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Recent documents in eScholarship@UMMS
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Development of innate CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in Itk-deficient mice is regulated by distinct pathways

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:41am

T cell development in the thymus produces multiple lineages of cells, including innate T cells such as gammadelta TCR(+) cells, invariant NKT cells, mucosal-associated invariant T cells, and H2-M3-specific cells. Although innate cells are generally a minor subset of thymocytes, in several strains of mice harboring mutations in T cell signaling proteins or transcriptional regulators, conventional CD8(+) T cells develop as innate cells with characteristics of memory T cells. Thus, in Itk-deficient mice, mature CD4(-)CD8(+) (CD8 single-positive [SP]) thymocytes express high levels of the transcription factor eomesodermin (Eomes) and are dependent on IL-4 being produced in the thymic environment by a poorly characterized subset of CD4(+) thymocytes expressing the transcriptional regulator promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger. In this study, we show that a sizeable proportion of mature CD4(+)CD8(-) (CD4SP) thymocytes in itk(-/-) mice also develop as innate Eomes-expressing T cells. These cells are dependent on MHC class II and IL-4 signaling for their development, indicating that they are conventional CD4(+) T cells that have been converted to an innate phenotype. Surprisingly, neither CD4SP nor CD8SP innate Eomes(+) thymocytes in itk(-/-) or SLP-76(Y145F) mice are dependent on gammadelta T cells for their development. Instead, we find that the predominant population of Eomes(+) innate itk(-/-) CD4SP thymocytes is largely absent in mice lacking CD1d-specific invariant NKT cells, with no effect on innate itk(-/-) CD8SP thymocytes. In contrast, both subsets of innate Eomes(+)itk(-/-) T cells require the presence of a novel promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger-expressing, SLAM family receptor adapter protein-dependent thymocyte population that is essential for the conversion of conventional CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells into innate T cells with a memory phenotype.

Construction and application of site-specific artificial nucleases for targeted gene editing

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:41am

Artificial nucleases have developed into powerful tools for introducing precise genome modifications in a wide variety of species. In this chapter the authors provide detailed protocols for rapidly constructing zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) and TALE nucleases (TALENs) and evaluating their activity for the targeted generation of InDels within the zebrafish genome.

Conserved higher-order chromatin regulates NMDA receptor gene expression and cognition

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:41am

Three-dimensional chromosomal conformations regulate transcription by moving enhancers and regulatory elements into spatial proximity with target genes. Here we describe activity-regulated long-range loopings bypassing up to 0.5 Mb of linear genome to modulate NMDA glutamate receptor GRIN2B expression in human and mouse prefrontal cortex. Distal intronic and 3' intergenic loop formations competed with repressor elements to access promoter-proximal sequences, and facilitated expression via a "cargo" of AP-1 and NRF-1 transcription factors and TALE-based transcriptional activators. Neuronal deletion or overexpression of Kmt2a/Mll1 H3K4- and Kmt1e/Setdb1 H3K9-methyltransferase was associated with higher-order chromatin changes at distal regulatory Grin2b sequences and impairments in working memory. Genetic polymorphisms and isogenic deletions of loop-bound sequences conferred liability for cognitive performance and decreased GRIN2B expression. Dynamic regulation of chromosomal conformations emerges as a novel layer for transcriptional mechanisms impacting neuronal signaling and cognition.

Cnidarian microRNAs frequently regulate targets by cleavage

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:41am

In bilaterians, which comprise most of extant animals, microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate the majority of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) via base-pairing of a short sequence (the miRNA "seed") to the target, subsequently promoting translational inhibition and transcript instability. In plants, many miRNAs guide endonucleolytic cleavage of highly complementary targets. Because little is known about miRNA function in nonbilaterian animals, we investigated the repertoire and biological activity of miRNAs in the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, a representative of Cnidaria, the sister phylum of Bilateria. Our work uncovers scores of novel miRNAs in Nematostella, increasing the total miRNA gene count to 87. Yet only a handful are conserved in corals and hydras, suggesting that microRNA gene turnover in Cnidaria greatly exceeds that of other metazoan groups. We further show that Nematostella miRNAs frequently direct the cleavage of their mRNA targets via nearly perfect complementarity. This mode of action resembles that of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and plant miRNAs. It appears to be common in Cnidaria, as several of the miRNA target sites are conserved among distantly related anemone species, and we also detected miRNA-directed cleavage in Hydra. Unlike in bilaterians, Nematostella miRNAs are commonly coexpressed with their target transcripts. In light of these findings, we propose that post-transcriptional regulation by miRNAs functions differently in Cnidaria and Bilateria. The similar, siRNA-like mode of action of miRNAs in Cnidaria and plants suggests that this may be an ancestral state.

c-Myc inhibition prevents leukemia initiation in mice and impairs the growth of relapsed and induction failure pediatric T-ALL cells

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:41am

Although prognosis has improved for children with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), 20% to 30% of patients undergo induction failure (IF) or relapse. Leukemia-initiating cells (LICs) are hypothesized to be resistant to chemotherapy and to mediate relapse. We and others have shown that Notch1 directly regulates c-Myc, a known regulator of quiescence in stem and progenitor populations, leading us to examine whether c-Myc inhibition results in efficient targeting of T-ALL-initiating cells. We demonstrate that c-Myc suppression by small hairpin RNA or pharmacologic approaches prevents leukemia initiation in mice by eliminating LIC activity. Consistent with its anti-LIC activity in mice, treatment with the BET bromodomain BRD4 inhibitor JQ1 reduces C-MYC expression and inhibits the growth of relapsed and IF pediatric T-ALL samples in vitro. These findings demonstrate a critical role for c-Myc in LIC maintenance and provide evidence that MYC inhibition may be an effective therapy for relapsed/IF T-ALL patients.

Clot injection technique affects thrombolytic efficacy in a rat embolic stroke model: implications for translaboratory collaborations

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:41am

Current recommendations encourage the use of embolic stroke (ES) models and replication of results across laboratories in preclinical research. Since such endeavors employ different surgeons, we sought to ascertain the impact of injection technique on outcome and response to thrombolysis in an ES model. Embolic stroke was induced in Male Wistar Kyoto rats (n=166) by a fast or a slow clot injection (CI) technique. Saline or recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) was given at 1 hour after stroke. Flow rate curves were assessed in 24 animals. Cerebral perfusion was assessed using laser Doppler flowmetry. Edema corrected infarct volume, hemispheric swelling, hemorrhagic transformation, and neurologic outcome were assessed at 24 hours after stroke. Clot burden was estimated in a subset of animals (n=40). Slow CI resulted in significantly smaller infarct volumes (P=0.024) and better neurologic outcomes (P=0.01) compared with fast CI at 24 hours. Unexpectedly, rtPA treatment attenuated infarct size in fast (P<0.001) but not in slow CI experiments (P=0.382), possibly related to reperfusion injury as indicated by greater hemorrhagic transformation (P < 0.001) and hemispheric swelling (P < 0.05). Outcome and response to thrombolysis after ES are operator dependent, which needs to be considered when comparing results obtained from different laboratories.

Caspase-8 modulates dectin-1 and complement receptor 3-driven IL-1beta production in response to beta-glucans and the fungal pathogen, Candida albicans

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:41am

Inflammasomes are central mediators of host defense to a wide range of microbial pathogens. The nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat containing family (NLR), pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome plays a key role in triggering caspase-1-dependent IL-1beta maturation and resistance to fungal dissemination in Candida albicans infection. beta-Glucans are major components of fungal cell walls that trigger IL-1beta secretion in both murine and human immune cells. In this study, we sought to determine the contribution of beta-glucans to C. albicans-induced inflammasome responses in mouse dendritic cells. We show that the NLRP3-apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing caspase recruitment domain protein-caspase-1 inflammasome is absolutely critical for IL-1beta production in response to beta-glucans. Interestingly, we also found that both complement receptor 3 (CR3) and dectin-1 play a crucial role in coordinating beta-glucan-induced IL-1beta processing as well as a cell death response. In addition to the essential role of caspase-1, we identify an important role for the proapoptotic protease caspase-8 in promoting beta-glucan-induced cell death and NLRP3 inflammasome-dependent IL-1beta maturation. A strong requirement for CR3 and caspase-8 also was found for NLRP3-dependent IL-1beta production in response to heat-killed C. albicans. Taken together, these results define the importance of dectin-1, CR3, and caspase-8, in addition to the canonical NLRP3 inflammasome, in mediating beta-glucan- and C. albicans-induced innate responses in dendritic cells. Collectively, these findings establish a novel link between beta-glucan recognition receptors and the inflammatory proteases caspase-8 and caspase-1 in coordinating cytokine secretion and cell death in response to immunostimulatory fungal components.

Caffeine inhibits glucose transport by binding at the GLUT1 nucleotide-binding site

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:41am

Glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) is the primary glucose transport protein of the cardiovascular system and astroglia. A recent study proposes that caffeine uncompetitive inhibition of GLUT1 results from interactions at an exofacial GLUT1 site. Intracellular ATP is also an uncompetitive GLUT1 inhibitor and shares structural similarities with caffeine, suggesting that caffeine acts at the previously characterized endofacial GLUT1 nucleotide-binding site. We tested this by confirming that caffeine uncompetitively inhibits GLUT1-mediated 3-O-methylglucose uptake in human erythrocytes [Vmax and Km for transport are reduced fourfold; Ki(app) = 3.5 mM caffeine]. ATP and AMP antagonize caffeine inhibition of 3-O-methylglucose uptake in erythrocyte ghosts by increasing Ki(app) for caffeine inhibition of transport from 0.9 +/- 0.3 mM in the absence of intracellular nucleotides to 2.6 +/- 0.6 and 2.4 +/- 0.5 mM in the presence of 5 mM intracellular ATP or AMP, respectively. Extracellular ATP has no effect on sugar uptake or its inhibition by caffeine. Caffeine and ATP displace the fluorescent ATP derivative, trinitrophenyl-ATP, from the GLUT1 nucleotide-binding site, but d-glucose and the transport inhibitor cytochalasin B do not. Caffeine, but not ATP, inhibits cytochalasin B binding to GLUT1. Like ATP, caffeine renders the GLUT1 carboxy-terminus less accessible to peptide-directed antibodies, but cytochalasin B and d-glucose do not. These results suggest that the caffeine-binding site bridges two nonoverlapping GLUT1 endofacial sites-the regulatory, nucleotide-binding site and the cytochalasin B-binding site. Caffeine binding to GLUT1 mimics the action of ATP but not cytochalasin B on sugar transport. Molecular docking studies support this hypothesis.

Brain slice biotinylation: an ex vivo approach to measure region-specific plasma membrane protein trafficking in adult neurons

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:41am

Regulated endocytic trafficking is the central mechanism facilitating a variety of neuromodulatory events, by dynamically controlling receptor, ion channel, and transporter cell surface presentation on a minutes time scale. There is a broad diversity of mechanisms that control endocytic trafficking of individual proteins. Studies investigating the molecular underpinnings of trafficking have primarily relied upon surface biotinylation to quantitatively measure changes in membrane protein surface expression in response to exogenous stimuli and gene manipulation. However, this approach has been mainly limited to cultured cells, which may not faithfully reflect the physiologically relevant mechanisms at play in adult neurons. Moreover, cultured cell approaches may underestimate region-specific differences in trafficking mechanisms. Here, we describe an approach that extends cell surface biotinylation to the acute brain slice preparation. We demonstrate that this method provides a high-fidelity approach to measure rapid changes in membrane protein surface levels in adult neurons. This approach is likely to have broad utility in the field of neuronal endocytic trafficking.

An improved predictive recognition model for Cys(2)-His(2) zinc finger proteins

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:41am

Cys(2)-His(2) zinc finger proteins (ZFPs) are the largest family of transcription factors in higher metazoans. They also represent the most diverse family with regards to the composition of their recognition sequences. Although there are a number of ZFPs with characterized DNA-binding preferences, the specificity of the vast majority of ZFPs is unknown and cannot be directly inferred by homology due to the diversity of recognition residues present within individual fingers. Given the large number of unique zinc fingers and assemblies present across eukaryotes, a comprehensive predictive recognition model that could accurately estimate the DNA-binding specificity of any ZFP based on its amino acid sequence would have great utility. Toward this goal, we have used the DNA-binding specificities of 678 two-finger modules from both natural and artificial sources to construct a random forest-based predictive model for ZFP recognition. We find that our recognition model outperforms previously described determinant-based recognition models for ZFPs, and can successfully estimate the specificity of naturally occurring ZFPs with previously defined specificities.

An evolutionarily conserved long noncoding RNA TUNA controls pluripotency and neural lineage commitment

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:41am

Here, we generated a genome-scale shRNA library targeting long intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) in the mouse. We performed an unbiased loss-of-function study in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) and identified 20 lincRNAs involved in the maintenance of pluripotency. Among these, TUNA (Tcl1 Upstream Neuron-Associated lincRNA, or megamind) was required for pluripotency and formed a complex with three RNA-binding proteins (RBPs). The TUNA-RBP complex was detected at the promoters of Nanog, Sox2, and Fgf4, and knockdown of TUNA or the individual RBPs inhibited neural differentiation of mESCs. TUNA showed striking evolutionary conservation of both sequence- and CNS-restricted expression in vertebrates. Accordingly, knockdown of tuna in zebrafish caused impaired locomotor function, and TUNA expression in the brains of Huntington's disease patients was significantly associated with disease grade. Our results suggest that the lincRNA TUNA plays a vital role in pluripotency and neural differentiation of ESCs and is associated with neurological function of adult vertebrates.

Allosteric inhibition of a stem cell RNA-binding protein by an intermediary metabolite

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:41am

Gene expression and metabolism are coupled at numerous levels. Cells must sense and respond to nutrients in their environment, and specialized cells must synthesize metabolic products required for their function. Pluripotent stem cells have the ability to differentiate into a wide variety of specialized cells. How metabolic state contributes to stem cell differentiation is not understood. In this study, we show that RNA-binding by the stem cell translation regulator Musashi-1 (MSI1) is allosterically inhibited by 18-22 carbon omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids. The fatty acid binds to the N-terminal RNA Recognition Motif (RRM) and induces a conformational change that prevents RNA association. Musashi proteins are critical for development of the brain, blood, and epithelium. We identify stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 as a MSI1 target, revealing a feedback loop between omega-9 fatty acid biosynthesis and MSI1 activity. We propose that other RRM proteins could act as metabolite sensors to couple gene expression changes to physiological state.

Activated mTORC1 promotes long-term cone survival in retinitis pigmentosa mice

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:40am

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited photoreceptor degenerative disorder that results in blindness. The disease is often caused by mutations in genes that are specific to rod photoreceptors; however, blindness results from the secondary loss of cones by a still unknown mechanism. Here, we demonstrated that the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is required to slow the progression of cone death during disease and that constitutive activation of mTORC1 in cones is sufficient to maintain cone function and promote long-term cone survival. Activation of mTORC1 in cones enhanced glucose uptake, retention, and utilization, leading to increased levels of the key metabolite NADPH. Moreover, cone death was delayed in the absence of the NADPH-sensitive cell death protease caspase 2, supporting the contribution of reduced NADPH in promoting cone death. Constitutive activation of mTORC1 preserved cones in 2 mouse models of RP, suggesting that the secondary loss of cones is caused mainly by metabolic deficits and is independent of a specific rod-associated mutation. Together, the results of this study address a longstanding question in the field and suggest that activating mTORC1 in cones has therapeutic potential to prolong vision in RP.

A systematic survey of an intragenic epistatic landscape

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:40am

Mutations are the source of evolutionary variation. The interactions of multiple mutations can have important effects on fitness and evolutionary trajectories. We have recently described the distribution of fitness effects of all single mutations for a nine-amino-acid region of yeast Hsp90 (Hsp82) implicated in substrate binding. Here, we report and discuss the distribution of intragenic epistatic effects within this region in seven Hsp90 point mutant backgrounds of neutral to slightly deleterious effect, resulting in an analysis of more than 1,000 double mutants. We find negative epistasis between substitutions to be common, and positive epistasis to be rare--resulting in a pattern that indicates a drastic change in the distribution of fitness effects one step away from the wild type. This can be well explained by a concave relationship between phenotype and genotype (i.e., a concave shape of the local fitness landscape), suggesting mutational robustness intrinsic to the local sequence space. Structural analyses indicate that, in this region, epistatic effects are most pronounced when a solvent-inaccessible position is involved in the interaction. In contrast, all 18 observations of positive epistasis involved at least one mutation at a solvent-exposed position. By combining the analysis of evolutionary and biophysical properties of an epistatic landscape, these results contribute to a more detailed understanding of the complexity of protein evolution.

A novel method to measure HLA-DM-susceptibility of peptides bound to MHC class II molecules based on peptide binding competition assay and differential IC(50) determination

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:40am

HLA-DM (DM) functions as a peptide editor that mediates the exchange of peptides loaded onto MHCII molecules by accelerating peptide dissociation and association kinetics. The relative DM-susceptibility of peptides bound to MHCII molecules correlates with antigen presentation and immunodominance hierarchy, and measurement of DM-susceptibility has been a key effort in this field. Current assays of DM-susceptibility, based on differential peptide dissociation rates measured for individually labeled peptides over a long time base, are difficult and cumbersome. Here, we present a novel method to measure DM-susceptibility based on peptide binding competition assays performed in the presence and absence of DM, reported as a delta-IC(50) (change in 50% inhibition concentration) value. We simulated binding competition reactions of peptides with various intrinsic and DM-catalyzed kinetic parameters and found that under a wide range of conditions the delta-IC(50) value is highly correlated with DM-susceptibility as measured in off-rate assay. We confirmed experimentally that DM-susceptibility measured by delta-IC(50) is comparable to that measured by traditional off-rate assay for peptides with known DM-susceptibility hierarchy. The major advantage of this method is that it allows simple, fast and high throughput measurement of DM-susceptibility for a large set of unlabeled peptides in studies of the mechanism of DM action and for identification of CD4+ T cell epitopes.

A description of patient- and rheumatologist-reported depression symptoms in an American rheumatoid arthritis registry population

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:40am

OBJECTIVES: Depression is a common and important comorbidity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The study aim was to describe rates of depressive symptoms and their associations with RA disease activity using measures reported from patients and rheumatologists.

METHODS: The Consortium of Rheumatology Researchers of North America (CORRONA) registry is an observational cohort with data on more than 33,000 RA patients. Using depression symptom measures reported separately by patients and rheumatologists, lifetime prevalence, 12-month prevalence, and annualised incidence rates (IR) were estimated. Additionally, cross-sectional associations between RA disease and a history of depressive symptoms were examined.

RESULTS: Lifetime prevalence estimates of 26.5% and 12.9% were reported by patients and rheumatologists, respectively. The 12-month prevalence rates reported by CORRONA patients and rheumatologists were 11.7% and 1.0%, respectively. The annualised IR from the self-reported depressive symptom measure was approximately 7.8 per 100 patient-years, compared to 0.4 per 100 patient-years reported by their rheumatologists. Increased disease activity at study entry was associated with a higher probability of reporting a history of depressive symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: RA patients have a high likelihood of experiencing symptoms of depression, while treating rheumatologists under-report them and disease estimates based on their reports were much lower when compared to healthy individuals. Thus, estimates of prevalence and the impact of these symptoms need to be interpreted based on the source of the diagnosis. Collectively, the findings of this study suggest that depressive symptoms are an important comorbidity that practicing rheumatologists should be aware of during clinical encounters.

A conserved three-nucleotide core motif defines Musashi RNA binding specificity

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:40am

Musashi (MSI) family proteins control cell proliferation and differentiation in many biological systems. They are overexpressed in tumors of several origins, and their expression level correlates with poor prognosis. MSI proteins control gene expression by binding RNA and regulating its translation. They contain two RNA recognition motif (RRM) domains, which recognize a defined sequence element. The relative contribution of each nucleotide to the binding affinity and specificity is unknown. We analyzed the binding specificity of three MSI family RRM domains using a quantitative fluorescence anisotropy assay. We found that the core element driving recognition is the sequence UAG. Nucleotides outside of this motif have a limited contribution to binding free energy. For mouse MSI1, recognition is determined by the first of the two RRM domains. The second RRM adds affinity but does not contribute to binding specificity. In contrast, the recognition element for Drosophila MSI is more extensive than the mouse homolog, suggesting functional divergence. The short nature of the binding determinant suggests that protein-RNA affinity alone is insufficient to drive target selection by MSI family proteins.

A bayesian MCMC approach to assess the complete distribution of fitness effects of new mutations: uncovering the potential for adaptive walks in challenging environments

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 1:40am

The role of adaptation in the evolutionary process has been contentious for decades. At the heart of the century-old debate between neutralists and selectionists lies the distribution of fitness effects (DFE)--that is, the selective effect of all mutations. Attempts to describe the DFE have been varied, occupying theoreticians and experimentalists alike. New high-throughput techniques stand to make important contributions to empirical efforts to characterize the DFE, but the usefulness of such approaches depends on the availability of robust statistical methods for their interpretation. We here present and discuss a Bayesian MCMC approach to estimate fitness from deep sequencing data and use it to assess the DFE for the same 560 point mutations in a coding region of Hsp90 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae across six different environmental conditions. Using these estimates, we compare the differences in the DFEs resulting from mutations covering one-, two-, and three-nucleotide steps from the wild type--showing that multiple-step mutations harbor more potential for adaptation in challenging environments, but also tend to be more deleterious in the standard environment. All observations are discussed in the light of expectations arising from Fisher's geometric model.

Variations in Community Prevalence and Determinants of Recreational and Utilitarian Walking in Older Age

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 1:31pm

Background. Regular walking is critical to maintaining health in older age. We examined influences of individual and community factors on walking habits in older adults.

Methods. We analyzed walking habits among participants of a prospective cohort study of 745 community-dwelling men and women, mainly aged 70 years or older. We estimated community variations in utilitarian and recreational walking, and examined whether the variations were attributable to community differences in individual and environmental factors.

Results. Prevalence of recreational walking was relatively uniform while prevalence of utilitarian walking varied across the 16 communities in the study area. Both types of walking were associated with individual health and physical abilities. However, utilitarian walking was also strongly associated with several measures of neighborhood socioeconomic status and access to amenities while recreational walking was not.

Conclusions. Utilitarian walking is strongly influenced by neighborhood environment, but intrinsic factors may be more important for recreational walking. Communities with the highest overall walking prevalence were those with the most utilitarian walkers. Public health promotion of regular walking should take this into account.

Bilateral Intracranial Vertebral Artery Stenosis Presenting as Recurrent Prolonged Presyncopal Episodes

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 1:30pm

Amongst various mechanisms of presyncopal events, posterior circulation disease needs to be considered. This particular mechanism has been underrecognized. We describe a case of a 76-year-old patient with recurrent posterior circulation TIAs, presenting as recurrent prolonged presyncopal events.