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Subtle modifications to oxytocin produce ligands that retain potency and improved selectivity across species

2017-12-05T10:55:11-08:00

Oxytocin and vasopressin mediate various physiological functions that are important for osmoregulation, reproduction, cardiovascular function, social behavior, memory, and learning through four G protein–coupled receptors that are also implicated in high-profile disorders. Targeting these receptors is challenging because of the difficulty in obtaining ligands that retain selectivity across rodents and humans for translational studies. We identified a selective and more stable oxytocin receptor (OTR) agonist by subtly modifying the pharmacophore framework of human oxytocin and vasopressin. [Se-Se]-oxytocin-OH displayed similar potency to oxytocin but improved selectivity for OTR, an effect that was retained in mice. Centrally infused [Se-Se]-oxytocin-OH potently reversed social fear in mice, confirming that this action was mediated by OTR and not by V1a or V1b vasopressin receptors. In addition, [Se-Se]-oxytocin-OH produced a more regular contraction pattern than did oxytocin in a preclinical labor induction and augmentation model using myometrial strips from cesarean sections. [Se-Se]-oxytocin-OH had no activity in human cardiomyocytes, indicating a potentially improved safety profile and therapeutic window compared to those of clinically used oxytocin. In conclusion, [Se-Se]-oxytocin-OH is a novel probe for validating OTR as a therapeutic target in various biological systems and is a promising new lead for therapeutic development. Our medicinal chemistry approach may also be applicable to other peptidergic signaling systems with similar selectivity issues.




HemITAM: A single tyrosine motif that packs a punch

2017-12-05T10:55:11-08:00

Innate immune cells sense danger through a plethora of germline-encoded receptors that recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) or cellular molecules that are exposed only by stressed, infected, malignant, or dead cells. Many of these danger-sensing receptors belong to the C-type lectin-like superfamily (CLSF) and therefore are called C-type lectin-like receptors (CTLRs). Certain activating CTLRs, namely, CLEC-2, Dectin-1, DNGR-1, NKp80, and NKp65, which are encoded by genes that are clustered together in a subregion of the mammalian natural killer gene complex (NKC), use a single copy tyrosine signaling module termed the hemi-immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif (hemITAM). These hemITAM-bearing CTLRs are present on myeloid cells and innate lymphocytes and stimulate various functions, such as phagocytosis, cytokine production, and cytotoxicity. Proximal signaling mechanisms involve the tyrosine phosphorylation of the hemITAM and the subsequent activation of the kinase Syk. Signaling and Syk recruitment by the hemITAM appear to be tuned by variable amino acids within or near the hemITAM, which give rise to differences in downstream signaling events and diverging functional outcomes among hemITAM-bearing receptors.




The receptor tyrosine kinase EphA2 promotes glutamine metabolism in tumors by activating the transcriptional coactivators YAP and TAZ

2017-12-05T10:55:11-08:00

Malignant tumors reprogram cellular metabolism to support cancer cell proliferation and survival. Although most cancers depend on a high rate of aerobic glycolysis, many cancer cells also display addiction to glutamine. Glutamine transporters and glutaminase activity are critical for glutamine metabolism in tumor cells. We found that the receptor tyrosine kinase EphA2 activated the TEAD family transcriptional coactivators YAP and TAZ (YAP/TAZ), likely in a ligand-independent manner, to promote glutamine metabolism in cells and mouse models of HER2-positive breast cancer. Overexpression of EphA2 induced the nuclear accumulation of YAP and TAZ and increased the expression of YAP/TAZ target genes. Inhibition of the GTPase Rho or the kinase ROCK abolished EphA2-dependent YAP/TAZ nuclear localization. Silencing YAP or TAZ substantially reduced the amount of intracellular glutamate through decreased expression of SLC1A5 and GLS, respectively, genes that encode proteins that promote glutamine uptake and metabolism. The regulatory DNA elements of both SLC1A5 and GLS contain TEAD binding sites and were bound by TEAD4 in an EphA2-dependent manner. In patient breast cancer tissues, EphA2 expression positively correlated with that of YAP and TAZ, as well as that of GLS and SLC1A5. Although high expression of EphA2 predicted enhanced metastatic potential and poor patient survival, it also rendered HER2-positive breast cancer cells more sensitive to glutaminase inhibition. The findings define a previously unknown mechanism of EphA2-mediated glutaminolysis through YAP/TAZ activation in HER2-positive breast cancer and identify potential therapeutic targets in patients.




Papers of note in Science Translational Medicine 9 (418)

2017-12-05T10:55:11-08:00

This week’s articles describe a way to treat or prevent pulmonary distress and a way to boost treatments against anemia.




Papers of note in Nature 551 (7682)

2017-12-05T10:55:11-08:00

This week’s articles highlight proteostasis in the germ line, tumor cell survival in high-oxygen environments, and gut symbiont metabolites that affect intestinal physiology and systemic immunity.




Papers of note in Science 358 (6367)

2017-12-05T10:55:11-08:00

This week’s articles focus on cross-talk between lung tumors and bone, the druggable kinome, and the structure of a DNA damage sensor.




Stimulating NETosis instead of mitosis

2017-12-05T10:55:11-08:00

Cell cycle regulators control the production of neutrophil extracellular traps.




IL-33 and ST2 mediate FAK-dependent antitumor immune evasion through transcriptional networks

2017-12-05T10:55:11-08:00

Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) mediates tumor cell–intrinsic behaviors that promote tumor growth and metastasis. We previously showed that FAK also induces the expression of inflammatory genes that inhibit antitumor immunity in the microenvironment. We identified a crucial, previously unknown role for the dual-function cytokine interleukin-33 (IL-33) in FAK-dependent immune evasion. In murine squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cells, specifically nuclear FAK enhanced the expression of the genes encoding IL-33, the chemokine CCL5, and the soluble, secreted form of the IL-33 receptor, called soluble ST2 (sST2). The abundance of IL-33 and CCL5 was increased in FAK-positive SCC cells but not in normal keratinocytes. IL-33 associated with FAK in the nucleus, and the FAK–IL-33 complex interacted with a network of chromatin modifiers and transcriptional regulators, including TAF9, WDR82, and BRD4, which promote the activity of nuclear factor B (NF-B) and its induction of genes encoding chemokines, including CCL5. We did not detect secretion of IL-33 from FAK-positive SCC cells; thus, we propose that the increased production and secretion of sST2 likely sequesters IL-33 secreted by other cell types within the tumor environment, thus blocking its stimulatory effects on infiltrating host immune cells. Depleting FAK, IL-33, or sST2 from SCC cells before implantation induced tumor regression in syngeneic mice, except when CD8+ T cells were co-depleted. Our data provide mechanistic insight into how FAK controls the tumor immune environment, namely, through a transcriptional regulatory network mediated by nuclear IL-33. Targeting this axis may boost antitumor immunity in patients.