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Glycine -methyltransferase (GNMT) is the most abundant liver methyltransferase regulating the availability of the biological methyl donor, -adenosylmethionine (SAM). Moreover, GNMT has been identified to be down-regulated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Despite its role in regulating SAM levels and association of its down-regulation with liver tumorigenesis, the impact of reduced GNMT on metabolic reprogramming before the manifestation of HCC has not been investigated in detail. Herein, we used H/C metabolic flux analysis in conscious, unrestrained mice to test the hypothesis that the absence of GNMT causes metabolic reprogramming. GNMT-null (KO) mice displayed a reduction in blood glucose that was associated with a decline in both hepatic glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis. The reduced gluconeogenesis was due to a decrease in liver gluconeogenic precursors, citric acid cycle fluxes, and anaplerosis and cataplerosis. A concurrent elevation in both hepatic SAM and metabolites of SAM utilization pathways was observed in the KO mice. Specifically, the increase in metabolites of SAM utilization pathways indicated that hepatic polyamine synthesis and catabolism, transsulfuration, and lipogenesis pathways were increased in the KO mice. Of note, these pathways utilize substrates that could otherwise be used for gluconeogenesis. Also, this metabolic reprogramming occurs before the well-documented appearance of HCC in GNMT-null mice. Together, these results indicate that GNMT deletion promotes a metabolic shift whereby nutrients are channeled away from glucose formation toward pathways that utilize the elevated SAM.
© 2018 Hughey et al.
Background - Vadadustat, an inhibitor of hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl-4-hydroxylase domain dioxygenases, is an oral investigational agent in development for the treatment of anemia secondary to chronic kidney disease.
Methods - In this open-label Phase 2 trial, vadadustat was evaluated in 94 subjects receiving hemodialysis, previously maintained on epoetin alfa. Subjects were sequentially assigned to one of three vadadustat dose cohorts by starting dose: 300 mg once daily (QD), 450 mg QD or 450 mg thrice weekly (TIW). The primary endpoint was mean hemoglobin (Hb) change from pre-baseline average to midtrial (Weeks 7-8) and end-of-trial (Weeks 15-16) and was analyzed using available data (no imputation).
Results - Overall, 80, 73 and 68% of subjects in the 300 mg QD, 450 mg QD, and 450 mg TIW dose cohorts respectively, completed the study. For all dose cohorts no statistically significant mean change in Hb from pre-baseline average was observed, and mean Hb concentrations-analyzed using available data-remained stable at mid- and end-of-trial. There was one subject with an Hb excursion >13 g/dL. Overall, 83% of subjects experienced an adverse event (AE); the proportion of subjects who experienced at least one AE was similar among the three dose cohorts. The most frequently reported AEs were nausea (11.7%), diarrhea (10.6%) and vomiting (9.6%). No deaths occurred during the study. No serious AEs were attributed to vadadustat.
Conclusions - Vadadustat maintained mean Hb concentrations in subjects on hemodialysis previously receiving epoetin. These data support further investigation of vadadustat to assess its long-term safety and efficacy in subjects on hemodialysis.
A classic response to systemic hypoxia is the increase in red blood cell production. This response is controlled by the prolyl hydroxylase domain/hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) pathway, which regulates a broad spectrum of cellular functions. The discovery of this pathway as a key regulator of erythropoiesis has led to the development of small molecules that stimulate the production of endogenous erythropoietin and enhance iron metabolism. This review provides a concise overview of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern HIF-induced erythropoietic responses and provides an update on clinical experience with compounds that target HIF-prolyl hydroxylases for anemia therapy.
© 2017 International Society for Hemodialysis.
Current treatment of anemia in chronic kidney disease (CKD) with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents can lead to substantial hemoglobin oscillations above target range and high levels of circulating erythropoietin. Vadadustat (AKB-6548), a novel, titratable, oral hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor induces endogenous erythropoietin synthesis and enhances iron mobilization. In this 20-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 2b study, we evaluated the efficacy and safety of once-daily vadadustat in patients with stages 3a to 5 non-dialysis-dependent CKD. The primary endpoint was the percentage of patients who, during the last 2 weeks of treatment, achieved or maintained either a mean hemoglobin level of 11.0 g/dl or more or a mean increase in hemoglobin of 1.2 g/dl or more over the predose average. Significantly, the primary endpoint was met in 54.9% of patients on vadadustat and 10.3% of patients on placebo. Significant increases in both reticulocytes and total iron-binding capacity and significant decreases in both serum hepcidin and ferritin levels were observed in patients on vadadustat compared with placebo. The overall incidence of adverse events was comparable between the 2 groups. Serious adverse events occurred in 23.9% and 15.3% of the vadadustat- and placebo-treated patients, respectively. Three deaths occurred in the vadadustat arm. Thus, this phase 2b study demonstrated that vadadustat raised and maintained hemoglobin levels in a predictable and controlled manner while enhancing iron mobilization in patients with nondialysis-dependent CKD.
Copyright © 2016 International Society of Nephrology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - Development of treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is hampered by a lack of mechanistic understanding about this prevalent neuropsychiatric condition. Although circuit changes such as elevated frontostriatal activity are linked to OCD, the underlying molecular signaling that drives OCD-related behaviors remains largely unknown. Here, we examine the significance of type 5 metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR5s) for behavioral and circuit abnormalities relevant to OCD.
METHODS - Sapap3 knockout (KO) mice treated acutely with an mGluR5 antagonist were evaluated for OCD-relevant phenotypes of self-grooming, anxiety-like behaviors, and increased striatal activity. The role of mGluR5 in the striatal circuit abnormalities of Sapap3 KO mice was further explored using two-photon calcium imaging to monitor striatal output from the direct and indirect pathways. A contribution of constitutive signaling to increased striatal mGluR5 activity in Sapap3 KO mice was investigated using pharmacologic and biochemical approaches. Finally, sufficiency of mGluR5 to drive OCD-like behavior in wild-type mice was tested by potentiating mGluR5 with a positive allosteric modulator.
RESULTS - Excessive mGluR5 signaling underlies OCD-like behaviors and striatal circuit abnormalities in Sapap3 KO mice. Accordingly, enhancing mGluR5 activity acutely recapitulates these behavioral phenotypes in wild-type mice. In Sapap3 KO mice, elevated mGluR5 signaling is associated with constitutively active receptors and increased and imbalanced striatal output that is acutely corrected by antagonizing striatal mGluR5.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings demonstrate a causal role for increased mGluR5 signaling in driving striatal output abnormalities and behaviors with relevance to OCD and show the tractability of acute mGluR5 inhibition to remedy circuit and behavioral abnormalities.
Copyright © 2016 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a human pathogen that relies on the subversion of host phagocytes to support its pathogenic lifestyle. S. aureus strains can produce up to five beta-barrel, bi-component, pore-forming leukocidins that target and kill host phagocytes. Thus, preventing immune cell killing by these toxins is likely to boost host immunity. Here, we describe the identification of glycine-rich motifs within the membrane-penetrating stem domains of the leukocidin subunits that are critical for killing primary human neutrophils. Remarkably, leukocidins lacking these glycine-rich motifs exhibit dominant-negative inhibitory effects toward their wild-type toxin counterparts as well as other leukocidins. Biochemical and cellular assays revealed that these dominant-negative toxins work by forming mixed complexes that are impaired in pore formation. The dominant-negative leukocidins inhibited S. aureus cytotoxicity toward primary human neutrophils, protected mice from lethal challenge by wild-type leukocidin, and reduced bacterial burden in a murine model of bloodstream infection. Thus, we describe the first example of staphylococcal bi-component dominant-negative toxins and their potential as novel therapeutics to combat S. aureus infection.
© 2016 The Authors.
During development GABA and glycine synapses are initially excitatory before they gradually become inhibitory. This transition is due to a developmental increase in the activity of neuronal potassium-chloride cotransporter 2 (KCC2), which shifts the chloride equilibrium potential (ECl) to values more negative than the resting membrane potential. While the role of early GABA and glycine depolarizations in neuronal development has become increasingly clear, the role of the transition to hyperpolarization in synapse maturation and circuit refinement has remained an open question. Here we investigated this question by examining the maturation and developmental refinement of GABA/glycinergic and glutamatergic synapses in the lateral superior olive (LSO), a binaural auditory brain stem nucleus, in KCC2-knockdown mice, in which GABA and glycine remain depolarizing. We found that many key events in the development of synaptic inputs to the LSO, such as changes in neurotransmitter phenotype, strengthening and elimination of GABA/glycinergic connection, and maturation of glutamatergic synapses, occur undisturbed in KCC2-knockdown mice compared with wild-type mice. These results indicate that maturation of inhibitory and excitatory synapses in the LSO is independent of the GABA and glycine depolarization-to-hyperpolarization transition.
Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society.
Transgenic mouse lines are essential tools for understanding the connectivity, physiology and function of neuronal circuits, including those in the retina. This report compares transgene expression in the retina of a tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-red fluorescent protein (RFP) mouse line with three catecholamine-related Cre recombinase mouse lines [TH-bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-, TH-, and dopamine transporter (DAT)-Cre] that were crossed with a ROSA26-tdTomato reporter line. Retinas were evaluated and immunostained with commonly used antibodies including those directed to TH, GABA and glycine to characterize the RFP or tdTomato fluorescent-labeled amacrine cells, and an antibody directed to RNA-binding protein with multiple splicing to identify ganglion cells. In TH-RFP retinas, types 1 and 2 dopamine (DA) amacrine cells were identified by their characteristic cellular morphology and type 1 DA cells by their expression of TH immunoreactivity. In the TH-BAC-, TH-, and DAT-tdTomato retinas, less than 1%, ∼ 6%, and 0%, respectively, of the fluorescent cells were the expected type 1 DA amacrine cells. Instead, in the TH-BAC-tdTomato retinas, fluorescently labeled AII amacrine cells were predominant, with some medium diameter ganglion cells. In TH-tdTomato retinas, fluorescence was in multiple neurochemical amacrine cell types, including four types of polyaxonal amacrine cells. In DAT-tdTomato retinas, fluorescence was in GABA immunoreactive amacrine cells, including two types of bistratified and two types of monostratified amacrine cells. Although each of the Cre lines was generated with the intent to specifically label DA cells, our findings show a cellular diversity in Cre expression in the adult retina and indicate the importance of careful characterization of transgene labeling patterns. These mouse lines with their distinctive cellular labeling patterns will be useful tools for future studies of retinal function and visual processing.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.
The NMDA receptor is a highly regulated glutamate-gated cationic channel receptor that has an important role in the regulation of sociability and cognition. The genetically-inbred Balb/c mouse has altered endogenous tone of NMDA receptor-mediated neurotransmission and is a model of impaired sociability, relevant to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Because glycine is an obligatory co-agonist that works cooperatively with glutamate to promote opening of the ion channel, one prominent strategy to promote NMDA receptor-mediated neurotransmission involves inhibition of the glycine type 1 transporter (GlyT1). The current study evaluated the dose-dependent effects of VU0410120, a selective, high-affinity competitive GlyT1 inhibitor, on measures of sociability, cognition and stereotypic behaviors in Balb/c and Swiss Webster mice. The data show that doses of VU0410120 (i.e., 18 and 30mg/kg) that improve measures of sociability and spatial working memory in the Balb/c mouse strain elicit intense stereotypic behaviors in the Swiss Webster comparator strain (i.e., burrowing and jumping). Furthermore, the data suggest that selective GlyT1 inhibition improves sociability and spatial working memory at doses that do not worsen or elicit stereotypic behaviors in a social situation in the Balb/c strain. However, the elicitation of stereotypic behaviors in the Swiss Webster comparator strain at therapeutically relevant doses of VU0410120 suggest that genetic factors (i.e., mouse strain differences) influence sensitivity to GlyT1-elicited stereotypic behaviors, and emergence of intense stereotypic behaviors may be dose-limiting side effects of this interventional strategy.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Glycine-N-methyltransferase (GNMT) is essential to preserve liver homeostasis. Cirrhotic patients show low expression of GNMT that is absent in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) samples. Accordingly, GNMT deficiency in mice leads to steatohepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and HCC. Lack of GNMT triggers NK cell activation in GNMT(-/-) mice and depletion of TRAIL significantly attenuates acute liver injury and inflammation in these animals. Chronic inflammation leads to fibrogenesis, further contributing to the progression of chronic liver injury regardless of the etiology. The aim of our study is to elucidate the implication of TRAIL-producing NK cells in the progression of chronic liver injury and fibrogenesis. For this we generated double TRAIL(-/-)/GNMT(-/-) mice in which we found that TRAIL deficiency efficiently protected the liver against chronic liver injury and fibrogenesis in the context of GNMT deficiency. Next, to better delineate the implication of TRAIL-producing NK cells during fibrogenesis we performed bile duct ligation (BDL) to GNMT(-/-) and TRAIL(-/-)/GNMT(-/-) mice. In GNMT(-/-) mice, exacerbated fibrogenic response after BDL concurred with NK1.1(+) cell activation. Importantly, specific inhibition of TRAIL-producing NK cells efficiently protected GNMT(-/-) mice from BDL-induced liver injury and fibrogenesis. Finally, TRAIL(-/-)/GNMT(-/-) mice showed significantly less fibrosis after BDL than GNMT(-/-) mice further underlining the relevance of the TRAIL/DR5 axis in mediating liver injury and fibrogenesis in GNMT(-/-) mice. Finally, in vivo silencing of DR5 efficiently protected GNMT(-/-) mice from BDL-liver injury and fibrogenesis, overall underscoring the key role of the TRAIL/DR5 axis in promoting fibrogenesis in the context of absence of GNMT. Overall, our work demonstrates that TRAIL-producing NK cells actively contribute to liver injury and further fibrogenesis in the pathological context of GNMT deficiency, a molecular scenario characteristic of chronic human liver disease.