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BACKGROUND - Glaucoma is a complex neurodegeneration and a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Current therapeutic strategies, which are all directed towards lowering the intraocular pressure (IOP), do not stop progression of the disease. We have demonstrated that recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) gene delivery of a form of erythropoietin with attenuated erythropoietic activity (EpoR76E) can preserve retinal ganglion cells, their axons, and vision without decreasing IOP. The goal of this study was to determine if modulation of neuroinflammation or oxidative stress played a role in the neuroprotective activity of EPO.R76E.
METHODS - Five-month-old DBA/2J mice were treated with either rAAV.EpoR76E or a control vector and collected at 8 months of age. Neuroprotection was assessed by quantification of axon transport and visual evoked potentials. Microglia number and morphology and cytokine and chemokine levels were quantified. Message levels of oxidative stress-related proteins were assessed.
RESULTS - Axon transport and visual evoked potentials were preserved in rAAV.EpoR76E-treated mice. The number of microglia was decreased in retinas from 8-month-old rAAV.EpoR76E-treated mice, but proliferation was unaffected. The blood-retina barrier was also unaffected by treatment. Levels of some pro-inflammatory cytokines were decreased in retinas from rAAV.EpoR76E-treated mice including IL-1, IL-12, IL-13, IL-17, CCL4, and CCL5. TNFα messenger RNA (mRNA) was increased in retinas from 8-month-old mice compared to 3-month-old controls regardless of treatment. Expression of several antioxidant proteins was increased in retinas of rAAV.EpoR76E-treated 8-month-old mice.
CONCLUSIONS - Treatment with rAAV.EpoR76E preserves vision in the DBA/2J model of glaucoma at least in part by decreasing infiltration of peripheral immune cells, modulating microglial reactivity, and decreasing oxidative stress.
UNLABELLED - In the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a subpopulation of dopamine neurons express vesicular glutamate transporter 2 and make glutamatergic connections to nucleus accumbens (NAc) and olfactory tubercle (OT) neurons. However, their glutamatergic connections across the forebrain have not been explored systematically. To visualize dopamine neuron forebrain projections and to enable photostimulation of their axons independent of transmitter status, we virally transfected VTA neurons with channelrhodopsin-2 fused to enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (ChR2-EYFP) and used DAT(IREScre) mice to restrict expression to dopamine neurons. ChR2-EYFP-expressing neurons almost invariably stained for tyrosine hydroxylase, identifying them as dopaminergic. Dopamine neuron axons visualized by ChR2-EYFP fluorescence projected most densely to the striatum, moderately to the amygdala and entorhinal cortex (ERC), sparsely to prefrontal and cingulate cortices, and rarely to the hippocampus. Guided by ChR2-EYFP fluorescence, we recorded systematically from putative principal neurons in target areas and determined the incidence and strength of glutamatergic connections by activating all dopamine neuron terminals impinging on recorded neurons with wide-field photostimulation. This revealed strong glutamatergic connections in the NAc, OT, and ERC; moderate strength connections in the central amygdala; and weak connections in the cingulate cortex. No glutamatergic connections were found in the dorsal striatum, hippocampus, basolateral amygdala, or prefrontal cortex. These results indicate that VTA dopamine neurons elicit widespread, but regionally distinct, glutamatergic signals in the forebrain and begin to define the dopamine neuron excitatory functional connectome.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT - Dopamine neurons are important for the control of motivated behavior and are involved in the pathophysiology of several major neuropsychiatric disorders. Recent studies have shown that some ventral midbrain dopamine neurons are capable of glutamate cotransmission. With conditional expression of channelrhodopsin in dopamine neurons, we systematically explored dopamine neuron connections in the forebrain and identified regionally specific dopamine neuron excitatory connections. Establishing that only a subset of forebrain regions receive excitatory connections from dopamine neurons will help to determine the function of dopamine neuron glutamate cotransmission, which likely involves transmission of precise temporal signals and enhancement of the dynamic range of dopamine neuron signals.
Copyright © 2015 the authors 0270-6474/15/3516259-13$15.00/0.
In gene therapy, tissue-specific promoters are useful tools to direct transgene expression and improve efficiency and safety. Macrophage-specific promoters (MSPs) have previously been published using different delivery systems. In this study, we evaluated five different MSPs fused with green fluorescent protein (GFP) to delineate the one with highest specificity using lentiviral delivery. We compared three variants of the CD68 promoter (full length, the 343-bp proximal part and the 150-bp proximal part) and two variants (in forward and reverse orientation) of a previously characterized synthetic promoter derived from elements of transcription factor genes. We transduced a number of cell lines and primary cells in vitro. In addition, hematopoietic stem cells were transduced with MSPs and transferred into lethally irradiated recipient mice. Fluorescence activated cell sorting analysis was performed to determine the GFP expression in different cell populations both in vitro and in vivo. We showed that MSPs can efficiently be used for lentiviral gene delivery and that the 150-bp proximal part of the CD68 promoter provides primarily macrophage-specific expression of GFP. We propose that this is the best currently available MSP to use for directing transgene expression to macrophage populations in vivo using lentiviral vectors.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) can be modified to function as heterologous tumor directed effector cells that survive longer in vivo than tumor directed T cells without virus specificity, due to chronic stimulation by viral antigens expressed during persistent infection in seropositive individuals. We evaluated the nonviral piggyBac (PB) transposon system as a platform for modifying EBV-CTLs to express a functional human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-specific chimeric antigen receptor (HER2-CAR) thereby directing virus-specific, gene modified CTLs towards HER2-positive cancer cells. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were nucleofected with transposons encoding a HER2-CAR and a truncated CD19 molecule for selection followed by specific activation and expansion of EBV-CTLs. HER2-CAR was expressed in ~40% of T cells after CD19 selection with retention of immunophenotype, polyclonality, and function. HER2-CAR-modified EBV-CTLs (HER2-CTLs) killed HER2-positive brain tumor cell lines in vitro, exhibited transient and reversible increases in HER2-CAR expression following antigen-specific stimulation, and stably expressed HER2-CAR beyond 120 days. Adoptive transfer of PB-modified HER2-CTLs resulted in tumor regression in a murine xenograft model. Our results demonstrate that PB can be used to redirect virus-specific CTLs to tumor targets, which should prolong tumor-specific T cell survival in vivo producing more efficacious immunotherapy.
For patients with diabetes, insulin resistance and hyperglycemia both contribute to increased serum triglyceride in the form of very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). Our objective was to define the insulin conditions in which hyperglycemia promotes increased serum VLDL in vivo. We performed hyperglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp studies and hyperglycemic-hypoinsulinemic clamp studies in rats, with metabolic tracers for glucose flux and de novo fatty acid synthesis. When blood glucose was clamped at hyperglycemia (17 mm) for 2 h under hyperinsulinemic conditions (4 mU/kg . min), serum VLDL levels were not increased compared with baseline. We speculated that hyperinsulinemia minimized glucose-mediated VLDL changes and performed hyperglycemic-hypoinsulinemic clamp studies in which insulin was clamped near fasting levels with somatostatin (17 mm blood glucose, 0.25 mU/kg . min insulin). Under low-insulin conditions, serum VLDL levels were increased 4.7-fold after hyperglycemia, and forkhead box O1 (FoxO1) was not excluded from the nucleus of liver cells. We tested the extent that impaired inactivation of FoxO1 by insulin was sufficient for glucose to promote increased serum VLDL. We found that, when the ability of insulin to inactivate FoxO1 is blocked after adenoviral delivery of constitutively active FoxO1, glucose increased serum VLDL triglyceride when given both by ip glucose tolerance testing (3.5-fold increase) and by a hyperglycemic clamp (4.6-fold). Under both experimental conditions in which insulin signaling to FoxO1 was impaired, we found increased activation of carbohydrate response element binding protein. These data suggest that glucose more potently promotes increased serum VLDL when insulin action is impaired, with either low insulin levels or disrupted downstream signaling to the transcription factor FoxO1.
Frequent hallmarks of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) include aberrant NOTCH signaling and deletion of the CDKN2A locus, which contains 2 closely linked tumor suppressor genes (INK4A and ARF). When bone marrow cells or thymocytes transduced with a vector encoding the constitutively activated intracellular domain of Notch1 (ICN1) are expanded ex vivo under conditions that support T-cell development, cultured progenitors rapidly induce CD4+/CD8+ T-ALLs after infusion into healthy syngeneic mice. Under these conditions, enforced ICN1 expression also drives formation of T-ALLs in unconditioned CD-1 nude mice, bypassing any requirements for thymic maturation. Retention of Arf had relatively modest activity in suppressing the formation of T-ALLs arising from bone marrow-derived ICN1+ progenitors in which the locus is epigenetically silenced, and all resulting Arf (+/+) tumors failed to express the p19(Arf) protein. In striking contrast, retention of Arf in thymocyte-derived ICN1+ donor cells significantly delayed disease onset and suppressed the penetrance of T-ALL. Use of cultured thymocyte-derived donor cells expressing a functionally null Arf-GFP knock-in allele confirmed that ICN1 signaling can induce Arf expression in vivo. Arf activation by ICN1 in T cells thereby provides stage-specific tumor suppression but also a strong selective pressure for deletion of the locus in T-ALL.
The primary objectives of this study were to determine if erythropoietin (EPO) is neuroprotective to the photoreceptors in the retinal degeneration slow (rds) mouse in the absence of an increase in hematocrit and to determine if deglycosylated EPO (DEPO) is less neuroprotective. We performed subretinal injections of 10U EPO, DEPO or hyperglycosylated EPO (HEPO) in postnatal day 7 rds mice. Whole eye EPO levels were quantified by ELISA at specified time points post-injection. TUNEL analysis, hematocrit, and immunohistochemistry were performed at postnatal day 20. Half of the amount of EPO measured immediately after injection was detected less than 1 h later. Twenty four hours later, EPO levels were 1000 times lower than the amount originally detected. Uninjected rds mice contained 36 +/- 2 TUNEL-positive cells/mm retina and PBS injected mice contained 17 +/- 3 TUNEL-positive cells/mm retina. EPO, DEPO, and HEPO treated rds retinas contained 5 +/- 2, 9 +/- 2, and 3 +/- 1 TUNEL-positive cells/mm retina, respectively. The hematocrit was 43% in control and 41% in treated rds mice Previous studies have shown neuroprotection of the retina by treatment with as little as 24-39 mU EPO/mg total protein in the eye. In this study, we detected 40 mU/mg EPO in the eye 11 h after injection of 10 U EPO. Treatment with all forms of EPO tested was neuroprotective to the photoreceptors without a concomitant increase in hematocrit.
We describe a simple iterative approach to augment TCR affinity, which we studied using a myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein-specific TCR. We hypothesized that single amino acid modifications in TCR CDR3 could enhance TCR sensitivity through focal interactions with antigenic peptide while minimizing the risk of cross-reactivity observed previously in TCR more broadly mutagenized using in vitro evolution techniques. We show that this iterative method can indeed generate TCR with Ag sensitivity 100-fold greater than the parental receptor and can endow TCR with coreceptor independence. However, we also find that single amino acid mutations in the CDR3 can alter TCR fine specificity, affecting recognition requirements for Ag residues over most of the length of the MHC binding groove. Furthermore, minimal changes in surface-exposed CDR3 amino acids, even the addition of a single hydroxyl group or conversion of a methyl or sulfhydryl moiety to a hydroxyl, can confer modified Ag-specific TCR with new self-reactivity. In vivo modeling of modified TCR through retroviral TCR gene transfer into Rag(-/-) mice confirmed the biological significance of these altered reactivities, although it also demonstrated the feasibility of producing Ag-specific, positively selecting, coreceptor-independent receptors with markedly increased Ag sensitivity. These results affirm the possibility of readily generating affinity-enhanced TCR for therapeutic purposes but demonstrate that minimal changes in TCR CDR3 structure can promote self reactivity and thereby emphasize the importance of caution in validating receptors with even subtle alterations before clinical application.
Microarray analysis was performed to find a new group of genes or pathways that might be important in adipocyte development and metabolism. Among them, a mouse interferon-stimulated gene 12b1 (ISG12b1) is expressed at a 400-fold higher level in adipocytes compared with stromal-vascular cells. It is predominantly expressed in adipose tissue among other tissues we tested. Developmentally, ISG12b1 mRNA expression was initially inhibited followed by a dramatic induction during both in vivo and in vitro adipogenic differentiation. Adenovirus-mediated overexpression of ISG12b1 inhibited adipogenic differentiation in 3T3-L1 cells as shown by decreased lipid staining with Oil-Red-O and reduction in adipogenic marker proteins including peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARgamma), and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein-alpha (C/EBPalpha). Our bioinformatics analysis for the predicted localization of ISG12b1 protein suggested the mitochondrial localization, which was confirmed by the colocalization of hemagglutinin-tagged ISG12b1 protein with mitochondrial marker MitoTracker. In addition, ISG12b1 protein was exclusively detected in protein extract from the fractionated mitochondria by Western blot analysis. Furthermore, overexpression of ISG12b1 in adipocytes reduced mitochondrial DNA content and gene expression of mitochondrial transcription factor A (mtTFA), nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF1), and cytochrome oxidase II, suggesting an inhibitory role of ISG12b1 in mitochondrial biogenesis and function. Activation of mitochondrial biogenesis and function by treatment with PPARgamma and PPARalpha agonists in 3T3-L1 cells and cold exposure in mice induced mitochondrial transcription factors and reduced ISG12 expression. These data demonstrated that mitochondrial-localized ISG12b1 protein inhibits adipocyte differentiation and mitochondrial biogenesis and function, implying the important role of mitochondrial function in adipocyte development and associated diseases.
Transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-beta1) is an important growth inhibitor of epithelial cells and insensitivity to this cytokine results in uncontrolled cell proliferation and can contribute to tumorigenesis. TGF-beta1 signals through the TGF-beta type I and type II receptors, and activates the Smad pathway via phosphorylation of Smad2 and Smad3. Since little is known about the selective activation of Smad2 versus Smad3, we set out to identify novel Smad2 and Smad3 interacting proteins in epithelial cells. A non-transformed human cell line was transduced with Myc-His(6)-Smad2 or Myc-His(6)-Smad3-expressing retrovirus and was treated with TGF-beta1. Myc-His(6)-Smad2 or Myc-His(6)-Smad3 was purified by tandem affinity purification, eluates were subject to SDS-PAGE and Colloidal Blue staining, and select protein bands were digested with trypsin. The resulting tryptic peptides were analyzed by liquid chromatography (LC) and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) and the SEQUEST algorithm was employed to identify proteins in the bands. A number of proteins that are known to interact with Smad2 or Smad3 were detected in the eluates. In addition, a number of putative novel Smad2 and Smad3 associated proteins were identified that have functions in cell proliferation, apoptosis, actin cytoskeleton regulation, cell motility, transcription, and Ras or insulin signaling. Specifically, the interaction between Smad2/3 and the Cdc42 guanine nucleotide exchange factor, Zizimin1, was validated by co-immunoprecipitation. The discovery of these novel Smad2 and/or Smad3 associated proteins may reveal how Smad2 and Smad3 are regulated and/or uncover new functions of Smad2 and Smad3 in TGF-beta1 signaling.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.