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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.
Importance - African Americans have the highest breast cancer mortality rate. Although racial difference in the distribution of intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer is known, it is unclear if there are other inherent genomic differences that contribute to the survival disparities.
Objectives - To investigate racial differences in breast cancer molecular features and survival and to estimate the heritability of breast cancer subtypes.
Design, Setting, and Participants - Among a convenience cohort of patients with invasive breast cancer, breast tumor and matched normal tissue sample data (as of September 18, 2015) were obtained from The Cancer Genome Atlas.
Main Outcomes and Measures - Breast cancer–free interval, tumor molecular features, and genetic variants.
Results - Participants were 930 patients with breast cancer, including 154 black patients of African ancestry (mean [SD] age at diagnosis, 55.66 [13.01] years; 98.1% [n = 151] female) and 776 white patients of European ancestry (mean [SD] age at diagnosis, 59.51 [13.11] years; 99.0% [n = 768] female). Compared with white patients, black patients had a worse breast cancer-free interval (hazard ratio, HR=1.67; 95% CI, 1.02-2.74; P = .043). They had a higher likelihood of basal-like (odds ratio, 3.80; 95% CI, 2.46-5.87; P < .001) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (ERBB2 [formerly HER2])–enriched (odds ratio, 2.22; 95% CI, 1.10-4.47; P = .027) breast cancer subtypes, with the Luminal A subtype as the reference. Blacks had more TP53 mutations and fewer PIK3CA mutations than whites. While most molecular differences were eliminated after adjusting for intrinsic subtype, the study found 16 DNA methylation probes, 4 DNA copy number segments, 1 protein, and 142 genes that were differentially expressed, with the gene-based signature having an excellent capacity for distinguishing breast tumors from black vs white patients (cross-validation C index, 0.878). Using germline genotypes, the heritability of breast cancer subtypes (basal vs nonbasal) was estimated to be 0.436 (P = 1.5 × 10−14). The estrogen receptor–positive polygenic risk score built from 89 known susceptibility variants was higher in blacks than in whites (difference, 0.24; P = 2.3 × 10−5), while the estrogen receptor–negative polygenic risk score was much higher in blacks than in whites (difference, 0.48; P = 2.8 × 10−11).
Conclusions and Relevance - On the molecular level, after adjusting for intrinsic subtype frequency differences, this study found a modest number of genomic differences but a significant clinical survival outcome difference between blacks and whites in The Cancer Genome Atlas data set. Moreover, more than 40% of breast cancer subtype frequency differences could be explained by genetic variants. These data could form the basis for the development of molecular targeted therapies to improve clinical outcomes for the specific subtypes of breast cancers that disproportionately affect black women. Findings also indicate that personalized risk assessment and optimal treatment could reduce deaths from aggressive breast cancers for black women.
Dysregulation of the oncogenic transcription factor MYC induces B-cell transformation and is a driver for B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL). MYC overexpression in B-NHL is associated with more aggressive phenotypes and poor prognosis. Although genomic studies suggest a link between MYC overexpression and B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling molecules in B-NHL, signaling pathways essential to Myc-mediated B-cell transformation have not been fully elucidated. We utilized intracellular phospho-flow cytometry to investigate the relationship between Myc and BCR signaling in pre-malignant B cells. Utilizing the Eμ-myc mouse model, where Myc is overexpressed specifically in B cells, both basal and stimulated BCR signaling were increased in precancerous B lymphocytes from Eμ-myc mice compared with wild-type littermates. B cells overexpressing Myc displayed constitutively higher levels of activated CD79α, Btk, Plcγ2 and Erk1/2. Notably, Myc-overexpressing B cells maintained elevated BCR signaling despite treatment with ibrutinib, a Bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Furthermore, PI3K/Akt pathway signaling was also increased in Eμ-myc B cells, and this increase was partially suppressed with ibrutinib. In addition, experiments with Btk-null B cells revealed off-target effects of ibrutinib on BCR signaling. Our data show that in pre-malignant B cells, Myc overexpression is sufficient to activate BCR and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways and further enhances signaling following BCR ligation. Therefore, our results indicate that precancerous B cells have already acquired enhanced survival and growth capabilities before transformation, and that elevated MYC levels confer resistance to pharmacologic inhibitors of BCR signaling, which has significant implications for B-NHL treatment.
Paneth cells (PCs), a secretory population located at the base of the intestinal crypt, support the intestinal stem cells (ISC) with growth factors and participate in innate immunity by releasing antimicrobial peptides, including lysozyme and defensins. PC dysfunction is associated with disorders such as Crohn's disease and necrotizing enterocolitis, but the specific pathways regulating PC development and function are not fully understood. Here we tested the role of the neuregulin receptor ErbB3 in control of PC differentiation and the ISC niche. Intestinal epithelial ErbB3 knockout caused precocious appearance of PCs as early as postnatal day 7, and substantially increased the number of mature PCs in adult mouse ileum. ErbB3 loss had no effect on other secretory lineages, but increased expression of the ISC marker Lgr5. ErbB3-null intestines had elevated levels of the Atoh1 transcription factor, which is required for secretory fate determination, while Atoh1 cells had reduced ErbB3, suggesting reciprocal negative regulation. ErbB3-null intestinal progenitor cells showed reduced activation of the PI3K-Akt and ERK MAPK pathways. Inhibiting these pathways in HT29 cells increased levels of ATOH1 and the PC marker LYZ. Conversely, ErbB3 activation suppressed LYZ and ATOH1 in a PI3K-dependent manner. Expansion of the PC compartment in ErbB3-null intestines was accompanied with elevated ER stress and inflammation markers, raising the possibility that negative regulation of PCs by ErbB3 is necessary to maintain homeostasis. Taken together, our data suggest that ErbB3 restricts PC numbers through PI3K-mediated suppression of Atoh1 levels leading to inhibition of PC differentiation, with important implications for regulation of the ISC niche.