Sex-determining region Y (SRY) box 2 (SOX2) haploinsufficiency causes a form of hypopituitarism in humans that is characterized by gonadotrophin deficiency known as hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism. Here, we conditionally deleted Sox2 in mice to investigate the pathogenesis of hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism. First, we found that absence of SOX2 in the developing Rathke pouch of conditional embryos led to severe anterior lobe hypoplasia with drastically reduced expression of the pituitary-specific transcription factor POU class 1 homeobox 1 (POU1F1) as well as severe disruption of somatotroph and thyrotroph differentiation. In contrast, corticotrophs, rostral-tip POU1F1-independent thyrotrophs, and, interestingly, lactotrophs and gonadotrophs were less affected. Second, we identified a requirement for SOX2 in normal proliferation of periluminal progenitors; in its absence, insufficient precursors were available to produce all cell lineages of the anterior pituitary. Differentiated cells derived from precursors exiting cell cycle at early stages, including corticotrophs, rostral-tip thyrotrophs, and gonadotrophs, were generated, while hormone-producing cells originating from late-born precursors, such as somatotrophs and POU1F1-dependent thyrotrophs, were severely reduced. Finally, we found that 2 previously characterized patients with SOX2 haploinsufficiency and associated hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism had a measurable response to gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) stimulation, suggesting that it is not the absence of gonadotroph differentiation, but rather the deficient hypothalamic stimulation of gonadotrophs, that underlies typical hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism.
Sujatha A. Jayakody, Cynthia L. Andoniadou, Carles Gaston-Massuet, Massimo Signore, Anna Cariboni, Pierre M. Bouloux, Paul Le Tissier, Larysa H. Pevny, Mehul T. Dattani, Juan P. Martinez-Barbera
The most common forms of neurocristopathy in the autonomic nervous system are Hirschsprung disease (HSCR), resulting in congenital loss of enteric ganglia, and neuroblastoma (NB), childhood tumors originating from the sympathetic ganglia and adrenal medulla. The risk for these diseases dramatically increases in patients with congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS) harboring a nonpolyalanine repeat expansion mutation of the Paired-like homeobox 2b (PHOX2B) gene, but the molecular mechanism of pathogenesis remains unknown. We found that introducing nonpolyalanine repeat expansion mutation of the PHOX2B into the mouse Phox2b locus recapitulates the clinical features of the CCHS associated with HSCR and NB. In mutant embryos, enteric and sympathetic ganglion progenitors showed sustained sex-determining region Y (SRY) box10 (Sox10) expression, with impaired proliferation and biased differentiation toward the glial lineage. Nonpolyalanine repeat expansion mutation of PHOX2B reduced transactivation of wild-type PHOX2B on its known target, dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH), in a dominant-negative fashion. Moreover, the introduced mutation converted the transcriptional effect of PHOX2B on a Sox10 enhancer from repression to transactivation. Collectively, these data reveal that nonpolyalanine repeat expansion mutation of PHOX2B is both a dominant-negative and gain-of-function mutation. Our results also demonstrate that Sox10 regulation by PHOX2B is pivotal for the development and pathogenesis of the autonomic ganglia.
Mayumi Nagashimada, Hiroshi Ohta, Chong Li, Kazuki Nakao, Toshihiro Uesaka, Jean-François Brunet, Jeanne Amiel, Delphine Trochet, Teruhiko Wakayama, Hideki Enomoto
Beare-Stevenson cutis gyrata syndrome (BSS) is a human genetic disorder characterized by skin and skull abnormalities. BSS is caused by mutations in the FGF receptor 2 (FGFR2), but the molecular mechanisms that induce skin and skull abnormalities are unclear. We developed a mouse model of BSS harboring a FGFR2 Y394C mutation and identified p38 MAPK as an important signaling pathway mediating these abnormalities. Fgfr2+/Y394C mice exhibited epidermal hyperplasia and premature closure of cranial sutures (craniosynostosis) due to abnormal cell proliferation and differentiation. We found ligand-independent phosphorylation of FGFR2 and activation of p38 signaling in mutant skin and calvarial tissues. Treating Fgfr2+/Y394C mice with a p38 kinase inhibitor attenuated skin abnormalities by reversing cell proliferation and differentiation to near normal levels. This study reveals the pleiotropic effects of the FGFR2 Y394C mutation evidenced by cutis gyrata, acanthosis nigricans, and craniosynostosis and provides a useful model for investigating the molecular mechanisms of skin and skull development. The demonstration of a pathogenic role for p38 activation may lead to the development of therapeutic strategies for BSS and related conditions, such as acanthosis nigricans or craniosynostosis.
Yingli Wang, Xueyan Zhou, Kurun Oberoi, Robert Phelps, Ross Couwenhoven, Miao Sun, Amélie Rezza, Greg Holmes, Christopher J. Percival, Jenna Friedenthal, Pavel Krejci, Joan T. Richtsmeier, David L. Huso, Michael Rendl, Ethylin Wang Jabs
Patients with mutations in either TGF-β receptor type I (TGFBR1) or TGF-β receptor type II (TGFBR2), such as those with Loeys-Dietz syndrome, have craniofacial defects and signs of elevated TGF-β signaling. Similarly, mutations in TGF-β receptor gene family members cause craniofacial deformities, such as cleft palate, in mice. However, it is unknown whether TGF-β ligands are able to elicit signals in Tgfbr2 mutant mice. Here, we show that loss of Tgfbr2 in mouse cranial neural crest cells results in elevated expression of TGF-β2 and TGF-β receptor type III (TβRIII); activation of a TβRI/TβRIII-mediated, SMAD-independent, TRAF6/TAK1/p38 signaling pathway; and defective cell proliferation in the palatal mesenchyme. Strikingly, Tgfb2, Tgfbr1 (also known as Alk5), or Tak1 haploinsufficiency disrupted TβRI/TβRIII-mediated signaling and rescued craniofacial deformities in Tgfbr2 mutant mice, indicating that activation of this noncanonical TGF-β signaling pathway was responsible for craniofacial malformations in Tgfbr2 mutant mice. Thus, modulation of TGF-β signaling may be beneficial for the prevention of congenital craniofacial birth defects.
Jun-ichi Iwata, Joseph G. Hacia, Akiko Suzuki, Pedro A. Sanchez-Lara, Mark Urata, Yang Chai
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a prevalent smoking-related disease for which no disease-altering therapies currently exist. As dysregulated TGF-β signaling associates with lung pathology in patients with COPD and in animal models of lung injury induced by chronic exposure to cigarette smoke (CS), we postulated that inhibiting TGF-β signaling would protect against CS-induced lung injury. We first confirmed that TGF-β signaling was induced in the lungs of mice chronically exposed to CS as well as in COPD patient samples. Importantly, key pathological features of smoking-associated lung disease in patients, e.g., alveolar injury with overt emphysema and airway epithelial hyperplasia with fibrosis, accompanied CS-induced alveolar cell apoptosis caused by enhanced TGF-β signaling in CS-exposed mice. Systemic administration of a TGF-β–specific neutralizing antibody normalized TGF-β signaling and alveolar cell death, conferring improved lung architecture and lung mechanics in CS-exposed mice. Use of losartan, an angiotensin receptor type 1 blocker used widely in the clinic and known to antagonize TGF-β signaling, also improved oxidative stress, inflammation, metalloprotease activation and elastin remodeling. These data support our hypothesis that inhibition of TGF-β signaling through angiotensin receptor blockade can attenuate CS-induced lung injury in an established murine model. More importantly, our findings provide a preclinical platform for the development of other TGF-β–targeted therapies for patients with COPD.
Megan Podowski, Carla Calvi, Shana Metzger, Kaori Misono, Hataya Poonyagariyagorn, Armando Lopez-Mercado, Therese Ku, Thomas Lauer, Sharon McGrath-Morrow, Alan Berger, Christopher Cheadle, Rubin Tuder, Harry C. Dietz, Wayne Mitzner, Robert Wise, Enid Neptune
Defects in cholesterol synthesis result in a wide variety of symptoms, from neonatal lethality to the relatively mild dysmorphic features and developmental delay found in individuals with Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome. We report here the identification of mutations in sterol-C4-methyl oxidase–like gene (SC4MOL) as the cause of an autosomal recessive syndrome in a human patient with psoriasiform dermatitis, arthralgias, congenital cataracts, microcephaly, and developmental delay. This gene encodes a sterol-C4-methyl oxidase (SMO), which catalyzes demethylation of C4-methylsterols in the cholesterol synthesis pathway. C4-Methylsterols are meiosis-activating sterols (MASs). They exist at high concentrations in the testis and ovary and play roles in meiosis activation. In this study, we found that an accumulation of MASs in the patient led to cell overproliferation in both skin and blood. SMO deficiency also substantially altered immunocyte phenotype and in vitro function. MASs serve as ligands for liver X receptors α and β (LXRα and LXRβ), which are important in regulating not only lipid transport in the epidermis, but also innate and adaptive immunity. Deficiency of SMO represents a biochemical defect in the cholesterol synthesis pathway, the clinical spectrum of which remains to be defined.
Miao He, Lisa E. Kratz, Joshua J. Michel, Abbe N. Vallejo, Laura Ferris, Richard I. Kelley, Jacqueline J. Hoover, Drazen Jukic, K. Michael Gibson, Lynne A. Wolfe, Dhanya Ramachandran, Michael E. Zwick, Jerry Vockley
Sex in mammals is genetically determined and is defined at the cellular level by sex chromosome complement (XY males and XX females). The Y chromosome–linked gene sex-determining region Y (SRY) is believed to be the master initiator of male sex determination in almost all eutherian and metatherian mammals, functioning to upregulate expression of its direct target gene Sry-related HMG box–containing gene 9 (SOX9). Data suggest that SRY evolved from SOX3, although there is no direct functional evidence to support this hypothesis. Indeed, loss-of-function mutations in SOX3 do not affect sex determination in mice or humans. To further investigate Sox3 function in vivo, we generated transgenic mice overexpressing Sox3. Here, we report that in one of these transgenic lines, Sox3 was ectopically expressed in the bipotential gonad and that this led to frequent complete XX male sex reversal. Further analysis indicated that Sox3 induced testis differentiation in this particular line of mice by upregulating expression of Sox9 via a similar mechanism to Sry. Importantly, we also identified genomic rearrangements within the SOX3 regulatory region in three patients with XX male sex reversal. Together, these data suggest that SOX3 and SRY are functionally interchangeable in sex determination and support the notion that SRY evolved from SOX3 via a regulatory mutation that led to its de novo expression in the early gonad.
Edwina Sutton, James Hughes, Stefan White, Ryohei Sekido, Jacqueline Tan, Valerie Arboleda, Nicholas Rogers, Kevin Knower, Lynn Rowley, Helen Eyre, Karine Rizzoti, Dale McAninch, Joao Goncalves, Jennie Slee, Erin Turbitt, Damien Bruno, Henrik Bengtsson, Vincent Harley, Eric Vilain, Andrew Sinclair, Robin Lovell-Badge, Paul Thomas
Congenital anomalies of the aortic valve are common and are associated with progressive valvular insufficiency and/or stenosis. In addition, aneurysm, coarctation, and dissection of the ascending aorta and aortic arch are often associated conditions that complicate patient management and increase morbidity and mortality. These associated aortopathies are commonly attributed to turbulent hemodynamic flow through the malformed valve leading to focal defects in the vessel wall. However, numerous surgical and pathological studies have identified widespread cystic medial necrosis and smooth muscle apoptosis throughout the aortic arch in affected patients. Here, we provide experimental evidence for an alternative model to explain the association of aortic vessel and valvular disease. Using mice with primary and secondary cardiac neural crest deficiencies, we have shown that neural crest contribution to the outflow endocardial cushions (the precursors of the semilunar valves) is required for late gestation valvular remodeling, mesenchymal apoptosis, and proper valve architecture. Neural crest was also shown to contribute to the smooth muscle layer of the wall of the ascending aorta and aortic arch. Hence, defects of cardiac neural crest can result in functionally abnormal semilunar valves and concomitant aortic arch artery abnormalities.
Rajan Jain, Kurt A. Engleka, Stacey L. Rentschler, Lauren J. Manderfield, Li Li, Lijun Yuan, Jonathan A. Epstein
The white adipose organ is composed of both subcutaneous and several intra-abdominal depots. Excess abdominal adiposity is a major risk factor for metabolic disease in rodents and humans, while expansion of subcutaneous fat does not carry the same risks. Brown adipose produces heat as a defense against hypothermia and obesity, and the appearance of brown-like adipocytes within white adipose tissue depots is associated with improved metabolic phenotypes. Thus, understanding the differences in cell biology and function of these different adipose cell types and depots may be critical to the development of new therapies for metabolic disease. Here, we found that Prdm16, a brown adipose determination factor, is selectively expressed in subcutaneous white adipocytes relative to other white fat depots in mice. Transgenic expression of Prdm16 in fat tissue robustly induced the development of brown-like adipocytes in subcutaneous, but not epididymal, adipose depots. Prdm16 transgenic mice displayed increased energy expenditure, limited weight gain, and improved glucose tolerance in response to a high-fat diet. shRNA-mediated depletion of Prdm16 in isolated subcutaneous adipocytes caused a sharp decrease in the expression of thermogenic genes and a reduction in uncoupled cellular respiration. Finally, Prdm16 haploinsufficiency reduced the brown fat phenotype in white adipose tissue stimulated by β-adrenergic agonists. These results demonstrate that Prdm16 is a cell-autonomous determinant of a brown fat–like gene program and thermogenesis in subcutaneous adipose tissues.
Patrick Seale, Heather M. Conroe, Jennifer Estall, Shingo Kajimura, Andrea Frontini, Jeff Ishibashi, Paul Cohen, Saverio Cinti, Bruce M. Spiegelman
Cardiac valve formation is crucial for embryonic and adult heart function. Valve malformations constitute the most common congenital cardiac defect, but little is known about the molecular mechanisms regulating valve formation and homeostasis. Here, we show that endocardial Notch1 and myocardial Bmp2 signal integration establish a valve-forming field between 2 chamber developmental domains. Patterning occurs through the activation of endocardial epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) exclusively in prospective valve territories. Mice with constitutive endocardial Notch1 activity ectopically express Hey1 and Heyl. They also display an activated mesenchymal gene program in ventricles and a partial (noninvasive) EMT in vitro that becomes invasive upon BMP2 treatment. Snail1, TGF-β2, or Notch1 inhibition reduces BMP2-induced ventricular transformation and invasion, whereas BMP2 treatment inhibits endothelial Gsk3β, stabilizing Snail1 and promoting invasiveness. Integration of Notch and Bmp2 signals is consistent with Notch1 signaling being attenuated after myocardial Bmp2 deletion. Notch1 activation in myocardium extends Hey1 expression to nonchamber myocardium, represses Bmp2, and impairs EMT. In contrast, Notch deletion abrogates endocardial Hey gene transcription and extends Bmp2 expression to the ventricular endocardium. This embryonic Notch1-Bmp2-Snail1 relationship may be relevant in adult valve disease, in which decreased NOTCH signaling causes valve mesenchyme cell formation, fibrosis, and calcification.
Luis Luna-Zurita, Belén Prados, Joaquim Grego-Bessa, Guillermo Luxán, Gonzalo del Monte, Alberto Benguría, Ralf H. Adams, José María Pérez-Pomares, José Luis de la Pompa
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