XMEN (X-linked immunodeficiency with magnesium defect, EBV infection, and neoplasia) is a complex primary immunological deficiency caused by mutations in MAGT1, a putative magnesium transporter. In this issue of the JCI, Ravell et al. greatly expand the clinical picture. The authors investigated patients’ mutations and symptoms and reported distinguishing immunophenotypes. They also showed that MAGT1 is required for N-glycosylation of key T cell and NK cell receptors that can account for some of the clinical features. Notably, transfection of the affected lymphocytes with MAGT1 mRNA restored both N-glycosylation and receptor function. Now we can add XMEN to the ever-growing family of congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG).
Hudson H. Freeze
Excessive fecal bile acid (BA) loss causes symptoms in a large proportion of people diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, a common functional bowel disorder. This BA diarrhea (BAD) results from increased hepatic synthesis of BAs, with impaired negative feedback regulation by the ileal hormone fibroblast growth factor 19 (FGF19). In this issue of the JCI, Zhao et al. investigated BA metabolism, including fecal BAs, serum BAs, and FGF19, in patients and controls. They identified associations between fecal bacterial BA metabolism and specific microbiota, especially Clostridium scindens. These findings have been tested in a mouse model using microbiota transplants and antibiotic treatment. This group of organisms has potential as a biomarker for BAD and to be a target for therapy.
Julian R.F. Walters, Julian R. Marchesi
Albuminuria acts as a marker of progressive chronic kidney disease and as an indicator for initiation of hypertension treatment via modulation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system with angiotensin receptor blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. However, the true significance of albuminuria has yet to be fully defined. Is it merely a marker of underlying pathophysiology, or does it play a causal role in the progression of kidney disease? The answer remains under debate. In this issue of the JCI, Bedin et al. used next-generation sequencing data to identify patients with chronic proteinuria who had biallelic variants in the cubilin gene (CUBN). Through investigation of these pathogenic mutations in CUBN, the authors have further illuminated the clinical implications of albuminuria.
Andrew Beenken, Jonathan M. Barasch, Ali G. Gharavi
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDACs) are classically immunologically cold tumors that have failed to demonstrate a significant response to immunotherapeutic strategies. This feature is attributed to both the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) and limited immune cell access due to the surrounding stromal barrier, a histological hallmark of PDACs. In this issue of the JCI, Sharma et al. employ a broad glutamine antagonist, 6-diazo-5-oxo-l-norleucine (DON), to target a metabolic program that underlies both PDAC growth and hyaluronan production. Their findings describe an approach to converting the PDAC TME into a hot TME, thereby empowering immunotherapeutic strategies such as anti-PD1 therapy.
Won Jin Ho, Elizabeth M. Jaffee
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) contains mitochondria-enriched thermogenic fat cells (brown adipocytes) that play a crucial role in the regulation of energy metabolism and systemic glucose homeostasis. It was presumed that brown adipocytes are composed of a homogeneous cell population. In this issue of the JCI, however, Song and colleagues report a previously uncharacterized subpopulation of brown adipocytes that display distinct characteristics from the conventional brown adipocytes in their molecular signature, regulation, and fuel utilization. The present study provides novel insight into our understanding of cellular heterogeneity in adipose tissues.
Yasuo Oguri, Shingo Kajimura
Unconventional T cell subsets, including donor-unrestricted T cells (DURTs) and γδ T cells, are promising new players in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. In this issue of the JCI, Ogongo et al. used T cell receptor (TCR) sequencing to characterize unconventional T cell subsets in surgical lung resections and blood from Mycobacterium tuberculosis–infected (Mtb-infected) individuals with and without HIV coinfection. The study revealed highly localized expansions of γδ T cell clonotypes not previously associated with the immune response to Mtb and demonstrates the power of high-throughput analysis of the TCR repertoire directly from infected tissue. The findings contribute to our understanding of tuberculosis control and have implications for the development of both therapeutic and vaccination strategies.
Corinna A. Kulicke, Deborah A. Lewinsohn, David M. Lewinsohn
Mitochondrial dysfunction or loss is evident in neurodegenerative diseases. Furthermore, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations associated with NADH dehydrogenase subunits and nuclear gene mutations that affect mitochondrial function result in optic neuropathies. In this issue of the JCI, Del Dotto et al. and Piro-Mégy et al. identify heterozygous mutations in nuclear-encoded mitochondrial single-strand binding protein 1 (SSBP1) in patients with apparently dominant optic neuropathy with or without extraocular phenotypes. Both research groups reported similar mitochondrial findings in response to SSBP1 mutations. However, the specific SSBP1 mitochondria–associated function in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and the resulting optic nerve remains unclear. We suggest that high expression of SSBP1 during RGC differentiation is critical for mtDNA maintenance to produce appropriate optic nerve connectivity and that SSBP1 mutations in dominant optic atrophy patients do not permit stable binding to N6-methyldeoxyadenosine on the heavy strand involved with replication, leading to disruptions of mtDNA and, eventually, optic nerve dysfunction.
Lina Zelinger, Anand Swaroop
Tumor-induced immunosuppression is a common obstacle for cancer treatment. Adrenergic signaling triggered by chronic stress participates in the creation of an immunosuppressive microenvironment by promoting myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MDSC) proliferation and activation. In this issue of the JCI, Mohammadpour et al. elegantly delve into the mechanisms underlying MDSC contribution to tumor development. They used in vitro and in vivo mouse models to demonstrate that chronic stress results in MDSC accumulation, survival, and immune-inhibitory activity. Of therapeutic relevance, the authors showed that propranolol, a commonly prescribed β-blocker, can reduce MDSC immunosuppression and enhance the effect of other cancer therapies.
Ignacio Iñigo-Marco, Marta M. Alonso
Cancer immunotherapy and its budding effectiveness at improving patient outcomes has revitalized our hope to fight cancer in a logical and safe manner. Immunotherapeutic approaches to reengage the immune system have largely focused on reversing immune checkpoint inhibitor pathways, which suppress the antitumor response. Although these approaches have generated much excitement, they still lack absolute success. Interestingly, newly described host-tumor sugar chains (glycosylations) and glycosylation-binding proteins (lectins) play key roles in evading the immune system to determine cancer progression. In this issue of the JCI, Nambiar et al. used patient head and neck tumors and a mouse model system to investigate the role of galactose-binding lectin 1 (Gal1) in immunotherapy resistance. The authors demonstrated that Gal1 can affect immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy by increasing immune checkpoint molecules and immunosuppressive signaling in the tumor. Notably, these results suggest that targeting a tumor’s glycobiological state will improve treatment efficacy.
Asmi Chakraborty, Charles J. Dimitroff
Manganese (Mn) participates in a variety of distinct physiological processes, including acting as a cofactor for several enzymes and metalloenzymes, in addition to playing a role in immune function, endocrine function, hematopoiesis, and oxidative stress regulation. Mn homeostasis is tightly regulated via intestinal absorption and hepatobiliary and intestinal excretion. In this issue of the JCI, Mercadante and colleagues explored the role of the metal transporter Slc30a10 in vivo using a mouse model system. The authors used whole-body and tissue-specific gene knockouts to show that Slc30a10 is paramount for Mn excretion in the liver and small intestines. These findings provide further insights into mechanisms for Mn homeostasis as well as potential targets for addressing Mn-associated disorders or environmental exposures.
Nathan Katz, Daniel J. Rader
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