Protein quality control (PQC) mechanisms are essential for maintaining cardiac function, and alterations in this pathway influence multiple forms of heart disease. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, understanding how the delicate balance between protein synthesis and degradation is regulated in the heart demands attention. The study by Hu et al. reveals that the extraproteasomal ubiquitin receptor Ubiquilin1 (Ubqln1) plays an important role in cardiac ubiquitination-proteasome coupling, particularly in response to myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury, thereby suggesting that this may be a new avenue for therapeutics.
Xi Fang, Christa Trexler, Ju Chen
Obesity and overnutrition increase levels of reactive sugar- and lipid-derived aldehydes called reactive carbonyl species (RCS). Increased tissue and circulating RCS levels have been tied to insulin resistance and inflammation, but previous pharmacological approaches to target RCS have had equivocal outcomes. In this issue of the JCI, Anderson et al. present evidence for the development and implementation of carnisonol, a compound that is biologically stable in vivo and shows impressive effects on improving metabolism and inflammation in rodent models of diet-induced obesity and metabolic dysfunction.
Jacob M. Haus, John P. Thyfault
Enteroviruses, including subtype EV-A71, infect the brain, liver, heart, and other organs, causing a myriad of human diseases. This spectrum of disease is thought to be due, in part, to differential binding to host cells, and additional knowledge of enterovirus cell entry is essential for therapeutic development. In this issue of the JCI, Yeung et al. provide evidence of a novel EV-A71 entry factor, a host-produced tryptophan tRNA synthetase (hWARS), that facilitates entry of multiple subtypes of enteroviruses. hWARS is a cytoplasmic enzyme that is essential for translation but also upregulated and secreted during inflammatory processes. The results of this study support the notion of secreted hWARS as an unconventional virus entry factor that raises interesting questions about mechanisms by which inflammation and a tRNA synthetase facilitate viral pathogenesis.
Stanley Perlman, Tom Gallagher
The stroma of solid tumors can exclude or limit immune infiltration, or lead to the recruitment of tumor-promoting rather than tumor-attacking immune cells. This finding was reported by Jayaprakash et al. in this issue of the JCI, and it was particularly prominent in the hypoxic zones of tumors in the transgenic adenocarcinoma of the mouse prostate (TRAMP) cancer models. A current clinical goal of immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) is to extend its utility to more patients by converting immunologically “cold” tumors that do not provoke a strong immunological response to “hot” tumors that are invaded by swarms of T cells. When the underlying cause is hypoxia linked, the therapeutic combination of simultaneous targeting of hypoxia and immune checkpoints merits exploration in future clinical trials.
Paul R. Walker
The introduction of anti-TNF antibody therapy has changed the course of treatment for Crohn’s disease. However, the fundamental mechanism for the onset of Crohn’s disease is still unknown, and the treatment strategy for this disease remains suboptimal. The assessment of the disease phenotype based on key environmental factors and genetic background may indicate options for the personalized treatment of Crohn’s disease. In this issue of the JCI, Liu et al. show that consumption of tobacco and the mutation of ATG16L1T300A, a prevalent Crohn’s disease susceptibility allele, drive defects in cells at the bottom of the intestinal crypt, the Paneth cells. These factors may provide novel targets for personalized medicine.
Shigeru Oshima, Mamoru Watanabe
In critically ill patients, disruption of intestinal epithelial cell function occurs due to exposure of the epithelium to toxic internal and external inflammatory stimuli, which are key factors that trigger sepsis and multi-organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS). A greater understanding of how trauma and gut failure lead to sepsis and progression to MODS is much needed. In this issue of the JCI, Armacki and colleagues identify mechanisms by which thirty-eight-negative kinase 1 (TNK1) promotes the progression from intestinal apoptosis and gut failure to bacterial translocation, sepsis, and MODS. Moreover, the results of this study suggest TNK1 as a potential therapeutic target to prevent sepsis and MODS.
QiQi Zhou, G. Nicholas Verne
In the vascular wall, endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) produces NO to regulate peripheral vascular resistance, tissue perfusion, and blood pressure. In resistance arteries, eNOS couples with α-globin and, through chemical reactions, modulates NO diffusion needed for vascular smooth muscle relaxation. While α-globin protein alone is known to be unstable, the mechanisms that enable α-globin protein expression remain elusive. Here, Lechauve et al. report that arterial endothelium expresses α hemoglobin–stabilizing protein, which acts as a critical chaperone protein for α-globin expression and vascular function.
Adam C. Straub, Mark T. Gladwin
The current inactivated influenza vaccines rely on the induction of neutralizing antibodies against the head domain of the viral hemagglutinin (HA). The HA head contains five immunodominant antigenic sites, all of which are subject to antigenic drift, thereby limiting vaccine efficacy. Bypassing the immune system’s tendency to focus on the most variable regions of the HA may be a step toward more broadly protective influenza vaccines. However, this requires a better understanding of the biological meaning of immunodominance, and of the hierarchy between different antigenic sites. In this issue of the JCI, Liu et al. determined the immunodominance of the five antigenic sites of the HA head in experimentally infected mice, guinea pigs, and ferrets. All three species exhibited different preferences for the five sites of the 2009 pandemic H1N1 strain. Moreover, human subjects exhibited yet a different pattern of immunodominance following immunization with the standard inactivated influenza vaccine. Together, these results have important implications for influenza vaccine design and interpretation of animal models.
Kristien Van Reeth
Bone metabolism is controlled by endocrine, paracrine, and inflammatory signals that continuously operate in health and disease. While these signals are critical for skeletal adaptation during development, longitudinal growth, and repair, disturbances such as sex hormone deficiency or chronic inflammation have unambiguously been linked to bone loss and skeletal fragility across species. In the current issue of the JCI, Khosla et al. evaluated the role of sympathetic outflow and present evidence to support the idea that the sympathetic nervous system regulates bone metabolism in humans, primarily via the β1-adrenergic receptor.
Lorenz C. Hofbauer, Holger Henneicke
Renin-expressing cells have been conserved through evolution and maintain blood pressure and fluid homeostasis. Lack of availability of tools to study the specifics of renin regulation has limited advances in this field. In the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Martinez and colleagues used the genome-wide assessment of the chromatin status of cells and uncovered a unique set of super-enhancers that determine the identity of renin cells. The renin super-enhancers play a key role in the molecular memory of renin cell function, a mechanism at the core of preserving homeostasis.
Steven D. Crowley
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