BACKGROUND Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is caused by deficient expression of survival motor neuron (SMN) protein. New SMN-enhancing therapeutics are associated with variable clinical benefits. Limited knowledge of baseline and drug-induced SMN levels in disease-relevant tissues hinders efforts to optimize these treatments.METHODS SMN mRNA and protein levels were quantified in human tissues isolated during expedited autopsies.RESULTS SMN protein expression varied broadly among prenatal control spinal cord samples, but was restricted at relatively low levels in controls and SMA patients after 3 months of life. A 2.3-fold perinatal decrease in median SMN protein levels was not paralleled by comparable changes in SMN mRNA. In tissues isolated from nusinersen-treated SMA patients, antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) concentration and full-length (exon 7 including) SMN2 (SMN2-FL) mRNA level increases were highest in lumbar and thoracic spinal cord. An increased number of cells showed SMN immunolabeling in spinal cord of treated patients, but was not associated with an increase in whole-tissue SMN protein levels.CONCLUSIONS A normally occurring perinatal decrease in whole-tissue SMN protein levels supports efforts to initiate SMN-inducing therapies as soon after birth as possible. Limited ASO distribution to rostral spinal and brain regions in some patients likely limits clinical response of motor units in these regions for those patients. These results have important implications for optimizing treatment of SMA patients and warrant further investigations to enhance bioavailability of intrathecally administered ASOs.FUNDING SMA Foundation, SMART, NIH (R01-NS09677, R01-NS062269), Ionis Pharmaceuticals, and PTC Therapeutics. Biogen provided support for absolute real-time RT-PCR.
Daniel M. Ramos, Constantin d’Ydewalle, Vijayalakshmi Gabbeta, Amal Dakka, Stephanie K. Klein, Daniel A. Norris, John Matson, Shannon J. Taylor, Phillip G. Zaworski, Thomas W. Prior, Pamela J. Snyder, David Valdivia, Christine L. Hatem, Ian Waters, Nikhil Gupte, Kathryn J. Swoboda, Frank Rigo, C. Frank Bennett, Nikolai Naryshkin, Sergey Paushkin, Thomas O. Crawford, Charlotte J. Sumner
Reactive astrocytes are associated with every form of neurological injury. Despite their ubiquity, the molecular mechanisms controlling their production and diverse functions remain poorly defined. Because many features of astrocyte development are recapitulated in reactive astrocytes, we investigated the role of nuclear factor I-A (NFIA), a key transcriptional regulator of astrocyte development whose contributions to reactive astrocytes remain undefined. Here, we show that NFIA is highly expressed in reactive astrocytes in human neurological injury and identify unique roles across distinct injury states and regions of the CNS. In the spinal cord, after white matter injury (WMI), NFIA-deficient astrocytes exhibit defects in blood-brain barrier remodeling, which are correlated with the suppression of timely remyelination. In the cortex, after ischemic stroke, NFIA is required for the production of reactive astrocytes from the subventricular zone (SVZ). Mechanistically, NFIA directly regulates the expression of thrombospondin 4 (Thbs4) in the SVZ, revealing a key transcriptional node regulating reactive astrogenesis. Together, these studies uncover critical roles for NFIA in reactive astrocytes and illustrate how region- and injury-specific factors dictate the spectrum of reactive astrocyte responses.
Dylan Laug, Teng-Wei Huang, Navish A. Bosquez Huerta, Anna Yu-Szu Huang, Debosmita Sardar, Joshua Ortiz-Guzman, Jeffrey C. Carlson, Benjamin R. Arenkiel, Chay T. Kuo, Carrie A. Mohila, Stacey M. Glasgow, Hyun Kyoung Lee, Benjamin Deneen
Vascular development in the mammalian retina is a paradigm for CNS vascular development in general, and its study is revealing fundamental mechanisms that explain the efficacy of antiangiogenic therapies in retinal vascular disease. During development of the mammalian retina, hypoxic astrocytes are hypothesized to secrete VEGF, which attracts growing endothelial cells as they migrate radially from the optic disc. However, published tests of this model using astrocyte-specific deletion of Vegf in the developing mouse retina appear to contradict this theory. Here, we report that selectively eliminating Vegf in neonatal retinal astrocytes with a Gfap-Cre line that recombines with approximately 100% efficiency had no effect on proliferation or radial migration of astrocytes, but completely blocked radial migration of endothelial cells, strongly supporting the hypoxic astrocyte model. Using additional Cre driver lines, we found evidence for essential and partially redundant actions of retina-derived (paracrine) and astrocyte-derived (autocrine) VEGF in controlling astrocyte proliferation and migration. We also extended previous studies by showing that HIF-1α in retinal neurons and HIF-2α in Müller glia play distinct roles in retinal vascular development and disease, adding to a growing body of data that point to the specialization of these 2 hypoxia-sensing transcription factors.
Amir Rattner, John Williams, Jeremy Nathans
3-M primordial dwarfism is an inherited disease characterized by severe pre- and postnatal growth retardation and by mutually exclusive mutations in three genes, CUL7, OBSL1, and CCDC8. The mechanism underlying 3-M dwarfism is not clear. We showed here that CCDC8, derived from a retrotransposon Gag protein in placental mammals, exclusively localized on the plasma membrane and was phosphorylated by CK2 and GSK3. Phosphorylation of CCDC8 resulted in its binding first with OBSL1, and then CUL7, leading to the membrane assembly of the 3-M E3 ubiquitin ligase complex. We identified LL5β, a plasma membrane protein that regulates cell migration, as a substrate of 3-M ligase. Wnt inhibition of CCDC8 phosphorylation or patient-derived mutations in 3-M genes disrupted membrane localization of the 3-M complex and accumulated LL5β. Deletion of Ccdc8 in mice impaired trophoblast migration and placental development, resulting in intrauterine growth restriction and perinatal lethality. These results identified a mechanism regulating cell migration and placental development that underlies the development of 3-M dwarfism.
Pu Wang, Feng Yan, Zhijun Li, Yanbao Yu, Scott E. Parnell, Yue Xiong
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) remains a major respiratory illness in extremely premature infants. The biological mechanisms leading to BPD are not fully understood, although an arrest in lung development has been implicated. The current study aimed to investigate the occurrence of autophagy in the developing mouse lung and its regulatory role in airway branching and terminal sacculi formation. We found 2 windows of epithelial autophagy activation in the developing mouse lung, both resulting from AMPK activation. Inhibition of AMPK-mediated autophagy led to reduced lung branching in vitro. Conditional deletion of beclin 1 (Becn1) in mouse lung epithelial cells (Becn1Epi-KO), either at early (E10.5) or late (E16.5) gestation, resulted in lethal respiratory distress at birth or shortly after. E10.5 Becn1Epi-KO lungs displayed reduced airway branching and sacculi formation accompanied by impaired vascularization, excessive epithelial cell death, reduced mesenchymal thinning of the interstitial walls, and delayed epithelial maturation. E16.5 Becn1Epi-KO lungs had reduced terminal air sac formation and vascularization and delayed distal epithelial differentiation, a pathology similar to that seen in infants with BPD. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that intrinsic autophagy is an important regulator of lung development and morphogenesis and may contribute to the BPD phenotype when impaired.
Behzad Yeganeh, Joyce Lee, Leonardo Ermini, Irene Lok, Cameron Ackerley, Martin Post
Background: While the human fetal immune system defaults to a program of tolerance, there is concurrent need for protective immunity to meet the antigenic challenges encountered after birth. Activation of T cells in utero is associated with the fetal inflammatory response with broad implications for the health of the fetus and of the pregnancy. However, the characteristics of the fetal effector T cells that contribute to this process are largely unknown. Methods: We analyzed primary human fetal lymphoid and mucosal tissues and performed phenotypic, functional, and transcriptional analysis to identify T cells with pro-inflammatory potential. The frequency and function of fetal-specific effector T cells was assessed in the cord blood of infants with localized and systemic inflammatory pathologies and compared to healthy term controls. Results: We identified a transcriptionally distinct population of CD4+ T cells characterized by expression of the transcription factor Promyelocytic Leukemia Zinc Finger (PLZF). PLZF+ CD4+ T cells were specifically enriched in the fetal intestine, possessed an effector memory phenotype, and rapidly produced pro-inflammatory cytokines. Engagement of the C-type lectin CD161 on these cells inhibited TCR-dependent production of IFNγ in a fetal-specific manner. IFNγ-producing PLZF+ CD4+ T cells were enriched in the cord blood of infants with gastroschisis, a natural model of chronic inflammation originating from the intestine, as well as in preterm birth, suggesting these cells contribute to fetal systemic immune activation. Conclusion: Our work reveals a fetal-specific program of protective immunity whose dysregulation is associated with fetal and neonatal inflammatory pathologies.
Joanna Halkias, Elze Rackaityte, Sara L. Hillman, Dvir Aran, Ventura F. Mendoza, Lucy R. Marshall, Tippi C. MacKenzie, Trevor D. Burt
About 1% of all newborns are affected by congenital heart disease (CHD). Recent findings identify aberrantly functioning cilia as a possible source for CHD. Faulty cilia also prevent the development of proper left-right asymmetry and cause heterotaxy, the incorrect placement of visceral organs. Intriguingly, signaling cascades such as mTor that influence mitochondrial biogenesis also affect ciliogenesis, and can cause heterotaxy-like phenotypes in zebrafish. Here, we identify levels of mitochondrial function as a determinant for ciliogenesis and a cause for heterotaxy. We detected reduced mitochondrial DNA content in biopsies of heterotaxy patients. Manipulation of mitochondrial function revealed a reciprocal influence on ciliogenesis and affected cilia-dependent processes in zebrafish, human fibroblasts and Tetrahymena thermophila. Exome analysis of heterotaxy patients revealed an increased burden of rare damaging variants in mitochondria-associated genes as compared to 1000 Genome controls. Knockdown of such candidate genes caused cilia elongation and ciliopathy-like phenotypes in zebrafish, which could not be rescued by RNA encoding damaging rare variants identified in heterotaxy patients. Our findings suggest that ciliogenesis is coupled to the abundance and function of mitochondria. Our data further reveal disturbed mitochondrial function as an underlying cause for heterotaxy-linked CHD and provide a mechanism for unexplained phenotypes of mitochondrial disease.
Martin D. Burkhalter, Arthi Sridhar, Pedro Sampaio, Raquel Jacinto, Martina S. Burczyk, Cornelia Donow, Max Angenendt, Competence Network for Congenital Heart Defects Investigators, Maja Hempel, Paul Walther, Petra Pennekamp, Heymut Omran, Susana S. Lopes, Stephanie M. Ware, Melanie Philipp
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.
Yong Joon Kim, Sungsoo Kim, Yooju Jung, Eunji Jung, Ho Jeong Kwon, Joon Kim
Genome-wide association studies have repeatedly mapped susceptibility loci for emphysema to genes that modify hedgehog signaling, but the functional relevance of hedgehog signaling to this morbid disease remains unclear. In the current study, we identified a broad population of mesenchymal cells in the adult murine lung receptive to hedgehog signaling, characterized by higher activation of hedgehog surrounding the proximal airway relative to the distal alveoli. Single cell RNA-sequencing showed that the hedgehog-receptive mesenchyme is composed of mostly fibroblasts with distinct proximal and distal subsets with discrete identities. Ectopic hedgehog activation in the distal fibroblasts promoted expression of proximal fibroblast markers, and promoted loss of distal alveoli and airspace enlargement of over twenty percent compared to controls. We found that hedgehog suppressed mesenchymal-derived mitogens enriched in distal fibroblasts that regulate alveolar stem cell regeneration and airspace size. Finally, single cell analysis of the human lung mesenchyme showed that segregated proximal-distal identity with preferential hedgehog activation in the proximal fibroblasts is conserved between mice and humans. In conclusion, we showed that differential hedgehog activation segregates mesenchymal identities of distinct fibroblast subsets, and disruption of fibroblast identity can alter the alveolar stem cell niche leading to emphysematous changes in the murine lung.
Chaoqun Wang, Nabora S. Reyes de Mochel, Stephanie A. Christenson, Monica Cassandras, Rebecca Moon, Alexis N. Brumwell, Lauren E. Byrnes, Alfred Li, Yasuyuki Yokosaki, Peiying Shan, Julie B. Sneddon, David Jablons, Patty J. Lee, Michael A. Matthay, Harold A. Chapman, Tien Peng
SEC24 family members are components of the coat protein complex II (COPII) machinery that interact directly with cargo or with other adapters to ensure proper sorting of secretory cargo into COPII vesicles. SEC24C is 1 of 4 mammalian SEC24 paralogs (SEC24A–D), which segregate into 2 subfamilies on the basis of sequence homology (SEC24A/SEC24B and SEC24C/SEC24D). Here, we demonstrate that postmitotic neurons, unlike professional secretory cells in other tissues, are exquisitely sensitive to loss of SEC24C. Conditional KO of Sec24c in neural progenitors during embryogenesis caused perinatal mortality and microcephaly, with activation of the unfolded protein response and apoptotic cell death of postmitotic neurons in the murine cerebral cortex. The cell-autonomous function of SEC24C in postmitotic neurons was further highlighted by the loss of cell viability caused by disrupting Sec24c expression in forebrain neurons of mice postnatally and in differentiated neurons derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells. The neuronal cell death associated with Sec24c deficiency was rescued in knockin mice expressing Sec24d in place of Sec24c. These data suggest that SEC24C is a major cargo adapter for COPII-dependent transport in postmitotic neurons in developing and adult brains and that its functions overlap at least partially with those of SEC24D in mammals.
Bo Wang, Joung Hyuck Joo, Rebecca Mount, Brett J. W. Teubner, Alison Krenzer, Amber L. Ward, Viraj P. Ichhaporia, Elizabeth J. Adams, Rami Khoriaty, Samuel T. Peters, Shondra M. Pruett-Miller, Stanislav S. Zakharenko, David Ginsburg, Mondira Kundu
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