Definition of the Nature and Hapten Threshold of the {beta}-Lactam Antigen Required for T Cell Activation In Vitro and in Patients [ANTIGEN RECOGNITION AND RESPONSES]

Covalent modification of protein by drugs may disrupt self-tolerance, leading to lymphocyte activation. Until now, determination of the threshold required for this process has not been possible. Therefore, we performed quantitative mass spectrometric analyses to define the epitopes formed in tolerant and hypersensitive patients taking the β-lactam antibiotic piperacillin and the threshold required for T cell activation. A hydrolyzed piperacillin hapten was detected on four lysine residues of human serum albumin (HSA) isolated from tolerant patients. The level of modified Lys541 ranged from 2.6 to 4.8%. Analysis of plasma from hypersensitive patients revealed the same pattern and levels of modification 1–10 d after the commencement of therapy. Piperacillin-responsive skin-homing CD4+ clones expressing an array of Vβ receptors were activated in a dose-, time-, and processing-dependent manner; analysis of incubation medium revealed that 2.6% of Lys541 in HSA was modified when T cells were activated. Piperacillin–HSA conjugates that had levels and epitopes identical to those detected in patients were shown to selectively stimulate additional CD4+ clones, which expressed a more restricted Vβ repertoire. To conclude, the levels of piperacillin–HSA modification that activated T cells are equivalent to the ones formed in hypersensitive and tolerant patients, which indicates that threshold levels of drug Ag are formed in all patients. Thus, the propensity to develop hypersensitivity is dependent on other factors, such as the presence of T cells within an individual’s repertoire that can be activated with the β-lactam hapten and/or an imbalance in immune regulation.

The Juxtamembrane Domain of Butyrophilin BTN3A1 Controls Phosphoantigen-Mediated Activation of Human V{gamma}9V{delta}2 T Cells [ANTIGEN RECOGNITION AND RESPONSES]

V9V2 T lymphocytes are the major human peripheral T cell subset, with broad reactivity against stressed human cells, including tumor cells. V9V2 T cells are specifically activated by small phosphorylated metabolites called phosphoantigens (PAg). Stress-induced changes in target cell PAg levels are specifically detected by butyrophilin (BTN)3A1, using its intracellular B30.2 domain. This leads to the activation of V9V2 T cells. In this study, we show that changes in the juxtamembrane domain of BTN3A1, but not its transmembrane domain, induce a markedly enhanced or reduced T cell reactivity. There is thus a specific requirement for BTN3A1’s juxtamembrane domain for correct T cell–related function. This work identified, as being of particular importance, a juxtamembrane domain region of BTN3A molecules identified as a possible dimerization interface and that is located close to the start of the B30.2 domain.

C1q-Dependent Dendritic Cell Cross-Presentation of In Vivo-Formed Antigen-Antibody Complexes [ANTIGEN RECOGNITION AND RESPONSES]

Dendritic cells (DCs) are specialized in Ag engulfment via a wide variety of uptake receptors on their cell surface. In the present study we investigated Ag uptake and presentation of in vivo–formed Ag–Ab complexes by i.v. injecting mice with Ag-specific Abs followed by the cognate Ag. We show by this natural Ab-mediated Ag targeting system that uptake by splenic APC subsets is severely hampered in mice lacking complement factor C1q (C1qa–/–). Moreover, no detectable Ag cross-presentation by CD8α+ DCs from C1qa–/– mice was found. On the contrary, Ag uptake was not hampered by APCs in FcRI/II/III/IV-deficient (FcR quadruple–/–) mice, and the cross-presentation ability of CD8α+ DCs was not affected. In conclusion, we show that C1q rather than FcRs controls the Ab-mediated Ag uptake and its presentation by spleen APC subsets to T cells.

Protein Kinase CK2 Controls the Fate between Th17 Cell and Regulatory T Cell Differentiation [AUTOIMMUNITY]

CK2 is a highly conserved and pleiotropic serine/threonine kinase that promotes many prosurvival and proinflammatory signaling pathways, including PI3K/Akt/mTOR and JAK/STAT. These pathways are essential for CD4+ T cell activation and polarization, but little is known about how CK2 functions in T cells. In this article, we demonstrate that CK2 expression and kinase activity are induced upon CD4+ T cell activation. Targeting the catalytic activity of CK2 using the next-generation small molecule inhibitor CX-4945 in vitro significantly and specifically inhibited mouse and human Th17 cell differentiation while promoting the generation of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs). These findings were associated with suppression of PI3K/Akt/mTOR activation and STAT3 phosphorylation upon CX-4945 treatment. Furthermore, we demonstrate that CX-4945 treatment inhibits the maturation of Th17 cells into inflammatory IFN-–coproducing effector cells. The Th17/Treg axis and maturation of Th17 cells are major contributing factors to the pathogenesis of many autoimmune disorders, including multiple sclerosis. Using a murine model of multiple sclerosis, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, we demonstrate that in vivo administration of CX-4945 targets Akt/mTOR signaling in CD4+ T cells and the Th17/Treg axis throughout disease. Importantly, CX-4945 treatment after disease initiation significantly reduced disease severity, which was associated with a significant decrease in the frequency of pathogenic IFN-+ and GM-CSF+ Th17 cells in the CNS. Our data implicate CK2 as a regulator of the Th17/Treg axis and Th17 cell maturation and suggest that CK2 could be targeted for the treatment of Th17 cell–driven autoimmune disorders.

Genetic and Small Molecule Disruption of the AID/RAD51 Axis Similarly Protects Nonobese Diabetic Mice from Type 1 Diabetes through Expansion of Regulatory B Lymphocytes [AUTOIMMUNITY]

B lymphocytes play a key role in type 1 diabetes (T1D) development by serving as a subset of APCs preferentially supporting the expansion of autoreactive pathogenic T cells. As a result of their pathogenic importance, B lymphocyte–targeted therapies have received considerable interest as potential T1D interventions. Unfortunately, the B lymphocyte–directed T1D interventions tested to date failed to halt β cell demise. IgG autoantibodies marking humans at future risk for T1D indicate that B lymphocytes producing them have undergone the affinity-maturation processes of class switch recombination and, possibly, somatic hypermutation. This study found that CRISPR/Cas9-mediated ablation of the activation-induced cytidine deaminase gene required for class switch recombination/somatic hypermutation induction inhibits T1D development in the NOD mouse model. The activation-induced cytidine deaminase protein induces genome-wide DNA breaks that, if not repaired through RAD51-mediated homologous recombination, result in B lymphocyte death. Treatment with the RAD51 inhibitor 4,4′-diisothiocyanatostilbene-2, 2′-disulfonic acid also strongly inhibited T1D development in NOD mice. The genetic and small molecule–targeting approaches expanded CD73+ B lymphocytes that exert regulatory activity suppressing diabetogenic T cell responses. Hence, an initial CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genetic modification approach has identified the AID/RAD51 axis as a target for a potentially clinically translatable pharmacological approach that can block T1D development by converting B lymphocytes to a disease-inhibitory CD73+ regulatory state.

Downregulation of miR-200a-3p, Targeting CtBP2 Complex, Is Involved in the Hypoproduction of IL-2 in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus-Derived T Cells [AUTOIMMUNITY]

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) damages multiple organs by producing various autoantibodies. In this study, we report that decreased microRNA (miR)-200a-3p causes IL-2 hypoproduction through zinc finger E-box binding homeobox (ZEB)1 and C-terminal binding protein 2 (CtBP2) in a lupus-prone mouse. First, we performed RNA sequencing to identify candidate microRNAs and mRNAs involved in the pathogenesis of SLE. We found that miR-200a-3p was significantly downregulated, whereas its putative targets, ZEB2 and CtBP2, were upregulated in CD4+ T cells from MRL/lpr-Tnfrsf6lpr mice compared with C57BL/6J mice. ZEB1 and ZEB2 comprise the ZEB family and suppress various genes, including IL-2 by recruiting CtBP2. IL-2 plays a critical role in immune tolerance, and insufficient IL-2 production upon stimulation has been recognized in SLE pathogenesis. Therefore, we hypothesized that decreased miR-200a-3p causes IL-2 deficit through the ZEB1–CtBP2 and/or ZEB2–CtBP2 complex in SLE CD4+ T cells. Overexpression of miR-200a-3p induced IL-2 production by downregulating ZEB1, ZEB2, and CtBP2 in EL4 cell lines. We further revealed that miR-200a-3p promotes IL-2 expression by reducing the binding of suppressive ZEB1–CtBP2 and ZEB2–CtBP2 complexes on negative regulatory element A in the IL-2 promoter in EL4 cells. Interestingly, the ZEB1–CtBP2 complex on negative regulatory element A was significantly upregulated after PMA/ionomycin stimulation in lupus CD4+ T cells. Our studies have revealed a new epigenetic pathway in the control of IL-2 production in SLE whereby low levels of miR-200a-3p accumulate the binding of the ZEB1–CtBP2 complex to the IL-2 promoter and suppress IL-2 production.

Oil-Soluble Contrast Medium (OSCM) for Hysterosalpingography Modulates Dendritic Cell and Regulatory T Cell Profiles in the Peritoneal Cavity: A Possible Mechanism by Which OSCM Enhances Fertility [CLINICAL AND HUMAN IMMUNOLOGY]

Hysterosalpingography (HSG) with oil-soluble contrast medium (OSCM) is known to enhance fertility, although the mechanism is unclear. OSCM remains in the peritoneal cavity for several months after HSG. We hypothesized that OSCM that remains in the peritoneal cavity modulates dendritic cell (DC) and regulatory T cell (Treg) profiles and contributes to enhanced fertility. We characterized the profiles of DCs and Tregs in the peritoneal fluid from women who had undergone HSG. In vitro and in vivo effects of OSCM on monocyte-derived DCs and mouse peritoneal T cells were also evaluated. In comparison with women who have never experienced HSG, samples from women who had undergone HSG contained myeloid DCs with greater complexity and maturation, as well as had a marginally greater proportion of Tregs in their peritoneal fluid. OSCM is incorporated by monocyte-derived DCs, which causes their maturation and contributes to the increase in Treg proportions. Samples from OSCM-injected mice contained greater proportions of Tregs in comparison with controls. These studies demonstrate that OSCM modulates T cell profiles that are compatible with the condition observed in women who have undergone HSG. This study demonstrates that exogenous lipids administered to the peritoneal cavity are incorporated by DCs and that they significantly alter the immune environment in the peritoneal cavity. This immunological impact may contribute to enhanced fertility and the development of alternative therapeutic strategies for managing other pathological conditions associated with immunological abnormalities in the peritoneal cavity.

High SYK Expression Drives Constitutive Activation of CD21low B Cells [CLINICAL AND HUMAN IMMUNOLOGY]

Human CD21low B cells present with an activated phenotype and accumulate in distinct disorders connected with chronic immune stimulation. Signaling studies had revealed an increased basal phosphorylation of spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) and phospholipase C2. Additional BCR stimulation of these constitutively active cells, however, led to reduced activation of these signaling molecules and subsequently NF-B and Ca2+ activation. In this article, we demonstrate that high SYK expression is a common feature of CD21low B cells independent of the underlying disorder, and that this high expression is sufficient to drive constitutive phosphorylation of SYK and its immediate targets Bruton’s tyrosine kinase and phospholipase C2. Inhibition of SYK activity eliminated features of the constitutive activation in these cells and partly restored BCR signaling. High SYK expression is especially induced by CpG or CD40L in combination with IL-21, but not BCR stimulation, suggesting the importance of the immune-stimulatory context for the induction of this B cell phenotype. In summary, high SYK expression is a common feature of human CD21low B cells and presumably results from chronic activation in inflammatory environments present in a subgroup of patients with heterogeneous disorders like chronic infection, autoimmunity, and immunodeficiency. High SYK expression by itself drives the constitutive activation observed in these B cells, which in turn may contribute to the hyporesponsiveness upon BCR stimulation. Given the high prevalence of autoreactive clones among CD21low B cells in autoimmune disorders, the dominant role of SYK in CD21low B cells may provide a new option for therapeutic interventions in patients with expanded CD21low B cells and humoral autoimmunity.

Bacterial Siderophores Hijack Neutrophil Functions [IMMUNE REGULATION]

Neutrophils are the primary immune cells that respond to inflammation and combat microbial transgression. To thrive, the bacteria residing in their mammalian host have to withstand the antibactericidal responses of neutrophils. We report that enterobactin (Ent), a catecholate siderophore expressed by Escherichia coli, inhibited PMA-induced generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) in mouse and human neutrophils. Ent also impaired the degranulation of primary granules and inhibited phagocytosis and bactericidal activity of neutrophils, without affecting their migration and chemotaxis. Molecular analysis revealed that Ent can chelate intracellular labile iron that is required for neutrophil oxidative responses. Other siderophores (pyoverdine, ferrichrome, deferoxamine) likewise inhibited ROS and NETs in neutrophils, thus indicating that the chelation of iron may largely explain their inhibitory effects. To counter iron theft by Ent, neutrophils rely on the siderophore-binding protein lipocalin 2 (Lcn2) in a “tug-of-war” for iron. The inhibition of neutrophil ROS and NETs by Ent was augmented in Lcn2-deficient neutrophils compared with wild-type neutrophils but was rescued by the exogenous addition of recombinant Lcn2. Taken together, our findings illustrate the novel concept that microbial siderophore’s iron-scavenging property may serve as an antiradical defense system that neutralizes the immune functions of neutrophils.

Lis1 Regulates Germinal Center B Cell Antigen Acquisition and Affinity Maturation [IMMUNE REGULATION]

The germinal center (GC) is the site where activated B cells undergo rapid expansions, somatic hypermutation, and affinity maturation. Affinity maturation is a process of Ag-driven selection. The amount of Ag acquired and displayed by GC B cells determines whether it can be positively selected, and therefore Ag acquisition has to be tightly regulated to ensure the efficient affinity maturation. Cell expansion provides sufficient quantity of GC B cells and Abs, whereas affinity maturation improves the quality of Abs. In this study, we found that Lis1 is a cell-intrinsic regulator of Ag acquisition capability of GC B cells. Lack of Lis1 resulted in redistribution of polymerized actin and accumulation of F-actin at uropod; larger amounts of Ags were acquired and displayed by GC B cells, which presumably reduced the selection stringency. Affinity maturation was thus compromised in Lis1-deficient mice. Consistently, overexpression of Lis1 in GC B cells led to less Ag acquisition and display. Additionally, Lis1 is required for GC B cell expansion, and Lis1 deficiency blocked the cell cycle at the mitotic phase and GC B cells were prone to apoptosis. Overall, we suggest that Lis1 is required for GC B cell expansion, affinity maturation, and maintaining functional intact GC response, thus ensuring both the quantity and quality of Ab response.

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