Publications

Vujic, A., et al., 2018. Exercise induces new cardiomyocyte generation in the adult mammalian heart. Nature Communications , 9 (1659). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Loss of cardiomyocytes is a major cause of heart failure, and while the adult heart has a limited capacity for cardiomyogenesis, little is known about what regulates this ability or whether it can be effectively harnessed. Here we show that 8 weeks of running exercise increase birth of new cardiomyocytes in adult mice (~4.6-fold). New cardiomyocytes are identified based on incorporation of 15N-thymidine by multi-isotope imaging mass spectrometry (MIMS) and on being mononucleate/diploid. Furthermore, we demonstrate that exercise after myocardial infarction induces a robust cardiomyogenic response in an extended border zone of the infarcted area. Inhibition of miR-222, a microRNA increased by exercise in both animal models and humans, completely blocks the cardiomyogenic exercise response. These findings demonstrate that cardiomyogenesis can be activated by exercise in the normal and injured adult mouse heart and suggest that stimulation of endogenous cardiomyocyte generation could contribute to the benefits of exercise.
Natarajan, N., et al., 2018. Complement Receptor C5aR1 Plays an Evolutionarily Conserved Role in Successful Cardiac Regeneration. Circulation , 137 (5). Publisher's VersionAbstract

Background—Defining conserved molecular pathways in animal models of successful cardiac regeneration could yield insight into why adult mammals have inadequate cardiac regeneration after injury. Insight into the transcriptomic landscape of early cardiac regeneration from model organisms will shed light on evolutionarily conserved pathways in successful cardiac regeneration.

Methods—Here we describe a cross-species transcriptomic screen in three model organisms for cardiac regeneration -axolotl, neonatal mice and zebrafish. Apical resection to remove ~10 - 20% of ventricular mass was carried out in these model organisms. RNA-seq analysis was performed on the hearts harvested at three time points - 12, 24 and 48 hours post-resection. Sham surgery was used as internal control.

Results—Genes associated with inflammatory processes were found to be upregulated in a conserved manner. Complement receptors (activated by complement components, part of the innate immune system) were found to be highly upregulated in all three species. This approach revealed induction of gene expression for Complement 5a receptor1 (C5aR1) in the regenerating hearts of zebrafish, axolotls and mice. Inhibition of C5aR1 significantly attenuated the cardiomyocyte proliferative response to heart injury in all three species. Furthermore, following left ventricular apical resection, the cardiomyocyte proliferative response was abolished in mice with genetic deletion of C5aR1.

Conclusions—These data reveal that activation of C5aR1 mediates an evolutionarily conserved response that promotes cardiomyocyte proliferation following cardiac injury and identify complement pathway activation as a common pathway of successful heart regeneration.

Walker, R.G., et al., 2017. Structural basis for potency differences between GDF8 and GDF11. BMC Biol , 15 (1) , pp. 19.Abstract

BACKGROUND: Growth/differentiation factor 8 (GDF8) and GDF11 are two highly similar members of the transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) family. While GDF8 has been recognized as a negative regulator of muscle growth and differentiation, there are conflicting studies on the function of GDF11 and whether GDF11 has beneficial effects on age-related dysfunction. To address whether GDF8 and GDF11 are functionally identical, we compared their signaling and structural properties. RESULTS: Here we show that, despite their high similarity, GDF11 is a more potent activator of SMAD2/3 and signals more effectively through the type I activin-like receptor kinase receptors ALK4/5/7 than GDF8. Resolution of the GDF11:FS288 complex, apo-GDF8, and apo-GDF11 crystal structures reveals unique properties of both ligands, specifically in the type I receptor binding site. Lastly, substitution of GDF11 residues into GDF8 confers enhanced activity to GDF8. CONCLUSIONS: These studies identify distinctive structural features of GDF11 that enhance its potency, relative to GDF8; however, the biological consequences of these differences remain to be determined.

Dotimas, J.R., et al., 2016. Diabetes regulates fructose absorption through thioredoxin-interacting protein. Elife , 5.Abstract

Metabolic studies suggest that the absorptive capacity of the small intestine for fructose is limited, though the molecular mechanisms controlling this process remain unknown. Here we demonstrate that thioredoxin-interacting protein (Txnip), which regulates glucose homeostasis in mammals, binds to fructose transporters and promotes fructose absorption by the small intestine. Deletion of Txnip in mice reduced fructose transport into the peripheral bloodstream and liver, as well as the severity of adverse metabolic outcomes resulting from long-term fructose consumption. We also demonstrate that fructose consumption induces expression of Txnip in the small intestine. Diabetic mice had increased expression of Txnip in the small intestine as well as enhanced fructose uptake and transport into the hepatic portal circulation. The deletion of Txnip in mice abolished the diabetes-induced increase in fructose absorption. Our results indicate that Txnip is a critical regulator of fructose metabolism and suggest that a diabetic state can promote fructose uptake.

Uygur, A. & Lee, R.T., 2016. Mechanisms of Cardiac Regeneration. Dev Cell , 36 (4) , pp. 362-74.Abstract

Adult humans fail to regenerate their hearts following injury, and this failure to regenerate myocardium is a leading cause of heart failure and death worldwide. Although all adult mammals appear to lack significant cardiac regeneration potential, some vertebrates can regenerate myocardium throughout life. In addition, new studies indicate that mammals have cardiac regeneration potential during development and very soon after birth. The mechanisms of heart regeneration among model organisms, including neonatal mice, appear remarkably similar. Orchestrated waves of inflammation, matrix deposition and remodeling, and cardiomyocyte proliferation are commonly seen in heart regeneration models. Understanding why adult mammals develop extensive scarring instead of regeneration is a crucial goal for regenerative biology.

Walker, R.G., et al., 2016. Biochemistry and Biology of GDF11 and Myostatin: Similarities, Differences, and Questions for Future Investigation. Circ Res , 118 (7) , pp. 1125-41; discussion 1142. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) and myostatin (or GDF8) are closely related members of the transforming growth factor β superfamily and are often perceived to serve similar or overlapping roles. Yet, despite commonalities in protein sequence, receptor utilization and signaling, accumulating evidence suggests that these 2 ligands can have distinct functions in many situations. GDF11 is essential for mammalian development and has been suggested to regulate aging of multiple tissues, whereas myostatin is a well-described negative regulator of postnatal skeletal and cardiac muscle mass and modulates metabolic processes. In this review, we discuss the biochemical regulation of GDF11 and myostatin and their functions in the heart, skeletal muscle, and brain. We also highlight recent clinical findings with respect to a potential role for GDF11 and/or myostatin in humans with heart disease. Finally, we address key outstanding questions related to GDF11 and myostatin dynamics and signaling during development, growth, and aging.
Chen, W.-Y., et al., 2015. Myocardial pressure overload induces systemic inflammation through endothelial cell IL-33. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A , 112 (23) , pp. 7249-54.Abstract

Hypertension increases the pressure load on the heart and is associated with a poorly understood chronic systemic inflammatory state. Interleukin 33 (IL-33) binds to membrane-bound ST2 (ST2L) and has antihypertrophic and antifibrotic effects in the myocardium. In contrast, soluble ST2 appears to act as a decoy receptor for IL-33, blocking myocardial and vascular benefits, and is a prognostic biomarker in patients with cardiovascular diseases. Here we report that a highly local intramyocardial IL-33/ST2 conversation regulates the heart's response to pressure overload. Either endothelial-specific deletion of IL33 or cardiomyocyte-specific deletion of ST2 exacerbated cardiac hypertrophy with pressure overload. Furthermore, pressure overload induced systemic circulating IL-33 as well as systemic circulating IL-13 and TGF-beta1; this was abolished by endothelial-specific deletion of IL33 but not by cardiomyocyte-specific deletion of IL33. Our study reveals that endothelial cell secretion of IL-33 is crucial for translating myocardial pressure overload into a selective systemic inflammatory response.

O'Meara, C.C., et al., 2015. Transcriptional reversion of cardiac myocyte fate during mammalian cardiac regeneration. Circ Res , 116 (5) , pp. 804-15.Abstract

RATIONALE: Neonatal mice have the capacity to regenerate their hearts in response to injury, but this potential is lost after the first week of life. The transcriptional changes that underpin mammalian cardiac regeneration have not been fully characterized at the molecular level. OBJECTIVE: The objectives of our study were to determine whether myocytes revert the transcriptional phenotype to a less differentiated state during regeneration and to systematically interrogate the transcriptional data to identify and validate potential regulators of this process. METHODS AND RESULTS: We derived a core transcriptional signature of injury-induced cardiac myocyte (CM) regeneration in mouse by comparing global transcriptional programs in a dynamic model of in vitro and in vivo CM differentiation, in vitro CM explant model, as well as a neonatal heart resection model. The regenerating mouse heart revealed a transcriptional reversion of CM differentiation processes, including reactivation of latent developmental programs similar to those observed during destabilization of a mature CM phenotype in the explant model. We identified potential upstream regulators of the core network, including interleukin 13, which induced CM cell cycle entry and STAT6/STAT3 signaling in vitro. We demonstrate that STAT3/periostin and STAT6 signaling are critical mediators of interleukin 13 signaling in CMs. These downstream signaling molecules are also modulated in the regenerating mouse heart. CONCLUSIONS: Our work reveals new insights into the transcriptional regulation of mammalian cardiac regeneration and provides the founding circuitry for identifying potential regulators for stimulating heart regeneration.

Mahmoud, A.I., et al., 2015. Nerves Regulate Cardiomyocyte Proliferation and Heart Regeneration. Dev Cell , 34 (4) , pp. 387-99.Abstract

Some organisms, such as adult zebrafish and newborn mice, have the capacity to regenerate heart tissue following injury. Unraveling the mechanisms of heart regeneration is fundamental to understanding why regeneration fails in adult humans. Numerous studies have revealed that nerves are crucial for organ regeneration, thus we aimed to determine whether nerves guide heart regeneration. Here, we show using transgenic zebrafish that inhibition of cardiac innervation leads to reduction of myocyte proliferation following injury. Specifically, pharmacological inhibition of cholinergic nerve function reduces cardiomyocyte proliferation in the injured hearts of both zebrafish and neonatal mice. Direct mechanical denervation impairs heart regeneration in neonatal mice, which was rescued by the administration of neuregulin 1 (NRG1) and nerve growth factor (NGF) recombinant proteins. Transcriptional analysis of mechanically denervated hearts revealed a blunted inflammatory and immune response following injury. These findings demonstrate that nerve function is required for both zebrafish and mouse heart regeneration.

Sinha, M., et al., 2014. Restoring systemic GDF11 levels reverses age-related dysfunction in mouse skeletal muscle. Science , 344 (6184) , pp. 649-52.Abstract

Parabiosis experiments indicate that impaired regeneration in aged mice is reversible by exposure to a young circulation, suggesting that young blood contains humoral "rejuvenating" factors that can restore regenerative function. Here, we demonstrate that the circulating protein growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) is a rejuvenating factor for skeletal muscle. Supplementation of systemic GDF11 levels, which normally decline with age, by heterochronic parabiosis or systemic delivery of recombinant protein, reversed functional impairments and restored genomic integrity in aged muscle stem cells (satellite cells). Increased GDF11 levels in aged mice also improved muscle structural and functional features and increased strength and endurance exercise capacity. These data indicate that GDF11 systemically regulates muscle aging and may be therapeutically useful for reversing age-related skeletal muscle and stem cell dysfunction.

Katsimpardi, L., et al., 2014. Vascular and neurogenic rejuvenation of the aging mouse brain by young systemic factors. Science , 344 (6184) , pp. 630-4.Abstract
In the adult central nervous system, the vasculature of the neurogenic niche regulates neural stem cell behavior by providing circulating and secreted factors. Age-related decline of neurogenesis and cognitive function is associated with reduced blood flow and decreased numbers of neural stem cells. Therefore, restoring the functionality of the niche should counteract some of the negative effects of aging. We show that factors found in young blood induce vascular remodeling, culminating in increased neurogenesis and improved olfactory discrimination in aging mice. Further, we show that GDF11 alone can improve the cerebral vasculature and enhance neurogenesis. The identification of factors that slow the age-dependent deterioration of the neurogenic niche in mice may constitute the basis for new methods of treating age-related neurodegenerative and neurovascular diseases.
Lee, S., et al., 2014. Thioredoxin-interacting protein regulates protein disulfide isomerases and endoplasmic reticulum stress. EMBO Mol Med , 6 (6) , pp. 732-43.Abstract

The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is responsible for protein folding, modification, and trafficking. Accumulation of unfolded or misfolded proteins represents the condition of ER stress and triggers the unfolded protein response (UPR), a key mechanism linking supply of excess nutrients to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes in obesity. The ER harbors proteins that participate in protein folding including protein disulfide isomerases (PDIs). Changes in PDI activity are associated with protein misfolding and ER stress. Here, we show that thioredoxin-interacting protein (Txnip), a member of the arrestin protein superfamily and one of the most strongly induced proteins in diabetic patients, regulates PDI activity and UPR signaling. We found that Txnip binds to PDIs and increases their enzymatic activity. Genetic deletion of Txnip in cells and mice led to increased protein ubiquitination and splicing of the UPR regulated transcription factor X-box-binding protein 1 (Xbp1s) at baseline as well as under ER stress. Our results reveal Txnip as a novel direct regulator of PDI activity and a feedback mechanism of UPR signaling to decrease ER stress.

Ho, J.E., et al., 2013. Common genetic variation at the IL1RL1 locus regulates IL-33/ST2 signaling. J Clin Invest , 123 (10) , pp. 4208-18.Abstract

The suppression of tumorigenicity 2/IL-33 (ST2/IL-33) pathway has been implicated in several immune and inflammatory diseases. ST2 is produced as 2 isoforms. The membrane-bound isoform (ST2L) induces an immune response when bound to its ligand, IL-33. The other isoform is a soluble protein (sST2) that is thought to be a decoy receptor for IL-33 signaling. Elevated sST2 levels in serum are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. We investigated the determinants of sST2 plasma concentrations in 2,991 Framingham Offspring Cohort participants. While clinical and environmental factors explained some variation in sST2 levels, much of the variation in sST2 production was driven by genetic factors. In a genome-wide association study (GWAS), multiple SNPs within IL1RL1 (the gene encoding ST2) demonstrated associations with sST2 concentrations. Five missense variants of IL1RL1 correlated with higher sST2 levels in the GWAS and mapped to the intracellular domain of ST2, which is absent in sST2. In a cell culture model, IL1RL1 missense variants increased sST2 expression by inducing IL-33 expression and enhancing IL-33 responsiveness (via ST2L). Our data suggest that genetic variation in IL1RL1 can result in increased levels of sST2 and alter immune and inflammatory signaling through the ST2/IL-33 pathway.

Loffredo, F.S., et al., 2013. Growth differentiation factor 11 is a circulating factor that reverses age-related cardiac hypertrophy. Cell , 153 (4) , pp. 828-39.Abstract

The most common form of heart failure occurs with normal systolic function and often involves cardiac hypertrophy in the elderly. To clarify the biological mechanisms that drive cardiac hypertrophy in aging, we tested the influence of circulating factors using heterochronic parabiosis, a surgical technique in which joining of animals of different ages leads to a shared circulation. After 4 weeks of exposure to the circulation of young mice, cardiac hypertrophy in old mice dramatically regressed, accompanied by reduced cardiomyocyte size and molecular remodeling. Reversal of age-related hypertrophy was not attributable to hemodynamic or behavioral effects of parabiosis, implicating a blood-borne factor. Using modified aptamer-based proteomics, we identified the TGF-β superfamily member GDF11 as a circulating factor in young mice that declines with age. Treatment of old mice to restore GDF11 to youthful levels recapitulated the effects of parabiosis and reversed age-related hypertrophy, revealing a therapeutic opportunity for cardiac aging.

Senyo, S.E., et al., 2013. Mammalian heart renewal by pre-existing cardiomyocytes. Nature , 493 (7432) , pp. 433-6.Abstract

Although recent studies have revealed that heart cells are generated in adult mammals, the frequency of generation and the source of new heart cells are not yet known. Some studies suggest a high rate of stem cell activity with differentiation of progenitors to cardiomyocytes. Other studies suggest that new cardiomyocytes are born at a very low rate, and that they may be derived from the division of pre-existing cardiomyocytes. Here we show, by combining two different pulse-chase approaches--genetic fate-mapping with stable isotope labelling, and multi-isotope imaging mass spectrometry--that the genesis of cardiomyocytes occurs at a low rate by the division of pre-existing cardiomyocytes during normal ageing, a process that increases adjacent to areas of myocardial injury. We found that cell cycle activity during normal ageing and after injury led to polyploidy and multinucleation, but also to new diploid, mononucleate cardiomyocytes. These data reveal pre-existing cardiomyocytes as the dominant source of cardiomyocyte replacement in normal mammalian myocardial homeostasis as well as after myocardial injury.

Yoshioka, J., et al., 2012. Deletion of thioredoxin-interacting protein in mice impairs mitochondrial function but protects the myocardium from ischemia-reperfusion injury. J Clin Invest , 122 (1) , pp. 267-79.Abstract

Classic therapeutics for ischemic heart disease are less effective in individuals with the metabolic syndrome. As the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome is increasing, better understanding of cardiac metabolism is needed to identify potential new targets for therapeutic intervention. Thioredoxin-interacting protein (Txnip) is a regulator of metabolism and an inhibitor of the antioxidant thioredoxins, but little is known about its roles in the myocardium. We examined hearts from Txnip-KO mice by polony multiplex analysis of gene expression and an independent proteomic approach; both methods indicated suppression of genes and proteins participating in mitochondrial metabolism. Consistently, Txnip-KO mitochondria were functionally and structurally altered, showing reduced oxygen consumption and ultrastructural derangements. Given the central role that mitochondria play during hypoxia, we hypothesized that Txnip deletion would enhance ischemia-reperfusion damage. Surprisingly, Txnip-KO hearts had greater recovery of cardiac function after an ischemia-reperfusion insult. Similarly, cardiomyocyte-specific Txnip deletion reduced infarct size after reversible coronary ligation. Coordinated with reduced mitochondrial function, deletion of Txnip enhanced anaerobic glycolysis. Whereas mitochondrial ATP synthesis was minimally decreased by Txnip deletion, cellular ATP content and lactate formation were higher in Txnip-KO hearts after ischemia-reperfusion injury. Pharmacologic inhibition of glycolytic metabolism completely abolished the protection afforded the heart by Txnip deficiency under hypoxic conditions. Thus, although Txnip deletion suppresses mitochondrial function, protection from myocardial ischemia is enhanced as a result of a coordinated shift to enhanced anaerobic metabolism, which provides an energy source outside of mitochondria.

Patwari, P., et al., 2011. The arrestin domain-containing 3 protein regulates body mass and energy expenditure. Cell Metab , 14 (5) , pp. 671-83.Abstract

A human genome-wide linkage scan for obesity identified a linkage peak on chromosome 5q13-15. Positional cloning revealed an association of a rare haplotype to high body-mass index (BMI) in males but not females. The risk locus contains a single gene, "arrestin domain-containing 3" (ARRDC3), an uncharacterized α-arrestin. Inactivating Arrdc3 in mice led to a striking resistance to obesity, with greater impact on male mice. Mice with decreased ARRDC3 levels were protected from obesity due to increased energy expenditure through increased activity levels and increased thermogenesis of both brown and white adipose tissues. ARRDC3 interacted directly with β-adrenergic receptors, and loss of ARRDC3 increased the response to β-adrenergic stimulation in isolated adipose tissue. These results demonstrate that ARRDC3 is a gender-sensitive regulator of obesity and energy expenditure and reveal a surprising diversity for arrestin family protein functions.

Loffredo, F.S., et al., 2011. Bone marrow-derived cell therapy stimulates endogenous cardiomyocyte progenitors and promotes cardiac repair. Cell Stem Cell , 8 (4) , pp. 389-98.Abstract

Cell therapy can improve cardiac function in animals and humans after injury, but the mechanism is unclear. We performed cell therapy experiments in genetically engineered mice that permanently express green fluorescent protein (GFP) only in cardiomyocytes after a pulse of 4-OH-tamoxifen. Myocardial infarction diluted the GFP(+) cardiomyocyte pool, indicating refreshment by non-GFP(+) progenitors. Cell therapy with bone marrow-derived c-kit(+) cells, but not mesenchymal stem cells, further diluted the GFP(+) pool, consistent with c-kit(+) cell-mediated augmentation of cardiomyocyte progenitor activity. This effect could not be explained by transdifferentiation to cardiomyocytes by exogenously delivered c-kit(+) cells or by cell fusion. Therapy with c-kit(+) cells but not mesenchymal stem cells improved cardiac function. These findings suggest that stimulation of endogenous cardiogenic progenitor activity is a critical mechanism of cardiac cell therapy.