite clinical and scientific advances, there remains a need for new approaches to treat retinopathy. Here, we have presented a possible treatment strategy, whereby targeting the small GTPase ARF6 alters VEGFR2 trafficking and reverses signs of pathology in 4 animal models that represent features of diabetic retinopathy and in a fifth model of ocular pathological angiogenesis. Specifically, we determined that the same signaling pathway utilizes distinct GEFs to sequentially activate ARF6, and these GEFs exert distinct but complementary effects on VEGFR2 trafficking and signal transduction. ARF6 activation was independently regulated by 2 different ARF GEFs — ARNO and GEP100. Interaction between VEGFR2 and ARNO activated ARF6 and stimulated VEGFR2 internalization, whereas a VEGFR2 interaction with GEP100 activated ARF6 to promote VEGFR2 recycling via coreceptor binding. Intervening in either pathway inhibited VEGFR2 signal output. Finally, using a combination of in vitro, cellular, genetic, and pharmacologic techniques, we demonstrated that ARF6 is pivotal in VEGFR2 trafficking and that targeting ARF6-mediated VEGFR2 trafficking has potential as a therapeutic approach for retinal vascular diseases such as diabetic retinopathy.
Weiquan Zhu, Dallas S. Shi, Jacob M. Winter, Bianca E. Rich, Zongzhong Tong, Lise K. Sorensen, Helong Zhao, Yi Huang, Zhengfu Tai, Tara M. Mleynek, Jae Hyuk Yoo, Christine Dunn, Jing Ling, Jake A. Bergquist, Jackson R. Richards, Amanda Jiang, Lisa A. Lesniewski, M. Elizabeth Hartnett, Diane M. Ward, Alan L. Mueller, Kirill Ostanin, Kirk R. Thomas, Shannon J. Odelberg, Dean Y. Li
Uromodulin-associated kidney disease (UAKD) is caused by mutations in the uromodulin (UMOD) gene that result in a misfolded form of UMOD protein, which is normally secreted by nephrons. In UAKD patients, mutant UMOD is poorly secreted and accumulates in the ER of distal kidney epithelium, but its role in disease progression is largely unknown. Here, we modeled UMOD accumulation in mice by expressing the murine equivalent of the human UMOD p.Cys148Trp point mutation (UmodC147W/+ mice). Like affected humans, these UmodC147W/+ mice developed spontaneous and progressive kidney disease with organ failure over 24 weeks. Analysis of diseased kidneys and purified UMOD-producing cells revealed early activation of the PKR-like ER kinase/activating transcription factor 4 (PERK/ATF4) ER stress pathway, innate immune mediators, and increased apoptotic signaling, including caspase-3 activation. Unexpectedly, we also detected autophagy deficiency. Human cells expressing UMOD p.Cys147Trp recapitulated the findings in UmodC147W/+ mice, and autophagy activation with mTOR inhibitors stimulated the intracellular removal of aggregated mutant UMOD. Human cells producing mutant UMOD were susceptible to TNF-α– and TRAIL-mediated apoptosis due to increased expression of the ER stress mediator tribbles-3. Blocking TNF-α in vivo with the soluble recombinant fusion protein TNFR:Fc slowed disease progression in UmodC147W/+ mice by reducing active caspase-3, thereby preventing tubule cell death and loss of epithelial function. These findings reveal a targetable mechanism for disease processes involved in UAKD.
Bryce G. Johnson, Lan T. Dang, Graham Marsh, Allie M. Roach, Zebulon G. Levine, Anthony Monti, Deepak Reyon, Lionel Feigenbaum, Jeremy S. Duffield
Atherosclerosis is the underlying etiology of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. Atherosclerosis is a heterogeneous disease in which only a small fraction of lesions lead to heart attack, stroke, or sudden cardiac death. A distinct type of plaque containing large necrotic cores with thin fibrous caps often precipitates these acute events. Here, we show that Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase γ (CaMKIIγ) in macrophages plays a major role in the development of necrotic, thin-capped plaques. Macrophages in necrotic and symptomatic atherosclerotic plaques in humans as well as advanced atherosclerotic lesions in mice demonstrated activation of CaMKII. Western diet–fed LDL receptor–deficient (Ldlr–/–) mice with myeloid-specific deletion of CaMKII had smaller necrotic cores with concomitantly thicker collagen caps. These lesions demonstrated evidence of enhanced efferocytosis, which was associated with increased expression of the macrophage efferocytosis receptor MerTK. Mechanistic studies revealed that CaMKIIγ-deficient macrophages and atherosclerotic lesions lacking myeloid CaMKIIγ had increased expression of the transcription factor ATF6. We determined that ATF6 induces liver X receptor-α (LXRα), an Mertk-inducing transcription factor, and that increased MerTK expression and efferocytosis in CaMKIIγ-deficient macrophages is dependent on LXRα. These findings identify a macrophage CaMKIIγ/ATF6/LXRα/MerTK pathway as a key factor in the development of necrotic atherosclerotic plaques.
Amanda C. Doran, Lale Ozcan, Bishuang Cai, Ze Zheng, Gabrielle Fredman, Christina C. Rymond, Bernhard Dorweiler, Judith C. Sluimer, Joanne Hsieh, George Kuriakose, Alan R. Tall, Ira Tabas
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
Peptide hormones are crucial regulators of many aspects of human physiology. Mutations that alter these signaling peptides are associated with physiological imbalances that underlie diseases. However, the conformational maturation of peptide hormone precursors (prohormones) in the ER remains largely unexplored. Here, we report that conformational maturation of proAVP, the precursor for the antidiuretic hormone arginine-vasopressin, within the ER requires the ER-associated degradation (ERAD) activity of the Sel1L-Hrd1 protein complex. Serum hyperosmolality induces expression of both ERAD components and proAVP in AVP-producing neurons. Mice with global or AVP neuron–specific ablation of Se1L-Hrd1 ERAD progressively developed polyuria and polydipsia, characteristics of diabetes insipidus. Mechanistically, we found that ERAD deficiency causes marked ER retention and aggregation of a large proportion of all proAVP protein. Further, we show that proAVP is an endogenous substrate of Sel1L-Hrd1 ERAD. The inability to clear misfolded proAVP with highly reactive cysteine thiols in the absence of Sel1L-Hrd1 ERAD causes proAVP to accumulate and participate in inappropriate intermolecular disulfide–bonded aggregates, promoted by the enzymatic activity of protein disulfide isomerase (PDI). This study highlights a pathway linking ERAD to prohormone conformational maturation in neuroendocrine cells, expanding the role of ERAD in providing a conducive ER environment for nascent proteins to reach proper conformation.
Guojun Shi, Diane Somlo, Geun Hyang Kim, Cristina Prescianotto-Baschong, Shengyi Sun, Nicole Beuret, Qiaoming Long, Jonas Rutishauser, Peter Arvan, Martin Spiess, Ling Qi
Macrophages are attracted to developing tumors and can participate in immune surveillance to eliminate neoplastic cells. In response, neoplastic cells utilize NF-κB to suppress this killing activity, but the mechanisms underlying their self-protection remain unclear. Here, we report that this dynamic interaction between tumor cells and macrophages is integrally linked by a soluble factor identified as growth and differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15). In vitro, tumor-derived GDF-15 signals in macrophages to suppress their proapoptotic activity by inhibiting TNF and nitric oxide (NO) production. In vivo, depletion of GDF-15 in Ras-driven tumor xenografts and in an orthotopic model of pancreatic cancer delayed tumor development. This delay correlated with increased infiltrating antitumor macrophages. Further, production of GDF-15 is directly regulated by NF-κB, and the colocalization of activated NF-κB and GDF-15 in epithelial ducts of human pancreatic adenocarcinoma supports the importance of this observation. Mechanistically, we found that GDF-15 suppresses macrophage activity by inhibiting TGF-β–activated kinase (TAK1) signaling to NF-κB, thereby blocking synthesis of TNF and NO. Based on these results, we propose that the NF-κB/GDF-15 regulatory axis is important for tumor cells in evading macrophage immune surveillance during the early stages of tumorigenesis.
Nivedita M. Ratnam, Jennifer M. Peterson, Erin E. Talbert, Katherine J. Ladner, Priyani V. Rajasekera, Carl R. Schmidt, Mary E. Dillhoff, Benjamin J. Swanson, Ericka Haverick, Raleigh D. Kladney, Terence M. Williams, Gustavo W. Leone, David J. Wang, Denis C. Guttridge
Tumors adapt to an unfavorable microenvironment by controlling the balance between cell proliferation and cell motility, but the regulators of this process are largely unknown. Here, we show that an alternatively spliced isoform of syntaphilin (SNPH), a cytoskeletal regulator of mitochondrial movements in neurons, is directed to mitochondria of tumor cells. Mitochondrial SNPH buffers oxidative stress and maintains complex II–dependent bioenergetics, sustaining local tumor growth while restricting mitochondrial redistribution to the cortical cytoskeleton and tumor cell motility. Conversely, introduction of stress stimuli to the microenvironment, including hypoxia, acutely lowered SNPH levels, resulting in bioenergetics defects and increased superoxide production. In turn, this suppressed tumor cell proliferation but increased tumor cell invasion via greater mitochondrial trafficking to the cortical cytoskeleton. Loss of SNPH or expression of an SNPH mutant lacking the mitochondrial localization sequence resulted in increased metastatic dissemination in xenograft or syngeneic tumor models in vivo. Accordingly, tumor cells that acquired the ability to metastasize in vivo constitutively downregulated SNPH and exhibited higher oxidative stress, reduced cell proliferation, and increased cell motility. Therefore, SNPH is a stress-regulated mitochondrial switch of the cell proliferation-motility balance in cancer, and its pathway may represent a therapeutic target.
M. Cecilia Caino, Jae Ho Seo, Yuan Wang, Dayana B. Rivadeneira, Dmitry I. Gabrilovich, Eui Tae Kim, Ashani T. Weeraratna, Lucia R. Languino, Dario C. Altieri
The master cytokine TGF-β mediates tissue fibrosis associated with inflammation and tissue injury. TGF-β induces fibroblast activation and differentiation into myofibroblasts that secrete extracellular matrix proteins. Canonical TGF-β signaling mobilizes Smad2 and Smad3 transcription factors that control fibrosis by promoting gene expression. However, the importance of TGF-β–Smad2/3 signaling in fibroblast-mediated cardiac fibrosis has not been directly evaluated in vivo. Here, we examined pressure overload–induced cardiac fibrosis in fibroblast- and myofibroblast-specific inducible Cre-expressing mouse lines with selective deletion of the TGF-β receptors Tgfbr1/2, Smad2, or Smad3. Fibroblast-specific deletion of Tgfbr1/2 or Smad3, but not Smad2, markedly reduced the pressure overload–induced fibrotic response as well as fibrosis mediated by a heart-specific, latency-resistant TGF-β mutant transgene. Interestingly, cardiac fibroblast–specific deletion of Tgfbr1/2, but not Smad2/3, attenuated the cardiac hypertrophic response to pressure overload stimulation. Mechanistically, loss of Smad2/3 from tissue-resident fibroblasts attenuated injury-induced cellular expansion within the heart and the expression of fibrosis-mediating genes. Deletion of Smad2/3 or Tgfbr1/2 from cardiac fibroblasts similarly inhibited the gene program for fibrosis and extracellular matrix remodeling, although deletion of Tgfbr1/2 uniquely altered expression of an array of regulatory genes involved in cardiomyocyte homeostasis and disease compensation. These findings implicate TGF-β–Smad2/3 signaling in activated tissue-resident cardiac fibroblasts as principal mediators of the fibrotic response.
Hadi Khalil, Onur Kanisicak, Vikram Prasad, Robert N. Correll, Xing Fu, Tobias Schips, Ronald J. Vagnozzi, Ruijie Liu, Thanh Huynh, Se-Jin Lee, Jason Karch, Jeffery D. Molkentin
TGF-β1 signaling is a critical driver of collagen accumulation and fibrotic disease but also a vital suppressor of inflammation and epithelial cell proliferation. The nature of this multifunctional cytokine has limited the development of global TGF-β1 signaling inhibitors as therapeutic agents. We conducted phenotypic screens for small molecules that inhibit TGF-β1–induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition without immediate TGF-β1 receptor (TβR) kinase inhibition. We identified trihydroxyphenolic compounds as potent blockers of TGF-β1 responses (IC50 ~50 nM), Snail1 expression, and collagen deposition in vivo in models of pulmonary fibrosis and collagen-dependent lung cancer metastasis. Remarkably, the functional effects of trihydroxyphenolics required the presence of active lysyl oxidase–like 2 (LOXL2), thereby limiting effects to fibroblasts or cancer cells, the major LOXL2 producers. Mechanistic studies revealed that trihydroxyphenolics induce auto-oxidation of a LOXL2/3–specific lysine (K731) in a time-dependent reaction that irreversibly inhibits LOXL2 and converts the trihydrophenolic to a previously undescribed metabolite that directly inhibits TβRI kinase. Combined inhibition of LOXL2 and TβRI activities by trihydrophenolics resulted in potent blockade of pathological collagen accumulation in vivo without the toxicities associated with global inhibitors. These findings elucidate a therapeutic approach to attenuate fibrosis and the disease-promoting effects of tissue stiffness by specifically targeting TβRI kinase in LOXL2-expressing cells.
Ying Wei, Thomas J. Kim, David H. Peng, Dana Duan, Don L. Gibbons, Mitsuo Yamauchi, Julia R. Jackson, Claude J. Le Saux, Cheresa Calhoun, Jay Peters, Rik Derynck, Bradley J. Backes, Harold A. Chapman
Sterol regulatory element–binding protein 1c (SREBP-1c) is a central regulator of lipogenesis whose activity is controlled by proteolytic cleavage. The metabolic factors that affect its processing are incompletely understood. Here, we show that dynamic changes in the acyl chain composition of ER phospholipids affect SREBP-1c maturation in physiology and disease. The abundance of polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholine in liver ER is selectively increased in response to feeding and in the setting of obesity-linked insulin resistance. Exogenous delivery of polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholine to ER accelerated SREBP-1c processing through a mechanism that required an intact SREBP cleavage–activating protein (SCAP) pathway. Furthermore, induction of the phospholipid-remodeling enzyme LPCAT3 in response to liver X receptor (LXR) activation promoted SREBP-1c processing by driving the incorporation of polyunsaturated fatty acids into ER. Conversely, LPCAT3 deficiency increased membrane saturation, reduced nuclear SREBP-1c abundance, and blunted the lipogenic response to feeding, LXR agonist treatment, or obesity-linked insulin resistance. Desaturation of the ER membrane may serve as an auxiliary signal of the fed state that promotes lipid synthesis in response to nutrient availability.
Xin Rong, Bo Wang, Elisa N.D. Palladino, Thomas Q. de Aguiar Vallim, David A. Ford, Peter Tontonoz
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