Oxidative stress contributes to liver damage in a murine model of alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.
ABSTRACT: Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is a genetic disorder resulting in the expression of misfolded mutant protein that can polymerize and accumulate in hepatocytes, leading to liver disease in some individuals. Transgenic PiZ mice are a well-characterized model, which express human alpha-1-antitrypsin mutant Z protein (ATZ protein) and faithfully recapitulate the human liver disease. Liver tissue expressing alpha-1-antitrypsin mutant Z protein exhibits inflammation, injury and replacement of damaged cells. Fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) develop in aging PiZ mice. In this study, microarray analysis was performed comparing young PiZ (ZY) mice to wild-type (WY), and indicated that there were alterations in gene expression levels that could influence a number of pathways leading to liver disease. Redox-regulating genes were up-regulated in ZY tissue, including carbonyl reductase 3 (CBR3), glutathione S-transferase alpha 1 + 2 (GSTA(1 + 2)) and glutathione S-transferase mu 3 (GSTM3). We hypothesized that oxidative stress could develop in Z mouse liver, contributing to tissue damage and disease progression with age. The results of biochemical analysis of PiZ mouse liver revealed that higher levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and a more oxidized, cellular redox state occurred in liver tissue from ZY mice than WY. ZY mice showed little evidence of oxidative cellular damage as assessed by protein carbonylation levels, malondialdehyde levels and 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine (8oxodG) staining. Aging liver tissue from PiZ older mice (ZO) had elevated ROS, generally lower levels of antioxidant enzymes than younger mice and evidence of cellular damage. These data indicate that oxidative stress is a contributing factor in the development of liver disease in this model of alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.
Project description:Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) is a rare genetic disease that results from mutations in the alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) gene. The mutant AAT protein aggregates and accumulates in the liver leading to AATD liver disease, which is only treatable by liver transplant. The PiZ transgenic mouse strain expresses a human AAT (hAAT) transgene that contains the AATD-associated Glu342Lys mutation. PiZ mice exhibit many AATD symptoms, including AAT protein aggregates, increased hepatocyte death, and liver fibrosis. In the present study, we systemically treated PiZ mice with an antisense oligonucleotide targeted against hAAT (AAT-ASO) and found reductions in circulating levels of AAT and both soluble and aggregated AAT protein in the liver. Furthermore, AAT-ASO administration in these animals stopped liver disease progression after short-term treatment, reversed liver disease after long-term treatment, and prevented liver disease in young animals. Additionally, antisense oligonucleotide treatment markedly decreased liver fibrosis in this mouse model. Administration of AAT-ASO in nonhuman primates led to an approximately 80% reduction in levels of circulating normal AAT, demonstrating potential for this approach in higher species. Antisense oligonucleotides thus represent a promising therapy for AATD liver disease.
Project description:Accumulation of aggregation-prone human alpha 1 antitrypsin mutant Z (AT-Z) protein in PiZ mouse liver stimulates features of liver injury typical of human alpha 1 antitrypsin type ZZ deficiency, an autosomal recessive genetic disorder. Ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis by the 26S proteasome counteracts AT-Z accumulation and plays other roles that, when inhibited, could exacerbate the injury. However, it is unknown how the conditions of AT-Z mediated liver injury affect the 26S proteasome. To address this question, we developed a rapid extraction strategy that preserves polyubiquitin conjugates in the presence of catalytically active 26S proteasomes and allows their separation from deposits of insoluble AT-Z. Compared to WT, PiZ extracts had about 4-fold more polyubiquitin conjugates with no apparent change in the levels of the 26S and 20S proteasomes, and unassembled subunits. The polyubiquitin conjugates had similar affinities to ubiquitin-binding domain of Psmd4 and co-purified with similar amounts of catalytically active 26S complexes. These data show that polyubiquitin conjugates were accumulating despite normal recruitment to catalytically active 26S proteasomes that were available in excess, and suggest that a defect at the 26S proteasome other than compromised binding to polyubiquitin chain or peptidase activity played a role in the accumulation. In support of this idea, PiZ extracts were characterized by high molecular weight, reduction-sensitive forms of selected subunits, including ATPase subunits that unfold substrates and regulate access to proteolytic core. Older WT mice acquired similar alterations, implying that they result from common aspects of oxidative stress. The changes were most pronounced on unassembled subunits, but some subunits were altered even in the 26S proteasomes co-purified with polyubiquitin conjugates. Thus, AT-Z protein aggregates indirectly impair degradation of polyubiquitinated proteins at the level of the 26S proteasome, possibly by inducing oxidative stress-mediated modifications that compromise substrate delivery to proteolytic core.
Project description:Autophagy is an intracellular pathway that contributes to the degradation and recycling of unfolded proteins. Based on the knowledge that autophagy affects glycogen metabolism and that alpha(1)-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is associated with an autophagic response in the liver, we hypothesized that the conformational abnormalities of the Z-AAT protein interfere with hepatocyte glycogen storage and/or metabolism. Compared with wild-type mice (WT), the Z-AAT mice had lower liver glycogen stores (P < 0.001) and abnormal activities of glycogen-related enzymes, including acid alpha-glucosidase (P < 0.05) and the total glycogen synthase (P < 0.05). As metabolic consequences, PiZ mice demonstrated lower blood glucose levels (P < 0.05), lower body weights (P < 0.001), and lower fat pad weights (P < 0.001) compared with WT. After the stress of fasting or partial hepatectomy, PiZ mice had further reduced liver glycogen and lower blood glucose levels (both P < 0.05 compared WT). Finally, PiZ mice exhibited decreased survival after partial hepatectomy (P < 0.01 compared with WT), but this was normalized with postoperative dextrose supplementation. In conclusion, these observations are consistent with the general concept that abnormal protein conformation and degradation affects other cellular functions, suggesting that diseases in the liver might benefit from metabolic compensation if glycogen metabolism is affected.
Project description:AIM:Individuals with homozygous (ZZ) alpha-1-antitrypsin (alpha1AT) deficiency are at an increased risk for liver damage, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The transgenic PiZ mouse, expressing the human alpha1AT mutant Z gene, is a valuable model for this disease. We studied PiZ mice in order to identify and characterize mechanisms involved in the development of HCC. METHODS:Tumor incidence and histology were studied, gene expression levels were surveyed with microarrays, RNA quantified with quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction and protein levels determined with immunoblots and immunohistochemistry. RESULTS:By 16-19 months of age, approximately 69% of the PiZ mice had developed tumors. HCC was present with no evidence of benign adenomas as pre-cancerous lesions. Tumors showed abnormal mitochondria, variable levels of steatosis, globular inclusions of alpha1AT mutant Z protein and metastases. PiZ mice that subsequently developed liver tumors had higher serum levels of alpha1AT mutant Z protein than those that did not develop tumors. Cyclin D1, a cell cycle protein, was upregulated in PiZ livers without tumors compared to Wt. cFOS, a component of AP-1 that may be involved in transforming cells and MCAM, an adhesion molecule likely involved in tumorigenesis and metastases, were elevated in tumors compared with livers without tumors. CONCLUSION:In the PiZ model, many of the histological characteristics of HCC recapitulated features seen in human HCC, whether from individuals with homozygous ZZ liver disease or from unrelated causes in individuals that were not homozygous ZZ. The accumulation of mutant Z protein altered the regulation of several genes driving proliferation and tumorigenesis.
Project description:Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) is the most common genetic cause of liver disease in children and is associated with early-onset chronic liver disease in adults. AATD associated liver injury is caused by hepatotoxic retention of polymerized mutant alpha 1-antitrypsin molecules within the endoplasmic reticulum. Currently, there is no curative therapy for AATD. In this study, we selected small molecules with the potential to bind mutant alpha 1-antitrypsin (Z-variant) to inhibit its accumulation in hepatocytes. We used molecular docking to select candidate compounds that were validated in cell and animal models of disease. A crystal structure of polymerized alpha 1-antitrypsin molecule was used as the basis for docking 139,735 compounds. Effects of the top scoring compounds were investigated in a cell model that stably expresses Z-variant alpha 1-antitrypsin and in PiZ mice expressing Z-variant human alpha 1-antitrypsin (Z-hAAT), encoded by SERPINA1*E342K. 4','5-(Methylenedioxy)-2-nitrocinnamic acid was predicted to bind cleaved alpha 1-antitrypsin at the polymerization interface, and observed to co-localize with Z-hAAT, increase Z-hAAT degradation, inhibit intracellular accumulation of Z-hAAT, and alleviate liver fibrosis.
Project description:Individuals expressing alpha-1-antitrypsin mutant Z protein accumulate misfolded, mutant protein in the liver and are at risk for liver diseases including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Transgenic PiZ mice, a model for this liver disease, display similar pathologies to humans, including inflammation, increases in proliferation, autophagy and apoptosis, accumulation of globules and develop fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma with age. Microarrays were used to compare the gene expressions of PiZ mice to wild-type mice in order to identify the pathways that are altered in this disorder. Pooled samples from 4 mice, 3-4 months old were used for each of 4 categories. PiZ males, PiZ females, C57Bl/6 males, C57Bl/6 females
Project description:The autosomal codominant genetic disorder alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency (AATD) causes pulmonary and liver disease. Individuals homozygous for the mutant Z allele accumulate polymers of Z-AAT protein in hepatocytes, where AAT is primarily produced. This accumulation causes endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, oxidative stress, damage to mitochondria, and inflammation, leading to fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The magnitude of AAT reduction and duration of response from first-generation intravenously administered RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutic ARC-AAT and then with next-generation subcutaneously administered ARO-AAT were assessed by measuring AAT protein in serum of the PiZ transgenic mouse model and human volunteers. The impact of Z-AAT reduction by RNAi on liver disease phenotypes was evaluated in PiZ mice by measuring polymeric Z-AAT in the liver; expression of genes associated with fibrosis, autophagy, apoptosis, and redox regulation; inflammation; Z-AAT globule parameters; and tumor formation. Ultrastructure of the ER, mitochondria, and autophagosomes in hepatocytes was evaluated by electron microscopy. In mice, sustained RNAi treatment reduced hepatic Z-AAT polymer, restored ER and mitochondrial health, normalized expression of disease-associated genes, reduced inflammation, and prevented tumor formation. RNAi therapy holds promise for the treatment of patients with AATD-associated liver disease. ARO-AAT is currently in phase II/III clinical trials.
Project description:?1-antitrypsin (AAT) is a circulating serine protease inhibitor secreted from the liver and important in preventing proteolytic neutrophil elastase associated tissue damage, primarily in lungs. In humans, AAT is encoded by the SERPINA1 (hSERPINA1) gene in which a point mutation (commonly referred to as PiZ) causes aggregation of the miss-folded protein in hepatocytes resulting in subsequent liver damage. In an attempt to rescue the pathologic liver phenotype of a mouse model of human AAT deficiency (AATD), we used adenovirus to deliver Cas9 and a guide-RNA (gRNA) molecule targeting hSERPINA1. Our single dose therapeutic gene editing approach completely reverted the phenotype associated with the PiZ mutation, including circulating transaminase and human AAT (hAAT) protein levels, liver fibrosis and protein aggregation. Furthermore, liver histology was significantly improved regarding inflammation and overall morphology in hSERPINA1 gene edited PiZ mice. Genomic analysis confirmed significant disruption to the hSERPINA1 transgene resulting in a reduction of hAAT protein levels and quantitative mRNA analysis showed a reduction in fibrosis and hepatocyte proliferation as a result of editing. Our findings indicate that therapeutic gene editing in hepatocytes is possible in an AATD mouse model.
Project description:Hepatocytes represent an important target for gene therapy and editing of single-gene disorders. In α-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency, one missense mutation results in impaired secretion of AAT. In most patients, lung damage occurs due to a lack of AAT-mediated protection of lung elastin from neutrophil elastase. In some patients, accumulation of misfolded PiZ mutant AAT protein triggers hepatocyte injury, leading to inflammation and cirrhosis. We hypothesized that correcting the Z mutant defect in hepatocytes would confer a selective advantage for repopulation of hepatocytes within an intact liver. A human PiZ allele was crossed onto an immune-deficient (NSG) strain to create a recipient strain (NSG-PiZ) for human hepatocyte xenotransplantation. Results indicate that NSG-PiZ recipients support heightened engraftment of normal human primary hepatocytes as compared with NSG recipients. This model can therefore be used to test hepatocyte cell therapies for AATD, but more broadly it serves as a simple, highly reproducible liver xenograft model. Finally, a promoterless adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector, expressing a wild-type AAT and a synthetic miRNA to silence the endogenous allele, was integrated into the albumin locus. This gene-editing approach leads to a selective advantage of edited hepatocytes, by silencing the mutant protein and augmenting normal AAT production, and improvement of the liver pathology.
Project description:Infection rates, severity, and fatalities due to COVID-19, the pandemic mediated by SARS-CoV-2, vary greatly between countries. With few exceptions, these are lower in East and Southeast Asian and Sub-Saharan African countries compared with other regions. Epidemiological differences may reflect differences in border closures, lockdowns, and social distancing measures taken by each county, and by cultural differences, such as common use of face masks in East and Southeast Asian countries. The plasma serine protease inhibitor alpha-1 antitrypsin was suggested to protect from COVID-19 by inhibiting TMPRSS2, a cell surface serine protease essential for the SARS-CoV-2 cell entry. Here, we present evidence that population differences in alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency allele frequencies may partially explain national differences in the COVID-19 epidemiology. Our study compared reported national estimates for the major alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency alleles PiZ and PiS (SERPINA1 rs28929474 and rs17580, respectively) with the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center dataset. We found a significant positive correlation (R = .54, P = 1.98e-6) between the combined frequencies of the alpha-1 antitrypsin PiZ and PiS deficiency alleles in 67 countries and their reported COVID-19 mortality rates. Our observations suggest that alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency alleles may contribute to national differences in COVID-19 infection, severity, and mortality rates. Population-wide screening for carriers of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency alleles should be considered for prioritizing individuals for stricter social distancing measures and for receiving a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine once it becomes available.