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Journal: Journal of molecular medicine (Berlin, Germany)


Osteoclasts are bone tissue macrophages critical to maintain bone homeostasis. However, whether osteoclasts are susceptible to flaviviral infections and involved in dengue virus (DV)-induced disease pathogenesis is still unknown. In this study, we found that osteoclasts were preferentially susceptible to DV infection and produced similar amounts of cytokines and infectious virions as macrophages. Interestingly, DV-induced cytokine secretion and nuclear translocation of the transcription factor NFATc1 in osteoclast via the Syk-coupled myeloid C-type lectin member 5A (CLEC5A). Moreover, DV caused transient inflammatory reaction in bone tissue and upregulated osteolytic activity to release C-telopeptide of type I collagen (CTX-1) from bone tissue. Furthermore, DV-induced osteolytic activity was attenuated in CLEC5A-deficient mice, and administration of antagonistic anti-CLEC5A mAb inhibited DV-activated osteolytic activity and reduced CTX-1 serum level in vivo. This observation suggests that osteoclasts serve as a novel target for DV, and transient upregulation of osteolytic activity may contribute to the clinical symptoms in dengue patients.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, DNA, Bone, Infectious disease, Virus, Infection, Apoptosis


Electronic (e)-cigarette use is rapidly rising, with 20 % of Americans ages 25-44 now using these drug delivery devices. E-cigarette users expose their airways, cells of host defense, and colonizing bacteria to e-cigarette vapor (EV). Here, we report that exposure of human epithelial cells at the air-liquid interface to fresh EV (vaped from an e-cigarette device) resulted in dose-dependent cell death. After exposure to EV, cells of host defense-epithelial cells, alveolar macrophages, and neutrophils-had reduced antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus (SA). Mouse inhalation of EV for 1 h daily for 4 weeks led to alterations in inflammatory markers within the airways and elevation of an acute phase reactant in serum. Upon exposure to e-cigarette vapor extract (EVE), airway colonizer SA had increased biofilm formation, adherence and invasion of epithelial cells, resistance to human antimicrobial peptide LL-37, and up-regulation of virulence genes. EVE-exposed SA were more virulent in a mouse model of pneumonia. These data suggest that e-cigarettes may be toxic to airway cells, suppress host defenses, and promote inflammation over time, while also promoting virulence of colonizing bacteria.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Gene, Bacteria, Microbiology, Staphylococcus aureus, Cigarette, Electronic cigarette


Leukocytes accumulate at sites of inflammation and immunological reaction in response to locally existing chemotactic mediators. The first chemotactic factors structurally defined were N-formyl peptides. Subsequently, numerous ligands were identified to activate formyl peptide receptors (FPRs) that belong to the seven-transmembrane G protein-coupled receptor superfamily. FPRs interact with this menagerie of structurally diverse pro- and anti-inflammatory ligands to possess important regulatory effects in multiple diseases, including inflammation, amyloidosis, Alzheimer’s disease, prion disease, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. How these receptors recognize diverse ligands and how they contribute to disease pathogenesis and host defense are basic questions currently under investigation that would open up new avenues for the future management of inflammation-related diseases.

Concepts: AIDS, Immune system, Inflammation, Protein, Cancer, Infectious disease, Signal transduction, Cell biology


The iron regulatory hormone hepcidin responds to both oral and parenteral iron. Here, we hypothesized that the diverse iron trafficking routes may affect the dynamics and kinetics of the hepcidin activation pathway. To address this, C57BL/6 mice were administered an iron-enriched diet or injected i.p. with iron dextran and analyzed over time. After 1 week of dietary loading with carbonyl iron, mice exhibited significant increases in serum iron and transferrin saturation, as well as in hepatic iron, Smad1/5/8 phosphorylation and bone morphogenetic protein 6 (BMP6), and hepcidin mRNAs. Nevertheless, hepcidin expression reached a plateau afterward, possibly due to upregulation of inhibitory Smad7, Id1, and matriptase-2 mRNAs, while hepatic and splenic iron continued to accumulate over 9 weeks. One day following parenteral administration of iron dextran, mice manifested elevated serum and hepatic iron levels and Smad1/5/8 phosphorylation, but no increases in transferrin saturation or BMP6 mRNA. Surprisingly, hepcidin failed to appropriately respond to acute overload with iron dextran, and a delayed (after 5-7 days) hepcidin upregulation correlated with increased transferrin saturation, partial relocation of iron from macrophages to hepatocytes, and induction of BMP6 mRNA. Our data suggest that the physiological hepcidin response is saturable and are consistent with the idea that hepcidin senses exclusively iron compartmentalized within circulating transferrin and/or hepatocytes.

Concepts: Protein, Iron, Iron deficiency anemia, Transferrin, Human iron metabolism, Iron deficiency, Serum iron, Iron metabolism


Genetic factors contribute to progression and modulation of hepatic fibrosis. High throughput genomics/transcriptomics approaches aiming at identifying key regulators of fibrosis development are tainted with the difficulty of separating essential biological “driver” from modifier genes. We applied a comparative transcriptomics approach and investigated fibrosis development in different organs to identify overlapping expression changes, since these genes may be part of core pathways in fibrosis development. Gene expression was analysed on publicly available microarray data from liver, lung and kidney fibrosis. RARRES1, AGER and S100A2 were differentially regulated in all fibrosis experiments. RARRES1 was extensively analysed by means of advanced bioinformatics analyses and functional studies. Microarray and Western Blot analysis of a standard liver fibrosis model (CCl(4)) demonstrated an early induction of RARRES1 mRNA and protein expression. In addition, quantitative RT-PCR in tissue samples from patients with advanced liver fibrosis showed higher expression as compared to non-fibrotic biopsies. Microarray analysis of RARRES1 overexpressing cells identified an enrichment of a major signature associated with fibrosis. Furthermore, RARRES1 expression increased during in vitro activation of hepatic stellate cells. To further verify the pro-fibrogenic role across organs, we demonstrated an increase in RARRES1 expression in a rat lung fibrosis model induced by adenoviral TGF-β1 induction. We have performed a comparative transcriptomics analysis in order to identify core pathways of liver fibrogenesis, confirmed a candidate gene and enlightened the up- and downstream mechanisms of its action leading to fibrosis across organs and species.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Cancer, Molecular biology, Organism, Cirrhosis


STIM1 is an endoplasmic reticulum protein with a role in Ca2+ mobilization and signaling. As a sensor of intraluminal Ca2+ levels, STIM1 modulates plasma membrane Ca2+ channels to regulate Ca2+ entry. In neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells and in familial Alzheimer’s disease patient skin fibroblasts, STIM1 is cleaved at the transmembrane domain by the presenilin-1-associated γ-secretase, leading to dysregulation of Ca2+ homeostasis. In this report, we investigated expression levels of STIM1 in brain tissues (medium frontal gyrus) of pathologically confirmed Alzheimer’s disease patients, and observed that STIM1 protein expression level decreased with the progression of neurodegeneration. To study the role of STIM1 in neurodegeneration, a strategy was designed to knock-out the expression of STIM1 gene in the SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cell line by CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing, as an in vitro model to examine the phenotype of STIM1-deficient neuronal cells. It was proved that, while STIM1 is not required for the differentiation of SH-SY5Y cells, it is absolutely essential for cell survival in differentiating cells. Differentiated STIM1-KO cells showed a significant decrease of mitochondrial respiratory chain complex I activity, mitochondrial inner membrane depolarization, reduced mitochondrial free Ca2+ concentration, and higher levels of senescence as compared with wild-type cells. In parallel, STIM1-KO cells showed a potentiated Ca2+ entry in response to depolarization, which was sensitive to nifedipine, pointing to L-type voltage-operated Ca2+ channels as mediators of the upregulated Ca2+ entry. The stable knocking-down of CACNA1C transcripts restored mitochondrial function, increased mitochondrial Ca2+ levels, and dropped senescence to basal levels, demonstrating the essential role of the upregulation of voltage-operated Ca2+ entry through Cav1.2 channels in STIM1-deficient SH-SY5Y cell death.


Rare conditions are sometimes ignored in biomedical research because of difficulties in obtaining specimens and limited interest from fund raisers. However, the study of rare diseases such as unusual cancers has again and again led to breakthroughs in our understanding of more common diseases. It is therefore unsurprising that with the development and accessibility of next-generation sequencing, much has been learnt from studying cancers that are rare and in particular those with uniform biological and clinical behavior. Herein, we describe how shotgun sequencing of cancers such as granulosa cell tumor, endometrial stromal sarcoma, epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, ameloblastoma, small-cell carcinoma of the ovary, clear-cell carcinoma of the ovary, nonepithelial ovarian tumors, chondroblastoma, and giant cell tumor of the bone has led to rapidly translatable discoveries in diagnostics and tumor taxonomies, as well as providing insights into cancer biology.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Oncology, Types of cancer, Tumor, Neoplasm, Ovary, Granulosa cells


Apolipoprotein (apo) E was initially described as a lipid transport protein and major ligand for low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors with a role in cholesterol metabolism and cardiovascular disease. It has since emerged as a major risk factor (causative gene) for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Detailed understanding of the structural features of the three isoforms (apoE2, apoE3, and apoE4), which differ by only a single amino acid interchange, has elucidated their unique functions. ApoE2 and apoE4 increase the risk for heart disease: apoE2 increases atherogenic lipoprotein levels (it binds poorly to LDL receptors), and apoE4 increases LDL levels (it binds preferentially to triglyceride-rich, very low density lipoproteins, leading to downregulation of LDL receptors). ApoE4 also increases the risk for neurodegenerative diseases, decreases their age of onset, or alters their progression. ApoE4 likely causes neurodegeneration secondary to its abnormal structure, caused by an interaction between its carboxyl- and amino-terminal domains, called domain interaction. When neurons are stressed or injured, they synthesize apoE to redistribute cholesterol for neuronal repair or remodeling. However, because of its altered structure, neuronal apoE4 undergoes neuron-specific proteolysis, generating neurotoxic fragments (12-29 kDa) that escape the secretory pathway and cause mitochondrial dysfunction and cytoskeletal alterations, including tau phosphorylation. ApoE4-associated pathology can be prevented by small-molecule structure correctors that block domain interaction by converting apoE4 to a molecule that resembles apoE3 both structurally and functionally. Structure correctors are a potential therapeutic approach to reduce apoE4 pathology in both cardiovascular and neurological disorders.

Concepts: Cholesterol, Alzheimer's disease, Protein, Low-density lipoprotein, Lipoprotein, Neurology, Apolipoprotein E, Chylomicron


MicroRNAs play a crucial role in the regulation of cell growth and differentiation. Mice with genetic deletion of miR-375 exhibit impaired glycemic control due to decreased β-cell and increased α-cell mass and function. The relative importance of these processes for the overall phenotype of miR-375KO mice is unknown. Here, we show that mice overexpressing miR-375 exhibit normal β-cell mass and function. Selective re-expression of miR-375 in β-cells of miR-375KO mice normalizes both, α- and β-cell phenotypes as well as glucose metabolism. Using this model, we also analyzed the contribution of β-cells to the total plasma miR-375 levels. Only a small proportion (≈1 %) of circulating miR-375 originates from β-cells. Furthermore, acute and profound β-cell destruction is sufficient to detect elevations of miR-375 levels in the blood. These findings are supported by higher miR-375 levels in the circulation of type 1 diabetes (T1D) subjects but not mature onset diabetes of the young (MODY) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) patients. Together, our data support an essential role for miR-375 in the maintenance of β-cell mass and provide in vivo evidence for release of miRNAs from pancreatic β-cells. The small contribution of β-cells to total plasma miR-375 levels make this miRNA an unlikely biomarker for β-cell function but suggests a utility for the detection of acute β-cell death for autoimmune diabetes.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Insulin, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Diabetes mellitus, Diabetes mellitus type 1, Diabetes, Maturity onset diabetes of the young


Recent discoveries in the field of stem cell biology have enabled scientists to “reprogram” cells from one type to another. For example, it is now possible to place adult skin or blood cells in a dish and convert them into neurons, liver, or heart cells. It is also possible to literally “rejuvenate” adult cells by reprogramming them into embryonic-like stem cells, which in turn can be differentiated into every tissue and cell type of the human body. Our ability to reprogram cell types has four main implications for medicine: (1) scientists can now take skin or blood cells from patients and convert them to other cells to study disease processes. This disease modeling approach has the advantage over animal models because it is directly based on human patient cells. (2) Reprogramming could also be used as a “clinical trial in a dish” to evaluate the general efficacy and safety of newly developed drugs on human patient cells before they would be tested in animal models or people. (3) In addition, many drugs have deleterious side effects like heart arrhythmias in only a small and unpredictable subpopulation of patients. Reprogramming could facilitate precision medicine by testing the safety of already approved drugs first on reprogrammed patient cells in a personalized manner prior to administration. For example, drugs known to sometimes cause arrhythmias could be first tested on reprogrammed heart cells from individual patients. (4) Finally, reprogramming allows the generation of new tissues that could be grafted therapeutically to regenerate lost or damaged cells.

Concepts: DNA, Cell, Developmental biology, Cell division, Stem cell, Cell biology, Cellular differentiation, Cell type