Hypomethylation and expression of BEX2, IGSF4 and TIMP3 indicative of MLL translocations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Wilhelm G. Dirks
Hans Günter Drexler
- Background Translocations of the Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) gene occur in a subset (5%) of acute myeloid leukemias (AML), and in mixed phenotype acute leukemias in infancy - a disease with extremely poor prognosis. Animal model systems show that MLL gain of function mutations may contribute to leukemogenesis. Wild-type (wt) MLL possesses histone methyltransferase activity and functions at the level of chromatin organization by affecting the expression of specific target genes. While numerous MLL fusion proteins exert a diverse array of functions, they ultimately serve to induce transcription of specific genes. Hence, acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL) with MLL mutations (MLLmu) exhibit characteristic gene expression profiles including high-level expression of HOXA cluster genes. Here, we aimed to relate MLL mutational status and tumor suppressor gene (TSG) methylation/expression in acute leukemia cell lines. Results Using MS-MLPA (methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification assay), methylation of 24 different TSG was analyzed in 28 MLLmu and MLLwt acute leukemia cell lines. On average, 1.8/24 TSG were methylated in MLLmu AML cells, while 6.2/24 TSG were methylated in MLLwt AML cells. Hypomethylation and expression of the TSG BEX2, IGSF4 and TIMP3 turned out to be characteristic of MLLmu AML cell lines. MLLwt AML cell lines displayed hypermethylated TSG promoters resulting in transcriptional silencing. Demethylating agents and inhibitors of histone deacetylases restored expression of BEX2, IGSF4 and TIMP3, confirming epigenetic silencing of these genes in MLLwt cells. The positive correlation between MLL translocation, TSG hypomethylation and expression suggested that MLL fusion proteins were responsible for dysregulation of TSG expression in MLLmu cells. This concept was supported by our observation that Bex2 mRNA levels in MLL-ENL transgenic mouse cell lines required expression of the MLL fusion gene. Conclusion These results suggest that the conspicuous expression of the TSG BEX2, IGSF4 and TIMP3 in MLLmu AML cell lines is the consequence of altered epigenetic properties of MLL fusion proteins.
Hemolysis is associated with low reticulocyte production index and predicts blood transfusion in severe malarial anemia
Wolfgang E. Berdel
Peter G. Kremsner
- Background: Falciparum Malaria, an infectious disease caused by the apicomplexan parasite Plasmodium falciparum, is among the leading causes of death and morbidity attributable to infectious diseases worldwide. In Gabon, Central Africa, one out of four inpatients have severe malarial anemia (SMA), a life-threatening complication if left untreated. Emerging drug resistant parasites might aggravate the situation. This case control study investigates biomarkers of enhanced hemolysis in hospitalized children with either SMA or mild malaria (MM). Methods and Findings: Ninety-one children were included, thereof 39 SMA patients. Strict inclusion criteria were chosen to exclude other causes of anemia. At diagnosis, erythrophagocytosis (a direct marker for extravascular hemolysis, EVH) was enhanced in SMA compared to MM patients (5.0 arbitrary units (AU) (interquartile range (IR): 2.2–9.6) vs. 2.1 AU (IR: 1.3–3.9), p<0.01). Furthermore, indirect markers for EVH, (i.e. serum neopterin levels, spleen size enlargement and monocyte pigment) were significantly increased in SMA patients. Markers for erythrocyte ageing, such as CD35 (complement receptor 1), CD55 (decay acceleration factor) and phosphatidylserine exposure (annexin-V-binding) were investigated by flow cytometry. In SMA patients, levels of CD35 and CD55 on the red blood cell surface were decreased and erythrocyte removal markers were increased when compared to MM or reconvalescent patients. Additionally, intravascular hemolysis (IVH) was quantified using several indirect markers (LDH, alpha-HBDH, haptoglobin and hemopexin), which all showed elevated IVH in SMA. The presence of both IVH and EVH predicted the need for blood transfusion during antimalarial treatment (odds ratio 61.5, 95% confidence interval (CI): 8.9–427). Interestingly, this subpopulation is characterized by a significantly lowered reticulocyte production index (RPI, p<0.05). Conclusions: Our results show the multifactorial pathophysiology of SMA, whereby EVH and IVH play a particularly important role. We propose a model where removal of infected and non-infected erythrocytes of all ages (including reticulocytes) by EVH and IVH is a main mechanism of SMA. Further studies are underway to investigate the mechanism and extent of reticulocyte removal to identify possible interventions to reduce the risk of SMA development.
Potentiation of glycine-gated NR1/NR3A NMDA receptors relieves Ca2+-dependent outward rectification
Jörg R. P. Geiger
- Glycine has diverse functions within the mammalian central nervous system. It inhibits postsynaptic neurons via strychnine-sensitive glycine receptors (GlyRs) and enhances neuronal excitation through co-activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. Classical Ca2+-permeable NMDA receptors are composed of glycine-binding NR1 and glutamate-binding NR2 subunits, and hence require both glutamate and glycine for efficient activation. In contrast, recombinant receptors composed of NR1 and the glycine binding NR3A and/or NR3B subunits lack glutamate binding sites and can be activated by glycine alone. Therefore these receptors are also named “excitatory glycine receptors”. Co-application of antagonists of the NR1 glycine-binding site or of the divalent cation Zn2+ markedly enhances the glycine responses of these receptors. To gain further insight into the properties of these glycine-gated NMDA receptors, we investigated their current-voltage (I–V) dependence. Whole-cell current-voltage relations of glycine currents recorded from NR1/NR3B and NR1/NR3A/NR3B expressing oocytes were found to be linear under our recording conditions. In contrast, NR1/NR3A receptors displayed a strong outwardly rectifying I–V relation. Interestingly, the voltage-dependent inward current block was abolished in the presence of NR1 antagonists, Zn2+ or a combination of both. Further analysis revealed that Ca2+ (1.8 mM) present in our recording solutions was responsible for the voltage-dependent inhibition of ion flux through NR1/NR3A receptors. Since physiological concentrations of the divalent cation Mg2+ did not affect the I–V dependence, our data suggest that relief of the voltage-dependent Ca2+ block of NR1/NR3A receptors by Zn2+ may be important for the regulation of excitatory glycinergic transmission, according to the Mg2+-block of conventional NR1/NR2 NMDA receptors. Keywords: NMDA receptor, excitatory glycine receptor, voltage block, NR3 subunit, supralinear potentiation, Zn2+, NR1 antagonist, ligand-binding domain
Age-related cellular copper dynamics in the fungal ageing model Podospora anserina and in ageing human fibroblasts
Christian Quintus Scheckhuber
Bernd O. Kolbesen
Heinz D. Osiewacz
- In previous investigations an impact of cellular copper homeostasis on ageing of the ascomycete Podospora anserina has been demonstrated. Here we provide new data indicating that mitochondria play a major role in this process. Determination of copper in the cytosolic fraction using total reflection X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy analysis and eGfp reporter gene studies indicate an age-related increase of cytosolic copper levels. We show that components of the mitochondrial matrix (i.e. eGFP targeted to mitochondria) become released from the organelle during ageing. Decreasing the accessibility of mitochondrial copper in P. anserina via targeting a copper metallothionein to the mitochondrial matrix was found to result in a switch from a copper-dependent cytochrome-c oxidase to a copper-independent alternative oxidase type of respiration and results in lifespan extension. In addition, we demonstrate that increased copper concentrations in the culture medium lead to the appearance of senescence biomarkers in human diploid fibroblasts (HDFs). Significantly, expression of copper-regulated genes is induced during in vitro ageing in medium devoid of excess copper suggesting that cytosolic copper levels also increase during senescence of HDFs. These data suggest that the identified molecular pathway of age-dependent copper dynamics may not be restricted to P. anserina but may be conserved from lower eukaryotes to humans.
The S-adenosylmethionine dependent O-methyltransferase PaMTH1: a longevity assurance factor protecting Podospora anserina against oxidative stress
Heinz D. Osiewacz
- PaMTH1 is an O-methyltransferase catalysing the methylation of vicinal hydroxyl groups of polyphenols. The protein accumulates during ageing of Podospora anserina in both the cytosol and in the mitochondrial matrix. The construction and characterisation of a PaMth1 deletion strain provided additional evidence about the function of the protein in the protection against metal induced oxidative stress. Deletion of PaMth1 was found to lead to a decreased resistance against exogenous oxidative stress and to a shortened lifespan suggesting a role of PaMTH1 as a longevity assurance factor in a new molecular pathway involved in lifespan control. Key words: Podospora anserina, knock-out, reactive oxygen species, flavonoids, ageing, O-methyltransferase
When life comes to an end: lessons from microbial aging models
Heinz D. Osiewacz
- Aging of biological systems ultimately leads to death of the individual. In humans, organ failure as the result of functional impairments after stroke, cardio-vascular disease, tumor development, neurodegeneration and other diseases are certainly crucial in bringing life to an end. But what happens in individuals with no obvious disease or disorders?
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An investigation of horizontal transfer of feed introduced DNA to the aerobic microbiota of the gastrointestinal tract of rats
Kaare Magne Nielsen
Horizontal gene transfer through natural transformation of members of the microbiota of the lower gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of mammals has not yet been described. Insufficient DNA sequence similarity for homologous recombination to occur has been identified as the major barrier to interspecies transfer of chromosomal DNA in bacteria. In this study we determined if regions of high DNA similarity between the genomes of the indigenous bacteria in the GIT of rats and feed introduced DNA could lead to homologous recombination and acquisition of antibiotic resistance genes.
Plasmid DNA with two resistance genes (nptI and aadA) and regions of high DNA similarity to 16S rRNA and 23S rRNA genes present in a broad range of bacterial species present in the GIT, were constructed and added to standard rat feed. Six rats, with a normal microbiota, were fed DNA containing pellets daily over four days before sampling of the microbiota from the different GI compartments (stomach, small intestine, cecum and colon). In addition, two rats were included as negative controls. Antibiotic resistant colonies growing on selective media were screened for recombination with feed introduced DNA by PCR targeting unique sites in the putatively recombined regions. No transformants were identified among 441 tested isolates.
The analyses showed that extensive ingestion of DNA (100 μg plasmid) per day did not lead to increased proportions of kanamycin resistant bacteria, nor did it produce detectable transformants among the aerobic microbiota examined for 6 rats (detection limit < 1 transformant per 1,1 × 108 cultured bacteria). The key methodological challenges to HGT detection in animal feedings trials are identified and discussed. This study is consistent with other studies suggesting natural transformation is not detectable in the GIT of mammals.
Synthesis of szentiamide, a depsipeptide from entomopathogenic Xenorhabdus szentirmaii with activity against Plasmodium falciparum
Friederike I. Nollmann
Helge Björn Bode
- The synthesis of the recently characterized depsipeptide szentiamide (1), which is produced by the entomopathogenic bacterium Xenorhabdus szentirmaii, is described. Whereas no biological activity was previously identified for 1, the material derived from the efficient synthesis enabled additional bioactivity tests leading to the identification of a notable activity against insect cells and Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of malaria.