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Department of Biochemistry A-108

Weill Cornell Medicine​

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A CARBON NANOTUBE OPTICAL REPORTER MAPS ENDOLYSOSOMAL LIPID FLUX.

November 28, 2017

Lipid accumulation within the lumen of endolysosomal vesicles is observed in various pathologies including atherosclerosis, liver disease, neurological disorders, lysosomal storage disorders, and cancer. Current methods cannot measure lipid flux specifically within the lysosomal lumen of live cells. We developed an optical reporter, composed of a photoluminescent carbon nanotube of a single chirality, that responds to lipid accumulation via modulation of the nanotube's optical band gap. The engineered nanomaterial, composed of short, single-stranded DNA and a single nanotube chirality, localizes exclusively to the lumen of endolysosomal organelles without adversely affecting cell viability or proliferation or organelle morphology, integrity, or function. The emission wavelength of the reporter can be spatially resolved from within the endolysosomal lumen to generate quantitative maps of lipid content in live cells. Endolysosomal lipid accumulation in cell lines, an example of drug-induced phospholipidosis, was observed for multiple drugs in macrophages, and measurements of patient-derived Niemann-Pick type C fibroblasts identified lipid accumulation and phenotypic reversal of this lysosomal storage disease. Single-cell measurements using the reporter discerned subcellular differences in equilibrium lipid content, illuminating significant intracellular heterogeneity among endolysosomal organelles of differentiating bone-marrow-derived monocytes. Single-cell kinetics of lipoprotein-derived cholesterol accumulation within macrophages revealed rates that differed among cells by an order of magnitude. This carbon nanotube optical reporter of endolysosomal lipid content in live cells confers additional capabilities for drug development processes and the investigation of lipid-linked diseases.

MEMBRANE ORDER IN THE PLASMA MEMBRANE AND ENDOCYTIC RECYCLING COMPARTMENT.

November 10, 2017

The cholesterol content of membranes plays an important role in organizing membranes for signal transduction and protein trafficking as well as in modulating the biophysical properties of membranes. While the properties of model or isolated membranes have been extensively studied, there has been little evaluation of internal membranes in living cells. Here, we use a Nile Red based probe, NR12S, and ratiometric live cell imaging, to analyze the membrane order of the plasma membrane and endocytic recycling compartment. We find that after a brief incubation to allow endocytosis, NR12S is distributed between the plasma membrane and the endocytic recycling compartment. The NR12S reports that the endocytic recycling compartment is more highly ordered than the plasma membrane. We also find that the plasma membrane and the endocytic recycling compartment are differentially affected by altering cellular cholesterol levels. The membrane order of the plasma membrane, but not the endocytic recycling compartment, is altered significantly when cellular cholesterol content is increased or decreased by 20%. These results demonstrate that changes in cellular cholesterol differentially alter membrane order within different organelles.

MEMBRANE DYNAMICS AND ORGANELLE BIOGENESIS-LIPID PIPELINES AND VESICULAR CARRIERS.

October 31, 2017

Discoveries spanning several decades have pointed to vital membrane lipid trafficking pathways involving both vesicular and non-vesicular carriers. But the relative contributions for distinct membrane delivery pathways in cell growth and organelle biogenesis continue to be a puzzle. This is because lipids flow from many sources and across many paths via transport vesicles, non-vesicular transfer proteins, and dynamic interactions between organelles at membrane contact sites. This forum presents our latest understanding, appreciation, and queries regarding the lipid transport mechanisms necessary to drive membrane expansion during organelle biogenesis and cell growth.

CERAMIDE ACTIVATION OF RHOA/RHO KINASE IMPAIRS ACTIN POLYMERIZATION DURING AGGREGATED LDL CATABOLISM.

October 2017

Macrophages use an extracellular, hydrolytic compartment formed by local actin polymerization to digest aggregated LDL (agLDL). Catabolism of agLDL promotes foam cell formation and creates an environment rich in LDL catabolites, including cholesterol and ceramide. Increased ceramide levels are present in lesional LDL, but the effect of ceramide on macrophage proatherogenic processes remains unknown. Here, we show that macrophages accumulate ceramide in atherosclerotic lesions. Using macrophages from sphingosine kinase 2 KO (SK2KO) mice to mimic ceramide-rich conditions of atherosclerotic lesions, we show that SK2KO macrophages display impaired actin polymerization and foam cell formation in response to contact with agLDL. C16-ceramide treatment impaired wild-type but not SK2KO macrophage actin polymerization, confirming that this effect is due to increased ceramide levels. We demonstrate that knockdown of RhoA or inhibition of Rho kinase restores agLDL-induced actin polymerization in SK2KO macrophages. Activation of RhoA in macrophages was sufficient to impair actin polymerization and foam cell formation in response to agLDL. Finally, we establish that during catabolism, macrophages take up ceramide from agLDL, and inhibition of ceramide generation modulates actin polymerization. These findings highlight a critical regulatory pathway by which ceramide impairs actin polymerization through increased RhoA/Rho kinase signaling and regulates foam cell formation.
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METABOLICALLY ACTIVATED ADIPOSE TISSUE MACROPHAGES PERFORM DETRIMENTAL AND BENEFICIAL FUNCTIONS DURING DIET-INDUCED OBESITY.

September 26, 2017

During obesity, adipose tissue macrophages (ATMs) adopt a metabolically activated (MMe) phenotype. However, the functions of MMe macrophages are poorly understood. Here, we combine proteomic and functional methods to demonstrate that, in addition to potentiating inflammation, MMe macrophages promote dead adipocyte clearance through lysosomal exocytosis. We identify NADPH oxidase 2 (NOX2) as a driver of the inflammatory and adipocyte-clearing properties of MMe macrophages and show that, compared to wild-type, Nox2-/- mice exhibit a time-dependent metabolic phenotype during diet-induced obesity. After 8 weeks of high-fat feeding, Nox2-/- mice exhibit attenuated ATM inflammation and mildly improved glucose tolerance. After 16 weeks of high-fat feeding, Nox2-/- mice develop severe insulin resistance, hepatosteatosis, and visceral lipoatrophy characterized by dead adipocyte accumulation and defective ATM lysosomal exocytosis, a phenotype reproduced in myeloid cell-specific Nox2-/- mice. Collectively, our findings suggest that MMe macrophages perform detrimental and beneficial functions whose contribution to metabolic phenotypes during obesity is determined by disease progression.

COLONIC ORGANOIDS DERIVED FROM HUMAN INDUCED PLURIPOTENT STEM CELLS FOR MODELING COLORECTAL CANCER AND DRUG TESTING.

July 2017

With the goal of modeling human disease of the large intestine, we sought to develop an effective protocol for deriving colonic organoids (COs) from differentiated human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Extensive gene and immunohistochemical profiling confirmed that the derived COs represent colon rather than small intestine, containing stem cells, transit-amplifying cells, and the expected spectrum of differentiated cells, including goblet and endocrine cells. We applied this strategy to iPSCs derived from patients with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP-iPSCs) harboring germline mutations in the WNT-signaling-pathway-regulator gene encoding APC, and we generated COs that exhibit enhanced WNT activity and increased epithelial cell proliferation, which we used as a platform for drug testing. Two potential compounds, XAV939 and rapamycin, decreased proliferation in FAP-COs, but also affected cell proliferation in wild-type COs, which thus limits their therapeutic application. By contrast, we found that geneticin, a ribosome-binding antibiotic with translational 'read-through' activity, efficiently targeted abnormal WNT activity and restored normal proliferation specifically in APC-mutant FAP-COs. These studies provide an efficient strategy for deriving human COs, which can be used in disease modeling and drug discovery for colorectal disease.

ROLE OF STARD4 IN STEROL TRANSPORT BETWEEN THE ENDOCYTIC RECYCLING COMPARTMENT AND THE PLASMA MEMBRANE.

April 15, 2017

Cholesterol is an essential constituent of membranes in mammalian cells. The plasma membrane and the endocytic recycling compartment (ERC) are both highly enriched in cholesterol. The abundance and distribution of cholesterol among organelles are tightly controlled by a combination of mechanisms involving vesicular and nonvesicular sterol transport processes. Using the fluorescent cholesterol analogue dehydroergosterol, we examined sterol transport between the plasma membrane and the ERC using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching and a novel sterol efflux assay. We found that sterol transport between these organelles in a U2OS cell line has a t1/2 =12-15 min. Approximately 70% of sterol transport is ATP independent and therefore is nonvesicular. Increasing cellular cholesterol levels dramatically increases bidirectional transport rate constants, but decreases in cholesterol levels have only a modest effect. A soluble sterol transport protein, STARD4, accounts for ∼25% of total sterol transport and ∼33% of nonvesicular sterol transport between the plasma membrane and ERC. This study shows that nonvesicular sterol transport mechanisms and STARD4 in particular account for a large fraction of sterol transport between the plasma membrane and the ERC.

HISTONE DEACETYLASE INHIBITORS CORRECT THE CHOLESTEROL STORAGE DEFECT IN MOST NIEMANN-PICK C1 MUTANT CELLS.

April 2017

Niemann-Pick C (NPC) disease is an autosomal recessive disorder that leads to excessive storage of cholesterol and other lipids in late endosomes and lysosomes. The large majority of NPC disease is caused by mutations in NPC1, a large polytopic membrane protein that functions in late endosomes. There are many disease-associated mutations in NPC1, and most patients are compound heterozygotes. The most common mutation, NPC1I1061T, has been shown to cause endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation of the NPC1 protein. Treatment of patient-derived NPC1I1061T fibroblasts with histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis) vorinostat or panobinostat increases expression of the mutant NPC1 protein and leads to correction of the cholesterol storage. Here, we show that several other human NPC1 mutant fibroblast cell lines can also be corrected by vorinostat or panobinostat and that treatment with vorinostat extends the lifetime of the NPC1I1061T protein. To test effects of HDACi on a large number of NPC1 mutants, we engineered a U2OS cell line to suppress NPC1 expression by shRNA and then transiently transfected these cells with 60 different NPC1 mutant constructs. The mutant NPC1 did not significantly reduce cholesterol accumulation, but approximately 85% of the mutants showed reduced cholesterol accumulation when treated with vorinostat or panobinostat.

THE ENDOCYTIC PATHWAY IN MICROGLIA DURING HEALTH, AGING AND ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE.

December 2016

Microglia, the main phagocytes of the central nervous system (CNS), are involved in the surveillance and maintenance of nervous tissue. During normal tissue homeostasis, microglia migrates within the CNS, phagocytose dead cells and tissue debris, and modulate synapse pruning and spine formation via controlled phagocytosis. In the event of an invasion by a foreign body, microglia are able to phagocytose the invading pathogen and process it proteolytically for antigen presentation. Internalized substrates are incorporated and sorted within the endocytic pathway and thereafter transported via complex vesicular routes. When targeted for degradation, substrates are delivered to acidic late endosomes and lysosomes. In these, the enzymatic degradation relies on pH and enzyme content. Endocytosis, sorting, transport, compartment acidification and degradation are regulated by complex signaling mechanisms, and these may be altered during aging and pathology. In this review, we discuss the endocytic pathway in microglia, with insight into the mechanisms controlling lysosomal biogenesis and pH regulation. We also discuss microglial lysosome function associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and the mechanisms of amyloid-beta (Aβ) internalization and degradation. Finally, we explore some therapies currently being investigated to treat AD and their effects on microglial response to Aβ, with insight in those involving enhancement of lysosomal function.

ROLE OF STARD4 AND NPC1 IN INTRACELLULAR STEROL TRANSPORT.

December 2016

Cholesterol plays an important role in determining the biophysical properties of membranes in mammalian cells, and the concentration of cholesterol in membranes is tightly regulated. Cholesterol moves among membrane organelles by a combination of vesicular and nonvesicular transport pathways, but the details of these transport pathways are not well understood. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms for nonvesicular sterol transport with an emphasis on the role of STARD4, a small, soluble, cytoplasmic sterol transport protein. STARD4 can rapidly equilibrate sterol between membranes, especially membranes with anionic lipid headgroups. We also discuss the sterol transport in late endosomes and lysosomes, which is mediated by a soluble protein, NPC2, and a membrane protein, NPC1. Homozygous mutations in these proteins lead to a lysosomal lipid storage disorder, Niemann-Pick disease type C. Many of the disease-causing mutations in NPC1 are associated with degradation of the mutant NPC1 proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum. Several histone deacetylase inhibitors have been found to rescue the premature degradation of the mutant NPC1 proteins, and one of these is now in a small clinical trial.

EXOCYTOSIS OF MACROPHAGE LYSOSOMES LEADS TO DIGESTION OF APOPTOTIC ADIPOCYTES AND FOAM CELL FORMATION.

June 2016

Many types of apoptotic cells are phagocytosed and digested by macrophages. Adipocytes can be hundreds of times larger than macrophages, so they are too large to be digested by conventional phagocytic processes. The nature of the interaction between macrophages and apoptotic adipocytes has not been studied in detail. We describe a cellular process, termed exophagy, that is important for macrophage clearance of dead adipocytes and adipose tissue homeostasis. Using mouse models of obesity, human tissue, and a cell culture model, we show that macrophages form hydrolytic extracellular compartments at points of contact with dead adipocytes using local actin polymerization. These compartments are acidic and contain lysosomal enzymes delivered by exocytosis. Uptake and complete degradation of adipocyte fragments, which are released by extracellular hydrolysis, leads to macrophage foam cell formation. Exophagy-mediated foam cell formation is a highly efficient means by which macrophages internalize large amounts of lipid, which may ultimately overwhelm the metabolic capacity of the macrophage. This process provides a mechanism for degradation of objects, such as dead adipocytes, that are too large to be phagocytosed by macrophages.

Mitochondrial Fission Promotes the Continued Clearance of Apoptotic Cells by Macrophages.

Clearance of apoptotic cells (ACs) by phagocytes (efferocytosis) prevents post-apoptotic necrosis and dampens inflammation. Defective efferocytosis drives important diseases, including atherosclerosis. For efficient efferocytosis, phagocytes must be able to internalize multiple ACs. We show here that uptake of multiple ACs by macrophages requires dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1)-mediated mitochondrial fission, which is triggered by AC uptake. When mitochondrial fission is disabled, AC-induced increase in cytosolic calcium is blunted owing to mitochondrial calcium sequestration, and calcium-dependent phagosome formation around secondarily encountered ACs is impaired. These defects can be corrected by silencing the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU). Mice lacking myeloid Drp1 showed defective efferocytosis and its pathologic consequences in the thymus after dexamethasone treatment and in advanced atherosclerotic lesions in fat-fed Ldlr-/- mice. Thus, mitochondrial fission in response to AC uptake is a critical process that enables macrophages to clear multiple ACs and to avoid the pathologic consequences of defective efferocytosis in vivo.

October 5, 2017

MEMBRANE DYNAMICS AND ORGANELLE BIOGENESIS-LIPID PIPELINES AND VESICULAR CARRIERS.

October 31, 2017

Discoveries spanning several decades have pointed to vital membrane lipid trafficking pathways involving both vesicular and non-vesicular carriers. But the relative contributions for distinct membrane delivery pathways in cell growth and organelle biogenesis continue to be a puzzle. This is because lipids flow from many sources and across many paths via transport vesicles, non-vesicular transfer proteins, and dynamic interactions between organelles at membrane contact sites. This forum presents our latest understanding, appreciation, and queries regarding the lipid transport mechanisms necessary to drive membrane expansion during organelle biogenesis and cell growth.

Discoveries spanning several decades have pointed to vital membrane lipid trafficking pathways involving both vesicular and non-vesicular carriers. But the relative contributions for distinct membrane delivery pathways in cell growth and organelle biogenesis continue to be a puzzle. This is because lipids flow from many sources and across many paths via transport vesicles, non-vesicular transfer proteins, and dynamic interactions between organelles at membrane contact sites. This forum presents our latest understanding, appreciation, and queries regarding the lipid transport mechanisms necessary to drive membrane expansion during organelle biogenesis and cell growth.

October 31, 2017