Airway remodeling, caused by inflammation and fibrosis, is a major component of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and currently has no effective treatment. Transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?) has been widely implicated in the pathogenesis of airway remodeling in COPD. TGF-? is expressed in a latent form that requires activation. The integrin ?v?8 (encoded by the itgb8 gene) is a receptor for latent TGF-? and is essential for its activation. Expression of integrin ?v?8 is increased in airway fibroblasts in COPD and thus is an attractive therapeutic target for the treatment of airway remodeling in COPD. We demonstrate that an engineered optimized antibody to human ?v?8 (B5) inhibited TGF-? activation in transgenic mice expressing only human and not mouse ITGB8. The B5 engineered antibody blocked fibroinflammatory responses induced by tobacco smoke, cytokines, and allergens by inhibiting TGF-? activation. To clarify the mechanism of action of B5, we used hydrodynamic, mutational, and electron microscopic methods to demonstrate that ?v?8 predominantly adopts a constitutively active, extended-closed headpiece conformation. Epitope mapping and functional characterization of B5 revealed an allosteric mechanism of action due to locking-in of a low-affinity ?v?8 conformation. Collectively, these data demonstrate a new model for integrin function and present a strategy to selectively target the TGF-? pathway to treat fibroinflammatory airway diseases.
Acute respiratory illness is the leading cause of asthma exacerbations yet the mechanisms underlying this association remain unclear. To address the deficiencies in our understanding of the molecular events characterizing acute respiratory illness-induced asthma exacerbations, we undertook a transcriptional profiling study of the nasal mucosa over the course of acute respiratory illness amongst individuals with a history of asthma, allergic rhinitis and no underlying respiratory disease.
Animal studies show that transforming growth factor-?1 (TGF-?1) is an important mediator of atrial fibrosis and atrial fibrillation (AF). This study investigated the role of TGF-?1 in human AF and the mechanism of atrial-selective fibrosis.
The glucocorticoid receptor (GR) regulates adaptive transcriptional programs that alter metabolism in response to stress. Network properties that allow GR to tune gene expression to match specific physiologic demands are poorly understood. We analyzed the transcriptional consequences of GR activation in murine lungs deficient for KLF15, a transcriptional regulator of amino acid metabolism that is induced by glucocorticoids and fasting. Approximately 7% of glucocorticoid-regulated genes had altered expression in Klf15-knockdown (Klf15(-/-)) mice. KLF15 formed coherent and incoherent feed-forward circuits with GR that correlated with the expression dynamics of the glucocorticoid response. Coherent feed-forward gene regulation by GR and KLF15 was characterized by combinatorial activation of linked GR-KLF15 regulatory elements by both factors and increased GR occupancy, while expression of KLF15 reduced GR occupancy at the incoherent target, MT2A. Serum deprivation, which increased KLF15 expression in a GR-independent manner in vitro, enhanced glucocorticoid-mediated induction of feed-forward targets of GR and KLF15, such as the loci for the amino acid-metabolizing enzymes proline dehydrogenase and alpha-aminoadipic semialdehyde synthase. Our results establish feed-forward architecture as an organizational principle for the GR network and provide a novel mechanism through which GR integrates signals and regulates expression dynamics.
Activation induces extensive changes in the gene expression program of naive CD4(+) T cells, promoting their differentiation into helper T cells that coordinate immune responses. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a critical role in this process, and miRNA expression also changes dramatically during T cell differentiation. Quantitative analyses revealed that T cell activation induces global posttranscriptional miRNA down-regulation in vitro and in vivo. Argonaute (Ago) proteins, the core effector proteins of the miRNA-induced silencing complex (miRISC), were also posttranscriptionally down-regulated during T cell activation. Ago2 was inducibly ubiquitinated in activated T cells and its down-regulation was inhibited by the proteasome inhibitor MG132. Therefore, activation-induced miRNA down-regulation likely occurs at the level of miRISC turnover. Measurements of miRNA-processing intermediates uncovered an additional layer of activation-induced, miRNA-specific transcriptional regulation. Thus, transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms cooperate to rapidly reprogram the miRNA repertoire in differentiating T cells. Altering Ago2 expression in T cells revealed that Ago proteins are limiting factors that determine miRNA abundance. Naive T cells with reduced Ago2 and miRNA expression differentiated more readily into cytokine-producing helper T cells, suggesting that activation-induced miRNA down-regulation promotes acquisition of helper T cell effector functions by relaxing the repression of genes that direct T cell differentiation.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a central regulator of cell growth and proliferation in response to growth factor and nutrient signaling. Consequently, this kinase is implicated in metabolic diseases including cancer and diabetes, so there is great interest in understanding the complete spectrum of mTOR-regulated networks. mTOR exists in two functionally distinct complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, and whereas the natural product rapamycin inhibits only a subset of mTORC1 functions, recently developed ATP-competitive mTOR inhibitors have revealed new roles for both complexes. A number of studies have highlighted mTORC1 as a regulator of lipid homeostasis. We show that the ATP-competitive inhibitor PP242, but not rapamycin, significantly down-regulates cholesterol biosynthesis genes in a 4E-BP1-dependent manner in NIH 3T3 cells, whereas S6 kinase 1 is the dominant regulator in hepatocellular carcinoma cells. To identify other rapamycin-resistant transcriptional outputs of mTOR, we compared the expression profiles of NIH 3T3 cells treated with rapamycin versus PP242. PP242 caused 1,666 genes to be differentially expressed whereas rapamycin affected only 88 genes. Our analysis provides a genomewide view of the transcriptional outputs of mTOR signaling that are insensitive to rapamycin.
Protein disulfide isomerases (PDIs) aid protein folding and assembly by catalyzing formation and shuffling of cysteine disulfide bonds in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Many members of the PDI family are expressed in mammals, but the roles of specific PDIs in vivo are poorly understood. A recent homology-based search for additional PDI family members identified anterior gradient homolog 2 (AGR2), a protein originally presumed to be secreted by intestinal epithelial cells. Here, we show that AGR2 is present within the ER of intestinal secretory epithelial cells and is essential for in vivo production of the intestinal mucin MUC2, a large, cysteine-rich glycoprotein that forms the protective mucus gel lining the intestine. A cysteine residue within the AGR2 thioredoxin-like domain forms mixed disulfide bonds with MUC2, indicating a direct role for AGR2 in mucin processing. Mice lacking AGR2 were viable but were highly susceptible to colitis, indicating a critical role for AGR2 in protection from disease. We conclude that AGR2 is a unique member of the PDI family, with a specialized and nonredundant role in intestinal mucus production.
OX40 is a member of the TNF receptor family expressed on activated and regulatory T (Treg) cells. Using an Ox40-cre allele for lineage marking, we found that a subpopulation of naive T cells had also previously expressed OX40 in the thymus. Ox40-cre was induced in a small fraction of thymocytes that were OX40(+), some of which were CD25(high) Treg cell precursors. Thymic OX40 expression distinguished cells experiencing a strong signaling response to positive selection. Naive T cells that had previously expressed OX40 demonstrated a partially activated phenotype that was distinct from that of most naive T cells. The results are consistent with the selection of Treg cells and a minor subpopulation of naive T cells being dependent on strong signaling responses to thymic self ligands.
Changes in airway epithelial cell differentiation, driven in part by IL-13, are important in asthma. Micro-RNAs (miRNAs) regulate cell differentiation in many systems and could contribute to epithelial abnormalities in asthma.
Though xenografts are used extensively for drug development in breast cancer, how well xenografts reflect the breadth of primary breast tumor subtypes has not been well characterized. Moreover, few studies have compared the gene expression of xenograft tumors to the primary tumors from which they were derived. Here we investigate whether the ability of human breast tumors (n = 20) to create xenografts in immune-deficient mice is associated with breast cancer immunohistochemical (IHC) and intrinsic subtype. We also characterize how precisely the gene expression of xenografts reprises that of parent breast tumors, using hierarchical clustering and other correlation-based techniques applied to Agilent 44K gene expression data from 16 samples including four matched primary tumor-xenograft pairs. Of the breast tumors studied, 25 % (5/20) generated xenografts. Receptor and intrinsic subtype were significant predictors of xenograft success, with all (4/4) triple-negative (TN) tumors and no (0/12) HR+Her2- tumors forming xenografts (P = 0.0005). Tumor cell expression of ALDH1, a stem cell marker, trended toward successful engraftment (P = 0.14), though CDK5/6, a basal marker, did not. Though hierarchical clustering across the 500 most variable genes segregated human breast tumors from xenograft tumors, when clustering was performed over the PAM50 gene set the primary tumor-xenograft pairs clustered together, with all IHC subtypes clustered in distinct groups. Greater similarity between primary tumor-xenograft pairs relative to random pairings was confirmed by calculation of the within-pair between-pair scatter ratio (WPBPSR) distribution (P = 0.0269), though there was a shift in the xenografts toward more aggressive features including higher proliferation scores relative to the primary. Triple-negative breast tumors demonstrate superior ability to create xenografts compared to HR+ tumors, which may reflect higher proliferation or relatively stroma-independent growth of this subtype. Xenograft tumors gene expression faithfully resembles that of their parent tumors, yet also demonstrates a shift toward more aggressive molecular features.
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