Solid-Phase Parallel Synthesis of Dual Histone Deacetylase-Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
Multi-target drugs (MTDs) are emerging alternatives to combination therapies. Since both histone deacetylases (HDACs) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) are known to be overexpressed in several cancer types, we herein report the design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of a library of dual HDAC-COX inhibitors. The designed compounds were synthesized via an efficient parallel synthesis approach using preloaded solid-phase resins. Biological in vitro assays demonstrated that several of the synthesized compounds possess pronounced inhibitory activities against HDAC and COX isoforms. The membrane permeability and inhibition of cellular HDAC activity of selected compounds were confirmed by whole-cell HDAC inhibition assays and immunoblot experiments. The most promising dual inhibitors, C3 and C4, evoked antiproliferative effects in the low micromolar concentration range and caused a significant increase in apoptotic cells. In contrast to previous reports, the simultaneous inhibition of HDAC and COX activity by dual HDAC-COX inhibitors or combination treatments with vorinostat and celecoxib did not result in additive or synergistic anticancer activities.
Hepatocyte apical bulkheads provide a mechanical means to oppose bile pressure
Hepatocytes grow their apical surfaces anisotropically to generate a 3D network of bile canaliculi (BC). BC elongation is ensured by apical bulkheads, membrane extensions that traverse the lumen and connect juxtaposed hepatocytes. We hypothesize that apical bulkheads are mechanical elements that shape the BC lumen in liver development but also counteract elevated biliary pressure. Here, by resolving their structure using STED microscopy, we found that they are sealed by tight junction loops, connected by adherens junctions, and contain contractile actomyosin, characteristics of mechanical function. Apical bulkheads persist at high pressure upon microinjection of fluid into the BC lumen, and laser ablation demonstrated that they are under tension. A mechanical model based on ablation results revealed that apical bulkheads double the pressure BC can hold. Apical bulkhead frequency anticorrelates with BC connectivity during mouse liver development, consistent with predicted changes in biliary pressure. Our findings demonstrate that apical bulkheads are load-bearing mechanical elements that could protect the BC network against elevated pressure.
MSPypeline: a python package for streamlined data analysis of mass spectrometry-based proteomics.
SUMMARY: Mass spectrometry-based proteomics is increasingly employed in biology and medicine. To generate reliable information from large datasets and ensure comparability of results, it is crucial to implement and standardize the quality control of the raw data, the data processing steps and the statistical analyses. MSPypeline provides a platform for importing MaxQuant output tables, generating quality control reports, data preprocessing including normalization and performing exploratory analyses by statistical inference plots. These standardized steps assess data quality, provide customizable figures and enable the identification of differentially expressed proteins to reach biologically relevant conclusions. AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: The source code is available under the MIT license at https://github.com/siheming/mspypeline with documentation at https://mspypeline.readthedocs.io. Benchmark mass spectrometry data are available on ProteomeXchange (PXD025792). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics Advances online.
Shell engineering in soft alginate‐based capsules for culturing liver spheroids
Functional interaction between cancer cells and the surrounding microenvironment is still not sufficiently understood, which motivates the tremendous interest for the development of numerous in vitro tumor models. Diverse parameters, for example, transport of nutrients and metabolites, availability of space in the confinement, etc. make an impact on the size, shape, and metabolism of the tumoroids. We demonstrate the fluidics-based low-cost methodology to reproducibly generate the alginate and alginate-chitosan microcapsules and apply it to grow human hepatoma (HepG2) spheroids of different dimensions and geometries. Focusing specifically on the composition and thickness of the hydrogel shell, permeability of the microcapsules was selectively tuned. The diffusion of the selected benchmark molecules through the shell has been systematically investigated using both, experiments and simulations, which is essential to ensure efficient mass transfer and/or filtering of the biochemical species. Metabolic activity of spheroids in microcapsules was confirmed by tracking the turnover of testosterone to androstenedione with chromatography studies in a metabolic assay. Depending on available space, phenotypically different 3D cell assemblies have been observed inside the capsules, varying in the tightness of cell aggregations and their shapes. Conclusively, we believe that our system with the facile tuning of the shell thickness and permeability, represents a promising platform for studying the formation of cancer spheroids and their functional interaction with the surrounding microenvironment.
Optimization of extracellular matrix for primary human hepatocyte cultures using mixed collagen-Matrigel matrices.
Loss of differentiation of primary human hepatocytes (PHHs) ex vivo is a known problem of in vitro liver models. Culture optimizations using collagen type I and Matrigel reduce the dedifferentiation process but are not able to prevent it. While neither of these extracellular matrices (ECMs) on their own correspond to the authentic hepatic ECM, a combination of them could more closely resemble the in vivo situation. Our study aimed to systematically analyze the influence of mixed matrices composed of collagen type I and Matrigel on the maintenance and reestablishment of hepatic functions. Therefore, PHHs were cultured on mixed collagen-Matrigel matrices in monolayer and sandwich cultures and viability, metabolic capacity, differentiation markers, cellular arrangement and the cells' ability to repolarize and form functional bile canaliculi were assessed by reverse transcription quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), functional assays and immunofluorescence microscopy. Our results show that mixed matrices were superior to pure matrices in maintaining metabolic capacity and hepatic differentiation. In contrast, Matrigel supplementation can impair the development of a proper hepatocytic polarization. Our systematic study helps to compose an optimized ECM to maintain and reestablish hepatic differentiation on cellular and multicellular levels in human liver models.
Erythropoietin-driven dynamic proteome adaptations during erythropoiesis prevent iron overload in the developing embryo.
Erythropoietin (Epo) ensures survival and proliferation of colony-forming unit erythroid (CFU-E) progenitor cells and their differentiation to hemoglobin-containing mature erythrocytes. A lack of Epo-induced responses causes embryonic lethality, but mechanisms regulating the dynamic communication of cellular alterations to the organismal level remain unresolved. By time-resolved transcriptomics and proteomics, we show that Epo induces in CFU-E cells a gradual transition from proliferation signature proteins to proteins indicative for differentiation, including heme-synthesis enzymes. In the absence of the Epo receptor (EpoR) in embryos, we observe a lack of hemoglobin in CFU-E cells and massive iron overload of the fetal liver pointing to a miscommunication between liver and placenta. A reduction of iron-sulfur cluster-containing proteins involved in oxidative phosphorylation in these embryos leads to a metabolic shift toward glycolysis. This link connecting erythropoiesis with the regulation of iron homeostasis and metabolic reprogramming suggests that balancing these interactions is crucial for protection from iron intoxication and for survival.
Deciphering signal transduction networks in the liver by mechanistic mathematical modelling
In health and disease, liver cells are continuously exposed to cytokines and growth factors. While individual signal transduction pathways induced by these factors were studied in great detail, the cellular responses induced by repeated or combined stimulations are complex and less understood. Growth factor receptors on the cell surface of hepatocytes were shown to be regulated by receptor interactions, receptor trafficking and feedback regulation. Here, we exemplify how mechanistic mathematical modelling based on quantitative data can be employed to disentangle these interactions at the molecular level. Crucial is the analysis at a mechanistic level based on quantitative longitudinal data within a mathematical framework. In such multi-layered information, step-wise mathematical modelling using submodules is of advantage, which is fostered by sharing of standardized experimental data and mathematical models. Integration of signal transduction with metabolic regulation in the liver and mechanistic links to translational approaches promise to provide predictive tools for biology and personalized medicine.
Guided interactive image segmentation using machine learning and color-based image set clustering.
MOTIVATION: Over the last decades, image processing and analysis have become one of the key technologies in systems biology and medicine. The quantification of anatomical structures and dynamic processes in living systems is essential for understanding the complex underlying mechanisms and allows, i.e. the construction of spatio-temporal models that illuminate the interplay between architecture and function. Recently, deep learning significantly improved the performance of traditional image analysis in cases where imaging techniques provide large amounts of data. However, if only a few images are available or qualified annotations are expensive to produce, the applicability of deep learning is still limited. RESULTS: We present a novel approach that combines machine learning-based interactive image segmentation using supervoxels with a clustering method for the automated identification of similarly colored images in large image sets which enables a guided reuse of interactively trained classifiers. Our approach solves the problem of deteriorated segmentation and quantification accuracy when reusing trained classifiers which is due to significant color variability prevalent and often unavoidable in biological and medical images. This increase in efficiency improves the suitability of interactive segmentation for larger image sets, enabling efficient quantification or the rapid generation of training data for deep learning with minimal effort. The presented methods are applicable for almost any image type and represent a useful tool for image analysis tasks in general. AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: The presented methods are implemented in our image processing software TiQuant which is freely available at tiquant.hoehme.com. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Diploid hepatocytes drive physiological liver renewal in adult humans
Physiological liver cell replacement is central to maintaining the organ’s high metabolic activity, although its characteristics are difficult to study in humans. Using retrospective radiocarbon (14C) birth dating of cells, we report that human hepatocytes show continuous and lifelong turnover, allowing the liver to remain a young organ (average age <3 years). Hepatocyte renewal is highly dependent on the ploidy level. Diploid hepatocytes show more than 7-fold higher annual birth rates than polyploid hepatocytes. These observations support the view that physiological liver cell renewal in humans is mainly dependent on diploid hepatocytes, whereas polyploid cells are compromised in their ability to divide. Moreover, cellular transitions between diploid and polyploid hepatocytes are limited under homeostatic conditions. With these findings, we present an integrated model of homeostatic liver cell generation in humans that provides fundamental insights into liver cell turnover dynamics.
Investigation of Radiotracer Metabolic Stability In Vitro with CYP-Overexpressing Hepatoma Cell Lines.
The characterization of novel radiotracers toward their metabolic stability is an essential part of their development. While in vitro methods such as liver microsome assays or ex vivo blood or tissue samples provide information on overall stability, little or no information is obtained on cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzyme and isoform-specific contribution to the metabolic fate of individual radiotracers. Herein, we investigated recently established CYP-overexpressing hepatoblastoma cell lines (HepG2) for their suitability to study the metabolic stability of radiotracers in general and to gain insight into CYP isoform specificity. Wildtype HepG2 and CYP1A2-, CYP2C19-, and CYP3A4-overexpressing HepG2 cells were incubated with radiotracers, and metabolic turnover was analyzed. The optimized protocol, covering cell seeding in 96-well plates and analysis of supernatant by radio thin-layer-chromatography for higher throughput, was transferred to the evaluation of three (18)F-labeled celecoxib-derived cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors (coxibs). These investigations revealed time-dependent degradation of the intact radiotracers, as well as CYP isoform- and substrate-specific differences in their metabolic profiles. HepG2 CYP2C19 proved to be the cell line showing the highest metabolic turnover for each radiotracer studied here. Comparison with human and murine liver microsome assays showed good agreement with the human metabolite profile obtained by the HepG2 cell lines. Therefore, CYP-overexpressing HepG2 cells provide a good complement for assessing the metabolic stability of radiotracers and allow the analysis of the CYP isoform-specific contribution to the overall radiotracer metabolism.
Fibrogenic Pathways in Metabolic Dysfunction Associated Fatty Liver Disease (MAFLD).
The prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), recently also re-defined as metabolic dysfunction associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD), is rapidly increasing, affecting ~25% of the world population. MALFD/NAFLD represents a spectrum of liver pathologies including the more benign hepatic steatosis and the more advanced non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is associated with enhanced risk for liver fibrosis and progression to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatic stellate cells (HSC) activation underlies NASH-related fibrosis. Here, we discuss the profibrogenic pathways, which lead to HSC activation and fibrogenesis, with a particular focus on the intercellular hepatocyte-HSC and macrophage-HSC crosstalk.
FOXA2 prevents hyperbilirubinaemia in acute liver failure by maintaining apical MRP2 expression
Multidrug resistance protein 2 (MRP2) is a bottleneck in bilirubin excretion. Its loss is sufficient to induce hyperbilirubinaemia, a prevailing characteristic of acute liver failure (ALF) that is closely associated with clinical outcome. This study scrutinises the transcriptional regulation of MRP2 under different pathophysiological conditions.
Hepatic MRP2, farnesoid X receptor (FXR) and Forkhead box A2 (FOXA2) expression and clinicopathologic associations were examined by immunohistochemistry in 14 patients with cirrhosis and 22 patients with ALF. MRP2 regulatory mechanisms were investigated in primary hepatocytes,
mice and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-treated mice.
Physiologically, homeostatic MRP2 transcription is mediated by the nuclear receptor FXR/retinoid X receptor complex.
mice lack apical MRP2 expression and rapidly progress into hyperbilirubinaemia. In patients with ALF, hepatic FXR expression is undetectable, however, patients without infection maintain apical MRP2 expression and do not suffer from hyperbilirubinaemia. These patients express FOXA2 in hepatocytes. FOXA2 upregulates MRP2 transcription through binding to its promoter. Physiologically, nuclear FOXA2 translocation is inhibited by insulin. In ALF, high levels of glucagon and tumour necrosis factor α induce FOXA2 expression and nuclear translocation in hepatocytes. Impressively, ALF patients with sepsis express low levels of FOXA2, lose MRP2 expression and develop severe hyperbilirubinaemia. In this case, LPS inhibits FXR expression, induces FOXA2 nuclear exclusion and thus abrogates the compensatory MRP2 upregulation. In both
and LPS-treated mice, ectopic FOXA2 expression restored apical MRP2 expression and normalised serum bilirubin levels.
FOXA2 replaces FXR to maintain MRP2 expression in ALF without sepsis. Ectopic FOXA2 expression to maintain MRP2 represents a potential strategy to prevent hyperbilirubinaemia in septic ALF.
Quantification of nematic cell polarity in three-dimensional tissues.
How epithelial cells coordinate their polarity to form functional tissues is an open question in cell biology. Here, we characterize a unique type of polarity found in liver tissue, nematic cell polarity, which is different from vectorial cell polarity in simple, sheet-like epithelia. We propose a conceptual and algorithmic framework to characterize complex patterns of polarity proteins on the surface of a cell in terms of a multipole expansion. To rigorously quantify previously observed tissue-level patterns of nematic cell polarity (Morales-Navarrete et al., eLife 2019), we introduce the concept of co-orientational order parameters, which generalize the known biaxial order parameters of the theory of liquid crystals. Applying these concepts to three-dimensional reconstructions of single cells from high-resolution imaging data of mouse liver tissue, we show that the axes of nematic cell polarity of hepatocytes exhibit local coordination and are aligned with the biaxially anisotropic sinusoidal network for blood transport. Our study characterizes liver tissue as a biological example of a biaxial liquid crystal. The general methodology developed here could be applied to other tissues and in-vitro organoids.