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Breast cancer patients are at high risk for bone metastasis. Metastatic bone disease is a major clinical problem that leads to a reduction in mobility, increased risk of pathologic fracture, severe bone pain, and other skeletal-related events. The transcription factor Gli2 drives expression of parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP), which activates osteoclast-mediated bone destruction, and previous studies showed that Gli2 genetic repression in bone-metastatic tumor cells significantly reduces tumor-induced bone destruction. Small molecule inhibitors of Gli2 have been identified; however, the lipophilicity and poor pharmacokinetic profile of these compounds have precluded their success . In this study, we designed a bone-targeted nanoparticle (BTNP) comprising an amphiphilic diblock copolymer of poly[(propylene sulfide)--(alendronate acrylamide--,-dimethylacrylamide)] [PPS--P(Aln--DMA)] to encapsulate and preferentially deliver a small molecule Gli2 inhibitor, GANT58, to bone-associated tumors. The mol % of the bisphosphonate Aln in the hydrophilic polymer block was varied in order to optimize BTNP targeting to tumor-associated bone by a combination of nonspecific tumor accumulation (presumably through the enhanced permeation and retention effect) and active bone binding. Although 100% functionalization with Aln created BTNPs with strong bone binding, these BTNPs had highly negative zeta-potential, resulting in shorter circulation time, greater liver uptake, and less distribution to metastatic tumors in bone. However, 10 mol % of Aln in the hydrophilic block generated a formulation with a favorable balance of systemic pharmacokinetics and bone binding, providing the highest bone/liver biodistribution ratio among formulations tested. In an intracardiac tumor cell injection model of breast cancer bone metastasis, treatment with the lead candidate GANT58-BTNP formulation decreased tumor-associated bone lesion area 3-fold and increased bone volume fraction in the tibiae of the mice 2.5-fold. Aln conferred bone targeting to the GANT58-BTNPs, which increased GANT58 concentration in the tumor-associated bone relative to untargeted NPs, and also provided benefit through the direct antiresorptive therapeutic function of Aln. The dual benefit of the Aln in the BTNPs was supported by the observations that drug-free Aln-containing BTNPs improved bone volume fraction in bone-tumor-bearing mice, while GANT58-BTNPs created better therapeutic outcomes than both unloaded BTNPs and GANT58-loaded untargeted NPs. These findings suggest GANT58-BTNPs have potential to potently inhibit tumor-driven osteoclast activation and resultant bone destruction in patients with bone-associated tumor metastases.
The overexpression of immunomarker programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and engagement of PD-1 to its ligand, PD-L1, are involved in the functional impairment of cluster of differentiation 8 (CD8) T cells, contributing to cancer progression. However, heterogeneities in PD-L1 expression and variabilities in biopsy-based assays render current approaches inaccurate in predicting PD-L1 status. Therefore, PD-L1 screening alone is not predictive of patient response to treatment, which motivates us to simultaneously detect multiple immunomarkers engaged in immune modulation. Here, we have developed multimodal probes, immunoactive gold nanostars (IGNs), that accurately detect PD-L1 tumor cells and CD8 T cells simultaneously , surpassing the limitations of current immunoimaging techniques. IGNs integrate the whole-body imaging of positron emission tomography with high sensitivity and multiplexing of Raman spectroscopy, enabling the dynamic tracking of both immunomarkers. IGNs also monitor response to immunotherapies in mice treated with combinatorial PD-L1 and CD137 agonists and distinguish responders from those nonresponsive to treatment. Our results showed a multifunctional nanoscale probe with capabilities that cannot be achieved with either modality alone, allowing multiplexed immunologic tumor profiling critical for predicting early response to immunotherapies.
Although siRNA-based nanomedicines hold promise for cancer treatment, conventional siRNA-polymer complex (polyplex) nanocarrier systems have poor pharmacokinetics following intravenous delivery, hindering tumor accumulation. Here, we determined the impact of surface chemistry on the in vivo pharmacokinetics and tumor delivery of siRNA polyplexes. A library of diblock polymers was synthesized, all containing the same pH-responsive, endosomolytic polyplex core-forming block but different corona blocks: 5 kDa (benchmark) and 20 kDa linear polyethylene glycol (PEG), 10 kDa and 20 kDa brush-like poly(oligo ethylene glycol), and 10 kDa and 20 kDa zwitterionic phosphorylcholine-based polymers (PMPC). In vitro, it was found that 20 kDa PEG and 20 kDa PMPC had the highest stability in the presence of salt or heparin and were the most effective at blocking protein adsorption. Following intravenous delivery, 20 kDa PEG and PMPC coronas both extended circulation half-lives 5-fold compared to 5 kDa PEG. However, in mouse orthotopic xenograft tumors, zwitterionic PMPC-based polyplexes showed highest in vivo luciferase silencing (>75% knockdown for 10 days with single IV 1 mg/kg dose) and 3-fold higher average tumor cell uptake than 5 kDa PEG polyplexes (20 kDa PEG polyplexes were only 2-fold higher than 5 kDa PEG). These results show that high molecular weight zwitterionic polyplex coronas significantly enhance siRNA polyplex pharmacokinetics without sacrificing polyplex uptake and bioactivity within tumors when compared to traditional PEG architectures.
A flow-through sensing platform based on open-ended porous silicon (PSi) microcavity membranes that are compatible with integration in on-chip sensor arrays is demonstrated. Because of the high aspect ratio of PSi nanopores, the performance of closed-ended PSi sensors is limited by infiltration challenges and slow sensor responses when detecting large molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. In order to improve molecule transport efficiency and reduce sensor response time, open-ended PSi nanopore membranes were used in a flow-through sensing scheme, allowing analyte solutions to pass through the nanopores. The molecular binding kinetics in these PSi membranes were compared through experiments and simulation with those from closed-ended PSi films of comparable thickness in a conventional flow-over sensing scheme. The flow-through PSi membrane resulted in a 6-fold improvement in sensor response time when detecting a high molecular weight analyte (streptavidin) versus in the flow-over PSi approach. This work demonstrates the possibility of integrating multiple flow-through PSi sensor membranes within parallel microarrays for rapid and multiplexed label-free biosensing.
Staphylococcus lugdunensis is a coagulase negative bacterial pathogen that is particularly associated with severe cases of infectious endocarditis. Unique amongst the coagulase-negative staphylococci, S. lugdunensis harbors an iron regulated surface determinant locus (isd). This locus facilitates the acquisition of heme as a source of nutrient iron during infection and allows iron limitation caused by "nutritional immunity" to be overcome. The isd locus is duplicated in S. lugdunensis HKU09-01 and we show here that the duplication is intrinsically unstable and undergoes accordion-like amplification and segregation leading to extensive isd copy number variation. Amplification of the locus increased the level of expression of Isd proteins and improved binding of hemoglobin to the cell surface of S. lugdunensis. Furthermore, Isd overexpression provided an advantage when strains were competing for a limited amount of hemoglobin as the sole source of iron. Gene duplications and amplifications (GDA) are events of fundamental importance for bacterial evolution and are frequently associated with antibiotic resistance in many species. As such, GDAs are regarded as evolutionary adaptions to novel selective pressures in hostile environments pointing towards a special importance of isd for S. lugdunensis. For the first time we show an example of a GDA that involves a virulence factor of a Gram-positive pathogen and link the GDA directly to a competitive advantage when the bacteria were struggling with selective pressures mimicking "nutritional immunity".
Gold nanorods with varying aspect ratios have been utilized in recent years for a wide range of applications including vaccines, surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) substrates, and as medicinal therapeutic agents. The surfactant-directed seed mediated approach is an aqueous based protocol that produces monodisperse nanorods with controlled aspect ratios. However, an inherent problem with this approach is poor efficiency of gold conversion from HAuCl4 into nanorods. In fact only ∼15% of gold is converted, motivating the need for alternate synthetic protocols in order to make the process more scalable and efficient as gold nanorods progress toward commercial applications. In the current study, we have significantly improved this conversion by growing rods in several iterations of supernatant solutions that were previously discarded as waste. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) data indicates ∼14% gold conversion per nanorod solution with a total recovery of ∼75%. Gold nanorods prepared in consecutive supernatant solutions generally have slightly increased aspect ratios and maintain stability and monodispersity as measured by UV-vis and TEM. The increased nanorod yield minimizes gold waste and results in a greener synthetic approach.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Notch signaling pathway is critical in development, neuronal maintenance, and hematopoiesis. An obligate step in the activation of this pathway is cleavage of its transmembrane (TM) domain by γ-secretase. While the soluble domains have been extensively studied, little has been done to characterize its TM and flanking juxtamembrane (JM) segments. Here, we present the results of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies of the human Notch1 TM/JM domain. The TM domain is largely α-helical. While the flanking JM segments do not adopt regular secondary structure, they interact with the membrane surface, suggesting membrane interactions may play a role in modulating its cleavage by γ-secretase and subsequent NOTCH signaling function.
Biomaterial substrates composed of semi-aligned electrospun fibers are attractive supports for the regeneration of connective tissues because the fibers are durable under cyclic tensile loads and can guide cell adhesion, orientation, and gene expression. Previous studies on supported electrospun substrates have shown that both fiber diameter and mechanical deformation can independently influence cell morphology and gene expression. However, no studies have examined the effect of mechanical deformation and fiber diameter on unsupported meshes. Semi-aligned large (1.75 μm) and small (0.60 μm) diameter fiber meshes were prepared from degradable elastomeric poly(esterurethane urea) (PEUUR) meshes and characterized by tensile testing and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Next, unsupported meshes were aligned between custom grips (with the stretch axis oriented parallel to axis of fiber alignment), seeded with C3H10T1/2 cells, and subjected to a static load (50 mN, adjusted daily), a cyclic load (4% strain at 0.25 Hz for 30 min, followed by a static tensile loading of 50 mN, daily), or no load. After 3 days of mechanical stimulation, confocal imaging was used to characterize cell shape, while measurements of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) content and messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) expression were used to characterize cell retention on unsupported meshes and expression of the connective tissue phenotype. Mechanical testing confirmed that these materials deform elastically to at least 10%. Cells adhered to unsupported meshes under all conditions and aligned with the direction of fiber orientation. Application of static and cyclic loads increased cell alignment. Cell density and mRNA expression of connective tissue proteins were not statistically different between experimental groups. However, on large diameter fiber meshes, static loading slightly elevated tenomodulin expression relative to the no load group, and tenascin-C and tenomodulin expression relative to the cyclic load group. These results demonstrate the feasibility of maintaining cell adhesion and alignment on semi-aligned fibrous elastomeric substrates under different mechanical conditions. The study confirms that cell morphology is sensitive to the mechanical environment and suggests that expression of select connective tissue genes may be enhanced on large diameter fiber meshes under static tensile loads.
The signaling phosphatidylinositol lipids PI(4,5)P2 (PIP2) and PI(3,4,5)P3 (PIP3) bind nuclear receptor 5A family (NR5As), but their regulatory mechanisms remain unknown. Here, the crystal structures of human NR5A1 (steroidogenic factor-1, SF-1) ligand binding domain (LBD) bound to PIP2 and PIP3 show the lipid hydrophobic tails sequestered in the hormone pocket, as predicted. However, unlike classic nuclear receptor hormones, the phosphoinositide head groups are fully solvent-exposed and complete the LBD fold by organizing the receptor architecture at the hormone pocket entrance. The highest affinity phosphoinositide ligand PIP3 stabilizes the coactivator binding groove and increases coactivator peptide recruitment. This receptor-ligand topology defines a previously unidentified regulatory protein-lipid surface on SF-1 with the phosphoinositide head group at its nexus and poised to interact with other proteins. This surface on SF-1 coincides with the predicted binding site of the corepressor DAX-1 (dosage-sensitive sex reversal, adrenal hypoplasia critical region on chromosome X), and importantly harbors missense mutations associated with human endocrine disorders. Our data provide the structural basis for this poorly understood cluster of human SF-1 mutations and demonstrates how signaling phosphoinositides function as regulatory ligands for NR5As.
We report a novel, low-resource malaria diagnostic platform inspired by the coffee ring phenomenon, selective for Plasmodium falciparum histidine-rich protein-II (PfHRP-II), a biomarker indicative of the P. falciparum parasite strain. In this diagnostic design, a recombinant HRP-II (rcHRP-II) biomarker is sandwiched between 1 μm Ni(II)nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA) gold-plated polystyrene microspheres (AuPS) and Ni(II)NTA-functionalized glass. After rcHRP-II malaria biomarkers had reacted with Ni(II)NTA-functionalized particles, a 1 μL volume of the particle-protein conjugate solution is deposited onto a functionalized glass slide. Drop evaporation produces the radial flow characteristic of coffee ring formation, and particle-protein conjugates are transported toward the drop edge, where, in the presence of rcHRP-II, particles bind to the Ni(II)NTA-functionalized glass surface. After evaporation, a wash with deionized water removes nonspecifically bound materials while maintaining the integrity of the surface-coupled ring produced by the presence of the protein biomarker. The dynamic range of this design was found to span 3 orders of magnitude, and rings are visible with the naked eye at protein concentrations as low as 10 pM, 1 order of magnitude below the 100 pM PfHRP-II threshold recommended by the World Health Organization. Key enabling features of this design are the inert and robust gold nanoshell to reduce nonspecific interactions on the particle surface, inclusion of a water wash step after drop evaporation to reduce nonspecific binding to the glass, a large diameter particle to project a large two-dimensional viewable area after ring formation, and a low particle density to favor radial flow toward the drop edge and reduce vertical settling to the glass surface in the center of the drop. This robust, antibody-free assay offers a simple user interface and clinically relevant limits of biomarker detection, two critical features required for low-resource malaria detection.