Highly expressed BMP9/GDF2 in postnatal mouse liver and lungs may account for its pleiotropic effects on stem cell differentiation, angiogenesis, tumor growth and metabolism.
ABSTRACT: Bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9) (or GDF2) was originally identified from fetal mouse liver cDNA libraries. Emerging evidence indicates BMP9 exerts diverse and pleiotropic functions during postnatal development and in maintaining tissue homeostasis. However, the expression landscape of BMP9 signaling during development and/or in adult tissues remains to be analyzed. Here, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of the expression landscape of BMP9 and its signaling mediators in postnatal mice. By analyzing mouse ENCODE transcriptome datasets we found Bmp9 was highly expressed in the liver and detectable in embryonic brain, adult lungs and adult placenta. We next conducted a comprehensive qPCR analysis of RNAs isolated from major mouse tissues/organs at various ages. We found that Bmp9 was highly expressed in the liver and lung tissues of young adult mice, but decreased in older mice. Interestingly, Bmp9 was only expressed at low to modest levels in developing bones. BMP9-associated TGF?/BMPR type I receptor Alk1 was highly expressed in the adult lungs. Furthermore, the feedback inhibitor Smads Smad6 and Smad7 were widely expressed in mouse postnatal tissues. However, the BMP signaling antagonist noggin was highly expressed in fat and heart in the older age groups, as well as in kidney, liver and lungs in a biphasic fashion. Thus, our findings indicate that the circulating BMP9 produced in liver and lungs may account for its pleiotropic effects on postnatal tissues/organs although possible roles of BMP9 signaling in liver and lungs remain to be fully understood.
Project description:Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT), a genetic bleeding disorder leading to systemic arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), is caused by loss-of-function mutations in the ALK1/ENG/Smad1/5/8 pathway. Evidence suggests that HHT pathogenesis strongly relies on overactivated PI3K/Akt/mTOR and VEGFR2 pathways in endothelial cells (ECs). In the BMP9/10-immunoblocked (BMP9/10ib) neonatal mouse model of HHT, we report here that the mTOR inhibitor, sirolimus, and the receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, nintedanib, could synergistically fully block, but also reversed, retinal AVMs to avert retinal bleeding and anemia. Sirolimus plus nintedanib prevented vascular pathology in the oral mucosa, lungs, and liver of the BMP9/10ib mice, as well as significantly reduced gastrointestinal bleeding and anemia in inducible ALK1-deficient adult mice. Mechanistically, in vivo in BMP9/10ib mouse ECs, sirolimus and nintedanib blocked the overactivation of mTOR and VEGFR2, respectively. Furthermore, we found that sirolimus activated ALK2-mediated Smad1/5/8 signaling in primary ECs - including in HHT patient blood outgrowth ECs - and partially rescued Smad1/5/8 activity in vivo in BMP9/10ib mouse ECs. These data demonstrate that the combined correction of endothelial Smad1/5/8, mTOR, and VEGFR2 pathways opposes HHT pathogenesis. Repurposing of sirolimus plus nintedanib might provide therapeutic benefit in patients with HHT.
Project description:Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) is a highly debilitating and life-threatening genetic vascular disorder arising from endothelial cell (EC) proliferation and hypervascularization, for which no cure exists. Because HHT is caused by loss-of-function mutations in bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9)-ALK1-Smad1/5/8 signaling, interventions aimed at activating this pathway are of therapeutic value. We interrogated the whole-transcriptome in human umbilical vein ECs (HUVECs) and found that ALK1 signaling inhibition was associated with a specific pro-angiogenic gene expression signature, which included a significant elevation of DLL4 expression. By screening the NIH clinical collections of FDA-approved drugs, we identified tacrolimus (FK-506) as the most potent activator of ALK1 signaling in BMP9-challenged C2C12 reporter cells. In HUVECs, tacrolimus activated Smad1/5/8 and opposed the pro-angiogenic gene expression signature associated with ALK1 loss-of-function, by notably reducing Dll4 expression. In these cells, tacrolimus also inhibited Akt and p38 stimulation by vascular endothelial growth factor, a major driver of angiogenesis. In the BMP9/10-immunodepleted postnatal retina-a mouse model of HHT vascular pathology-tacrolimus activated endothelial Smad1/5/8 and prevented the Dll4 overexpression and hypervascularization associated with this model. Finally, tacrolimus stimulated Smad1/5/8 signaling in C2C12 cells expressing BMP9-unresponsive ALK1 HHT mutants and in HHT patient blood outgrowth ECs. Tacrolimus repurposing has therefore therapeutic potential in HHT.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) is an inherited vascular disorder that causes arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Mutations in the genes encoding Endoglin ( ENG) and activin-receptor-like kinase 1 ( AVCRL1 encoding ALK1) cause HHT type 1 and 2, respectively. Mutations in the SMAD4 gene are present in families with juvenile polyposis-HHT syndrome that involves AVMs. SMAD4 is a downstream effector of transforming growth factor-? (TGF?)/bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) family ligands that signal via activin-like kinase receptors (ALKs). Ligand-neutralizing antibodies or inducible, endothelial-specific Alk1 deletion induce AVMs in mouse models as a result of increased PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase)/AKT (protein kinase B) signaling. Here we addressed if SMAD4 was required for BMP9-ALK1 effects on PI3K/AKT pathway activation. METHODS:The authors generated tamoxifen-inducible, postnatal, endothelial-specific Smad4 mutant mice ( Smad4i?EC). RESULTS:We found that loss of endothelial Smad4 resulted in AVM formation and lethality. AVMs formed in regions with high blood flow in developing retinas and other tissues. Mechanistically, BMP9 signaling antagonized flow-induced AKT activation in an ALK1- and SMAD4-dependent manner. Smad4i?EC endothelial cells in AVMs displayed increased PI3K/AKT signaling, and pharmacological PI3K inhibitors or endothelial Akt1 deletion both rescued AVM formation in Smad4i?EC mice. BMP9-induced SMAD4 inhibited casein kinase 2 ( CK2) transcription, in turn limiting PTEN phosphorylation and AKT activation. Consequently, CK2 inhibition prevented AVM formation in Smad4i?EC mice. CONCLUSIONS:Our study reveals SMAD4 as an essential effector of BMP9-10/ALK1 signaling that affects AVM pathogenesis via regulation of CK2 expression and PI3K/AKT1 activation.
Project description:IL-33, an IL-1 family cytokine, is constitutively expressed in mucosal tissues and other organs in healthy humans and animals, and expression levels increase in inflammatory conditions. Although IL-33-mediated promotion of type 2 immune responses has been well established, a gap in our knowledge regarding the functional diversity of this pleiotropic cytokine remains. To address this gap, we developed a new IL-33 transgenic mouse model in which overexpression of full-length IL-33 is induced in lung epithelial cells under conditional control. In adult mice, an ?3-fold increase in the steady-state IL-33 levels produced no pathologic effects in the lungs. When exposed to airborne allergens, adult transgenic mice released more IL-33 extracellularly and exhibited robust type 2 immune responses. In neonatal transgenic mice, up to postnatal day 14, a similar increase in steady-state IL-33 levels resulted in increased mortality, enlarged alveolar spaces resembling bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and altered expression of genes associated with tissue morphogenesis. Processed 25-kDa IL-33 protein was detected in bronchoalveolar lavage fluids without any exogenous stimuli, and pathologic changes were abolished in mice deficient in the IL-33 receptor ST2. These findings suggest that adult lungs are relatively resistant to IL-33 overexpression unless they encounter environmental insults, whereas developing lungs are highly susceptible, with IL-33 overexpression resulting in detrimental and pathologic outcomes.
Project description:Although a number of experimental models have been developed for liver research, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The present study attempted to develop a simple and effective 3‑dimensional mouse liver microsphere tissue culture (LMTC) model in vitro for the analysis of hepatic functions. Hepatic characteristics and potential applications of this model were compared with that of mouse model in vivo and mouse primary hepatocytes in vitro. Using freshly‑perfused mouse liver tissue passed through 80‑mesh sift strainer (sift80), it was demonstrated that under the optimal culture conditions, the sift80 microsphere tissue cultured in 2% bovine calf serum medium remained viable with marked proliferating cell nuclear antigen and anti‑Myc proto‑oncogene protein expression, exhibited normal hepatic functions including indocyanine green (ICG) uptake/release and periodic acid‑Schiff staining, and expressed hepatocyte‑specific genes for up to 2 weeks. The microsphere tissue was responsive to bone morphogenic protein 9 (BMP9) stimulation leading to upregulation of downstream targets of BMP9 signaling. Furthermore, 3 commonly‑used liver‑damaging drugs were indicated to effectively inhibit hepatic ICG uptake, and induce the expression of hepatotoxicity‑associated genes. Therefore, this simplified LMTC model may be a useful in vitro tissue culture model to investigate drug‑induced liver injury and metabolism, and hepatocyte‑based cell singling.
Project description:TGF-? family members play a relevant role in tumorigenic processes, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but a specific implication of the Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) subfamily is still unknown. Although originally isolated from fetal liver, little is known about BMP9, a BMP family member, and its role in liver physiology and pathology. Our results show that BMP9 promotes growth in HCC cells, but not in immortalized human hepatocytes. In the liver cancer cell line HepG2, BMP9 triggers Smad1,5,8 phosphorylation and inhibitor of DNA binding 1 (Id1) expression up- regulation. Importantly, by using chemical inhibitors, ligand trap and gene silencing approaches we demonstrate that HepG2 cells autocrinely produce BMP9 that supports their proliferation and anchorage independent growth. Additionally, our data reveal that in HepG2 cells BMP9 triggers cell cycle progression, and strikingly, completely abolishes the increase in the percentage of apoptotic cells induced by long-term incubation in low serum. Collectively, our data unveil a dual role for BMP9, both promoting a proliferative response and exerting a remarkable anti-apoptotic function in HepG2 cells, which result in a robust BMP9 effect on liver cancer cell growth. Finally, we show that BMP9 expression is increased in 40% of human HCC tissues compared with normal human liver as revealed by immunohistochemistry analysis, suggesting that BMP9 signaling may be relevant during hepatocarcinogenesis in vivo. Our findings provide new clues for a better understanding of BMPs contribution, and in particular BMP9, in HCC pathogenesis that may result in the development of effective and targeted therapeutic interventions.
Project description:The Catsper1 gene, whose expression is restricted to male germ cells, has great importance in reproductive biology because of its function in sperm motility and fertilization. We previously reported that the promoter of this gene has transcriptional activity in either direction in a heterologous system. In the present study, we found that the Catsper1 promoter has in vitro transcriptional activity in either orientation in GC-1 spg mouse spermatogonial cells. The results also showed that this promoter regulates the expression of a new divergent Catsper1 gene named Catsper1au (Catsper1 antisense upstream transcript). Catsper1au is expressed in adult male mouse testis and liver tissues but not in female mouse liver or ovary tissues. In the testis, Catsper1au is expressed in embryos at 11.5 days post-coitum and from newborns to adults. This gene is also expressed in 1- to 3-week postnatal hearts and in 1-week to adult stage livers. The analysis of the 1402 bp whole genome sequence revealed that Catsper1au is an intronless and polyadenylated lncRNA, located in the nuclei of Sertoli and spermatogenic cells from adult testis. These data indicate that Catsper1au is divergently expressed from the Catsper1 promoter and could regulate gene expression during spermatogenesis.
Project description:Lymphatic vessels are critical for the maintenance of tissue fluid homeostasis and their dysfunction contributes to several human diseases. The activin receptor-like kinase 1 (ALK1) is a transforming growth factor-? family type 1 receptor that is expressed on both blood and lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs). Its high-affinity ligand, bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9), has been shown to be critical for retinal angiogenesis. The aim of this work was to investigate whether BMP9 could play a role in lymphatic development. We found that Bmp9 deficiency in mice causes abnormal lymphatic development. Bmp9-knockout (KO) pups presented hyperplastic mesenteric collecting vessels that maintained LYVE-1 expression. In accordance with this result, we found that BMP9 inhibited LYVE-1 expression in LECs in an ALK1-dependent manner. Bmp9-KO pups also presented a significant reduction in the number and in the maturation of mesenteric lymphatic valves at embryonic day 18.5 and at postnatal days 0 and 4. Interestingly, the expression of several genes known to be involved in valve formation (Foxc2, Connexin37, EphrinB2, and Neuropilin1) was upregulated by BMP9 in LECS. Finally, we demonstrated that Bmp9-KO neonates and adult mice had decreased lymphatic draining efficiency. These data identify BMP9 as an important extracellular regulator in the maturation of the lymphatic vascular network affecting valve development and lymphatic vessel function.
Project description:Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) is a potentially life-threatening genetic vascular disorder caused by loss-of-function mutations in the genes encoding activin receptor-like kinase 1 (ALK1), endoglin, Smad4, and bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9). Injections of mouse neonates with BMP9/10 blocking antibodies lead to HHT-like vascular defects in the postnatal retinal angiogenesis model. Mothers and their newborns share the same immunity through the transfer of maternal antibodies during lactation. Here, we investigated whether the transmammary delivery route could improve the ease and consistency of administering anti-BMP9/10 antibodies in the postnatal retinal angiogenesis model. We found that anti-BMP9/10 antibodies, when intraperitoneally injected into lactating dams, are efficiently transferred into the blood circulation of lactationally-exposed neonatal pups. Strikingly, pups receiving anti-BMP9/10 antibodies via lactation displayed consistent and robust vascular pathology in the retina, which included hypervascularization and defects in arteriovenous specification, as well as the presence of multiple and massive arteriovenous malformations. Furthermore, RNA-Seq analyses of neonatal retinas identified an increase in the key pro-angiogenic factor, angiopoietin-2, as the most significant change in gene expression triggered by the transmammary delivery of anti-BMP9/10 antibodies. Transmammary-delivered BMP9/10 immunoblocking in the mouse neonatal retina is therefore a practical, noninvasive, reliable, and robust model of HHT vascular pathology.
Project description:Endoglin (ENG), a co-receptor for several TGF?-family cytokines, is expressed in dividing endothelial cells alongside ALK1, the ACVRL1 gene product. ENG and ACVRL1 are both required for angiogenesis and mutations in either gene are associated with Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangectasia, a rare genetic vascular disorder. ENG and ALK1 function in the same genetic pathway but the relative contribution of TGF? and BMP9 to SMAD1/5/8 activation and the requirement of ENG as a co-mediator of SMAD phosphorylation in endothelial cells remain debated. Here, we show that BMP9 and TGF?1 induce distinct SMAD phosphorylation responses in primary human endothelial cells and that, unlike BMP9, TGF? only induces SMAD1/5/8 phosphorylation in a subset of immortalized mouse endothelial cell lines, but not in primary human endothelial cells. We also demonstrate, using siRNA depletion of ENG and novel anti-ENG antibodies, that ENG is required for BMP9/pSMAD1 signaling in all human and mouse endothelial cells tested. Finally, anti-ENG antibodies that interfere with BMP9/pSMAD1 signaling, but not with TGF?1/pSMAD3 signaling, also decrease in vitro HUVEC endothelial tube formation and inhibit BMP9 binding to recombinant ENG in vitro. Our data demonstrate that BMP9 signaling inhibition is a key and previously unreported mechanism of action of TRC105, an anti-angiogenic anti-Endoglin antibody currently evaluated in clinical trials.