Middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) in rodents causes brain infarctions of variable sizes that depend on multiple factors, particularly in models of ischemia/reperfusion. This is a major problem for infarct volume comparisons between different experimental groups since unavoidable variability can induce biases in the results and imposes the use of large number of subjects. MRI can help to minimize these difficulties by ensuring that the severity of ischemia is comparable between groups. Furthermore, several studies showed that infarct volumes can be predicted with MRI data obtained soon after ischemia onset. However, such predictive studies require multiparametric MRI acquisitions that cannot be routinely performed, and data processing using complex algorithms that are often not available. The aim here was to provide a simplified method for infarct volume prediction using apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) data in a model of transient MCAO in rats. ADC images were obtained before, during MCAO and after 60 min of reperfusion. Probability histograms were generated using ADC data obtained either during MCAO, after reperfusion, or both combined. The results were compared to real infarct volumes, i.e.T2 maps obtained at day 7. Assessment of the performance of the estimations showed better results combining ADC data obtained during occlusion and at reperfusion. Therefore, ADC data alone can provide sufficient information for a reasonable prediction of infarct volume if the MRI information is obtained both during the occlusion and soon after reperfusion. This approach can be used to check whether drug administration after MRI acquisition can change infarct volume prediction.
The Wilms' tumor transcription factor (WT1) was originally classified as a tumor suppressor, but it is now known to also be associated with cancer progression and poor prognosis in several malignancies. WT1 plays an essential role in orchestrating a developmental process known as mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) during kidney development, but also induces the reverse process, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) during heart development. WT1 is not expressed in the adult kidney, but shows elevated expression in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). However, the role of WT1 in this disease has not been characterized. In this study, we demonstrate that WT1 is upregulated in ccRCC cells that are deficient in the expression of the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor protein (VHL). We found that WT1 transcriptionally activated Snail, a master transcriptional repressor that is known to induce EMT. Although Snail represses E-cadherin and induces mesenchymal characteristics, we found partial maintenance of E-cadherin and associated epithelial characteristics in kidney cells and ccRCC cells that express WT1, since WT1 upregulates E-cadherin expression and competes with Snail repression. These findings support a novel paradigm in which WT1 induces an epithelial-mesenchymal hybrid transition (EMHT), characterized by Snail up-regulation with E-cadherin maintenance, a tumor cell differentiation state in which cancer cells keep both EMT and MET characteristics which may promote tumor cell plasticity and tumor progression.
Within the aim of advancing precision oncology, we have generated a collection of patient-derived xenografts (PDX) characterized at the molecular level, and a preclinical model of colon cancer metastasis to evaluate drug-response and tumor progression.
Stroke induces inflammation that can aggravate brain damage. This work examines whether interleukin-10 (IL-10) deficiency exacerbates inflammation and worsens the outcome of permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO). Expression of IL-10 and IL-10 receptor (IL-10R) increased after ischemia. From day 4, reactive astrocytes showed strong IL-10R immunoreactivity. Interleukin-10 knockout (IL-10 KO) mice kept in conventional housing showed more mortality after pMCAO than the wild type (WT). This effect was associated with the presence of signs of colitis in the IL-10 KO mice, suggesting that ongoing systemic inflammation was a confounding factor. In a pathogen-free environment, IL-10 deficiency slightly increased infarct volume and neurologic deficits. Induction of proinflammatory molecules in the IL-10 KO brain was similar to that in the WT 6?hours after ischemia, but was higher at day 4, while differences decreased at day 7. Deficiency of IL-10 promoted the presence of more mature phagocytic cells in the ischemic tissue, and enhanced the expression of M2 markers and the T-cell inhibitory molecule CTLA-4. These findings agree with a role of IL-10 in attenuating local inflammatory reactions, but do not support an essential function of IL-10 in lesion resolution. Upregulation of alternative immunosuppressive molecules after brain ischemia can compensate, at least in part, the absence of IL-10.
Patent ductus arteriosus is a life-threatening condition frequent in premature newborns but also present in some term infants. Current mouse models of this malformation generally lead to perinatal death, not reproducing the full phenotypic spectrum in humans, in whom genetic inheritance appears complex. The ductus arteriosus (DA), a temporary fetal vessel that bypasses the lungs by shunting the aortic arch to the pulmonary artery, is constituted by smooth muscle cells of distinct origins (SMC1 and SMC2) and many fewer melanocytes. To understand novel mechanisms preventing DA closure at birth, we evaluated the importance of cell fate specification in SMC that form the DA during embryonic development. Upon specific Tyr::Cre-driven activation of Wnt/?-catenin signaling at the time of cell fate specification, melanocytes replaced the SMC2 population of the DA, suggesting that SMC2 and melanocytes have a common precursor. The number of SMC1 in the DA remained similar to that in controls, but insufficient to allow full DA closure at birth. Thus, there was no cellular compensation by SMC1 for the loss of SMC2. Mice in which only melanocytes were genetically ablated after specification from their potential common precursor with SMC2, demonstrated that differentiated melanocytes themselves do not affect DA closure. Loss of the SMC2 population, independent of the presence of melanocytes, is therefore a cause of patent ductus arteriosus and premature death in the first months of life. Our results indicate that patent ductus arteriosus can result from the insufficient differentiation, proliferation, or contractility of a specific smooth muscle subpopulation that shares a common neural crest precursor with cardiovascular melanocytes.
Aberrant activation of the Wnt/?-catenin pathway is critical for the initiation and progression of most colon cancers. This activation provokes the accumulation of nuclear ?-catenin and the induction of its target genes. Apc(min/+) mice are the most commonly used model for colon cancer. They harbor a mutated Apc allele and develop intestinal adenomas and carcinomas during the first months of life. This phenotype is caused by the mutation of the second Apc allele and the consequent accumulation of nuclear ?-catenin in the affected cells. Here we describe that vitamin D receptor (VDR) is a crucial modulator of nuclear ?-catenin levels in colon cancer in vivo. By appropriate breeding of Apc(min/+) mice and Vdr(+/-) mice we have generated animals expressing a mutated Apc allele and two, one, or none Vdr wild type alleles. Lack of Vdr increased the number of colonic Aberrant Crypt Foci (ACF) but not that of adenomas or carcinomas in either small intestine or colon. Importantly, colon ACF and tumors of Apc(min/+)Vdr(-/-) mice had increased nuclear ?-catenin and the tumors reached a larger size than those of Apc(min/+)Vdr(+/+). Both ACF and carcinomas in Apc(min/+)Vdr(-/-) mice showed higher expression of ?-catenin/TCF target genes. In line with this, VDR knock-down in cultured human colon cancer cells enhanced ?-catenin nuclear content and target gene expression. Consistently, VDR depletion abrogated the capacity of 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) to promote the relocation of ?-catenin from the nucleus to the plasma membrane and to inhibit ?-catenin/TCF target genes. In conclusion, VDR controls the level of nuclear ?-catenin in colon cancer cells and can therefore attenuate the impact of oncogenic mutations that activate the Wnt/?-catenin pathway.
?? T cells are innate-type lymphocytes that preferentially act as regulators of local effector immune responses. Recent reports found an altered distribution of the two main subpopulations of blood ?? T cells (V?1 and V?2) in operationally tolerant liver transplant recipients. Based on this, ?? T cells subset quantification was proposed as a biomarker of immunologic risk in liver transplantation. The specific characteristics of ?? T cell subsets in transplantation remain however unknown. We have investigated here the phenotype, repertoire and functional properties of ?? T cell subsets in a large population of allograft recipients. Our results indicate that alterations in the ?? T cell compartment are not restricted to tolerant liver recipients. In fact, most immunosuppressed liver and kidney recipients also display an enlarged peripheral blood ?? T cell pool mainly resulting from an expansion of V?1 T cells exhibiting an oligoclonal repertoire and different phenotypic and cytokine production traits than V?2 T cells. We propose that persistent viral infections are likely to contribute to these alterations. Our data provide novel insight in the biology of ?? T cells and a rationale for exploring these lymphocytes in more depth into the pathogenesis of viral infections in transplantation.
Intestinal ganglioneuromatosis is a benign proliferation of nerve ganglion cells, nerve fibers, and supporting cells of the enteric nervous system (ENS) that can result in abnormally large enteric neuronal cells (ENCs) in the myenteric plexus and chronic intestinal pseudoobstruction (CIPO). As phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) is a phosphatase that is critical for controlling cell growth, proliferation, and death, we investigated the role of PTEN in the ENS by generating mice with an embryonic, ENC-selective deletion within the Pten locus. Mutant mice died 2 to 3 weeks after birth, with clinical signs of CIPO and hyperplasia and hypertrophy of ENCs resulting from increased activity of the PI3K/PTEN-AKT-S6K signaling pathway. Further analysis revealed that PTEN was only expressed in developing mouse embryonic ENCs from E15.5 and that the rate of ENC proliferation decreased once PTEN was expressed. Specific deletion of the Pten gene in ENCs therefore induced hyperplasia and hypertrophy in the later stages of embryogenesis. This phenotype was reversed by administration of a pharmacological inhibitor of AKT. In some human ganglioneuromatosis forms of CIPO, PTEN expression was found to be abnormally low and S6 phosphorylation increased. Our study thus reveals that loss of PTEN disrupts development of the ENS and identifies the PI3K/PTEN-AKT-S6K signaling pathway as a potential therapeutic target for ganglioneuromatosis forms of CIPO.
The Wnt–?-catenin and PI3K-AKT-FOXO3a pathways have a central role in cancer. AKT phosporylates FOXO3a, relocating it from the cell nucleus to the cytoplasm, an effect that is reversed by PI3K and AKT inhibitors. Simultaneous hyperactivation of the Wnt–?-catenin pathway and inhibition of PI3K-AKT signaling promote nuclear accumulation of ?-catenin and FOXO3a, respectively, promoting cell scattering and metastasis by regulating a defined set of target genes. Indeed, the anti-tumoral AKT inhibitor API-2 promotes nuclear FOXO3a accumulation and metastasis of cells with high nuclear ?-catenin content. Nuclear ?-catenin confers resistance to the FOXO3a-mediated apoptosis induced by PI3K and AKT inhibitors in patient-derived primary cultures and in corresponding xenograft tumors in mice. This resistance is reversed by XAV-939, an inhibitor of Wnt–?-catenin signaling. In the presence of high nuclear ?-catenin content, activation of FOXO3a by PI3K or AKT inhibitors makes it behave as a metastasis inductor rather than a proapoptotic tumor suppressor. We show that it is possible to evaluate the ?-catenin status of patients carcinomas and the response of patient-derived cells to target-directed drugs that accumulate FOXO3a in the nucleus before deciding on a course of treatment. We propose that this evaluation could be essential to the provision of a safer and more effective personalized treatment.
MITF-M and PAX3 are proteins central to the establishment and transformation of the melanocyte lineage. They control various cellular mechanisms, including migration and proliferation. BRN2 is a POU domain transcription factor expressed in melanoma cell lines and is involved in proliferation and invasion, at least in part by regulating the expression of MITF-M and PAX3. The T361 and S362 residues of BRN2, both in the POU domain, are conserved throughout the POU protein family and are targets for phosphorylation, but their roles in vivo remain unknown. To examine the role of this phosphorylation, we generated mutant BRN2 in which these two residues were replaced with alanines (BRN2TS?BRN2AA). When expressed in melanocytes in vitro or in the melanocyte lineage in transgenic mice, BRN2TS induced proliferation and repressed migration, whereas BRN2AA repressed both proliferation and migration. BRN2TS and BRN2AA bound and repressed the MITF-M promoter, whereas PAX3 transcription was induced by BRN2TS but repressed by BRN2AA. Expression of the BRN2AA transgene in a Mitf heterozygous background and in a Pax3 mutant background enhanced the coat color phenotype. Our findings show that melanocyte migration and proliferation are controlled both through the regulation of PAX3 by nonphosphorylated BRN2 and through the regulation of MITF-M by the overall BRN2 level.
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