Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is a rare genetic disorder primarily caused by mutations in the SERPING1 gene encoding the C1 inhibitor (C1INH) that leads to plasma deficiency, resulting in recurrent attacks of severe swelling. In the current issue of the JCI, Haslund et al. show that in a subset of patients with type I HAE, mutated C1INH encoded by HAE-causing SERPING1 acts upon wildtype (WT) C1INH in a dominant-negative manner and forms intracellular C1INH aggregates. These aggregates lead to a reduction in the levels of secreted functional C1INH, thereby manifesting in the condition that allows the disease state. Interestingly, administration of WT SERPING1 gene is able to restore the levels of secreted C1INH, thereby opening up a novel mechanism justifying gene therapy for HAE.
Alvin H. Schmaier
Hepcidin is the master regulator of iron metabolism. It plays a key role in the regulation of iron transport across the duodenal epithelium, which in turn is dependent on the oxygen-regulated transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 2α (HIF-2α). In this issue of the JCI, Schwartz and colleagues show that duodenal HIF-2α is itself regulated by hepcidin, thereby indicating that this transcription factor is not only regulated by oxygen, but also by iron. This work indicates that the crosstalk between liver hepcidin and intestinal HIF-2α plays an important role during iron overload, systemic iron deficiency, and anemia.
Frank S. Lee
Antibodies that target immune checkpoint molecules, such as CTLA4, provide robust antitumor effects in a subset of patients. Unfortunately, not all patients respond to immune checkpoint inhibition, and some develop life-threatening immune-related adverse events (irAEs). The mechanisms that underlie irAEs from immune checkpoint inhibition are not fully understood, and treatment strategies are currently limited to targeting inflammatory mediators. In this issue of the JCI, Pai et al. report on their development of a modified CTLA4 antibody that shields the inner CTLA4-binding domain until the antibody is within the protease-rich tumor microenvironment. In a lymphopenic murine model reconstituted with naive CD4+ T cells, adapted anti-CTLA4 reduced the occurrence of irAEs and enhanced antitumor effects. This thought-provoking study lays the groundwork for further exploration of this adapted antibody in immunocompetent hosts and introduction of this adaptation to other immune checkpoint molecules. It also suggests that this approach may reduce the incidence of irAEs.
Jarushka Naidoo, Arbor Dykema, Franco D’Alessio
Adoptive cell transfer (ACT) of engineered T cell receptors (TCRs) for cancer immunotherapy has evolved from simple gene transfer of isolated TCRs to various affinity enhancement techniques that overcome limitations imposed by central and peripheral tolerance on TCR affinity. In the current issue of the JCI, Poncette et al. used mice with human TCRαβ and HLA gene loci to discover CD4+ TCRs of optimal affinity for cancer testis antigen (CTA) NY-ESO-1. They combined this TCR with a previously discovered NY-ESO-1–specific CD8+ TCR in an ACT fibrosarcoma tumor model to demonstrate the importance of T cell help in mediating antitumor responses.
Ariel Isser, Jonathan P. Schneck
The development of acute kidney injury (AKI) in patients with sepsis causes significant morbidity and mortality. The pathogenesis of AKI in sepsis is incompletely understood. In this issue of the JCI, Hato et al. investigate the renal translatome during bacterial sepsis and identify the global shutdown of renal protein translation mediated by the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2-α kinase 2/eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (EIF2AK2/eIF2α) axis as a major pathway in mediating septic AKI. The results of this study suggest that inhibiting this pathway could be a potential therapeutic strategy for preventing septic AKI.
Sarah C. Huen
Individuals with the rs671 SNP in the gene encoding aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD); however, it has been unclear if this mutation contributes to CVD development. In this issue of the JCI, Zhong et al. perform an elegant set of experiments that reveal a pathway wherein the ALDH2 rs671 mutant is phosphorylated by AMPK and translocates to the nucleus where it represses the transcription of a lysosomal H+ pump subunit that is critical for lipid degradation and foam cell formation, as occurs in atherosclerosis. The discovery of this pathway may explain how subjects harboring ALDH2 rs671 are at a greater risk for numerous other disease states and thereby provide new targets for therapeutic intervention.
Andrew A. Gibb, John W. Elrod
Lipins play important roles in adipogenesis, insulin sensitivity, and gene regulation, and mutations in these genes cause lipodystrophy, myoglobinuria, and inflammatory disorders. While all lipins (lipin 1, 2, and 3) act as phosphatidic acid phosphatase (PAP) enzymes, which are required for triacylglycerol (TAG) synthesis from glycerol 3-phosphate, lipin 1 has been the focus of most of the lipin-related research. In the current issue of the JCI, Zhang et al. show that while lipin 2 and 3 are expendable for the incorporation of dietary fatty acids into triglycerides, lipin 2/3 PAP activity has a critical role in phospholipid homeostasis and chylomicron assembly in enterocytes.
Ira J. Goldberg, M. Mahmood Hussain
Treatment of hypothyroidism involves the endogenous conversion of thyroxine (T4) to 3,5,3′-triiodothyronine (T3) and may not be optimal in some cases when based on T4 alone. In the current issue of the JCI, Jo et al. present results that explain the reduced enzymatic activity of a common genetic variant of the enzyme responsible for this conversion, type 2 deiodinase (DIO2). The authors further explore the functional consequences of this variant on brain T3 activity, endoplasmic reticulum stress in glial cells, and cognitive function. These findings have important implications for the clinical treatment of hypothyroidism and for susceptibility to other neurological and metabolic diseases.
Insulin-secreting β cell loss or dysfunction is a feature of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Strategies to restore β cell mass are limited, as sources of healthy islets are scarce and mature β cells are not readily expanded in vitro. In this issue of the JCI, Ou et al. report that mature β cell expansion can be induced in situ through epigenetic editing of regulatory elements in pancreatic tissue. Specifically, hypomethylation at imprinting control region 2 (ICR2) in human islets promoted β cell expansion. Importantly, transplantation of these epigenetically edited islets into diabetic mice reduced blood glucose levels. Together, these results support further evaluation of this strategy for restoring β cell mass in patients with diabetes.
Tao Wang, Duanqing Pei
Interactions between IgG Fc and its receptors (FcγRs) have been shown to augment broadly neutralizing Ab–mediated (BnAb-mediated) protection from simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenge. In the current issue of the JCI, Parsons and collaborators compared the BnAb PGT121 with a version engineered to have impaired FcγR binding for their ability to protect macaques from an intravenous challenge with SHIV-infected cells as well as to treat already infected animals. Unexpectedly, and in contrast to previous studies, both versions of the Ab were equally able to prevent infection and decrease viral loads in infected animals. Thus, FcγR engagement does not always improve the in vivo antiviral activity of BnAbs.
Donald Forthal, Andrés Finzi
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