Latest issue: May 18, 2017

In the issue

Abstract

Natural killer (NK) cells can be divided into phenotypic subsets based on expression of receptors that bind self-MHC-I molecules, a concept termed licensing or education. Here we show NK cell subsets with different migratory, effector, and immunoregulatory functions in dendritic cell and antigen (ag)-specific CD8+ T cell responses during influenza and murine cytomegalovirus infections. Shortly after infection, unlicensed NK cells localized in draining lymph nodes and produced GM-CSF, which correlated with the expansion and activation of dendritic cells, and resulted in greater and sustained ag-specific T cell responses. In contrast, licensed NK cells preferentially migrated to infected tissues and produced IFN-γ. Importantly, human NK cell subsets exhibited similar phenotypic characteristics. Collectively, our studies demonstrate a critical demarcation between the functions of licensed and unlicensed NK cell subsets, with the former functioning as the classical effector subset and the latter as the stimulator of adaptive immunity helping to prime immune responses.

Authors

Anthony E. Zamora, Ethan G. Aguilar, Can M. Sungur, Lam T. Khuat, Cordelia Dunai, G. Raymond Lochhead, Juan Du, Claire Pomeroy, Bruce R. Blazar, Dan L. Longo, Jeffrey M. Venstrom, Nicole Baumgarth, William J. Murphy

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Abstract

Many extremely preterm infants (born before 28 gestational weeks [GWs]) develop cognitive impairment in later life, although the underlying pathogenesis is not yet completely understood. Our examinations of the developing human neocortex confirmed that neuronal migration continues beyond 23 GWs, the gestational week at which extremely preterm infants have live births. We observed larger numbers of ectopic neurons in the white matter of the neocortex in human extremely preterm infants with brain injury and hypothesized that altered neuronal migration may be associated with cognitive impairment in later life. To confirm whether preterm brain injury affects neuronal migration, we produced brain damage in mouse embryos by occluding the maternal uterine arteries. The mice showed delayed neuronal migration, ectopic neurons in the white matter, altered neuronal alignment, and abnormal corticocortical axonal wiring. Similar to human extremely preterm infants with brain injury, the surviving mice exhibited cognitive deficits. Activation of the affected medial prefrontal cortices of the surviving mice improved working memory deficits, indicating that decreased neuronal activity caused the cognitive deficits. These findings suggest that altered neuronal migration altered by brain injury might contribute to the subsequent development of cognitive impairment in extremely preterm infants.

Authors

Ken-ichiro Kubo, Kimiko Deguchi, Taku Nagai, Yukiko Ito, Keitaro Yoshida, Toshihiro Endo, Seico Benner, Wei Shan, Ayako Kitazawa, Michihiko Aramaki, Kazuhiro Ishii, Minkyung Shin, Yuki Matsunaga, Kanehiro Hayashi, Masaki Kakeyama, Chiharu Tohyama, Kenji F. Tanaka, Kohichi Tanaka, Sachio Takashima, Masahiro Nakayama, Masayuki Itoh, Yukio Hirata, Barbara Antalffy, Dawna D. Armstrong, Kiyofumi Yamada, Ken Inoue, Kazunori Nakajima

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Abstract

Cholesterol accumulation in the liver is an early event in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Here, we demonstrate that E2F1 plays a crucial role in maintaining cellular cholesterol homeostasis by regulating cholesterol uptake via proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 9 (PCSK9), an enzyme that promotes low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) degradation upon activation. E2f1–/– mice display reduced total plasma cholesterol levels and increased cholesterol content in the liver. In this study, we show that E2f1 deletion in cellular and mouse models leads to a marked decrease in Pcsk9 expression and an increase in LDLR expression. In addition to the upregulation of LDLR, we report that E2f1–/– hepatocytes exhibit increased LDL uptake. ChIP-Seq and PCSK9 promoter reporter experiments confirmed that E2F1 binds to and transactivates the PCSK9 promoter. Interestingly, E2f1–/– mice fed a high-cholesterol diet (HCD) display a fatty liver phenotype and liver fibrosis, which is reversed by reexpression of PCSK9 in the liver. Collectively, these data indicate that E2F1 regulates cholesterol uptake and that the loss of E2F1 leads to abnormal cholesterol accumulation in the liver and the development of fibrosis in response to an HCD.

Authors

Qiuwen Lai, Albert Giralt, Cédric Le May, Lianjun Zhang, Bertrand Cariou, Pierre-Damien Denechaud, Lluis Fajas

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Abstract

Metabolic dysregulation promotes cancer growth through not only energy production, but also epigenetic reprogramming. Here, we report that a critical node in methyl donor metabolism, nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT), ranked among the most consistently overexpressed metabolism genes in glioblastoma relative to normal brain. NNMT was preferentially expressed by mesenchymal glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs). NNMT depletes S-adenosyl methionine (SAM), a methyl donor generated from methionine. GSCs contained lower levels of methionine, SAM, and nicotinamide, but they contained higher levels of oxidized nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) than differentiated tumor cells. In concordance with the poor prognosis associated with DNA hypomethylation in glioblastoma, depletion of methionine, a key upstream methyl group donor, shifted tumors toward a mesenchymal phenotype and accelerated tumor growth. Targeting NNMT expression reduced cellular proliferation, self-renewal, and in vivo tumor growth of mesenchymal GSCs. Supporting a mechanistic link between NNMT and DNA methylation, targeting NNMT reduced methyl donor availability, methionine levels, and unmethylated cytosine, with increased levels of DNA methyltransferases, DNMT1 and DNMT3A. Supporting the clinical significance of these findings, NNMT portended poor prognosis for glioblastoma patients. Collectively, our findings support NNMT as a GSC-specific therapeutic target in glioblastoma by disrupting oncogenic DNA hypomethylation.

Authors

Jinkyu Jung, Leo J.Y. Kim, Xiuxing Wang, Qiulian Wu, Tanwarat Sanvoranart, Christopher G. Hubert, Briana C. Prager, Lisa C. Wallace, Xun Jin, Stephen C. Mack, Jeremy N. Rich

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Abstract

DCs are necessary and sufficient for induction of allergic airway inflammation. CD11b+ DCs direct the underlying Th2 immunity, but debate surrounds the function of CD103+ DCs in lung immunity and asthma after an allergic challenge. We challenged Batf3–/– mice, which lacked lung CD103+ DCs, with the relevant allergen house dust mite (HDM) as a model to ascertain their role in asthma. We show that acute and chronic HDM exposure leads to defective Th1 immunity in Batf3-deficient mice. In addition, chronic HDM challenge in Batf3–/– mice results in increased Th2 and Th17 immune responses and exacerbated airway inflammation. Mechanistically, Batf3 absence does not affect induction of Treg or IL-10 production by lung CD4+ T cells following acute HDM challenge. Batf3-dependent CD103+ migratory DCs are the main source of IL-12p40 in the mediastinal lymph node DC compartment in the steady state. Moreover, CD103+ DCs selectively increase their IL-12p40 production upon HDM administration. In vivo IL-12 treatment reverts exacerbated allergic airway inflammation upon chronic HDM challenge in Batf3–/– mice, restraining Th2 and Th17 responses without triggering Th1 immunity. These results suggest a protective role for lung CD103+ DCs to HDM allergic airway inflammation through the production of IL-12.

Authors

Laura Conejero, Sofía C. Khouili, Sarai Martínez-Cano, Helena M. Izquierdo, Paola Brandi, David Sancho

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Abstract

Severe asthma (SA) is a significant problem both clinically and economically, given its poor response to corticosteroids (CS). We recently reported a complex type 1–dominated (IFN-γ–dominated) immune response in more than 50% of severe asthmatics despite high-dose CS treatment. Also, IFN-γ was found to be critical for increased airway hyperreactivity (AHR) in our model of SA. The transcription factor IRF5 expressed in M1 macrophages can induce a Th1/Th17 response in cocultured human T cells. Here we show markedly higher expression of IRF5 in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cells of severe asthmatics as compared with that in cells from milder asthmatics or healthy controls. Using our SA mouse model, we demonstrate that lack of IRF5 in lymph node migratory DCs severely limits their ability to stimulate the generation of IFN-γ– and IL-17–producing CD4+ T cells and IRF5–/– mice subjected to the SA model displayed significantly lower IFN-γ and IL-17 responses, albeit showing a reciprocal increase in Th2 response. However, the absence of IRF5 rendered the mice responsive to CS with suppression of the heightened Th2 response. These data support the notion that IRF5 inhibition in combination with CS may be a viable approach to manage disease in a subset of severe asthmatics.

Authors

Timothy B. Oriss, Mahesh Raundhal, Christina Morse, Rachael E. Huff, Sudipta Das, Rachel Hannum, Marc C. Gauthier, Kathryn L. Scholl, Krishnendu Chakraborty, Seyed M. Nouraie, Sally E. Wenzel, Prabir Ray, Anuradha Ray

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Abstract

Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT) is an effective immunotherapy for a variety of hematologic malignances, yet its efficacy is impeded by the development of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). GVHD is characterized by activation, expansion, cytokine production, and migration of alloreactive donor T cells. Hence, strategies to limit GVHD are highly desirable. Ceramides are known to contribute to inflammation and autoimmunity. However, their involvement in T-cell responses to alloantigens is undefined. In the current study, we specifically characterized the role of ceramide synthase 6 (CerS6) after allo-HCT using genetic and pharmacologic approaches. We found that CerS6 was required for optimal T cell activation, proliferation, and cytokine production in response to alloantigen and for subsequent induction of GVHD. However, CerS6 was partially dispensable for the T cell–mediated antileukemia effect. At the molecular level, CerS6 was required for efficient TCR signal transduction, including tyrosine phosphorylation, ZAP-70 activation, and PKCθ/TCR colocalization. Impaired generation of C16-ceramide was responsible for diminished allogeneic T cell responses. Furthermore, targeting CerS6 using a specific inhibitor significantly reduced T cell activation in mouse and human T cells in vitro. Our study provides a rationale for targeting CerS6 to control GVHD, which would enhance the efficacy of allo-HCT as an immunotherapy for hematologic malignancies in the clinic.

Authors

M. Hanief Sofi, Jessica Heinrichs, Mohammed Dany, Hung Nguyen, Min Dai, David Bastian, Steven Schutt, Yongxia Wu, Anusara Daenthanasanmak, Salih Gencer, Aleksandra Zivkovic, Zdzislaw Szulc, Holger Stark, Chen Liu, Ying-Jun Chang, Besim Ogretmen, Xue-Zhong Yu

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Abstract

Infusion of in vitro–derived T cell progenitor (proT) therapy with hematopoietic stem cell transplant aids the recovery of the thymus damaged by total body irradiation. To understand the interaction between proTs and the thymic microenvironment, WT mice were lethally irradiated and given T cell–deficient (Rag1-/-) marrow with WT in vitro–generated proTs, limiting mature T cell development to infused proTs. ProTs within the host thymus led to a significant increase in thymic epithelial cells (TECs) by day 21 after transplant, increasing actively cycling TECs. Upon thymus egress (day 28), proT TEC effects were lost, suggesting that continued signaling from proTs is required to sustain TEC cycling and cellularity. Thymocytes increased significantly by day 21, followed by a significant improvement in mature T cell numbers in the periphery by day 35. This protective surge was temporary, receding by day 60. Double-negative 2 (DN2) proTs selectively increased thymocyte number, while DN3 proTs preferentially increased TECs and T cells in the spleen that persisted at day 60. These findings highlight the importance of the interaction between proTs and TECs in the proliferation and survival of TECs and that the maturation stage of proTs has unique effects on thymopoiesis and peripheral T cell recovery.

Authors

Michelle J. Smith, Dawn K. Reichenbach, Sarah L. Parker, Megan J. Riddle, Jason Mitchell, Kevin C. Osum, Mahmood Mohtashami, Heather E. Stefanski, Brian T. Fife, Avinash Bhandoola, Kristin A. Hogquist, Georg A. Holländer, Juan Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker, Jakub Tolar, Bruce R. Blazar

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Abstract

Many effector mechanisms of neutrophils have been implicated in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) have been assigned a particularly detrimental role. Here we investigated the functional impact of neutrophils and NETs on a mouse model of lupus triggered by intraperitoneal injection of the cell death–inducing alkane pristane. Pristane-induced lupus (PIL) was aggravated in 2 mouse strains with impaired induction of NET formation, i.e., NOX2-deficient (Ncf1-mutated) and peptidyl arginine deiminase 4–deficient (PAD4-deficient) mice, as seen from elevated levels of antinuclear autoantibodies (ANAs) and exacerbated glomerulonephritis. We observed a dramatically reduced ability to form pristane-induced NETs in vivo in both Ncf1-mutated and PAD4-deficient mice, accompanied by higher levels of inflammatory mediators in the peritoneum. Similarly, neutropenic Mcl-1ΔMyelo mice exhibited higher levels of ANAs, which indicates a regulatory function in lupus of NETs and neutrophils. Blood neutrophils from Ncf1-mutated and human individuals with SLE exhibited exuberant spontaneous NET formation. Treatment with specific chemical NOX2 activators induced NET formation and ameliorated PIL. Our findings suggest that aberrant NET is one of the factors promoting experimental lupus-like autoimmunity by uncontrolled release of inflammatory mediators.

Authors

Deborah Kienhöfer, Jonas Hahn, Julia Stoof, Janka Zsófia Csepregi, Christiane Reinwald, Vilma Urbonaviciute, Caroline Johnsson, Christian Maueröder, Malgorzata J. Podolska, Mona H. Biermann, Moritz Leppkes, Thomas Harrer, Malin Hultqvist, Peter Olofsson, Luis E. Munoz, Attila Mocsai, Martin Herrmann, Georg Schett, Rikard Holmdahl, Markus H. Hoffmann

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Abstract

Though recent reports suggest that neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) are a source of antigenic nucleic acids in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), we recently showed that inhibition of NETs by targeting the NADPH oxidase complex via cytochrome b-245, β polypeptide (cybb) deletion exacerbated disease in the MRL.Faslpr lupus mouse model. While these data challenge the paradigm that NETs promote lupus, it is conceivable that global regulatory properties of cybb and cybb-independent NETs confound these findings. Furthermore, recent reports indicate that inhibitors of peptidyl arginine deiminase, type IV (Padi4), a distal mediator of NET formation, improve lupus in murine models. Here, to clarify the contribution of NETs to SLE, we employed a genetic approach to delete Padi4 in the MRL.Faslpr model and used a pharmacological approach to inhibit PADs in both the anti–glomerular basement membrane model of proliferative nephritis and a human-serum-transfer model of SLE. In contrast to prior inhibitor studies, we found that deletion of Padi4 did not ameliorate any aspect of nephritis, loss of tolerance, or immune activation. Pharmacological inhibition of PAD activity had no effect on end-organ damage in inducible models of glomerulonephritis. These data provide a direct challenge to the concept that NETs promote autoimmunity and target organ injury in SLE.

Authors

Rachael A. Gordon, Jan M. Herter, Florencia Rosetti, Allison M. Campbell, Hiroshi Nishi, Michael Kashgarian, Sheldon I. Bastacky, Anthony Marinov, Kevin M. Nickerson, Tanya N. Mayadas, Mark J. Shlomchik

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Abstract

Advanced cancer induces fundamental changes in metabolism and promotes cardiac atrophy and heart failure. We discovered systemic insulin deficiency in cachectic cancer patients. Similarly, mice with advanced B16F10 melanoma (B16F10-TM) or colon 26 carcinoma (C26-TM) displayed decreased systemic insulin associated with marked cardiac atrophy, metabolic impairment, and function. B16F10 and C26 tumors decrease systemic insulin via high glucose consumption, lowering pancreatic insulin production and producing insulin-degrading enzyme. As tumor cells consume glucose in an insulin-independent manner, they shift glucose away from cardiomyocytes. Since cardiomyocytes in both tumor models remained insulin responsive, low-dose insulin supplementation by subcutaneous implantation of insulin-releasing pellets improved cardiac glucose uptake, atrophy, and function, with no adverse side effects. In addition, by redirecting glucose to the heart in addition to other organs, the systemic insulin treatment lowered glucose usage by the tumor and thereby decreased tumor growth and volume. Insulin corrected the cancer-induced reduction in cardiac Akt activation and the subsequent overactivation of the proteasome and autophagy. Thus, cancer-induced systemic insulin depletion contributes to cardiac wasting and failure and may promote tumor growth. Low-dose insulin supplementation attenuates these processes and may be supportive in cardio-oncologic treatment concepts.

Authors

James T. Thackeray, Stefan Pietzsch, Britta Stapel, Melanie Ricke-Hoch, Chun-Wei Lee, Jens P. Bankstahl, Michaela Scherr, Jörg Heineke, Gesine Scharf, Arash Haghikia, Frank M. Bengel, Denise Hilfiker-Kleiner

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Abstract

The Psmb11-encoded β5t subunit of the thymoproteasome, which is specifically expressed in cortical thymic epithelial cells (cTECs), is essential for the optimal positive selection of functionally competent CD8+ T cells in mice. Here, we report that a human genomic PSMB11 variation, which is detectable at an appreciable allele frequency in human populations, alters the β5t amino acid sequence that affects the processing of catalytically active β5t proteins. The introduction of this variation in the mouse genome revealed that the heterozygotes showed reduced β5t expression in cTECs and the homozygotes further exhibited reduction in the cellularity of CD8+ T cells. No severe health problems were noticed in many heterozygous and 5 homozygous human individuals. Long-term analysis of health status, particularly in the homozygotes, is expected to improve our understanding of the role of the thymoproteasome-dependent positive selection of CD8+ T cells in humans.

Authors

Izumi Ohigashi, Yuki Ohte, Kazuya Setoh, Hiroshi Nakase, Akiko Maekawa, Hiroshi Kiyonari, Yoko Hamazaki, Miho Sekai, Tetsuo Sudo, Yasuharu Tabara, Hiromi Sawai, Yosuke Omae, Rika Yuliwulandari, Yasuhito Tanaka, Masashi Mizokami, Hiroshi Inoue, Masanori Kasahara, Nagahiro Minato, Katsushi Tokunaga, Keiji Tanaka, Fumihiko Matsuda, Shigeo Murata, Yousuke Takahama

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JCI Insight is a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Society for Clinical Investigation dedicated to well-executed preclinical and clinical research studies. The journal was founded in 2016 and is headed by Editor in Chief Howard Rockman.

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