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Preview: Journal of Clinical Investigation -- New Articles

The Journal of Clinical Investigation -- New Articles

The Journal of Clinical Investigation RSS feed -- New Articles Published

Copyright: 2018 The American Society for Clinical Investigation

Pain control through selective chemo-axotomy of centrally projecting TRPV1+ sensory neurons
Agonists of the vanilloid receptor transient vanilloid potential 1 (TRPV1) are emerging as highly efficacious nonopioid analgesics in preclinical studies. These drugs selectively lesion TRPV1+ primary sensory afferents, which are responsible for the transmission of many noxious stimulus modalities. Resiniferatoxin (RTX) is a very potent and selective TRPV1 agonist and is a promising candidate for treating many types of pain. Recent work establishing intrathecal application of RTX for the treatment of pain resulting from advanced cancer has demonstrated profound analgesia in client-owned dogs with osteosarcoma. The present study uses transcriptomics and histochemistry to examine the molecular mechanism of RTX action in rats, in clinical canine subjects, and in 1 human subject with advanced cancer treated for pain using intrathecal RTX. In all 3 species, we observe a strong analgesic action, yet this was accompanied by limited transcriptional alterations at the level of the dorsal root ganglion. Functional and neuroanatomical studies demonstrated that intrathecal RTX largely spares susceptible neuronal perikarya, which remain active peripherally but unable to transmit signals to the spinal cord. The results demonstrate that central chemo-axotomy of the TRPV1+ afferents underlies RTX analgesia and refine the neurobiology underlying effective clinical use of TRPV1 agonists for pain control.

Aortic carboxypeptidase–like protein, a WNT ligand, exacerbates nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
Incidence of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is considered a hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome, has been increasing worldwide with the rise in obesity; however, its pathological mechanism is poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that the hepatic expression of aortic carboxypeptidase–like protein (ACLP), a glycosylated, secreted protein, increases in NASH in humans and mice. Furthermore, we elucidate that ACLP is a ligand, unrelated to WNT proteins, that activates the canonical WNT pathway and exacerbates NASH pathology. In the liver, ACLP is specifically expressed in hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). As fatty liver disease progresses, ACLP expression is enhanced via activation of STAT3 signaling by obesity-related factors in serum. ACLP specifically binds to frizzled-8 and low-density lipoprotein–related receptor 6 to form a ternary complex that activates canonical WNT signaling. Consequently, ACLP activates HSCs by inhibiting PPARγ signals. HSC-specific ACLP deficiency inhibits fibrosis progression in NASH by inhibiting canonical WNT signaling in HSCs. The present study elucidates the role of canonical WNT pathway activation by ACLP in NASH pathology, indicating that NASH can be treated by targeting ACLP-induced canonical WNT pathway activation in HSCs.

FoxO transcription factors are required for hepatic HDL cholesterol clearance
Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are associated with low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). The insulin-repressible FoxO transcription factors are potential mediators of the effect of insulin on HDL-C. FoxOs mediate a substantial portion of insulin-regulated transcription, and poor FoxO repression is thought to contribute to the excessive glucose production in diabetes. In this work, we show that mice with liver-specific triple FoxO knockout (L-FoxO1,3,4), which are known to have reduced hepatic glucose production, also have increased HDL-C. This was associated with decreased expression of the HDL-C clearance factors scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI) and hepatic lipase and defective selective uptake of HDL cholesteryl ester by the liver. The phenotype could be rescued by re-expression of SR-BI. These findings demonstrate that hepatic FoxOs are required for cholesterol homeostasis and HDL-mediated reverse cholesterol transport to the liver.

Ribonuclease inhibitor 1 regulates erythropoiesis by controlling GATA1 translation
Ribosomal proteins (RP) regulate specific gene expression by selectively translating subsets of mRNAs. Indeed, in Diamond-Blackfan anemia and 5q– syndrome, mutations in RP genes lead to a specific defect in erythroid gene translation and cause anemia. Little is known about the molecular mechanisms of selective mRNA translation and involvement of ribosomal-associated factors in this process. Ribonuclease inhibitor 1 (RNH1) is a ubiquitously expressed protein that binds to and inhibits pancreatic-type ribonucleases. Here, we report that RNH1 binds to ribosomes and regulates erythropoiesis by controlling translation of the erythroid transcription factor GATA1. Rnh1-deficient mice die between embryonic days E8.5 and E10 due to impaired production of mature erythroid cells from progenitor cells. In Rnh1-deficient embryos, mRNA levels of Gata1 are normal, but GATA1 protein levels are decreased. At the molecular level, we found that RNH1 binds to the 40S subunit of ribosomes and facilitates polysome formation on Gata1 mRNA to confer transcript-specific translation. Further, RNH1 knockdown in human CD34+ progenitor cells decreased erythroid differentiation without affecting myelopoiesis. Our results reveal an unsuspected role for RNH1 in the control of GATA1 mRNA translation and erythropoiesis.

DNA repair deficiency sensitizes lung cancer cells to NAD+ biosynthesis blockade
Synthetic lethality is an efficient mechanism-based approach to selectively target DNA repair defects. Excision repair cross-complementation group 1 (ERCC1) deficiency is frequently found in non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), making this DNA repair protein an attractive target for exploiting synthetic lethal approaches in the disease. Using unbiased proteomic and metabolic high-throughput profiling on a unique in-house–generated isogenic model of ERCC1 deficiency, we found marked metabolic rewiring of ERCC1-deficient populations, including decreased levels of the metabolite NAD+ and reduced expression of the rate-limiting NAD+ biosynthetic enzyme nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT). We also found reduced NAMPT expression in NSCLC samples with low levels of ERCC1. These metabolic alterations were a primary effect of ERCC1 deficiency, and caused selective exquisite sensitivity to small-molecule NAMPT inhibitors, both in vitro — ERCC1-deficient cells being approximately 1,000 times more sensitive than ERCC1-WT cells — and in vivo. Using transmission electronic microscopy and functional metabolic studies, we found that ERCC1-deficient cells harbor mitochondrial defects. We propose a model where NAD+ acts as a regulator of ERCC1-deficient NSCLC cell fitness. These findings open therapeutic opportunities that exploit a yet-undescribed nuclear-mitochondrial synthetic lethal relationship in NSCLC models, and highlight the potential for targeting DNA repair/metabolic crosstalks for cancer therapy.

The anti-caspase inhibitor Q-VD-OPH prevents AIDS disease progression in SIV-infected rhesus macaques
Apoptosis has been proposed as a key mechanism responsible for CD4+ T cell depletion and immune dysfunction during HIV infection. We demonstrated that Q-VD-OPH, a caspase inhibitor, inhibits spontaneous and activation-induced death of T cells from SIV-infected rhesus macaques (RMs). When administered during the acute phase of infection, Q-VD-OPH was associated with (a) reduced levels of T cell death, (b) preservation of CD4+/CD8+ T cell ratio in lymphoid organs and in the gut, (c) maintenance of memory CD4+ T cells, and (d) increased specific CD4+ T cell response associated with the expression of cytotoxic molecules. Although therapy was limited to the acute phase of infection, Q-VD-OPH–treated RMs showed lower levels of both viral load and cell-associated SIV DNA as compared with control SIV-infected RMs throughout the chronic phase of infection, and prevented the development of AIDS. Overall, our data demonstrate that Q-VD-OPH injection in SIV-infected RMs may represent an adjunctive therapeutic agent to control HIV infection and delaying disease progression to AIDS.

Sox2 haploinsufficiency primes regeneration and Wnt responsiveness in the mouse cochlea
During development, Sox2 is indispensable for cell division and differentiation, yet its roles in regenerating tissues are less clear. Here, we used combinations of transgenic mouse models to reveal that Sox2 haploinsufficiency (Sox2haplo) increases rather than impairs cochlear regeneration in vivo. Sox2haplo cochleae had delayed terminal mitosis and ectopic sensory cells, yet normal auditory function. Sox2haplo amplified and expanded domains of damage-induced Atoh1+ transitional cell formation in neonatal cochlea. Wnt activation via β-catenin stabilization (β-cateninGOF) alone failed to induce proliferation or transitional cell formation. By contrast, β-cateninGOF caused proliferation when either Sox2haplo or damage was present, and transitional cell formation when both were present in neonatal, but not mature, cochlea. Mechanistically, Sox2haplo or damaged neonatal cochleae showed lower levels of Sox2 and Hes5, but not of Wnt target genes. Together, our study unveils an interplay between Sox2 and damage in directing tissue regeneration and Wnt responsiveness and thus provides a foundation for potential combinatorial therapies aimed at stimulating mammalian cochlear regeneration to reverse hearing loss in humans.