In the present study we determined the relative contribution of two processes to breast cancer progression: (1) Intrinsic events, such as activation of the Ras pathway and down-regulation of p53; (2) The inflammatory cytokines TNF? and IL-1?, shown in our published studies to be highly expressed in tumors of >80% of breast cancer patients with recurrent disease.
The Cell screening facility for personalized medicine (CSFPM) at Tel Aviv University in Israel is devoted to screening small molecules libraries for finding new drugs for rare diseases using human cell based models. The main strategy of the facility is based on smartly reducing the size of the compounds collection in similarity clusters and at the same time keeping high diversity of pharmacophores. This strategy allows parallel screening of several patient derived - cells in a personalized screening approach. The tested compounds are repositioned drugs derived from collections of phase III and FDA approved small molecules. In addition, the facility carries screenings using other chemical libraries and toxicological characterizations of nanomaterials.
A splicing mutation in the ikbkap gene causes Familial Dysautonomia (FD), affecting the IKAP protein expression levels and proper development and function of the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Here we attempted to elucidate the role of IKAP in PNS development in the chick embryo and found that IKAP is required for proper axonal outgrowth, branching, and peripheral target innervation. Moreover, we demonstrate that IKAP colocalizes with activated JNK (pJNK), dynein, and ?-tubulin at the axon terminals of dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons, and may be involved in transport of specific target derived signals required for transcription of JNK and NGF responsive genes in the nucleus. These results suggest the novel role of IKAP in neuronal transport and specific signaling mediated transcription, and provide, for the first time, the basis for a molecular mechanism behind the FD phenotype.
The splice site mutation in the IKBKAP gene coding for IKAP protein leads to the tissue-specific skipping of exon 20, with concomitant reduction in IKAP protein production. This causes the neurodevelopmental, autosomal-recessive genetic disorder - Familial Dysautonomia (FD). The molecular hallmark of FD is the severe reduction of IKAP protein in the nervous system that is believed to be the main reason for the devastating symptoms of this disease. Our recent studies showed that in the brain of two FD patients, genes linked to oligodendrocyte differentiation and/or myelin formation are significantly downregulated, implicating IKAP in the process of myelination. However, due to the scarcity of FD patient tissues, these results awaited further validation in other models. Recently, two FD mouse models that faithfully recapitulate FD were generated, with two types of mutations resulting in severely low levels of IKAP expression. Here we demonstrate that IKAP deficiency in these FD mouse models affects a similar set of genes as in FD patients' brains. In addition, we identified two new IKAP target genes involved in oligodendrocyte cells differentiation and myelination, further underscoring the essential role of IKAP in this process. We also provide proof that IKAP expression is needed cell-autonomously for the regulation of expression of genes involved in myelin formation since knockdown of IKAP in the Oli-neu oligodendrocyte precursor cell line results in similar deficiencies. Further analyses of these two experimental models will compensate for the lack of human postmortem tissues and will advance our understanding of the role of IKAP in myelination and the disease pathology.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder of motor neurons. Although most cases of ALS are sporadic (sALS) and of unknown etiology, there are also inherited familial ALS (fALS) cases that share a phenotype similar to sALS pathological and clinical phenotype. In this study, we have identified two new potential genetic ALS biomarkers in human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) obtained from sALS patients, namely the TDP-43 (TAR DNA-binding protein 43) and SLPI (secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor). Together with the previously discovered ones-CyFIP2 and RbBP9, we investigated whether these four potential ALS biomarkers may be differentially expressed in tissues obtained from mutant SOD1(G93A) transgenic mice, a model that is relevant for at least 20% of the fALS cases. Quantitative real-time PCR analysis of brain, spinal cord and muscle tissues of the mSOD1(G93A) and controls at various time points during the progression of the neurological disease showed differential expression of the four identified biomarkers in correlation with (i) the tissue type, (ii) the stage of the disease and (iii) the gender of the animals, creating thus a novel spatiotemporal molecular signature of ALS. The biomarkers detected in the fALS animal model were homologous to those that were identified in hMSC of our sALS cases. These results support the possibility of a molecular link between sALS and fALS and may indicate common pathogenetic mechanisms involved in both types of ALS. Moreover, these results may pave the path for using the mSOD1(G93A) mouse model and these biomarkers as molecular beacons to evaluate the effects of novel drugs/treatments in ALS.
In spite of significant insolubility and toxicity, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) erupt into the biomedical research, and create an increasing interest in the field of nanomedicine. Single-walled CNTs (SWCNTs) are highly hydrophobic and have been shown to be toxic while systemically administrated. Thus, SWCNTs have to be functionalized to render water solubility and biocompatibility. Herein, we introduce a method for functionalizing SWCNT using phospholipids (PL) conjugated to hyaluronan (HA), a hydrophilic glycosaminoglycan, with known receptors on many types of cancer and immune cells. This functionalization allowed for CNT solubilization, endowed the particles with stealth properties evading the immune system, and reduced immune and mitochondrial toxicity both in vitro and in vivo. The CNT-PL-HA internalized into macrophages and showed low cytotoxicity. In addition, CNT-PL-HA did not induce an inflammatory response in macrophages as evidenced by the cytokine profiling and the use of image-based high-content analysis approach in contrast to non-modified CNTs. In addition, systemic administration of CNT-PL-HA into healthy C57BL/6 mice did not alter the total number of leukocytes nor increased liver enzyme release as opposed to CNTs. Taken together, these results suggest an immune protective mechanism by the PL-HA coating that could provide future therapeutic benefit.
Lipid-based nanoparticles (LNPs) are widely used for the delivery of drugs and nucleic acids. Although most of them are considered safe, there is confusing evidence in the literature regarding their potential cellular toxicities. Moreover, little is known about the recovery process cells undergo after a cytotoxic insult. We have previously studied the systemic effects of common LNPs with different surface charge (cationic, anionic, neutral) and revealed that positively charged LNPs ((+)LNPs) activate pro-inflammatory cytokines and induce interferon response by acting as an agonist of Toll-like receptor 4 on immune cells. In this study, we focused on the response of human fibroblasts exposed to LNPs and their cellular recovery process. To this end, we used image-based high content analysis (HCA). Using this strategy, we were able to show simultaneously, in several intracellular parameters, that fibroblasts can recover from the cytotoxic effects of (+)LNPs. The use of HCA opens new avenues in understanding cellular response and nanotoxicity and may become a valuable tool for screening safe materials for drug delivery and tissue engineering.
Deficiency in the IKAP/Elp1 protein leads to the recessive sensory autosomal congenital neuropathy which is called familial dysautonomia (FD). This protein was originally identified as a role player in transcriptional elongation being a subunit of the RNAPII transcriptional Elongator multi-protein complex. Subsequently, IKAP/Elp1 was shown to play various functions in the cytoplasm. Here, we describe experiments performed with IKAP/Elp1 downregulated cell lines and FD-derived cells and tissues. Immunostaining of the cytoskeleton component ?-tubulin in IKAP/Elp1 downregulated cells revealed disorganization of the microtubules (MTs) that was reflected in aberrant cell shape and process formation. In contrast to a recent report on the decrease in ?-tubulin acetylation in IKAP/Elp1 downregulated cells, we were unable to observe any effect of IKAP/Elp1 deficiency on ?-tubulin acetylation in the FD cerebrum and in a variety of IKAP/Elp1 downregulated cell lines. To explore possible candidates involved in the observed aberrations in MTs, we focused on superior cervical ganglion-10 protein (SCG10), also called STMN2, which is known to be an MT destabilizing protein. We have found that SCG10 is upregulated in the IKAP/Elp1-deficient FD cerebrum, FD fibroblasts and in IKAP/Elp1 downregulated neuroblastoma cell line. To better understand the effect of IKAP/Elp1 deficiency on SCG10 expression, we investigated the possible involvement of RE-1-silencing transcription factor (REST), a known repressor of the SCG10 gene. Indeed, REST was downregulated in the IKAP/Elp1-deficient FD cerebrum and IKAP/Elp1 downregulated neuroblastoma cell line. These results could shed light on a possible link between IKAP/Elp1 deficiency and cytoskeleton destabilization.
Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a developmental neuropathy of the sensory and autonomous nervous systems. The IKBKAP gene, encoding the IKAP/hELP1 subunit of the RNA polymerase II Elongator complex is mutated in FD patients, leading to a tissue-specific mis-splicing of the gene and to the absence of the protein in neuronal tissues. To elucidate the function of IKAP/hELP1 in the development of neuronal cells, we have downregulated IKBKAP expression in SHSY5Y cells, a neuroblastoma cell line of a neural crest origin. We have previously shown that these cells exhibit abnormal cell adhesion when allowed to differentiate under defined culture conditions on laminin substratum. Here, we report results of a microarray expression analysis of IKAP/hELP1 downregulated cells that were grown on laminin under differentiation or non-differentiation growth conditions. It is shown that under non-differentiation growth conditions, IKAP/hELP1 downregulation affects genes important for early developmental stages of the nervous system, including cell signaling, cell adhesion and neural crest migration. IKAP/hELP1 downregulation during differentiation affects the expression of genes that play a role in late neuronal development, in axonal projection and synapse formation and function. We also show that IKAP/hELP1 deficiency affects the expression of genes involved in calcium metabolism before and after differentiation of the neuroblastoma cells. Hence, our data support IKAP/hELP1 importance in the development and function of neuronal cells and contribute to the understanding of the FD phenotype.
A splicing mutation in the IKBKAP gene encoding the IKAP/hELP1 (IKAP) protein was found to be the major cause of Familial Dysautonomia (FD). This mutation affects both the normal development and survival of sensory and sympathetic neurons of the peripheral nervous system (PNS). To understand the FD phenotype it is important to study the specific role played by IKAP in developing and mature PNS neurons. We used the neuroblastoma SHSY5Y cell line, originated from neural crest adrenal tumor, and simulated the FD phenotype by reducing IKAP expression with retroviral constructs. We observed that IKAP – down - regulated cells formed cell clusters compared to control cells under regular culture conditions. We examined the ability of these cells to differentiate into mature neurons in the presence of laminin, an essential extracellular matrix for developing PNS neurons. We found that the cells showed reduced attachment to laminin, morphological changes and increased cell-to-cell adhesion resulting in cell aggregates. We identified Contactin as the adhesion molecule responsible for this phenotype. We show that Contactin expression is related to IKAP expression, suggesting that IKAP regulates Contactin levels for appropriate cell-cell adhesion that could modulate neuronal growth of PNS neurons during development.
Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) are easily isolated from the bone marrow by adherence to plastic surfaces. These cells show self-renewal capacity and multipotency. A unique feature of hMSC is their capacity to survive without serum. Under this condition hMSC neither proliferate nor differentiate but maintain their biological properties unaffected. Therefore, this should be a perfect platform to study the biological effects of defined molecules on these human stem cells. We show that hMSC treated for five days with retinoic acid (RA) in the absence of serum undergo several transcriptional changes causing an inhibition of ERK related pathways. We found that RA induces the loss of hMSC properties such as differentiation potential to either osteoblasts or adipocytes. We also found that RA inhibits cell cycle progression in the presence of proliferating signals such as epidermal growth factor (EGF) combined with basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). In the same manner, RA showed to cause a reduction in cell adhesion and cell migration. In contrast to these results, the addition of EGF+bFGF to serum free cultures was enough to upregulate ERK activity and induce hMSC proliferation and cell migration. Furthermore, the addition of these factors to differentiation specific media instead of serum was enough to induce either osteogenesis or adipogenesis. Altogether, our results show that hMSCs ability to survive without serum enables the identification of signaling factors and pathways that are involved in their stem cell biological characteristics without possible serum interferences.
The absence of a suitable cellular model is a major obstacle for the study of peripheral neuropathies. Human embryonic stem cells hold the potential to be differentiated into peripheral neurons which makes them a suitable candidate for this purpose. However, so far the potential of hESC to differentiate into derivatives of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) was not investigated enough and in particular, the few trials conducted resulted in low yields of PNS neurons. Here we describe a novel hESC differentiation method to produce enriched populations of PNS mature neurons. By plating 8 weeks hESC derived neural progenitors (hESC-NPs) on laminin for two weeks in a defined medium, we demonstrate that over 70% of the resulting neurons express PNS markers and 30% of these cells are sensory neurons.
Bone marrow human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are known to survive in serum-free media, when most normal somatic cells do not survive. We found that the endogenously-activated bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway is involved in this cellular behavior. Under this culture condition, phosphorylated Smad1 (PSmad1), the transducer of this signal, is localized in the hMSC nuclei. In addition, inhibition of this pathway with noggin, a BMP antagonist, elicits a caspase-dependent hMSCs death in a concentration-dependent manner. Furthermore, exogenously added BMP4 alleviates the noggin effect, restoring cell survival, and suggesting that BMP signal is essential for hMSC survival under serum deprivation conditions. Altogether these findings demonstrate for the first time an endogenous survival pathway of hMSCs driven by a BMP signal. Such a survival mechanism might be involved in the maintenance of the hMSC population within their bone marrow niche.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal, neurodegenerative disorder caused by degeneration of motor neurons. The cause for most cases of ALS is multi-factorial,this enhances the need to characterize and isolate specific biomarkers found in biological samples from ALS patients. To this end we use human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) derived from the bone marrow of six ALS patients (ALS hMSC) and identified two genes, Cytoplasmic FMR Interacting Protein 2 (CyFIP2) and Retinoblastoma (Rb) Binding Protein 9 (RbBP9) with a significant decrease in post transcriptional A to I RNA editing compared to hMSC of healthy individuals. At the transcriptional level we show abnormal expression of these two genes in ALS hMSC by quantitative real time-PCR (qRT-PCR) and Western blot suggesting a problem in the regulation of these genes in ALS. To strengthen this view we tested by qRT-PCR the expression of these genes in peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) isolated from blood samples of 17 ALS patients and found that CyFIP2 and RbBP9 levels of expression were significantly different compared to the levels of expression of these two genes in 19 normal PBL samples. Altogether we found two novel ALS potential biomarkers in non-neural tissues from ALS patients that may have direct diagnostic and therapeutic implications to the disease.
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