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In this issue, Cohen et al. report that 8 weeks of dietary free sugar restriction effectively reduces hepatic de novo lipogenesis in boys with fatty liver disease. Image credit: Number1411/ Shutterstock.
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Through their ability to regulate gene expression in most organs, glucocorticoid hormones influence numerous physiological processes and therefore are key regulators of organismal homeostasis. In bone, glucocorticoid hormones inhibit the expression of the hormone Osteocalcin for poorly understood reasons. Here we show that in a classical endocrine feedback loop, osteocalcin in return enhances the biosynthesis of glucocorticoid but also mineralocorticoid hormones (adrenal steroidogenesis) in rodents and primates. Conversely, inactivating osteocalcin signalling in adrenal glands significantly impairs adrenal growth and steroidogenesis in mice. Embryo-made osteocalcin is necessary for normal Sf1 expression in foetal adrenal cells and adrenal cell steroidogenic differentiation, it therefore determines the number of steroidogenic cells present in adrenal glands of adult animals. Embryonic not postnatal osteocalcin also governs adrenal growth, adrenal steroidogenesis, blood pressure, electrolyte equilibrium and the rise of circulating corticosterone during the acute stress response in adult offspring. This osteocalcin-dependent regulation of adrenal development and steroidogenesis occurs even in the absence of a functional of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis; this explains why osteocalcin administration during pregnancy promotes adrenal growth and steroidogenesis and improves survival of adrenocorticotropic hormone signalling-deficient animals. This study reveals that a bone-derived, embryonic hormone influences lifelong adrenal functions and organismal homeostasis in the mouse.
Vijay K. Yadav, Julian M. Berger, Parminder Singh, Perumal Nagarajan, Gerard Karsenty
It has been revealed that 2’3’-cyclic-GMP-AMP (cGAMP), a second messenger that activates the antiviral stimulator of interferon genes (STING), elicits an antitumoral immune response. Since cGAMP cannot cross the cell membrane, it is not clear how intracellular STING has been activated by extracellular cGAMP until SLC19A1 was identiﬁed as an importer to transport extracellular cGAMP into cytosol. However, SLC19A1 deficient cells also sense extracellular cGAMP, suggesting the presence of mechanisms other than the facilitating transporters for STING sensing extracellular cGAMP. Here, we identified an alternatively spliced STING isoform (plasmatic membrane STING, pmSTING) that localized in the plasma membrane with its C-terminus outside the cell, due to lack of one transmembrane domain in its N-terminus compared to canonical STING, by using immunoprecipitation, immunofluorescence and flow cytometry. Further studies showed that extracellular cGAMP not only promoted the dimerization of pmSTING and interaction of pmSTING with Tank-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) and interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3), but also enhanced the phosphorylation of TBK1 and IRF3 and production of interferon in pmSTING transfected cells. Additionally, we also identified similar pmSTING isoforms in other animal species including human. This study suggests a conserved role for pmSTING in sensing extracellular cGAMP and provides insight into cGAMP’s role as an immunotransmitter.
Xiaobo Li, Yuanyuan Zhu, Xiao Zhang, Xiang An, Mingjiao Weng, Jiaqi Shi, Song Wang, Caiqi Liu, Shengnan Luo, Tongsen Zheng
BACKGROUND. It is unclear how excess adiposity and insulin resistance affect β-cell function, insulin secretion, and insulin clearance in people with obesity. METHODS. We used a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp procedure and a modified oral glucose tolerance test to evaluate the interrelationships among obesity, insulin sensitivity, insulin kinetics, and glycemic status in five groups: normoglycemic lean and obese with: i) normal fasting glucose and normal glucose tolerance (Ob-NFG-NGT), ii) NFG and impaired glucose tolerance (Ob-NFG-IGT), iii) impaired fasting glucose and IGT (Ob-IFG-IGT), and iv) type 2 diabetes (Ob-T2D). RESULTS. Glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS), an assessment of β-cell function, was greater in the Ob-NFG-NGT and Ob-NFG-IGT groups than in the lean group, even when insulin sensitivity was matched in the obese and lean groups. Insulin sensitivity, not GSIS, was decreased in the Ob-NFG-IGT group compared with the Ob-NFG-NGT group, whereas GSIS, not insulin sensitivity, was decreased in the Ob-IFG-IGT and Ob-T2D groups compared with the Ob-NFG-NGT and Ob-NFG-IGT groups. Insulin clearance was directly related to insulin sensitivity and inversely related to the postprandial increase in insulin secretion and plasma insulin concentration. CONCLUSION. Increased adiposity per se, not insulin resistance, enhances insulin secretion in people with obesity. The obesity-induced increase in insulin secretion, in conjunction with a decrease in insulin clearance, sufficiently raise plasma insulin concentrations needed to maintain normoglycemia in people with moderate, but not severe insulin resistance. A deterioration in β-cell function, not a decrease in insulin sensitivity, is a determinant of IFG and ultimately leads to T2D. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION. NCT02706262; NCT04131166; NCT01977560 FUNDING. This study was supported by NIH grants P30 DK056341 (Washington University Nutrition and Obesity Research Center), P30 DK020579 (Washington University Diabetes Research Center), and UL1 TR000448 (Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences), and grants from the American Diabetes Association (1-18-ICTS-119), the Longer Life Foundation, the Pershing Square Foundation, and the Washington University-Centene ARCH Personalized Medicine Initiative (P19-00559). ROLE OF THE FUNDERS/SPONSOR. The funding sources had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.
Bettina Mittendorfer, Bruce W. Patterson, Gordon I. Smith, Mihoko Yoshino, Samuel Klein
Repair of the infarcted heart requires TGF-β/Smad3 signaling in cardiac myofibroblasts. However, TGF-β-driven myofibroblast activation needs to be tightly regulated in order to prevent excessive fibrosis and adverse remodeling that may precipitate heart failure. We hypothesized that induction of the inhibitory Smad, Smad7 may restrain infarct myofibroblast activation, and we examined the molecular mechanisms of Smad7 actions. In a mouse model of non-reperfused infarction, Smad3 activation triggered Smad7 synthesis in α-SMA+ infarct myofibroblasts, but not in α-SMA-/PDGFRα+ fibroblasts. Myofibroblast-specific Smad7 loss increased heart failure-related mortality, worsened dysfunction, and accentuated fibrosis in the infarct border zone and in the papillary muscles. Smad7 attenuated myofibroblast activation and reduced synthesis of structural and matricellular extracellular matrix proteins. Smad7 actions on TGF-β cascades involved de-activation of Smad2/3 and non-Smad pathways, without any effects on TGF-β receptor activity. Unbiased transcriptomic and proteomic analysis identified receptor tyrosine kinase signaling as a major target of Smad7. Smad7 interacted with Erbb2 in a TGF-independent manner and restrained Erbb1/Erbb2 activation, suppressing fibroblast expression of fibrogenic proteases, integrins and CD44. Smad7 induction in myofibroblasts serves as an endogenous TGF-β-induced negative feedback mechanism that inhibits post-infarction fibrosis by restraining Smad-dependent and Smad-independent TGF-β responses, and by suppressing TGF-independent fibrogenic actions of Erbb2.
Claudio Humeres, Arti V. Shinde, Anis Hanna, Linda Alex, Silvia C. Hernandez, Ruoshui Li, Bijun Chen, Simon J. Conway, Nikolaos G. Frangogiannis
Desmoglein 1 (Dsg1) is a cadherin restricted to stratified tissues of terrestrial vertebrates, which serve as essential physical and immune barriers. Dsg1 loss-of-function mutations in humans result in skin lesions, multiple allergies, and isolated patient keratinocytes exhibit increased pro-allergic cytokine expression. However, the mechanism by which genetic deficiency of Dsg1 causes chronic inflammation is unknown. To determine the systemic response to Dsg1 loss, we deleted the three tandem Dsg1 genes in mice. Whole transcriptome analysis of embryonic Dsg1-/- skin showed a delay in expression of adhesion/differentiation/keratinization genes at E17.5, a subset of which recovered or increased by E18.5. Comparing epidermal transcriptomes from Dsg1-deficient mice and humans revealed a shared IL-17-skewed inflammatory signature. Although the impaired intercellular adhesion observed in Dsg1-/- mice resembles that resulting from anti-Dsg1 pemphigus foliaceus antibodies, pemphigus skin lesions exhibit a weaker IL-17 signature. Consistent with the clinical importance of these findings, treatment of two Dsg1-deficient patients with an IL-12/IL-23 antagonist originally developed for psoriasis resulted in improvement of skin lesions. Thus, beyond impairing the physical barrier, loss of Dsg1 function through gene mutation results in a psoriatic-like inflammatory signature before birth and treatment with a targeted therapy markedly improved skin lesions in patients.
Lisa M. Godsel, Quinn R. Roth-Carter, Jennifer L. Koetsier, Lam C. Tsoi, Amber L. Huffine, Joshua A. Broussard, Gillian N. Fitz, Sarah M. Lloyd, Junghun Kweon, Hope E. Burks, Marihan Hegazy, Saki Amagai, Paul W. Harms, Xianying Xing, Joseph Kirma, Jodi L. Johnson, Gloria Urciuoli, Lynn T. Doglio, William R. Swindell, Rajeshwar Awatramani, Eli Sprecher, Xiaomin Bao, Eran Cohen-Barak, Caterina Missero, Johann E. Gudjonsson, Kathleen J. Green
JCI This Month is a digest of the research, reviews, and other features published each month.
Animals, plants, and bacteria all display behavioral patterns that coincide with Earth’s light and dark cycles. These oscillating behaviors are the manifestation of the molecular circadian clock, a highly conserved network that maintains a near 24-hour rhythm even in the absence of light. In mammals, light signals are transmitted via the superchiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus to synchronize peripheral clocks and coordinate physiological functions with the organism’s active period. This collection of reviews, curated by Amita Sehgal, considers the critical role of the circadian system in human health. Technology, work, and social obligations can disrupt optimal sleep and wake schedules, leaving humans vulnerable to diseases affecting the heart, brain, metabolism, and more. Sleep disorders as well as normal variations in human chronotype may exacerbate circadian disruptions, with profound consequences. These reviews emphasize that ongoing efforts to understand the complexities of human circadian rhythm will be essential for developing chronotherapies and other circadian-based interventions.