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Journal of Experimental Medicine, The

Macrophages mediate myelin destruction in multiple sclerosis (MS), but the origin of these cells (whether derived from tissue-resident microglial cells or infiltrating monocytes) has been widely debated. Now,

A key challenge at the intestinal barrier is to minimize responses to commensal bacteria, which can lead to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in genetically predisposed individuals, but retain the...

Recent studies of mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells indicate that they respond to a range of pathogen-derived vitamin metabolites presented at the cell surface by the evolutionarily conserved and...

Fibroblasts regulate the structure and function of healthy tissues, participate transiently in tissue repair after acute inflammation, and assume an aberrant stimulatory role during chronic inflammatory states including cancer. Such cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) modulate the tumor microenvironment and influence the behavior of neoplastic cells in either a tumor-promoting or tumor-inhibiting manner. These pleiotropic functions highlight the inherent plasticity of fibroblasts and may provide new avenues to understand and therapeutically intervene in malignancies. We discuss the emerging themes of CAF biology in the context of tumorigenesis and therapy.


The transcription factor Gata6 regulates proliferation and differentiation of epithelial and endocrine cells and cancers. Among hematopoietic cells, Gata6 is expressed selectively in resident peritoneal macrophages. We thus examined whether the loss of Gata6 in the macrophage compartment affected peritoneal macrophages, using Lyz2-Cre x Gata6flox/flox mice to tackle this issue. In Lyz2-Cre x Gata6flox/flox mice, the resident peritoneal macrophage compartment, but not macrophages in other organs, was contracted, with only a third the normal number of macrophages remaining. Heightened rates of death explained the marked decrease in peritoneal macrophage observed. The metabolism of the remaining macrophages was skewed to favor oxidative phosphorylation and alternative activation markers were spontaneously and selectively induced in Gata6-deficient macrophages. Gene expression profiling revealed perturbed metabolic regulators, including aspartoacylase (Aspa), which facilitates generation of acetyl CoA. Mutant mice lacking functional Aspa phenocopied the higher propensity to death and led to a contraction of resident peritoneal macrophages. Thus, Gata6 regulates differentiation, metabolism, and survival of resident peritoneal macrophages.


In the human disorder multiple sclerosis (MS) and in the model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), macrophages predominate in demyelinated areas and their numbers correlate to tissue damage. Macrophages may be derived from infiltrating monocytes or resident microglia, yet are indistinguishable by light microscopy and surface phenotype. It is axiomatic that T cell–mediated macrophage activation is critical for inflammatory demyelination in EAE, yet the precise details by which tissue injury takes place remain poorly understood. In the present study, we addressed the cellular basis of autoimmune demyelination by discriminating microglial versus monocyte origins of effector macrophages. Using serial block-face scanning electron microscopy (SBF-SEM), we show that monocyte-derived macrophages associate with nodes of Ranvier and initiate demyelination, whereas microglia appear to clear debris. Gene expression profiles confirm that monocyte-derived macrophages are highly phagocytic and inflammatory, whereas those arising from microglia demonstrate an unexpected signature of globally suppressed cellular metabolism at disease onset. Distinguishing tissue-resident macrophages from infiltrating monocytes will point toward new strategies to treat disease and promote repair in diverse inflammatory pathologies in varied organs.


In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), abnormal sphingolipid metabolism has been reported, although the pathogenic consequences of these changes have not been fully characterized. We show that acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) is increased in fibroblasts, brain, and/or plasma from patients with AD and in AD mice, leading to defective autophagic degradation due to lysosomal depletion. Partial genetic inhibition of ASM (ASM+/–) in a mouse model of familial AD (FAD; amyloid precursor protein [APP]/presenilin 1 [PS1]) ameliorated the autophagocytic defect by restoring lysosomal biogenesis, resulting in improved AD clinical and pathological findings, including reduction of amyloid-β (Aβ) deposition and improvement of memory impairment. Similar effects were noted after pharmacologic restoration of ASM to the normal range in APP/PS1 mice. Autophagic dysfunction in neurons derived from FAD patient induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) was restored by partial ASM inhibition. Overall, these results reveal a novel mechanism of ASM pathogenesis in AD that leads to defective autophagy due to impaired lysosomal biogenesis and suggests that partial ASM inhibition is a potential new therapeutic intervention for the disease.


Interleukin (IL)-22–producing group 3 innate lymphoid cells (ILC3) promote mucosal healing and maintain barrier integrity, but how microbial signals are integrated to regulate mucosal protection offered by these cells remains unclear. Here, we show that in vivo depletion of CX3CR1+ mononuclear phagocytes (MNPs) resulted in more severe colitis and death after infection with Citrobacter rodentium. This phenotype was rescued by exogenous IL-22, which was endogenously produced by ILC3 in close spatial proximity to CX3CR1+ MNPs that were dependent on MyD88 signaling. CX3CR1+ MNPs from both mouse and human tissue produced more IL-23 and IL-1β than conventional CD103+ dendritic cells (cDCs) and were more efficient than cDCs in supporting IL-22 production in ILC3 in vitro and in vivo. Further, colonic ILC3 from patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease had increased IL-22 production. IBD-associated SNP gene set analysis revealed enrichment for genes selectively expressed in human intestinal MNPs. The product of one of these, TL1A, potently enhanced IL-23– and IL-1β-induced production of IL-22 and GM-CSF by ILC3. Collectively, these results reveal a critical role for CX3CR1+ mononuclear phagocytes in integrating microbial signals to regulate colonic ILC3 function in IBD.


Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells express an invariant T cell receptor (TCR) α-chain (TRAV1-2 joined to TRAJ33, TRAJ20, or TRAJ12 in humans), which pairs with an array of TCR β-chains. MAIT TCRs can bind folate- and riboflavin-based metabolites restricted by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-related class I–like molecule, MR1. However, the impact of MAIT TCR and MR1-ligand heterogeneity on MAIT cell biology is unclear. We show how a previously uncharacterized MR1 ligand, acetyl-6-formylpterin (Ac-6-FP), markedly stabilized MR1, potently up-regulated MR1 cell surface expression, and inhibited MAIT cell activation. These enhanced properties of Ac-6-FP were attributable to structural alterations in MR1 that subsequently affected MAIT TCR recognition via conformational changes within the complementarity-determining region (CDR) 3β loop. Analysis of seven TRBV6-1+ MAIT TCRs demonstrated how CDR3β hypervariability impacted on MAIT TCR recognition by altering TCR flexibility and contacts with MR1 and the Ag itself. Ternary structures of TRBV6-1, TRBV6-4, and TRBV20+ MAIT TCRs in complex with MR1 bound to a potent riboflavin-based antigen (Ag) showed how variations in TRBV gene usage exclusively impacted on MR1 contacts within a consensus MAIT TCR-MR1 footprint. Moreover, differential TRAJ gene usage was readily accommodated within a conserved MAIT TCR-MR1-Ag docking mode. Collectively, MAIT TCR heterogeneity can fine-tune MR1 recognition in an Ag-dependent manner, thereby modulating MAIT cell recognition.


Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells express a semi-invariant T cell receptor (TCR) that detects microbial metabolites presented by the nonpolymorphic major histocompatibility complex (MHC)–like molecule MR1. The highly conserved nature of MR1 in conjunction with biased MAIT TCRα chain usage is widely thought to indicate limited ligand presentation and discrimination within a pattern-like recognition system. Here, we evaluated the TCR repertoire of MAIT cells responsive to three classes of microbes. Substantial diversity and heterogeneity were apparent across the functional MAIT cell repertoire as a whole, especially for TCRβ chain sequences. Moreover, different pathogen-specific responses were characterized by distinct TCR usage, both between and within individuals, suggesting that MAIT cell adaptation was a direct consequence of exposure to various exogenous MR1-restricted epitopes. In line with this interpretation, MAIT cell clones with distinct TCRs responded differentially to a riboflavin metabolite. These results suggest that MAIT cells can discriminate between pathogen-derived ligands in a clonotype-dependent manner, providing a basis for adaptive memory via recruitment of specific repertoires shaped by microbial exposure.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are well established as potent antigen-presenting cells critical to adaptive immunity. In vaccination approaches, appropriately stimulating lymph node–resident DCs (LNDCs) is highly relevant to effective immunization. Although LNDCs have been implicated in immune response, their ability to directly drive effective immunity to lymph-borne antigen remains unclear. Using an inactive influenza vaccine model and whole node imaging approaches, we observed surprising responsiveness of LNDC populations to vaccine arrival resulting in a transnodal repositioning into specific antigen collection sites within minutes after immunization. Once there, LNDCs acquired viral antigen and initiated activation of viral specific CD4+ T cells, resulting in germinal center formation and B cell memory in the absence of skin migratory DCs. Together, these results demonstrate an unexpected stimulatory role for LNDCs where they are capable of rapidly locating viral antigen, driving early activation of T cell populations, and independently establishing functional immune response.


Dendritic cells (DCs) comprise two major subsets, the interferon (IFN)-producing plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) and antigen-presenting classical DCs (cDCs). The development of pDCs is promoted by E protein transcription factor E2-2, whereas E protein antagonist Id2 is specifically absent from pDCs. Conversely, Id2 is prominently expressed in cDCs and promotes CD8+ cDC development. The mechanisms that control the balance between E and Id proteins during DC subset specification remain unknown. We found that the loss of Mtg16, a transcriptional cofactor of the ETO protein family, profoundly impaired pDC development and pDC-dependent IFN response. The residual Mtg16-deficient pDCs showed aberrant phenotype, including the expression of myeloid marker CD11b. Conversely, the development of cDC progenitors (pre-DCs) and of CD8+ cDCs was enhanced. Genome-wide expression and DNA-binding analysis identified Id2 as a direct target of Mtg16. Mtg16-deficient cDC progenitors and pDCs showed aberrant induction of Id2, and the deletion of Id2 facilitated the impaired development of Mtg16-deficient pDCs. Thus, Mtg16 promotes pDC differentiation and restricts cDC development in part by repressing Id2, revealing a cell-intrinsic mechanism that controls subset balance during DC development.


The commitment of naive CD8 T cells to effector or memory cell fates can occur after a single day of antigenic stimulation even though virus-derived antigens (Ags) are still presented by DCs long after acute infection is resolved. However, the effects of extended Ag presentation on CD8 T cells are undefined and the mechanisms that regulate prolonged Ag presentation are unknown. We showed that the sustained presentation of two different epitopes from influenza virus by DCs prevented the premature contraction of the primary virus-specific CD8 T cell response. Although prolonged Ag presentation did not alter the number of memory CD8 T cells that developed, it was essential for programming the capacity of these cells to proliferate, produce cytokines, and protect the host after secondary challenge. Importantly, prolonged Ag presentation by DCs was dependent on virus-specific, isotype-switched antibodies (Abs) that facilitated the capture and cross-presentation of viral Ags by FcR-expressing DCs. Collectively, our results demonstrate that B cells and Abs can regulate the quality and functionality of a subset of antiviral CD8 T cell memory responses and do so by promoting sustained Ag presentation by DCs during the contraction phase of the primary T cell response.


Eosinophils natively inhabit the small intestine, but a functional role for them there has remained elusive. Here, we show that eosinophil-deficient mice were protected from induction of Th2-mediated peanut food allergy and anaphylaxis, and Th2 priming was restored by reconstitution with il4+/+ or il4–/– eosinophils. Eosinophils controlled CD103+ dendritic cell (DC) activation and migration from the intestine to draining lymph nodes, events necessary for Th2 priming. Eosinophil activation in vitro and in vivo led to degranulation of eosinophil peroxidase, a granule protein whose enzymatic activity promoted DC activation in mice and humans in vitro, and intestinal and extraintestinal mouse DC activation and mobilization to lymph nodes in vivo. Further, eosinophil peroxidase enhanced responses to ovalbumin seen after immunization. Thus, eosinophils can be critical contributors to the intestinal immune system, and granule-mediated shaping of DC responses can promote both intestinal and extraintestinal adaptive immunity.


N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have potential cardiovascular benefit, although the mechanisms underlying this effect remain poorly understood. Fat-1 transgenic mice expressing Caenorhabditis elegans n-3 fatty acid desaturase, which is capable of producing n-3 PUFAs from n-6 PUFAs, exhibited resistance to pressure overload–induced inflammation and fibrosis, as well as reduced cardiac function. Lipidomic analysis revealed selective enrichment of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in fat-1 transgenic bone marrow (BM) cells and EPA-metabolite 18-hydroxyeicosapentaenoic acid (18-HEPE) in fat-1 transgenic macrophages. BM transplantation experiments revealed that fat-1 transgenic BM cells, but not fat-1 transgenic cardiac cells, contributed to the antiremodeling effect and that the 18-HEPE–rich milieu in the fat-1 transgenic heart was generated by BM-derived cells, most likely macrophages. 18-HEPE inhibited macrophage-mediated proinflammatory activation of cardiac fibroblasts in culture, and in vivo administration of 18-HEPE reproduced the fat-1 mice phenotype, including resistance to pressure overload–induced maladaptive cardiac remodeling.


Development of autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), involves the inflammatory action of Th1 and Th17 cells, but the underlying signaling mechanism is incompletely understood. We show that the kinase TPL2 is a crucial mediator of EAE and is required for the pathological action of Th17 cells. TPL2 serves as a master kinase mediating the activation of multiple downstream pathways stimulated by the Th17 signature cytokine IL-17. TPL2 acts by linking the IL-17 receptor signal to the activation of TAK1, which involves a dynamic mechanism of TPL2–TAK1 interaction and TPL2-mediated phosphorylation and catalytic activation of TAK1. These results suggest that TPL2 mediates TAK1 axis of IL-17 signaling, thereby promoting autoimmune neuroinflammation.


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