Publications by authors named "Martin K Thomsen"

26 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

In vivo CRISPR inactivation of Fos promotes prostate cancer progression by altering the associated AP-1 subunit Jun.

Oncogene 2021 Mar 5. Epub 2021 Mar 5.

Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.

Prostate cancer is a major global health concern with limited treatment options for advanced disease. Its heterogeneity challenges the identification of crucial driver genes implicated in disease progression. Activating protein-1 (AP-1) transcription factor is associated with cancer since the first identification of its subunits, the proto-oncogenes JUN and FOS. Whereas both JUN and FOS have been implicated in prostate cancer, this study provides the first functional evidence that FOS acts as a tumor suppressor during prostate cancer progression and invasion. Data mining revealed decreased FOS expression in prostate cancer and a further downregulation in metastatic disease, consistent with FOS expression in cell lines derived from different prostate cancer stages. FOS deficiency in prostate cancer cell lines increases cell proliferation and induces oncogenic pathway alterations. Importantly, in vivo CRISPR/Cas9-mediated Fos and Pten double mutation in murine prostate epithelium results in increased proliferation and invasiveness compared to the abrogation of Pten alone. Interestingly, enhanced Jun expression is observed in the murine prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia lacking Fos. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout of Jun combined with Fos and Pten deficiency diminishes the increased proliferation rate in vivo but not the ability to form invasive disease. Overall, we demonstrate that loss of Fos promotes disease progression from clinical latent prostate cancer to advanced disease through accelerated proliferation and invasiveness, partly through Jun.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41388-021-01724-6DOI Listing
March 2021

Comparative Analysis of Stk11/Lkb1 versus Pten Deficiency in Lung Adenocarcinoma Induced by CRISPR/Cas9.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 Feb 26;13(5). Epub 2021 Feb 26.

Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, DK-8200 Aarhus N, Denmark.

This study focused on STK11, PTEN, KRAS, and TP53, which are often found to be mutated in lung cancer. We compared Stk11 and Pten implication in lung cancer in combination with loss of Trp53 and gain of function of Kras in a CRISPR/Cas9 mouse model. Mice with loss of Stk11, Trp53, and KrasG12D mutation (SKT) reached human endpoint at around four months post-initiation. In comparison, mice with loss of Pten, Trp53, and KrasG12D mutation (PKT) survived six months or longer post-initiation. Pathological examination revealed an increase in proliferation in SKT deficient lung epithelia compared to PKT. This difference was independent of Pten loss, indicating that loss of Pten is dispensable for cell proliferation in lung adenocarcinoma. Furthermore, tumors with loss of Stk11, Trp53, and KrasG12D mutation had a significantly higher progression rate, monitored by PET/MRI scanning, compared to mice with loss of Pten, Trp53, and KrasG12D mutation, revealing that mutations in Stk11 are essential for adenocarcinoma progression. Overall, by using the CRISPR/Cas9 mouse model of lung adenocarcinoma, we showed that mutations in Stk11 are a key driver, whereas loss of Pten is dispensable for adenocarcinoma progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13050974DOI Listing
February 2021

Brain immune cells undergo cGAS/STING-dependent apoptosis during herpes simplex virus type 1 infection to limit type I IFN production.

J Clin Invest 2021 Jan;131(1)

Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.

Protection of the brain from viral infections involves the type I IFN (IFN-I) system, defects in which render humans susceptible to herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE). However, excessive cerebral IFN-I levels lead to pathologies, suggesting the need for tight regulation of responses. Based on data from mouse models, human HSE cases, and primary cell culture systems, we showed that microglia and other immune cells undergo apoptosis in the HSV-1-infected brain through a mechanism dependent on the cyclic GMP-AMP synthase/stimulator of interferon genes (cGAS/STING) pathway, but independent of IFN-I. HSV-1 infection of microglia induced cGAS-dependent apoptosis at high viral doses, whereas lower viral doses led to IFN-I responses. Importantly, inhibition of caspase activity prevented microglial cell death and augmented IFN-I responses. Accordingly, HSV-1-infected organotypic brain slices or mice treated with a caspase inhibitor exhibited lower viral load and an improved infection outcome. Collectively, we identify an activation-induced apoptosis program in brain immune cells that downmodulates local immune responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI136824DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7773356PMC
January 2021

STEEP mediates STING ER exit and activation of signaling.

Nat Immunol 2020 08 20;21(8):868-879. Epub 2020 Jul 20.

Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.

STING is essential for control of infections and for tumor immunosurveillance, but it can also drive pathological inflammation. STING resides on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and traffics following stimulation to the ERGIC/Golgi, where signaling occurs. Although STING ER exit is the rate-limiting step in STING signaling, the mechanism that drives this process is not understood. Here we identify STEEP as a positive regulator of STING signaling. STEEP was associated with STING and promoted trafficking from the ER. This was mediated through stimulation of phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PtdIns(3)P) production and ER membrane curvature formation, thus inducing COPII-mediated ER-to-Golgi trafficking of STING. Depletion of STEEP impaired STING-driven gene expression in response to virus infection in brain tissue and in cells from patients with STING-associated diseases. Interestingly, STING gain-of-function mutants from patients interacted strongly with STEEP, leading to increased ER PtdIns(3)P levels and membrane curvature. Thus, STEEP enables STING signaling by promoting ER exit.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41590-020-0730-5DOI Listing
August 2020

The cGAS-STING pathway is a therapeutic target in a preclinical model of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Oncogene 2020 02 18;39(8):1652-1664. Epub 2019 Nov 18.

Department of Biomedicine, University of Aarhus, Hoegh-Guldberg Gade 10, Aarhus C, Denmark.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary liver cancer, and the incidence of HCC is increasing. Recently, cancer immunotherapy has emerged as an efficient treatment against some cancers. Here we have used a mouse model of mutagen-induced HCC to explore the therapeutic usefulness of targeting the DNA-activated STING pathway in HCC. STING-deficient mice exhibited unaltered initial development of HCC, but had higher number of large tumors at late stages of disease. In the liver of STING-deficient HCC mice, we observed reduced levels of phospho-STAT1, autophagy, and cleaved caspase3. These responses were activated in the liver by treatment with a cyclic dinucleotide (CDN) STING agonist. Importantly, CDN treatment of mice after HCC development efficiently reduced tumor size. Initiation of CDN treatment at an even later stage of disease to allow HCC detection by MR scanning revealed that the majority of tumors regressed in response to CDN, but new tumors were also detected, which were unresponsive to CDN treatment. Overall, the modulation of the STING pathway affects the development of HCC, and holds promise for a use as a treatment of this disease, most likely in combination with other immunomodulatory treatments such as PD1 inhibitors or with standard of care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41388-019-1108-8DOI Listing
February 2020

cAIMP administration in humanized mice induces a chimerization-level-dependent STING response.

Immunology 2019 06 6;157(2):163-172. Epub 2019 May 6.

Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.

It is well understood that the STING signalling pathway is critical for generating a robust innate immune response to pathogens. Human and mouse STING signalling pathways are not identical, however. For example, mice lack IFI16, which has been proven important for the human STING pathway. Therefore, we investigated whether humanized mice are an appropriate experimental platform for exploring the human STING signalling cascade in vivo. We found that NOG mice reconstituted with human cord blood haematopoietic stem cells (humanized NOG mice) exhibit human STING signalling responses to an analogue of the cyclic di-nucleotide cGAMP. There was an increase in the proportions of monocytes in the lungs of mice receiving cGAMP analogue. The most robust levels of STING expression and STING-induced responses were observed in mice exhibiting the highest levels of human chimerization. Notably, differential levels of STING in lung versus spleen following cGAMP analogue treatment suggest that there are tissue-specific kinetics of STING activation and/or degradation in effector versus inductive sites. We also examined the mouse innate immune response to cGAMP analogue treatment. We detected that mouse cells in the immunodeficient NOG mice responded to the cGAMP analogue and they do so with distinct kinetics from the human response. In conclusion, humanized NOG mice represent a valuable experimental model for examining in vivo human STING responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/imm.13061DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6526644PMC
June 2019

Intracellular bacteria engage a STING-TBK1-MVB12b pathway to enable paracrine cGAS-STING signalling.

Nat Microbiol 2019 04 25;4(4):701-713. Epub 2019 Feb 25.

Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.

The innate immune system is crucial for eventual control of infections, but may also contribute to pathology. Listeria monocytogenes is an intracellular Gram-positive bacteria and a major cause of food-borne disease. However, important knowledge on the interactions between L. monocytogenes and the immune system is still missing. Here, we report that Listeria DNA is sorted into extracellular vesicles (EVs) in infected cells and delivered to bystander cells to stimulate the cyclic guanosine monophosphate-adenosine monophosphate synthase (cGAS)-stimulator of interferon genes (STING) pathway. This was also observed during infections with Francisella tularensis and Legionella pneumophila. We identify the multivesicular body protein MVB12b as a target for TANK-binding kinase 1 phosphorylation, which is essential for the sorting of DNA into EVs and stimulation of bystander cells. EVs from Listeria-infected cells inhibited T-cell proliferation, and primed T cells for apoptosis. Collectively, we describe a pathway for EV-mediated delivery of foreign DNA to bystander cells, and suggest that intracellular bacteria exploit this pathway to impair antibacterial defence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41564-019-0367-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6433288PMC
April 2019

Dominant-negative SERPING1 variants cause intracellular retention of C1 inhibitor in hereditary angioedema.

J Clin Invest 2019 01 10;129(1):388-405. Epub 2018 Dec 10.

Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.

Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is an autosomal dominant disease characterized by recurrent edema attacks associated with morbidity and mortality. HAE results from variations in the SERPING1 gene that encodes the C1 inhibitor (C1INH), a serine protease inhibitor (serpin). Reduced plasma levels of C1INH lead to enhanced activation of the contact system, triggering high levels of bradykinin and increased vascular permeability, but the cellular mechanisms leading to low C1INH levels (20%-30% of normal) in heterozygous HAE type I patients remain obscure. Here, we showed that C1INH encoded by a subset of HAE-causing SERPING1 alleles affected secretion of normal C1INH protein in a dominant-negative fashion by triggering formation of protein-protein interactions between normal and mutant C1INH, leading to the creation of larger intracellular C1INH aggregates that were trapped in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Notably, intracellular aggregation of C1INH and ER abnormality were observed in fibroblasts from a heterozygous carrier of a dominant-negative SERPING1 gene variant, but the condition was ameliorated by viral delivery of the SERPING1 gene. Collectively, our data link abnormal accumulation of serpins, a hallmark of serpinopathies, with dominant-negative disease mechanisms affecting C1INH plasma levels in HAE type I patients, and may pave the way for new treatments of HAE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI98869DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6307969PMC
January 2019

Virus Delivery of CRISPR Guides to the Murine Prostate for Gene Alteration.

J Vis Exp 2018 04 27(134). Epub 2018 Apr 27.

Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University;

With an increasing incidence of prostate cancer, identification of new tumor drivers or modulators is crucial. Genetically engineered mouse models (GEMM) for prostate cancer are hampered by tumor heterogeneity and its complex microevolution dynamics. Traditional prostate cancer mouse models include, amongst others, germline and conditional knockouts, transgenic expression of oncogenes, and xenograft models. Generation of de novo mutations in these models is complex, time-consuming, and costly. In addition, most of traditional models target the majority of the prostate epithelium, whereas human prostate cancer is well known to evolve as an isolated event in only a small subset of cells. Valuable models need to simulate not only prostate cancer initiation, but also progression to advanced disease. Here we describe a method to target a few cells in the prostate epithelium by transducing cells by viral particles. The delivery of an engineered virus to the murine prostate allows alteration of gene expression in the prostate epithelia. Virus type and quantity will hereby define the number of targeted cells for gene alteration by transducing a few cells for cancer initiation and many cells for gene therapy. Through surgery-based injection in the anterior lobe, distal from the urinary track, the tumor in this model can expand without impairing the urinary function of the animal. Furthermore, by targeting only a subset of prostate epithelial cells the technique enables clonal expansion of the tumor, and therefore mimics human tumor initiation, progression, as well as invasion through the basal membrane. This novel technique provides a powerful prostate cancer model with improved physiological relevance. Animal suffering is limited, and since no additional breeding is required, overall animal count is reduced. At the same time, analysis of new candidate genes and pathways is accelerated, which in turn is more cost efficient.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/57525DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6101041PMC
April 2018

STING agonists enable antiviral cross-talk between human cells and confer protection against genital herpes in mice.

PLoS Pathog 2018 04 2;14(4):e1006976. Epub 2018 Apr 2.

Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Denmark.

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in immunomodulatory therapy as a means to treat various conditions, including infectious diseases. For instance, Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists have been evaluated for treatment of genital herpes. However, although the TLR7 agonist imiquimod was shown to have antiviral activity in individual patients, no significant effects were observed in clinical trials, and the compound also exhibited significant side effects, including local inflammation. Cytosolic DNA is detected by the enzyme cyclic GMP-AMP (2'3'-cGAMP) synthase (cGAS) to stimulate antiviral pathways, mainly through induction of type I interferon (IFN)s. cGAS is activated upon DNA binding to produce the cyclic dinucleotide (CDN) 2'3'-cGAMP, which in turn binds and activates the adaptor protein Stimulator of interferon genes (STING), thus triggering type I IFN expression. In contrast to TLRs, STING is expressed broadly, including in epithelial cells. Here we report that natural and non-natural STING agonists strongly induce type I IFNs in human cells and in mice in vivo, without stimulating significant inflammatory gene expression. Systemic treatment with 2'3'-cGAMP reduced genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) 2 replication and improved the clinical outcome of infection. More importantly, local application of CDNs at the genital epithelial surface gave rise to local IFN activity, but only limited systemic responses, and this treatment conferred total protection against disease in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised mice. In direct comparison between CDNs and TLR agonists, only CDNs acted directly on epithelial cells, hence allowing a more rapid and IFN-focused immune response in the vaginal epithelium. Thus, specific activation of the STING pathway in the vagina evokes induction of the IFN system but limited inflammatory responses to allow control of HSV2 infections in vivo.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006976DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5897032PMC
April 2018

A genetically inducible porcine model of intestinal cancer.

Mol Oncol 2017 11 10;11(11):1616-1629. Epub 2017 Oct 10.

Department of Molecular Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark.

Transgenic porcine cancer models bring novel possibilities for research. Their physical similarities with humans enable the use of surgical procedures and treatment approaches used for patients, which facilitates clinical translation. Here, we aimed to develop an inducible oncopig model of intestinal cancer. Transgenic (TG) minipigs were generated using somatic cell nuclear transfer by handmade cloning. The pigs encode two TG cassettes: (a) an Flp recombinase-inducible oncogene cassette containing KRAS-G12D, cMYC, SV40LT - which inhibits p53 - and pRB and (b) a 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4-OHT)-inducible Flp recombinase activator cassette controlled by the intestinal epithelium-specific villin promoter. Thirteen viable transgenic minipigs were born. The ability of 4-OHT to activate the oncogene cassette was confirmed in vitro in TG colonic organoids and ex vivo in tissue biopsies obtained by colonoscopy. In order to provide proof of principle that the oncogene cassette could also successfully be activated in vivo, three pigs were perorally treated with 400 mg tamoxifen for 2 × 5 days. After two months, one pig developed a duodenal neuroendocrine carcinoma with a lymph node metastasis. Molecular analysis of the carcinoma and metastasis confirmed activation of the oncogene cassette. No tumor formation was observed in untreated TG pigs or in the remaining two treated pigs. The latter indicates that tamoxifen delivery can probably be improved. In summary, we have generated a novel inducible oncopig model of intestinal cancer, which has the ability to form metastatic disease already two months after induction. The model may be helpful in bridging the gap between basic research and clinical usage. It opens new venues for longitudinal studies of tumor development and evolution, for preclinical assessment of new anticancer regimens, for pharmacology and toxicology assessments, as well as for studies into biological mechanisms of tumor formation and metastasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/1878-0261.12136DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664002PMC
November 2017

Pancreas specific expression of oncogenes in a porcine model.

Transgenic Res 2017 10 29;26(5):603-612. Epub 2017 Jun 29.

Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, 8200, Aarhus N, Denmark.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading course of cancer death and early detection of the disease is crucial for successful treatment. However, pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect in its earliest stages and once symptoms appear, the cancer has often progressed beyond possibility for curing. Research into the disease has been hampered by the lack of good models. We have generated a porcine model of pancreatic cancer with use of transgenic overexpression of an oncogene cassette containing MYC, KRAS and SV40 LT. The expression was initiated from a modified Pdx-1 promoter during embryogenesis in a subset of pancreatic epithelial cells. Furthermore, cells expressing the oncogenes also expressed a yellow fluorescent protein (mVenus) and an inducible negative regulator protein (rtTR-KRAB). Cells where the Pdx-1 promoter had not been activated, expressed a red fluorescent protein (Katushka). In vitro analyses of cells obtained from the transgenic pigs showed increased proliferation and expression of the transgenes when activated. Induction of the repressor protein eliminated the oncogene expression and decreased cell proliferation. In vivo analysis identified foci of pancreatic cells expressing the oncogenes at day zero post farrowing. These populations expanded and formed hyperplastic foci, with beginning abnormality at day 45. Cells in the foci expressed the oncogenic proteins and the majority of the cells were positive for the proliferation marker, Ki67. We predict that this model could be used for advanced studies in pancreatic cancer in a large animal model with focus on early detection, treatment, and identification of new biomarkers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11248-017-0031-4DOI Listing
October 2017

Liver carcinogenesis by FOS-dependent inflammation and cholesterol dysregulation.

J Exp Med 2017 05 29;214(5):1387-1409. Epub 2017 Mar 29.

Genes, Development and Disease Group, Cancer Cell Biology Programme, Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), E-28029 Madrid, Spain

Human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs), which arise on a background of chronic liver damage and inflammation, express c-Fos, a component of the AP-1 transcription factor. Using mouse models, we show that hepatocyte-specific deletion of c-Fos protects against diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-induced HCCs, whereas liver-specific c-Fos expression leads to reversible premalignant hepatocyte transformation and enhanced DEN-carcinogenesis. c-Fos-expressing livers display necrotic foci, immune cell infiltration, and altered hepatocyte morphology. Furthermore, increased proliferation, dedifferentiation, activation of the DNA damage response, and gene signatures of aggressive HCCs are observed. Mechanistically, c-Fos decreases expression and activity of the nuclear receptor LXRα, leading to increased hepatic cholesterol and accumulation of toxic oxysterols and bile acids. The phenotypic consequences of c-Fos expression are partially ameliorated by the anti-inflammatory drug sulindac and largely prevented by statin treatment. An inverse correlation between c-FOS and the LXRα pathway was also observed in human HCC cell lines and datasets. These findings provide a novel link between chronic inflammation and metabolic pathways important in liver cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1084/jem.20160935DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5413325PMC
May 2017

Sensing of HSV-1 by the cGAS-STING pathway in microglia orchestrates antiviral defence in the CNS.

Nat Commun 2016 11 10;7:13348. Epub 2016 Nov 10.

Department of Biomedicine, University of Aarhus, Bartholins Allé 6, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark.

Herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE) is the most common form of acute viral encephalitis in industrialized countries. Type I interferon (IFN) is important for control of herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) in the central nervous system (CNS). Here we show that microglia are the main source of HSV-induced type I IFN expression in CNS cells and these cytokines are induced in a cGAS-STING-dependent manner. Consistently, mice defective in cGAS or STING are highly susceptible to acute HSE. Although STING is redundant for cell-autonomous antiviral resistance in astrocytes and neurons, viral replication is strongly increased in neurons in STING-deficient mice. Interestingly, HSV-infected microglia confer STING-dependent antiviral activities in neurons and prime type I IFN production in astrocytes through the TLR3 pathway. Thus, sensing of HSV-1 infection in the CNS by microglia through the cGAS-STING pathway orchestrates an antiviral program that includes type I IFNs and immune-priming of other cell types.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms13348DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5109551PMC
November 2016

Lack of immunological DNA sensing in hepatocytes facilitates hepatitis B virus infection.

Hepatology 2016 09 26;64(3):746-59. Epub 2016 Jul 26.

Department of Biomedicine and, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark.

Unlabelled: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major human pathogen, and about one third of the global population will be exposed to the virus in their lifetime. HBV infects hepatocytes, where it replicates its DNA and infection can lead to acute and chronic hepatitis with a high risk of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Despite this, there is limited understanding of how HBV establishes chronic infections. In recent years it has emerged that foreign DNA potently stimulates the innate immune response, particularly type 1 interferon (IFN) production; and this occurs through a pathway dependent on the DNA sensor cyclic guanosine monophosphate-adenosine monophosphate synthase and the downstream adaptor protein stimulator of IFN genes (STING). In this work we describe that human and murine hepatocytes do not express STING. Consequently, hepatocytes do not produce type 1 IFN in response to foreign DNA or HBV infection and mice lacking STING or cyclic guanosine monophosphate-adenosine monophosphate synthase exhibit unaltered ability to control infection in an adenovirus-HBV model. Stimulation of IFN production in the murine liver by administration of synthetic RNA decreases virus infection, thus demonstrating that IFN possesses anti-HBV activity in the liver. Importantly, introduction of STING expression specifically in hepatocytes reconstitutes the DNA sensing pathway, which leads to improved control of HBV in vivo.

Conclusion: The lack of a functional innate DNA-sensing pathway in hepatocytes hampers efficient innate control of HBV infection; this may explain why HBV has adapted to specifically replicate in hepatocytes and could contribute to the weak capacity of this cell type to clear HBV infection. (Hepatology 2016;64:746-759).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep.28685DOI Listing
September 2016

Influenza A virus targets a cGAS-independent STING pathway that controls enveloped RNA viruses.

Nat Commun 2016 Feb 19;7:10680. Epub 2016 Feb 19.

Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus 8000, Denmark.

Stimulator of interferon genes (STING) is known be involved in control of DNA viruses but has an unexplored role in control of RNA viruses. During infection with DNA viruses STING is activated downstream of cGAMP synthase (cGAS) to induce type I interferon. Here we identify a STING-dependent, cGAS-independent pathway important for full interferon production and antiviral control of enveloped RNA viruses, including influenza A virus (IAV). Further, IAV interacts with STING through its conserved hemagglutinin fusion peptide (FP). Interestingly, FP antagonizes interferon production induced by membrane fusion or IAV but not by cGAMP or DNA. Similar to the enveloped RNA viruses, membrane fusion stimulates interferon production in a STING-dependent but cGAS-independent manner. Abolishment of this pathway led to reduced interferon production and impaired control of enveloped RNA viruses. Thus, enveloped RNA viruses stimulate a cGAS-independent STING pathway, which is targeted by IAV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10680DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4762884PMC
February 2016

An innate antiviral pathway acting before interferons at epithelial surfaces.

Nat Immunol 2016 Feb 30;17(2):150-8. Epub 2015 Nov 30.

Department of Biomedicine, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark.

Mucosal surfaces are exposed to environmental substances and represent a major portal of entry for microorganisms. The innate immune system is responsible for early defense against infections and it is believed that the interferons (IFNs) constitute the first line of defense against viruses. Here we identify an innate antiviral pathway that works at epithelial surfaces before the IFNs. The pathway is activated independently of known innate sensors of viral infections through a mechanism dependent on viral O-linked glycans, which induce CXCR3 chemokines and stimulate antiviral activity in a manner dependent on neutrophils. This study therefore identifies a previously unknown layer of antiviral defense that exerts its action on epithelial surfaces before the classical IFN response is operative.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ni.3319DOI Listing
February 2016

Regulation of steatohepatitis and PPARγ signaling by distinct AP-1 dimers.

Cell Metab 2014 Jan;19(1):84-95

Genes, Development, and Disease Group, F-BBVA Cancer Cell Biology Programme, National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), 28029 Madrid, Spain. Electronic address:

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects up to 30% of the adult population in Western societies, yet the underlying molecular pathways remain poorly understood. Here, we identify the dimeric Activator Protein 1 as a regulator of NAFLD. Fos-related antigen 1 (Fra-1) and Fos-related antigen 2 (Fra-2) prevent dietary NAFLD by inhibiting prosteatotic PPARγ signaling. Moreover, established NAFLD and the associated liver damage can be efficiently reversed by hepatocyte-specific Fra-1 expression. In contrast, c-Fos promotes PPARγ expression, while c-Jun exerts opposing, dimer-dependent functions. Interestingly, JunD was found to be essential for PPARγ signaling and NAFLD development. This unique antagonistic regulation of PPARγ by distinct AP-1 dimers occurs at the transcriptional level and establishes AP-1 as a link between obesity, hepatic lipid metabolism, and NAFLD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2013.11.018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4023468PMC
January 2014

JUNB/AP-1 controls IFN-γ during inflammatory liver disease.

J Clin Invest 2013 Dec 8;123(12):5258-68. Epub 2013 Nov 8.

Understanding the molecular pathogenesis of inflammatory liver disease is essential to design efficient therapeutic approaches. In hepatocytes, the dimeric transcription factor c-JUN/AP-1 is a major mediator of cell survival during hepatitis, although functions for other JUN proteins in liver disease are less defined. Here, we found that JUNB was specifically expressed in human and murine immune cells during acute liver injury. We analyzed the molecular function of JUNB in experimental models of hepatitis, including administration of concanavalin A (ConA) or α-galactosyl-ceramide, which induce liver inflammation and injury. Mice specifically lacking JUNB in hepatocytes displayed a mild increase in ConA-induced liver damage. However, targeted deletion of Junb in immune cells and hepatocytes protected against hepatitis in experimental models that involved NK/NKT cells. The absence of JUNB in immune cells decreased IFN-γ expression and secretion from NK and NKT cells, leading to reduced STAT1 pathway activation. Systemic IFN-γ treatment or adenovirus-based IRF1 delivery to Junb-deficient mice restored hepatotoxicity, and we demonstrate that Ifng is a direct transcriptional target of JUNB. These findings demonstrate that JUNB/AP-1 promotes cell death during acute hepatitis by regulating IFN-γ production in NK and NKT cells and thus functionally antagonizes the hepatoprotective function of c-JUN/AP-1 in hepatocytes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI70405DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3859404PMC
December 2013

Activator Protein 1 transcription factor Fos-related antigen 1 (Fra-1) is dispensable for murine liver fibrosis, but modulates xenobiotic metabolism.

Hepatology 2014 Jan 10;59(1):261-73. Epub 2013 Oct 10.

Genes, Development and Disease Group, F-BBVA Cancer Cell Biology Programme, National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), Madrid, Spain; University of Freiburg, Faculty of Biology, Freiburg, Germany.

Unlabelled: The Activator Protein 1 (AP-1) transcription factor subunit Fos-related antigen 1 (Fra-1) has been implicated in liver fibrosis. Here we used loss-of-function as well as switchable, cell type-specific, gain-of-function alleles for Fra-1 to investigate the relevance of Fra-1 expression in cholestatic liver injury and fibrosis. Our results indicate that Fra-1 is dispensable in three well-established, complementary models of liver fibrosis. However, broad Fra-1 expression in adult mice results in liver fibrosis, which is reversible, when ectopic Fra-1 is switched off. Interestingly, hepatocyte-specific Fra-1 expression is not sufficient to trigger the disease, although Fra-1 expression leads to dysregulation of fibrosis-associated genes. Both opn and cxcl9 are controlled by Fra-1 in gain-of-function and loss-of-function experiments. Importantly, Fra-1 attenuates liver damage in the 3,5-diethoxycarbonyl-1,4-dihydrocollidine-feeding cholestatic liver injury model. Strikingly, manipulating Fra-1 expression affects genes involved in hepatic transport and detoxification, in particular glutathione S-transferases. Molecular analyses indicate that Fra-1 binds to the promoters of cxcl9 and gstp1 in vivo. Furthermore, loss of Fra-1 sensitizes, while hepatic Fra-1 expression protects from acetaminophen-induced liver damage, a paradigm for glutathione-mediated acute liver failure.

Conclusion: These data define a novel function of Fra-1/AP-1 in modulating the expression of detoxification genes and the adaptive response of the liver to bile acids/xenobiotic overload.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep.26518DOI Listing
January 2014

β-catenin is required for prostate development and cooperates with Pten loss to drive invasive carcinoma.

PLoS Genet 2013 3;9(1):e1003180. Epub 2013 Jan 3.

Division of Cancer Biology, Institute of Cancer Research, London, United Kingdom.

Prostate cancer is a major cause of male death in the Western world, but few frequent genetic alterations that drive prostate cancer initiation and progression have been identified. β-Catenin is essential for many developmental processes and has been implicated in tumorigenesis in many tissues, including prostate cancer. However, expression studies on human prostate cancer samples are unclear on the role this protein plays in this disease. We have used in vivo genetic studies in the embryo and adult to extend our understanding of the role of β-Catenin in the normal and neoplastic prostate. Our gene deletion analysis revealed that prostate epithelial β-Catenin is required for embryonic prostate growth and branching but is dispensable in the normal adult organ. During development, β-Catenin controls the number of progenitors in the epithelial buds and regulates a discrete network of genes, including c-Myc and Nkx3.1. Deletion of β-Catenin in a Pten deleted model of castration-resistant prostate cancer demonstrated it is dispensable for disease progression in this setting. Complementary overexpression experiments, through in vivo protein stabilization, showed that β-Catenin promotes the formation of squamous epithelia during prostate development, even in the absence of androgens. β-Catenin overexpression in combination with Pten loss was able to drive progression to invasive carcinoma together with squamous metaplasia. These studies demonstrate that β-Catenin is essential for prostate development and that an inherent property of high levels of this protein in prostate epithelia is to drive squamous fate differentiation. In addition, they show that β-Catenin overexpression can promote invasive prostate cancer in a clinically relevant model of this disease. These data provide novel information on cancer progression pathways that give rise to lethal prostate disease in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1003180DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3536663PMC
May 2013

Brca2 and Trp53 deficiency cooperate in the progression of mouse prostate tumourigenesis.

PLoS Genet 2010 Jun 24;6(6):e1000995. Epub 2010 Jun 24.

Section of Gene Function and Regulation, Institute of Cancer Research, London, United Kingdom.

Epidemiological studies have shown that one of the strongest risk factors for prostate cancer is a family history of the disease, suggesting that inherited factors play a major role in prostate cancer susceptibility. Germline mutations in BRCA2 predispose to breast and ovarian cancer with its predominant tumour suppressor function thought to be the repair of DNA double-strand breaks. BRCA2 has also been implicated in prostate cancer etiology, but it is unclear the impact that mutations in this gene have on prostate tumourigenesis. Here we have undertaken a genetic analysis in the mouse to determine the role of Brca2 in the adult prostate. We show that deletion of Brca2 specifically in prostate epithelia results in focal hyperplasia and low-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) in animals over 12 months of age. Simultaneous deletion of Brca2 and the tumour suppressor Trp53 in prostate epithelia gave rise to focal hyperplasia and atypical cells at 6 months, leading to high-grade PIN in animals from 12 months. Epithelial cells in these lesions show an increase in DNA damage and have higher levels of proliferation, but also elevated apoptosis. Castration of Brca2;Trp53 mutant animals led to regression of PIN lesions, but atypical cells persisted that continued to proliferate and express nuclear androgen receptor. This study provides evidence that Brca2 can act as a tumour suppressor in the prostate, and the model we describe should prove useful in the development of new therapeutic approaches.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1000995DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2891704PMC
June 2010

SOX9 elevation in the prostate promotes proliferation and cooperates with PTEN loss to drive tumor formation.

Cancer Res 2010 Feb 26;70(3):979-87. Epub 2010 Jan 26.

Section of Gene Function and Regulation, Institute of Cancer Research, London SW3 6JB, United Kingdom.

Dysregulation of tissue development pathways can contribute to cancer initiation and progression. In murine embryonic prostate epithelia, the transcription factor SOX9 is required for proper prostate development. In this study, we examined a role for SOX9 in prostate cancer in mouse and human. In Pten and Nkx3.1 mutant mice, cells with increased levels of SOX9 appeared within prostate epithelia at early stages of neoplasia, and higher expression correlated with progression at all stages of disease. In transgenic mice, SOX9 overexpression in prostate epithelia increased cell proliferation without inducing hyperplasia. In transgenic mice that were also heterozygous for mutant Pten, SOX9 overexpression quickened the induction of high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia. In contrast, Sox9 attenuation led to a decrease proliferating prostate epithelia cells in normal and homozygous Pten mutant mice with prostate neoplasia. Analysis of a cohort of 880 human prostate cancer samples showed that SOX9 expression was associated with increasing Gleason grades and higher Ki67 staining. Our findings identify SOX9 as part of a developmental pathway that is reactivated in prostate neoplasia where it promotes tumor cell proliferation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-2370DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3083842PMC
February 2010

The role of Sox9 in prostate development.

Differentiation 2008 Jul 28;76(6):728-35. Epub 2008 Jun 28.

Section of Gene Function and Regulation, Institute of Cancer Research, 237 Fulham Road, London SW36JB, UK.

The mammalian prostate arises from the urogenital sinus under the influence of testicular androgens. Few factors have been identified to be important in the early stages of prostate development. Here we review the role of the transcription factor Sox9 in prostate development. Sox9 is a member of the Sox gene family that plays an important role during embryogenesis in the cellular differentiation of various tissues, including testicular Sertoli cells, neural crest cells and chondrocytes. This gene is expressed in the epithelia of all mouse prostatic lobes from the initial stages of their development. Mice with a prostate specific deletion of Sox9 showed a lack of ventral prostate development and abnormal anterior prostate differentiation. In depth analysis of these mutant animals suggested that Sox9 is required for the early differentiation of the prostate bud epithelia, consistent with the function of this factor in other developmental processes. These studies also revealed different phases of prostate bud development. These phases were characterized by being dependent on different molecular pathways and having lobe specific properties. Future studies on the identification of pathways regulated by Sox9 will provide insight into the molecular networks required for prostate epithelia differentiation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1432-0436.2008.00293.xDOI Listing
July 2008

Sox9 is required for prostate development.

Dev Biol 2008 Apr 7;316(2):302-11. Epub 2008 Feb 7.

Section of Gene Function and Regulation, Institute of Cancer Research, 237 Fulham Road, London SW3 6JB, UK.

The mammalian prostate arises from the urogenital sinus and few factors have been identified to be important in the early stages of prostate development. In this study we show that the transcription factor Sox9 is expressed in the epithelia of all mouse prostatic lobes from the initial stages of their development. We used a conditional approach with mice expressing Cre recombinase under the control of Nkx3.1 regulatory sequences to delete Sox9 from the developing prostate. Mice with a prostate specific deletion of Sox9 showed a lack of ventral prostate development and abnormal anterior prostate differentiation. Analysis of these mutant animals revealed an early loss of expression of genes specific to the prostate epithelia such as Nkx3.1 and Shh and a marked reduction in proliferation in the ventral prostate but not in other lobes. Fgf signalling, through the MAPK pathway, has been shown to be important in prostate development and a lobe specific phenotype was reported for a prostate specific Fgfr2 mutant mouse model. Here we show that the levels of Fgfr2 and Sprouty2, a downstream target of Fgf signalling, were severely reduced in the ventral prostate of Sox9 mutant animals but not in other lobes. Prostate organ culture studies with a Mek inhibitor, U0126, and a Fgf receptor inhibitor, SU5402, indicate that the timing of expression of Cre in the mutant animals could account for the lobe specific phenotype in the Sox9 and Fgfr2 mutants. These studies imply that Sox9 is required for the early differentiation of the prostate bud epithelia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2008.01.030DOI Listing
April 2008