METHOD FOR PROMOTING ADIPOCYTE DIFFERENTIATION AND OBESITY-RELATED DISEASE TREATMENT
1. A method for increasing the differentiation of preadipocytes into adipocytes, the method comprising exposing the preadipocytes to Neuregulin-1 under conditions sufficient to promote differentiation of the preadipocytes into adipocytes.
Here we show that epigenetic control of Neuregulin-1 (NRG1) affects adipose differentiation of stem cells in vitro. Building on this finding, we established a model in which NRG1 is a white adipose tissue (WAT) specific regulator analogous to the role of NRG4 in black adipose tissue (BAT). In this light, NRG1 functions in a paracrine or autocrine manner to regulate formation of new adipocytes from stem populations, both in vitro and in vivo. In neurons, NRG1 has been shown already to play a similar role, promoting neuronal cell differentiation from progenitors in the vertebrate cortex and retina and even promoting neuronal differentiation in vitro. Similarly, in the heart, NRG1 promotes differentiation of cardiomyocytes from their stem cell progenitors both in vivo and in vitro and for this reason has been successfully tested in clinical trials for heart failure. Our model extends these findings to adipose biology and indicates that epigenetic control of NRG1 may constitute an intrinsic mechanism limiting the expansion of WAT depots, potentially elucidating important health implications for the comorbidities of obesity and providing treatment for obesity-related diseases.
- 1. A method for increasing the differentiation of preadipocytes into adipocytes, the method comprising exposing the preadipocytes to Neuregulin-1 under conditions sufficient to promote differentiation of the preadipocytes into adipocytes.
- 11. A method for increasing the differentiation of adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) into adipocytes, the method comprising exposing the ASCs to Neuregulin-1 under conditions sufficient to promote differentiation of the ASCs into adipocytes.
This invention was made with Government support under Grant No. 1K22CA184297, awarded by NIH/National Cancer Institute. The government has certain rights in the invention.
Provided is a method for promoting adipocyte differentiation comprising administration of Neuregulin-1. Further provided is a method of treatment for obesity-related disease comprising induction of adipocyte differentiation by Neuregulin-1.
Slightly over one-third (35%) of adults in the United States are obese, predisposing them to significant health problems including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and increased risk of death. Obesity comes in two basic types, distinguished by adipocyte size, adipocyte number, location of fat accumulation, and risk for comorbidities. These have been classified broadly as hyperplastic (having many fat cells) and hypertrophic (fewer but larger fat cells) obesity, and although in principle both have increased body fat, the two types are not equivalent in health outcomes (See
Expanding fat mass requires either increased adipocyte size (hypertrophy) or increased adipocyte number (hyperplasia). Mechanisms that regulate adipocyte lipid storage permit hypertrophy with increased nutrient load. However, large, hypertrophic adipocytes face limits of expansion based on multiple factors, including hypoxia and differential matrix mechanics that result in dysfunctional adipocytes. Genetic mouse models to test these expansion limits by targeting HIF-1α targets, reducing ECM deposition, or protecting adipocytes from fatty acid oxidation have been successful in demonstrating “healthy” hypertrophy. Alternatively, adipocyte hyperplasia may present a mechanism for healthy fat storage capacity. Mature adipocytes are terminally differentiated cells. However, adipocyte precursors have been identified in adipose tissue that differentiate into fully mature white adipocytes under metabolic stimulation or PPARγ activation, both in vitro and in the mouse.
In addition to adipocyte size, the distribution of fat is different in the two obesity types: hypertrophically obese individuals tend to accumulate large amounts of fat in the visceral regions (in body cavities) and internal organs, rather than under the skin (subcutaneous fat). This can be seen in rodent models. The famous obese ob/ob mouse model (leptin mutant) displays a hypertrophic adiposity complete with fatty liver and metabolic disorders: insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and high blood sugar. Remarkably, increasing subcutaneous adipocytes in this ob/ob background produced an even more obese mouse (morbidly obese), but reversed all metabolic problems: an engineered hyperplastic, healthy obesity. In human, visceral adiposity is correlated with lower adipose differentiation capacity from subcutaneous depots, and poorer metabolic health. The implication is that how much fat an individual is carrying is not the only relevant factor: the location and characteristics (like adipocyte size) are extremely important in health and capacity for formation of new adipocytes in subcutaneous depots is a critical determining factor of overall health.
Adipose cells play several critical roles in systemic metabolism and physiology. There are at least two classes of fat cells—white and brown. White fat is specialized to store energy in the form of triglycerides, an especially efficient method because this class of molecules is highly energetic and stored anhydrously. On fasting, the release of fatty acids and glycerol to provide fuel for the rest of the body occurs via enzymatic hydrolysis called lipolysis. These crucial functions of fat, storage, and release of fatty acids are tightly controlled by the key hormones of the fed and fasted states—insulin and catecholamines. In addition to these classic functions, the importance of white fat tissue as a central signaling node in systemic metabolism was first identified by the cloning of adipsin and leptin, two important “adipokines”. In fact, fat cells and fat tissues secrete many molecules with crucial roles in metabolism, including tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), adiponectin, resistin, and RBP4, among others. Healthy and robust adipose development is absolutely required for proper metabolic control. Of importance, defects in adipose differentiation do not lead to healthy, lean animals but instead to lipodystrophy, a serious disease by which other tissues, especially the liver, subsume the function of fat storage, with deleterious effects, including insulin resistance, diabetes, hepatomegaly, and hypertriglyceridemia.
In contrast to white fat, brown fat is specialized to dissipate chemical energy in the form of heat, defending mammals against hypothermia. It does so by running futile metabolic cycles, most notably the futile cycle of proton exclusion from and leak back into the mitochondrial matrix via the electron transport chain and uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1). UCP1 expression is strictly limited to brown and beige fat cells. Recently, a separate futile cycle involving creatine phosphorylation/dephosphorylation was identified in mitochondria of beige fat cells, a type of brown-like adipocyte. Of importance, brown fat, in all of its dimensions, plays a role in defending animals against metabolic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hepatic steatosis (the earliest manifestation of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease [NAFLD]). The first evidence in this regard was the observation that mice with genetically ablated UCP1+ cells are prone to obesity and diabetes, whereas those with genetically elevated brown fat function are markedly protected from the same disorders.
Neuregulin-1 is a transmembrane protein that has multiple isoforms resulting from splice variants and is known to show agonist activity with the EGFR (or ErbB) family of tyrosine kinase receptors. It appears to be involved in a variety of functions, including cardiomyocyte protection and mental health disorders. As such, it has been tested in clinical trials for recovery from heart attacks and for depression and schizophrenia.
The adipose tissue expandability hypothesis, described herein, provides a model onto which the present invention is based. The hypothesis states that when excess energy cannot be stored in subcutaneous fat depots (i.e., more adipocytes cannot be formed), the existing adipocytes compensate by becoming larger (storing more lipid per cell), and lipids are also stored in other body regions (ectopically). It is the ability to differentiate new adipocytes from preadipocytes that determines the limits of subcutaneous adipose tissue expandibility. However, the precise nature of this limiting mechanism has been unknown. Understanding this ‘limiting mechanism’ is a critical one since promoting subcutaneous adipose expansion may be an effective therapeutic strategy for obesity and metabolic disease.
In this application, we show that a stem cell-intrinsic epigenetic ‘rheostat’ tightly regulates adipose expandability, controlling the switch between hyperplastic vs. hypertrophic obesity and metabolic disease vs. health. In our model, DNA methylation directly regulates adipose expandability by limiting subcutaneous adipose differentiation. Central to the rheostat is the epigenetically regulated gene Neuregulin-1 (NRG1) (
In one aspect, a method for differentiating preadipocytes into adipocytes is provided, where the method comprising exposing the preadipocytes to Neuregulin-1 followed by conditions sufficient to promote differentiation of the preadipocytes into adipocytes. In one embodiment, the Neuregulin-1 is NRG1 β. In one embodiment, the NRG1 β is the Type III isoform of NRG1 β. In one embodiment, the Neuregulin-1 is a fragment of NRG1 β comprising an EGF-binding domain. In one embodiment, the fragment of NRG1 β is SEQ ID NO: 1. In one embodiment, the Neuregulin-1 is provided at a concentration of about 1 ng/ml to about 500 ng/ml. In one embodiment, the adipocyte is a white adipose tissue (WAT) adipocyte. In one embodiment, the method is performed in vitro and in one embodiment thereof, the preadipocytes are Adipose-derived Stem Cells (ASCs), obtained from lipoaspirates. In another embodiment, the method is performed in vivo and in an embodiment thereof, the differentiation of the preadipocytes into adipocytes results in an increase in the number of adipocytes. As a result, in one embodiment, the increase in the number of adipocytes results in at least one of decreased blood sugar, increased insulin sensitivity, decreased hypertension, resolution of hyperlipidemia, and lowered bodyweight.
The present finding of NRG1 as a novel driver of adipose expansion has significant clinical impact for therapy of obesity: wild-type mice treated with injections of recombinant NRG1 display lower bodyweight and reduced percent body fat relative to controls, and in an obese mouse model, greater metabolic health via improved glucose tolerance. Hamsters also showed weight loss on NRG1 administration. Based on the present model, NRG1 will be an excellent therapeutic for reversing obesity-related disease and may lead to weight loss depending on how the leptin feedback loop is activated in humans (
Interestingly, NRG1 has already been successfully tested in clinical trials for heart failure, so it is safe in humans (no effect on bodyweight was noted in those studies but they may have been too brief, 10-11 days, whereas the mouse studies took 8 weeks). Remarkably, though multiple studies of recombinant NRG1 in rodents, all of which demonstrated positive metabolic effects, no previous study examined adipose expansion directly, leaving a critical gap in our knowledge. This is even more surprising given that NRG1 caused a dramatic spike in leptin, an adipocyte-secreted hormone.
We observed that an epigenetic drug (decitabine, DAC) causes greater differentiation of adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) in vitro (
First discovered in 2001 by Patricia Zuk and co-workers, ASCs are isolated from lipoaspirates and have proven to be useful in obesity research since they can be induced to differentiate into multiple lineages, including adipose, in vitro. Adipose differentiation in these cells involves a very well characterized pathway including transcription factors PPARγ and C/EBPα, and activation of Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) signaling concomitant with inhibition of Wnt signaling. There have been a number of studies of epigenetic changes during ASC differentiation. The consensus in the field is that significant methylation changes do not drive differentiation of these cells but rather epigenetic programming is established in the stem cell lineage in vivo prior to isolation from a patient. Therefore, the interesting question is what epigenetic mechanism is programmed into the stem cells to control their adipose differentiation ability. We had sought to address this question. By focusing on the process of differentiation itself, previous studies did not address the control of differentiation efficiency, which was our goal, and which led us to construct our studies differently than previous work. Instead of measuring methylation and gene expression during differentiation, we performed epigenetic reprogramming and gene expression analysis in stem cells. We view adipose differentiation as the readout of stem cells'"'"' epigenetic status, correlating differentiation efficiency with gene expression in stem cells (
Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) and Neuregulins. The adipose biology field has recently been galvanized by the re-discovery (in adults) of brown adipose tissue (BAT): a thermogenic, energy-expending cell type, and the related beige/brite (brown-in-white) cell types. There is much excitement about the possibility of treating obesity by promoting ‘browning’ of white adipose tissue (WAT) to induce metabolically beneficial outcomes.
One recent study showed that acetylcholine, produced by immune cells, acts on white adipocytes to promote their browning. Interestingly, Neuregulin-4 (NRG4) is a brown adipose marker, identified by transcriptomic analysis of ‘browned’ fat, and may function as an adipokine signal from BAT to neurons. Recently, overexpressing NRG4 was shown to prevent diet-induced obesity in mice, and to promote metabolically favorable outcomes. While we find NRG4 is expressed at low levels in our in vitro primary human WAT stem cell culture, NRG1 is more highly expressed (
The ability to inactivate a gene in a depot-specific manner in vivo and expose the mice to a high-fat diet, driving adipose tissue expansion, provides a powerful opportunity to evaluate the regulatory role of NRG1 in fat biology. NRG1 is robustly expressed in murine adipose precursor cells derived from inguinal and perigonadal depots, and at higher levels than in human ASCs (
Our model for NRG1 function in adipose tissue is shown in
This model is supported by multiple lines of evidence both in vitro and also in vivo (mouse, rat and hamster injection experiments from other laboratories). Several reports have been published of the effects of NRG1 injections into mouse and rat but has not directly examined the effect on adipose tissue in any of them. However, these in vivo data are entirely consistent with our model (
As described above, fifteen years ago it was found that stem cells, termed Adipose-derived Stem Cells (ASCs), could be obtained from lipoaspirates (liposuction fat), and they are capable of subsequent differentiation in vitro into mature adipocytes (fat cells), as well as chondrocytes (cartilage), osteoblasts (bone) and myocytes (muscle). The process of differentiation simply requires specific cocktails of hormones added to the cell culture media. This finding opens unprecedented opportunities for investigating regenerative medicine in primary cell culture, and gives the researcher exquisite control over the differentiation process in vitro. While transformed mouse cell lines C3H10T1/263 and 3T3-L164,65 have established a molecular paradigm for adipose differentiation, primary human cell lines are derived from actual patients and are derived from the obesity-relevant subcutaneous adipose depot, while maintaining multilineage differentiation capacity. Using these cells, we have recently identified and published results describing a novel quiescent stem cell fate. Building on these results, we describe the discovery of NRG1 as a mediator of adipose differentiation-vs-quiescent stem cell fates. As a regulator of adipose differentiation in vitro, we propose NRG1 performs the same role in vivo. In future studies, we also aim to leverage the powerful primary cell culture model system to shed light on both the epigenetic mechanism of NRG1 regulation and also the mechanism by which NRG1'"'"'s signal is transduced by stem cells in making differentiation-vs-quiescence fate choices (See examples below).
Because patient-derived cells, such as ASCs, are highly heterogeneous, it is vital to ensure that the differences in cell behavior are truly fate decisions and not a measure of non-stem cell contamination (perhaps immune cells, fibroblasts, or other cells). We therefore have performed our experiments with clonally-derived cells expanded in the inventor'"'"'s laboratory. Many of our experiments use a single clonal line isolated from ASC080414A (Zen-Bio, Inc.), called the AF2 line. Clonal isolation has the advantage of minimizing both genetic and epigenetic variance, which enabled us to identify a highly significant signal in our data (
Quiescent stem cells have been reported in skin, gut, blood and neurons, but have yet to be defined in adipose tissue. Intrigued by the undifferentiated (or lipid(−), lacking in lipid) remaining in adipose culture after adipose differentiation, we performed cell surface marker staining with the stem cell markers defined by the International Society for Cell Therapy, finding that both CD90 and CD105 signal were retained on the lipid(−) cells after adipose differentiation (
The drug decitabine (5-aza-2′-deoxycitidine, or DAC) is an effective, genome-wide DNA methylation inhibitor that can be added directly to the cell culture media. This drug has previously been shown to alter adipose differentiation efficiency in human ASC culture, both in the literature and the inventor'"'"'s laboratory (
First, by evaluating gene expression in stem cells immediately after DAC treatments (rather than differentiated cells), we minimized secondary gene expression changes caused by the differentiation process itself. Second, hypothesizing that the expression of driver genes will more strongly correlate with differentiation efficiency than passenger genes, we obtained the Pearson'"'"'s correlation between candidate gene expression in stem cells and the relative formation of adipocytes after 14-18 days of adipogenic induction. Third, we used a clonal cell line (AF2) in order to minimize epigenetic variability between cells. We performed DAC treatment at two concentrations, relatively low (0.125 μM) and high (1 μM) along with a DMSO-only (untreated) control (
The single most statistically DAC-upregulated probe (
From the upregulated gene list NRG1 is the most intriguing as a potential driver of adipose differentiation: it is well known to regulate stem cell differentiation in brain and heart. However additional lines of evidence make this an intriguing finding. As noted, there was extremely high statistical confidence in this probe (high reproducibility in induction on DAC) (
NRG1 is known to signal through its Epidermal Growth Factor-like (EGF-like) domain, where it ligands with the ErbB family tyrosine kinase receptors (usually ErbB3 or ErbB4). There are two alternative isoforms of the NRG1 EGF-like domain, a and (3, encoded on alternatively used exons. Because it is well studied, there are commercially available NRG1 recombinant peptides available. We obtained one of each isoform I-VI from BioLegend (Cat # 711104, EGF-β and 559502, EGF-α) and tested them in our differentiation assay with AF2 cells. The NRG1 EGF-β peptide, having SEQ ID NO: 1 (SHLVKCAEKEKTFCVNGGECFMVKDLSNPSRYLCKCPNEFTGDRCQNYVMASFY KHLGIEFMEAE) was able to recapitulate the differentiation induction observed with DAC and EGF-α was inactive (
Blood contains detectable but variable levels of circulating NRG1-β: from around 2.6-4.1 ng/ml in one study of coronary artery disease to 32 ng/ml-473 ng/ml in a study of cardiovascular fitness; these encompass the range in which we observed activity in vitro (
While our experiments match physiological concentrations in blood, we identified Type III isoform of NRG1-β as DAC-induced within stem cells, not blood (
Here, we have shown that epigenetic control of Neuregulin-1 (NRG1) affects adipose differentiation of stem cells in vitro. Building on this finding, we established a model in which NRG1 is a WAT specific regulator analogous to the role of NRG4 in BAT. Specifically, we hypothesize that NRG1 functions in a paracrine or autocrine manner to regulate formation of new adipocytes from stem populations, both in vitro and in vivo. In neurons, NRG1 has been shown already to play a similar role, promoting neuronal cell differentiation from progenitors in the vertebrate cortex and retina and even promoting neuronal differentiation in vitro. Similarly, in the heart, NRG1 promotes differentiation of cardiomyocytes from their stem cell progenitors both in vivo and in vitro and for this reason has been successfully tested in clinical trials for heart failure. Our model (
We will follow an established protocol to perform chronic administration of NRG1 peptide (SEQ ID NO: 1; a short EGF-beta domain peptide we used in
We will use 16 male mice (no females), n=8 in each treatment group (vehicle or NRG1 injection) and inject the mice with NRG1 at 50 μg/kg bodyweight, 3×/week, for 8 weeks. Our analysis of previous results suggests that, based upon the large change in bodyweights at the end of the study and the small variability observed, 4 mice would enable detection to p<0.05 with a power of 90% (0.90). We will also use n=5 males and n=5 females in either vehicle or treatment groups, (n=20 total mice). Thus we will control for sex as a biological variable while maintaining statistically robust group sizes, with fewer mice per group.
We will assess bodyweight weekly and final circulating leptin and insulin levels after 8 weeks. We will also assess glucose clearance at the 8-week endpoint, and we will assess body fat vs. lean mass by NMR at 8 weeks. We will assess adipose expansion directly at 8 weeks by euthanizing the mice, dissecting out the inguinal (subcutaneous), mesenteric (visceral), and interscapular (BAT) fat pads. By measuring fat depot weight, and histologically analyzing adipose size and numbers, we can estimate total adipocyte numbers, adipocyte size distribution (hypertrophy vs hyperplasia) and the relative changes in fat distribution induced by chronic NRG1 treatment. Parlee et al. 2014 provide a detailed protocol for the dissection of fat depots followed by formalin and ethanol preservation and histology with semi-automated counting of adipocyte size and numbers using Image J. A recent study in rats fed dietary flavonoids successfully used this method to document a shift from hypertrophic to hyperplastic obesity. Therefore we will follow these protocols to examine adipose expansion in NRG1-treated mice, hypothesizing that NRG1 will induce the expansion of subcutaneous (inguinal) depots. This model is supported by the demonstrated effect of NRG1 on leptin secretion and leptin'"'"'s greater expression from subcutaneous than visceral depots. Importantly, by also measuring interscapular fat pads we will assess any effect of NRG1 on brown adipose tissue expansion or adipocyte size for the first time. From three mice per group, we will save half of the inguinal fat pads for ASC isolation.
The portion of the murine inguinal fat pad not used for histology (above) will be used for ASC extraction. Protocols for ASC isolation from mouse adipose depots have been described in detail and are similar to the human ASC isolation: collagenase treatment to disassociate the tissue followed by plating and multiple wash steps to remove contaminating blood and other non-adherent cell types. The cells are grown in 5% CO2 atmosphere in DMEM media to promote ASC propagation. We will confirm expression of CD105, CD73, and CD90 by immunofluorescence (
This example will use the C57BL/6J background, a commonly used mouse model of diet-induced obesity. Given the variability of DIO induction, we will test n=8 mice per group, divided into high-fat diet vs. chow, while also dividing into male vs. female and NRG-1 vs. vehicle injections (n=64 mice in 8 groups). We will also measure food consumption and energy expenditure.
Given the literature showing effects of NRG1 on mouse, rat, and hamster physiology, NRG1 should have an effect; the question is whether adipose depots sizes will be altered. If no effect is observed at the three depots described above, we will widen the examination to include retroperitoneal and epididymal depots, expanding to cervical, axillary, mediastinal, perirenal, perivesical, and omental depots as necessary. If leptin remains unchanged, but bodyweight changes, we will examine muscle physiology, since NRG1-mediated increases in skeletal muscle respiration were reported in another study.
Determining the epigenetic control locus modulating NRG1 expression. The epigenetics field has long been hobbled by observed epigenetic changes which do not match altered gene expression patterns: epigenetic changes are often seen far from genes, or gene expression changes occur far from differentially-methylated regions. The functional implications of these ‘correlative’ data are not clear. Here we propose that chromatin conformation may be the ‘missing link’ between epigenetic and gene expression changes. Somewhat analogously to a folded protein, the genome as a whole has a structure that is central to its function. Loops of DNA bring distant regulatory elements together with promoters to initiate transcription. Thus, enhancer elements can be tens or hundreds of thousands of base pairs away from their regulatory targets in genomic space, yet be proximal in genome 3D space. Entirely separate chromosomes can contact each other to bring critical regulatory regions together. Fortunately, recent advances in chromatin studies provide tools that capture this chromosomal conformation, and we will apply these techniques in primary human ASCs to identify candidate regulatory regions contacting NRG1.
In addition to linking epigenetic with gene expression changes, we would like to determine whether chromatin structure brings epigenetic control regions near to NRG1, or whether epigenetic changes alter the structure of the genome such that NRG1 expression is changed. One outcome is that NRG1 interacting regions are relatively unaffected by DAC, leading us to conclude that the structure simply brings epigenetic control regions near to the NRG1 promoter. Another potential outcome is that both DNA methylation and chromatin structure are altered together with NRG1 expression. By jointly examining DNA methylation and NRG1 interacting regions in control and DAC-treated stem cells, we can determine the real functional changes. We will be the first to explicitly explore the functional relationship of changing (by DAC) DNA methylation on chromatin conformation and cell differentiation in primary human stem cells.
Methylation. To identify strongly demethylated regions in our DAC-treated cells, we will examine methylation genome-wide using the Infinium MethylationEPIC BeadChip, which measures methylation at over 850,000 sites per sample. This technology provides genome-wide epigenetic data that can be compared in DMSO and DAC-treated cells.
Chromatin Conformation. Using Circular Chromatin Conformation Capture (4Cseq), we will examine the interaction between a region of interest (the ‘viewpoint’ where primers are designed) with more distal regions genome-wide. This technique has been used in hundreds of studies including evaluation of interactions with the H19 imprinting control locus, the HoxB1 gene, olfactory receptors, and the insulin promoter, among many others. Detailed experimental protocols and data analysis pipelines are available. By superimposing the methylation maps (from the Infinium MethylationEPIC Chip) with Neuregulin-1 interaction maps (from 4C-seq), we will identify candidate regions of epigenetic regulation of NRG1. As described below, we will then perform the critical functional test: manipulation of methylation at the candidate locus followed by measuring expression of the NRG1 Type III isoform and differentiation into adipocytes. Alternative strategies. There are several alternative strategies to 4C-seq that we can use: chromosomal interaction capture (T2C) uses a microarray-based capture method rather than circularization, and Hi-C-seq surveys an all-vs-all genome-wide interaction network.
Epigenetic Validation by CRISPR. The discovery of Clustered Regularly Interspersed Short Palindromic Repeat (CRISPR), a programmable genome-editing system, has revolutionized genomic research. Originally described as a custom targetable molecular scissors, the technology has been adapted in myriad ways. For example, deactivated Cas9 nuclease (or dCas9) is a platform for protein fusions, making them targetable. CRISPR-TET (TET is a DNA demethylase enzyme) enables localized demethylation of DNA. Using the CRISPR-TET system, localized DNA demethylation can be programmed by introducing a ‘single guide RNA’, or sgRNA, which targets the dCas9-TET construct to precise genomic locations (
Alternative Strategies. In mammals, the deposition of DNA methylation is guided by a DNA Methyltransferase (Dnmt) family of proteins, of which 3 members act on DNA: Dnmtl, Dnmt3A, and Dnmt3B. Recently, three groups produced a dCas9-DNA Methyltransferase 3A protein (dCas9-Dnmt3A) and demonstrated that it gives the ability to program localized DNA methylation. Therefore, we will use a dCas9-Dnmt3A construct as an alternative strategy if the dCas9-TET fusion fails. Importantly, we anticipate the direction of action will be inverse to the TET fusion: we'"'"'d predict differentiation should decrease, not increase. There are also other epigenetic approaches that can be used: DNA methylation is only one aspect of epigenetic control. Another mechanism operates via the post-translational modifications of histones: proteins around which DNA is wrapped and that carry epigenetic information. One way they carry epigenetic information is through acetylation or deacetylation of the N-terminal tail. CRISPR dCas9 fusions with the enzymes that deposit or remove these modifications, Histone Acetyltransferase (HAT) domains or Histone De-ACetylase (HDAC) domains have been reported in the literature, and these offer an alternative epigenetic programming method we will use if the methylase/demethylase fails. We will also test the Type III CpG island for TET-mediated demethylation: it is methylated and not DAC-responsive, but it may still be an important regulatory element for NRG1 (
Neuregulin-1 is an EGF-domain containing signaling protein ligand that binds to ErbB1-4 receptor tyrosine kinases to carry out its function. There are four members of this receptor family, but ErbB3 (or Heregulin-3, HER3) and ErbB4 (or Heregulin-4, or HER4) have been implicated in NRG1 signaling in the nervous system. When activated, ErbB receptors become phosphorylated and transduce their signal through pathways like RAS-ERK cascades and Akt signaling pathways. Our NRG1-responsive in vitro model is ideally suited to determine the NRG1 receptor.
We will harvest stem cells after exposure to 200 ng/ml NRG1 peptide (an activating dose,
Knockdown of putative NRG1 receptor (functional test). We have successfully knocked down NRG1 itself by siRNA in primary human cells (
The importance of sex differences and gender balance in research has recently been an area of emphasis. Most importantly, sex differences in adipose function between depots, including sex differences in adipocyte size and differentiation from precursor cells, are being discovered. Because our proposal involves primary human adult adipose-derived stem cells from specific depots (Table 2), it is an ideal model system in which to investigate these differences. We therefore will test both sexes for our work and track the donor sex along with other important variables like the depot, donor age, and whether or not they are diabetic (Table 2). We will test male and female mice, to provide a first view of the sex-dependent effect of NRG1 on adipose depots in vivo.
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Applicants incorporate by reference the material contained in the accompanying computer readable Sequence Listing identified as 023783.62_ST25.txt, having a file creation date of Oct. 22, 2019 11:25 A.M. and file size of 940 bytes.
The sequences of all of the isoforms of full-length human Neuregulin-1 protein types I, II, III, IV, V and VI are incorporated herein—see NRG1 neuregulin 1 [Homo sapiens (human)], Gene ID: 3084 in NCBI database (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/3084).