150 research outputs found

    Harnessing the Therapeutic Potential of Antibodies Targeting Connexin Hemichannels

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    Connexin hemichannels have been implicated in pathology-promoting conditions, including inflammation, numerous widespread human diseases, including cancer and diabetes, and several rare diseases linked to pathological point mutations

    Cues to opening mechanisms from in silico electric field excitation of cx26 hemichannel and in vitro mutagenesis studies in HeLa transfectans

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    Connexin channels play numerous essential roles in virtually every organ by mediating solute exchange between adjacent cells, or between cytoplasm and extracellular milieu. Our understanding of the structure-function relationship of connexin channels relies on X-ray crystallographic data for human connexin 26 (hCx26) intercellular gap junction channels. Comparison of experimental data and molecular dynamics simulations suggests that the published structures represent neither fully-open nor closed configurations. To facilitate the search for alternative stable configurations, we developed a coarse grained (CG) molecular model of the hCx26 hemichannel and studied its responses to external electric fields. When challenged by a field of 0.06 V/nm, the hemichannel relaxed toward a novel configuration characterized by a widened pore and an increased bending of the second transmembrane helix (TM2) at the level of the conserved Pro87. A point mutation that inhibited such transition in our simulations impeded hemichannel opening in electrophysiology and dye uptake experiments conducted on HeLa tranfectants. These results suggest that the hCx26 hemichannel uses a global degree of freedom to transit between different configuration states, which may be shared among the whole connexin family

    In vivo genetic manipulation of inner ear connexin expression by bovine adeno-Associated viral vectors

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    We have previously shown that in vitro transduction with bovine adeno-associated viral (BAAV) vectors restores connexin expression and rescues gap junction coupling in cochlear organotypic cultures from connexin-deficient mice that are models DFNB1 nonsyndromic hearing loss and deafness. The aims of this study were to manipulate inner ear connexin expression in vivo using BAAV vectors, and to identify the optimal route of vector delivery. Injection of a BAAV vector encoding a bacterial Cre recombinase via canalostomy in adult mice with floxed connexin 26 (Cx26) alleles promoted Cre/LoxP recombination, resulting in decreased Cx26 expression, decreased endocochlear potential, increased hearing thresholds, and extensive loss of outer hair cells. Injection of a BAAV vector encoding GFP-tagged Cx30 via canalostomy in P4 mice lacking connexin 30 (Cx30) promoted formation of Cx30 gap junctions at points of contacts between adjacent non-sensory cells of the cochlear sensory epithelium. Levels of exogenous Cx30 decayed over time, but were still detectable four weeks after canalostomy. Our results suggest that persistence of BAAV-mediated gene replacement in the cochlea is limited by the extensive remodeling of the organ of Corti throughout postnatal development and associated loss of non-sensory cells

    Simvastatin Rapidly and Reversibly Inhibits Insulin Secretion in Intact Single-Islet Cultures

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    open10Epidemiological studies suggest that statins may promote the development or exacerbation of diabetes, but whether this occurs through inhibition of insulin secretion is unclear. This lack of understanding is partly due to the cellular models used to explore this phenomenon (cell lines or pooled islets), which are non-physiologic and have limited clinical transferability.openScattolini, Valentina; Luni, Camilla; Zambon, Alessandro; Galvanin, Silvia; Gagliano, Onelia; Ciubotaru, Catalin Dacian; Avogaro, Angelo; Mammano, Fabio; Elvassore, Nicola; Fadini, Gian PaoloScattolini, Valentina; Luni, Camilla; Zambon, Alessandro; Galvanin, Silvia; Gagliano, Onelia; Ciubotaru, CATALIN DACIAN; Avogaro, Angelo; Mammano, Fabio; Elvassore, Nicola; Fadini, GIAN PAOL

    Photosensitizer Activation Drives Apoptosis by Interorganellar Ca2+ Transfer and Superoxide Production in Bystander Cancer Cells

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    In cells, photosensitizer (PS) activation by visible light irradiation triggers reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, followed by a cascade of cellular responses involving calcium (Ca2+) and other second messengers resulting in cell demise. Cytotoxic effects spread to nearby cells not exposed to light by poorly characterized so-called \u201cbystander effects\u201d. To elucidate the mechanisms involved in bystander cell death, we used both genetically encoded biosensors and fluorescent dyes. In particular, we monitored the kinetics of interorganellar Ca2+ transfer and the production of mitochondrial superoxide anion (O2\uaf\uaf 19) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in irradiated and bystander B16-F10 mouse melanoma cancer cells. We determined that focal PS photoactivation in a single cell triggers Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) also in the surrounding non-exposed cells, paralleled by mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake. Efficient Ca2+ efflux from ER was required to promote mitochondrial O2\uaf\uaf 19 production in these bystander cells. Our results support a key role for ER-mitochondria communication in the induction of ROS-mediated apoptosis both in direct and indirect photodynamical cancer cell killing

    Otoacoustic Emissions Simulated in the Time-Domain by a Hydroynamic Model of the Human Cochlea

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    Time-domain simulations of the response to click of a human ear show that, if the cochlear amplifier gain (CAG) is a smooth function of basilar-membrane (BM) position, the filtering performed by a middle ear with an irregular (non-smooth) transfer function suffices to produce irregular and long-lasting residual BM oscillations at selected frequencies. Feeding back to the middle ear through hydrodynamic coupling, these oscillations are detected as otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) in the ear canal. If, in addition, also the CAG profile is irregular, residual BM oscillations are even more irregular, often ensuing to self-sustaining oscillations at CAG irregularity loci. Correspondingly, transient evoked OAE spectra exhibit sharp peaks. If both the CAG and the middle-ear transfer function are smooth, residual BM oscillations are characterized by regular waveform, extinguish rapidly and do not generate appreciable emission. Simulating localized damage to the cochlear amplifier results in spontaneous emissions and stimulus-frequency OAEs, with typical modulation patterns, for inputs near hearing threshold

    A Human-Derived Monoclonal Antibody Targeting Extracellular Connexin Domain Selectively Modulates Hemichannel Function

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    Connexin hemichannels, which are plasma membrane hexameric channels (connexons) composed of connexin protein protomers, have been implicated in a host of physiological processes and pathological conditions. A number of single point pathological mutations impart a "leaky" character to the affected hemichannels, i.e., make them more active or hyperactive, suggesting that normal physiological condition could be recovered using selective hemichannel inhibitors. Recently, a human-derived monoclonal antibody named abEC1.1 has been shown to inhibit both wild type and hyperactive hemichannels composed of human (h) connexin 26 (hCx26) subunits. The aims of this work were (1) to characterize further the ability of abEC1.1 to selectively modulate connexin hemichannel function and (2) to assess its in vitro stability in view of future translational applications. In silico analysis of abEC1.1 interaction with the hCx26 hemichannel identified critically important extracellular domain amino acids that are conserved in connexin 30 (hCx30) and connexin 32 (hCx32). Patch clamp experiments performed in HeLa DH cells confirmed the inhibition efficiency of abEC1.1 was comparable for hCx26, hCx30 and hCx32 hemichannels. Of note, even a single amino acid difference in the putative binding region reduced drastically the inhibitory effects of the antibody on all the other tested hemichannels, namely hCx30.2/31.3, hCx30.3, hCx31, hCx31.1, hCx37, hCx43 and hCx45. Plasma membrane channels composed of pannexin 1 were not affected by abEC1.1. Finally, size exclusion chromatography assays showed the antibody does not aggregate appreciably in vitro. Altogether, these results indicate abEC1.1 is a promising tool for further translational studies

    The p.Cys169Tyr variant of connexin 26 is not a polymorphism

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    Mutations in the GJB2 gene, which encodes the gap junction protein connexin 26 (Cx26), are the primary cause of hereditary prelingual hearing impairment. Here, the p.Cys169Tyr missense mutation of Cx26 (Cx26C169Y), previously classified as a polymorphism, has been identified as causative of severe hearing loss in two Qatari families. We have analyzed the effect of this mutation using a combination of confocal immunofluorescence microscopy and molecular dynamics simulations. At the cellular level, our results show that the mutant protein fails to form junctional channels in HeLa transfectants despite being correctly targeted to the plasma membrane. At the molecular level, this effect can be accounted for by disruption of the disulfide bridge that Cys169 forms with Cys64 in the wild-type structure (Cx26WT). The lack of the disulfide bridge in the Cx26C169Y protein causes a spatial rearrangement of two important residues, Asn176 and Thr177. In the Cx26WT protein, these residues play a crucial role in the intra-molecular interactions that permit the formation of an intercellular channel by the head-to-head docking of two opposing hemichannels resident in the plasma membrane of adjacent cells. Our results elucidate the molecular pathogenesis of hereditary hearing loss due to the connexin mutation and facilitate the understanding of its role in both healthy and affected individuals

    Mouse Panx1 Is Dispensable for Hearing Acquisition and Auditory Function

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    Panx1 forms plasma membrane channels in brain and several other organs, including the inner ear. Biophysical properties, activation mechanisms and modulators of Panx1 channels have been characterized in detail, however the impact of Panx1 on auditory function is unclear due to conflicts in published results. To address this issue, hearing performance and cochlear function of the Panx1−/− mouse strain, the first with a reported global ablation of Panx1, were scrutinized. Male and female homozygous (Panx1−/−), hemizygous (Panx1+/−) and their wild type (WT) siblings (Panx1+/+) were used for this study. Successful ablation of Panx1 was confirmed by RT-PCR and Western immunoblotting in the cochlea and brain of Panx1−/− mice. Furthermore, a previously validated Panx1-selective antibody revealed strong immunoreactivity in WT but not in Panx1−/− cochleae. Hearing sensitivity, outer hair cell-based “cochlear amplifier” and cochlear nerve function, analyzed by auditory brainstem response (ABR) and distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) recordings, were normal in Panx1+/− and Panx1−/− mice. In addition, we determined that global deletion of Panx1 impacts neither on connexin expression, nor on gap-junction coupling in the developing organ of Corti. Finally, spontaneous intercellular Ca2+ signal (ICS) activity in organotypic cochlear cultures, which is key to postnatal development of the organ of Corti and essential for hearing acquisition, was not affected by Panx1 ablation. Therefore, our results provide strong evidence that, in mice, Panx1 is dispensable for hearing acquisition and auditory function