Nitric oxide (NO) generated by inducible NO synthase 2 (NOS2) affects cellular iron homeostasis, but the underlying molecular mechanisms and implications for NOS2-dependent pathogen control are incompletely understood. In this study, we found that NO up-regulated the expression of ferroportin-1 (Fpn1), the major cellular iron exporter, in mouse and human cells. Nos2–/– macrophages displayed increased iron content due to reduced Fpn1 expression and allowed for an enhanced iron acquisition by the intracellular bacterium Salmonella typhimurium. Nos2 gene disruption or inhibition of NOS2 activity led to an accumulation of iron in the spleen and splenic macrophages. Lack of NO formation resulted in impaired nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor-2 (Nrf2) expression, resulting in reduced Fpn1 transcription and diminished cellular iron egress. After infection of Nos2–/– macrophages or mice with S. typhimurium, the increased iron accumulation was paralleled by a reduced cytokine (TNF, IL-12, and IFN-) expression and impaired pathogen control, all of which were restored upon administration of the iron chelator deferasirox or hyperexpression of Fpn1 or Nrf2. Thus, the accumulation of iron in Nos2–/– macrophages counteracts a proinflammatory host immune response, and the protective effect of NO appears to partially result from its ability to prevent iron overload in macrophages
Selection and physiological production of protective natural antibodies (NAbs) have been associated with exposure to endogenous antigens. The extent to which this association depends on germline NAb sequence is uncertain. Here we show that alterations in germline DH sequence can sever the association between the production of self-reactive NAbs and NAbs that afford protection against a pathogen. In unmanipulated hosts, the availability of the evolutionarily conserved DFL16.1 gene segment sequence profoundly affected the serum levels of NAbs against bacterial phosphorylcholine but not oxidized low-density lipoprotein. Mice with partially altered DFL16.1 sequence could use N nucleotides to recreate the amino acid sequence associated with the classical protective T15 idiotype–positive NAbs, whereas those without DFL16.1 could not. DFL16.1 gene–deficient mice proved more susceptible to challenge with live Streptococcus pneumoniae. Our findings indicate that although production of self-reactive NAbs can be independent of germline DH sequence, their capacity to provide protection against pathogens cannot. The potential relevance of these findings for the rational design of vaccines is discussed.
Cancer and infection are predominant causes of human mortality and derive, respectively, from inadequate genomic and host defenses against environmental agents. The transcription factor p53 plays a central role in human tumor suppression. Despite its expression in immune cells and broad responsiveness to stressors, it is virtually unknown whether p53 regulates host defense against infection. We report that the lungs of naive p53–/– mice display genome-wide induction of NF-B response element–enriched proinflammatory genes, suggestive of type 1 immune priming. p53-null and p53 inhibitor–treated mice clear Gram-negative and -positive bacteria more effectively than controls after intrapulmonary infection. This is caused, at least in part, by cytokines produced by an expanded population of apoptosis-resistant, TLR-hyperresponsive alveolar macrophages that enhance airway neutrophilia. p53–/– neutrophils, in turn, display heightened phagocytosis, Nox-dependent oxidant generation, degranulation, and bacterial killing. p53 inhibition boosts bacterial killing by mouse neutrophils and oxidant generation by human neutrophils. Despite enhanced bacterial clearance, infected p53–/– mice suffer increased mortality associated with aggravated lung injury. p53 thus modulates host defense through regulating microbicidal function and fate of phagocytes, revealing a fundamental link between defense of genome and host during environmental insult.
Malaria infection starts when the sporozoite stage of the Plasmodium parasite is injected into the skin by a mosquito. Sporozoites are known to traverse host cells before finally invading a hepatocyte and multiplying into erythrocyte-infecting forms, but how sporozoites reach hepatocytes in the liver and the role of host cell traversal (CT) remain unclear. We report the first quantitative imaging study of sporozoite liver infection in rodents. We show that sporozoites can cross the liver sinusoidal barrier by multiple mechanisms, targeting Kupffer cells (KC) or endothelial cells and associated or not with the parasite CT activity. We also show that the primary role of CT is to inhibit sporozoite clearance by KC during locomotion inside the sinusoid lumen, before crossing the barrier. By being involved in multiple steps of the sporozoite journey from the skin to the final hepatocyte, the parasite proteins mediating host CT emerge as ideal antibody targets for vaccination against the parasite.
Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have an increased risk of colon cancer. However, the immune cells and cytokines that mediate the transition from intestinal inflammation to cancer are poorly understood. We show that bacteria-induced colon cancer is accompanied by differential accumulation of IL-17+IL-22+ colonic innate lymphoid cells (cILCs), which are phenotypically distinct from LTi and NK-22 cells, and that their depletion in mice with dysplastic inflammation blocks the development of invasive colon cancer. Analysis of the functional role of distinct Type 17 cytokines shows that although blockade of IL-17 inhibits some parameters of intestinal inflammation, reduction in dysplasia and colorectal cancer (CRC) requires neutralization of IL-22 indicating a unique role for IL-22 in the maintenance of cancer in this model. Mechanistic analyses showed that IL-22 selectively acts on epithelial cells to induce Stat3 phosphorylation and proliferation. Importantly, we could detect IL-22+CD3+ and IL-22+CD3– cells in human CRC. Our results describe a new activity of IL-22 in the colon as a nonredundant mediator of the inflammatory cascade required for perpetuation of CRC, highlighting the IL-22 axis as a novel therapeutic target in colon cancer.
Virus-specific CD4+ T cells are key orchestrators of host responses to viral infection yet, compared with their CD8+ T cell counterparts, remain poorly characterized at the single cell level. Here we use nine MHC II–epitope peptide tetramers to visualize human CD4+ T cell responses to Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), the causative agent of infectious mononucleosis (IM), a disease associated with large virus-specific CD8+ T cell responses. We find that, while not approaching virus-specific CD8+ T cell expansions in magnitude, activated CD4+ T cells specific for epitopes in the latent antigen EBNA2 and four lytic cycle antigens are detected at high frequencies in acute IM blood. They then fall rapidly to values typical of life-long virus carriage where most tetramer-positive cells display conventional memory markers but some, unexpectedly, revert to a naive-like phenotype. In contrast CD4+ T cell responses to EBNA1 epitopes are greatly delayed in IM patients, in line with the well-known but hitherto unexplained delay in EBNA1 IgG antibody responses. We present evidence from an in vitro system that may explain these unusual kinetics. Unlike other EBNAs and lytic cycle proteins, EBNA1 is not naturally released from EBV-infected cells as a source of antigen for CD4+ T cell priming.
Numerous studies have described the altered expression and the causal role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in human cancer. However, to date, efforts to modulate miRNA levels for therapeutic purposes have been challenging to implement. Here we find that nucleolin (NCL), a major nucleolar protein, posttranscriptionally regulates the expression of a specific subset of miRNAs, including miR-21, miR-221, miR-222, and miR-103, that are causally involved in breast cancer initiation, progression, and drug resistance. We also show that NCL is commonly overexpressed in human breast tumors and that its expression correlates with that of NCL-dependent miRNAs. Finally, inhibition of NCL using guanosine-rich aptamers reduces the levels of NCL-dependent miRNAs and their target genes, thus reducing breast cancer cell aggressiveness both in vitro and in vivo. These findings illuminate a path to novel therapeutic approaches based on NCL-targeting aptamers for the modulation of miRNA expression in the treatment of breast cancer.
Bone homeostasis is maintained by the coupled actions of hematopoietic bone-resorbing osteoclasts (OCs) and mesenchymal bone-forming osteoblasts (OBs). Here we identify early B cell factor 1 (Ebf1) and the transcriptional coregulator Zfp521 as components of the machinery that regulates bone homeostasis through coordinated effects in both lineages. Deletion of Zfp521 in OBs led to impaired bone formation and increased OB-dependent osteoclastogenesis (OC-genesis), and deletion in hematopoietic cells revealed a strong cell-autonomous role for Zfp521 in OC progenitors. In adult mice, the effects of Zfp521 were largely caused by repression of Ebf1, and the bone phenotype of Zfp521+/– mice was rescued in Zfp521+/–:Ebf1+/– mice. Zfp521 interacted with Ebf1 and repressed its transcriptional activity. Accordingly, deletion of Zfp521 led to increased Ebf1 activity in OBs and OCs. In vivo, Ebf1 overexpression in OBs resulted in suppressed bone formation, similar to the phenotype seen after OB-targeted deletion of Zfp521. Conversely, Ebf1 deletion led to cell-autonomous defects in both OB-dependent and cell-intrinsic OC-genesis, a phenotype opposite to that of the Zfp521 knockout. Thus, we have identified the interplay between Zfp521 and Ebf1 as a novel rheostat for bone homeostasis.
The (histone) deacetylase Sirt1 is a mediator of genomic and epigenetic maintenance, both of which are critical aspects of stem cell homeostasis and tightly linked to their functional decline in aging and disease. We show that Sirt1 ablation in adult hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) promotes aberrant HSPC expansion specifically under conditions of hematopoietic stress, which is associated with genomic instability as well as the accumulation of DNA damage and eventually results in a loss of long-term progenitors. We further demonstrate that progenitor cell expansion is mechanistically linked to the selective up-regulation of the HSPC maintenance factor and polycomb target gene Hoxa9. We show that Sirt1 binds to the Hoxa9 gene, counteracts acetylation of its histone target H4 lysine 16, and in turn promotes polycomb-specific repressive histone modification. Together, these findings demonstrate a dual role for Sirt1 in HSPC homeostasis, both via epigenetic regulation of a key developmental gene and by promoting genome stability in adult stem cells.
The molecular etiology of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) remains incompletely understood, despite recent advances incurred through the discovery of several different mutations in MPN patients. We have recently described overexpression of the transcription factor NF-E2 in MPN patients and shown that elevated NF-E2 levels in vivo cause an MPN phenotype and predispose to leukemic transformation in transgenic mice. We report the presence of acquired insertion and deletion mutations in the NF-E2 gene in MPN patients. These result in truncated NF-E2 proteins that enhance wild-type (WT) NF-E2 function and cause erythrocytosis and thrombocytosis in a murine model. NF-E2 mutant cells acquire a proliferative advantage, witnessed by clonal dominance over WT NF-E2 cells in MPN patients. Our data underscore the role of increased NF-E2 activity in the pathophysiology of MPNs.
Activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) is critical in normal B cells to initiate somatic hypermutation and immunoglobulin class switch recombination. Accumulating evidence suggests that AID is also prooncogenic, inducing cancer-promoting mutations or chromosome rearrangements. In this context, we find that AID is expressed in >40% of primary human chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cases, consistent with other reports. Using a combination of human B lymphoid leukemia cells and mouse models, we now show that AID expression can be harnessed for antileukemic effect, after inhibition of the RAD51 homologous recombination (HR) factor with 4,4'-diisothiocyanatostilbene-2-2'-disulfonic acid (DIDS). As a proof of principle, we show that DIDS treatment inhibits repair of AID-initiated DNA breaks, induces apoptosis, and promotes cytotoxicity preferentially in AID-expressing human CLL. This reveals a novel antineoplastic role of AID that can be triggered by inhibition of HR, suggesting a potential new paradigm to treat AID-expressing tumors. Given the growing list of tumor types with aberrant AID expression, this novel therapeutic approach has potential to impact a significant patient population.
Dendritic cells (DCs) represent a heterogeneous population of antigen-presenting cells that initiate and orient immune responses in secondary lymphoid organs. In mice, lymphoid organ–resident CD8+ DCs are specialized at cross-presentation and have developed specific adaptations of their endocytic pathway (high pH, low degradation, and high export to the cytosol). In humans, blood BDCA3+ DCs were recently shown to be the homologues of mouse CD8+ DCs. They were also proposed to cross-present antigens more efficiently than other blood DC subsets after in vitro activation, suggesting that in humans cross-presentation is restricted to certain DC subsets. The DCs that cross-present antigen physiologically, however, are the ones present in lymphoid organs. Here, we show that freshly isolated tonsil-resident BDCA1+ DCs, BDCA3+ DCs, and pDCs all cross-present soluble antigen efficiently, as compared to macrophages, in the absence of activation. In addition, BDCA1+ and BDCA3+ DCs display similar phagosomal pH and similar production of reactive oxygen species in their phagosomes. All three DC subsets, in contrast to macrophages, also efficiently export internalized proteins to the cytosol. We conclude that all freshly isolated lymphoid organ–resident human DCs, but not macrophages, display high intrinsic cross-presentation capacity.
Human BDCA3+ dendritic cells (DCs), the proposed equivalent to mouse CD8α+ DCs, are widely thought to cross present antigens on MHC class I (MHCI) molecules more efficiently than other DC populations. If true, it is unclear whether this reflects specialization for cross presentation or a generally enhanced ability to present antigens on MHCI. We compared presentation by BDCA3+ DCs with BDCA1+ DCs using a quantitative approach whereby antigens were targeted to distinct intracellular compartments by receptor-mediated internalization. As expected, BDCA3+ DCs were superior at cross presentation of antigens delivered to late endosomes and lysosomes by uptake of anti-DEC205 antibody conjugated to antigen. This difference may reflect a greater efficiency of antigen escape from BDCA3+ DC lysosomes. In contrast, if antigens were delivered to early endosomes through CD40 or CD11c, BDCA1+ DCs were as efficient at cross presentation as BDCA3+ DCs. Because BDCA3+ DCs and BDCA1+ DCs were also equivalent at presenting peptides and endogenously synthesized antigens, BDCA3+ DCs are not likely to possess mechanisms for cross presentation that are specific to this subset. Thus, multiple DC populations may be comparably effective at presenting exogenous antigens to CD8+ T cells as long as the antigen is delivered to early endocytic compartments.