Red blood cells (RBCs) are the most numerous cell type in the body and serve a vital purpose of delivering oxygen to essentially all tissues. In addition to the central role of RBCs in health and disease, RBC storage is a requirement for the >90 million units of RBC transfusions given to millions of recipients each year, worldwide. It is well known that there is genetic donor-to-donor variability in how human RBCs store, rendering blood a nonstandardized therapeutic with a wide range of biological properties from unit to unit, by the time it is transfused. As with humans, genetic variation exists in how murine RBCs, from different strains of mice, store and perform after transfusion. The genetic mechanisms for variation, in humans and mice, both remain obscure. Combining advanced metabolomics, genetics, and molecular and cellular biology approaches, we identify genetic variation in six-transmembrane epithelial antigen of prostate 3 (Steap3) expression as a critical and previously unrecognized mechanism of oxidative damage of RBCs during storage. Increased levels of Steap3 result in degradation of cellular membrane through lipid peroxidation, leading to failure of RBC homeostasis and hemolysis/clearance of RBCs. This article is the first report of a role of Steap3 in mature RBCs; it defines a new mechanism of redox biology in RBCs with a substantial effect upon RBC function and provides a novel mechanistic determinant of genetic variation of RBC storage.
Antibodies targeting human leukocyte antigen (HLA)/major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins limit successful transplantation and transfusion, and their presence in blood products can cause lethal transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI). It is unclear which cell types are bound by these anti-leukocyte antibodies to initiate an immunologic cascade resulting in lung injury. We therefore conditionally removed MHC class I (MHC I) from likely cellular targets in antibodymediated lung injury. Only the removal of endothelial MHC I reduced lung injury and mortality, related mechanistically to absent endothelial complement fixation and lung platelet retention. Restoration of endothelial MHC I rendered MHC Ideficient mice susceptible to lung injury. Neutrophil responses, including neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) release, were intact in endothelial MHC I-deficient mice, whereas complement depletion reduced both lung injury and NETs. Human pulmonary endothelial cells showed high HLA class I expression, and posttransfusion complement activation was increased in clinical TRALI. These results indicate that the critical source of antigen for anti-leukocyte antibodies is in fact the endothelium, which reframes our understanding of TRALI as a rapid-onset vasculitis. Inhibition of complement activation may have multiple beneficial effects of reducing endothelial injury, platelet retention, and NET release in conditions where antibodies trigger these pathogenic responses.
Band 3 (anion exchanger 1 - AE1) is the most abundant membrane protein in red blood cells (RBCs), the most abundant cell in the human body. A compelling model posits that - at high oxygen saturation - the N-term cytosolic domain of AE1 binds to and inhibits glycolytic enzymes, thus diverting metabolic fluxes to the pentose phosphate pathway to generate reducing equivalents. Dysfunction of this mechanism occurs during RBC aging or storage under blood bank conditions, suggesting a role for AE1 in the regulation of blood storage quality and efficacy of transfusion – a life-saving intervention for millions of recipients worldwide. Here we leverage two murine models carrying genetic ablations of AE1 to provide mechanistic evidence of its role in the regulation of erythrocyte metabolism and storage quality. Metabolic observations in mice recapitulated those in a human subject lacking expression of AE11-11 (band 3 Neapolis), while common polymorphisms in the region coding for AE11-56 correlate with increased susceptibility to osmotic hemolysis in healthy blood donors. Through thermal proteome profiling and cross-linking proteomics, we provide a map of the RBC interactome, with a focus on AE11-56 and validate recombinant AE1 interactions with glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH). As a proof-of-principle and further mechanistic evidence of the role of AE1 in the regulation of redox homeostasis of stored RBCs, we show that incubation with a cell-penetrating AE11-56 peptide can rescue the metabolic defect in glutathione recycling and boost post-transfusion recoveries of stored RBCs from healthy human donors and genetically ablated mice.
BACKGROUND Taurine is an antioxidant that is abundant in some common energy drinks. Here we hypothesized that the antioxidant activity of taurine in red blood cells (RBCs) could be leveraged to counteract storage‐induced oxidant stress. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS Metabolomics analyses were performed on plasma and RBCs from healthy volunteers (n = 4) at baseline and after consumption of a whole can of a common, taurine‐rich (1000 mg/serving) energy drink. Reductionistic studies were also performed by incubating human RBCs with taurine ex vivo (unlabeled or 13C15N‐labeled) at increasing doses (0, 100, 500, and 1000 μmol/L) at 37°C for up to 16 hours, with and without oxidant stress challenge with hydrogen peroxide (0.1% or 0.5%). Finally, we stored human and murine RBCs under blood bank conditions in additives supplemented with 500 μmol/L taurine, before metabolomics and posttransfusion recovery studies. RESULTS Consumption of energy drinks increased plasma and RBC levels of taurine, which was paralleled by increases in glycolysis and glutathione (GSH) metabolism in the RBC. These observations were recapitulated ex vivo after incubation with taurine and hydrogen peroxide. Taurine levels in the RBCs from the REDS‐III RBC‐Omics donor biobank were directly proportional to the total levels of GSH and glutathionylated metabolites and inversely correlated to oxidative hemolysis measurements. Storage of human RBCs in the presence of taurine improved energy and redox markers of storage quality and increased posttransfusion recoveries in FVB mice. CONCLUSION Taurine modulates RBC antioxidant metabolism in vivo and ex vivo, an observation of potential relevance to transfusion medicine.
Computational models based on recent maps of the RBC proteome suggest that mature erythrocytes may harbor targets for common drugs. This prediction is relevant to RBC storage in the blood bank, in which the impact of small molecule drugs or other xenometabolites deriving from dietary, iatrogenic, or environmental exposures (“exposome”) may alter erythrocyte energy and redox metabolism and, in so doing, affect red cell storage quality and posttransfusion efficacy. To test this prediction, here we provide a comprehensive characterization of the blood donor exposome, including the detection of common prescription and over-the-counter drugs in blood units donated by 250 healthy volunteers in the Recipient Epidemiology and Donor Evaluation Study III Red Blood Cell–Omics (REDS-III RBC-Omics) Study. Based on high-throughput drug screenings of 1366 FDA-approved drugs, we report that approximately 65% of the tested drugs had an impact on erythrocyte metabolism. Machine learning models built using metabolites as predictors were able to accurately predict drugs for several drug classes/targets (bisphosphonates, anticholinergics, calcium channel blockers, adrenergics, proton pump inhibitors, antimetabolites, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and mTOR), suggesting that these drugs have a direct, conserved, and substantial impact on erythrocyte metabolism. As a proof of principle, here we show that the antacid ranitidine — though rarely detected in the blood donor population — has a strong effect on RBC markers of storage quality in vitro. We thus show that supplementation of blood units stored in bags with ranitidine could — through mechanisms involving sphingosine 1–phosphate–dependent modulation of erythrocyte glycolysis and/or direct binding to hemoglobin — improve erythrocyte metabolism and storage quality.
Red blood cells have the special challenge of a large amount of reactive oxygen species (from their substantial iron load and Fenton reactions) combined with the inability to synthesize new gene products. Considerable progress has been made in elucidating the multiple pathways by which red blood cells neutralize reactive oxygen species via NADPH driven redox reactions. However, far less is known about how red blood cells repair the inevitable damage that does occur when reactive oxygen species break through anti-oxidant defenses. When structural and functional proteins become oxidized, the only remedy available to red blood cells is direct repair of the damaged molecules, as red blood cells cannot synthesize new proteins. Amongst the most common amino acid targets of oxidative damage is the conversion of asparagine and aspartate side chains into a succinimidyl group through deamidation or dehydration, respectively. Red blood cells express an L-Isoaspartyl methyltransferase (PIMT, gene name PCMT1) that can convert succinimidyl groups back to an aspartate. Herein, we report that deletion of PCMT1 significantly alters red blood cell metabolism in a healthy state, but does not impair the circulatory lifespan of red blood cells. Through a combination of genetic ablation, bone marrow transplantation and oxidant stimulation with phenylhydrazine in vivo or blood storage ex vivo, we use omics approaches to show that, when animals are exposed to oxidative stress, red blood cells from PCMT1 knockout undergo significant metabolic reprogramming and increased hemolysis. This is the first report of an essential role of PCMT1 for normal RBC circulation during oxidative stress.
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