Passively transferred human NMO-IgG exacerbates demyelination in mouse experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
BACKGROUND: Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is a devastating inflammatory disorder of the optic nerves and spinal cord characterized by frequently recurring exacerbations of humoral inflammation. NMO is associated with the highly specific NMO-IgG biomarker, an antibody that binds the aquaporin-4 water channel. Aquaporin-4 is present on glial endfeet in the central nervous system (CNS). In humans, the NMO-IgG portends more frequent exacerbations and a worse long-term clinical outcome.
METHODS: We tested the longer-term outcome of mice with EAE injected with NMO-IgG and followed them for 60 days. Clinical exams and pathology of the spinal cord and optic nerves were compared to mice that received control human IgG.
RESULTS: Passively transferred human NMO-IgG leads to more severe neurology disability over two months after onset of disease. Clinical worsening is associated with an increased concentration of large demyelinating lesions primarily to subpial AQP4-rich regions of the spinal cord.
CONCLUSIONS: NMO-IgG is pathogenic in the context of EAE in mice.
For 30 years, the tumor suppressor p53 has been a subject of intense research in nearly every discipline of scientific inquiry. While numerous surprising roles for p53 in health and disease are uncovered each year, the central role of its activation in preventing neoplastic transformation has been and will remain at the forefront of p53 research as investigators work to address an unexpectedly complex question—precisely how does p53 integrate upstream stress signals to coordinate activation of its target genes in response to stress?
One manner in which to address this question is at the level of transcription initiation—after upstream signals converge on p53 and produce a number of pools of post-transcriptionally modified p53, how exactly are specific target promoters activated in such a sensitive, context-specific manner? The work presented herein aims to address the role of histone acetylation at the p21 promoter—a critical mediator of G1/S arrest—by the P/CAF acetyltransferase in response to a variety of p53-activating stresses. We show that depletion of P/CAF strongly inhibits p21 expression in response to a variety of stresses, despite normal stabilization of p53 and recruitment to target promoters. This defect in p21 expression correlates closely with abrogation of stress-induced cell-cycle arrest. Strikingly, a p53 allele lacking putative P/CAF acetylation sites was still able to direct p21 expression, which was still dependent upon P/CAF. We show further that histone acetylation at H3K14 at the p21 promoter following stress is dependent upon P/CAF. Rescue of p21 expression with wild-type P/CAF or a ∆HAT point mutant indicates that P/CAF requires an intact HAT domain, suggesting that histone acetylation at H3K14 is catalyzed by P/CAF HAT activity, not the molecular bridging of a heterologous HAT by P/CAF. Furthermore, RNA polymerase II (RNAP II) was present at the p21 proximal promoter under all basal and stress conditions, but elongation of RNAP II after stress required the presence of P/CAF. These data indicate that H3K14 acetylation by P/CAF closely correlates with the activation status of the p21 promoter, and may be necessary for activation of a larger subset of p53-responsive promoters.
In addition to its critical role in p21 expression, we noted that p53 stabilization and cell-cycle arrest in response to p14ARF, but not other p53-stabilizing stresses, were also dependent on P/CAF. Cell-cycle arrest induced by p16INK4A was intact after P/CAF ablation, indicating a role for P/CAF in cell-cycle arrest specific to p14ARF-p53 signaling. Basal MDM2 levels were unaffected by P/CAF knockdown, as were p53- MDM2 and ARF-MDM2 complexes. A preliminary analysis of MDM2 localization was inconclusive, due to vastly different quantities of MDM2 in different conditions making analysis of subcellular localization difficult; however, the role of P/CAF in the relocalization of MDM2 to the nucleolus by p14ARF could potentially explain the defect in p53 stabilization, and should be explored further.
These observations, underscored by recent reports that P/CAF undergoes loss of heterozygosity in several tumor types, suggest that P/CAF plays a critical role in p53-mediated cell-cycle arrest through multiple, independent mechanisms. Further study should clarify whether P/CAF is lost in tumors maintaining wild-type p53, and whether its reintroduction into these tumors confers any potential therapeutic benefit.
IFN-alpha beta and self-MHC divert CD8 T cells into a distinct differentiation pathway characterized by rapid acquisition of effector functions
Nonvirus-specific bystander CD8 T cells bathe in an inflammatory environment during viral infections. To determine whether bystander CD8 T cells are affected by these environments, we examined P14, HY, and OT-I TCR transgenic CD8 T cells sensitized in vivo by IFN-alphabeta-inducing viral infections or by polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid. These sensitized cells rapidly exerted effector functions, such as IFN-gamma production and degranulation, on contact with their high-affinity cognate Ag. Sensitization required self-MHC I and indirect effects of IFN-alphabeta, which together upregulated the T-box transcription factor Eomesodermin, potentially enabling the T cells to rapidly transcribe CTL effector genes and behave like memory cells rather than naive T cells. IL-12, IL-15, IL-18, and IFN-gamma were not individually required for sensitization to produce IFN-gamma, but IL-15 was required for upregulation of granzyme B. These experiments indicate that naive CD8 T cells receive signals from self-MHC and IFN-alphabeta and that, by this process, CD8 T cell responses to viral infection can undergo distinct differentiation pathways, depending on the timing of Ag encounter during the virus-induced IFN response.
RNA-binding proteins are critical effectors of gene expression. They guide mRNA localization, translation, and stability, and potentially play a role in regulating mRNA synthesis. The structural basis for RNA recognition by RNA-binding proteins is the key to understand how they target specific transcripts for regulation. Compared to other metazoans, nematode genomes contain a significant expansion in several RNA-binding protein families, including Pumilio-FBF (PUF), TTP-like zinc finger (TZF), and Argonaute-like (AGO) proteins. Genetic data suggest that individual members of each family have distinct functions, presumably due to sequence variations that alter RNA-binding specificity or protein interaction partners. In this review, we highlight example structures and identify the variable regions that likely contribute to functional divergence in nematodes.
Focused Outreach Final Report: Hartford, Connecticut and North Central Massachsuetts (May 1, 2012 - April 30, 2013)
The National Network of Libraries of Medicine, New England Region (NN/LM NER) at the University of Massachusetts Medical seeks to further the mission of the NN/LM, while raising awareness, use and knowledge of National Library of Medicine (http://nlm.nih.gov) resources and services; and increasing collaboration with libraries through a Focused Health Information Outreach model. Focused Health Information Outreach targets specific geographic areas in New England facing high rates of health disparities, socioeconomic challenges, and health care shortages. NER reaches out to libraries, public health agencies, schools, and other stakeholders in the provision of health information to connect them with the NLM. This project summary highlights accomplishments of the NER's third cycle (Year 2) of Focused Outreach. Geographic areas for year 2 included Hartford, Connecticut and North Central Massachusetts.
TCR signaling via Tec kinase ITK and interferon regulatory factor 4 (IRF4) regulates CD8+ T-cell differentiation
CD8(+) T-cell development in the thymus generates a predominant population of conventional naive cells, along with minor populations of "innate" T cells that resemble memory cells. Recent studies analyzing a variety of KO or knock-in mice have indicated that impairments in the T-cell receptor (TCR) signaling pathway produce increased numbers of innate CD8(+) T cells, characterized by their high expression of CD44, CD122, CXCR3, and the transcription factor, Eomesodermin (Eomes). One component of this altered development is a non-CD8(+) T cell-intrinsic role for IL-4. To determine whether reduced TCR signaling within the CD8(+) T cells might also contribute to this pathway, we investigated the role of the transcription factor, IFN regulatory factor 4 (IRF4). IRF4 is up-regulated following TCR stimulation in WT T cells; further, this up-regulation is impaired in T cells treated with a small-molecule inhibitor of the Tec family tyrosine kinase, IL-2 inducible T-cell kinase (ITK). In contrast to WT cells, activation of IRF4-deficient CD8(+) T cells leads to rapid and robust expression of Eomes, which is further enhanced by IL-4 stimulation. In addition, inhibition of ITK together with IL-4 increases Eomeso up-regulation. These data indicate that ITK signaling promotes IRF4 up-regulation following CD8(+) T-cell activation and that this signaling pathway normally suppresses Eomes expression, thereby regulating the differentiation pathway of CD8(+) T cells.
The Role of Ion Channels in Coordinating Neural Circuit Activity in Caenorhabditis elegans: A Dissertation
Despite the current understanding that sensorimotor circuits function through the action of transmitters and modulators, we have a limited understanding of how the nervous system directs the flow of information necessary to orchestrate complex behaviors. In this dissertation, I aimed to uncover how the nervous system coordinates these behaviors using the escape response of the soil nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, as a paradigm. C. elegans exhibits a robust escape behavior in response to touch. The worm typically moves forward in a sinusoidal pattern, which is accompanied by exploratory head movements. During escape, the worm quickly retreats by moving backward from the point of stimulus while suppressing its head movements. It was previously shown that the biogenic amine tyramine played an important role in modulating the suppression of these head movmemetns in response to touch. We identified a novel tyramine-gated chloride channel, LGC-55, whose activation by tyramine coordinates motor programs essential for escape. Furthermore, we found that changing the electrical nature of a synapse within the neural circuit for escape behavior can reverse its behavioral output, indicating that the C. elegans connectome is established independent of the nature of synaptic activity or behavioral output. Finally, we characterized a unique mutant, zf35 , which is hyperactive in reversal behavior. This mutant was identified as a gain of function allele of the C. elegans P/Q/N-type voltage-gated calcium channel, UNC-2. Taken together, this work defines tyramine as a genuine neurotransmitter and completes the neural circuit that controls the initial phases of the C. elegans escape response. Additionally, this research further advances the understanding of how the interactions between transmitters and ion channels can precisely regulate neural circuit activity in the execution of a complex behavior.
Small silencing RNAs function in almost every aspect of cellular biology. Argonaute proteins bind small RNA and execute gene silencing. The number of Argonaute paralogs range from 5 in Drosophila melanogaster , 8 in Homo sapiens to an astounding 27 in Caenorhabditis elegans. This begs several questions: Do Argonaute proteins have different small RNA repertoires? Do Argonaute proteins behave differently? And if so, how are they functionally and mechanistically distinct?
To address these questions, we examined the thermodynamic, kinetic and functional properties of fly Argonaute1 (dAgo1), fly Argonaute2 (dAgo2) and mouse Argonaute2 (mAGO2). Our studies reveal that in fly, small RNA duplexes sort into Argonaute proteins based on their intrinsic structures: extensively paired siRNA duplex is preferentially sorted into dAgo2 while imperfectly paired miRNA duplex is channeled into dAgo1. The sorting of small RNA is uncoupled from its biogenesis. This is exemplified by mir-277, which is born a miRNA but its extensive duplex structure licenses its entry into dAgo2. In the Argonaute protein, the small RNA guide partitions into functional domains: anchor, seed, central, 3' supplementary and tail. Of these domains, the seed initiates binding to target.
Both dAgo2 and mAGO2 (more closely related to and a surrogate for dAgo1 in our studies) bind targets at astonishing diffusion-limited rates (~107–108 M−1s−1). The dissociation kinetics between dAgo2 and mAGO2 from their targets, however, are different. For a fully paired target, dAgo2 dissociates slowly (t½ ~2 hr) but for a seed-matched target, dAgo2 dissociates rapidly (t½ ~20 s). In comparison, mAGO2 does not discriminate between either targets and demonstrates an equivalent dissociation rate (t½ ~20 min). Regardless, both dAgo2 and mAGO2 demonstrate high binding affinity to perfect targets with equilibrium dissociation constants, KD ~4–20 pM. Functionally, we also showed that dAgo1 but not dAgo2 silence a centrally bulged target. By contrast, dAgo2 cleaved and destroyed perfectly paired targets 43-fold faster than dAgo1. In target cleavage, dAgo2 can tolerate mismatches, bulged and internal loop in the target but at the expense of reduced target binding affinities and cleavage rates.
Taken together, our studies indicate that small RNAs are actively sorted into different Argonaute proteins with distinct thermodynamic, kinetic and functional behaviors. Our quantitative biochemical analysis also allows us to model how Argonaute proteins find, bind and regulate their targets.
The Role of Inducible T Cell Kinase (Itk) in the Development of Innate T Cells and in the Formation of Protective Memory Responses: A Dissertation
T cell development in the thymus produces multiple lineages of cells, including conventional naïve CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, regulatory T cells, and innate T cells. Innate T cells encompass γδ T cells, invariant natural killer (iNKT) cells, mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, and H2-M3-restricted cells (Berg, 2007). Although they are a minor subset of all thymocytes, innate T cells develop in the thymus and share characteristics of the innate and adaptive immune systems (Berg, 2007). These lymphocytes undergo antigen receptor rearrangement and are able to exert their effector function immediately upon ex vivo stimulation (Berg, 2007). However, in several strains of mice harboring mutations in T cell signaling proteins or transcriptional regulators, conventional CD8+ T cells develop as innate cells that share characteristics with memory T cells (Atherly et al., 2006b; Broussard et al., 2006; Fukuyama et al., 2009; Gordon et al., 2011; Verykokakis et al., 2010b; Weinreich et al., 2010). One of these signaling proteins, inducible T cell kinase (Itk) is a nonreceptor protein tyrosine kinase that signals downstream of the T cell receptor (TCR) (Berg et al., 2005). Upon TCR activation, Itk is activated and recruited to the TCR signaling complex, where Itk interacts with Src homology 2 (SH2) domain-containing leukocyte phosphoprotein of 76 kDa (SLP-76), linker for activation of T cells (LAT), and phospholipase C γ1 (PLCγ1) (Berg et al., 2005). Thus, in Itk-deficient mice, TCR signaling is disrupted, which results in mature CD4- CD8+ (CD8SP) thymocytes that are CD44high, CD62Lhigh, CD122+, and CXCR3+ and that express high levels of the transcription factor, Eomesodermin (Eomes) (Atherly et al., 2006b; Broussard et al., 2006; Weinreich et al., 2010). Recently, it was determined that the development of these innate CD8SP thymocytes in itk-/- mice is dependent on IL-4 produced in the thymic environment by a poorly characterized subset of CD3+ thymocytes expressing the transcriptional regulator, promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger (PLZF) (Gordon et al., 2011; Verykokakis et al., 2010b; Weinreich et al., 2010). Here we show that a sizeable proportion of mature CD4+ CD8- (CD4SP) thymocytes in itk-/- mice also develop as Eomesodermin+ innate T cells. These Eomes+ innate CD4+ T cells are CD44high, CD62Lhigh, CD122+, and CXCR3+ (Atherly et al., 2006b; Broussard et al., 2006; Dubois et al., 2006; Weinreich et al., 2010). Surprisingly, neither CD4SP nor CD8SP innate thymocytes in itk-/- mice are dependent on γδ T cells for their development as was previously hypothesized (Alonzo and Sant'Angelo, 2011). Instead, both subsets of innate itk-/- T cells require the presence of a novel PLZF-expressing, SAP-dependent thymocyte population that is essential for the conversion of conventional CD4+ and CD8+ T cells into Eomesodermin-expressing innate T cells with a memory phenotype. This novel subset of PLZF-expressing SAP-dependent innate T cells preferentially home to the spleen and mesenteric lymph nodes and have a restricted TCR repertoire. Thus, we have christened this subset as CD4+ PLZF + MAIT-like cells. We have characterized multiple subsets of innate T cells that expand in the absence of Itk. Therefore, we were interested in how innate T cells respond to infection. Although Itk KO mice have defects in cytolytic function and cytokine production during an acute infection, these mice are able to clear viral infections (Atherly et al., 2006a; Bachmann et al., 1997). Hence, we hypothesized that Itk-deficient memory CD8+ T cells would be able to provide protection upon a challenge infection. Conversely, we found this not to be true although Itk-deficient memory CD8+ T cells were present in similar frequencies and cell numbers as WT memory CD8+ T cells at 42 days post-infection. Furthermore, Itk-deficient memory CD8+ T cells were able to produce IFNγ and exert cytolytic function upon stimulation. Although the function of Itk-deficient memory CD8+ T cells appeared to be intact, we found that these cells were unable to expand in response to a challenge infection. Remarkably, conventional memory CD8+ T cells lacking Itk were able to expand and form protective memory responses upon challenge. Thus, the inability of Eomes+ innate CD8+ T cells to form protective memory responses does not appear to be intrinsic to cells deficient in Itk. This thesis is divided into six major chapters. The first chapter will provide an introduction to T cell development and the role of Itk in T cell development. Additionally, it will introduce a variety of innate T cell subsets that will be discussed throughout this thesis and will provide an overview of CD4+ and CD8 + T cell differentiation during infection. This section will explain the role of Itk in CD4+ helper T cell differentiation and describe how Itk-deficient CD8+ T cells respond to acute infection. The introduction will also discuss the generation of conventional memory CD8+ T cells. The second chapter will provide the details of the experimental procedures used in this thesis. The third chapter will describe the characterization and development of Eomes+ innate CD4+ T cells that develop in the absence of Itk. Additionally, this chapter will address the subset of PLZF+ innate T cells that induce the expression of Eomes in innate T cells. The fourth chapter will further characterize and explore the development of itk-/- CD4+ PLZF+ MAIT-like T cells. The fifth chapter will examine the role of Eomes + innate CD8+ T cells in protective memory responses. Chapters three through five will display work that is in preparation to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. The sixth chapter will discuss the results of this thesis and their implications.
TNFα-induced programmed necrosis is a caspase-independent cell death program that is contingent upon the formation of a multiprotein complex termed the necrosome. The association of two of the components of the necrosome, receptor interacting protein 1 (RIP1) and RIP3, is a critical and signature molecular event during necrosis. Within this complex, both RIP1 and RIP3 are phosphorylated which are consequential for transmission of the pro-necrotic signal. Namely, it has been demonstrated that RIP3 phosphorylation is required for binding to downstream substrates. Nevertheless, the regulatory mechanisms governing necrosome activation remain unclear. Since necrosis is implicated in a variety of different diseases, understanding the biochemical signaling pathway can potentially yield future drug targets. I was interested in identifying other regulators of necrosis in hope of gaining a better understanding of the necrosis signaling pathway and regulators of the necrosome. To address this, I screened a cancer gene siRNA library in a cell line sensitive to necrosis. From this, I independently identified CYLD as a positive regulator of necrosis. Previous studies suggest that deubiquitination of RIP1 in the TNF receptor (TNFR)-1 signaling complex is a prerequisite for transition of RIP1 into the cytosol and assembly of the RIP1-RIP3 necrosome. The deubiquitinase cylindromatosis (CYLD) is presumed to promote programmed necrosis by facilitating RIP1 deubiquitination in this membrane receptor complex. Surprisingly, I found that TNFα could induce RIP1-dependent necrosis in CYLD-/- cells. I show that CYLD does not regulate RIP1 ubiquitination at the receptor complex. Strikingly, assembly of the RIP1-RIP3 necrosome was delayed, but not abolished in the absence of CYLD. In addition to the TNFR-1 complex, I found that RIP1 within the necrosome was also ubiquitinated. In the absence of CYLD, RIP1 ubiquitination in the NP-40 insoluble necrosome was greatly increased. Increased RIP1 ubiquitination correlated with impaired RIP1 and RIP3 phosphorylation, a signature of kinase activation. My results show that CYLD regulates RIP1 ubiquitination in the NP-40 insoluble necrosome, but not in the TNFR-1 signaling complex. Contrary to the current model, CYLD is not essential for necrosome assembly. Rather, it facilitates RIP1 and RIP3 activation within the necrosome and the corollary is enhancement of necrosome functionality and subsequent necrosis. My results therefore indicate that CYLD exerts its pro-necrotic function in the NP-40 insoluble necrosome, and illuminates the mechanism of necrosome activation.
This paper proposes a new approach that uses people's social interaction behavior collected by mobile phones and vital signs collected by wireless body area networks (WBAN) for epidemic control. By this approach, infectious people who are socially active can be quickly identified to be quarantined. To realize this approach, we introduce a notion of critical network and critical node identification algorithm. Observing some resource constraints such as quarantine cost and hardware limitation, we focus on optimizing the proposed approach such that high epidemic control effectiveness is achieved while the corresponding overhead is minimized. Our simulation results demonstrate that our approach can effectively control the spread of epidemic diseases in various situations.
Accurate and real-time tracing of epidemic sources is critical for epidemic origin analyses and control when outbreaks of epidemic diseases occur. Such tracing requires the simultaneous availability of information about social interactions among people as well as their body vital signs. Existing epidemic control methods are limited due to their inability to collect the above two types of information at the same time. In this paper, for the first time, we propose integrating wireless body area networks (WBANs) for body vital signs collection with mobile phones for social interaction sensing to achieve the desired epidemic source tracing. In particular, we design a mobile phone capability driven hierarchical social interaction detection framework integrated with WBANs. With this framework, we further propose a set of epidemic source tracing and control algorithms including genetic algorithm based search and dominating set identification algorithms to effectively identify epidemic sources and inhibit epidemic spread. We have also conducted extensive simulations, analyses, and case studies based on real data sets, which demonstrate the accuracy and effectiveness of our proposed solutions.
This commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association calls for an end to the “diet debates" in the scientific community and reported in the media.