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Journal of Experimental Medicine, The

Erythropoietin (EPO) is of immense practical clinical utility in the treatment of anemia, and insight into EPO-regulated signaling pathways may reveal new targets for the treatment of dysregulated erythropoiesis....

The illness that follows influenza A virus (IAV) infection results from both direct effects of IAV replication in the respiratory tract (RT) and from sequelae...

Respiratory infection of influenza A virus (IAV) is frequently characterized by extensive immunopathology and proinflammatory signaling that can persist after virus clearance. In this report, we identify cells that become infected, but survive, acute influenza virus infection. We demonstrate that these cells, known as club cells, elicit a robust transcriptional response to virus infection, show increased interferon stimulation, and induce high levels of proinflammatory cytokines after successful viral clearance. Specific depletion of these surviving cells leads to a reduction in lung tissue damage associated with IAV infection. We propose a model in which infected, surviving club cells establish a proinflammatory environment aimed at controlling virus levels, but at the same time contribute to lung pathology.

Ligation of erythropoietin (EPO) receptor (EPOR) JAK2 kinase complexes propagates signals within erythroid progenitor cells (EPCs) that are essential for red blood cell production. To reveal hypothesized novel EPOR/JAK2 targets, a phosphotyrosine (PY) phosphoproteomics approach was applied. Beyond known signal transduction factors, 32 new targets of EPO-modulated tyrosine phosphorylation were defined. Molecular adaptors comprised one major set including growth factor receptor-bound protein 2 (GRB2)–associated binding proteins 1–3 (GAB1-3), insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS2), docking protein 1 (DOK1), Src homology 2 domain containing transforming protein 1 (SHC1), and sprouty homologue 1 (SPRY1) as validating targets, and SPRY2, SH2 domain containing 2A (SH2D2A), and signal transducing adaptor molecule 2 (STAM2) as novel candidate adaptors together with an ORF factor designated as regulator of human erythroid cell expansion (RHEX). RHEX is well conserved in Homo sapiens and primates but absent from mouse, rat, and lower vertebrate genomes. Among tissues and lineages, RHEX was elevated in EPCs, occurred as a plasma membrane protein, was rapidly PY-phosphorylated >20-fold upon EPO exposure, and coimmunoprecipitated with the EPOR. In UT7epo cells, knockdown of RHEX inhibited EPO-dependent growth. This was associated with extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1,2 (ERK1,2) modulation, and RHEX coupling to GRB2. In primary human EPCs, shRNA knockdown studies confirmed RHEX regulation of erythroid progenitor expansion and further revealed roles in promoting the formation of hemoglobinizing erythroblasts. RHEX therefore comprises a new EPO/EPOR target and regulator of human erythroid cell expansion that additionally acts to support late-stage erythroblast development.

The bZIP transcription factor Nfil3 (also known as E4BP4) is required for the development of natural killer (NK) cells and type 1 innate lymphoid cells (ILC1s). We find that Nfil3 plays a critical role in the development of other mucosal tissue-associated innate lymphocytes. Type 3 ILCs (ILC3s), including lymphoid tissue inducer (LTi)–like cells, are severely diminished in both numbers and function in Nfil3-deficient mice. Using mixed bone marrow chimeric mice, we demonstrate that Nfil3 is critical for normal development of gut-associated ILC3s in a cell-intrinsic manner. Furthermore, Nfil3 deficiency severely compromises intestinal innate immune defense against acute bacterial infection with Citrobacter rodentium and Clostridium difficile. Nfil3 deficiency resulted in a loss of the recently identified ILC precursor, yet conditional ablation of Nfil3 in the NKp46+ ILC3 subset did not perturb ILC3 numbers, suggesting that Nfil3 is required early during ILC3 development but not for lineage maintenance. Lastly, a marked defect in type 2 ILCs (ILC2s) was also observed in the lungs and visceral adipose tissue of Nfil3-deficient mice, revealing a general requirement for Nfil3 in the development of all ILC lineages.

Innate lymphoid cell (ILC) populations protect against infection and are essential for lymphoid tissue formation and tissue remodeling after damage. Nfil3 is implicated in the function of adaptive immune lineages and NK cell development, but it is not yet known if Nfil3 regulates other innate lymphoid lineages. Here, we identify that Nfil3 is essential for the development of Peyer’s patches and ILC2 and ILC3 subsets. Loss of Nfil3 selectively reduced Peyer’s patch formation and was accompanied by impaired recruitment and distribution of lymphocytes within the patches. ILC subsets exhibited high Nfil3 expression and genetic deletion of Nfil3 severely compromised the development of all subsets. Subsequently, Nfil3–/– mice were highly susceptible to disease when challenged with inflammatory or infectious agents. Thus, we demonstrate that Nfil3 is a key regulator of the development of ILC subsets essential for immune protection in the lung and gut.

Neutrophils are the first line of cellular defense in response to infections and inflammatory injuries. However, neutrophil activation and accumulation into tissues trigger tissue damage due to release of a plethora of toxic oxidants and proteases, a cause of acute lung injury (ALI). Despite its clinical importance, the molecular regulation of neutrophil migration is poorly understood. The small GTPase Rap1b is generally viewed as a positive regulator of immune cell functions by controlling bidirectional integrin signaling. However, we found that Rap1b-deficient mice exhibited enhanced neutrophil recruitment to inflamed lungs and enhanced susceptibility to endotoxin shock. Unexpectedly, Rap1b deficiency promoted the transcellular route of diapedesis through endothelial cell. Increased transcellular migration of Rap1b-deficient neutrophils in vitro was selectively mediated by enhanced PI3K-Akt activation and invadopodia-like protrusions. Akt inhibition in vivo suppressed excessive Rap1b-deficient neutrophil migration and associated endotoxin shock. The inhibitory action of Rap1b on PI3K signaling may be mediated by activation of phosphatase SHP-1. Thus, this study reveals an unexpected role for Rap1b as a key suppressor of neutrophil migration and lung inflammation.

Histone ubiquitination at DNA breaks is required for activation of the DNA damage response (DDR) and DNA repair. How the dynamic removal of this modification by deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) impacts genome maintenance in vivo is largely unknown. To address this question, we generated mice deficient for Ub-specific protease 3 (USP3; Usp3/), a histone H2A DUB which negatively regulates ubiquitin-dependent DDR signaling. Notably, USP3 deletion increased the levels of histone ubiquitination in adult tissues, reduced the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) reserves over time, and shortened animal life span. Mechanistically, our data show that USP3 is important in HSC homeostasis, preserving HSC self-renewal, and repopulation potential in vivo and proliferation in vitro. A defective DDR and unresolved spontaneous DNA damage contribute to cell cycle restriction of Usp3/ HSCs. Beyond the hematopoietic system, Usp3/ animals spontaneously developed tumors, and primary Usp3/ cells failed to preserve chromosomal integrity. These findings broadly support the regulation of chromatin ubiquitination as a key pathway in preserving tissue function through modulation of the response to genotoxic stress.

Interventional strategies to treat atherosclerosis, such as transluminal angioplasty and stent implantation, often cause vascular injury. This leads to intimal hyperplasia (IH) formation that induces inflammatory and fibroproliferative processes and ultimately restenosis. We show that phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) is a key player in IH formation and is a valid therapeutic target in its prevention/treatment. PI3K-deficient mice and mice expressing catalytically inactive PI3K (PI3K KD) showed reduced arterial occlusion and accumulation of monocytes and T cells around sites of vascular lesion. The transfer of PI3K KD CD4+ T cells into Rag2-deficient mice greatly reduced vascular occlusion compared with WT cells, clearly demonstrating the involvement of PI3K in CD4+ T cells during IH formation. In addition we found that IH is associated with increased levels of Th1 and Th17 cytokines. A specific decrease in the Th1 response was observed in the absence of PI3K activity, leading to decreased CXCL10 and RANTES production by smooth muscle cells. Finally, we show that treatment with the PI3K inhibitor AS-605240 is sufficient to decrease IH in both mouse and rat models, reinforcing the therapeutic potential of PI3K inhibition. Altogether, these findings demonstrate a new role for PI3K activity in Th1-controlled IH development.

Liver resection is commonly performed under ischemic conditions, resulting in two types of insult to the remnant liver: ischemia reperfusion injury (IRI) and loss of liver mass. Complement inhibition is recognized as a potential therapeutic modality for IRI, but early complement activation products are also essential for liver regeneration. We describe a novel site-targeted murine complement inhibitor, CR2-CD59, which specifically inhibits the terminal membrane attack complex (MAC), and we use this protein to investigate the complement-dependent balance between liver injury and regeneration in a clinical setting of pharmacological inhibition. CR2-CD59 did not impact in vivo generation of C3 and C5 activation products but was as effective as the C3 activation inhibitor CR2-Crry at ameliorating hepatic IRI, indicating that the MAC is the principle mediator of hepatic IRI. Furthermore, unlike C3 or C5 inhibition, CR2-CD59 was not only protective but significantly enhanced hepatocyte proliferation after partial hepatectomy, including when combined with ischemia and reperfusion. Remarkably, CR2-CD59 also enhanced regeneration after 90% hepatectomy and improved long-term survival from 0 to 70%. CR2-CD59 functioned by increasing hepatic TNF and IL-6 levels with associated STAT3 and Akt activation, and by preventing mitochondrial depolarization and allowing recovery of ATP stores.

Secretion of the immunosuppressive cytokine interleukin (IL) 10 by effector T cells is an essential mechanism of self-limitation during infection. However, the transcriptional regulation of IL-10 expression in proinflammatory T helper (Th) 1 cells is insufficiently understood. We report a crucial role for the transcriptional regulator Blimp-1, induced by IL-12 in a STAT4-dependent manner, in controlling IL-10 expression in Th1 cells. Blimp-1 deficiency led to excessive inflammation during Toxoplasma gondii infection with increased mortality. IL-10 production from Th1 cells was strictly dependent on Blimp-1 but was further enhanced by the synergistic function of c-Maf, a transcriptional regulator of IL-10 induced by multiple factors, such as the Notch pathway. We found Blimp-1 expression, which was also broadly induced by IL-27 in effector T cells, to be antagonized by transforming growth factor (TGF) β. While effectively blocking IL-10 production from Th1 cells, TGF-β shifted IL-10 regulation from a Blimp-1–dependent to a Blimp-1–independent pathway in IL-27–induced Tr1 (T regulatory 1) cells. Our findings further illustrate how IL-10 regulation in Th cells relies on several transcriptional programs that integrate various signals from the environment to fine-tune expression of this critical immunosuppressive cytokine.

V(D)J recombination of TCR loci is regulated by chromatin accessibility to RAG1/2 proteins, rendering RAG1/2 targeting a potentially important regulator of lymphoid differentiation. We show that within the human TCR-α/ locus, D2-D3 rearrangements occur at a very immature thymic, CD34+/CD1a/CD7+dim stage, before D2(D3)-J1 rearrangements. These strictly ordered rearrangements are regulated by mechanisms acting beyond chromatin accessibility. Importantly, direct D2-J1 rearrangements are prohibited by a B12/23 restriction and ordered human TCR- gene assembly requires RUNX1 protein, which binds to the D2-23RSS, interacts with RAG1, and enhances RAG1 deposition at this site. This RUNX1-mediated V(D)J recombinase targeting imposes the use of two D gene segments in human TCR- chains. Absence of this RUNX1 binding site in the homologous mouse D1-23RSS provides a molecular explanation for the lack of ordered TCR- gene assembly in mice and may underlie differences in early lymphoid differentiation between these species.

The focus of this study is the characterization of human T cell blood–brain barrier migration and corresponding molecular trafficking signatures. We examined peripheral blood and cerebrospinal fluid immune cells from patients under long-term anti–very late antigen-4 (VLA-4)/natalizumab therapy (LTNT) and from CNS specimens. LTNT patients’ cerebrospinal fluid T cells exhibited healthy central-/effector-memory ratios, but lacked CD49d and showed enhanced myeloma cell adhesion molecule (MCAM) expression. LTNT led to an increase of PSGL-1 expression on peripheral T cells. Although vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VLA-4 receptor) was expressed at all CNS barriers, P-selectin (PSGL-1-receptor) was mainly detected at the choroid plexus. Accordingly, in vitro experiments under physiological flow conditions using primary human endothelial cells and LTNT patients’ T cells showed increased PSGL-1–mediated rolling and residual adhesion, even under VLA-4 blockade. Adhesion of MCAM+/TH17 cells was not affected by VLA-4 blocking alone, but was abrogated when both VLA-4 and MCAM were inhibited. Consistent with these data, MCAM+ cells were detected in white matter lesions, and in gray matter of multiple sclerosis patients. Our data indicate that lymphocyte trafficking into the CNS under VLA-4 blockade can occur by using the alternative adhesion molecules, PSGL-1 and MCAM, the latter representing an exclusive pathway for TH17 cells to migrate over the blood–brain barrier.

Amyloid fibrils composed of peptides as short as six amino acids are effective therapeutics for experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Immunosuppression arises from at least two pathways: (1) expression of type 1 IFN by pDCs, which were induced by neutrophil extracellular traps arising from the endocytosis of the fibrils; and (2) the reduced expression of IFN-, TNF, and IL-6. The two independent pathways stimulated by the fibrils can act in concert to be immunosuppressive in Th1 indications, or in opposition, resulting in inflammation when Th17 T lymphocytes are predominant. The generation of type 1 IFN can be minimized by using polar, nonionizable, amyloidogenic peptides, which are effective in both Th1 and Th17 polarized EAE.

Stat3 signaling is essential for the induction of RORt and subsequent Th17 cell differentiation. However, the downstream targets of Stat3 for RORt expression remain largely unknown. We show here that a novel isoform of Sox5, named Sox5t, is induced in Th17 cells in a Stat3-dependent manner. In vivo, T cell–specific Sox5-deficient mice exhibit impaired Th17 cell differentiation and are resistant to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and delayed-type hypersensitivity. Retrovirus-mediated induction of Sox5 together with c-Maf induces Th17 cell differentiation even in Stat3-deficient CD4+ T cells but not in RORt-deficient CD4+ T cells, indicating that Sox5 and c-Maf induce Th17 cell differentiation as downstream effectors of Stat3 and as upstream inducers of RORt. Moreover, Sox5 physically associates with c-Maf via the HMG domain of Sox5 and DNA-binding domain of c-Maf, and Sox5 together with c-Maf directly activates the promoter of RORt in CD4+ T cells. Collectively, our results suggest that Sox5 and c-Maf cooperatively induce Th17 cell differentiation via the induction of RORt as downstream targets of Stat3.

DCs are critical for initiating immunity. The current paradigm in vaccine biology is that DCs migrating from peripheral tissue and classical lymphoid-resident DCs (cDCs) cooperate in the draining LNs to initiate priming and proliferation of T cells. Here, we observe subcutaneous immunity is Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3L) dependent. Flt3L is rapidly secreted after immunization; Flt3 deletion reduces T cell responses by 50%. Flt3L enhances global T cell and humoral immunity as well as both the numbers and antigen capture capacity of migratory DCs (migDCs) and LN-resident cDCs. Surprisingly, however, we find immunity is controlled by cDCs and actively tempered in vivo by migDCs. Deletion of Langerin+ DC or blockade of DC migration improves immunity. Consistent with an immune-regulatory role, transcriptomic analyses reveals different skin migDC subsets in both mouse and human cluster together, and share immune-suppressing gene expression and regulatory pathways. These data reveal that protective immunity to protein vaccines is controlled by Flt3L-dependent, LN-resident cDCs.

Although specific antibody induced by pathogens or vaccines is a key component of protection against infectious threats, some viruses, such as dengue, induce antibody that enhances the development of infection. In contrast, antibody-dependent enhancement of bacterial infection is largely unrecognized. Here, we demonstrate that in a significant portion of patients with bronchiectasis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection, antibody can protect the bacterium from complement-mediated killing. Strains that resist antibody-induced, complement-mediated killing produce lipopolysaccharide containing O-antigen. The inhibition of antibody-mediated killing is caused by excess production of O-antigen–specific IgG2 antibodies. Depletion of IgG2 to O-antigen restores the ability of sera to kill strains with long-chain O-antigen. Patients with impaired serum-mediated killing of P. aeruginosa by IgG2 have poorer respiratory function than infected patients who do not produce inhibitory antibody. We suggest that excessive binding of IgG2 to O-antigen shields the bacterium from other antibodies that can induce complement-mediated killing of bacteria. As there is significant sharing of O-antigen structure between different Gram-negative bacteria, this IgG2-mediated impairment of killing may operate in other Gram-negative infections. These findings have marked implications for our understanding of protection generated by natural infection and for the design of vaccines, which should avoid inducing such blocking antibodies.

Regulatory T (T reg) cells are critical for preventing autoimmunity mediated by self-reactive T cells, but their role in modulating immune responses during chronic viral infection is not well defined. To address this question and to investigate a role for T reg cells in exhaustion of virus-specific CD8 T cells, we depleted T reg cells in mice chronically infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). T reg cell ablation resulted in 10–100-fold expansion of functional LCMV-specific CD8 T cells. Rescue of exhausted CD8 T cells was dependent on cognate antigen, B7 costimulation, and conventional CD4 T cells. Despite the striking recovery of LCMV-specific CD8 T cell responses, T reg cell depletion failed to diminish viral load. Interestingly, T reg cell ablation triggered up-regulation of the molecule programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1), which upon binding PD-1 on T cells delivers inhibitory signals. Increased PD-L1 expression was observed especially on LCMV-infected cells, and combining T reg cell depletion with PD-L1 blockade resulted in a significant reduction in viral titers, which was more pronounced than that upon PD-L1 blockade alone. These results suggest that T reg cells effectively maintain CD8 T cell exhaustion, but blockade of the PD-1 inhibitory pathway is critical for elimination of infected cells.

Vol. 208, No. 11, September 26, 2011. Pages 2201–2207.

The co-corresponding authors, Drs. Koretzky and Jordan, are retracting this publication due to their discovery that many of the figures prepared by the first listed author do not...

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Insight from Hal Broxmeyer

Insight from Thomas Braciale (left) and Taeg Kim