Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is considered to be a highly immunosuppressive and heterogenous neoplasm. Despite improved knowledge regarding the genetic background of the tumor and better understanding of the tumor microenvironment, immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy (targeting CTLA4, PD1, PDL1) has not been very successful against PDAC. The robust desmoplastic stroma, along with an extensive extracellular matrix (ECM) that is rich in hyaluronan, plays an integral role in this immune evasion. Hexosamine biosynthesis pathway (HBP), a shunt pathway of glycolysis, is a metabolic node in cancer cells that can promote survival pathways on the one hand and influence the hyaluronan synthesis in the ECM on the other. The rate-limiting enzyme of the pathway, glutamine-fructose amidotransferase 1 (GFAT1), uses glutamine and fructose 6-phosphate to eventually synthesize uridine diphosphate N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc). In the current manuscript, we targeted this glutamine-utilizing enzyme by a small molecule glutamine analog (6-diazo-5-oxo-l-norleucine [DON]). Our results showed that DON decreased the self-renewal potential and metastatic ability of tumor cells. Further, treatment with DON decreased hyaluronan and collagen in the tumor microenvironment, leading to an extensive remodeling of the ECM and an increased infiltration of CD8+ T cells. Additionally, treatment with DON sensitized pancreatic tumors to anti-PD1 therapy, resulting in tumor regression and prolonged survival.
Nikita S. Sharma, Vineet K. Gupta, Vanessa T. Garrido, Roey Hadad, Brittany C. Durden, Kousik Kesh, Bhuwan Giri, Anthony Ferrantella, Vikas Dudeja, Ashok Saluja, Sulagna Banerjee
Axon regeneration failure causes neurological deficits and long-term disability after spinal cord injury (SCI). Here, we found that the α2δ2 subunit of voltage-gated calcium channels negatively regulates axon growth and regeneration of corticospinal neurons, the cells that originate the corticospinal tract. Increased α2δ2 expression in corticospinal neurons contributed to loss of corticospinal regrowth ability during postnatal development and after SCI. In contrast, α2δ2 pharmacological blockade through gabapentin administration promoted corticospinal structural plasticity and regeneration in adulthood. Using an optogenetic strategy combined with in vivo electrophysiological recording, we demonstrated that regenerating corticospinal axons functionally integrate into spinal circuits. Mice administered gabapentin recovered upper extremity function after cervical SCI. Importantly, such recovery relies on reorganization of the corticospinal pathway, as chemogenetic silencing of injured corticospinal neurons transiently abrogated recovery. Thus, targeting α2δ2 with a clinically relevant treatment strategy aids repair of motor circuits after SCI.
Wenjing Sun, Molly J.E. Larson, Conrad M. Kiyoshi, Alexander J. Annett, William A. Stalker, Juan Peng, Andrea Tedeschi
Aberrant Tau inclusions in the locus coeruleus (LC) are the earliest detectable Alzheimer’s disease–like (AD-like) neuropathology in the human brain. However, why LC neurons are selectively vulnerable to developing early Tau pathology and degenerating later in disease and whether the LC might seed the stereotypical spread of Tau pathology to the rest of the brain remain unclear. Here, we show that 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycolaldehyde, which is produced exclusively in noradrenergic neurons by monoamine oxidase A metabolism of norepinephrine, activated asparagine endopeptidase that cleaved Tau at residue N368 into aggregation- and propagation-prone forms, thus leading to LC degeneration and the spread of Tau pathology. Activation of asparagine endopeptidase–cleaved Tau aggregation in vitro and in intact cells was triggered by 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycolaldehyde, resulting in LC neurotoxicity and propagation of pathology to the forebrain. Thus, our findings reveal that norepinephrine metabolism and Tau cleavage represent the specific molecular mechanism underlying the selective vulnerability of LC neurons in AD.
Seong Su Kang, Xia Liu, Eun Hee Ahn, Jie Xiang, Fredric P. Manfredsson, Xifei Yang, Hongbo R. Luo, L. Cameron Liles, David Weinshenker, Keqiang Ye
N-3 docosapentaenoic acid–derived resolvin D5 (RvD5n-3 DPA) is diurnally regulated in peripheral blood and exerts tissue-protective actions during inflammatory arthritis. Here, using an orphan GPCR screening approach coupled with functional readouts, we investigated the receptor(s) involved in mediating the leukocyte-directed actions of RvD5n-3 DPA and identified GPR101 as the top candidate. RvD5n-3 DPA bound to GPR101 with high selectivity and stereospecificity, as demonstrated by a calculated KD of approximately 6.9 nM. In macrophages, GPR101 knockdown limited the ability of RvD5n-3 DPA to upregulate cyclic adenosine monophosphate, phagocytosis of bacteria, and efferocytosis. Inhibition of this receptor in mouse and human leukocytes abrogated the pro-resolving actions of RvD5n-3 DPA, including the regulation of bacterial phagocytosis in neutrophils. Knockdown of the receptor in vivo reversed the protective actions of RvD5n-3 DPA in limiting joint and gut inflammation during inflammatory arthritis. Administration of RvD5n-3 DPA during E. coli–initiated inflammation regulated neutrophil trafficking to the site of inflammation, increased bacterial phagocytosis by neutrophils and macrophages, and accelerated the resolution of infectious inflammation. These in vivo protective actions of RvD5n-3 DPA were limited when Gpr101 was knocked down. Together, our findings demonstrate a fundamental role for GPR101 in mediating the leukocyte-directed actions of RvD5n-3 DPA.
Magdalena B. Flak, Duco S. Koenis, Agua Sobrino, James Smith, Kimberly Pistorius, Francesco Palmas, Jesmond Dalli
Potentiating radiotherapy and chemotherapy by inhibiting DNA damage repair is proposed as a therapeutic strategy to improve outcomes for patients with solid tumors. However, this approach risks enhancing normal tissue toxicity as much as tumor toxicity, thereby limiting its translational impact. Using NU5455, a newly identified highly selective oral inhibitor of DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) activity, we found that it was indeed possible to preferentially augment the effect of targeted radiotherapy on human orthotopic lung tumors without influencing acute DNA damage or a late radiation-induced toxicity (fibrosis) to normal mouse lung. Furthermore, while NU5455 administration increased both the efficacy and the toxicity of a parenterally administered topoisomerase inhibitor, it enhanced the activity of doxorubicin released locally in liver tumor xenografts without inducing any adverse effect. This strategy is particularly relevant to hepatocellular cancer, which is treated clinically with localized drug-eluting beads and for which DNA-PKcs activity is reported to confer resistance to treatment. We conclude that transient pharmacological inhibition of DNA-PKcs activity is effective and tolerable when combined with localized DNA-damaging therapies and thus has promising clinical potential.
Catherine E. Willoughby, Yanyan Jiang, Huw D. Thomas, Elaine Willmore, Suzanne Kyle, Anita Wittner, Nicole Phillips, Yan Zhao, Susan J. Tudhope, Lisa Prendergast, Gesa Junge, Luiza Madia Lourenco, M. Raymond V. Finlay, Paul Turner, Joanne M. Munck, Roger J. Griffin, Tommy Rennison, James Pickles, Celine Cano, David R. Newell, Helen L. Reeves, Anderson J. Ryan, Stephen R. Wedge
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory, demyelinating disease of the CNS. Although CD4+ T cells are implicated in MS pathogenesis and have been the main focus of MS research using the animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), substantial evidence from patients with MS points to a role for CD8+ T cells in disease pathogenesis. We previously showed that an MHC class I–restricted epitope of myelin basic protein (MBP) is presented in the CNS during CD4+ T cell–initiated EAE. Here, we investigated whether naive MBP-specific CD8+ T cells recruited to the CNS during CD4+ T cell–initiated EAE engaged in determinant spreading and influenced disease. We found that the MBP-specific CD8+ T cells exacerbated brain but not spinal cord inflammation. We show that a higher frequency of monocytes and monocyte-derived cells presented the MHC class I–restricted MBP ligand in the brain compared with the spinal cord. Infiltration of MBP-specific CD8+ T cells enhanced ROS production in the brain only in these cell types and only when the MBP-specific CD8+ T cells expressed Fas ligand (FasL). These results suggest that myelin-specific CD8+ T cells may contribute to disease pathogenesis via a FasL-dependent mechanism that preferentially promotes lesion formation in the brain.
Catriona A. Wagner, Pamela J. Roqué, Trevor R. Mileur, Denny Liggitt, Joan M. Goverman
Brown adipose tissue (BAT), as the main site of adaptive thermogenesis, exerts beneficial metabolic effects on obesity and insulin resistance. BAT has been previously assumed to contain a homogeneous population of brown adipocytes. Utilizing multiple mouse models capable of genetically labeling different cellular populations, as well as single-cell RNA sequencing and 3D tissue profiling, we discovered a new brown adipocyte subpopulation with low thermogenic activity coexisting with the classical high-thermogenic brown adipocytes within the BAT. Compared with the high-thermogenic brown adipocytes, these low-thermogenic brown adipocytes had substantially lower Ucp1 and Adipoq expression, larger lipid droplets, and lower mitochondrial content. Functional analyses showed that, unlike the high-thermogenic brown adipocytes, the low-thermogenic brown adipocytes have markedly lower basal mitochondrial respiration, and they are specialized in fatty acid uptake. Upon changes in environmental temperature, the 2 brown adipocyte subpopulations underwent dynamic interconversions. Cold exposure converted low-thermogenic brown adipocytes into high-thermogenic cells. A thermoneutral environment had the opposite effect. The recruitment of high-thermogenic brown adipocytes by cold stimulation is not affected by high fat diet feeding, but it does substantially decline with age. Our results revealed a high degree of functional heterogeneity of brown adipocytes.
Anying Song, Wenting Dai, Min Jee Jang, Leonard Medrano, Zhuo Li, Hu Zhao, Mengle Shao, Jiayi Tan, Aimin Li, Tinglu Ning, Marcia M. Miller, Brian Armstrong, Janice M. Huss, Yi Zhu, Yong Liu, Viviana Gradinaru, Xiwei Wu, Lei Jiang, Philipp E. Scherer, Qiong A. Wang
Diabetes is a common complication of cystic fibrosis (CF) that affects approximately 20% of adolescents and 40%–50% of adults with CF. The age at onset of CF-related diabetes (CFRD) (marked by clinical diagnosis and treatment initiation) is an important measure of the disease process. DNA variants associated with age at onset of CFRD reside in and near SLC26A9. Deep sequencing of the SLC26A9 gene in 762 individuals with CF revealed that 2 common DNA haplotypes formed by the risk variants account for the association with diabetes. Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-Seq) indicated that SLC26A9 is predominantly expressed in pancreatic ductal cells and frequently coexpressed with CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) along with transcription factors that have binding sites 5′ of SLC26A9. These findings were replicated upon reanalysis of scRNA-Seq data from 4 independent studies. DNA fragments derived from the 5′ region of SLC26A9-bearing variants from the low-risk haplotype generated 12%–20% higher levels of expression in PANC-1 and CFPAC-1 cells compared with the high risk haplotype. Taken together, our findings indicate that an increase in SLC26A9 expression in ductal cells of the pancreas delays the age at onset of diabetes, suggesting a CFTR-agnostic treatment for a major complication of CF.
Anh-Thu N. Lam, Melis A. Aksit, Briana Vecchio-Pagan, Celeste A. Shelton, Derek L. Osorio, Arianna F. Anzmann, Loyal A. Goff, David C. Whitcomb, Scott M. Blackman, Garry R. Cutting
The c-MYC (MYC) oncoprotein is often overexpressed in human breast cancer; however, its role in driving disease phenotypes is poorly understood. Here, we investigate the role of MYC in HER2+ disease, examining the relationship between HER2 expression and MYC phosphorylation in HER2+ patient tumors and characterizing the functional effects of deregulating MYC expression in the murine NeuNT model of amplified-HER2 breast cancer. Deregulated MYC alone was not tumorigenic, but coexpression with NeuNT resulted in increased MYC Ser62 phosphorylation and accelerated tumorigenesis. The resulting tumors were metastatic and associated with decreased survival compared with NeuNT alone. MYC;NeuNT tumors had increased intertumoral heterogeneity including a subtype of tumors not observed in NeuNT tumors, which showed distinct metaplastic histology and worse survival. The distinct subtypes of MYC;NeuNT tumors match existing subtypes of amplified-HER2, estrogen receptor–negative human tumors by molecular expression, identifying the preclinical utility of this murine model to interrogate subtype-specific differences in amplified-HER2 breast cancer. We show that these subtypes have differential sensitivity to clinical HER2/EGFR–targeted therapeutics, but small-molecule activators of PP2A, the phosphatase that regulates MYC Ser62 phosphorylation, circumvents these subtype-specific differences and ubiquitously suppresses tumor growth, demonstrating the therapeutic utility of this approach in targeting deregulated MYC breast cancers.
Tyler Risom, Xiaoyan Wang, Juan Liang, Xiaoli Zhang, Carl Pelz, Lydia G. Campbell, Jenny Eng, Koei Chin, Caroline Farrington, Goutham Narla, Ellen M. Langer, Xiao-Xin Sun, Yulong Su, Colin J. Daniel, Mu-Shui Dai, Christiane V. Löhr, Rosalie C. Sears
Unconventional T cells that recognize mycobacterial antigens are of great interest as potential vaccine targets against tuberculosis (TB). This includes donor-unrestricted T cells (DURTs), such as mucosa-associated invariant T cells (MAITs), CD1-restricted T cells, and γδ T cells. We exploited the distinctive nature of DURTs and γδ T cell receptors (TCRs) to investigate the involvement of these T cells during TB in the human lung by global TCR sequencing. Making use of surgical lung resections, we investigated the distribution, frequency, and characteristics of TCRs in lung tissue and matched blood from individuals infected with TB. Despite depletion of MAITs and certain CD1-restricted T cells from the blood, we found that the DURT repertoire was well preserved in the lungs, irrespective of disease status or HIV coinfection. The TCRδ repertoire, in contrast, was highly skewed in the lungs, where it was dominated by Vδ1 and distinguished by highly localized clonal expansions, consistent with the nonrecirculating lung-resident γδ T cell population. These data show that repertoire sequencing is a powerful tool for tracking T cell subsets during disease.
Paul Ogongo, Adrie J.C. Steyn, Farina Karim, Kaylesh J. Dullabh, Ismael Awala, Rajhmun Madansein, Alasdair Leslie, Samuel M. Behar
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