Past preclinical studies have demonstrated the capability of using human stem cell transplantation in the irradiated brain to ameliorate radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction. Intrahippocampal transplantation of human embryonic stem cells and human neural stem cells (hNSCs) was found to functionally restore cognition in rats 1 and 4 months after cranial irradiation. To optimize the potential therapeutic benefits of human stem cell transplantation, we have further defined optimal transplantation windows for maximizing cognitive benefits after irradiation and used induced pluripotent stem cell-derived hNSCs (iPSC-hNSCs) that may eventually help minimize graft rejection in the host brain. For these studies, animals given an acute head-only dose of 10 Gy were grafted with iPSC-hNSCs at 2 days, 2 weeks, or 4 weeks following irradiation. Animals receiving stem cell grafts showed improved hippocampal spatial memory and contextual fear-conditioning performance compared with irradiated sham-surgery controls when analyzed 1 month after transplantation surgery. Importantly, superior performance was evident when stem cell grafting was delayed by 4 weeks following irradiation compared with animals grafted at earlier times. Analysis of the 4-week cohort showed that the surviving grafted cells migrated throughout the CA1 and CA3 subfields of the host hippocampus and differentiated into neuronal (?39%) and astroglial (?14%) subtypes. Furthermore, radiation-induced inflammation was significantly attenuated across multiple hippocampal subfields in animals receiving iPSC-hNSCs at 4 weeks after irradiation. These studies expand our prior findings to demonstrate that protracted stem cell grafting provides improved cognitive benefits following irradiation that are associated with reduced neuroinflammation.
Senescence is a prominent solid tumor response to therapy in which cells avoid apoptosis and instead enter into prolonged cell cycle arrest. We applied a quantitative proteomics screen to identify signals that lead to therapy-induced senescence (TIS) and discovered that Bcl2-associated athanogene 3 (Bag3) is upregulated after adriamycin treatment in MCF7 cells. Bag3 protein is a member of the BAG family of co-chaperones that interacts with Hsp70. Bag3 also regulates major signaling pathways. Mass Spectrometry analysis of the Bag3 Complex revealed a novel interaction between Bag3 and Major Vault Protein (MVP). Silencing of Bag3 or MVP shifts the cellular response to adriamycin in favor apoptosis. We demonstrate that Bag3 and MVP contribute to apoptosis resistance in TIS by activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2 (ERK1/2). Bag3 and MVP were required for ERK1/2 activation in response to adriamycin and silencing either gene product decreased cell survival in response to the drug. An increase in nuclear accumulation of MVP is observed during TIS and the shift in MVP subcellular localization is Bag3-dependent. We propose a model in which Bag3 binds to MVP and facilitates MVP accumulation in the nucleus, which sustains ERK1/2 activation. We also demonstrate that silencing of Bag3 and MVP shifts the response to apoptosis and regulates ERK1/2 signaling in a panel of diverse breast cancer cell lines. This study highlights Bag3-MVP as an important complex that regulates a potent pro-survival signaling pathway and contributes to chemotherapy resistance in breast cancer.
An important component for successful translation of cell replacement-based therapies into clinical practice is the utilization of large animal models to conduct efficacy and/or safety cell dosing studies. Over the past few decades, several large animal models (dog, cat, nonhuman primate) were developed and employed in cell replacement studies; however, none of these models appears to provide a readily available platform to conduct effective and large-scale preclinical studies. In recent years, numerous pig models of neurodegenerative disorders were developed using both a transgenic approach as well as invasive surgical techniques. The pig model (naïve noninjured animals) was recently used successfully to define the safety and optimal dosing of human spinal stem cells after grafting into the central nervous system (CNS) in immunosuppressed animals. The data from these studies were used in the design of a human clinical protocol used in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients in a Phase I clinical trial. In addition, a highly inbred (complete major histocompatibility complex [MHC] match) strain of miniature pigs is available which permits the design of comparable MHC combinations between the donor cells and the graft recipient as used in human patients. Jointly, these studies show that the pig model can represent an effective large animal model to be used in preclinical cell replacement modeling. This review summarizes the available pig models of neurodegenerative disorders and the use of some of these models in cell replacement studies. The challenges and potential future directions in more effective use of the pig neurodegenerative models are also discussed.
The cell cytoskeleton is composed of microtubules, intermediate filaments, and actin that provide a rigid support structure important for cell shape. However, it is also a dynamic signaling scaffold that receives and transmits complex mechanosensing stimuli that regulate normal physiological and aberrant pathophysiological processes. Studying cytoskeletal functions in the cytoskeletons native state is inherently difficult due to its rigid and insoluble nature. This has severely limited detailed proteomic analyses of the complex protein networks that regulate the cytoskeleton. Here, we describe a purification method that enriches for the cytoskeleton and its associated proteins in their native state that is also compatible with current mass spectrometry-based protein detection methods. This method can be used for biochemical, fluorescence, and large-scale proteomic analyses of numerous cell types. Using this approach, 2346 proteins were identified in the cytoskeletal fraction of purified mouse embryonic fibroblasts, of which 635 proteins were either known cytoskeleton proteins or cytoskeleton-interacting proteins. Functional annotation and network analyses using the Ingenuity Knowledge Database of the cytoskeletome revealed important nodes of interconnectivity surrounding well-established regulators of the actin cytoskeleton and focal adhesion complexes. This improved cytoskeleton purification method will aid our understanding of how the cytoskeleton controls normal and diseased cell functions.
Breast cancer and melanoma cells commonly metastasize to the brain using homing mechanisms that are poorly understood. Cancer patients with brain metastases display poor prognosis and survival due to the lack of effective therapeutics and treatment strategies. Recent work using intravital microscopy and preclinical animal models indicates that metastatic cells colonize the brain, specifically in close contact with the existing brain vasculature. However, it is not known how contact with the vascular niche promotes microtumor formation. Here, we investigate the role of connexins in mediating early events in brain colonization using transparent zebrafish and chicken embryo models of brain metastasis. We provide evidence that breast cancer and melanoma cells utilize connexin gap junction proteins (Cx43, Cx26) to initiate brain metastatic lesion formation in association with the vasculature. RNAi depletion of connexins or pharmacological blocking of connexin-mediated cell-cell communication with carbenoxolone inhibited brain colonization by blocking tumor cell extravasation and blood vessel co-option. Activation of the metastatic gene twist in breast cancer cells increased Cx43 protein expression and gap junction communication, leading to increased extravasation, blood vessel co-option and brain colonization. Conversely, inhibiting twist activity reduced Cx43-mediated gap junction coupling and brain colonization. Database analyses of patient histories revealed increased expression of Cx26 and Cx43 in primary melanoma and breast cancer tumors, respectively, which correlated with increased cancer recurrence and metastasis. Together, our data indicate that Cx43 and Cx26 mediate cancer cell metastasis to the brain and suggest that connexins might be exploited therapeutically to benefit cancer patients with metastatic disease.
The potential capability of stem cells to restore functionality to diseased or aged tissues has prompted a surge of research, but much work remains to elucidate the response of these cells to genotoxic agents. To more fully understand the impact of irradiation on different stem cell types, the present study has analyzed the radioresponse of human pluripotent and multipotent stem cells. Human embryonic stem (ES) cells, human induced pluripotent (iPS) cells, and iPS-derived human neural stem cells (iPS-hNSCs) cells were irradiated and analyzed for cell survival parameters, differentiation, DNA damage and repair and oxidative stress at various times after exposure. While irradiation led to dose-dependent reductions in survival, the fraction of surviving cells exhibited dose-dependent increases in metabolic activity. Irradiation did not preclude germ layer commitment of ES cells, but did promote neuronal differentiation. ES cells subjected to irradiation exhibited early apoptosis and inhibition of cell cycle progression, but otherwise showed normal repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Cells surviving irradiation also showed acute and persistent increases in reactive oxygen and nitrogen species that were significant at nearly all post-irradiation times analyzed. We suggest that stem cells alter their redox homeostasis to adapt to adverse conditions and that radiation-induced oxidative stress plays a role in regulating the function and fate of stem cells within tissues compromised by radiation injury.
Loss of GABA-mediated pre-synaptic inhibition after spinal injury plays a key role in the progressive increase in spinal reflexes and the appearance of spasticity. Clinical studies show that the use of baclofen (GABA(B) receptor agonist), while effective in modulating spasticity is associated with major side effects such as general sedation and progressive tolerance development. The goal of the present study was to assess if a combined therapy composed of spinal segment-specific upregulation of GAD65 (glutamate decarboxylase) gene once combined with systemic treatment with tiagabine (GABA uptake inhibitor) will lead to an antispasticity effect and whether such an effect will only be present in GAD65 gene over-expressing spinal segments.
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