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Background - Helper T cell activity is dysregulated in a number of diseases including those associated with rheumatic autoimmunity. Treatment options are limited and usually consist of systemic immune suppression, resulting in undesirable consequences from compromised immunity. Hedgehog (Hh) signaling has been implicated in the activation of T cells and the formation of the immune synapse, but remains understudied in the context of autoimmunity. Modulation of Hh signaling has the potential to enable controlled immunosuppression but a potential therapy has not yet been developed to leverage this opportunity.
Methods - In this work, we developed biodegradable nanoparticles to enable targeted delivery of eggmanone (Egm), a specific Hh inhibitor, to CD4 T cell subsets. We utilized two FDA-approved polymers, poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) and polyethylene glycol, to generate hydrolytically degradable nanoparticles. Furthermore, we employed maleimide-thiol mediated conjugation chemistry to decorate nanoparticles with anti-CD4 F(ab') antibody fragments to enable targeted delivery of Egm.
Results - Our novel delivery system achieved a highly specific association with the majority of CD4 T cells present among a complex cell population. Additionally, we have demonstrated antigen-specific inhibition of CD4 T cell responses mediated by nanoparticle-formulated Egm.
Conclusion - This work is the first characterization of Egm's immunomodulatory potential. Importantly, this study also suggests the potential benefit of a biodegradable delivery vehicle that is rationally designed for preferential interaction with a specific immune cell subtype for targeted modulation of Hh signaling.
© 2020 Haycook et al.
Aberrant activation of the Hedgehog signaling pathway has been linked to the formation of numerous cancer types, including the myogenic soft tissue sarcoma, embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (eRMS). Here, we report , a novel mouse model in which human GLI2A, a constitutive activator of Hedgehog signaling, induced undifferentiated sarcomas that were phenotypically divergent from eRMS. Rather, sarcomas arising in mice featured some characteristics that were reminiscent of Ewing sarcoma. Even though it is widely understood that Ewing sarcoma formation is driven by gene fusions, a genetically defined mouse model is not well-established. While gene fusions were not present in sarcomas, precluding their designation as Ewing sarcoma, we did find that GLI2A induced expression of known gene targets essential to Ewing pathogenesis, most notably, . Moreover, we found that naïve mesenchymal progenitors originate tumors in mice. Altogether, our work provides a novel genetic mouse model, which directly connects oncogenic Hedgehog activity to the etiology of undifferentiated soft tissue sarcomas for the first time. IMPLICATIONS: The finding that activation of Gli2 transcription factor is sufficient to induce Ewing-like sarcomas provides a direct transformative role of the Hedgehog signaling pathway in undifferentiated soft tissue sarcoma.
©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.
Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) signaling has been most widely known for its role in specifying region and cell-type identity during embryonic morphogenesis. This mini-review accompanies a 2018 SFN mini-symposium that addresses an emerging body of research focused on understanding the diverse roles for Shh signaling in a wide range of contexts in neurodevelopment and, more recently, in the mature CNS. Such research shows that Shh affects the function of brain circuits, including the production and maintenance of diverse cell types and the establishment of wiring specificity. Here, we review these novel and unexpected functions and the unanswered questions regarding the role of SHH and its signaling pathway members in these cases.
Copyright © 2018 the authors 0270-6474/18/389338-08$15.00/0.
Neuronal-glial relationships play a critical role in the maintenance of central nervous system architecture and neuronal specification. A deeper understanding of these relationships can elucidate cellular cross-talk capable of sustaining proper development of neural tissues. In the cerebellum, cerebellar granule neuron precursors (CGNPs) proliferate in response to Purkinje neuron-derived Sonic hedgehog (Shh) before ultimately exiting the cell cycle and migrating radially along Bergmann glial fibers. However, the function of Bergmann glia in CGNP proliferation remains not well defined. Interestingly, the Hh pathway is also activated in Bergmann glia, but the role of Shh signaling in these cells is unknown. In this study, we show that specific ablation of Shh signaling using the tamoxifen-inducible TNC line to eliminate Shh pathway activator Smoothened in Bergmann glia is sufficient to cause severe cerebellar hypoplasia and a significant reduction in CGNP proliferation. TNC; Smo (Smo) mice demonstrate an obvious reduction in cerebellar size within two days of ablation of Shh signaling. Mutant cerebella have severely reduced proliferation and increased differentiation of CGNPs due to a significant decrease in Shh activity and concomitant activation of Wnt signaling in Smo CGNPs, suggesting that this pathway is involved in cross-talk with the Shh pathway in regulating CGNP proliferation. In addition, Purkinje cells are ectopically located, their dendrites stunted, and the Bergmann glial network disorganized. Collectively, these data demonstrate a previously unappreciated role for Bergmann glial Shh signaling activity in the proliferation of CGNPs and proper maintenance of cerebellar architecture.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Cerebellar growth and foliation require the Hedgehog-driven proliferation of granule cell precursors (GCPs) in the external granule layer (EGL). However, that increased or extended GCP proliferation generally does not elicit ectopic folds suggests that additional determinants control cortical expansion and foliation during cerebellar development. Here, we find that genetic loss of the serine-threonine kinase Liver Kinase B1 (Lkb1) in GCPs increased cerebellar cortical size and foliation independent of changes in proliferation or Hedgehog signaling. This finding is unexpected given that Lkb1 has previously shown to be critical for Hedgehog pathway activation in cultured cells. Consistent with unchanged proliferation rate of GCPs, the cortical expansion of Lkb1 mutants is accompanied by thinning of the EGL. The plane of cell division, which has been implicated in diverse processes from epithelial surface expansions to gyrification of the human cortex, remains unchanged in the mutants when compared to wild-type controls. However, we find that Lkb1 mutants display delayed radial migration of post-mitotic GCPs that coincides with increased cortical size, suggesting that aberrant cell migration may contribute to the cortical expansion and increase foliation. Taken together, our results reveal an important role for Lkb1 in regulating cerebellar cortical size and foliation in a Hedgehog-independent manner.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The SMOOTHENED inhibitor vismodegib is FDA approved for advanced basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and shows promise in clinical trials for SONIC HEDGEHOG (SHH)-subgroup medulloblastoma (MB) patients. Clinical experience with BCC patients shows that continuous exposure to vismodegib is necessary to prevent tumor recurrence, suggesting the existence of a vismodegib-resistant reservoir of tumor-propagating cells. We isolated such tumor-propagating cells from a mouse model of SHH-subgroup MB and grew them as sphere cultures. These cultures were enriched for the MB progenitor marker SOX2 and formed tumors in vivo. Moreover, while their ability to self-renew was resistant to SHH inhibitors, as has been previously suggested, this self-renewal was instead WNT-dependent. We show here that loss of Trp53 activates canonical WNT signaling in these SOX2-enriched cultures. Importantly, a small molecule WNT inhibitor was able to reduce the propagation and growth of SHH-subgroup MB in vivo, in an on-target manner, leading to increased survival. Our results imply that the tumor-propagating cells driving the growth of bulk SHH-dependent MB are themselves WNT dependent. Further, our data suggest combination therapy with WNT and SHH inhibitors as a therapeutic strategy in patients with SHH-subgroup MB, in order to decrease the tumor recurrence commonly observed in patients treated with vismodegib.
Height is a highly heritable, classic polygenic trait with approximately 700 common associated variants identified through genome-wide association studies so far. Here, we report 83 height-associated coding variants with lower minor-allele frequencies (in the range of 0.1-4.8%) and effects of up to 2 centimetres per allele (such as those in IHH, STC2, AR and CRISPLD2), greater than ten times the average effect of common variants. In functional follow-up studies, rare height-increasing alleles of STC2 (giving an increase of 1-2 centimetres per allele) compromised proteolytic inhibition of PAPP-A and increased cleavage of IGFBP-4 in vitro, resulting in higher bioavailability of insulin-like growth factors. These 83 height-associated variants overlap genes that are mutated in monogenic growth disorders and highlight new biological candidates (such as ADAMTS3, IL11RA and NOX4) and pathways (such as proteoglycan and glycosaminoglycan synthesis) involved in growth. Our results demonstrate that sufficiently large sample sizes can uncover rare and low-frequency variants of moderate-to-large effect associated with polygenic human phenotypes, and that these variants implicate relevant genes and pathways.
Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC) is the sixth most common cancer worldwide. OSCC invasion into the lymph nodes and mandible correlates with increased rates of recurrence and lower overall survival. Tumors that infiltrate mandibular bone proliferate rapidly and induce bone destruction. While survival rates have increased 12% over the last 20 years, this improvement is attributed to general advances in prevention, earlier detection, and updated treatments. Additionally, despite decades of research, the molecular mechanisms of OSCC invasion into the mandible are not well understood. Parathyroid Hormone-related Protein (PTHrP), has been shown to be essential for mandibular invasion in OSCC animal models, and our previous studies demonstrate that the transcription factor Gli2 increases PTHrP expression in tumor metastasis to bone. In OSCC, we investigated regulators of Gli2, including Hedgehog, TGFβ, and Wnt signaling to elucidate how PTHrP expression is controlled. Here we show that canonical Hedgehog and TGFβ signaling cooperate to increase PTHrP expression and mandibular invasion in a Gli2-dependent manner. Additionally, in an orthotopic model of mandibular invasion, inhibition of Gli2 using shRNA resulted in a significant decrease of both PTHrP expression and bony invasion. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that multiple signaling pathways converge on Gli2 to mediate PTHrP expression and bony invasion, highlighting Gli2 as a therapeutic target to prevent bony invasion in OSCC.
High-level amplification of the protein phosphatase PPM1D (WIP1) is present in a subset of medulloblastomas (MBs) that have an expression profile consistent with active Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) signaling. We found that WIP1 overexpression increased expression of Shh target genes and cell proliferation in response to Shh stimulation in NIH3T3 and cerebellar granule neuron precursor cells in a p53-independent manner. Thus, we developed a mouse in which WIP1 is expressed in the developing brain under control of the Neurod2 promoter (ND2:WIP1). The external granule layer (EGL) in early postnatal ND2:WIP1 mice exhibited increased proliferation and expression of Shh downstream targets. MB incidence increased and survival decreased when ND2:WIP1 mice were crossed with an Shh-activated MB mouse model. Conversely, Wip1 knockout significantly suppressed MB formation in two independent mouse models of Shh-activated MB. Furthermore, Wip1 knockdown or treatment with a WIP1 inhibitor suppressed the effects of Shh stimulation and potentiated the growth inhibitory effects of SHH pathway-inhibiting drugs in Shh-activated MB cells in vitro. This suggests an important cross-talk between SHH and WIP1 pathways that accelerates tumorigenesis and supports WIP1 inhibition as a potential treatment strategy for MB.
From a high content in vivo screen for modulators of developmental patterning in embryonic zebrafish, we previously identified eggmanone (EGM1, 3) as a Hedgehog (Hh) signaling inhibitor functioning downstream of Smoothened. Phenotypic optimization studies for in vitro probe development utilizing a Gli transcription-linked stable luciferase reporter cell line identified EGM1 analogs with improved potency and aqueous solubility. Mechanistic profiling of optimized analogs indicated two distinct scaffold clusters: PDE4 inhibitors able to inhibit downstream of Sufu, and PDE4-independent Hh inhibitors functioning between Smo and Sufu. Each class represents valuable in vitro probes for elucidating the complex mechanisms of Hh regulation.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.