P-element–induced wimpy testes (Piwi) proteins are known for suppressing retrotransposon activation in the mammalian germline. However, whether Piwi protein or Piwi-dependent functions occur in the mammalian soma is unclear. Contrary to germline-restricted expression, we observed that Piwi-like Miwi2 mRNA is indeed expressed in epithelial cells of the lung in adult mice and that it is induced during pneumonia. Further investigation revealed that MIWI2 protein localized to the cytoplasm of a discrete population of multiciliated airway epithelial cells. Isolation and next-generation sequencing of MIWI2-positive multiciliated cells revealed that they are phenotypically distinct from neighboring MIWI2-negative multiciliated cells. Mice lacking MIWI2 exhibited an altered balance of airway epithelial cells, demonstrating fewer multiciliated cells and an increase in club cells. During pneumococcal pneumonia, Miwi2-deficient mice exhibited increased expression of inflammatory mediators and increased immune cell recruitment, leading to enhanced bacterial clearance. Taken together, our data delineate MIWI2-dependent functions outside of the germline and demonstrate the presence of distinct subsets of airway multiciliated cells that can be discriminated by MIWI2 expression. By demonstrating roles for MIWI2 in airway cell identity and pulmonary innate immunity, these studies elucidate unanticipated physiological functions for Piwi proteins in somatic tissues.
Gregory A. Wasserman, Aleksander D. Szymaniak, Anne C. Hinds, Kazuko Yamamoto, Hirofumi Kamata, Nicole M.S. Smith, Kristie L. Hilliard, Claudia Carrieri, Adam T. Labadorf, Lee J. Quinton, Xingbin Ai, Xaralabos Varelas, Felicia Chen, Joseph P. Mizgerd, Alan Fine, Dónal O’Carroll, Matthew R. Jones
TGF-β1 signaling is a critical driver of collagen accumulation and fibrotic disease but also a vital suppressor of inflammation and epithelial cell proliferation. The nature of this multifunctional cytokine has limited the development of global TGF-β1 signaling inhibitors as therapeutic agents. We conducted phenotypic screens for small molecules that inhibit TGF-β1–induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition without immediate TGF-β1 receptor (TβR) kinase inhibition. We identified trihydroxyphenolic compounds as potent blockers of TGF-β1 responses (IC50 ~50 nM), Snail1 expression, and collagen deposition in vivo in models of pulmonary fibrosis and collagen-dependent lung cancer metastasis. Remarkably, the functional effects of trihydroxyphenolics required the presence of active lysyl oxidase–like 2 (LOXL2), thereby limiting effects to fibroblasts or cancer cells, the major LOXL2 producers. Mechanistic studies revealed that trihydroxyphenolics induce auto-oxidation of a LOXL2/3–specific lysine (K731) in a time-dependent reaction that irreversibly inhibits LOXL2 and converts the trihydrophenolic to a previously undescribed metabolite that directly inhibits TβRI kinase. Combined inhibition of LOXL2 and TβRI activities by trihydrophenolics resulted in potent blockade of pathological collagen accumulation in vivo without the toxicities associated with global inhibitors. These findings elucidate a therapeutic approach to attenuate fibrosis and the disease-promoting effects of tissue stiffness by specifically targeting TβRI kinase in LOXL2-expressing cells.
Ying Wei, Thomas J. Kim, David H. Peng, Dana Duan, Don L. Gibbons, Mitsuo Yamauchi, Julia R. Jackson, Claude J. Le Saux, Cheresa Calhoun, Jay Peters, Rik Derynck, Bradley J. Backes, Harold A. Chapman
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive disease with a prevalence of 1 million persons worldwide. The fibrosis spreads from affected alveoli into contiguous alveoli and leads to death by asphyxiation. We previously discovered that the IPF lung harbors fibrogenic mesenchymal progenitor cells (MPCs) that serve as a cell of origin for disease-mediating myofibroblasts. In a prior genomewide transcriptional analysis, we found that IPF MPCs displayed increased expression of S100 calcium-binding A4 (S100A4), a protein linked to cancer cell proliferation and invasiveness. Here, we have examined whether S100A4 mediates MPC fibrogenicity. Ex vivo analysis revealed that IPF MPCs had increased levels of nuclear S100A4, which interacts with L-isoaspartyl methyltransferase to promote p53 degradation and MPC self-renewal. In vivo, injection of human IPF MPCs converted a self-limited bleomycin-induced mouse model of lung fibrosis to a model of persistent fibrosis in an S100A4-dependent manner. S100A4 gain of function was sufficient to confer fibrotic properties to non-IPF MPCs. In IPF tissue, fibroblastic foci contained cells expressing Ki67 and the MPC markers SSEA4 and S100A4. The expression colocalized in an interface region between myofibroblasts in the focus core and normal alveolar structures, defining this region as an active fibrotic front. Our findings indicate that IPF MPCs are intrinsically fibrogenic and that S100A4 confers MPCs with fibrogenicity.
Hong Xia, Adam Gilbertsen, Jeremy Herrera, Emilian Racila, Karen Smith, Mark Peterson, Timothy Griffin, Alexey Benyumov, Libang Yang, Peter B. Bitterman, Craig A. Henke
It has been postulated that during human fetal development, all cells of the lung epithelium derive from embryonic, endodermal, NK2 homeobox 1–expressing (NKX2-1+) precursor cells. However, this hypothesis has not been formally tested owing to an inability to purify or track these progenitors for detailed characterization. Here we have engineered and developmentally differentiated NKX2-1GFP reporter pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) in vitro to generate and isolate human primordial lung progenitors that express NKX2-1 but are initially devoid of differentiated lung lineage markers. After sorting to purity, these primordial lung progenitors exhibited lung epithelial maturation. In the absence of mesenchymal coculture support, this NKX2-1+ population was able to generate epithelial-only spheroids in defined 3D cultures. Alternatively, when recombined with fetal mouse lung mesenchyme, the cells recapitulated epithelial-mesenchymal developing lung interactions. We imaged these progenitors in real time and performed time-series global transcriptomic profiling and single-cell RNA sequencing as they moved through the earliest moments of lung lineage specification. The profiles indicated that evolutionarily conserved, stage-dependent gene signatures of early lung development are expressed in primordial human lung progenitors and revealed a CD47hiCD26lo cell surface phenotype that allows their prospective isolation from untargeted, patient-specific PSCs for further in vitro differentiation and future applications in regenerative medicine.
Finn Hawkins, Philipp Kramer, Anjali Jacob, Ian Driver, Dylan C. Thomas, Katherine B. McCauley, Nicholas Skvir, Ana M. Crane, Anita A. Kurmann, Anthony N. Hollenberg, Sinead Nguyen, Brandon G. Wong, Ahmad S. Khalil, Sarah X.L. Huang, Susan Guttentag, Jason R. Rock, John M. Shannon, Brian R. Davis, Darrell N. Kotton
Pulmonary vascular disease is characterized by remodeling and loss of microvessels and is typically attributed to pathological responses in vascular endothelium or abnormal smooth muscle cell phenotypes. We have challenged this understanding by defining an adult pulmonary mesenchymal progenitor cell (MPC) that regulates both microvascular function and angiogenesis. The current understanding of adult MPCs and their roles in homeostasis versus disease has been limited by a lack of genetic markers with which to lineage label multipotent mesenchyme and trace the differentiation of these MPCs into vascular lineages. Here, we have shown that lineage-labeled lung MPCs expressing the ATP-binding cassette protein ABCG2 (ABCG2+) are pericyte progenitors that participate in microvascular homeostasis as well as adaptive angiogenesis. Activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling, either autonomously or downstream of decreased BMP receptor signaling, enhanced ABCG2+ MPC proliferation but suppressed MPC differentiation into a functional pericyte lineage. Thus, enhanced Wnt/β-catenin signaling in ABCG2+ MPCs drives a phenotype of persistent microvascular dysfunction, abnormal angiogenesis, and subsequent exacerbation of bleomycin-induced fibrosis. ABCG2+ MPCs may, therefore, account in part for the aberrant microvessel function and remodeling that are associated with chronic lung diseases.
Christa F. Gaskill, Erica J. Carrier, Jonathan A. Kropski, Nathaniel C. Bloodworth, Swapna Menon, Robert F. Foronjy, M. Mark Taketo, Charles C. Hong, Eric D. Austin, James D. West, Anna L. Means, James E. Loyd, W. David Merryman, Anna R. Hemnes, Stijn De Langhe, Timothy S. Blackwell, Dwight J. Klemm, Susan M. Majka
Germline coding mutations in different telomere-related genes have been linked to autosomal-dominant familial pulmonary fibrosis. Individuals with these inherited mutations demonstrate incomplete penetrance of clinical phenotypes affecting the lung, blood, liver, skin, and other organs. Here, we describe the somatic acquisition of promoter mutations in telomerase reverse transcriptase (
Lindley Maryoung, Yangbo Yue, Ashley Young, Chad A. Newton, Cindy Barba, Nicolai S. C. van Oers, Richard C. Wang, Christine Kim Garcia
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.
Aparna Sundaram, Chun Chen, Amin Khalifeh-Soltani, Amha Atakilit, Xin Ren, Wenli Qiu, Hyunil Jo, William DeGrado, Xiaozhu Huang, Dean Sheppard
Increases in eosinophil numbers are associated with infection and allergic diseases, including asthma, but there is also evidence that eosinophils contribute to homeostatic immune processes. In mice, the normal lung contains resident eosinophils (rEos), but their function has not been characterized. Here, we have reported that steady-state pulmonary rEos are IL-5–independent parenchymal Siglec-FintCD62L+CD101lo cells with a ring-shaped nucleus. During house dust mite–induced airway allergy, rEos features remained unchanged, and rEos were accompanied by recruited inflammatory eosinophils (iEos), which were defined as IL-5–dependent peribronchial Siglec-FhiCD62L–CD101hi cells with a segmented nucleus. Gene expression analyses revealed a more regulatory profile for rEos than for iEos, and correspondingly, mice lacking lung rEos showed an increase in Th2 cell responses to inhaled allergens. Such elevation of Th2 responses was linked to the ability of rEos, but not iEos, to inhibit the maturation, and therefore the pro-Th2 function, of allergen-loaded DCs. Finally, we determined that the parenchymal rEos found in nonasthmatic human lungs (Siglec-8+CD62L+IL-3Rlo cells) were phenotypically distinct from the iEos isolated from the sputa of eosinophilic asthmatic patients (Siglec-8+CD62LloIL-3Rhi cells), suggesting that our findings in mice are relevant to humans. In conclusion, our data define lung rEos as a distinct eosinophil subset with key homeostatic functions.
Claire Mesnil, Stéfanie Raulier, Geneviève Paulissen, Xue Xiao, Mark A. Birrell, Dimitri Pirottin, Thibaut Janss, Philipp Starkl, Eve Ramery, Monique Henket, Florence N. Schleich, Marc Radermecker, Kris Thielemans, Laurent Gillet, Marc Thiry, Maria G. Belvisi, Renaud Louis, Christophe Desmet, Thomas Marichal, Fabrice Bureau
Dysregulation of vascular stiffness and cellular metabolism occurs early in pulmonary hypertension (PH). However, the mechanisms by which biophysical properties of the vascular extracellular matrix (ECM) relate to metabolic processes important in PH remain undefined. In this work, we examined cultured pulmonary vascular cells and various types of PH-diseased lung tissue and determined that ECM stiffening resulted in mechanoactivation of the transcriptional coactivators YAP and TAZ (WWTR1). YAP/TAZ activation modulated metabolic enzymes, including glutaminase (GLS1), to coordinate glutaminolysis and glycolysis. Glutaminolysis, an anaplerotic pathway, replenished aspartate for anabolic biosynthesis, which was critical for sustaining proliferation and migration within stiff ECM. In vitro, GLS1 inhibition blocked aspartate production and reprogrammed cellular proliferation pathways, while application of aspartate restored proliferation. In the monocrotaline rat model of PH, pharmacologic modulation of pulmonary vascular stiffness and YAP-dependent mechanotransduction altered glutaminolysis, pulmonary vascular proliferation, and manifestations of PH. Additionally, pharmacologic targeting of GLS1 in this model ameliorated disease progression. Notably, evaluation of simian immunodeficiency virus–infected nonhuman primates and HIV-infected subjects revealed a correlation between YAP/TAZ–GLS activation and PH. These results indicate that ECM stiffening sustains vascular cell growth and migration through YAP/TAZ-dependent glutaminolysis and anaplerosis, and thereby link mechanical stimuli to dysregulated vascular metabolism. Furthermore, this study identifies potential metabolic drug targets for therapeutic development in PH.
Thomas Bertero, William M. Oldham, Katherine A. Cottrill, Sabrina Pisano, Rebecca R. Vanderpool, Qiujun Yu, Jingsi Zhao, Yiyin Tai, Ying Tang, Ying-Yi Zhang, Sofiya Rehman, Masataka Sugahara, Zhi Qi, John Gorcsan III, Sara O. Vargas, Rajan Saggar, Rajeev Saggar, W. Dean Wallace, David J. Ross, Kathleen J. Haley, Aaron B. Waxman, Victoria N. Parikh, Teresa De Marco, Priscilla Y. Hsue, Alison Morris, Marc A. Simon, Karen A. Norris, Cedric Gaggioli, Joseph Loscalzo, Joshua Fessel, Stephen Y. Chan
Progressive tissue fibrosis is a major cause of the morbidity and mortality associated with repeated epithelial injuries and accumulation of myofibroblasts. Successful treatment options are limited by an incomplete understanding of the molecular mechanisms that regulate myofibroblast accumulation. Here, we employed in vivo lineage tracing and real-time gene expression transgenic reporting methods to analyze the early embryonic transcription factor T-box gene 4 (TBX4), and determined that TBX4-lineage mesenchymal progenitors are the predominant source of myofibroblasts in injured adult lung. In a murine model, ablation of TBX4-expressing cells or disruption of TBX4 signaling attenuated lung fibrosis after bleomycin-induced injury. Furthermore, TBX4 regulated hyaluronan synthase 2 production to enable fibroblast invasion of matrix both in murine models and in fibroblasts from patients with severe pulmonary fibrosis. These data identify TBX4 as a mesenchymal transcription factor that drives accumulation of myofibroblasts and the development of lung fibrosis. Targeting TBX4 and downstream factors that regulate fibroblast invasiveness could lead to therapeutic approaches in lung fibrosis.
Ting Xie, Jiurong Liang, Ningshan Liu, Caijuan Huan, Yanli Zhang, Weijia Liu, Maya Kumar, Rui Xiao, Jeanine D’Armiento, Daniel Metzger, Pierre Chambon, Virginia E. Papaioannou, Barry R. Stripp, Dianhua Jiang, Paul W. Noble