The tumor suppressor phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) classically counteracts the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling cascade. Germline pathogenic PTEN mutations cause PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome (PHTS), featuring various benign and malignant tumors, as well as neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder. Germline and somatic mosaic mutations in genes encoding components of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway downstream of PTEN predispose to syndromes with partially overlapping clinical features, termed the “PTEN-opathies.” Experimental models of PTEN pathway disruption uncover the molecular and cellular processes influencing clinical phenotypic manifestations. Such insights not only teach us about biological mechanisms in states of health and disease, but also enable more accurate gene-informed cancer risk assessment, medical management, and targeted therapeutics. Hence, the PTEN-opathies serve as a prototype for bedside to bench, and back to the bedside, practice of evidence-based precision medicine.
Lamis Yehia, Joanne Ngeow, Charis Eng
The field of hereditary kidney cancer has begun to mature following the identification of several germline syndromes that define genetic and molecular features of this cancer. Molecular defects within these hereditary syndromes demonstrate consistent deficits in angiogenesis and metabolic signaling, largely driven by altered hypoxia signaling. The classical mutation, loss of function of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor, provides a human pathogenesis model for critical aspects of pseudohypoxia. These features are mimicked in a less common hereditary renal tumor syndrome, known as hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma. Here, we review renal tumor angiogenesis and metabolism from a HIF-centric perspective, considering alterations in the hypoxic landscape, and molecular deviations resulting from high levels of HIF family members. Mutations underlying HIF deregulation drive multifactorial aberrations in angiogenic signals and metabolism. The mechanisms by which these defects drive tumor growth are still emerging. However, the distinctive patterns of angiogenesis and glycolysis-/glutamine-dependent bioenergetics provide insight into the cellular environment of these cancers. The result is a scenario permissive for aggressive tumorigenesis especially within the proximal renal tubule. These features of tumorigenesis have been highly actionable in kidney cancer treatments, and will likely continue as central tenets of kidney cancer therapeutics.
John C. Chappell, Laura Beth Payne, W. Kimryn Rathmell
Although platelets are best known for their role in hemostasis, they are also crucial in development, host defense, inflammation, and tissue repair. Many of these roles are regulated by the immune-like receptors glycoprotein VI (GPVI) and C-type lectin receptor 2 (CLEC-2), which signal through an immunoreceptor tyrosine–based activation motif (ITAM). GPVI is activated by collagen in the subendothelial matrix, by fibrin and fibrinogen in the thrombus, and by a remarkable number of other ligands. CLEC-2 is activated by the transmembrane protein podoplanin, which is found outside of the vasculature and is upregulated in development, inflammation, and cancer, but there is also evidence for additional ligands. In this Review, we discuss the physiological and pathological roles of CLEC-2 and GPVI and their potential as targets in thrombosis and thrombo-inflammatory disorders (i.e., disorders in which inflammation plays a critical role in the ensuing thrombosis) relative to current antiplatelet drugs.
Julie Rayes, Steve P. Watson, Bernhard Nieswandt
Donor age and recipient age are factors that influence transplantation outcomes. Aside from age-associated differences in intrinsic graft function and alloimmune responses, the ability of young and old cells to exert either rejuvenating or aging effects extrinsically may also apply to the transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells or solid organ transplants. While the potential for rejuvenation mediated by the transfer of youthful cells is currently being explored for therapeutic applications, aspects that relate to accelerating aging are no less clinically significant. Those effects may be particularly relevant in transplantation with an age discrepancy between donor and recipient. Here, we review recent advances in understanding the mechanisms by which young and old cells modify their environments to promote rejuvenation- or aging-associated phenotypes. We discuss their relevance to clinical transplantation and highlight potential opportunities for therapeutic intervention.
Ashley Lau, Brian K. Kennedy, James L. Kirkland, Stefan G. Tullius
Fibrosis, the progressive accumulation of connective tissue that occurs in response to injury, causes irreparable organ damage and may result in organ failure. The few available antifibrotic treatments modify the rate of fibrosis progression, but there are no available treatments to reverse established fibrosis. Thus, more effective therapies are urgently needed. Molecular imaging is a promising biomedical methodology that enables noninvasive visualization of cellular and subcellular processes. It provides a unique means to monitor and quantify dysregulated molecular fibrotic pathways in a noninvasive manner. Molecular imaging could be used for early detection, disease staging, and prognostication, as well as for assessing disease activity and treatment response. As fibrotic diseases are often molecularly heterogeneous, molecular imaging of a specific pathway could be used for patient stratification and cohort enrichment with the goal of improving clinical trial design and feasibility and increasing the ability to detect a definitive outcome for new therapies. Here we review currently available molecular imaging probes for detecting fibrosis and fibrogenesis, the active formation of new fibrous tissue, and their application to models of fibrosis across organ systems and fibrotic processes. We provide our opinion as to the potential roles of molecular imaging in human fibrotic diseases.
Sydney B. Montesi, Pauline Désogère, Bryan C. Fuchs, Peter Caravan
Mitochondrial respiratory deficiencies have been observed in numerous neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. For decades, these reductions in oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) have been presumed to trigger an overall bioenergetic crisis in the neuron, resulting in cell death. While the connection between respiratory defects and neuronal death has never been proven, this hypothesis has been supported by the detection of nonspecific mitochondrial DNA mutations in these disorders. These findings led to the notion that mitochondrial respiratory defects could be initiators of these common neurodegenerative disorders, instead of being consequences of a prior insult, a theory we believe to be misconstrued. Herein, we review the roots of this mitochondrial hypothesis and offer a new perspective wherein mitochondria are analyzed not only from the OxPhos point of view, but also as a complex organelle residing at the epicenter of many metabolic pathways.
Estela Area-Gomez, Cristina Guardia-Laguarta, Eric A. Schon, Serge Przedborski
A complex DNA repair machinery has evolved to protect genomic integrity in the face of a myriad of DNA damage sources. When DNA repair fails, this damage can lead to carcinogenesis and tumor genomic instability. Indeed, many heritable cancer predisposition syndromes are attributable to germline defects in DNA repair pathways. On the other hand, these defects may also portend particular vulnerabilities of the cancer and may be exploited therapeutically. Most recently this has been demonstrated in the case of mismatch repair-deficient cancers, in which the immune checkpoint inhibitors have been demonstrated to be highly active. This observation has paved the way for further research investigating other sources of genomic instability that may serve as biomarkers to select patients for immunotherapy.
Katherine M. Bever, Dung T. Le
At implantation, the embryo expresses paternally derived alloantigens and evokes inflammation that can threaten reproductive success. To ensure a robust placenta and sustainable pregnancy, an active state of maternal immune tolerance mediated by CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) is essential. Tregs operate to inhibit effector immunity, contain inflammation, and support maternal vascular adaptations, thereby facilitating trophoblast invasion and placental access to the maternal blood supply. Insufficient Treg numbers or inadequate functional competence are implicated in idiopathic infertility and recurrent miscarriage as well as later-onset pregnancy complications stemming from placental insufficiency, including preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction. In this Review, we summarize the mechanisms acting in the conception environment to drive the Treg response and discuss prospects for targeting the T cell compartment to alleviate immune-based reproductive disorders.
Sarah A. Robertson, Alison S. Care, Lachlan M. Moldenhauer
Unresolved inflammation is central to the pathophysiology of commonly occurring vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, aneurysm, and deep vein thrombosis — conditions that are responsible for considerable morbidity and mortality. Surgical or catheter-based procedures performed on affected blood vessels induce acute-on-chronic inflammatory responses. The resolution of vascular inflammation is an important driver of vessel wall remodeling and functional recovery in these clinical settings. Specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators (SPMs) derived from omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids orchestrate key cellular processes driving resolution and a return to homeostasis. The identification of their potent effects in classic animal models of sterile inflammation triggered interest in their vascular properties. Recent studies have demonstrated that SPMs are locally synthesized in vascular tissues, have direct effects on vascular cells and their interactions with leukocytes, and play a protective role in the injury response. Early translational work has established the potential for SPMs as vascular therapeutics, and as candidate biomarkers in vascular disease. Further investigations are needed to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms of resolution in the vasculature, to improve tools for clinical measurement, and to better define the potential for “resolution therapeutics” in vascular patients.
Michael S. Conte, Tejal A. Desai, Bian Wu, Melinda Schaller, Evan Werlin
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a global epidemic in obese children and adults, and the onset might have fetal origins. A growing body of evidence supports the role of developmental programming, whereby the maternal environment affects fetal and infant development, altering the risk profile for disease later in life. Human and nonhuman primate studies of maternal obesity demonstrate that risk factors for pediatric obesity and NAFLD begin in utero. The pathologic mechanisms for NAFLD are multifactorial but have centered on altered mitochondrial function/dysfunction that might precede insulin resistance. Compared with the adult liver, the fetal liver has fewer mitochondria, low activity of the fatty acid metabolic enzyme carnitine palmitoyl-CoA transferase-1, and little or no gluconeogenesis. Exposure to excess maternal fuels during fetal life uniquely alters hepatic fatty acid oxidation, tricarboxylic acid cycle activity, de novo lipogenesis, and mitochondrial health. These events promote increased oxidative stress and excess triglyceride storage, and, together with altered immune function and epigenetic changes, they prime the fetal liver for NAFLD and might drive the risk for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in the next generation.
Peter R. Baker II, Jacob E. Friedman
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