Immunoglobulin (Ig) class switch recombination (CSR) is initiated by the transcription-coupled recruitment of activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) to switch regions and by the subsequent generation of double-stranded DNA breaks (DSBs). These DNA breaks are ultimately resolved through the nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) pathway. We show that during CSR, AID associates with subunits of cohesin, a complex previously implicated in sister chromatid cohesion, DNA repair, and the formation of DNA loops between enhancers and promoters. Furthermore, we implicate the cohesin complex in the mechanism of CSR by showing that cohesin is dynamically recruited to the Sμ-Cμ region of the IgH locus during CSR and that knockdown of cohesin or its regulatory subunits results in impaired CSR and increased usage of microhomology-based end joining.
DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) are mainly repaired via homologous recombination (HR) or nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ). These breaks pose severe threats to genome integrity but can also be necessary intermediates of normal cellular processes such as immunoglobulin class switch recombination (CSR). During CSR, DSBs are produced in the G1 phase of the cell cycle and are repaired by the classical NHEJ machinery. By studying B lymphocytes derived from patients with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, we observed a strong correlation between heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the gene encoding the cohesin loading protein NIPBL and a shift toward the use of an alternative, microhomology-based end joining during CSR. Furthermore, the early recruitment of 53BP1 to DSBs was reduced in the NIPBL-deficient patient cells. Association of NIPBL deficiency and impaired NHEJ was also observed in a plasmid-based end-joining assay and a yeast model system. Our results suggest that NIPBL plays an important and evolutionarily conserved role in NHEJ, in addition to its canonical function in sister chromatid cohesion and its recently suggested function in HR.
During infections and inflammation, plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are the most potent type I interferon (IFN-I)–producing cells. However, the developmental origin of pDCs and the signals dictating pDC generation remain incompletely understood. Here, we report a synergistic role for IFN-I and Flt3 ligand (FL) in pDC development from common lymphoid progenitors (CLPs). Both conventional DCs (cDCs) and pDCs were generated from CLPs in response to FL, whereas pDC generation required higher concentrations of FL and concurrent IFN-I signaling. An absence of IFN-I receptor, impairment of IFN-I signaling, or neutralization of IFN-I significantly impeded pDC development from CLPs. Furthermore, FL induced IFN-I expression in CLPs, which in turn induced Flt3 up-regulation that facilitated survival and proliferation of CLPs, as well as their differentiation into pDCs. Collectively, these results define a critical role for the FL/IFN-I/Flt3 axis in pDC differentiation from CLPs.
HIV-1–infected macrophages likely represent viral reservoirs, as they accumulate newly formed virions in internal virus-containing compartments (VCCs). However, the nature and biogenesis of VCCs remain poorly defined. We show that upon HIV-1 infection of primary human macrophages, Gag is recruited to preexisting compartments containing the scavenger receptor CD36, which then become VCCs. Silencing of CD36 in HIV-1–infected macrophages decreases the amount of virions released. Strikingly, soluble anti-CD36 antibodies, but not the natural ligands of CD36, inhibit release of virions from HIV-1–infected macrophages and the transmission of virus to CD4+ T cells. The effect of the antibodies is potent, rapid, and induces the retention of virions within VCCs. Ectopic expression of CD36 in HeLa cells renders them susceptible to the inhibitory effect of the anti-CD36 mAb upon HIV-1 infection. We show that the anti-CD36 mAb inhibits HIV-1 release by clustering newly formed virions at their site of budding, and that signaling via CD36 is not required. Thus, HIV-1 reservoirs in macrophages may be tackled therapeutically using anti-CD36 antibodies to prevent viral dissemination.
Prnp–/– mice lack the prion protein PrPC and are resistant to prion infections, but variable phenotypes have been reported in Prnp–/– mice and the physiological function of PrPC remains poorly understood. Here we examined a cell-autonomous phenotype, inhibition of macrophage phagocytosis of apoptotic cells, previously reported in Prnp–/– mice. Using formal genetic, genomic, and immunological analyses, we found that the regulation of phagocytosis previously ascribed to PrPC is instead controlled by a linked locus encoding the signal regulatory protein α (Sirpa). These findings indicate that control of phagocytosis was previously misattributed to the prion protein and illustrate the requirement for stringent approaches to eliminate confounding effects of flanking genes in studies modeling human disease in gene-targeted mice. The plethora of seemingly unrelated functions attributed to PrPC suggests that additional phenotypes reported in Prnp–/– mice may actually relate to Sirpa or other genetic confounders.
Excessive glutamate signaling is thought to underlie neurodegeneration in multiple contexts, yet the pro-degenerative signaling pathways downstream of glutamate receptor activation are not well defined. We show that dual leucine zipper kinase (DLK) is essential for excitotoxicity-induced degeneration of neurons in vivo. In mature neurons, DLK is present in the synapse and interacts with multiple known postsynaptic density proteins including the scaffolding protein PSD-95. To examine DLK function in the adult, DLK-inducible knockout mice were generated through Tamoxifen-induced activation of Cre-ERT in mice containing a floxed DLK allele, which circumvents the neonatal lethality associated with germline deletion. DLK-inducible knockouts displayed a modest increase in basal synaptic transmission but had an attenuation of the JNK/c-Jun stress response pathway activation and significantly reduced neuronal degeneration after kainic acid–induced seizures. Together, these data demonstrate that DLK is a critical upstream regulator of JNK-mediated neurodegeneration downstream of glutamate receptor hyper-activation and represents an attractive target for the treatment of indications where excitotoxicity is a primary driver of neuronal loss.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is strongly associated with the human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DRB1 locus that possesses the shared susceptibility epitope (SE) and the citrullination of self-antigens. We show how citrullinated aggrecan and vimentin epitopes bind to HLA-DRB1*04:01/04. Citrulline was accommodated within the electropositive P4 pocket of HLA-DRB1*04:01/04, whereas the electronegative P4 pocket of the RA-resistant HLA-DRB1*04:02 allomorph interacted with arginine or citrulline-containing epitopes. Peptide elution studies revealed P4 arginine–containing peptides from HLA-DRB1*04:02, but not from HLA-DRB1*04:01/04. Citrullination altered protease susceptibility of vimentin, thereby generating self-epitopes that are presented to T cells in HLA-DRB1*04:01+ individuals. Using HLA-II tetramers, we observed citrullinated vimentin- and aggrecan-specific CD4+ T cells in the peripheral blood of HLA-DRB1*04:01+ RA-affected and healthy individuals. In RA patients, autoreactive T cell numbers correlated with disease activity and were deficient in regulatory T cells relative to healthy individuals. These findings reshape our understanding of the association between citrullination, the HLA-DRB1 locus, and T cell autoreactivity in RA.
Once animals have experienced a helminthic infection, they often show stronger protective immunity against subsequent infections. Although helminthic infections are well known to elicit Th2-type immune responses, it remains ill-defined where and how acquired protection is executed. Here we show that skin-invading larvae of the intestinal helminth Nippostrongylus brasiliensis are surrounded by skin-infiltrating cells and are prevented from migrating out of infected skin during the second but not the first infection. B cell– or IgE receptor FcRI–deficient mice showed impaired larval trapping in the skin. Selective ablation of basophils, but not mast cells, abolished the larval trapping, leading to increased worm burden in the lung and hence severe lung injury. Skin-infiltrating basophils produced IL-4 that in turn promoted the generation of M2-type macrophages, leading to the larval trapping in the skin through arginase-1 production. Basophils had no apparent contribution to worm expulsion from the intestine. This study thus reveals a novel mode of acquired antihelminth immunity, in which IgE-armed basophils mediate skin trapping of larvae, thereby limiting lung injury caused by larval migration.
Human Langerhans cell (LC) precursors populate the epidermis early during prenatal development and thereafter undergo massive proliferation. The prototypic antiproliferative cytokine TGF-β1 is required for LC differentiation from human CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells and blood monocytes in vitro. Similarly, TGF-β1 deficiency results in LC loss in vivo. However, immunohistology studies revealed that human LC niches in early prenatal epidermis and adult basal (germinal) keratinocyte layers lack detectable TGF-β1. Here we demonstrated that these LC niches express high levels of bone morphogenetic protein 7 (BMP7) and that Bmp7-deficient mice exhibit substantially diminished LC numbers, with the remaining cells appearing less dendritic. BMP7 induces LC differentiation and proliferation by activating the BMP type-I receptor ALK3 in the absence of canonical TGF-β1–ALK5 signaling. Conversely, TGF-β1–induced in vitro LC differentiation is mediated via ALK3; however, co-induction of ALK5 diminished TGF-β1–driven LC generation. Therefore, selective ALK3 signaling by BMP7 promotes high LC yields. Within epidermis, BMP7 shows an inverse expression pattern relative to TGF-β1, the latter induced in suprabasal layers and up-regulated in outer layers. We observed that TGF-β1 inhibits microbial activation of BMP7-generated LCs. Therefore, TGF-β1 in suprabasal/outer epidermal layers might inhibit LC activation, resulting in LC network maintenance.
Adult neovascularization relies on the recruitment of monocytes to the target organ or tumor and functioning therein as a paracrine accessory. The exact origins of the recruited monocytes and the mechanisms underlying their plasticity remain unclear. Using a VEGF-based transgenic system in which genetically tagged monocytes are conditionally summoned to the liver as part of a VEGF-initiated angiogenic program, we show that these recruited cells are derived from the abundant pool of circulating Ly6Chi monocytes. Remarkably, however, upon arrival at the VEGF-induced organ, but not the naive organ, monocytes undergo multiple phenotypic and functional changes, endowing them with enhanced proangiogenic capabilities and, importantly, with a markedly increased capacity to remodel existing small vessels into larger conduits. Notably, monocytes do not differentiate into long-lived macrophages, but rather appear as transient accessory cells. Results from transfers of presorted subpopulations and a novel tandem transfer strategy ruled out selective recruitment of a dedicated preexisting subpopulation or onsite selection, thereby reinforcing active reprogramming as the underlying mechanism for improved performance. Collectively, this study uncovered a novel function of VEGF, namely, on-site education of recruited "standard" monocytes to become angiogenic and arteriogenic professional cells, a finding that may also lend itself for a better design of angiogenic therapies.
Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are essential regulators of hematopoietic stem cells. Recent extensive mutation analyses of the myeloid malignancies have revealed that inactivating somatic mutations in PcG genes such as EZH2 and ASXL1 occur frequently in patients with myelodysplastic disorders including myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) and MDS/myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) overlap disorders (MDS/MPN). In our patient cohort, EZH2 mutations were also found and often coincided with tet methylcytosine dioxygenase 2 (TET2) mutations. Consistent with these findings, deletion of Ezh2 alone was enough to induce MDS/MPN-like diseases in mice. Furthermore, concurrent depletion of Ezh2 and Tet2 established more advanced myelodysplasia and markedly accelerated the development of myelodysplastic disorders including both MDS and MDS/MPN. Comprehensive genome-wide analyses in hematopoietic progenitor cells revealed that upon deletion of Ezh2, key developmental regulator genes were kept transcriptionally repressed, suggesting compensation by Ezh1, whereas a cohort of oncogenic direct and indirect polycomb targets became derepressed. Our findings provide the first evidence of the tumor suppressor function of EZH2 in myeloid malignancies and highlight the cooperative effect of concurrent gene mutations in the pathogenesis of myelodysplastic disorders.
Somatic Addition of Sex Combs Like 1 (ASXL1) mutations occur in 10–30% of patients with myeloid malignancies, most commonly in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs), and are associated with adverse outcome. Germline ASXL1 mutations occur in patients with Bohring-Opitz syndrome. Here, we show that constitutive loss of Asxl1 results in developmental abnormalities, including anophthalmia, microcephaly, cleft palates, and mandibular malformations. In contrast, hematopoietic-specific deletion of Asxl1 results in progressive, multilineage cytopenias and dysplasia in the context of increased numbers of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, characteristic features of human MDS. Serial transplantation of Asxl1-null hematopoietic cells results in a lethal myeloid disorder at a shorter latency than primary Asxl1 knockout (KO) mice. Asxl1 deletion reduces hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal, which is restored by concomitant deletion of Tet2, a gene commonly co-mutated with ASXL1 in MDS patients. Moreover, compound Asxl1/Tet2 deletion results in an MDS phenotype with hastened death compared with single-gene KO mice. Asxl1 loss results in a global reduction of H3K27 trimethylation and dysregulated expression of known regulators of hematopoiesis. RNA-Seq/ChIP-Seq analyses of Asxl1 in hematopoietic cells identify a subset of differentially expressed genes as direct targets of Asxl1. These findings underscore the importance of Asxl1 in Polycomb group function, development, and hematopoiesis.
In the initiation process of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a small number of transformed leukemia-initiating cells (LICs) coexist with a large number of normal hematopoietic cells, gradually increasing thereafter and eventually predominating in the hematopoietic space. However, the interaction between LICs and normal hematopoietic cells at the early phase has not been clearly delineated because of the lack of a suitable experimental model. In this study, we succeeded in causing a marked leukocytosis resembling CML from restricted foci of LICs in the normal hematopoietic system by direct transplantation of BCR-ABL gene–transduced LICs into the bone marrow (BM) cavity of nonirradiated mice. Herein, we observed that BCR-ABL+lineage–c-kit– immature leukemia cells produced high levels of an inflammatory chemokine, MIP-1α/CCL3, which promoted the development of CML. Conversely, ablation of the CCL3 gene in LICs dramatically inhibited the development of CML and concomitantly reduced recurrence after the cessation of a short-term tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment. Finally, normal hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells can directly impede the maintenance of LICs in BM in the absence of CCL3 signal.
Tumor metastasis and lack of NKG2D ligand (NKG2DL) expression are associated with poor prognosis in patients with colon cancer. Here, we found that spironolactone (SPIR), an FDA-approved diuretic drug with a long-term safety profile, can up-regulate NKG2DL expression in multiple colon cancer cell lines by activating the ATM–Chk2-mediated checkpoint pathway, which in turn enhances tumor elimination by natural killer cells. SPIR can also up-regulate the expression of metastasis-suppressor genes TIMP2 and TIMP3, thereby reducing tumor cell invasiveness. Although SPIR is an aldosterone antagonist, its antitumor effects are independent of the mineralocorticoid receptor pathway. By screening the human nuclear hormone receptor siRNA library, we identified retinoid X receptor (RXR) instead as being indispensable for the antitumor functions of SPIR. Collectively, our results strongly support the use of SPIR or other RXR agonists with minimal side effects for colon cancer prevention and therapy.
Adenosine produced as a byproduct of metabolic activity is present in all tissues and produces dose-dependent suppression of TCR signaling. Naive T cell maintenance depends on inhibition of TCR signals by environmental sensors, which are yet to be fully defined. We produced mice with a floxed adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR) gene, Adora2a, and show that either global A2AR deletion or cre-mediated T cell deletion elicits a decline in the number of naive but not memory T cells. A2AR signaling maintains naive T cells in a quiescent state by inhibiting TCR-induced activation of the phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)–AKT pathway, thereby reducing IL-7Rα down-regulation and naive T cell apoptosis. Patterns of IL-7Rα expression on T cells in chimeric mice reconstituted with Adora2a+/+ and Adora2a–/– bone marrow cells suggest that decreased IL-7Rα in naive T cells is a cell-intrinsic consequence of Adora2a deletion. In addition, A2AR expression increases in early thymic T cell development and contributes to progression of double-negative thymic precursors to single-positive thymocytes with increased IL-7Rα expression. Therefore, A2AR signaling regulates T cell development and maintenance to sustain normal numbers of naive T cells in the periphery.
Many species of bacteria use quorum sensing to sense the amount of secreted metabolites and to adapt their growth according to their population density. We asked whether similar mechanisms would operate in lymphocyte homeostasis. We investigated the regulation of the size of interleukin-2 (IL-2)–producing CD4+ T cell (IL-2p) pool using different IL-2 reporter mice. We found that in the absence of either IL-2 or regulatory CD4+ T (T reg) cells, the number of IL-2p cells increases. Administration of IL-2 decreases the number of cells of the IL-2p cell subset and, pertinently, abrogates their ability to produce IL-2 upon in vivo cognate stimulation, while increasing T reg cell numbers. We propose that control of the IL-2p cell numbers occurs via a quorum sensing–like feedback loop where the produced IL-2 is sensed by both the activated CD4+ T cell pool and by T reg cells, which reciprocally regulate cells of the IL-2p cell subset. In conclusion, IL-2 acts as a self-regulatory circuit integrating the homeostasis of activated and T reg cells as CD4+ T cells restrain their growth by monitoring IL-2 levels, thereby preventing uncontrolled responses and autoimmunity.
The immunological synapse formed by a T lymphocyte on the surface of a target cell contains a peripheral ring of filamentous actin (F-actin) that promotes adhesion and facilitates the directional secretion of cytokines and cytolytic factors. We show that growth and maintenance of this F-actin ring is dictated by the annular accumulation of phosphatidylinositol trisphosphate (PIP3) in the synaptic membrane. PIP3 functions in this context by recruiting the exchange factor Dock2 to the periphery of the synapse, where it drives actin polymerization through the Rho-family GTPase Rac. We also show that synaptic PIP3 is generated by class IA phosphoinositide 3-kinases that associate with T cell receptor microclusters and are activated by the GTPase Ras. Perturbations that inhibit or promote PIP3-dependent F-actin remodeling dramatically affect T cell cytotoxicity, demonstrating the functional importance of this pathway. These results reveal how T cells use lipid-based signaling to control synaptic architecture and modulate effector responses.
Long-lived antibody memory is mediated by the combined effects of long-lived plasma cells (PCs) and memory B cells generated in response to T cell–dependent antigens (Ags). IL-10 and IL-21 can activate multiple signaling pathways, including STAT1, STAT3, and STAT5; ERK; PI3K/Akt, and potently promote human B cell differentiation. We previously showed that loss-of-function mutations in STAT3, but not STAT1, abrogate IL-10– and IL-21–mediated differentiation of human naive B cells into plasmablasts. We report here that, in contrast to naive B cells, STAT3-deficient memory B cells responded to these STAT3-activating cytokines, differentiating into plasmablasts and secreting high levels of IgM, IgG, and IgA, as well as Ag-specific IgG. This was associated with the induction of the molecular machinery necessary for PC formation. Mutations in IL21R, however, abolished IL-21–induced responses of both naive and memory human B cells and compromised memory B cell formation in vivo. These findings reveal a key role for IL-21R/STAT3 signaling in regulating human B cell function. Furthermore, our results indicate that the threshold of STAT3 activation required for differentiation is lower in memory compared with naive B cells, thereby identifying an intrinsic difference in the mechanism underlying differentiation of naive versus memory B cells.
The mechanisms involved in the maintenance of memory IgE responses are poorly understood, and the role played by germinal center (GC) IgE+ cells in memory responses is particularly unclear. IgE+ B cell differentiation is characterized by a transient GC phase, a bias toward the plasma cell (PC) fate, and dependence on sequential switching for the production of high-affinity IgE. We show here that IgE+ GC B cells are unfit to undergo the conventional GC differentiation program due to impaired B cell receptor function and increased apoptosis. IgE+ GC cells fail to populate the GC light zone and are unable to contribute to the memory and long-lived PC compartments. Furthermore, we demonstrate that direct and sequential switching are linked to distinct B cell differentiation fates: direct switching generates IgE+ GC cells, whereas sequential switching gives rise to IgE+ PCs. We propose a comprehensive model for the generation and memory of IgE responses.
Toll-like receptor (TLR), a ligand for single-stranded RNA, has been implicated in the development of pathogenic anti-RNA autoantibodies both in systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) patients and in murine models of lupus. It is still unclear, however, where and how TLR7-mediated interactions affect the development of autoreactive B cells. We found that overexpression of TLR7 in transgenic mice (TLR7.1Tg) leads to marked alterations of transitional (T1) B cells, associated with their expansion and proliferation within the splenic red pulp (RP). This phenotype was intrinsic to the T1 subset of B cells and occurred independently of type 1 IFN signals. Overexpression of RNase in TLR7.1Tg mice significantly limited the expansion and proliferation of T1 cells, indicating that endogenous RNA complexes are driving their activation. TLR7.1Tg T1 cells were hyper-responsive to anti-IgM and TLR7 ligand stimulation in vitro and produced high concentrations of class-switched IgG2b and IgG2c, including anti-RNA antibodies. Our results demonstrate that initial TLR7 stimulation of B cells occurs at the T1 stage of differentiation in the splenic RP and suggest that dysregulation of TLR7 expression in T1 cells can result in production of autoantibodies.