Review

Abstract

Steroid hormones mediate critical lineage-specific developmental and physiologic responses. They function by binding their cognate receptors, which are transcription factors that drive specific gene expression programs. The requirement of most prostate cancers for androgen and most breast cancers for estrogen has led to the development of endocrine therapies that block the action of these hormones in these tumors. While initial endocrine interventions are successful, resistance to therapy often arises. We will review how steroid receptor–dependent genomic signaling is affected by genetic alterations in endocrine therapy resistance. The detailed understanding of these interactions will not only provide improved treatment options to overcome resistance, but, in the future, will also be the basis for implementing precision cancer medicine approaches.

Authors

Anna C. Groner, Myles Brown

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Abstract

Following the first isolation of nuclear receptor (NR) genes, genetic disorders caused by NR gene mutations were initially discovered by a candidate gene approach based on their known roles in endocrine pathways and physiologic processes. Subsequently, the identification of disorders has been informed by phenotypes associated with gene disruption in animal models or by genetic linkage studies. More recently, whole exome sequencing has associated pathogenic genetic variants with unexpected, often multisystem, human phenotypes. To date, defects in 20 of 48 human NR genes have been associated with human disorders, with different mutations mediating phenotypes of varying severity or several distinct conditions being associated with different changes in the same gene. Studies of individuals with deleterious genetic variants can elucidate novel roles of human NRs, validating them as targets for drug development or providing new insights into structure-function relationships. Importantly, human genetic discoveries enable definitive disease diagnosis and can provide opportunities to therapeutically manage affected individuals. Here we review germline changes in human NR genes associated with “monogenic” conditions, including a discussion of the structural basis of mutations that cause distinctive changes in NR function and the molecular mechanisms mediating pathogenesis.

Authors

John C. Achermann, John Schwabe, Louise Fairall, Krishna Chatterjee

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Abstract

Peroxisome proliferator–activated receptors (PPARs) regulate energy metabolism and hence are therapeutic targets in metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. While they share anti-inflammatory activities, the PPAR isotypes distinguish themselves by differential actions on lipid and glucose homeostasis. In this Review we discuss the complementary and distinct metabolic effects of the PPAR isotypes together with the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms, as well as the synthetic PPAR ligands that are used in the clinic or under development. We highlight the potential of new PPAR ligands with improved efficacy and safety profiles in the treatment of complex metabolic disorders.

Authors

Vanessa Dubois, Jérôme Eeckhoute, Philippe Lefebvre, Bart Staels

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Abstract

Members of the nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily of ligand-regulated transcription factors play important roles in reproduction, development, and physiology. In humans, genetic mutations in NRs are causes of rare diseases, while hormones and drugs that target NRs are in widespread therapeutic use. The present issue of the JCI includes a series of Review articles focused on specific NRs and their wide range of biological functions. Here I reflect on the past, present, and potential future highlights of research on the NR superfamily.

Authors

Mitchell A. Lazar

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Abstract

Glucocorticoids (GCs; referred to clinically as corticosteroids) are steroid hormones with potent anti-inflammatory and immune modulatory profiles. Depending on the context, these hormones can also mediate pro-inflammatory activities, thereby serving as primers of the immune system. Their target receptor, the GC receptor (GR), is a multi-tasking transcription factor, changing its role and function depending on cellular and organismal needs. To get a clearer idea of how to improve the safety profile of GCs, recent studies have investigated the complex mechanisms underlying GR functions. One of the key findings includes both pro- and anti-inflammatory roles of GR, and a future challenge will be to understand how such paradoxical findings can be reconciled and how GR ultimately shifts the balance to a net anti-inflammatory profile. As such, there is consensus that GR deserves a second life as a drug target, with either refined classic GCs or a novel generation of nonsteroidal GR-targeting molecules, to meet the increasing clinical needs of today to treat inflammation and cancer.

Authors

Sofie J. Desmet, Karolien De Bosscher

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Abstract

The nuclear receptors PPARα (encoded by NR1C1) and farnesoid X receptor (FXR, encoded by NR1H4) are activated in the liver in the fasted and fed state, respectively. PPARα activation induces fatty acid oxidation, while FXR controls bile acid homeostasis, but both nuclear receptors also regulate numerous other metabolic pathways relevant to liver energy balance. Here we review evidence that they function coordinately to control key nutrient pathways, including fatty acid oxidation and gluconeogenesis in the fasted state and lipogenesis and glycolysis in the fed state. We have also recently reported that these receptors have mutually antagonistic impacts on autophagy, which is induced by PPARα but suppressed by FXR. Secretion of multiple blood proteins is a major drain on liver energy and nutrient resources, and we present preliminary evidence that the liver secretome may be directly suppressed by PPARα, but induced by FXR. Finally, previous studies demonstrated a striking deficiency in bile acid levels in malnourished mice that is consistent with results in malnourished children. We present evidence that hepatic targets of PPARα and FXR are dysregulated in chronic undernutrition. We conclude that PPARα and FXR function coordinately to integrate liver energy balance.

Authors

Geoffrey A. Preidis, Kang Ho Kim, David D. Moore

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Abstract

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), a reemerging arbovirus, causes a crippling musculoskeletal inflammatory disease in humans characterized by fever, polyarthralgia, myalgia, rash, and headache. CHIKV is transmitted by Aedes species of mosquitoes and is capable of an epidemic, urban transmission cycle with high rates of infection. Since 2004, CHIKV has spread to new areas, causing disease on a global scale, and the potential for CHIKV epidemics remains high. Although CHIKV has caused millions of cases of disease and significant economic burden in affected areas, no licensed vaccines or antiviral therapies are available. In this Review, we describe CHIKV epidemiology, replication cycle, pathogenesis and host immune responses, and prospects for effective vaccines and highlight important questions for future research.

Authors

Laurie A. Silva, Terence S. Dermody

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Abstract

Many RNA species have been identified as important players in the development of chronic diseases, including cancer. Over the past decade, numerous studies have highlighted how regulatory RNAs such as microRNAs (miRNAs) and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) play crucial roles in the development of a disease state. It is clear that the aberrant expression of miRNAs promotes tumor initiation and progression, is linked with cardiac dysfunction, allows for the improper physiological response in maintaining glucose and insulin levels, and can prevent the appropriate integration of neuronal networks, resulting in neurodegenerative disorders. Because of this, there has been a major effort to therapeutically target these noncoding RNAs. In just the past 5 years, over 100 antisense oligonucleotide–based therapies have been tested in phase I clinical trials, a quarter of which have reached phase II/III. Most notable are fomivirsen and mipomersen, which have received FDA approval to treat cytomegalovirus retinitis and high blood cholesterol, respectively. The continued improvement of innovative RNA modifications and delivery entities, such as nanoparticles, will aid in the development of future RNA-based therapeutics for a broader range of chronic diseases. Here we summarize the latest promises and challenges of targeting noncoding RNAs in disease.

Authors

Brian D. Adams, Christine Parsons, Lisa Walker, Wen Cai Zhang, Frank J. Slack

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Abstract

Regulatory B cells (Bregs) modulate immune responses predominantly, although not exclusively, via the release of IL-10. The importance of human Bregs in the maintenance of immune homeostasis comes from a variety of immune-related pathologies, such as autoimmune diseases, cancers, and chronic infections that are often associated with abnormalities in Breg numbers or function. A continuous effort toward understanding Breg biology in healthy individuals will provide new opportunities to develop Breg immunotherapy that could prove beneficial in treating various immune-mediated pathologies. In this Review, we discuss findings regarding human Bregs, including their mechanisms of suppression and role in different disease settings. We also propose several therapeutic strategies targeting Bregs for better management of immune disorders.

Authors

Claudia Mauri, Madhvi Menon

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Abstract

Hemolysis is a fundamental feature of sickle cell anemia that contributes to its pathophysiology and phenotypic variability. Decompartmentalized hemoglobin, arginase 1, asymmetric dimethylarginine, and adenine nucleotides are all products of hemolysis that promote vasomotor dysfunction, proliferative vasculopathy, and a multitude of clinical complications of pulmonary and systemic vasculopathy, including pulmonary hypertension, leg ulcers, priapism, chronic kidney disease, and large-artery ischemic stroke. Nitric oxide (NO) is inactivated by cell-free hemoglobin in a dioxygenation reaction that also oxidizes hemoglobin to methemoglobin, a non–oxygen-binding form of hemoglobin that readily loses heme. Circulating hemoglobin and heme represent erythrocytic danger-associated molecular pattern (eDAMP) molecules, which activate the innate immune system and endothelium to an inflammatory, proadhesive state that promotes sickle vaso-occlusion and acute lung injury in murine models of sickle cell disease. Intravascular hemolysis can impair NO bioavailability and cause oxidative stress, altering redox balance and amplifying physiological processes that govern blood flow, hemostasis, inflammation, and angiogenesis. These pathological responses promote regional vasoconstriction and subsequent blood vessel remodeling. Thus, intravascular hemolysis represents an intrinsic mechanism for human vascular disease that manifests clinical complications in sickle cell disease and other chronic hereditary or acquired hemolytic anemias.

Authors

Gregory J. Kato, Martin H. Steinberg, Mark T. Gladwin

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Abstract

In addition to being a component of innate immunity and an ancient defense mechanism against invading pathogens, complement activation also participates in the adaptive immune response, inflammation, hemostasis, embryogenesis, and organ repair and development. Activation of the complement system via classical, lectin, or alternative pathways generates anaphylatoxins (C3a and C5a) and membrane attack complex (C5b-9) and opsonizes targeted cells. Complement activation end products and their receptors mediate cell-cell interactions that regulate several biological functions in the extravascular tissue. Signaling of anaphylatoxin receptors or assembly of membrane attack complex promotes cell dedifferentiation, proliferation, and migration in addition to reducing apoptosis. As a result, complement activation in the tumor microenvironment enhances tumor growth and increases metastasis. In this Review, I discuss immune and nonimmune functions of complement proteins and the tumor-promoting effect of complement activation.

Authors

Vahid Afshar-Kharghan

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Abstract

The vitamin D receptor (VDR) is the single known regulatory mediator of hormonal 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3] in higher vertebrates. It acts in the nucleus of vitamin D target cells to regulate the expression of genes whose products control diverse, cell type–specific biological functions that include mineral homeostasis. In this Review we describe progress that has been made in defining new cellular sites of action of this receptor, the mechanisms through which this mediator controls the expression of genes, the biology that ensues, and the translational impact of this receptor on human health and disease. We conclude with a brief discussion of what comes next in understanding vitamin D biology and the mechanisms that underlie its actions.

Authors

J. Wesley Pike, Mark B. Meyer, Seong-Min Lee, Melda Onal, Nancy A. Benkusky

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Abstract

Neural pathways, especially those in the hypothalamus, integrate multiple nutritional, hormonal, and neural signals, resulting in the coordinated control of body weight balance and glucose homeostasis. Nuclear receptors (NRs) sense changing levels of nutrients and hormones, and therefore play essential roles in the regulation of energy homeostasis. Understanding the role and the underlying mechanisms of NRs in the context of energy balance control may facilitate the identification of novel targets to treat obesity. Notably, NRs are abundantly expressed in the brain, and emerging evidence indicates that a number of these brain NRs regulate multiple aspects of energy balance, including feeding, energy expenditure and physical activity. In this Review we summarize some of the recent literature regarding effects of brain NRs on body weight regulation and discuss mechanisms underlying these effects.

Authors

Yong Xu, Bert W. O’Malley, Joel K. Elmquist

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Abstract

The adult heart is uniquely designed and equipped to provide a continuous supply of energy in the form of ATP to support persistent contractile function. This high-capacity energy transduction system is the result of a remarkable surge in mitochondrial biogenesis and maturation during the fetal-to-adult transition in cardiac development. Substantial evidence indicates that nuclear receptor signaling is integral to dynamic changes in the cardiac mitochondrial phenotype in response to developmental cues, in response to diverse postnatal physiologic conditions, and in disease states such as heart failure. A subset of cardiac-enriched nuclear receptors serve to match mitochondrial fuel preferences and capacity for ATP production with changing energy demands of the heart. In this Review, we describe the role of specific nuclear receptors and their coregulators in the dynamic control of mitochondrial biogenesis and energy metabolism in the normal and diseased heart.

Authors

Rick B. Vega, Daniel P. Kelly

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Abstract

Parasitic worms infect billions of people worldwide. Current treatments rely on a small group of drugs that have been used for decades. A shortcoming of these drugs is their inability to target the intractable infectious stage of the parasite. As well-known therapeutic targets in mammals, nuclear receptors have begun to be studied in parasitic worms, where they are widely distributed and play key roles in governing metabolic and developmental transcriptional networks. One such nuclear receptor is DAF-12, which is required for normal nematode development, including the all-important infectious stage. Here we review the emerging literature that implicates DAF-12 and potentially other nuclear receptors as novel anthelmintic targets.

Authors

Zhu Wang, Nathaniel E. Schaffer, Steven A. Kliewer, David J. Mangelsdorf

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Abstract

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic age-related lung disease with high mortality that is characterized by abnormal scarring of the lung parenchyma. There has been a recent attempt to define the age-associated changes predisposing individuals to develop IPF. Age-related perturbations that are increasingly found in epithelial cells and fibroblasts from IPF lungs compared with age-matched cells from normal lungs include defective autophagy, telomere attrition, altered proteostasis, and cell senescence. These divergent processes seem to converge in mitochondrial dysfunction and metabolic distress, which potentiate maladaptation to stress and susceptibility to age-related diseases such as IPF. Therapeutic approaches that target aging processes may be beneficial for halting the progression of disease and improving quality of life in IPF patients.

Authors

Ana L. Mora, Marta Bueno, Mauricio Rojas

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Abstract

Glioblastoma is the most common and lethal primary malignant brain tumor in adults. Patients die from recurrent tumors that have become resistant to therapy. New strategies are needed to design future therapies that target resistant cells. Recent genomic studies have unveiled the complexity of tumor heterogeneity in glioblastoma and provide new insights into the genomic landscape of tumor cells that survive and initiate tumor recurrence. Resistant cells also co-opt developmental pathways and display stem-like properties; hence we propose to name them recurrence-initiating stem-like cancer (RISC) cells. Genetic alterations and genomic reprogramming underlie the innate and adaptive resistance of RISC cells, and both need to be targeted to prevent glioblastoma recurrence.

Authors

Satoru Osuka, Erwin G. Van Meir

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Abstract

Heart failure is a major source of morbidity and mortality. Replacing lost myocardium with new tissue is a major goal of regenerative medicine. Unlike adult mammals, zebrafish and neonatal mice are capable of heart regeneration following cardiac injury. In both contexts, the regenerative program echoes molecular and cellular events that occur during cardiac development and morphogenesis, notably muscle creation through division of cardiomyocytes. Based on studies over the past decade, it is now accepted that the adult mammalian heart undergoes a low grade of cardiomyocyte turnover. Recent data suggest that this cardiomyocyte turnover can be augmented in the adult mammalian heart by redeployment of developmental factors. These findings and others suggest that stimulating endogenous regenerative responses can emerge as a therapeutic strategy for human cardiovascular disease.

Authors

Ravi Karra, Kenneth D. Poss

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Abstract

Circadian rhythms play an influential role in nearly all aspects of physiology and behavior in the vast majority of species on Earth. The biological clockwork that regulates these rhythms is dynamic over the lifespan: rhythmic activities such as sleep/wake patterns change markedly as we age, and in many cases they become increasingly fragmented. Given that prolonged disruptions of normal rhythms are highly detrimental to health, deeper knowledge of how our biological clocks change with age may create valuable opportunities to improve health and longevity for an aging global population. In this Review, we synthesize key findings from the study of circadian rhythms in later life, identify patterns of change documented to date, and review potential physiological mechanisms that may underlie these changes.

Authors

Suzanne Hood, Shimon Amir

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Abstract

Chronic inflammation in adipose tissue, possibly related to adipose cell hypertrophy, hypoxia, and/or intestinal leakage of bacteria and their metabolic products, likely plays a critical role in the development of obesity-associated insulin resistance (IR). Cells of both the innate and adaptive immune system residing in adipose tissues, as well as in the intestine, participate in this process. Thus, M1 macrophages, IFN-γ–secreting Th1 cells, CD8+ T cells, and B cells promote IR, in part through secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. Conversely, eosinophils, Th2 T cells, type 2 innate lymphoid cells, and possibly Foxp3+ Tregs protect against IR through local control of inflammation.

Authors

Tracey McLaughlin, Shelley E. Ackerman, Lei Shen, Edgar Engleman

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