Importance of ALDH1A enzymes in determining human testicular retinoic acid concentrations.
ABSTRACT: Retinoic acid (RA), the active metabolite of vitamin A, is required for spermatogenesis and many other biological processes. RA formation requires irreversible oxidation of retinal to RA by aldehyde dehydrogenase enzymes of the 1A family (ALDH1A). While ALDH1A1, ALDH1A2, and ALDH1A3 all form RA, the expression pattern and relative contribution of these enzymes to RA formation in the testis is unknown. In this study, novel methods to measure ALDH1A protein levels and intrinsic RA formation were used to accurately predict RA formation velocities in individual human testis samples and an association between RA formation and intratesticular RA concentrations was observed. The distinct localization of ALDH1A in the testis suggests a specific role for each enzyme in controlling RA formation. ALDH1A1 was found in Sertoli cells, while only ALDH1A2 was found in spermatogonia, spermatids, and spermatocytes. In the absence of cellular retinol binding protein (CRBP)1, ALDH1A1 was predicted to be the main contributor to intratesticular RA formation, but when CRBP1 was present, ALDH1A2 was predicted to be equally important in RA formation as ALDH1A1. This study provides a comprehensive novel methodology to evaluate RA homeostasis in human tissues and provides insight to how the individual ALDH1A enzymes mediate RA concentrations in specific cell types.
Project description:Despite the essential role of the active metabolite of vitamin A, all-trans retinoic acid (atRA) in spermatogenesis, the enzymes, and cellular populations responsible for its synthesis in the postnatal testis remain largely unknown. The aldehyde dehydrogenase 1A (ALDH1A) family of enzymes residing within Sertoli cells is responsible for the synthesis of atRA, driving the first round of spermatogenesis. Those studies also revealed that the atRA required to drive subsequent rounds of spermatogenesis is possibly derived from the ALDH1A enzymes residing within the meiotic and post-meiotic germ cells. Three ALDH1A isozymes (ALDH1A1, ALDH1A2, and ALDH1A3) are present in the testis. Although, ALDH1A1 is expressed in adult Sertoli cells and is suggested to contribute to the atRA required for the pre-meiotic transitions, ALDH1A2 is proposed to be the essential isomer involved in testicular atRA biosynthesis. In this report, we first examine the requirement for ALDH1A2 via the generation and analysis of a conditional Aldh1a2 germ cell knockout and a tamoxifen-induced Aldh1a2 knockout model. We then utilized the pan-ALDH1A inhibitor (WIN 18446) to test the collective contribution of the ALDH1A enzymes to atRA biosynthesis following the first round of spermatogenesis. Collectively, our data provide the first in vivo evidence demonstrating that animals severely deficient in ALDH1A2 postnatally proceed normally through spermatogenesis. Our studies with a pan-ALDH1A inhibitor (WIN 18446) also suggest that an alternative source of atRA biosynthesis independent of the ALDH1A enzymes becomes available to maintain atRA levels for several spermatogenic cycles following an initial atRA injection.
Project description:In mammals, the timing of meiosis entry is regulated by signals from the gonadal environment. All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) signaling is considered the key pathway that promotes Stra8 (stimulated by retinoic acid 8) expression and, in turn, meiosis entry. This model, however, is debated because it is based on analyzing the effects of exogenous ATRA on ex vivo gonadal cultures, which not accurately reflects the role of endogenous ATRA. Aldh1a1 and Aldh1a2, two retinaldehyde dehydrogenases synthesizing ATRA, are expressed in the mouse ovaries when meiosis initiates. Contrary to the present view, here, we demonstrate that ATRA-responsive cells are scarce in the ovary. Using three distinct gene deletion models for Aldh1a1;Aldh1a2;Aldh1a3, we show that Stra8 expression is independent of ATRA production by ALDH1A proteins and that germ cells progress through meiosis. Together, these data demonstrate that ATRA signaling is dispensable for instructing meiosis initiation in female germ cells.
Project description:Genome duplications increase genetic diversity and may facilitate the evolution of gene subfunctions. Little attention, however, has focused on the evolutionary impact of lineage-specific gene loss. Here, we show that identifying lineage-specific gene loss after genome duplication is important for understanding the evolution of gene subfunctions in surviving paralogs and for improving functional connectivity among human and model organism genomes. We examine the general principles of gene loss following duplication, coupled with expression analysis of the retinaldehyde dehydrogenase Aldh1a gene family during retinoic acid signaling in eye development as a case study. Humans have three ALDH1A genes, but teleosts have just one or two. We used comparative genomics and conserved syntenies to identify loss of ohnologs (paralogs derived from genome duplication) and to clarify uncertain phylogenies. Analysis showed that Aldh1a1 and Aldh1a2 form a clade that is sister to Aldh1a3-related genes. Genome comparisons showed secondarily loss of aldh1a1 in teleosts, revealing that Aldh1a1 is not a tetrapod innovation and that aldh1a3 was recently lost in medaka, making it the first known vertebrate with a single aldh1a gene. Interestingly, results revealed asymmetric distribution of surviving ohnologs between co-orthologous teleost chromosome segments, suggesting that local genome architecture can influence ohnolog survival. We propose a model that reconstructs the chromosomal history of the Aldh1a family in the ancestral vertebrate genome, coupled with the evolution of gene functions in surviving Aldh1a ohnologs after R1, R2, and R3 genome duplications. Results provide evidence for early subfunctionalization and late subfunction-partitioning and suggest a mechanistic model based on altered regulation leading to heterochronic gene expression to explain the acquisition or modification of subfunctions by surviving ohnologs that preserve unaltered ancestral developmental programs in the face of gene loss.
Project description:Substantial evidence exists that during fetal ovarian development in mammals, retinoic acid (RA) induces germ cells to express the pre-meiotic marker Stra8 and enter meiosis, and that these effects are prevented in the fetal testis by the RA-degrading P450 enzyme CYP26B1. Nonetheless, the role of RA has been disputed principally because germ cells in embryos lacking two major RA-synthesizing enzymes, ALDH1A2 and ALDH1A3, remain able to enter meiosis. Here we show that a third RA-synthesizing enzyme, ALDH1A1, is expressed in fetal ovaries, providing a likely source of RA in the absence of ALDH1A2 and ALDH1A3. In ovaries lacking ALDH1A1, the onset of germ cell meiosis is delayed. Our data resolve the conundrum posed by conflicting published data sets and reconfirm the model that meiosis is triggered by endogenous RA in the developing ovary.
Project description:Perturbations in the vitamin A metabolism pathway could be a significant cause of male infertility, as well as a target toward the development of a male contraceptive, necessitating the need for a better understanding of how testicular retinoic acid (RA) concentrations are regulated. Quantitative analyses have recently demonstrated that RA is present in a pulsatile manner along testis tubules. However, it is unclear if the aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) enzymes, which are responsible for RA synthesis, contribute to the regulation of these RA concentration gradients. Previous studies have alluded to fluctuations in ALDH enzymes across the spermatogenic cycle, but these inferences have been based primarily on qualitative transcript localization experiments. Here, we show via various quantitative methods that the three well-known ALDH enzymes (ALDH1A1, ALDH1A2, and ALDH1A3), and an ALDH enzyme previously unreported in the murine testis (ALDH8A1), are not expressed in a stage-specific manner in the adult testis, but do fluctuate throughout juvenile development in perfect agreement with the first appearance of each advancing germ cell type. We also show, via treatments with a known ALDH inhibitor, that lowered testicular RA levels result in an increase in blood-testis barrier permeability, meiotic recombination, and meiotic defects. Taken together, these data further our understanding of the complex regulatory actions of RA on various spermatogenic events and, in contrast with previous studies, also suggest that the ALDH enzymes are not responsible for regulating the recently measured RA pulse.
Project description:Although the concept of cancer stem cells (CSCs) is well-accepted for many tumors, the existence of such cells in human melanoma has been the subject of debate. In this study, we demonstrate the existence of human melanoma cells that fulfill the criteria for CSCs (self-renewal and differentiation) by serially xenotransplanting cells into nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency (NOD/SCID) mice. These cells possess high aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity with ALDH1A1 and ALDH1A3 being the predominant ALDH isozymes. ALDH-positive melanoma cells are more tumorigenic than ALDH-negative cells in both NOD/SCID mice and NSG mice. Biological analyses of the ALDH-positive melanoma cells reveal the ALDH isozymes to be key molecules regulating the function of these cells. Silencing ALDH1A by siRNA or shRNA leads to cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, decreased cell viability in vitro, and reduced tumorigenesis in vivo. ALDH-positive melanoma cells are more resistant to chemotherapeutic agents and silencing ALDH1A by siRNA sensitizes melanoma cells to drug-induced cell death. Furthermore, we, for the first time, examined the molecular signatures of ALDH-positive CSCs from patient-derived tumor specimens. The signatures of melanoma CSCs include retinoic acid (RA)-driven target genes with RA response elements and genes associated with stem cell function. These findings implicate that ALDH isozymes are not only biomarkers of CSCs but also attractive therapeutic targets for human melanoma. Further investigation of these isozymes and genes will enhance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing CSCs and reveal new molecular targets for therapeutic intervention of cancer.
Project description:Retinoic acid (RA) produced by intestinal dendritic cells (DCs) imprints gut-homing specificity on lymphocytes and enhances Foxp3(+) regulatory T-cell differentiation. The expression of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) 1A in these DCs is essential for the RA production. However, it remains unclear how the steady-state ALDH1A expression is induced under specific pathogen-free (SPF) conditions. Here, we found that bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BM-DCs) generated with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) expressed Aldh1a2, an isoform of Aldh1a, but that fms-related tyrosine kinase 3 ligand-generated BM-DCs did not. DCs from mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN) and Peyer's patches (PP) of normal SPF mice expressed ALDH1A2, but not the other known RA-producing enzymes. Employing a flow cytometric method, we detected ALDH activities in 10-30% of PP-DCs and MLN-DCs. They were CD11c(high)CD4(-/low)CD8alpha(intermediate)CD11b(-/low) F4/80(low/intermediate)CD45RB(low)CD86(high)MHC class II(high)B220(-)CD103(+). Equivalent levels of aldehyde dehydrogenase activity (ALDHact) and ALDH1A2 expression were induced synergistically by GM-CSF and IL-4 in splenic DCs in vitro. In BM-DCs, however, additional signals via Toll-like receptors or RA receptors were required for inducing the equivalent levels. The generated ALDH1A2(+) DCs triggered T cells to express gut-homing receptors or Foxp3. GM-CSF receptor-deficient or vitamin A-deficient mice exhibited marked reductions in the ALDHact in intestinal DCs and the T cell number in the intestinal lamina propria, whereas IL-4 receptor-mediated signals were dispensable. GM-CSF(+)CD11c(-)F4/80(+) cells existed constitutively in the intestinal tissues. The results suggest that GM-CSF and RA itself are pivotal among multiple microenvironment factors that enable intestinal DCs to produce RA.
Project description:Enzymes of the ALDH1A subfamily of aldehyde dehydrogenases are crucial in regulating retinoic acid (RA) signaling and have received attention as potential drug targets. ALDH1A2 is the primary RA-synthesizing enzyme in mammalian spermatogenesis and is therefore considered a viable drug target for male contraceptive development. However, only a small number of ALDH1A2 inhibitors have been reported, and information on the structure of ALDH1A2 was limited to the NAD-liganded enzyme void of substrate or inhibitors. Herein, we describe the mechanism of action of structurally unrelated reversible and irreversible inhibitors of human ALDH1A2 using direct binding studies and X-ray crystallography. All inhibitors bind to the active sites of tetrameric ALDH1A2. Compound WIN18,446 covalently reacts with the side chain of the catalytic residue Cys320, resulting in a chiral adduct in ( R) configuration. The covalent adduct directly affects the neighboring NAD molecule, which assumes a contracted conformation suboptimal for the dehydrogenase reaction. The reversible inhibitors interact predominantly through direct hydrogen bonding interactions with residues in the vicinity of Cys320 without affecting NAD. Upon interaction with inhibitors, a large flexible loop assumes regular structure, thereby shielding the active site from solvent. The precise knowledge of the binding modes provides a new framework for the rational design of novel inhibitors of ALDH1A2 with improved potency and selectivity profiles.
Project description:Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity is commonly used as a marker to identify cancer stem-like cells. The three ALDH1A isoforms have all been individually implicated in cancer stem-like cells and in chemoresistance; however, which isoform is preferentially expressed varies between cell lines. We sought to explore the structural determinants of ALDH1A isoform selectivity in a series of small-molecule inhibitors in support of research into the role of ALDH1A in cancer stem cells. An SAR campaign guided by a cocrystal structure of the HTS hit CM39 (7) with ALDH1A1 afforded first-in-class inhibitors of the ALDH1A subfamily with excellent selectivity over the homologous ALDH2 isoform. We also discovered the first reported modestly selective single isoform 1A2 and 1A3 inhibitors. Two compounds, 13g and 13h, depleted the CD133+ putative cancer stem cell pool, synergized with cisplatin, and achieved efficacious concentrations in vivo following IP administration. Compound 13h additionally synergized with cisplatin in a patient-derived ovarian cancer spheroid model.
Project description:Retinoic acid (RA), a metabolite of vitamin A, exerts pleiotropic effects throughout life in vertebrate organisms. Thus, RA action must be tightly regulated through the coordinated action of biosynthetic and degrading enzymes. The last step of retinoic acid biosynthesis is irreversibly catalyzed by the NAD-dependent retinal dehydrogenases (RALDH), which are members of the aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) superfamily. Low intracellular retinal concentrations imply efficient substrate molecular recognition to ensure high affinity and specificity of RALDHs for retinal. This study addresses the molecular basis of retinal recognition in human ALDH1A1 (or RALDH1) and rat ALDH1A2 (or RALDH2), through the comparison of the catalytic behavior of retinal analogs and use of the fluorescence properties of retinol. We show that, in contrast to long chain unsaturated substrates, the rate-limiting step of retinal oxidation by RALDHs is associated with acylation. Use of the fluorescence resonance energy transfer upon retinol interaction with RALDHs provides evidence that retinal recognition occurs in two steps: binding into the substrate access channel, and a slower structural reorganization with a rate constant of the same magnitude as the kcat for retinal oxidation: 0.18 vs. 0.07 and 0.25 vs. 0.1 s(-1) for ALDH1A1 and ALDH1A2, respectively. This suggests that the conformational transition of the RALDH-retinal complex significantly contributes to the rate-limiting step that controls the kinetics of retinal oxidation, as a prerequisite for the formation of a catalytically competent Michaelis complex. This conclusion is consistent with the general notion that structural flexibility within the active site of ALDH enzymes has been shown to be an integral component of catalysis.