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While 30%-70% of RSV-infected infants develop bronchiolitis, 2% require hospitalization. It is not clear why disease severity differs among healthy, full-term infants; however, virus titers, inflammation, and Th2 bias are proposed explanations. While TLR4 is associated with these disease phenotypes, the role of this receptor in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) pathogenesis is controversial. Here, we evaluated the interaction between TLR4 and environmental factors in RSV disease and defined the immune mediators associated with severe illness. Two independent populations of infants with RSV bronchiolitis revealed that the severity of RSV infection is determined by the TLR4 genotype of the individual and by environmental exposure to LPS. RSV-infected infants with severe disease exhibited a high GATA3/T-bet ratio, which manifested as a high IL-4/IFN-γ ratio in respiratory secretions. The IL-4/IFN-γ ratio present in infants with severe RSV is indicative of Th2 polarization. Murine models of RSV infection confirmed that LPS exposure, Tlr4 genotype, and Th2 polarization influence disease phenotypes. Together, the results of this study identify environmental and genetic factors that influence RSV pathogenesis and reveal that a high IL-4/IFN-γ ratio is associated with severe disease. Moreover, these molecules should be explored as potential targets for therapeutic intervention.
Various combinations of cardiogenic transcription factors, including Gata4 (G), Hand2 (H), Mef2c (M) and Tbx5 (T), can reprogram fibroblasts into induced cardiac-like myocytes (iCLMs) in vitro and in vivo. Given that optimal cardiac function relies on distinct yet functionally interconnected atrial, ventricular and pacemaker (PM) cardiomyocytes (CMs), it remains to be seen which subtypes are generated by direct reprogramming and whether this process can be harnessed to produce a specific CM of interest. Here, we employ a PM-specific Hcn4-GFP reporter mouse and a spectrum of CM subtype-specific markers to investigate the range of cellular phenotypes generated by reprogramming of primary fibroblasts. Unexpectedly, we find that a combination of four transcription factors (4F) optimized for Hcn4-GFP expression does not generate beating PM cells due to inadequate sarcomeric protein expression and organization. However, applying strict single-cell criteria to GHMT-reprogrammed cells, we observe induction of diverse cellular phenotypes, including those resembling immature forms of all three major cardiac subtypes (i.e. atrial, ventricular and pacemaker). In addition, we demonstrate that cells induced by GHMT are directly reprogrammed and do not arise from an Nxk2.5(+) progenitor cell intermediate. Taken together, our results suggest a remarkable degree of plasticity inherent to GHMT reprogramming and provide a starting point for optimization of CM subtype-specific reprogramming protocols.
© 2014. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.
Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), critical regulators of protein-coding genes, are likely to be coexpressed with neighboring protein-coding genes in the genome. How the genome integrates signals to achieve coexpression of lncRNA genes and neighboring protein-coding genes is not well understood. The lncRNA Tmevpg1 (NeST, Ifng-AS1) is critical for Th1-lineage-specific expression of Ifng and is coexpressed with Ifng. In this study, we show that T-bet guides epigenetic remodeling of Tmevpg1 proximal and distal enhancers, leading to recruitment of stimulus-inducible transcription factors, NF-κB and Ets-1, to the locus. Activities of Tmevpg1-specific enhancers and Tmevpg1 transcription are dependent upon NF-κB. Thus, we propose that T-bet stimulates epigenetic remodeling of Tmevpg1-specific enhancers and Ifng-specific enhancers to achieve Th1-lineage-specific expression of Ifng.
Copyright © 2014 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.
BACKGROUND - Atrial fibrillation (AF) affects >30 million individuals worldwide and is associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart failure, and death. AF is highly heritable, yet the genetic basis for the arrhythmia remains incompletely understood.
METHODS AND RESULTS - To identify new AF-related genes, we used a multifaceted approach, combining large-scale genotyping in 2 ethnically distinct populations, cis-eQTL (expression quantitative trait loci) mapping, and functional validation. Four novel loci were identified in individuals of European descent near the genes NEURL (rs12415501; relative risk [RR]=1.18; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.13-1.23; P=6.5×10(-16)), GJA1 (rs13216675; RR=1.10; 95% CI, 1.06-1.14; P=2.2×10(-8)), TBX5 (rs10507248; RR=1.12; 95% CI, 1.08-1.16; P=5.7×10(-11)), and CAND2 (rs4642101; RR=1.10; 95% CI, 1.06-1.14; P=9.8×10(-9)). In Japanese, novel loci were identified near NEURL (rs6584555; RR=1.32; 95% CI, 1.26-1.39; P=2.0×10(-25)) and CUX2 (rs6490029; RR=1.12; 95% CI, 1.08-1.16; P=3.9×10(-9)). The top single-nucleotide polymorphisms or their proxies were identified as cis-eQTLs for the genes CAND2 (P=2.6×10(-19)), GJA1 (P=2.66×10(-6)), and TBX5 (P=1.36×10(-5)). Knockdown of the zebrafish orthologs of NEURL and CAND2 resulted in prolongation of the atrial action potential duration (17% and 45%, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS - We have identified 5 novel loci for AF. Our results expand the diversity of genetic pathways implicated in AF and provide novel molecular targets for future biological and pharmacological investigation.
© 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.
In the developing brain, the production of neurons from multipotent precursors must be carefully regulated in order to generate the appropriate numbers of various differentiated neuronal types. Inductive signals from extrinsic elements such as growth factors need to be integrated with timely expression of intrinsic elements such as transcription factors that define the competence of the cell. The transcriptional Mediator complex offers a mechanism to coordinate the timing and levels of intrinsic and extrinsic influences by acting as a rapid molecular switch for transcription of poised RNA pol II. The epithalamus is a highly conserved region of the vertebrate brain that differentiates early and rapidly in the zebrafish. It includes the pineal and parapineal organs and the habenular nuclei. Mutation of the Mediator complex subunit Med12 impairs the specification of habenular and parapineal neurons and causes a loss of differentiation in pineal neurons and photoreceptors. Although FGF ligands and transcription factors for parapineal and photoreceptor development are still expressed in the pineal complex of med12 mutants, FGF signaling is impaired and transcription factor expression is reduced and/or delayed. We find that the timely expression of one of these transcription factors, tbx2b, is controlled by Med12 and is vital for parapineal specification. We propose that the Mediator complex is responsible for subtle but significant changes in transcriptional timing and amplitude that are essential for coordinating the development of neurons in the epithalamus.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Inc.
CD4(+) T cells developing toward a Th2 fate express IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 while inhibiting production of cytokines associated with other Th types, such as the Th1 cytokine IFN- γ. IL-4-producing Th2 effector cells give rise to a long-lived memory population committed to reactivation of the Th2 cytokine gene expression program. However, reactivation of these effector-derived cells under Th1-skewing conditions leads to production of IFN-γ along with IL-4 in the same cell. We now show that this flexibility ("plasticity") of cytokine expression is preceded by a loss of the repressive DNA methylation of the Ifng promoter acquired during Th2 polarization yet requires STAT4 along with T-box expressed in T cells. Surprisingly, loss of either STAT4 or T-box expressed in T cells increased Ifng promoter CpG methylation in both effector and memory Th2 cells. Taken together, our data suggest a model in which the expression of IFN-γ by Th2-derived memory cells involves attenuation of epigenetic repression in memory Th2 cells, combined with Th1-polarizing signals after their recall activation.
Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) induced by donor-derived T cells remains the major limitation of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (allo-BMT). We previously reported that the pan-Notch inhibitor dominant-negative form of Mastermind-like 1 (DNMAML) markedly decreased the severity and mortality of acute GVHD mediated by CD4(+) T cells in mice. To elucidate the mechanisms of Notch action in GVHD and its role in CD8(+) T cells, we studied the effects of Notch inhibition in alloreactive CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells using mouse models of allo-BMT. DNMAML blocked GVHD induced by either CD4(+) or CD8(+) T cells. Both CD4(+) and CD8(+) Notch-deprived T cells had preserved expansion in lymphoid organs of recipients, but profoundly decreased IFN-γ production despite normal T-bet and enhanced Eomesodermin expression. Alloreactive DNMAML T cells exhibited decreased Ras/MAPK and NF-κB activity upon ex vivo restimulation through the TCR. In addition, alloreactive T cells primed in the absence of Notch signaling had increased expression of several negative regulators of T cell activation, including Dgka, Cblb, and Pdcd1. DNMAML expression had modest effects on in vivo proliferation but preserved overall alloreactive T cell expansion while enhancing accumulation of pre-existing natural regulatory T cells. Overall, DNMAML T cells acquired a hyporesponsive phenotype that blocked cytokine production but maintained their expansion in irradiated allo-BMT recipients, as well as their in vivo and ex vivo cytotoxic potential. Our results reveal parallel roles for Notch signaling in alloreactive CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells that differ from past reports of Notch action and highlight the therapeutic potential of Notch inhibition in GVHD.
Stem cell differentiation depends on transcriptional activation driven by lineage-specific regulators as well as changes in chromatin organization. However, the coordination of these events is poorly understood. Here, we show that T-box proteins team up with chromatin modifying enzymes to drive the expression of the key lineage regulator, Eomes during endodermal differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells. The Eomes locus is maintained in a transcriptionally poised configuration in ES cells. During early differentiation steps, the ES cell factor Tbx3 associates with the histone demethylase Jmjd3 at the enhancer element of the Eomes locus to allow enhancer-promoter interactions. This spatial reorganization of the chromatin primes the cells to respond to Activin signalling, which promotes the binding of Jmjd3 and Eomes to its own bivalent promoter region to further stimulate Eomes expression in a positive feedback loop. In addition, Eomes activates a transcriptional network of core regulators of endodermal differentiation. Our results demonstrate that Jmjd3 sequentially associates with two T-box factors, Tbx3 and Eomes to drive stem cell differentiation towards the definitive endoderm lineage.
PURPOSE - Pax3cre-mediated deletion of fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (Fgfr2) broadly in renal and urinary tract mesenchyme led to ureteric bud (UB) induction defects and vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), although the mechanisms were unclear. Here, we investigated whether Fgfr2 acts specifically in peri-Wolffian duct stroma (ST) to regulate UB induction and development of VUR and the mechanisms of Fgfr2 activity.
METHODS - We conditionally deleted Fgfr2 in ST (Fgfr2(ST-/-)) using Tbx18cre mice. To look for ureteric bud induction defects in young embryos, we assessed length and apoptosis of common nephric ducts (CNDs). We performed 3D reconstructions and histological analyses of urinary tracts of embryos and postnatal mice and cystograms in postnatal mice to test for VUR. We performed in situ hybridization and real-time PCR in young embryos to determine mechanisms underlying UB induction defects.
RESULTS - We confirmed that Fgfr2 is expressed in ST and that Fgfr2 was efficiently deleted in this tissue in Fgfr2(ST-/-) mice at embryonic day (E) 10.5. E11.5 Fgfr2(ST-/-) mice had randomized UB induction sites with approximately 1/3 arising too high and 1/3 too low from the Wolffian duct; however, apoptosis was unaltered in E12.5 mutant CNDs. While ureters were histologically normal, E15.5 Fgfr2(ST-/-) mice exhibit improper ureteral insertion sites into the bladder, consistent with the ureteric induction defects. While ureter and bladder histology appeared normal, postnatal day (P) 1 mutants had high rates of VUR versus controls (75% versus 3%, p = 0.001) and occasionally other defects including renal hypoplasia and duplex systems. P1 mutant mice also had improper ureteral bladder insertion sites and shortened intravesicular tunnel lengths that correlated with VUR. E10.5 Fgfr2(ST-/-) mice had decreases in Bmp4 mRNA in stromal tissues, suggesting a mechanism underlying the ureteric induction and VUR phenotypes.
CONCLUSION - Mutations in FGFR2 could possibly cause VUR in humans.
BACKGROUND & AIMS - Heritable factors contribute to the development of colorectal cancer. Identifying the genetic loci associated with colorectal tumor formation could elucidate the mechanisms of pathogenesis.
METHODS - We conducted a genome-wide association study that included 14 studies, 12,696 cases of colorectal tumors (11,870 cancer, 826 adenoma), and 15,113 controls of European descent. The 10 most statistically significant, previously unreported findings were followed up in 6 studies; these included 3056 colorectal tumor cases (2098 cancer, 958 adenoma) and 6658 controls of European and Asian descent.
RESULTS - Based on the combined analysis, we identified a locus that reached the conventional genome-wide significance level at less than 5.0 × 10(-8): an intergenic region on chromosome 2q32.3, close to nucleic acid binding protein 1 (most significant single nucleotide polymorphism: rs11903757; odds ratio [OR], 1.15 per risk allele; P = 3.7 × 10(-8)). We also found evidence for 3 additional loci with P values less than 5.0 × 10(-7): a locus within the laminin gamma 1 gene on chromosome 1q25.3 (rs10911251; OR, 1.10 per risk allele; P = 9.5 × 10(-8)), a locus within the cyclin D2 gene on chromosome 12p13.32 (rs3217810 per risk allele; OR, 0.84; P = 5.9 × 10(-8)), and a locus in the T-box 3 gene on chromosome 12q24.21 (rs59336; OR, 0.91 per risk allele; P = 3.7 × 10(-7)).
CONCLUSIONS - In a large genome-wide association study, we associated polymorphisms close to nucleic acid binding protein 1 (which encodes a DNA-binding protein involved in DNA repair) with colorectal tumor risk. We also provided evidence for an association between colorectal tumor risk and polymorphisms in laminin gamma 1 (this is the second gene in the laminin family to be associated with colorectal cancers), cyclin D2 (which encodes for cyclin D2), and T-box 3 (which encodes a T-box transcription factor and is a target of Wnt signaling to β-catenin). The roles of these genes and their products in cancer pathogenesis warrant further investigation.
Copyright © 2013 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.