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DRC3 connects the N-DRC to dynein g to regulate flagellar waveform

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

The nexin-dynein regulatory complex (N-DRC), which is a major hub for the control of flagellar motility, contains at least 11 different subunits. A major challenge is to determine the location and function of each of these subunits within the N-DRC. We characterized a Chlamydomonas mutant defective in the N-DRC subunit DRC3. Of the known N-DRC subunits, the drc3 mutant is missing only DRC3. Like other N-DRC mutants, the drc3 mutant has a defect in flagellar motility. However, in contrast to other mutations affecting the N-DRC, drc3 does not suppress flagellar paralysis caused by loss of radial spokes. Cryo-electron tomography revealed that the drc3 mutant lacks a portion of the N-DRC linker domain, including the L1 protrusion, part of the distal lobe, and the connection between these two structures, thus localizing DRC3 to this part of the N-DRC. This and additional considerations enable us to assign DRC3 to the L1 protrusion. Because the L1 protrusion is the only non-dynein structure in contact with the dynein g motor domain in wild-type axonemes and this is the only N-DRC-dynein connection missing in the drc3 mutant, we conclude that DRC3 interacts with dynein g to regulate flagellar waveform.

Reduced tubulin polyglutamylation suppresses flagellar shortness in Chlamydomonas

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

Ciliary length control is an incompletely understood process essential for normal ciliary function. The flagella of Chlamydomonas mutants lacking multiple axonemal dyneins are shorter than normal; previously it was shown that this shortness can be suppressed by the mutation suppressor of shortness 1 (ssh1) via an unknown mechanism. To elucidate this mechanism, we carried out genetic analysis of ssh1 and found that it is a new allele of TPG2 (hereafter tpg2-3), which encodes FAP234 functioning in tubulin polyglutamylation in the axoneme. Similar to the polyglutamylation-deficient mutants tpg1 and tpg2-1, tpg2-3 axonemal tubulin has a greatly reduced level of long polyglutamate side chains. We found that tpg1 and tpg2-1 mutations also promote flagellar elongation in short-flagella mutants, consistent with a polyglutamylation-dependent mechanism of suppression. Double mutants of tpg1 or tpg2-1 and fla10-1, a temperature-sensitive mutant of intraflagellar transport, underwent slower flagellar shortening than fla10-1 at restrictive temperatures, indicating that the rate of tubulin disassembly is decreased in the polyglutamylation-deficient flagella. Moreover, alpha-tubulin incorporation into the flagellar tips in temporary dikaryons was retarded in polyglutamylation-deficient flagella. These results show that polyglutamylation deficiency stabilizes axonemal microtubules, decelerating axonemal disassembly at the flagellar tip and shifting the axonemal assembly/disassembly balance toward assembly.

p53 checkpoint ablation exacerbates the phenotype of Hinfp dependent histone H4 deficiency

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

Histone Nuclear Factor P (HINFP) is essential for expression of histone H4 genes. Ablation of Hinfp and consequential depletion of histones alter nucleosome spacing and cause stalled replication and DNA damage that ultimately result in genomic instability. Faithful replication and packaging of newly replicated DNA are required for normal cell cycle control and proliferation. The tumor suppressor protein p53, the guardian of the genome, controls multiple cell cycle checkpoints and its loss leads to cellular transformation. Here we addressed whether the absence of p53 impacts the outcomes/consequences of Hinfp-mediated histone H4 deficiency. We examined mouse embryonic fibroblasts lacking both Hinfp and p53. Our data revealed that the reduced histone H4 expression caused by depletion of Hinfp persists when p53 is also inactivated. Loss of p53 enhanced the abnormalities in nuclear shape and size (i.e. multi-lobed irregularly shaped nuclei) caused by Hinfp depletion and also altered the sub-nuclear organization of Histone Locus Bodies (HLBs). In addition to the polyploid phenotype resulting from deletion of either p53 or Hinfp, inactivation of both p53 and Hinfp increased mitotic defects and generated chromosomal fragility and susceptibility to DNA damage. Thus, our study conclusively establishes that simultaneous loss of both Hinfp and the p53 checkpoint is detrimental to normal cell growth and may predispose to cellular transformation.

Superresolution Pattern Recognition Reveals the Architectural Map of the Ciliary Transition Zone

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

The transition zone (TZ) of primary cilia serves as a diffusion barrier to regulate ciliogenesis and receptor localization for key signaling events such as sonic hedgehog signaling. Its gating mechanism is poorly understood due to the tiny volume accommodating a large number of ciliopathy-associated molecules. Here we performed stimulated emission depletion (STED) imaging of collective samples and recreated superresolved relative localizations of eight representative species of ciliary proteins using position averages and overlapped with representative electron microscopy (EM) images, defining an architectural foundation at the ciliary base. Upon this framework, transmembrane proteins TMEM67 and TCTN2 were accumulated at the same axial level as MKS1 and RPGRIP1L, suggesting that their regulation roles for tissue-specific ciliogenesis occur at a specific level of the TZ. CEP290 is surprisingly localized at a different axial level bridging the basal body (BB) and other TZ proteins. Upon this molecular architecture, two reservoirs of intraflagellar transport (IFT) particles, correlating with phases of ciliary growth, are present: one colocalized with the transition fibers (TFs) while the other situated beyond the distal edge of the TZ. Together, our results reveal an unprecedented structural framework of the TZ, facilitating our understanding in molecular screening and assembly at the ciliary base.

CFAP54 is required for proper ciliary motility and assembly of the central pair apparatus in mice

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

Motile cilia and flagella play critical roles in fluid clearance and cell motility, and dysfunction commonly results in the pediatric syndrome primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). CFAP221, also known as PCDP1, is required for ciliary and flagellar function in mice and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, where it localizes to the C1d projection of the central microtubule apparatus and functions in a complex that regulates flagellar motility in a calcium-dependent manner. We demonstrate that the genes encoding the mouse homologues of the other C. reinhardtii C1d complex members are primarily expressed in motile ciliated tissues, suggesting a conserved function in mammalian motile cilia. The requirement for one of these C1d complex members, CFAP54, was identified in a mouse line with a gene-trapped allele. Homozygous mice have PCD characterized by hydrocephalus, male infertility, and mucus accumulation. The infertility results from defects in spermatogenesis. Motile cilia have a structural defect in the C1d projection, indicating that the C1d assembly mechanism requires CFAP54. This structural defect results in decreased ciliary beat frequency and perturbed cilia-driven flow. This study identifies a critical role for CFAP54 in proper assembly and function of mammalian cilia and flagella and establishes the gene-trapped allele as a new model of PCD.

Transcriptional and post-transcriptional control of adipocyte differentiation by Jumonji domain-containing protein 6

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

Jumonji domain-containing protein 6 (JMJD6) is a nuclear protein involved in histone modification, transcription and RNA processing. Although JMJD6 is crucial for tissue development, the link between its molecular functions and its roles in any given differentiation process is unknown. We report that JMJD6 is required for adipogenic gene expression and differentiation in a manner independent of Jumonji C domain catalytic activity. JMJD6 knockdown led to a reduction of C/EBPbeta and C/EBPdelta protein expression without affecting mRNA levels in the early phase of differentiation. However, ectopic expression of C/EBPbeta and C/EBPdelta did not rescue differentiation. Further analysis demonstrated that JMJD6 was associated with the Ppargamma2 and Cebpalpha loci and putative enhancers. JMJD6 was previously found associated with bromodomain and extra-terminal domain (BET) proteins, which can be targeted by the bromodomain inhibitor JQ1. JQ1 treatment prevented chromatin binding of JMJD6, Ppargamma2 and Cebpalpha expression, and adipogenic differentiation, yet had no effect on C/EBPbeta and C/EBPdelta expression or chromatin binding. These results indicate dual roles for JMJD6 in promoting adipogenic gene expression program by post-transcriptional regulation of C/EBPbeta and C/EBPdelta and direct transcriptional activation of Ppargamma2 and Cebpalpha during adipocyte differentiation.

The SWI/SNF ATPases Are Required for Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

The Brahma (BRM) and Brahma-related Gene 1 (BRG1) ATPases are highly conserved homologs that catalyze the chromatin remodeling functions of the multi-subunit human SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling enzymes in a mutually exclusive manner. SWI/SNF enzyme subunits are mutated or missing in many cancer types, but are overexpressed without apparent mutation in other cancers. Here, we report that both BRG1 and BRM are overexpressed in most primary breast cancers independent of the tumor's receptor status. Knockdown of either ATPase in a triple negative breast cancer cell line reduced tumor formation in vivo and cell proliferation in vitro. Fewer cells in S phase and an extended cell cycle progression time were observed without any indication of apoptosis, senescence, or alterations in migration or attachment properties. Combined knockdown of BRM and BRG1 showed additive effects in the reduction of cell proliferation and time required for completion of cell cycle, suggesting that these enzymes promote cell cycle progression through independent mechanisms. Knockout of BRG1 or BRM using CRISPR/Cas9 technology resulted in the loss of viability, consistent with a requirement for both enzymes in triple negative breast cancer cells.

Brg1 Controls the Expression of Pax7 to Promote Viability and Proliferation of Mouse Primary Myoblasts

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

Brg1 (Brahma-related gene 1) is a catalytic component of the evolutionarily conserved mammalian SWI/SNF ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling enzymes that disrupt histone-DNA contacts on the nucleosome. While the requirement for the SWI/SNF enzymes in cell differentiation has been extensively studied, its role in precursor cell proliferation and survival is not as well defined. Muscle satellite cells constitute the stem cell pool that sustains and regenerates myofibers in adult skeletal muscle. Here, we show that deletion of Brg1 in primary mouse myoblasts derived from muscle satellite cells cultured ex vivo leads to a cell proliferation defect and apoptosis. We determined that Brg1 regulates cell proliferation and survival by controlling chromatin remodeling and activating transcription at the Pax7 promoter, which is expressed during somite development and is required for controlling viability of the satellite cell population. Reintroduction of catalytically active Brg1 or of Pax7 into Brg1-deficient satellite cells rescued the apoptotic phenotype and restored proliferation. These data demonstrate that Brg1 functions as a positive regulator for cellular proliferation and survival of primary myoblasts. Therefore, the regulation of gene expression through Brg1-mediated chromatin remodeling is critical not just for skeletal muscle differentiation but for maintaining the myoblast population as well.

CRISPR/dCas9-mediated transcriptional inhibition ameliorates the epigenetic dysregulation at D4Z4 and represses DUX4-fl in FSH muscular dystrophy

Mon, 11/09/2015 - 9:33am

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is one of the most prevalent myopathies, affecting males and females of all ages. Both forms of the disease are linked by epigenetic de-repression of the D4Z4 macrosatellite repeat array at chromosome 4q35, leading to aberrant expression of D4Z4-encoded RNAs in skeletal muscle. Production of full-length DUX4 (DUX4-fl) mRNA from the de-repressed D4Z4 array results in misexpression of DUX4-FL protein and its transcriptional targets, and apoptosis, ultimately leading to accumulated muscle pathology. Returning the chromatin at the FSHD locus to its non-pathogenic, epigenetically repressed state would simultaneously affect all D4Z4 RNAs, inhibiting downstream pathogenic pathways, and is thus an attractive therapeutic strategy. Advances in CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing make it possible to target epigenetic modifiers to an endogenous disease locus, although reports to date have focused on more typical genomic regions. Here we demonstrate that a CRISPR/dCas9 transcriptional inhibitor can be specifically targeted to the highly repetitive FSHD macrosatellite array and alter the chromatin to repress expression of DUX4-fl in primary FSHD myocytes. These results implicate the promoter and exon 1 of DUX4 as potential therapeutic targets and demonstrate the utility of CRISPR technology for correction of the epigenetic dysregulation in FSHD.

iMStrong: Deployment of a Biosensor System to Detect Cocaine Use

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 10:36pm

Biosensor systems are increasingly promoted for use in behavioral interventions. Portable biosensors might offer advancement over self-report use and can provide improved opportunity for detection and intervention in patients undergoing drug treatment programs. Fifteen participants wore a biosensor wristband capable of detecting multiple physiologic markers of sympathetic nervous system (SNS) arousal for 30 days. Urine drug screening and drug use self-report were obtained twice per week. A parameter trajectory description method was applied to capture abrupt changes in magnitude of three measures of SNS activity: Electrodermal activity (EDA), skin temperature and motion. Drug use events detected by the biosensor were verified using a triad of parameters: the biosensor data, urine drug screens, and patient self-report of substance use. Twelve positive cocaine urine screens were identified. Thirteen self-reported episodes of cocaine use were recorded. Distinct episodes with biometric parameters consistent with cocaine use were identified on biosensor data. Eleven potential cocaine use episodes were identified by biosensors that were missed by both self-report and drug screening. Study participants found mobile biosensors to be acceptable, and compliance with the protocol was high. Episodes of cocaine use, as measured by supraphysiologic changes in biophysiometric parameters, were detected by analysis of biosensor data in instances when self-report or drug screening or both failed. Biosensors have substantial potential in detecting substance abuse, in understanding the context of use in real time, and in evaluating the efficacy of behavioral interventions for drug abuse.

“Personas” to Support Development of Cyberinfrastructure for Scientific Data Sharing

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 8:41pm

Objective: To ensure that cyberinfrastructure for sharing scientific data is useful, system developers need to understand what scientists and other intended users do as well as the attitudes and beliefs that shape their behaviours. This paper introduces personas — detailed descriptions of an “archetypical user of a system” — as an approach for capturing and sharing knowledge about potential system users.

Setting: Personas were developed to support development of the ‘DataONE’ (Data Observation Network for Earth) project, which has developed and deployed a sustainable long-term data preservation and access network to ensure the preservation and access to multi-scale, multi-discipline, and multi-national environmental and biological science data ( (Michener et al. 2012).

Methods: Personas for DataONE were developed based on data from surveys and interviews done by members of DataONE working groups along with sources such as usage scenarios for DataONE and the Data Conservancy project and the Purdue Data Curation Profiles (Witt et al. 2009).

Results: A total of 11 personas were developed: five for various kinds of research scientists (e.g., at different career stages and using different types of data); a science data librarian; and five for secondary roles.

Conclusion: Personas were found to be useful for helping developers and other project members to understand users and their needs. The developed DataONE personas may be useful for others trying to develop systems or programs for scientists involved in data sharing.

Preparing to Accept Research Data: Creating Guidelines for Librarians

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 8:41pm

Rutgers University Libraries have recognized the need to expand their current research data services into a well-documented and well-supported service available to the Rutgers research community. In 2005, Rutgers University Libraries created RUcore, Rutgers University Community Repository, which has served as the University’s formal repository for institutional scholarship, special collections, and Electronic Theses & Dissertations. With the impetus of the 2010 NSF directive for research data sharing and preservation, RUcore development was extended to accept research data content. Ingest of pilot data projects began in 2010 via a librarian-mediated process.

In order to provide a better defined workflow and mission for research data services, in July 2014, the Rutgers University Librarian organized a Task Force to investigate the evaluation process for technical, legal, and confidential issues involved in research data acceptance, and to establish an administrative and evaluation framework for the deposit of research data. After a review of 35 repositories using 34 criteria, the Task Force drafted a plan for research data acceptance which proposes wide-spread acceptance of mediated data projects, and prepares for future self-deposit in an online interface. This paper will discuss the issues addressed by the Task Force; acknowledging ownership of data through an institutional data policy, preventing exposure of confidential or sensitive data, establishing a reconfigured data team, requirements for storage capacity and funding, creating a workflow which includes collaboration with research offices, and offering guidance for both researchers and librarians working with research data.

The Recovery Learning Community (RLC) Outcomes Study: Perspectives of RLC Participants

Tue, 11/03/2015 - 10:10am

Researchers at the UMass Medical School Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center (SPARC) worked with peer and state mental health stakeholders to develop a mixed-methods survey to assess individuals’ personal, health, and life outcomes in relation to Recovery Learning Community participation.

Investigating the Effects of Mutant FUS on Stress Response in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Thesis

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 8:41am

During stress, eukaryotes regulate protein synthesis in part through formation of cytoplasmic, non-membrane-bound complexes called stress granules (SGs). SGs transiently store signaling proteins and stalled translational complexes in response to stress stimuli (e.g. oxidative insult, DNA damage, temperature shifts and ER dysfunction). The functional outcome of SGs is proper translational regulation and signaling, allowing cells to overcome stress.

The fatal motor neuron disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) develops in an age-related manner and is marked by progressive neuronal death, with cytoplasmic protein aggregation, excitotoxicity and increased oxidative stress as major hallmarks. Fused in Sarcoma/Translocated in Liposarcoma (FUS) is an RNA-binding protein mutated in ALS with roles in RNA and DNA processing. Most ALS-associated FUS mutations cause FUS to aberrantly localize in the cytoplasm due to a disruption in the nuclear localization sequence. Intriguingly, pathological inclusions in human FUSALS cases contain aggregated FUS as well as several SG-associated proteins. Further, cytoplasmic mutant FUS incorporates into SGs, which increases SG volume and number, delays SG assembly, accelerates SG disassembly, and alters SG dynamics.

I posit that mutant FUS association with stress granules is a toxic gain-of-function in ALS that alters the function of SGs by interaction with SG components. Here, I show that mutant FUS incorporates in to SGs via its Cterminal RGG motifs, the methylation of which is not required for this localization. Further, I identify protein interactions specific to full-length mutant FUS under stress conditions that are potentially capable of interacting with FUS in SGs. Finally, I demonstrate a potential change in the protein composition of SGs upon incorporation of mutant FUS. These findings advance the field of ALS and SG biology, thereby providing groundwork for future investigation.

Role of Protein Kinase Map4k4 in Energy Metabolism: A Dissertation

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 8:40am

Systemic glucose regulation is essential for human survival as low or chronically high glucose levels can be detrimental to the health of an individual. Glucose levels are highly regulated via inter-organ communication networks that alter metabolic function to maintain euglycemia. For example, when nutrient levels are low, pancreatic α-cells secrete glucagon, which signals to the liver to promote glycogen breakdown and glucose production. In times of excess nutrient intake, pancreatic β-cells release insulin. Insulin signals to the liver to suppress hepatic glucose production, and signals to the adipose tissue and the skeletal muscle to take up excess glucose via insulin-regulated glucose transporters. Defects in this inter-organ communication network including insulin resistance can result in glucose deregulation and ultimately the onset of type-2 diabetes (T2D).

To identify novel regulators of insulin-mediated glucose transport, our laboratory performed an siRNA-mediated gene-silencing screen in cultured adipocytes and measured insulin-mediated glucose transport. Gene silencing of Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase kinase 4 (Map4k4), a Sterile-20-related serine/threonine protein kinase, enhanced insulin-stimulated glucose transport, suggesting Map4k4 inhibits insulin action and glucose transport. Thus, for the first part of my thesis, I explore the role of Map4k4 in cultured adipose cells and show that Map4k4 also represses lipid synthesis independent of its effects on glucose transport. Map4k4 inhibits lipid synthesis in a Mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1)- and Sterol regulatory element-binding transcription factor 1 (Srebp-1)-dependent mechanism and not via a c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (Jnk)-dependent mechanism. For the second part of my thesis, I explore the metabolic function of Map4k4 in vivo. Using mice with loxP sites flanking the Map4k4 allele and a ubiquitously expressed tamoxifen-activated Cre, we inducibly ablated Map4k4 expression in adult mice and found significant improvements in metabolic health indicated by improved fasting glucose and whole-body insulin action. To assess the role of Map4k4 in specific metabolic tissues responsible for systemic glucose regulation, we employed tissue-specific knockout mice to deplete Map4k4 in adipose tissue using an adiponectin-cre transgene, liver using an albumin-cre transgene, and skeletal muscle using a Myf5-cre transgene. Ablation of Map4k4 expression in adipose tissue or liver had no impact on whole body glucose homeostasis or insulin resistance. However, we surprisingly found that Map4k4 depletion in Myf5-positive tissues, which include skeletal muscles, largely recapitulates the metabolic phenotypes observed in systemic Map4k4 knockout mice, restoring obesity-induced glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. Furthermore these metabolic changes were associated with enhanced insulin signaling to Akt in the visceral adipose tissue, a tissue that is nearly devoid of Myf5-positive cells and does not display changes in Map4k4 expression. Thus, these results indicate that Map4k4 in Myf5-positive cells, most likely skeletal muscle cells, inhibits whole-body insulin action and these effects may be mediated via an indirect effect on the visceral adipose tissue. The results presented here provide evidence for Map4k4 as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of insulin resistance and T2D.

The Shape of Silence: The Solution-State Conformation of Sir Heterochromatin: A Dissertation

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 8:40am

Heterochromatin is a silenced chromatin region essential for maintaining genomic stability in eukaryotes and for driving developmental processes in higher organisms. A hallmark of heterochromatin is the presence of specialized architectural proteins that alter chromatin structure to inhibit transcription and recombination. Although it is generally assumed that heterochromatin is highly condensed, surprisingly little is known about the structure of heterochromatin or its dynamics in solution. In budding yeast, heterochromatin assembly at telomeres and the HM silent mating type loci requires the Sir proteins: Sir3, believed to be the major structural component of SIR heterochromatin, and the Sir2/4 complex, responsible for SIR recruitment to silencing regions and deacetylation of lysine 16 of the histone H4 tail, a mark associated with active chromatin. A combination of sedimentation velocity, atomic force microscopy, and nucleosomal array capture was used to characterize the stoichiometry and conformation of SIR nucleosomal arrays. The results indicate that Sir3 interacts with nucleosomal arrays with a stoichiometry of two Sir3 monomers per nucleosome, and that Sir2/4 may additionally bind at a ratio of one per nucleosome. Despite Sir3’s ability to repress transcription in vivo and homologous recombination in vitro in the absence of Sir2/4, Sir3 fibers were found to be significantly less compact than canonical magnesium-induced 30 nanometer fibers. However, heterochromatin fibers composed of all three Sir proteins did adopt a more condensed, globular structure. These results suggest that heterochromatic silencing is mediated both by the creation of more stable nucleosomes and by the steric exclusion of external factors.

Jun Kinases in Hematopoiesis, and Vascular Development and Function: A Dissertation

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 8:40am

Arterial occlusive diseases are major causes of morbidity and mortality in industrialized countries and represent a huge economic burden. The extent of the native collateral circulation is an important determinant of blood perfusion restoration and therefore the severity of tissue damage and functional impairment that ensues following arterial occlusion. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for collateral artery development may provide avenues for therapeutic intervention. Here, we identify a critical requirement for mixed lineage kinase (MLK) – cJun-NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling in vascular morphogenesis and native collateral artery development. We demonstrate that Mlk2-/-Mlk3-/- mice or mice with compound JNK-deficiency in the vascular endothelium display abnormal collateral arteries, which are unable to restore blood perfusion following arterial occlusion, leading to severe tissue necrosis in animal models of femoral and coronary artery occlusion. Employing constitutive and inducible conditional deletion strategies, we demonstrate that endothelial JNK acts during the embryonic development of collateral arteries to ensure proper patterning and maturation, but is dispensable for angiogenic and arteriogenic responses in adult mice. During developmental vascular morphogenesis, MLK – JNK signaling is required for suppression of excessive sprouting angiogenesis likely via JNK-dependent regulation of Dll4 expression and Notch signaling. This function of JNK may underlie its critical requirement for native collateral artery formation. Thus, this study introduces MLK – JNK signaling as a major regulator of vascular development.

In contrast, we find that JNK in hematopoietic cells, which are thought to share a common mesodermally-derived precursor with endothelial cells, is cellautonomously dispensable for normal hematopoietic development and hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal, illustrating the highly context dependent function of JNK.

The Role of Signal 3 Cytokine Timing in CD8 T Cell Activation: A Dissertation

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 3:18pm

During an acute virus infection, antigen-specific CD8 T cells undergo clonal expansion and differentiation into effector cells in order to control the infection. Efficient clonal expansion and differentiation of CD8 T cells are required to develop protective memory CD8 T cells. Antigen specific cells require 3 distinct signals for their activation: TCR engagement of peptide-MHC (signal 1), costimulation between B7 and CD28 (signal 2), and inflammatory cytokines including IL-12 or type 1 IFN (signal 3). CD8 T cells that encounter antigen and costimulation undergo programmed cell division, but these two signals alone are not sufficient for full effector cell differentiation and survival into memory. CD8 T cells need a third signal for efficient clonal expansion, differentiation into various effector populations, acquisition of cytolytic effector functions, and memory formation. The requirements for signal 3 cytokines in CD8 T cell activation have only been recently described; however, the timing of exposure to these signals has yet to be investigated. During the course of an immune response not all T cells will see antigen, costimulation, and inflammatory cytokines at the same time or in the same order. I sought to examine how the timing of signal 3 cytokines affected CD8 T cell activation. I questioned how the order of these signals effected CD8 T cell priming and subsequent activation, expansion and differentiation.

In order to study the in vivo effects of out-of-sequence signaling on CD8 T cell activation, I utilized poly(I:C), a dsRNA analogue, which is known to induce a strong type 1 IFN response. Through the use of various congenic transgenic and polyclonal CD8 T cell populations, in conjunction with adoptive transfer models, specific T cells which had been exposed to poly(I:C) induced environments could be identified and tracked over time. I wanted to characterize how out-of-sequence signaling affected T cell activation immediately after cognate antigen stimulation (4-5hours), and after prolonged exposure to cognate antigen (days-weeks).

Considering type 1 IFN can have both inhibitory and stimulatory effects on CD8 T cell proliferation, and when type 1 IFN provides signal 3 cytokine activity, it has positive effects on CD8 T cell expansion, I wanted to investigate the role of type 1 IFN as an out-of-sequence signal during CD8 T cell activation. We identified a transient defect in the phosphorylation of downstream STAT molecules after IFNβ signaling within poly(I:C) pretreated CD8 T cells. The inability of poly(I:C) pretreated CD8 T cells to respond to IFNβ signaling makes these cells behave in a manner more similar to T cells that only received 2 signals, rather than ones that received all 3 signals in the appropriate order. Consequently, poly(I:C) pretreated, or out-of-sequence, CD8 T cells were found to have defects in clonal expansion, effector differentiation and function as well as memory generation resulting in reduced efficacy of viral clearance.

Out-of-sequence CD8 T cells showed suppression of CD8 T cell responses after prolonged exposure to cognate antigen, but naïve CD8 T cells pre-exposed to poly(I:C) exhibited immediate effector function within hours of cognate antigen stimulation, prior to cell division. Poly(I:C) pretreated naïve CD8 T cells acquired an early activated phenotype associated with alterations of transcription factors and surface markers. Changes in naïve CD8 T cell phenotype are thought to be mediated by poly(I:C)-induced upregulation of self-MHC and costimulatory molecules on APCs through direct type 1 IFN signaling. Inoculating with poly(I:C) enabled naive CD8 T cells to produce effector functions immediately upon stimulation with high density cognate antigen, reduced affinity altered peptide ligands (APLs), and in response to reduced concentrations of cognate antigen. Unlike conventional naïve CD8 T cells, poly(I:C) pretreated naïve CD8 T cells acquired the ability to specifically lyse target cells. These studies identified how the timing of activation signals can dramatically affect the acquisition of CD8 T cell effector function.

This thesis describes how CD8 T cell exposure to activation signals in an unconventional order may result in altered response to antigen stimulation. Exposure of naïve CD8 T cells to type 1 IFN and costimulatory molecules in the presence of self-peptides enabled them to respond immediately upon antigen stimulation. Primed naïve CD8 T cells produced multiple cytokines in response to low-affinity, and low-density antigens, and gained ability to specifically lyse target cells. However, immediate effector function may come at the expense of clonal expansion and effector cell differentiation in response to prolonged antigen exposure as out-of-sequence CD8 T cells showed reduced proliferation, effector function and memory formation. The findings presented here may seem contradictory because out-of-sequence signaling can prime T cells to produce immediate effector functions and yet cause defects in T cell expansion and effector differentiation. However, these two models ascertained T cell function at different points after antigen exposure; one where functions were evaluated within hours after seeing cognate antigen, and the other showing T cell responses after days of antigen stimulation.

Studies described in this thesis highlight the growing complexity of CD8 T cell activation. Not only do the presence or absence of signals 1-3 contribute to T cell activation, but the timing of these signals also proves to be of great importance. These studies may describe how both latecomer and third party antigen specific T cells behave when and if they encounter cognate antigen in the midst of an ongoing infection. Out-of-sequence exposure to IFN initially stimulates effector function but at the expense of efficient clonal expansion and subsequent memory formation. The immediate effector function that naïve T cells gain during out-of-sequence priming may explain how some individuals are more resistant to superinfections, whereas the impairment in proliferation describes a universal mechanism of virus-induced immune suppression, explaining how other individuals can be more susceptible to secondary infections. Ultimately, results identified here can be applied to developing better and more effective vaccines.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Screen Time, Physical Activity, and Diet Quality: A Dissertation

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 3:18pm

Background. Emerging evidence suggests that youth with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may engage in sub-optimal health behaviors including high levels of screen time, low physical activity participation, and consumption of poor diets. These are independent risk factors for adverse health outcomes, and health-related behavior patterns established in childhood can track into adulthood. Thus, identifying and addressing dietary and physical activity habits in sub-populations of youth have important implications for health over the lifespan. The specific aims of this dissertation were to: (1) compare screen time between youth with and without ADHD and to assess its relationship to ADHD symptomatology; (2) compare participation in physical activity (PA) between adolescents with and without ADHD and to assess the relationship of PA participation to ADHD symptomatology; and (3) evaluate the association of diet quality and dietary patterns to ADHD symptomatology among youth ages 8-15 years.

Methods. The aforementioned outcomes of interest were analyzed using data from the continuous National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2004. These waves of NHANES included a structured DSM-IV-based interview administered to parents that identified youth with ADHD and also yielded symptom counts for hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention. Screen time and physical activity data were obtained from questionnaires that queried the amount of time spent watching television, playing videos, or using the computer outside of school time, and also surveyed the types, frequency, and duration of PA in which youth participated. Diet quality and dietary patterns, which included consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), total calorie intake, and eating frequency, were obtained by a 24-hour dietary recall using the Automated Multiple Pass Method of interviewing. Linear and logistic regression models adjusted for sociodemographic factors and anxiety/depression were employed to address the specific aims.

Results. The findings suggest that youth with ADHD are at the same, if not higher, risk for engaging in suboptimal health behaviors. Overall, youth participating in NHANES engaged in excessive amounts of screen time, failed to acquire sufficient physical activity, and consumed diets of poor quality. However, our findings suggest that ADHD symptomatology places youth at higher risk for sedentary behavior and poor diet quality. Relative to screen time, youth with ADHD showed a trend toward increased screen time, as did youth who took medication. ADHD symptoms were also associated with over two hours of daily TV viewing and overall increased screen time, and this was particularly true for children ages 8-11 years. Relative to physical activity, the outcomes did not differ between youth with and without ADHD, but the majority of youth did not meet the recommended guidelines of 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous PA each day. Diet quality was poor across the population of youth who participated in NHANES, and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms were associated with an even greater decrease in diet quality in both children and adolescents. In males, the presence of hyperactive/impulsive symptoms was associated with a decrease in diet quality, whereas in females, inattentive symptoms accounted for a decrease in diet quality. No differences in the other dietary patterns (i.e., SSB consumption, total energy intake, and eating frequency) were observed.

Conclusions. The diagnosis of ADHD and/or its symptoms are associated with less-than-recommended levels of screen time and poor diet quality, though youth in general were found to be engaging in suboptimal sedentary, physical activity, and dietary behaviors. The mechanisms for why youth with ADHD may have increased vulnerability to poorer health behaviors are not yet well understood. The findings from this dissertation support the need for ongoing efforts to address lifestyle factors among the nation’s youth generally, but may also stimulate new hypotheses about the needs of youth with ADHD from both public health and clinical perspectives, and encourage research on the implications of ADHD symptomatology on health-related behaviors and lifestyle factors.