Nucleotide-based drug candidates such as antisense oligonucleotides, aptamers, immunoreceptor-activating nucleotides, or (anti)microRNAs hold great therapeutic promise for many human diseases. Phosphorothioate (PS) backbone modification of nucleotide-based drugs is common practice to protect these promising drug candidates from rapid degradation by plasma and intracellular nucleases. Effects of the changes in physicochemical properties associated with PS modification on platelets have not been elucidated so far. Here we report the unexpected binding of PS-modified oligonucleotides to platelets eliciting strong platelet activation, signaling, reactive oxygen species generation, adhesion, spreading, aggregation, and thrombus formation in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, the platelet-specific receptor glycoprotein VI (GPVI) mediates these platelet-activating effects. Notably, platelets from GPVI function–deficient patients do not exhibit binding of PS-modified oligonucleotides, and platelet activation is fully abolished. Our data demonstrate a novel, unexpected, PS backbone–dependent, platelet-activating effect of nucleotide-based drug candidates mediated by GPVI. This unforeseen effect should be considered in the ongoing development programs for the broad range of upcoming and promising DNA/RNA therapeutics.
Immune escape is a prerequisite for tumor development. To avoid the immune system, tumors develop different mechanisms, including T cell exhaustion, which is characterized by expression of immune inhibitory receptors, such as PD-1, CTLA-4, Tim-3, and a progressive loss of function. The recent development of therapies targeting PD-1 and CTLA-4 have raised great interest since they induced long-lasting objective responses in patients suffering from advanced metastatic tumors. However, the regulation of PD-1 expression, and thereby of exhaustion, is unclear. VEGF-A, a proangiogenic molecule produced by the tumors, plays a key role in the development of an immunosuppressive microenvironment. We report in the present work that VEGF-A produced in the tumor microenvironment enhances expression of PD-1 and other inhibitory checkpoints involved in CD8+ T cell exhaustion, which could be reverted by anti-angiogenic agents targeting VEGF-A–VEGFR. In view of these results, association of anti-angiogenic molecules with immunomodulators of inhibitory checkpoints may be of particular interest in VEGF-A-producing tumors.
Venoms frequently co-opt host immune responses, so study of their mode of action can provide insight into novel inflammatory pathways. Using bee and wasp venom responses as a model system, we investigated whether venoms contain CD1-presented antigens. Here, we show that venoms activate human T cells via CD1a proteins. Whereas CD1 proteins typically present lipids, chromatographic separation of venoms unexpectedly showed that stimulatory factors partition into protein-containing fractions. This finding was explained by demonstrating that bee venom–derived phospholipase A2 (PLA2) activates T cells through generation of small neoantigens, such as free fatty acids and lysophospholipids, from common phosphodiacylglycerides. Patient studies showed that injected PLA2 generates lysophospholipids within human skin in vivo, and polyclonal T cell responses are dependent on CD1a protein and PLA2. These findings support a previously unknown skin immune response based on T cell recognition of CD1a proteins and lipid neoantigen generated in vivo by phospholipases. The findings have implications for skin barrier sensing by T cells and mechanisms underlying phospholipase-dependent inflammatory skin disease.
Invasion of nonphagocytic cells, a critical property of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) that enables it to cross host barriers, is mediated by the interaction of two bacterial surface proteins, InlA and InlB, with their respective receptors E-cadherin and c-Met. Although InlA–E-cadherin interaction is necessary and sufficient for Lm crossing of the intestinal barrier, both InlA and InlB are required for Lm crossing of the placental barrier. The mechanisms underlying these differences are unknown. Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-K) is involved in both InlA- and InlB-dependent pathways. Indeed, InlA-dependent entry requires PI3-K activity but does not activate it, whereas InlB–c-Met interaction activates PI3-K. We show that Lm intestinal target cells exhibit a constitutive PI3-K activity, rendering InlB dispensable for InlA-dependent Lm intestinal barrier crossing. In contrast, the placental barrier does not exhibit constitutive PI3-K activity, making InlB necessary for InlA-dependent Lm placental invasion. Here, we provide the molecular explanation for the respective contributions of InlA and InlB to Lm host barrier invasion, and reveal the critical role of InlB in rendering cells permissive to InlA-mediated invasion. This study shows that PI3-K activity is critical to host barrier permissiveness to microbes, and that pathogens exploit both similarities and differences of host barriers to disseminate.
Patients with ectodermal dysplasia with immunodeficiency (ED-ID) caused by mutations in the inhibitor of NF-B α (IBα) are susceptible to severe recurrent infections, despite normal T and B cell numbers and intact in vitro lymphocyte function. Moreover, the outcome of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in these patients is poor despite good engraftment. Mice heterozygous for the IBα S32I mutation found in patients exhibited typical features of ED-ID. Strikingly, the mice lacked lymph nodes, Peyer’s patches, splenic marginal zones, and follicular dendritic cells and failed to develop contact hypersensitivity (CHS) or form germinal centers (GCs), all features not previously recognized in patients and typical of defective noncanonical NF-B signaling. Lymphotoxin β receptor (LTβR)–driven induction of chemokines and adhesion molecules mediated by both canonical and noncanonical NF-B pathways was impaired, and levels of p100 were markedly diminished in the mutant. IBα mutant->Rag2–/–, but not WT->IBα mutant, bone marrow chimeras formed proper lymphoid organs and developed CHS and GCs. Defective architectural cell function explains the immunodeficiency and poor outcome of HSCT in patients with IBα deficiency and suggests that correction of this niche is critical for reconstituting their immune function.
A balance between quiescence and proliferation is critical for proper maintenance of the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) pool. Although a lot is known about hematopoiesis, molecular mechanisms that control HSC quiescence remain largely unknown. The ubiquitin-editing enzyme A20 functions as a central regulator of inflammation and adaptive immunity. Here, we show that a deficiency of A20 in the hematopoietic system causes anemia, lymphopenia, and postnatal lethality. Lack of A20 in HSCs results in diminished pool size, impaired radioprotection, defective repopulation, and loss of quiescence. A20-deficient HSCs display increased IFN- signaling, caused by augmented NF-B activation. Strikingly, deletion of both IFN- and A20 in hematopoietic cells results in partial rescue of the HSC phenotype. We anticipate that our experiments will facilitate the understanding of mechanisms through which A20-mediated inflammatory signals control HSC quiescence and functions.
The co-stimulators ICOS (inducible T cell co-stimulator) and CD28 are both important for T follicular helper (TFH) cells, yet their individual contributions are unclear. Here, we show that each molecule plays an exclusive role at different stages of TFH cell development. While CD28 regulated early expression of the master transcription factor Bcl-6, ICOS co-stimulation was essential to maintain the phenotype by regulating the novel TFH transcription factor Klf2 via Foxo1. Klf2 directly binds to Cxcr5, Ccr7, Psgl-1, and S1pr1, and low levels of Klf2 were essential to maintain this typical TFH homing receptor pattern. Blocking ICOS resulted in relocation of fully developed TFH cells back to the T cell zone and reversion of their phenotype to non-TFH effector cells, which ultimately resulted in breakdown of the germinal center response. Our study describes for the first time the exclusive role of ICOS and its downstream signaling in the maintenance of TFH cells by controlling their anatomical localization in the B cell follicle.
Progressive tissue fibrosis is a cause of major morbidity and mortality. Pulmonary fibrosis is an epithelial-mesenchymal disorder in which TGF-β1 plays a central role in pathogenesis. Here we show that follistatin-like 1 (FSTL1) differentially regulates TGF-β and bone morphogenetic protein signaling, leading to epithelial injury and fibroblast activation. Haplodeletion of Fstl1 in mice or blockage of FSTL1 with a neutralizing antibody in mice reduced bleomycin-induced fibrosis in vivo. Fstl1 is induced in response to lung injury and promotes the accumulation of myofibroblasts and subsequent fibrosis. These data suggest that Fstl1 may serve as a novel therapeutic target for treatment of progressive lung fibrosis.
E4BP4, a circadian protein, is indispensable for NK cell development. It remains largely unknown which signal is required to induce E4BP4 expression and what effects it has during NK cell differentiation. Here, we reveal that PDK1, a kinase upstream of mTOR, connects IL-15 signaling to E4BP4. Early deletion of PDK1 caused a severe loss of NK cells and compromised antitumor activity in vivo. PDK1-deficient NK cells displayed much weaker IL-15–induced mTOR activation and E4BP4 induction, as well as remarkable reduction in CD122, a receptor subunit specifying NK cell responsiveness to IL-15. The phenotypes were partially reversible by ectopic expression of E4BP4 or bypassed activation of mTOR. We also determined that PDK1-mediated metabolic signaling was dispensable for NK cell terminal maturation and survival. Thus, we identify a role for PDK1 signaling as a key mediator in regulating E4BP4 expression during early NK cell development. Our findings underscore the importance of IL-15 self-responsiveness through a positive feedback loop that involves PDK1–mTOR–E4BP4–CD122 signaling.
Neutrophils respond to invading bacteria by adopting a polarized morphology, migrating in the correct direction, and engulfing the bacteria. How neutrophils establish and precisely orient this polarity toward pathogens remains unclear. Here we report that in resting neutrophils, the ERM (ezrin, radixin, and moesin) protein moesin in its active form (phosphorylated and membrane bound) prevented cell polarization by inhibiting the small GTPases Rac, Rho, and Cdc42. Attractant-induced activation of myosin phosphatase deactivated moesin at the prospective leading edge to break symmetry and establish polarity. Subsequent translocation of moesin to the trailing edge confined the formation of a prominent pseudopod directed toward pathogens and prevented secondary pseudopod formation in other directions. Therefore, both moesin-mediated inhibition and its localized deactivation by myosin phosphatase are essential for neutrophil polarization and effective neutrophil tracking of pathogens.