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The reverse transsulfuration pathway is the major route for the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids. The role of this metabolic pathway in macrophage response and function is unknown. We show that the enzyme cystathionine γ-lyase (CTH) is induced in macrophages infected with pathogenic bacteria through signaling involving phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/MTOR and the transcription factor SP1. This results in the synthesis of cystathionine, which facilitates the survival of pathogens within myeloid cells. Our data demonstrate that the expression of CTH leads to defective macrophage activation by (i) dysregulation of polyamine metabolism by depletion of -adenosylmethionine, resulting in immunosuppressive putrescine accumulation and inhibition of spermidine and spermine synthesis, and (ii) increased histone H3K9, H3K27, and H3K36 di/trimethylation, which is associated with gene expression silencing. Thus, CTH is a pivotal enzyme of the innate immune response that disrupts host defense. The induction of the reverse transsulfuration pathway by bacterial pathogens can be considered an unrecognized mechanism for immune escape. Macrophages are professional immune cells that ingest and kill microbes. In this study, we show that different pathogenic bacteria induce the expression of cystathionine γ-lyase (CTH) in macrophages. This enzyme is involved in a metabolic pathway called the reverse transsulfuration pathway, which leads to the production of numerous metabolites, including cystathionine. Phagocytized bacteria use cystathionine to better survive in macrophages. In addition, the induction of CTH results in dysregulation of the metabolism of polyamines, which in turn dampens the proinflammatory response of macrophages. In conclusion, pathogenic bacteria can evade the host immune response by inducing CTH in macrophages.
The PI3K/Akt pathway plays a crucial role in the survival, proliferation, and migration of macrophages, which may impact the development of atherosclerosis. Changes in Akt isoforms or modulation of the Akt activity levels in macrophages significantly affect their polarization phenotype and consequently atherosclerosis in mice. Moreover, the activity levels of Akt signaling determine the viability of monocytes/macrophages and their resistance to pro-apoptotic stimuli in atherosclerotic lesions. Therefore, elimination of pro-apoptotic factors as well as factors that antagonize or suppress Akt signaling in macrophages increases cell viability, protecting them from apoptosis, and this markedly accelerates atherosclerosis in mice. In contrast, inhibition of Akt signaling by the ablation of Rictor in myeloid cells, which disrupts mTORC2 assembly, significantly decreases the viability and proliferation of blood monocytes and macrophages with the suppression of atherosclerosis. In addition, monocytes and macrophages exhibit a threshold effect for Akt protein levels in their ability to survive. Ablation of two Akt isoforms, preserving only a single Akt isoform in myeloid cells, markedly compromises monocyte and macrophage viability, inducing monocytopenia and diminishing early atherosclerosis. These recent advances in our understanding of Akt signaling in macrophages in atherosclerosis may have significant relevance in the burgeoning field of cardio-oncology, where PI3K/Akt inhibitors being tested in cancer patients can have significant cardiovascular and metabolic ramifications.
Genetic alterations in signaling pathways that control cell-cycle progression, apoptosis, and cell growth are common hallmarks of cancer, but the extent, mechanisms, and co-occurrence of alterations in these pathways differ between individual tumors and tumor types. Using mutations, copy-number changes, mRNA expression, gene fusions and DNA methylation in 9,125 tumors profiled by The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we analyzed the mechanisms and patterns of somatic alterations in ten canonical pathways: cell cycle, Hippo, Myc, Notch, Nrf2, PI-3-Kinase/Akt, RTK-RAS, TGFβ signaling, p53 and β-catenin/Wnt. We charted the detailed landscape of pathway alterations in 33 cancer types, stratified into 64 subtypes, and identified patterns of co-occurrence and mutual exclusivity. Eighty-nine percent of tumors had at least one driver alteration in these pathways, and 57% percent of tumors had at least one alteration potentially targetable by currently available drugs. Thirty percent of tumors had multiple targetable alterations, indicating opportunities for combination therapy.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.
An increase in hepatic glucose production (HGP) is a key feature of type 2 diabetes. Excessive signaling through hepatic Gs-linked glucagon receptors critically contributes to pathologically elevated HGP. Here, we tested the hypothesis that this metabolic impairment can be counteracted by enhancing hepatic Gi signaling. Specifically, we used a chemogenetic approach to selectively activate Gi-type G proteins in mouse hepatocytes in vivo. Unexpectedly, activation of hepatic Gi signaling triggered a pronounced increase in HGP and severely impaired glucose homeostasis. Moreover, increased Gi signaling stimulated glucose release in human hepatocytes. A lack of functional Gi-type G proteins in hepatocytes reduced blood glucose levels and protected mice against the metabolic deficits caused by the consumption of a high-fat diet. Additionally, we delineated a signaling cascade that links hepatic Gi signaling to ROS production, JNK activation, and a subsequent increase in HGP. Taken together, our data support the concept that drugs able to block hepatic Gi-coupled GPCRs may prove beneficial as antidiabetic drugs.
Apicobasal polarity is known to affect epithelial morphogenesis and cell differentiation, but it remains unknown how these processes are mechanistically orchestrated. We find that ligand-specific EGFR signalling via PI(3)K and Rac1 autonomously modulates apicobasal polarity to enforce the sequential control of morphogenesis and cell differentiation. Initially, EGF controls pancreatic tubulogenesis by negatively regulating apical polarity induction. Subsequently, betacellulin, working via inhibition of atypical protein kinase C (aPKC), causes apical domain constriction within neurogenin3 endocrine progenitors, which results in reduced Notch signalling, increased neurogenin3 expression, and β-cell differentiation. Notably, the ligand-specific EGFR output is not driven at the ligand level, but seems to have evolved in response to stage-specific epithelial influences. The EGFR-mediated control of β-cell differentiation via apical polarity is also conserved in human neurogenin3 cells. We provide insight into how ligand-specific EGFR signalling coordinates epithelial morphogenesis and cell differentiation via apical polarity dynamics.
BACKGROUND - During pregnancy, as the mammary gland prepares for synthesis and delivery of milk to newborns, a luminal mammary epithelial cell (MEC) subpopulation proliferates rapidly in response to systemic hormonal cues that activate STAT5A. While the receptor tyrosine kinase ErbB4 is required for STAT5A activation in MECs during pregnancy, it is unclear how ErbB3, a heterodimeric partner of ErbB4 and activator of phosphatidyl inositol-3 kinase (PI3K) signaling, contributes to lactogenic expansion of the mammary gland.
METHODS - We assessed mRNA expression levels by expression microarray of mouse mammary glands harvested throughout pregnancy and lactation. To study the role of ErbB3 in mammary gland lactogenesis, we used transgenic mice expressing WAP-driven Cre recombinase to generate a mouse model in which conditional ErbB3 ablation occurred specifically in alveolar mammary epithelial cells (aMECs).
RESULTS - Profiling of RNA from mouse MECs isolated throughout pregnancy revealed robust Erbb3 induction during mid-to-late pregnancy, a time point when aMECs proliferate rapidly and undergo differentiation to support milk production. Litters nursed by ErbB3 dams weighed significantly less when compared to litters nursed by ErbB3 dams. Further analysis revealed substantially reduced epithelial content, decreased aMEC proliferation, and increased aMEC cell death during late pregnancy. Consistent with the potent ability of ErbB3 to activate cell survival through the PI3K/Akt pathway, we found impaired Akt phosphorylation in ErbB3 samples, as well as impaired expression of STAT5A, a master regulator of lactogenesis. Constitutively active Akt rescued cell survival in ErbB3-depleted aMECs, but failed to restore STAT5A expression or activity. Interestingly, defects in growth and survival of ErbB3 aMECs as well as Akt phosphorylation, STAT5A activity, and expression of milk-encoding genes observed in ErbB3 MECs progressively improved between late pregnancy and lactation day 5. We found a compensatory upregulation of ErbB4 activity in ErbB3 mammary glands. Enforced ErbB4 expression alleviated the consequences of ErbB3 ablation in aMECs, while combined ablation of both ErbB3 and ErbB4 exaggerated the phenotype.
CONCLUSIONS - These studies demonstrate that ErbB3, like ErbB4, enhances lactogenic expansion and differentiation of the mammary gland during pregnancy, through activation of Akt and STAT5A, two targets crucial for lactation.
Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) represent important modulators of plaque stability in advanced lesions. We previously reported that loss of small proline-rich repeat protein 3 (Sprr3), leads to VSMC apoptosis in a PI3K/Akt-dependent manner and accelerates lesion progression. Here, we investigated the role of Sprr3 in modulating plaque stability in hyperlipidemic ApoE-/- mice. We show that loss of Sprr3 increased necrotic core size and reduced cap collagen content of atheromas in brachiocephalic arteries with evidence of plaque rupture and development of intraluminal thrombi. Moreover, Sprr3-/-ApoE-/- mice developed advanced coronary artery lesions accompanied by intraplaque hemorrhage and left ventricle microinfarcts. SPRR3 is known to reduce VSMC survival in lesions by promoting their apoptosis. In addition, we demonstrated that Sprr3-/- VSMCs displayed reduced expression of procollagen in a PI3K/Akt dependent manner. SPRR3 loss also increased MMP gelatinase activity in lesions, and increased MMP2 expression, migration and contraction of VSMCs independently of PI3K/Akt. Consequently, Sprr3 represents the first described VSMC modulator of each of the critical features of cap stability, including VSMC numbers, collagen type I synthesis, and protease activity through Akt dependent and independent pathways.
The class III PI3K Vacuolar protein sorting 34 (Vps34) plays a role in both canonical and noncanonical autophagy, key processes that control the presentation of antigens by dendritic cells (DCs) to naive T lymphocytes. We generated DC-specific -deficient mice to assess the contribution of Vps34 to DC functions. We found that DCs from these animals have a partially activated phenotype, spontaneously produce cytokines, and exhibit enhanced activity of the classic MHC class I and class II antigen-presentation pathways. Surprisingly, these animals displayed a defect in the homeostatic maintenance of splenic CD8α DCs and in the capacity of these cells to cross-present cell corpse-associated antigens to MHC class I-restricted T cells, a property that was associated with defective expression of the T-cell Ig mucin (TIM)-4 receptor. Importantly, mice deficient in the Vps34-associated protein Rubicon, which is critical for a noncanonical form of autophagy called "Light-chain 3 (LC3)-associated phagocytosis" (LAP), lacked such defects. Finally, consistent with their defect in the cross-presentation of apoptotic cells, DC-specific -deficient animals developed increased metastases in response to challenge with B16 melanoma cells. Collectively, our studies have revealed a critical role of Vps34 in the regulation of CD8α DC homeostasis and in the capacity of these cells to process and present antigens associated with apoptotic cells to MHC class I-restricted T cells. Our findings also have important implications for the development of small-molecule inhibitors of Vps34 for therapeutic purposes.
Monoclonal antibodies targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), cetuximab and panitumumab, are a mainstay of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) treatment. However, a significant number of patients suffer from primary or acquired resistance. RAS mutations are negative predictors of clinical efficacy of anti-EGFR antibodies in patients with mCRC. Oncogenic RAS activates the MAPK and PI3K/AKT pathways, which are considered the main effectors of resistance. However, the relative impact of these pathways in RAS-mutant CRC is less defined. A better mechanistic understanding of RAS-mediated resistance may guide development of rational intervention strategies. To this end we developed cancer models for functional dissection of resistance to anti-EGFR therapy in vitro and in vivo. To selectively activate MAPK- or AKT-signaling we expressed conditionally activatable RAF-1 and AKT in cancer cells. We found that either pathway independently protected sensitive cancer models against anti-EGFR antibody treatment in vitro and in vivo. RAF-1- and AKT-mediated resistance was associated with increased expression of anti-apoptotic BCL-2 proteins. Biomarkers of MAPK and PI3K/AKT pathway activation correlated with inferior outcome in a cohort of mCRC patients receiving cetuximab-based therapy. Dual pharmacologic inhibition of PI3K and MEK successfully sensitized primary resistant CRC models to anti-EGFR therapy. In conclusion, combined targeting of MAPK and PI3K/AKT signaling, but not single pathways, may be required to enhance the efficacy of anti-EGFR antibody therapy in patients with RAS-mutated CRC as well as in RAS wild type tumors with clinical resistance.
DDIT4 gene encodes a protein whose main action is to inhibit mTOR under stress conditions whilst several in vitro studies indicate that its expression favors cancer progression. We have previously described that DDIT4 expression is an independent prognostic factor for tripe negative breast cancer resistant to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. We herein report that high DDIT4 expression is related to the outcome (recurrence-free survival, time to progression and overall survival) in several cancer types. We performed in silico analysis in online platforms, in pooled datasets from KM Plotter and meta-analysis of individual datasets from SurvExpress. High levels of DDIT4 were significantly associated with a worse prognosis in acute myeloid leukemia, breast cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, colon, skin and lung cancer. Conversely, a high DDIT4 expression was associated with an improved prognostic in gastric cancer. DDIT4 was not associated with the outcome of ovarian cancers. Analysis with data from the Cell Miner Tool in 60 cancer cell lines indicated that although rapamycin activity was correlated with levels of MTOR, it is not influenced by DDIT4 expression. In summary, DDIT4 might serve as a novel prognostic biomarker in several malignancies. DDIT4 activity could be responsible for resistance to mTOR inhibitors and is a potential candidate for the development of targeted therapy.