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Abstract

Myocardial infarction (MI) results in the generation of dead cells in the infarcted area. These cells are swiftly removed by phagocytes to minimize inflammation and limit expansion of the damaged area. However, the types of cells and molecules responsible for the engulfment of dead cells in the infarcted area remain largely unknown. In this study, we demonstrated that cardiac myofibroblasts, which execute tissue fibrosis by producing extracellular matrix proteins, efficiently engulf dead cells. Furthermore, we identified a population of cardiac myofibroblasts that appears in the heart after MI in humans and mice. We found that these cardiac myofibroblasts secrete milk fat globule-epidermal growth factor 8 (MFG-E8), which promotes apoptotic engulfment, and determined that serum response factor is important for MFG-E8 production in myofibroblasts. Following MFG-E8–mediated engulfment of apoptotic cells, myofibroblasts acquired antiinflammatory properties. MFG-E8 deficiency in mice led to the accumulation of unengulfed dead cells after MI, resulting in exacerbated inflammatory responses and a substantial decrease in survival. Moreover, MFG-E8 administration into infarcted hearts restored cardiac function and morphology. MFG-E8–producing myofibroblasts mainly originated from resident cardiac fibroblasts and cells that underwent endothelial-mesenchymal transition in the heart. Together, our results reveal previously unrecognized roles of myofibroblasts in regulating apoptotic engulfment and a fundamental importance of these cells in recovery from MI.

Authors

Michio Nakaya, Kenji Watari, Mitsuru Tajima, Takeo Nakaya, Shoichi Matsuda, Hiroki Ohara, Hiroaki Nishihara, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Akiko Hashimoto, Mitsuho Nishida, Akiomi Nagasaka, Yuma Horii, Hiroki Ono, Gentaro Iribe, Ryuji Inoue, Makoto Tsuda, Kazuhide Inoue, Akira Tanaka, Masahiko Kuroda, Shigekazu Nagata, Hitoshi Kurose

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Abstract

Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is an autosomal dominant tumor-suppressor gene syndrome caused by inactivating mutations in either TSC1 or TSC2, and the TSC protein complex is an essential regulator of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1). Patients with TSC develop hypomelanotic macules (white spots), but the molecular mechanisms underlying their formation are not fully characterized. Using human primary melanocytes and a highly pigmented melanoma cell line, we demonstrate that reduced expression of either TSC1 or TSC2 causes reduced pigmentation through mTORC1 activation, which results in hyperactivation of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β), followed by phosphorylation of and loss of β-catenin from the nucleus, thereby reducing expression of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF), and subsequent reductions in tyrosinase and other genes required for melanogenesis. Genetic suppression or pharmacological inhibition of this signaling cascade at multiple levels restored pigmentation. Importantly, primary melanocytes isolated from hypomelanotic macules from 6 patients with TSC all exhibited reduced TSC2 protein expression, and 1 culture showed biallelic mutation in TSC2, one of which was germline and the second acquired in the melanocytes of the hypomelanotic macule. These findings indicate that the TSC/mTORC1/AKT/GSK3β/β-catenin/MITF axis plays a central role in regulating melanogenesis. Interventions that enhance or diminish mTORC1 activity or other nodes in this pathway in melanocytes could potentially modulate pigment production.

Authors

Juxiang Cao, Magdalena E. Tyburczy, Joel Moss, Thomas N. Darling, Hans R. Widlund, David J. Kwiatkowski

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Abstract

Outer retinal and renal glomerular functions rely on specialized vasculature maintained by VEGF that is produced by neighboring epithelial cells, the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and podocytes, respectively. Dysregulation of RPE- and podocyte-derived VEGF is associated with neovascularization in wet age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), choriocapillaris degeneration, and glomerular thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA). Since complement activation and genetic variants in inhibitory complement factor H (CFH) are also features of both ARMD and TMA, we hypothesized that VEGF and CFH interact. Here, we demonstrated that VEGF inhibition decreases local CFH and other complement regulators in the eye and kidney through reduced VEGFR2/PKC-α/CREB signaling. Patient podocytes and RPE cells carrying disease-associated CFH genetic variants had more alternative complement pathway deposits than controls. These deposits were increased by VEGF antagonism, a common wet ARMD treatment, suggesting that VEGF inhibition could reduce cellular complement regulatory capacity. VEGF antagonism also increased markers of endothelial cell activation, which was partially reduced by genetic complement inhibition. Together, these results suggest that VEGF protects the retinal and glomerular microvasculature, not only through VEGFR2-mediated vasculotrophism, but also through modulation of local complement proteins that could protect against complement-mediated damage. Though further study is warranted, these findings could be relevant for patients receiving VEGF antagonists.

Authors

Lindsay S. Keir, Rachel Firth, Lyndsey Aponik, Daniel Feitelberg, Susumu Sakimoto, Edith Aguilar, Gavin I. Welsh, Anna Richards, Yoshihiko Usui, Simon C. Satchell, Valeryia Kuzmuk, Richard J. Coward, Jonathan Goult, Katherine R. Bull, Ruchi Sharma, Kapil Bharti, Peter D. Westenskow, Iacovos P. Michael, Moin A. Saleem, Martin Friedlander

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Abstract

Treatment options are limited for severe asthma, and the need for additional therapies remains great. Previously, we demonstrated that integrin αvβ6-deficient mice are protected from airway hyperresponsiveness, due in part to increased expression of the murine ortholog of human chymase. Here, we determined that chymase protects against cytokine-enhanced bronchoconstriction by cleaving fibronectin to impair tension transmission in airway smooth muscle (ASM). Additionally, we identified a pathway that can be therapeutically targeted to mitigate the effects of airway hyperresponsiveness. Administration of chymase to human bronchial rings abrogated IL-13–enhanced contraction, and this effect was not due to alterations in calcium homeostasis or myosin light chain phosphorylation. Rather, chymase cleaved fibronectin, inhibited ASM adhesion, and attenuated focal adhesion phosphorylation. Disruption of integrin ligation with an RGD-containing peptide abrogated IL-13–enhanced contraction, with no further effect from chymase. We identified α5β1 as the primary fibronectin-binding integrin in ASM, and α5β1-specific blockade inhibited focal adhesion phosphorylation and IL-13–enhanced contraction, with no additional effect from chymase. Delivery of an α5β1 inhibitor into murine airways abrogated the exaggerated bronchoconstriction induced by allergen sensitization and challenge. Finally, α5β1 blockade enhanced the effect of the bronchodilator isoproterenol on airway relaxation. Our data identify the α5β1 integrin as a potential therapeutic target to mitigate the severity of airway contraction in asthma.

Authors

Aparna Sundaram, Chun Chen, Amin Khalifeh-Soltani, Amha Atakilit, Xin Ren, Wenli Qiu, Hyunil Jo, William DeGrado, Xiaozhu Huang, Dean Sheppard

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December 2016

126 12 cover

December 2016 Issue

On the cover:
Transcriptional regulation of cardiac conduction

Park and colleagues demonstrate an essential role for the transcription factor ETV1 in controlling fast conduction in the heart. The cover image shows expression of Etv1-nlz (blue) reporter genes within specialized fast conduction fibers of the ventricular conduction system, labeled with Cntn2-EGFP (green). Image credit: Akshay Shekhar.

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Jci tm 2016 12

December 2016 JCI This Month

JCI This Month is a digest of the research, reviews, and other features published each month.

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Review Series - More

Hypoxia and Inflammation

Series edited by M. Celeste Simon

Inflammation is a primary response to injury and or infection, allowing the body to eliminate pathogens and/or damaged tissue and to initiate repair processes. Low oxygen levels, or hypoxia, is a key feature of inflamed tissue and is due to damage to the local vasculature and increased oxygen consumption by pathogens and infiltrating immune cells. In addition to being a feature of inflammation, hypoxia also induces and regulates the inflammatory response by inducing the release of inflammatory cytokines, directing immune cell infiltration, and tuning the responses of the immune cells themselves. These effects are largely mediated by a family of hypoxia-inducible transcription factors (HIFs), which serve as the master regulators of cellular responses to inadequate oxygenation and HIFs and their regulatory factors are now emerging as therapeutic targets in a number of disease states. Reviews in this series discuss the roles of hypoxia and HIFs in the regulation of inflammatory pathways, immune cell metabolism, mucosal inflammation, the tumor microenvironment, intestinal inflammation and colorectal cancer, and recovery from radiation-induced gastrointestinal toxicity. Together, these reviews identify a number of hypoxia-regulated processes that could potentially be targeted to modulate inflammation.

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