My primary goal is to develop an independent research career in hematology. As an African from a family background afflicted by hereditary hematologic disorders, I have longed to be part of research efforts to develop better treatments for blood diseases. My doctoral research focused on sickle cell disease where I conducted a preclinical investigation of a novel derivative of butyrate as a drug candidate for ameliorating the complications of the illness (Oseghale AR et al. Blood Cells Mol Dis. 2019 Jul 9;79:102345). My current focus as a postdoctoral scholar, in the Porteus laboratory, is to use CRISPR/Cas9 for genomic modification of human primary cells for curative therapeutic applications. A major aim of my project is to develop an automated closed system for the manufacturing of CRISPR/Cas9-engineered chimeric antigen receptor-expressing (CAR) T cells.
Matthew Porteus, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
High-efficiency transgene integration by homology-directed repair in human primary cells using DNA-PKcs inhibition.
Therapeutic applications of nuclease-based genome editing would benefit from improved methods for transgene integration via homology-directed repair (HDR). To improve HDR efficiency, we screened six small-molecule inhibitors of DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs), a key protein in the alternative repair pathway of non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), which generates genomic insertions/deletions (INDELs). From this screen, we identified AZD7648 as the most potent compound. The use of AZD7648 significantly increased HDR (up to 50-fold) and concomitantly decreased INDELs across different genomic loci in various therapeutically relevant primary human cell types. In all cases, the ratio of HDR to INDELs markedly increased, and, in certain situations, INDEL-free high-frequency (>50%) targeted integration was achieved. This approach has the potential to improve the therapeutic efficacy of cell-based therapies and broaden the use of targeted integration as a research tool.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41587-023-01888-4
View details for PubMedID 37537500
View details for PubMedCentralID 3694601
Conjugate prodrug AN-233 induces fetal hemoglobin expression in sickle erythroid progenitors and β-YAC transgenic mice.
Blood cells, molecules & diseases
2019; 79: 102345
Pharmacologic induction of fetal hemoglobin (HbF) is an effective strategy for treating sickle cell disease (SCD) by ameliorating disease severity. Hydroxyurea is the only FDA-approved agent that induces HbF, but significant non-responders and requirement for frequent monitoring of blood counts for drug toxicity limit clinical usefulness. Therefore, we investigated a novel prodrug conjugate of butyric acid (BA) and δ-aminolevulinate (ALA) as a potential HbF inducing agent, using erythroid precursors and a preclinical β-YAC mouse model. We observed significantly increased γ-globin gene transcription and HbF expression mediated by AN-233 in K562 cells. Moreover, AN-233 stimulated mild heme biosynthesis and inhibited expression of heme-regulated eIF2α kinase involved in silencing γ-globin expression. Studies using primary erythroid precursors generated from sickle peripheral blood mononuclear cells verified the ability of AN-233 to induce HbF, increase histone H3 and H4 acetylation levels at the γ-globin promoter and reduce erythroid precursor sickling by 50%. Subsequent drug treatment of β-YAC transgenic mice confirmed HbF induction in vivo by AN-233 through an increase in the percentage of HbF positive red blood cells and HbF levels measured by flow cytometry. These data support the potential development of AN-233 for the treatment of SCD.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bcmd.2019.102345
View details for PubMedID 31351219
Mechanisms of NRF2 activation to mediate fetal hemoglobin induction and protection against oxidative stress in sickle cell disease.
Experimental biology and medicine (Maywood, N.J.)
2019; 244 (2): 171-182
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of inherited blood disorders caused by mutations in the human β-globin gene, leading to the synthesis of abnormal hemoglobin S, chronic hemolysis, and oxidative stress. Inhibition of hemoglobin S polymerization by fetal hemoglobin holds the greatest promise for treating SCD. The transcription factor NRF2, is the master regulator of the cellular oxidative stress response and activator of fetal hemoglobin expression. In animal models, various small chemical molecules activate NRF2 and ameliorate the pathophysiology of SCD. This review discusses the mechanisms of NRF2 regulation and therapeutic strategies of NRF2 activation to design the treatment options for individuals with SCD.
View details for DOI 10.1177/1535370219825859
View details for PubMedID 30674214
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6405823
Arginase 1: an unexpected mediator of pulmonary capillary barrier dysfunction in models of acute lung injury.
Frontiers in immunology
2013; 4: 228
The integrity of epithelial and endothelial barriers in the lower airspaces of the lungs has to be tightly regulated, in order to prevent leakage and to assure efficient gas exchange between the alveoli and capillaries. Both G(-) and G(+) bacterial toxins, such as lipopolysaccharide and pneumolysin, respectively, can be released in high concentrations within the pulmonary compartments upon antibiotic treatment of patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or severe pneumonia. These toxins are able to impair endothelial barrier function, either directly, or indirectly, by induction of pro-inflammatory mediators and neutrophil sequestration. Toxin-induced endothelial hyperpermeability can involve myosin light chain phosphorylation and/or microtubule rearrangement. Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) was proposed to be a guardian of basal barrier function, since eNOS knock-out mice display an impaired expression of inter-endothelial junction proteins and as such an increased vascular permeability, as compared to wild type mice. The enzyme arginase, the activity of which can be regulated by the redox status of the cell, exists in two isoforms - arginase 1 (cytosolic) and arginase 2 (mitochondrial) - both of which can be expressed in lung microvascular endothelial cells. Upon activation, arginase competes with eNOS for the substrate l-arginine, as such impairing eNOS-dependent NO generation and promoting reactive oxygen species generation by the enzyme. This mini-review will discuss recent findings regarding the interaction between bacterial toxins and arginase during acute lung injury and will as such address the role of arginase in bacterial toxin-induced pulmonary endothelial barrier dysfunction.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fimmu.2013.00228
View details for PubMedID 23966993
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3736115
Mini-review: novel therapeutic strategies to blunt actions of pneumolysin in the lungs.
2013; 5 (7): 1244-60
Severe pneumonia is the main single cause of death worldwide in children under five years of age. The main etiological agent of pneumonia is the G+ bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, which accounts for up to 45% of all cases. Intriguingly, patients can still die days after commencing antibiotic treatment due to the development of permeability edema, although the pathogen was successfully cleared from their lungs. This condition is characterized by a dramatically impaired alveolar epithelial-capillary barrier function and a dysfunction of the sodium transporters required for edema reabsorption, including the apically expressed epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) and the basolaterally expressed sodium potassium pump (Na+-K+-ATPase). The main agent inducing this edema formation is the virulence factor pneumolysin, a cholesterol-binding pore-forming toxin, released in the alveolar compartment of the lungs when pneumococci are being lysed by antibiotic treatment or upon autolysis. Sub-lytic concentrations of pneumolysin can cause endothelial barrier dysfunction and can impair ENaC-mediated sodium uptake in type II alveolar epithelial cells. These events significantly contribute to the formation of permeability edema, for which currently no standard therapy is available. This review focuses on discussing some recent developments in the search for the novel therapeutic agents able to improve lung function despite the presence of pore-forming toxins. Such treatments could reduce the potentially lethal complications occurring after antibiotic treatment of patients with severe pneumonia.
View details for DOI 10.3390/toxins5071244
View details for PubMedID 23860351
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3737495
Agonist of growth hormone-releasing hormone reduces pneumolysin-induced pulmonary permeability edema.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
2012; 109 (6): 2084-9
Aggressive treatment with antibiotics in patients infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae induces release of the bacterial virulence factor pneumolysin (PLY). Days after lungs are sterile, this pore-forming toxin can still induce pulmonary permeability edema in patients, characterized by alveolar/capillary barrier dysfunction and impaired alveolar liquid clearance (ALC). ALC is mainly regulated through Na(+) transport by the apically expressed epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) and the basolaterally expressed Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase in type II alveolar epithelial cells. Because no standard treatment is currently available to treat permeability edema, the search for novel therapeutic candidates is of high priority. We detected mRNA expression for the active receptor splice variant SV1 of the hypothalamic polypeptide growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), as well as for GHRH itself, in human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HL-MVEC). Therefore, we have evaluated the effect of the GHRH agonist JI-34 on PLY-induced barrier and ALC dysfunction. JI-34 blunts PLY-mediated endothelial hyperpermeability in monolayers of HL-MVEC, in a cAMP-dependent manner, by means of reducing the phosphorylation of myosin light chain and vascular endothelial (VE)-cadherin. In human airway epithelial H441 cells, PLY significantly impairs Na(+) uptake, but JI-34 restores it to basal levels by means of increasing cAMP levels. Intratracheal instillation of PLY into C57BL6 mice causes pulmonary alveolar epithelial and endothelial hyperpermeability as well as edema formation, all of which are blunted by JI-34. These findings point toward a protective role of the GHRH signaling pathway in PLY-induced permeability edema.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1121075109
View details for PubMedID 22308467
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3277580