While the transcription factor forkhead box M1 (FOXM1) is well known as a proto-oncogene, its potential role in lung fibroblast activation has never been explored. Here, we show that FOXM1 is more highly expressed in fibrotic than in normal lung fibroblasts in humans and mice. FOXM1 was required not only for cell proliferation in response to mitogens, but also for myofibroblast differentiation and apoptosis resistance elicited by TGF-β. The lipid mediator PGE2, acting via cAMP signaling, was identified as an endogenous negative regulator of FOXM1. Finally, genetic deletion of FOXM1 in fibroblasts or administration of the FOXM1 inhibitor Siomycin A in a therapeutic protocol attenuated bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis. Our results identify FOXM1 as a driver of lung fibroblast activation and underscore the therapeutic potential of targeting FOXM1 for pulmonary fibrosis.
Loka R. Penke, Jennifer M. Speth, Vijaya L. Dommeti, Eric S. White, Ingrid L. Bergin, Marc Peters-Golden
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an incurable inflammatory lung disease that afflicts millions of people worldwide, and it is the fourth leading cause of death. Systemic comorbidities affecting the heart, skeletal muscle, bone, and metabolism are major contributors to morbidity and mortality. Given the surprising finding in large prospective clinical biomarker studies that peripheral white blood cell count is more closely associated with disease than inflammatory biomarkers, we probed the role of blood growth factors. Using the SHIP-1–deficient COPD mouse model, which manifests a syndrome of destructive lung disease and a complex of comorbid pathologies, we have identified a critical and unexpected role for granulocyte-CSF (G-CSF) in linking these conditions. Deletion of G-CSF greatly reduced airway inflammation and lung tissue destruction, and attenuated systemic inflammation, right heart hypertrophy, loss of fat reserves, and bone osteoporosis. In human clinical translational studies, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of patients with COPD demonstrated elevated G-CSF levels. These studies suggest that G-CSF may play a central and unforeseen pathogenic role in COPD and its complex comorbidities, and identify G-CSF and its regulators as potential therapeutic targets.
Evelyn Tsantikos, Maverick Lau, Cassandra M.N. Castelino, Mhairi J. Maxwell, Samantha L. Passey, Michelle J. Hansen, Narelle E. McGregor, Natalie A. Sims, Daniel P. Steinfort, Louis B. Irving, Gary P. Anderson, Margaret L. Hibbs
Recent studies reveal that airway epithelial cells are critical pulmonary circadian pacemaker cells, mediating rhythmic inflammatory responses. Using mouse models, we now identify the rhythmic circadian repressor REV-ERB as essential to the mechanism coupling the pulmonary clock to innate immunity, involving both myeloid, and bronchial epithelial cells in temporal gating and determining amplitude of response to inhaled endotoxin. Dual mutation of REV-ERBα and its paralog REV-ERBβ in bronchial epithelia further augmented inflammatory responses and chemokine activation, but also initiated a basal inflammatory state, revealing a critical homeostatic role for REV-ERB proteins in the suppression of the endogenous pro-inflammatory mechanism in un-challenged cells. However, REV-ERBα plays the dominant role as deletion of REV-ERBβ alone had no impact on inflammatory responses. In turn, inflammatory challenges cause striking changes in stability and degradation of REV-ERBα protein, driven by SUMOylation and ubiquitination. We developed a novel selective oxazole-based inverse agonist of REV-ERB, which protects REV-ERBα protein from degradation and used this to reveal how pro-inflammatory cytokines trigger rapid degradation of REV-ERα in the elaboration of an inflammatory response. Thus, dynamic changes in stability of REV-ERα protein couple the core clock to innate immunity.
Marie Pariollaud, Julie Gibbs, Thomas Hopwood, Sheila Brown, Nicola Begley, Ryan Vonslow, Toryn Poolman, Baoqiang Guo, Ben Saer, D. Heulyn Jones, James P. Tellam, Stefano Bresciani, Nicholas C.O. Tomkinson, Justyna Wojno-Picon, Anthony W.J. Cooper, Dion A. Daniels, Ryan P. Trump, Daniel Grant, William Zuercher, Timothy M. Willson, Andrew S. MacDonald, Brian Bolognese, Patricia L. Podolin, Yolanda Sanchez, Andrew S.I. Loudon, David W. Ray
Infection by Staphylococcus aureus strain USA300 causes tissue injury, multiorgan failure, and high mortality. However, the mechanisms by which the bacteria adhere to, then stabilize on, mucosal surfaces before causing injury remain unclear. We addressed these issues through the first real-time determinations of USA300-alveolar interactions in live lungs. We found that within minutes, inhaled USA300 established stable, self-associated microaggregates in niches at curved, but not at flat, regions of the alveolar wall. The microaggregates released α-hemolysin toxin, causing localized alveolar injury, as indicated by epithelial dye loss, mitochondrial depolarization, and cytosolic Ca2+ increase. Spread of cytosolic Ca2+ through intercellular gap junctions to adjoining, uninfected alveoli caused pulmonary edema. Systemic pretreatment with vancomycin, a USA300-cidal antibiotic, failed to protect mice infected with inhaled WT USA300. However, vancomycin pretreatment markedly abrogated mortality in mice infected with mutant USA300 that lacked the aggregation-promoting factor PhnD. We interpret USA300-induced mortality as having resulted from rapid bacterial aggregation in alveolar niches. These findings indicate, for the first time to our knowledge, that alveolar microanatomy is critical in promoting the aggregation and, hence, in causing USA300-induced alveolar injury. We propose that in addition to antibiotics, strategies for bacterial disaggregation may constitute novel therapy against USA300-induced lung injury.
Jaime L. Hook, Mohammad N. Islam, Dane Parker, Alice S. Prince, Sunita Bhattacharya, Jahar Bhattacharya
BACKGROUND. The link between mucus plugs and airflow obstruction has not been established in chronic severe asthma, and the role of eosinophils and their products in mucus plug formation is unknown. METHODS. In clinical studies, we developed and applied a bronchopulmonary segment–based scoring system to quantify mucus plugs on multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) lung scans from 146 subjects with asthma and 22 controls, and analyzed relationships among mucus plug scores, forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), and airway eosinophils. Additionally, we used airway mucus gel models to explore whether oxidants generated by eosinophil peroxidase (EPO) oxidize cysteine thiol groups to promote mucus plug formation. RESULTS. Mucus plugs occurred in at least 1 of 20 lung segments in 58% of subjects with asthma and in only 4.5% of controls, and the plugs in subjects with asthma persisted in the same segment for years. A high mucus score (plugs in ≥ 4 segments) occurred in 67% of subjects with asthma with FEV1 of less than 60% of predicted volume, 19% with FEV1 of 60%–80%, and 6% with FEV1 greater than 80% (P < 0.001) and was associated with marked increases in sputum eosinophils and EPO. EPO catalyzed oxidation of thiocyanate and bromide by H2O2 to generate oxidants that crosslink cysteine thiol groups and stiffen thiolated hydrogels. CONCLUSION. Mucus plugs are a plausible mechanism of chronic airflow obstruction in severe asthma, and EPO-generated oxidants may mediate mucus plug formation. We propose an approach for quantifying airway mucus plugging using MDCT lung scans and suggest that treating mucus plugs may improve airflow in chronic severe asthma. TRIAL REGISTRATION. Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01718197, NCT01606826, NCT01750411, NCT01761058, NCT01761630, NCT01759186, NCT01716494, and NCT01760915. FUNDING. NIH grants P01 HL107201, R01 HL080414, U10 HL109146, U10 HL109164, U10 HL109172, U10 HL109086, U10 HL109250, U10 HL109168, U10 HL109257, U10 HL109152, and P01 HL107202 and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences grants UL1TR0000427, UL1TR000448, and KL2TR000428.
Eleanor M. Dunican, Brett M. Elicker, David S. Gierada, Scott K. Nagle, Mark L. Schiebler, John D. Newell, Wilfred W. Raymond, Marrah E. Lachowicz-Scroggins, Selena Di Maio, Eric A. Hoffman, Mario Castro, Sean B. Fain, Nizar N. Jarjour, Elliot Israel, Bruce D. Levy, Serpil C. Erzurum, Sally E. Wenzel, Deborah A. Meyers, Eugene R. Bleecker, Brenda R. Phillips, David T. Mauger, Erin D. Gordon, Prescott G. Woodruff, Michael C. Peters, John V. Fahy, The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP)
Claudins, the integral tight junction (TJ) proteins that regulate paracellular permeability and cell polarity, are frequently dysregulated in cancer; however, their role in neoplastic progression is unclear. Here, we demonstrated that knockout of Cldn18, a claudin family member highly expressed in lung alveolar epithelium, leads to lung enlargement, parenchymal expansion, increased abundance and proliferation of known distal lung progenitors, the alveolar epithelial type II (AT2) cells, activation of Yes-associated protein (YAP), increased organ size, and tumorigenesis in mice. Inhibition of YAP decreased proliferation and colony-forming efficiency (CFE) of Cldn18–/– AT2 cells and prevented increased lung size, while CLDN18 overexpression decreased YAP nuclear localization, cell proliferation, CFE, and YAP transcriptional activity. CLDN18 and YAP interacted and colocalized at cell-cell contacts, while loss of CLDN18 decreased YAP interaction with Hippo kinases p-LATS1/2. Additionally, Cldn18–/– mice had increased propensity to develop lung adenocarcinomas (LuAd) with age, and human LuAd showed stage-dependent reduction of CLDN18.1. These results establish CLDN18 as a regulator of YAP activity that serves to restrict organ size, progenitor cell proliferation, and tumorigenesis, and suggest a mechanism whereby TJ disruption may promote progenitor proliferation to enhance repair following injury.
Beiyun Zhou, Per Flodby, Jiao Luo, Dan R. Castillo, Yixin Liu, Fa-Xing Yu, Alicia McConnell, Bino Varghese, Guanglei Li, Nyam-Osor Chimge, Mitsuhiro Sunohara, Michael N. Koss, Wafaa Elatre, Peter Conti, Janice M. Liebler, Chenchen Yang, Crystal N. Marconett, Ite A. Laird-Offringa, Parviz Minoo, Kunliang Guan, Barry R. Stripp, Edward D. Crandall, Zea Borok
Adaptation to respiration at birth depends upon the synthesis of pulmonary surfactant, a lipid-protein complex that reduces surface tension at the air-liquid interface in the alveoli and prevents lung collapse during the ventilatory cycle. Herein, we demonstrated that the gene encoding a subunit of the endoplasmic reticulum membrane complex, EMC3, also known as TMEM111 (Emc3/Tmem111), was required for murine pulmonary surfactant synthesis and lung function at birth. Conditional deletion of Emc3 in murine embryonic lung epithelial cells disrupted the synthesis and packaging of surfactant lipids and proteins, impaired the formation of lamellar bodies, and induced the unfolded protein response in alveolar type 2 (AT2) cells. EMC3 was essential for the processing and routing of surfactant proteins, SP-B and SP-C, and the biogenesis of the phospholipid transport protein ABCA3. Transcriptomic, lipidomic, and proteomic analyses demonstrated that EMC3 coordinates the assembly of lipids and proteins in AT2 cells that is necessary for surfactant synthesis and function at birth.
Xiaofang Tang, John M. Snowball, Yan Xu, Cheng-Lun Na, Timothy E. Weaver, Geremy Clair, Jennifer E. Kyle, Erika M. Zink, Charles Ansong, Wei Wei, Meina Huang, Xinhua Lin, Jeffrey A. Whitsett
Acute lung injury is a leading cause of death in bacterial sepsis due to the wholesale destruction of the lung endothelial barrier, which results in protein-rich lung edema, influx of proinflammatory leukocytes, and intractable hypoxemia. Pyroptosis is a form of programmed lytic cell death that is triggered by inflammatory caspases, but little is known about its role in EC death and acute lung injury. Here, we show that systemic exposure to the bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) causes severe endothelial pyroptosis that is mediated by the inflammatory caspases, human caspases 4/5 in human ECs, or the murine homolog caspase-11 in mice in vivo. In caspase-11–deficient mice, BM transplantation with WT hematopoietic cells did not abrogate endotoxemia-induced acute lung injury, indicating a central role for nonhematopoietic caspase-11 in endotoxemia. Additionally, conditional deletion of caspase-11 in ECs reduced endotoxemia-induced lung edema, neutrophil accumulation, and death. These results establish the requisite role of endothelial pyroptosis in endotoxemic tissue injury and suggest that endothelial inflammatory caspases are an important therapeutic target for acute lung injury.
Kwong Tai Cheng, Shiqin Xiong, Zhiming Ye, Zhigang Hong, Anke Di, Kit Man Tsang, Xiaopei Gao, Shejuan An, Manish Mittal, Stephen M. Vogel, Edward A. Miao, Jalees Rehman, Asrar B. Malik
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