Preparing rice in a coffee machine can halve levels of the naturally occurring substance.
Nature News doi: 10.1038/nature.2015.18034
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), one of the most aggressive human malignancies, is thought to be initiated by KRAS activation. Here, we find that transcriptional activation mediated by the GLI family of transcription factors, although dispensable for pancreatic development, is required for KRAS induced pancreatic transformation. Inhibition of GLI using a dominant-negative repressor (Gli3T) inhibits formation of precursor Pancreatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia (PanIN) lesions in mice, and significantly extends survival in a mouse model of PDAC. Further, ectopic activation of the GLI1/2 transcription factors in mouse pancreas accelerates KRAS driven tumor formation and reduces survival, underscoring the importance of GLI transcription factors in pancreatic tumorigenesis. Interestingly, we find that although canonical GLI activity is regulated by the Hedgehog ligands, in the context of PDAC, GLI transcription factors initiate a unique ligand-independent transcriptional program downstream of KRAS, that involves regulation of the RAS, PI3K/AKT, and NF-кB pathways.
We identify I-kappa-B kinase epsilon (IKBKE) as a PDAC specific target of GLI, that can also regulate GLI transcriptional activity via positive feedback mechanism involving regulation of GLI subcellular localization. Using human PDAC cells, and an in vivo model of pancreatic neoplasia, we establish IKBKE as a novel regulator pf pancreatic tumorigenesis that acts as an effector of KRAS/GLI, and mediates pancreatic transformation. We show that genetic knockout of Ikbke leads to a dramatic inhibition of initiation and progression of pancreatic intraepithelial viii neoplasia (PanIN) lesions in mice carrying pancreas specific activation of oncogenic Kras. Furthermore, we find that although IKBKE is a known NF-кB activator, it only modestly regulates NF-кB activity in PDAC. Instead, we find that IKBKE strongly promotes AKT phosphorylation in PDAC in vitro and in vivo, and that IKBKE mediates reactivation of AKT post-inhibition of mTOR. We also show that while mTOR inhibition alone does not significantly affect pancreatic tumorigenesis, combined inhibition of IKBKE and mTOR has a synergistic effect leading to significant decrease tumorigenicity of PDAC cells.
Together, our findings identify GLI/IKBKE signaling as an important oncogenic effector pathway of KRAS in PDAC that regulates tumorigenicity, cell proliferation, and apoptosis via regulation of AKT and NF-кB signaling. We provide proof of concept for therapeutic targeting of GLI/IKBKE in PDAC, and support the evaluation of IKBKE as a therapeutic target in treatment of pancreatic cancer, and IKBKE inhibition as a strategy to improve efficacy of mTOR inhibitors in the clinic.
Psychometric Evaluation of Joint-Specific Patient-Reported Outcome Measures Before and After Total Knee Replacement: A Dissertation
Background: Patient reports of pain and function are used to inform the need for and timing of total knee replacement (TKR) and evaluate TKR outcomes. This dissertation compared measurement properties of commonly-used patient surveys in TKR and explored ways to develop more efficient knee-specific function measures.
Methods: 1,179 FORCE-TJR patients (mean age=66.1, 61% female) completed questionnaires before and 6 months after TKR. Patient surveys included the knee-specific Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) and generic SF-36 Health Survey. Tests of KOOS and WOMAC measurement properties included evaluations of scaling assumptions and reliability. Item response theory methods were used to calibrate 22 KOOS function items in one item bank; simulated computerized adaptive tests (CAT) then were used to evaluate shorter function scores customized for each patient. Validity and responsiveness of measures varying in attributes (knee-specific versus generic, longer versus shorter, CAT versus fixed-length) were compared.
Results: KOOS and WOMAC scales generally met tests of scaling assumptions, although many pain items were equally strong measures of pain and physical function. Internal consistency reliability of KOOS and WOMAC scales exceeded minimum levels of 0.70 recommended for group-level comparisons across sociodemographic and clinical subgroups. Function items could be calibrated in one item bank. CAT simulations indicated that reliable knee-specific function scores could be estimated for most patients with a 55-86% reduction in respondent burden, but one-third could not achieve a reliable (≥ 0.95) CAT score post-TKR because the item bank did not include enough items vi measuring high function levels. KOOS and WOMAC scales were valid and responsive. Short function scales and CATs were as valid and responsive as longer KOOS and WOMAC function scales. The KOOS Quality of Life (QOL) scale and SF-36 Physical Component Summary discriminated best among groups evaluating themselves as improved, same or worse at 6 months.
Conclusions: Results support use of the KOOS and WOMAC in TKR. Improved knee-specific function measures require new items that measure higher function levels. TKR outcomes should be evaluated with a knee-specific quality of life scale such as KOOS QOL, as well as knee-specific measures of pain and function and generic health measures.
This is the July 2015 issue of the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science Newsletter containing news and events of interest.
Fluorescence-based imaging techniques provide a simple, highly sensitive method of studying live cells and whole organisms in real time. Without question, fluorophores such as GFP, fluorescein, and rhodamines have contributed vastly to our understanding of both cell biology and biochemistry. However, most of the fluorescent molecules currently utilized suffer from one major drawback, the use of visible light. Due to cellular autofluorescence and the absorbance of incident light by cellular components, fluorescence imaging with visible wavelength fluorophores often results in high background noise and thus a low signal-to-noise ratio. Fortunately, this situation can be ameliorated by altering the wavelength of light used during imaging. Near-infrared (NIR) light (650-900 nm) is poorly absorbed by cells; therefore, fluorophores excited by this light provide a high signal-to-noise ratio and low background in cellular systems. While these properties make NIR fluorophores ideal for cellular imaging, most currently available NIR molecules cannot be used in live cells. The first half of this thesis addresses the synthetic difficulties associated with preparing NIR fluorophores that can be used within living systems. Small molecule NIR fluorophores are inherently hydrophobic which makes them unsuitable for use in the aqueous environment of the cell. Water-solubility is imparted to these dyes through highly polar sulfonates, which subsequently prevents the dyes from entering the cell. The novel work presented here details vii synthetic routes to aid in the development of sulfonated NIR fluorophores, which can be delivered into live cells through the inclusion of an esterase-labile sulfonate protecting group. Application of these synthetic techniques should allow for the development of novel NIR fluorophores with intracellular applications. The second half of this thesis addresses the need for novel NIR imaging reagents. Although several classes of NIR scaffolds do exist, most NIR probes are derivatives of a single class, heptamethine indocyanines. The work described here increases this palette by displaying the ability of NIR oxazines to function as an imaging reagent in live cells and in vivo and as a molecular sensor of biologically-relevant environmental conditions. Combined, the work contained herein has the capacity to not only advance the current NIR toolkit, but to expand it so that fluorescence imaging can move out of the dark and into the NIR light.
How does a nervous system orchestrate compound behaviors? Finding the neural basis of behavior requires knowing which neurons control the behavior and how they are connected. To accomplish this we measured and manipulated neural activity in a live, behaving animal with a completely defined connectome. The C. elegans escape response is a compound behavior consisting of a sequence of behavioral motifs. Gentle touch induces a reversal and suppression of head movements, followed by a deep turn allowing the animal to navigate away from the stimulus. The connectome provides a framework for the neural circuit that controls this behavior. We used optical physiology to determine the activity patterns of individual neurons during the behavior. Calcium imaging of locomotion interneurons and motor neurons reveal unique activity profiles during different motifs of the escape response. Furthermore, we used optogenetics and laser ablations to determine the contribution of individual neurons to each motif. We show these that the suppression of head movements and turning motifs are distinct motor programs and can be uncoupled from the reversal. The molecular mechanisms that regulate these motifs involve from signaling with the neurotransmitter tyramine. Tyramine signaling and gap junctions between locomotion interneurons and motor neurons regulate the temporal orchestration of the turning motif with the reversal. Additionally, tyramine signaling through a GPCR in GABAergic neurons facilitates the asymmetric turning during forward viii locomotion. The combination of optical tools and genetics allows us to dissect a how a neural circuit converts sensory information into a compound behavior.
Several rAAV vectors efficiently cross the blood-brain barrier and transduce neurons and astrocytes in the neonatal mouse central nervous system
Noninvasive systemic gene delivery to the central nervous system (CNS) has largely been impeded by the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Recent studies documented widespread CNS gene transfer after intravascular delivery of recombinant adeno-associated virus 9 (rAAV9). To investigate alternative and possibly more potent rAAV vectors for systemic gene delivery across the BBB, we systematically evaluated the CNS gene transfer properties of nine different rAAVEGFP vectors after intravascular infusion in neonatal mice. Several rAAVs efficiently transduce neurons, motor neurons, astrocytes, and Purkinje cells; among them, rAAVrh.10 is at least as efficient as rAAV9 in many of the regions examined. Importantly, intravenously delivered rAAVs did not cause abnormal microgliosis in the CNS. The rAAVs that achieve stable widespread gene transfer in the CNS are exceptionally useful platforms for the development of therapeutic approaches for neurological disorders affecting large regions of the CNS as well as convenient biological tools for neuroscience research.
Global CNS transduction of adult mice by intravenously delivered rAAVrh.8 and rAAVrh.10 and nonhuman primates by rAAVrh.10
Some recombinant adeno-associated viruses (rAAVs) can cross the neonatal blood-brain barrier (BBB) and efficiently transduce cells of the central nervous system (CNS). However, in the adult CNS, transduction levels by systemically delivered rAAVs are significantly reduced, limiting their potential for CNS gene therapy. Here, we characterized 12 different rAAVEGFPs in the adult mouse CNS following intravenous delivery. We show that the capability of crossing the adult BBB and achieving widespread CNS transduction is a common character of AAV serotypes tested. Of note, rAAVrh.8 is the leading vector for robust global transduction of glial and neuronal cell types in regions of clinical importance such as cortex, caudate-putamen, hippocampus, corpus callosum, and substantia nigra. It also displays reduced peripheral tissue tropism compared to other leading vectors. Additionally, we evaluated rAAVrh.10 with and without microRNA (miRNA)-regulated expressional detargeting from peripheral tissues for systemic gene delivery to the CNS in marmosets. Our results indicate that rAAVrh.8, along with rh.10 and 9, hold the best promise for developing novel therapeutic strategies to treat neurological diseases in the adult patient population. Additionally, systemically delivered rAAVrh.10 can transduce the CNS efficiently, and its transgene expression can be limited in the periphery by endogenous miRNAs in adult marmosets.