Ciliopathies manifest from sensory abnormalities to syndromic disorders with multi-organ pathologies, with retinal degeneration a highly penetrant phenotype. Photoreceptor cell death is a major cause of incurable blindness in retinal ciliopathies. To identify drug candidates to maintain photoreceptor survival, we performed an unbiased, high-throughput screening of over 6,000 bioactive small molecules using retinal organoids differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) of rd16 mouse, which is a model of Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) type 10 caused by mutations in the cilia-centrosomal gene CEP290. We identified five non-toxic positive hits, including the lead molecule reserpine, which maintained photoreceptor development and survival in rd16 organoids. Reserpine also improved photoreceptors in retinal organoids derived from induced pluripotent stem cells of LCA10 patients and in rd16 mouse retina in vivo. Reserpine-treated patient organoids revealed modulation of signaling pathways related to cell survival/death, metabolism, and proteostasis. Further investigation uncovered dysregulation of autophagy associated with compromised primary cilium biogenesis in patient organoids and rd16 mouse retina. Reserpine partially restored the balance between autophagy and the ubiquitin-proteasome system at least in part by increasing the cargo adaptor p62, resulting in improved primary cilium assembly. Our study identifies effective drug candidates in preclinical studies of CEP290 retinal ciliopathies through cross-species drug discovery using iPSC-derived organoids, highlights the impact of proteostasis in the pathogenesis of ciliopathies, and provides new insights for treatments of retinal neurodegeneration.
All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are present in the paper and/or the Supplementary Materials. RNA-seq data are available through GEO accession #206959.
NCBI Gene Expression OmnibusNCBI Gene Expression Omnibus, GSE206959.
- Anand Swaroop
- Anand Swaroop
- Wei Zheng
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All animal procedures were approved by the Animal Care and Use committee of the National Eye Institutes (Animal study protocol NEI-650) and adhered to ARVO Statement for the Use of Animals in Ophthalmic and Vision Research.
- Zhongjie Fu, Boston Children's Hospital, United States
This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.
Pancreatic a-cells secrete glucagon, an insulin counter-regulatory peptide hormone critical for the maintenance of glucose homeostasis. Investigation of the function of human a-cells remains a challenge due to the lack of cost-effective purification methods to isolate high-quality a-cells from islets. Here, we use the reaction-based probe diacetylated Zinpyr1 (DA-ZP1) to introduce a novel and simple method for enriching live a-cells from dissociated human islet cells with ~ 95% purity. The a-cells, confirmed by sorting and immunostaining for glucagon, were cultured up to 10 days to form a-pseudoislets. The a-pseudoislets could be maintained in culture without significant loss of viability, and responded to glucose challenge by secreting appropriate levels of glucagon. RNA-sequencing analyses (RNA-seq) revealed that expression levels of key a-cell identity genes were sustained in culture while some of the genes such as DLK1, GSN, SMIM24 were altered in a-pseudoislets in a time-dependent manner. In conclusion, we report a method to sort human primary a-cells with high purity that can be used for downstream analyses such as functional and transcriptional studies.
Eukaryotic cells control inorganic phosphate to balance its role as essential macronutrient with its negative bioenergetic impact on reactions liberating phosphate. Phosphate homeostasis depends on the conserved INPHORS signaling pathway that utilizes inositol pyrophosphates and SPX receptor domains. Since cells synthesize various inositol pyrophosphates and SPX domains bind them promiscuously, it is unclear whether a specific inositol pyrophosphate regulates SPX domains in vivo, or whether multiple inositol pyrophosphates act as a pool. In contrast to previous models, which postulated that phosphate starvation is signaled by increased production of the inositol pyrophosphate 1-IP7, we now show that the levels of all detectable inositol pyrophosphates of yeast, 1-IP7, 5-IP7, and 1,5-IP8, strongly decline upon phosphate starvation. Among these, specifically the decline of 1,5-IP8 triggers the transcriptional phosphate starvation response, the PHO pathway. 1,5-IP8 inactivates the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor Pho81 through its SPX domain. This stimulates the cyclin-dependent kinase Pho85-Pho80 to phosphorylate the transcription factor Pho4 and repress the PHO pathway. Combining our results with observations from other systems, we propose a unified model where 1,5-IP8 signals cytosolic phosphate abundance to SPX proteins in fungi, plants, and mammals. Its absence triggers starvation responses.