Longevity, stress response, and cancer in aging telomerase-deficient mice.
Telomere maintenance is thought to play a role in signaling cellular senescence; however, a link with organismal aging processes has not been established. The telomerase null mouse provides an opportunity to understand the effects associated with critical telomere shortening at the organismal level. We studied a variety of physiological processes in an aging cohort of mTR-/- mice. Loss of telomere function did not elicit a full spectrum of classical pathophysiological symptoms of aging. However, age-dependent telomere shortening and accompanying genetic instability were associated with shortened life span as well as a reduced capacity to respond to stresses such as wound healing and hematopoietic ablation. In addition, we found an increased incidence of spontaneous malignancies. These findings demonstrate a critical role for telomere length in the overall fitness, reserve, and well being of the aging organism. (+info)
High polymorphism at the human melanocortin 1 receptor locus.
Variation in human skin/hair pigmentation is due to varied amounts of eumelanin (brown/black melanins) and phaeomelanin (red/yellow melanins) produced by the melanocytes. The melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) is a regulator of eu- and phaeomelanin production in the melanocytes, and MC1R mutations causing coat color changes are known in many mammals. We have sequenced the MC1R gene in 121 individuals sampled from world populations with an emphasis on Asian populations. We found variation at five nonsynonymous sites (resulting in the variants Arg67Gln, Asp84Glu, Val92Met, Arg151Cys, and Arg163Gln), but at only one synonymous site (A942G). Interestingly, the human consensus protein sequence is observed in all 25 African individuals studied, but at lower frequencies in the other populations examined, especially in East and Southeast Asians. The Arg163Gln variant is absent in the Africans studied, almost absent in Europeans, and at a low frequency (7%) in Indians, but is at an exceptionally high frequency (70%) in East and Southeast Asians. The MC1R gene in common and pygmy chimpanzees, gorilla, orangutan, and baboon was sequenced to study the evolution of MC1R. The ancestral human MC1R sequence is identical to the human consensus protein sequence, while MC1R varies considerably among higher primates. A comparison of the rates of substitution in genes in the melanocortin receptor family indicates that MC1R has evolved the fastest. In addition, the nucleotide diversity at the MC1R locus is shown to be several times higher than the average nucleotide diversity in human populations, possibly due to diversifying selection. (+info)
A system for rapid generation of coat color-tagged knockouts and defined chromosomal rearrangements in mice.
Gene targeting in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells can be used to generate single gene mutations or defined multi-megabase chromosomal rearrangements when applied with the Cre- loxP recombination system. While single knockouts are essential for uncovering functions of cloned genes, chromosomal rearrangements are great genetic tools for mapping, mutagenesis screens and functional genomics. The conventional approach to generate mice with targeted alterations of the genome requires extensive molecular cloning to build targeting vectors and DNA-based genotyping for stock maintenance. Here we describe the design and construction of a two-library system to facilitate high throughput gene targeting and chromo-somal engineering. The unique feature of these libraries is that once a clone is isolated, it is essentially ready to be used for insertional targeting in ES cells. The two libraries each bear a complementary set of genetic markers tailored so that the vector can be used for Cre- loxP -based chromosome engineering as well as single knockouts. By incorporating mouse coat color markers into the vectors, we illustrate a widely applicable method for stock maintenance of ES cell-derived mice with single gene knockouts or more extensive chromosomal rearrangements. (+info)
Estimation of pairwise relatedness with molecular markers.
Applications of quantitative genetics and conservation genetics often require measures of pairwise relationships between individuals, which, in the absence of known pedigree structure, can be estimated only by use of molecular markers. Here we introduce methods for the joint estimation of the two-gene and four-gene coefficients of relationship from data on codominant molecular markers in randomly mating populations. In a comparison with other published estimators of pairwise relatedness, we find these new "regression" estimators to be computationally simpler and to yield similar or lower sampling variances, particularly when many loci are used or when loci are hypervariable. Two examples are given in which the new estimators are applied to natural populations, one that reveals isolation-by-distance in an annual plant and the other that suggests a genetic basis for a coat color polymorphism in bears. (+info)
Combination immunotherapy of B16 melanoma using anti-cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) and granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)-producing vaccines induces rejection of subcutaneous and metastatic tumors accompanied by autoimmune depigmentation.
We examined the effectiveness of cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) blockade, alone or in combination with a granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)-expressing tumor cell vaccine, on rejection of the highly tumorigenic, poorly immunogenic murine melanoma B16-BL6. Recently established tumors could be eradicated in 80% (68/85) of the cases using combination treatment, whereas each treatment by itself showed little or no effect. Tumor rejection was dependent on CD8(+) and NK1.1(+) cells but occurred irrespective of the presence of CD4(+) T cells. Mice surviving a primary challenge rejected a secondary challenge with B16-BL6 or the parental B16-F0 line. The same treatment regimen was found to be therapeutically effective against outgrowth of preestablished B16-F10 lung metastases, inducing long-term survival. Of all mice surviving B16-BL6 or B16-F10 tumors after combination treatment, 56% (38/68) developed depigmentation, starting at the site of vaccination or challenge and in most cases progressing to distant locations. Depigmentation was found to occur in CD4-depleted mice, strongly suggesting that the effect was mediated by CTLs. This study shows that CTLA-4 blockade provides a powerful tool to enhance T cell activation and memory against a poorly immunogenic spontaneous murine tumor and that this may involve recruitment of autoreactive T cells. (+info)
Subcellular localization of GFP-myosin-V in live mouse melanocytes.
Class-V myosins are two-headed actin-based mechanoenzymes that function in the transport and subcellular localization of organelles and possibly in the outgrowth of cellular processes. To determine which domains of myosin-V are involved in intracellular localization of this motor protein, we have expressed fusions of the green fluorescent protein with segments from two distinct myosin-V heavy chains. The expression patterns of constructs encoding four different domains of chick brain myosin-Va were compared to a single construct encoding the globular tail region of mouse myosin-Vb. In transfected mouse melanocytes, expression of the NH(2)-terminal head (catalytic domain) of chick brain myosin-Va codistributed with actin filaments throughout the cytoplasm. A similar construct encoding the myosin-Va head with the associated neck (light chain binding sites), also codistributed with actin filaments. The GFP-head-neck peptide was also highly concentrated in the tips of filopodia in B16 melanocytes wild type for myosin-Va (MYO5a gene), but was concentrated throughout the entire filopodia of S91-6 melanocytes derived from dilute mice with mutations in the MYO5a gene. Evidence is also presented that the globular tail of myosin-Va, but not myosin-Vb, targets this motor molecule to the centrosome as confirmed by colocalization in cells stained with antibodies to (gamma)-tubulin. Expression of the GFP-myosin-Va globular tail causes displacement of endogenous myosin-V from centrosomes as visualized by immunolabeling with antibodies to the head domain of myosin-V. Treatment with the microtubule-disrupting drug nocodazole markedly reduces myosin-V staining at the centrosome. In contrast, there was no detectable diminution of myosin-V staining at the centrosome in cells treated with the actin filament-disrupting drug cytochalasin D. Thus, while localization of the myosin-V motor domain to actin-rich regions is consistent with conventional models of actomyosin-based motility, localization to the centrosome occurs in the complete absence of the myosin-V motor domain and is dependent on intact microtubules. (+info)
Induction of melanoma in TPras transgenic mice.
In order to study the oncogenesis of melanocytes, transgenic mouse lines were established that express a mutated human Ha-ras (TPras) gene in pigment producing cells. The ras transgenic mice exhibit an altered phenotype, including melanocytic hyperplasia and a muted agouti coat, indicative of hyperproliferative melanocytes. These mice and their wild-type littermates have been subjected to a variety of carcinogenesis protocols, including 7, 12-dimethylbenz-[a]anthracene (DMBA), 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) and UV radiation exposure. Topical DMBA treatment of TPras mice resulted in a high incidence of melanomas. Metastatic lesions were observed in skin, lungs and lymph nodes. TPA treatment of TPras mice induced a small number of papillomas but no nevi or melanomas. UV light exposures induced papillomas in negative littermate and melanomas in some albino TPras mice. These results show that melanocytes expressing an activated Ha-ras in the TPras transgenic mice are susceptible to induction of melanoma by DMBA. (+info)
Oral contraceptive use and risk of melanoma in premenopausal women.
Melanoma has been increasing in white populations. Incidence rates rise steeply in women until about age 50, suggesting oestrogen as a possible risk factor. Oestrogens can increase melanocyte count and melanin content and cause hyperpigmentation of the skin. We examined prospectively the association between oral contraceptive (OC) use and diagnoses of superficial spreading and nodular melanoma among 183,693 premenopausal white women in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and the Nurses' Health Study II (NHS II) cohorts. One hundred and forty six cases were confirmed in NHS during follow-up from 1976 to 1994, and 106 cases were confirmed in NHS II from 1989 to 1995. Skin reaction to sun exposure, sunburn history, mole counts, hair colour, family history of melanoma, parity, height and body mass index were also assessed and included in logistic regression models. A significant twofold increase in risk of melanoma (relative risk (RR) = 2.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2-3.4) was observed among current OC users compared to never users. Risk was further increased among current users with 10 or more years of use (RR = 3.4, 95% CI 1.7-7.0). Risk did not appear elevated among past OC users, even among those with longer durations of use, and risk did not decline linearly with time since last use. In conclusion, risk of premenopausal melanoma may be increased among women who are current OC users, particularly among those with longer durations of use. Further research is needed to determine whether low-dose oestrogen pills in particular are associated with an increase in risk and to describe possible interactions between OC use and sun exposure or other risk factors for melanoma. (+info)