Luciferin Amides Enable in Vivo Bioluminescence Detection of Endogenous Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase Activity
Firefly luciferase is homologous to fatty acyl-CoA synthetases. We hypothesized that the firefly luciferase substrate d-luciferin and its analogs are fatty acid mimics that are ideally suited to probe the chemistry of enzymes that release fatty acid products. Here, we synthesized luciferin amides and found that these molecules are hydrolyzed to substrates for firefly luciferase by the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). In the presence of luciferase, these molecules enable highly sensitive and selective bioluminescent detection of FAAH activity in vitro, in live cells, and in vivo. The potency and tissue distribution of FAAH inhibitors can be imaged in live mice, and luciferin amides serve as exemplary reagents for greatly improved bioluminescence imaging in FAAH-expressing tissues such as the brain.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) exhibits surprisingly high genomic diversity during natural infection although little is known about the limits or patterns of HCMV diversity among humans. To address this deficiency, we analyzed genomic diversity among congenitally infected infants. We show that there is an upper limit to HCMV genomic diversity in these patient samples, with approximately 25% of the genome being devoid of polymorphisms. These low diversity regions were distributed across 26 loci that were preferentially located in DNA-processing genes. Furthermore, by developing, to our knowledge, the first genome-wide mutation and recombination rate maps for HCMV, we show that genomic diversity is positively correlated with these two rates. In contrast, median levels of viral genomic diversity did not vary between putatively single or mixed strain infections. We also provide evidence that HCMV populations isolated from vascular compartments of hosts from different continents are genetically similar and that polymorphisms in glycoproteins and regulatory proteins are enriched in these viral populations. This analysis provides the most highly detailed map of HCMV genomic diversity in human hosts to date and informs our understanding of the distribution of HCMV genomic diversity within human hosts.
Quantitative Correlation of in Vivo Properties with in Vitro Assay Results: The in Vitro Binding of a Biotin-DNA Analogue Modifier with Streptavidin Predicts the in Vivo Avidin-Induced Clearability of the Analogue-Modified Antibody
Quantitative prediction of in vivo behavior using an in vitro assay would dramatically accelerate pharmaceutical development. However, studies quantitatively correlating in vivo properties with in vitro assay results are rare because of the difficulty in quantitatively understanding the in vivo behavior of an agent. We now demonstrate such a correlation as a case study based on our quantitative understanding of the in vivo chemistry. In an ongoing pretargeting project, we designed a trifunctional antibody (Ab) that concomitantly carried a biotin and a DNA analogue (hereafter termed MORF). The biotin and the MORF were fused into one structure prior to conjugation to the Ab for the concomitant attachment. Because it was known that avidin-bound Ab molecules leave the circulation rapidly, this design would theoretically allow complete clearance by avidin. The clearability of the trifunctional Ab was determined by calculating the blood MORF concentration ratio of avidin-treated Ab to non-avidin-treated Ab using mice injected with these compounds. In theory, any compromised clearability should be due to the presence of impurities. In vitro, we measured the biotinylated percentage of the Ab-reacting (MORF-biotin) superset-NH2 modifier, by addition of streptavidin to the radiolabeled (MORF-biotin) superset-NH2 samples and subsequent high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis. On the basis of our previous quantitative understanding, we predicted that the clearability of the Ab would be equal to the biotinylation percentage measured via HPLC. We validated this prediction within a 3% difference. In addition to the high avidin-induced clearability of the trifunctional Ab (up to approximately 95%) achieved by the design, we were able to predict the required quality of the (MORF-biotin) superset-NH2 modifier for any given in vivo clearability. This approach may greatly reduce the steps and time currently required in pharmaceutical development in the process of synthesis, chemical analysis, in vitro cell study, and in vivo validation.
Sorting juvenile offenders by risk requires valid risk assessment instruments, critical tools for facilitating matching the right services to the right youth at the right time. Juvenile justice systems need to consider risk in conjunction with juveniles’ mental health, to ensure that appropriate services are provided.
FSHD2 is a rare form of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) characterized by the absence of a contraction in the D4Z4 macrosatellite repeat region on chromosome 4q35 that is the hallmark of FSHD1. However, hypomethylation of this region is common to both subtypes. Recently, mutations in SMCHD1 combined with a permissive 4q35 allele were reported to cause FSHD2. We identified a novel p.Lys275del SMCHD1 mutation in a family affected with FSHD2 using whole-exome sequencing and linkage analysis. This mutation alters a highly conserved amino acid in the ATPase domain of SMCHD1. Subject III-11 is a male who developed asymmetrical muscle weakness characteristic of FSHD at 13 years. Physical examination revealed marked bilateral atrophy at biceps brachii, bilateral scapular winging, some asymmetrical weakness at tibialis anterior and peroneal muscles, and mild lower facial weakness. Biopsy of biceps brachii in subject II-5, the father of III-11, demonstrated lobulated fibers and dystrophic changes. Endomysial and perivascular inflammation was found, which has been reported in FSHD1 but not FSHD2. Given the previous report of SMCHD1 mutations in FSHD2 and the clinical presentations consistent with the FSHD phenotype, we conclude that the SMCHD1 mutation is the likely cause of the disease in this family.
SIGNIFICANCE: Aberrant epigenetic regulation is an integral aspect of many diseases and complex disorders. Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), a progressive myopathy that afflicts individuals of all ages, is caused by disrupted genetic and epigenetic regulation of a macrosatellite repeat. FSHD provides a powerful model to investigate disease-relevant epigenetic modifiers and general mechanisms of epigenetic regulation that govern gene expression.
RECENT ADVANCES: In the context of a genetically permissive allele, the one aspect of FSHD that is consistent across all known cases is the aberrant epigenetic state of the disease locus. In addition, certain mutations in the chromatin regulator SMCHD1 (structural maintenance of chromosomes hinge-domain protein 1) are sufficient to cause FSHD2 and enhance disease severity in FSHD1. Thus, there are multiple pathways to generate the epigenetic dysregulation required for FSHD.
CRITICAL ISSUES: Why do some individuals with the genetic requirements for FSHD develop disease pathology, while others remain asymptomatic? Similarly, disease progression is highly variable among individuals. What are the relative contributions of genetic background and environmental factors in determining disease manifestation, progression, and severity in FSHD? What is the interplay between epigenetic factors regulating the disease locus and which, if any, are viable therapeutic targets?
FUTURE DIRECTIONS: Epigenetic regulation represents a potentially powerful therapeutic target for FSHD. Determining the epigenetic signatures that are predictive of disease severity and identifying the spectrum of disease modifiers in FSHD are vital to the development of effective therapies.