[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Accumulation of aggregation-prone human alpha 1 antitrypsin mutant Z (AT-Z) protein in PiZ mouse liver stimulates features of liver injury typical of human alpha 1 antitrypsin type ZZ deficiency, an autosomal recessive genetic disorder. Ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis by the 26S proteasome counteracts AT-Z accumulation and plays other roles that, when inhibited, could exacerbate the injury. However, it is unknown how the conditions of AT-Z mediated liver injury affect the 26S proteasome. To address this question, we developed a rapid extraction strategy that preserves polyubiquitin conjugates in the presence of catalytically active 26S proteasomes and allows their separation from deposits of insoluble AT-Z. Compared to WT, PiZ extracts had about 4-fold more polyubiquitin conjugates with no apparent change in the levels of the 26S and 20S proteasomes, and unassembled subunits. The polyubiquitin conjugates had similar affinities to ubiquitin-binding domain of Psmd4 and co-purified with similar amounts of catalytically active 26S complexes. These data show that polyubiquitin conjugates were accumulating despite normal recruitment to catalytically active 26S proteasomes that were available in excess, and suggest that a defect at the 26S proteasome other than compromised binding to polyubiquitin chain or peptidase activity played a role in the accumulation. In support of this idea, PiZ extracts were characterized by high molecular weight, reduction-sensitive forms of selected subunits, including ATPase subunits that unfold substrates and regulate access to proteolytic core. Older WT mice acquired similar alterations, implying that they result from common aspects of oxidative stress. The changes were most pronounced on unassembled subunits, but some subunits were altered even in the 26S proteasomes co-purified with polyubiquitin conjugates. Thus, AT-Z protein aggregates indirectly impair degradation of polyubiquitinated proteins at the level of the 26S proteasome, possibly by inducing oxidative stress-mediated modifications that compromise substrate delivery to proteolytic core.
PLoS ONE 09/2014; 9(9):e106371. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: α-1-Antitrypsin (α1AT) is a serum glycoprotein synthesized in the liver. The majority of patients with α1AT deficiency liver disease are homozygous for the Z mutant of α1AT (called ZZ or 'PIZZ'). This mutant gene directs the synthesis of an abnormal protein which folds improperly during biogenesis. Most of these mutant Z protein molecules undergo proteolysis; however, some of the mutant protein accumulates in hepatocytes. Hepatocytes with the largest mutant protein burdens undergo apoptosis, causing compensatory hepatic proliferation. Cycles of hepatocyte injury, cell death and compensatory proliferation results in liver disease ranging from mild asymptomatic enzyme elevations to hepatic fibrosis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. There is a high variability in clinical disease presentation suggesting that environmental and genetic modifiers are important. Management of α1AT liver disease is based on standard supportive care and liver transplant. However, increased understanding of the cellular mechanisms of liver injury has led to new clinical trials.
Expert Review of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 07/2014; · 2.55 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alpha-1-antitrypsin (a1AT) deficiency is a common, but under-diagnosed, genetic disease. In the classical form, patients are homozygous for the Z mutant of the a1AT gene (called ZZ or PIZZ), which occurs in 1 in 2,000-3,500 births. The mutant Z gene directs the synthesis of large quantities of the mutant Z protein in the liver, which folds abnormally during biogenesis and accumulates intracellularly, rather than being efficiently secreted. The accumulation mutant Z protein within hepatocytes causes liver injury, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma via a cascade of chronic hepatocellular apoptosis, regeneration, and end organ injury. There is no specific treatment for a1AT-associated liver disease, other than standard supportive care and transplantation. There is high variability in the clinical manifestations among ZZ homozygous patients, suggesting a strong influence of genetic and environmental modifiers. New insights into the biological mechanisms of intracellular injury have led to new, rational therapeutic approaches.
Current Gastroenterology Reports 01/2014; 16(1):367.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Alpha-1 Foundation convened a workshop to consider the appropriateness of newborn screening for alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.
A review of natural history and technical data was conducted.
Homozygous ZZ Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) Deficiency is a common genetic disease occurring in 1 in 2,000-3,500 births. However, it is under recognized and most patients are undiagnosed. AAT deficiency can cause chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and liver failure in children and adults, and lung disease in adults. The clinical course is highly variable. Some neonates present with cholestatic hepatitis and some children require liver transplantation, but many patients remain well into adulthood. Some adults develop emphysema. There is no treatment for AAT liver disease, other than supportive care and liver transplant. There are no data on the effect of early diagnosis on liver disease. Avoidance of smoking is of proven benefit to reduce future lung disease, as is protein replacement therapy. Justifying newborn screening with the aim of reducing smoking and reducing adult lung disease years in the future would be a significant paradigm shift for the screening field. Recent passage of the "GINA" genetic non-discrimination act, and the Affordable Care Act may have a major impact on reducing psychosocial and financial risks of newborn screening, since many asymptomatic children would be identified. Data on the risk benefit ratio of screening in the new legal climate is lacking.
Workshop participants recommended a series of pilot studies focused on generating new data on the risks and benefits of newborn screening.
Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition 10/2013; · 2.18 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) hold great promise for studies on disease-related developmental processes and may serve as an autologous cell source for future treatment of many hereditary diseases. New genetic engineering tools such as zinc finger nucleases and transcription activator-like effector nuclease allow targeted correction of monogenetic disorders but are very cumbersome to establish. Aiming at studies on the knockdown of a disease-causing gene, lentiviral vector-mediated expression of short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) is a valuable option, but it is limited by silencing of the knockdown construct upon epigenetic remodeling during differentiation. Here, we propose an approach for the expression of a therapeutic shRNA in disease-specific iPSCs using third-generation lentiviral vectors. Targeting severe α-1-antitrypsin (A1AT) deficiency, we overexpressed a human microRNA 30 (miR30)-styled shRNA directed against the PiZ variant of A1AT, which is known to cause chronic liver damage in affected patients. This knockdown cassette is traceable from clonal iPSC lines to differentiated hepatic progeny via an enhanced green fluorescence protein reporter expressed from the same RNA-polymerase II promoter. Importantly, the cytomegalovirus i/e enhancer chicken β actin (CAG) promoter-driven expression of this construct is sustained without transgene silencing during hepatic differentiation in vitro and in vivo. At low lentiviral copy numbers per genome we confirmed a functional relevant reduction (-66%) of intracellular PiZ protein in hepatic cells after differentiation of patient-specific iPSCs. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that lentiviral vector-mediated expression of shRNAs can be efficiently used to knock down and functionally evaluate disease-related genes in patient-specific iPSCs.
STEM CELLS TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE 08/2013; · 3.60 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alpha-1 antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD) is a common, but under recognized metabolic genetic disease. Although many mutations in the alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) gene are described, the Z variant is the allele overwhelmingly associated with liver disease. PI*ZZ homozygotes occur in approximately 1 in 2,000-5,000 births in North American and European populations. The AAT protein is synthesized in large quantities by the liver, and then secreted into serum. Its physiologic function is to inhibit neutrophil proteases in order to protect host tissues from non-specific injury during periods of inflammation. The mutant Z gene of AAT directs the synthesis of a mutant protein which folds abnormally during biogenesis in the endoplasmic reticulum of hepatocytes and is retained intracellularly, rather than efficiently secreted. Intracellular proteolysis pathways, including the proteasome and autophagy, are activated as a response to the intracellular burden of misfolded protein. The lack of circulating anti-protease activity leaves the lung vulnerable to injury and the development of emphysema. The intracellular accumulation of AAT mutant Z protein within hepatocytes can cause liver injury, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma by triggering a cascade of chronic hepatocellular apoptosis, regeneration, and end organ injury. There is no specific treatment for PI*ZZ associated liver disease, other than standard liver supportive care and liver transplantation. There is a high degree of variability in the clinical manifestations among PI*ZZ homozygous patients, suggesting a strong influence of as yet poorly characterized, genetic and environmental disease modifiers. Studies of the processes of intracellular injury have led to a new era of rational therapeutic development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alpha-1-anti-trypsin deficiency is the most common genetic cause of liver disease in children and liver transplantation is currently the only available treatment. Enhancement of liver autophagy increases degradation of mutant, hepatotoxic alpha-1-anti-trypsin (ATZ). We investigated the therapeutic potential of liver-directed gene transfer of transcription factor EB (TFEB), a master gene that regulates lysosomal function and autophagy, in PiZ transgenic mice, recapitulating the human hepatic disease. Hepatocyte TFEB gene transfer resulted in dramatic reduction of hepatic ATZ, liver apoptosis and fibrosis, which are key features of alpha-1-anti-trypsin deficiency. Correction of the liver phenotype resulted from increased ATZ polymer degradation mediated by enhancement of autophagy flux and reduced ATZ monomer by decreased hepatic NFκB activation and IL-6 that drives ATZ gene expression. In conclusion, TFEB gene transfer is a novel strategy for treatment of liver disease of alpha-1-anti-trypsin deficiency. This study may pave the way towards applications of TFEB gene transfer for treatment of a wide spectrum of human disorders due to intracellular accumulation of toxic proteins.
EMBO Molecular Medicine 02/2013; · 7.80 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is a genetic disorder resulting in the expression of misfolded mutant protein that can polymerize and accumulate in hepatocytes, leading to liver disease in some individuals. Transgenic PiZ mice are a well-characterized model, which express human alpha-1-antitrypsin mutant Z protein (ATZ protein) and faithfully recapitulate the human liver disease. Liver tissue expressing alpha-1-antitrypsin mutant Z protein exhibits inflammation, injury and replacement of damaged cells. Fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) develop in aging PiZ mice. In this study, microarray analysis was performed comparing young PiZ (ZY) mice to wild-type (WY), and indicated that there were alterations in gene expression levels that could influence a number of pathways leading to liver disease. Redox-regulating genes were up-regulated in ZY tissue, including carbonyl reductase 3 (CBR3), glutathione S-transferase alpha 1 + 2 (GSTA(1 + 2)) and glutathione S-transferase mu 3 (GSTM3). We hypothesized that oxidative stress could develop in Z mouse liver, contributing to tissue damage and disease progression with age. The results of biochemical analysis of PiZ mouse liver revealed that higher levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and a more oxidized, cellular redox state occurred in liver tissue from ZY mice than WY. ZY mice showed little evidence of oxidative cellular damage as assessed by protein carbonylation levels, malondialdehyde levels and 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine (8oxodG) staining. Aging liver tissue from PiZ older mice (ZO) had elevated ROS, generally lower levels of antioxidant enzymes than younger mice and evidence of cellular damage. These data indicate that oxidative stress is a contributing factor in the development of liver disease in this model of alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.
Experimental Biology and Medicine 10/2012; · 2.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alpha(1)-antitrypsin (A1AT) deficiency is an autosomal codominant disease that can cause chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma in children and adults and increases risk for emphysema in adults. The development of symptomatic disease varies; some patients have life-threatening symptoms in childhood, whereas others remain asymptomatic and healthy into old age. As a result of this variability, patients present across multiple disciplines, including pediatrics, adult medicine, hepatology, genetics, and pulmonology. This can give physicians the mistaken impression that the condition is less common than it actually is and can lead to fragmented care that omits critical interventions commonly performed by other specialists. We sought to present a rational approach for hepatologists to manage adult patients with A1AT deficiency.
Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology: the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association 12/2011; 10(6):575-80. · 5.64 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The serpinopathies result from point mutations in members of the serine protease inhibitor or serpin superfamily. They are characterized by the formation of ordered polymers that are retained within the cell of synthesis. This causes disease by a "toxic gain of function" from the accumulated protein and a "loss of function" as a result of the deficiency of inhibitors that control important proteolytic cascades. The serpinopathies are exemplified by the Z (Glu342Lys) mutant of α₁-antitrypsin that results in the retention of ordered polymers within the endoplasmic reticulum of hepatocytes. These polymers form the intracellular inclusions that are associated with neonatal hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. A second example results from mutations in the neurone-specific serpin-neuroserpin to form ordered polymers that are retained as inclusions within subcortical neurones as Collins' bodies. These inclusions underlie the autosomal dominant dementia familial encephalopathy with neuroserpin inclusion bodies or FENIB. There are different pathways to polymer formation in vitro but not all form polymers that are relevant in vivo. It is therefore essential that protein-based structural studies are interpreted in the context of human samples and cell and animal models of disease. We describe here the biochemical techniques, monoclonal antibodies, cell biology, animal models, and stem cell technology that are useful to characterize the serpin polymers that form in vivo.
Methods in enzymology 01/2011; 501:421-66. · 1.90 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Homozygous ZZ α-1-antitrypsin (a1AT) deficiency is a common genetic liver disease that causes liver injury and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The a1AT mutant Z gene encodes a mutant protein that accumulates within hepatocytes leading to hepatocellular death and a hepatic regenerative response. However, the mechanisms linking hepatocellular injury to these responses are poorly understood. In this study, we examined liver injury and response in human liver and in transgenic mice for involvement of hepatic progenitor cells.
Liver biopsy specimens of low-grade, early-stage human ZZ liver exhibiting minimal inflammation and minimal fibrosis (grade 1 and stage 1) were examined for hepatic progenitor cell (HPC) proliferation using immunoreactivity for cytokeratin-7 (CK-7). Transgenic mouse model liver and other selected human biopsies were also examined.
Increased CK-7-positive HPC proliferation was seen in human ZZ liver compared to normal liver, but was 5-fold less HPC proliferation than in grade- and stage-matched disease control hepatitis C-infected liver. Livers from PiZ mice, a model transgenic for the human a1AT mutant Z gene, which recapitulates the human injury, also showed HPC proliferation. Human ZZ liver and PiZ mice develop dysplasia in the liver and HCC. HCC in PiZ mice was also characterized by HPC proliferation. Progressive hepatic fibrosis with age in the PiZ mice is demonstrated for the first time in the present study.
Chronic injury in both ZZ human and PiZ mouse liver is associated with hepatic fibrosis and a unique magnitude of HPC proliferation within the hepatic proliferative response.
Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition 09/2010; 51(5):626-30. · 2.18 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aim: Individuals with homozygous (ZZ) alpha-1-antitrypsin (alpha1AT) deficiency are at an increased risk for liver damage, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The transgenic PiZ mouse, expressing the human alpha1AT mutant Z gene, is a valuable model for this disease. We studied PiZ mice in order to identify and characterize mechanisms involved in the development of HCC. Methods: Tumor incidence and histology were studied, gene expression levels were surveyed with microarrays, RNA quantified with quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction and protein levels determined with immunoblots and immunohistochemistry. Results: By 16-19 months of age, approximately 69% of the PiZ mice had developed tumors. HCC was present with no evidence of benign adenomas as pre-cancerous lesions. Tumors showed abnormal mitochondria, variable levels of steatosis, globular inclusions of alpha1AT mutant Z protein and metastases. PiZ mice that subsequently developed liver tumors had higher serum levels of alpha1AT mutant Z protein than those that did not develop tumors. Cyclin D1, a cell cycle protein, was upregulated in PiZ livers without tumors compared to Wt. cFOS, a component of AP-1 that may be involved in transforming cells and MCAM, an adhesion molecule likely involved in tumorigenesis and metastases, were elevated in tumors compared with livers without tumors. Conclusion: In the PiZ model, many of the histological characteristics of HCC recapitulated features seen in human HCC, whether from individuals with homozygous ZZ liver disease or from unrelated causes in individuals that were not homozygous ZZ. The accumulation of mutant Z protein altered the regulation of several genes driving proliferation and tumorigenesis.
Hepatology Research 06/2010; 40(6):641-53. · 2.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alpha-1-antitrypsin (a1AT) deficiency is caused by homozygosity for the a1AT mutant Z gene and occurs in one in 2000 Americans. The Z mutation confers an abnormal conformation on the a1AT mutant Z protein, resulting in accumulation within the endoplasmic reticulum of hepatocytes and chronic liver injury. Autophagy is one of several proteolytic mechanisms activated to cope with this hepatocellular protein burden, and is likely important in disposal of the unique polymerized conformation of the a1AT mutant Z protein, which is thought to be especially injurious to the cell. Recent data indicate that rapamycin may more efficiently upregulate autophagy when given in weekly dose pulses, as compared with a daily regimen. Therefore, we evaluated the effect of rapamycin on PiZ mice, a well-characterized model which recapitulates human a1AT liver disease. Daily dosing had no effect on autophagy, on accumulation of a1AT mutant Z protein or on liver injury. Weekly dosing of rapamycin did increase autophagic activity, as shown by increased numbers of autophagic vacuoles. This was associated with reduction in the intrahepatic accumulation of a1AT mutant Z protein in the polymerized conformation. Markers of hepatocellular injury, including cleavage of caspase 12 and hepatic fibrosis, were also decreased. In conclusion, this is the first report of a successful in vivo method for reduction of intrahepatic a1AT mutant Z polymerized protein. Application of this finding may be therapeutic in patients with a1AT deficiency by reducing the intracellular burden of the polymerized, mutant Z protein and by reducing the progression of liver injury.
Experimental Biology and Medicine 06/2010; 235(6):700-9. · 2.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alpha-1-antitrypsin (a1AT) deficiency is caused by homozygosity for the a1AT mutant Z gene and occurs in 1 in 2000 births. The Z mutation confers an abnormal conformation on the protein, resulting in an accumulation within the endoplasmic reticulum of hepatocytes rather than appropriate secretion. The accumulation of the mutant protein is strikingly heterogeneous within the liver. Homozygous ZZ children and adults have an increased risk of chronic liver disease, which is thought to result from this variable intracellular accumulation of the a1AT mutant Z protein. Previous reports have suggested that autophagy, mitochondrial injury, apoptosis, and other pathways may be involved in the mechanism of hepatocyte injury, although the interplay of these mechanisms in vivo is unclear. In this study, we examine a well-characterized in vivo model of a1AT mutant Z liver injury, the PiZ mouse, to better understand the pathways involved in this disease. The results show an increase in the stimulation of the apoptotic cascade in hepatocytes, the magnitude of which strongly correlates to the absolute amount of the a1AT mutant Z protein accumulated within the individual cell. Increases in apoptotic regulatory proteins are also detected. CONCLUSION: These data, combined with previous work, permit for the first time the construction of a hypothetical hepatocellular injury cascade for this disease involving mitochondrial injury, caspase activation, and apoptosis, which takes into account the heterogeneous nature of the mutant Z protein accumulation within the liver. Further development of this hypothetical cascade will focus future research on this and other metabolic liver diseases.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is one of the most common genetic diseases in North America, with a carrier frequency of approximately 4% in the US population. Homozygosity for the most common mutation (Glu342Lys, PI(*)Z) leads to the synthesis of a mutant protein, which accumulates and polymerizes within hepatocytes rather than being efficiently secreted. This lack of secretion causes severe serum deficiency predisposing to chronic lung disease. Twelve to fifteen percent of patients with PI(*)ZZ also develop liver disease, which can be severe, even in infancy. This is thought to be due to toxic effects of the accumulated mutant Z-AAT within the hepatocyte. Thus, an approach to reduce AAT-deficient liver disease will likely require some mechanism to decrease the amount of Z-AAT within hepatocytes. In this report, we describe studies of small-interfering RNAs (siRNAs) designed to downregulate endogenous AAT within hepatocytes. Three different siRNA sequences were identified and cloned into a recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) backbone, either singly or as a trifunctional (3X) construct. Each had activity independently, but the levels of AAT expression in cell culture models showed the greatest decrease with the 3X construct, resulting in levels that were five-fold lower than controls. The rAAV-3X-siRNA was then packaged into AAV8 capsids and used in vivo to transduce the livers of human Z-AAT overexpressing transgenic mice. Those studies showed a decrease in total human AAT, a clearing of Z-AAT accumulation by immunohistochemistry, and a decrease in monomer Z-AAT within the liver within 3 weeks after vector injection. The rAAV8-3X-siRNA vector may hold promise as a potential therapy for patients with AAT liver disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alpha (1)-antitrypsin deficiency is a common genetic disease in which individuals homozygous for the mutant Z allele are at risk for the development of liver disease and emphysema. The mutant Z protein product is synthesized in hepatocytes but then accumulates intracellularly rather then being appropriately secreted. The effects of the intracellular accumulation of the mutant Z protein in the liver include the formation of protein polymers, activation of autophagy, mitochondrial injury, and caspase activation, which progress in a cascade causing hepatocellular injury. Liver disease can occur at any age, although the majority of children are free of significant liver dysfunction. The variable clinical presentations suggest an important contribution of genetic and environmental disease modifiers. The heterozygous carrier state for the mutant Z gene, present in 1.5% to 3% of the population, is not itself a common cause of liver injury but may be a modifier gene for other liver diseases.
Seminars in Liver Disease 09/2007; 27(3):274-81. · 5.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Homozygous (PIZZ) alpha-1-antitrypsin (alpha(1)-AT) deficiency is associated with the development of liver damage in children as well as chronic liver injury and hepatocellular carcinoma in adults. The alpha(1)-AT mutant Z gene encodes a mutant protein that accumulates in the endoplasmic reticulum of hepatocytes rather than being secreted appropriately into serum. Liver injury is caused by the accumulation of alpha(1)-AT mutant Z protein in hepatocytes, which triggers downstream intracellular injury pathways. However, development of clinical liver disease among PIZZ homozygotes is highly variable, suggesting other genetic or environmental factors contribute to liver injury. In this study, we tested whether nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could be a comorbid factor in the development of liver injury in alpha(1)-AT deficiency using the PiZ mouse. This mouse model is transgenic for the mutant Z allele of the human alpha(1)-AT gene, in which alpha(1)-ATZ expression is regulated by the human promoter regulatory sequences. Our results showed that administration of indomethacin to PiZ mice resulted in increased hepatic injury, indicated by increased hepatocellular proliferation and increased activation of caspase 9. This indomethacin-induced injury was associated with activation of IL-6-STAT3 signaling, increased expression of alpha(1)-AT mRNA, and greater accumulation of mutant polymerized alpha(1)-ATZ protein in livers of indomethacin-treated PiZ mice compared to vehicle-treated PiZ animals. In conclusion, environmental factors, such as exogenous medication administration, can significantly potentiate the liver injury associated with alpha(1)-ATZ hepatic accumulation; NSAIDs may be especially injurious to patients with alpha(1)-AT deficiency, possibly by increasing the expression and accumulation of the hepatotoxic mutant protein.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is a relatively common but under-recognized genetic disease in which individuals homozygous for the mutant Z disease-associated allele are at risk for the development of liver disease and emphysema. The protein product of the mutant Z gene is synthesized in hepatocytes but accumulates intracellularly rather than being appropriately secreted. The downstream effects of the intracellular accumulation of the mutant Z protein include the formation of unique protein polymers, activation of autophagy, mitochondrial injury, endoplasmic reticulum stress, and caspase activation, which subsequently progress in a cascade, causing chronic hepatocellular injury. The variable clinical presentations among affected individuals suggest an important contribution of genetic and environmental disease modifiers, which are only now being identified. The heterozygous carrier state for the mutant Z gene, found in 1.5% to 3% of the population, is not itself a common cause of liver injury but may be a modifier gene for other liver diseases.
Current Gastroenterology Reports 03/2006; 8(1):14-20.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alpha-1-antitrypsin (alpha1AT) deficiency in its most common form is caused by homozygosity for the alpha1AT mutant Z gene. This gene encodes a mutant Z secretory protein, primarily synthesized in the liver, that assumes an abnormal conformation and accumulates within hepatocytes causing liver cell injury. Studies have shown that mutant alpha1ATZ protein molecules form unique protein polymers. These Z protein polymers have been hypothesized to play a critical role in the pathophysiology of liver injury in this disease, although a lack of quantitative methods to isolate the polymers from whole liver has hampered further analysis. In this study, we demonstrate a quantitative alpha1ATZ polymer isolation technique from whole liver and show that the hepatocellular periodic acid-Schiff-positive globular inclusions that are the histopathological hallmark of this disease are composed almost entirely of the polymerized alpha1ATZ protein. Furthermore, we examine the previously proposed but untested hypothesis that induction of alpha1ATZ polymerization by the heat of physiological fever is part of the mechanism of hepatic alpha1ATZ protein accumulation. The results, however, show that fever-range temperature elevations have no detectable effect on steady-state levels of intrahepatic Z protein polymer in a model in vivo system. In conclusion, methods to separate insoluble protein aggregates from liver can be used for quantitative isolation of alpha1ATZ protein polymers, and the effect of heat from physiological fever may be different in vivo compared with in vitro systems.