Among the most cost-effective strategies for preventing viral infections, vaccines have proven effective primarily against viruses causing acute, self-limited infections. For these it has been sufficient for the vaccine to mimic the natural virus. However, viruses causing chronic infection do not elicit an immune response sufficient to clear the infection and, as a result, vaccines for these viruses must elicit more effective responses — quantitative and qualitative — than does the natural virus. Here we examine the immunologic and virologic basis for vaccines against three such viruses, HIV, hepatitis C virus, and human papillomavirus, and review progress in clinical trials to date. We also explore novel strategies for increasing the immunogenicity and efficacy of vaccines.
Pathological bone loss always reflects enhanced net osteoclastic activity. Recognition and binding of the receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK) by RANK ligand (RANKL) is the key osteoclastogenic event, and the signaling cascades induced by this reaction therefore contain potential anti-osteoporosis therapeutic targets. A study reported in this issue of the JCI documents that a pivotal component of RANKL/RANK-mediated osteoclast recruitment involves sequential induction of the transcription factors c-Jun and nuclear factor of activated T cells 2 .
Several years ago it was proposed that the AMP-activated protein kinase cascade might protect cells against stresses that deplete cellular ATP. Young et al. have now directly tested this by studying the effects of ischemia and reperfusion in perfused hearts from mice expressing a dominant-negative mutant that suppresses the kinase activity in cardiac muscle. Compared with control hearts, the mutant hearts showed clear evidence for increased necrotic damage and increased apoptosis. These findings may have implications for the treatment of ischemic heart disease.
Most antigens expressed by human cancer cells and recognized by host T cells and antibodies are nonmutated self antigens — molecules also expressed on the surface of normal cells. These self antigens are ineffective at triggering immune responses against cancer cells, which provides one explanation for the difficulties in trying to immunize against human cancer. A new study describes how tumors can avoid recognition by the immune system and how enhancing the affinity of the interaction between a self antigen and the MHC-I molecule may lead to cancer immunity.
The etiology of autoimmunity in humans remains poorly defined, and animal models provide a unique opportunity to study potential autoimmune mechanisms. A novel model of autoimmune inflammatory arthritis results from a point mutation in the ζ-associated–protein of 70 kDa (ZAP-70), which causes abnormal thymic T cell selection and survival of autoreactive clones. Although the resulting clinical and pathologic abnormalities are clearly T cell–dependent, macrophage and fibroblast cytokines such as IL-1 and TNF-α are required for full expression of the disease. The studies of Hata et al. raise the intriguing possibility that traditional proinflammatory cytokine networks represent common effector mechanisms in inflammatory joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Hence, effective therapeutic interventions can target either unique etiologic pathways related to adaptive immune responses or shared terminal mechanisms.
Receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) plays an essential role in osteoclast formation and bone resorption. Although genetic and biochemical studies indicate that RANKL regulates osteoclast differentiation by activating receptor activator of NF-κB and associated signaling molecules, the molecular mechanisms of RANKL-regulated osteoclast differentiation have not yet been fully established. We investigated the role of the transcription factor c-Jun, which is activated by RANKL, in osteoclastogenesis using transgenic mice expressing dominant-negative c-Jun specifically in the osteoclast lineage. We found that the transgenic mice manifested severe osteopetrosis due to impaired osteoclastogenesis. Blockade of c-Jun signaling also markedly inhibited soluble RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation in vitro. Overexpression of nuclear factor of activated T cells 1 (NFAT1) (NFATc2/NFATp) or NFAT2 (NFATc1/NFATc) promoted differentiation of osteoclast precursor cells into tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase–positive (TRAP–positive) multinucleated osteoclast-like cells even in the absence of RANKL. Overexpression of NFAT1 also markedly transactivated the TRAP gene promoter. These osteoclastogenic activities of NFAT were abrogated by overexpression of dominant-negative c-Jun. Importantly, osteoclast differentiation and induction of NFAT2 expression by NFAT1 overexpression or soluble RANKL treatment were profoundly diminished in spleen cells of the transgenic mice. Collectively, these results indicate that c-Jun signaling in cooperation with NFAT is crucial for RANKL-regulated osteoclast differentiation.
One of the most perplexing questions in clinical genetics is why patients with identical gene mutations oftentimes exhibit radically different clinical features. This inconsistency between genotype and phenotype is illustrated in the malformation spectrum of holoprosencephaly (HPE). Family members carrying identical mutations in sonic hedgehog (SHH) can exhibit a variety of facial features ranging from cyclopia to subtle midline asymmetries. Such intrafamilial variability may arise from environmental factors acting in conjunction with gene mutations that collectively reduce SHH activity below a critical threshold. We undertook a series of experiments to test the hypothesis that modifying the activity of the SHH signaling pathway at discrete periods of embryonic development could account for the phenotypic spectrum of HPE. Exposing avian embryos to cyclopamine during critical periods of craniofacial development recreated a continuum of HPE-related defects. The craniofacial malformations included hypotelorism, midfacial hypoplasia, and facial clefting and were not the result of excessive crest cell apoptosis. Rather, they resulted from molecular reprogramming of an organizing center whose activity controls outgrowth and patterning of the mid and upper face. Collectively, these data reveal one mechanism by which the variable expressivity of a disorder such as HPE can be produced through temporal disruption of a single molecular pathway.
AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is an important regulator of diverse cellular pathways in the setting of energetic stress. Whether AMPK plays a critical role in the metabolic and functional responses to myocardial ischemia and reperfusion remains uncertain. We examined the cardiac consequences of long-term inhibition of AMPK activity in transgenic mice expressing a kinase dead (KD) form of the enzyme. The KD mice had normal fractional shortening and no heart failure, cardiac hypertrophy, or fibrosis, although the in vivo left ventricular (LV) dP/dt was lower than that in WT hearts. During low-flow ischemia and postischemic reperfusion in vitro, KD hearts failed to augment glucose uptake and glycolysis, although glucose transporter content and insulin-stimulated glucose uptake were normal. KD hearts also failed to increase fatty acid oxidation during reperfusion. Furthermore, KD hearts demonstrated significantly impaired recovery of LV contractile function during postischemic reperfusion that was associated with a lower ATP content and increased injury compared with WT hearts. Caspase-3 activity and TUNEL-staining were increased in KD hearts after ischemia and reperfusion. Thus, AMPK is responsible for activation of glucose uptake and glycolysis during low-flow ischemia and plays an important protective role in limiting damage and apoptotic activity associated with ischemia and reperfusion in the heart.
In vitro studies suggest that collecting duct–derived (CD-derived) endothelin-1 (ET-1) can regulate renal Na reabsorption; however, the physiologic role of CD-derived ET-1 is unknown. Consequently, the physiologic effect of selective disruption of the ET-1 gene in the CD of mice was determined. Mice heterozygous for aquaporin2 promoter Cre recombinase and homozygous for loxP-flanked exon 2 of the ET-1 gene (called CD-specific KO of ET-1 [CD ET-1 KO] mice) were generated. These animals had no CD ET-1 mRNA and had reduced urinary ET-1 excretion. CD ET-1 KO mice on a normal Na diet were hypertensive, while body weight, Na excretion, urinary aldosterone excretion, and plasma renin activity were unchanged. CD ET-1 KO mice on a high-Na diet had worsened hypertension, reduced urinary Na excretion, and excessive weight gain, but showed no differences between aldosterone excretion and plasma renin activity. Amiloride or furosemide reduced BP in CD ET-1 KO mice on a normal or high-Na diet and prevented excessive Na retention in salt-loaded CD ET-1 KO mice. These studies indicate that CD-derived ET-1 is an important physiologic regulator of renal Na excretion and systemic BP.
The regulation of insulin secretion by pancreatic β cells is perturbed in several diseases, including adult-onset (type 2) diabetes and persistent hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia of infancy (PHHI). The first mouse model for PHHI has a conditional deletion of the gene encoding the winged-helix transcription factor Foxa2 (Forkhead box a2, formerly Hepatocyte nuclear factor 3β) in pancreatic β cells. Using isolated islets, we found that Foxa2 deficiency resulted in excessive insulin release in response to amino acids and complete loss of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Most PHHI cases are associated with mutations in SUR1 (Sulfonylurea receptor 1) or KIR6.2 (Inward rectifier K+ channel member 6.2), which encode the subunits of the ATP-sensitive K+ channel, and RNA in situ hybridization of mutant mouse islets revealed that expression of both genes is Foxa2 dependent. We utilized expression profiling to identify additional targets of Foxa2. Strikingly, one of these genes, Hadhsc, encodes short-chain L-3-hydroxyacyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase, deficiency of which has been shown to cause PHHI in humans. Hadhsc is a direct target of Foxa2, as demonstrated by cotransfection as well as in vivo chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments using isolated islets. Thus, we have established Foxa2 as an essential activator of genes that function in multiple pathways governing insulin secretion.
Cholecystokinin (CCK) modulates contractility of the gallbladder, the sphincter of Oddi, and the stomach. These effects are mediated through activation of gastrointestinal smooth muscle as well as enteric neuron CCK-1 receptors (CCK-1Rs). To investigate the potential physiological and pathophysiological functions linked to CCK-1R–mediated signaling, we compared male WT and CCK-1R–deficient mice (129/SvEv). After 12 weeks on either a standard mouse chow or a lithogenic diet (containing 1% cholesterol, 0.5% cholic acid, and 15% dairy fat), small-intestinal transit time, intestinal cholesterol absorption, biliary cholesterol secretion, and cholesterol gallstone prevalence were compared in knockout versus WT animals. Analysis of mice on either the chow or the lithogenic diet revealed that CCK-1R–/– animals had larger gallbladder volumes (predisposing to bile stasis), significant retardation of small-intestinal transit times (resulting in increased cholesterol absorption), and increased biliary cholesterol secretion rates. The elevation in bile cholesterol, coupled with a tendency toward gallbladder stasis (due to the absence of CCK-induced contraction), facilitates nucleation, growth, and agglomeration of cholesterol monohydrate crystals; this sequence of events in turn results in a significantly higher prevalence of cholesterol gallstones in the CCK-1R–null mice.
In recent studies we demonstrated that systemic levels of protein-bound nitrotyrosine (NO2Tyr) and myeloperoxidase (MPO), a protein that catalyzes generation of nitrating oxidants, serve as independent predictors of atherosclerotic risk, burden, and incident cardiac events. We now show both that apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I), the primary protein constituent of HDL, is a selective target for MPO-catalyzed nitration and chlorination in vivo and that MPO-catalyzed oxidation of HDL and apoA-I results in selective inhibition in ABCA1-dependent cholesterol efflux from macrophages. Dramatic selective enrichment in NO2Tyr and chlorotyrosine (ClTyr) content within apoA-I recovered from serum and human atherosclerotic lesions is noted, and analysis of serum from sequential subjects demonstrates that the NO2Tyr and ClTyr contents of apoA-I are markedly higher in individuals with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Analysis of circulating HDL further reveals that higher NO2Tyr and ClTyr contents of the lipoprotein are each significantly associated with diminished ABCA1-dependent cholesterol efflux capacity of the lipoprotein. MPO as a likely mechanism for oxidative modification of apoA-I in vivo is apparently facilitated by MPO binding to apoA-I, as revealed by cross-immunoprecipitation studies in plasma, recovery of MPO within HDL-like particles isolated from human atheroma, and identification of a probable contact site between the apoA-I moiety of HDL and MPO. To our knowledge, the present results provide the first direct evidence for apoA-I as a selective target for MPO-catalyzed oxidative modification in human atheroma. They also suggest a potential mechanism for MPO-dependent generation of a proatherogenic dysfunctional form of HDL in vivo.
CD4+ T cells play important roles in orchestrating host immune responses against cancer and infectious diseases. Although EBV-encoded nuclear antigen 1–specific (EBNA1-specific) CD4+ T cells have been implicated in controlling the growth of EBV-associated tumors such as Burkitt lymphoma (BL) in vitro, direct evidence for their in vivo function remains elusive due to the lack of an appropriate experimental BL model. Here, we describe the development of a mouse EBNA1-expressing BL tumor model and the identification of 2 novel MHC H-2I-Ab–restricted T cell epitopes derived from EBNA1. Using our murine BL tumor model and the relevant peptides, we show that vaccination of mice with EBNA1 peptide–loaded DCs can elicit CD4+ T cell responses. These EBNA1-specific CD4+ T cells recognized peptide-pulsed targets as well as EBNA1-expressing tumor cells and were necessary and sufficient for suppressing tumor growth in vivo. By contrast, EBNA1 peptide–reactive CD8+ T cells failed to recognize tumor cells and did not contribute to protective immunity. These studies represent what we believe to be the first demonstration that EBNA1-specific CD4+ T cells can suppress tumor growth in vivo, which suggests that CD4+ T cells play an important role in generating protective immunity against EBV-associated cancer.
Understanding the mechanisms underlying the poor immunogenicity of human self/tumor antigens is challenging because of experimental limitations in humans. Here, we developed a human-mouse chimeric model that allows us to investigate the roles of the frequency and self-reactivity of antigen-specific T cells in determination of the immunogenicity of an epitope (amino acids 209–217) derived from a human melanoma antigen, gp100. In these transgenic mice, CD8+ T cells express the variable regions of a human T cell receptor (hTCR) specific for an HLA-A*0201–restricted gp100209–217. Immunization of hTCR-transgenic mice with gp100209–217 peptide elicited minimal T cell responses, even in mice in which the epitope was knocked out. Conversely, a modified epitope, gp100209–217(2M), was significantly more immunogenic. Both biological and physical assays revealed a fast rate of dissociation of the native peptide from the HLA-A*0201 molecule and a considerably slower rate of dissociation of the modified peptide. In vivo, the time allowed for dissociation of peptide-MHC complexes on APCs prior to their exposure to T cells significantly affected the induction of immune responses. These findings indicate that the poor immunogenicity of some self/tumor antigens is due to the instability of the peptide-MHC complex rather than to the continual deletion or tolerization of self-reactive T cells.
The MHC class I chain–related molecules (MICs) have previously been shown to be induced on most epithelial tumor cells. Engagement of MIC by the activating immune receptor NKG2D triggers NK cells and augments antigen-specific CTL anti-tumor immunity. The MIC-NKG2D system was proposed to participate in epithelial tumor immune surveillance. Paradoxically, studies suggest that tumors may evade MIC-NKG2D–mediated immunity by MIC shedding–induced impairment of effector cell function. Here we demonstrate the first evidence to our knowledge of a significant correlation of MIC shedding and deficiency in NK cell function with the grade of disease in prostate cancer. MIC is widely expressed in prostate carcinoma. The presence of surface target MIC, however, is counteracted by shedding. A significant increase in serum levels of soluble MIC (sMIC) and deficiency in NK cell function was shown in patients with advanced cancer. Finally, the deficiency in NK cell function can be overcome by treatment with IL-2 or IL-15 in vitro. Our results suggest that (a) deficiency in MIC-NKG2D immune surveillance may contribute to prostate cancer progression, (b) sMIC may be a novel biomarker for prostate cancer, and (c) using cytokines to restore MIC-NKG2D–mediated immunity may have clinical significance for prostate cancer in cell-based adaptive immunotherapy.
The transcription factor NF-κB is activated in a range of human cancers and is thought to promote tumorigenesis, mainly due to its ability to protect transformed cells from apoptosis. To investigate the role of NF-κB in epithelial plasticity and metastasis, we utilized a well-characterized in vitro/in vivo model of mammary carcinogenesis that depends on the collaboration of the Ha-Ras oncoprotein and TGF-β. We show here that the IKK-2/IκBα/NF-κB pathway is required for the induction and maintenance of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Inhibition of NF-κB signaling prevented EMT in Ras-transformed epithelial cells, while activation of this pathway promoted the transition to a mesenchymal phenotype even in the absence of TGF-β. Furthermore, inhibition of NF-κB activity in mesenchymal cells caused a reversal of EMT, suggesting that NF-κB is essential for both the induction and maintenance of EMT. In line with the importance of EMT for invasion, blocking of NF-κB activity abrogated the metastatic potential of mammary epithelial cells in a mouse model system. Collectively, these data provide evidence of an essential role for NF-κB during distinct steps of breast cancer progression and suggest that the cooperation of Ras- and TGF-β–dependent signaling pathways in late-stage tumorigenesis depends critically on NF-κB activity.
Cytokines play key roles in spontaneous CD4+ T cell–mediated chronic autoimmune arthritis in SKG mice, a new model of rheumatoid arthritis. Genetic deficiency in IL-6 completely suppressed the development of arthritis in SKG mice, irrespective of the persistence of circulating rheumatoid factor. Either IL-1 or TNF-α deficiency retarded the onset of arthritis and substantially reduced its incidence and severity. IL-10 deficiency, on the other hand, exacerbated disease, whereas IL-4 or IFN-γ deficiency did not alter the disease course. Synovial fluid of arthritic SKG mice contained high amounts of IL-6, TNF-α, and IL-1, in accord with active transcription of these cytokine genes in the afflicted joints. Notably, immunohistochemistry revealed that distinct subsets of synovial cells produced different cytokines in the inflamed synovium: the superficial synovial lining cells mainly produced IL-1 and TNF-α, whereas scattered subsynovial cells produced IL-6. Thus, IL-6, IL-1, TNF-α, and IL-10 play distinct roles in the development of SKG arthritis; arthritogenic CD4+ T cells are not required to skew to either Th1 or Th2; and the appearance of rheumatoid factor is independent of joint inflammation. The results also indicate that targeting not only each cytokine but also each cell population secreting distinct cytokines could be an effective treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Children at risk for type 1 diabetes can develop early insulin autoantibodies (IAAs). Many, but not all, of these children subsequently develop multiple islet autoantibodies and diabetes. To determine whether disease progression is reflected by autoantibody maturity, IAA affinity was measured by competitive radiobinding assay in first and subsequent IAA-positive samples from children followed from birth in the BABYDIAB cohort. IAA affinity in first positive samples ranged from less than 106 l/mol to more than 1011 l/mol. High affinity was associated with HLA DRB1*04, young age of IAA appearance, and subsequent progression to multiple islet autoantibodies or type 1 diabetes. IAA affinity in multiple antibody–positive children was on average 100-fold higher than in children who remained single IAA positive or became autoantibody negative. All high-affinity IAAs required conservation of human insulin A chain residues 8–13 and were reactive with proinsulin. In contrast, most lower-affinity IAAs were dependent on COOH-terminal B chain residues and did not bind proinsulin. These data are consistent with the concept that type 1 diabetes is associated with sustained early exposure to (pro)insulin in the context of HLA DR4 and show that high-affinity proinsulin-reactive IAAs identify children with the highest diabetes risk.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation