Mei et al. report a critical role of IL-6 signaling in the aging-related transformation of myelodysplastic syndromes to acute myeloid leukemia. The cover image shows osteosclerosis in the bone marrow in a murine model of age-related myelodysplastic syndrome.
Ralph I. Horwitz, Allison Hayes-Conroy, Burton H. Singer, Mark R. Cullen, Kimberly Badal, Ida Sim
The intestinal tract is protected by epithelium-covering mucus, which is constantly renewed by goblet cells, a specialized type of epithelial cell. Mucus is largely composed of MUC2 mucin, an enormous molecule that poses a high demand on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) for proper folding and protein assembly, creating a challenge for the secretory machinery in goblet cells. In this issue of the JCI, Grey et al. reveal that the ER resident protein and folding sensor ERN2 (also known as IRE1β) was instrumental for goblet cells to produce sufficient amounts of mucus to form a protective mucus layer. In the absence of ERN2, mucus production was reduced, impairing the mucus barrier, which allowed bacteria to penetrate and cause an epithelial cell stress response. This study emphasizes the importance of a controlled unfolded protein response (UPR) for goblet cell secretion.
Malin E.V. Johansson, Gunnar C. Hansson
Several classes of antibiotics have long been known for protective properties that cannot be explained through their direct antimicrobial effects. However, the molecular bases of these beneficial roles have been elusive. In this issue of the JCI, Mottis et al. report that tetracyclines induced disease tolerance against influenza virus infection, expanding their protection potential beyond resistance and disease tolerance against bacterial infections. The authors dissociated tetracycline’s disease-resistance properties from its disease-tolerance properties by identifying potent tetracycline derivatives with minimal antimicrobial activity but increased capacity to induce an adaptive mitochondrial stress response that initiated disease tolerance mechanisms. These findings have potential clinical applications in viral infections.
Kátia Jesus, Luís F. Moita
The switch from anchorage-dependent to anchorage-independent growth is essential for epithelial metastasis. The underlying mechanism, however, is not fully understood. In this study, we identified growth factor independent-1 (GFI1), a transcription factor that drives the transition from adherent endothelial cells to suspended hematopoietic cells during hematopoiesis, as a critical regulator of anchorage independence in lung cancer cells. GFI1 elevated the numbers of circulating and lung-infiltrating tumor cells in xenograft models and predicted poor prognosis of patients with lung cancer. Mechanistically, GFI1 inhibited the expression of multiple adhesion molecules and facilitated substrate detachment. Concomitantly, GFI1 reconfigured the chromatin structure of the RASGRP2 gene and increased its expression, causing Rap1 activation and subsequent sustained ERK activation upon detachment, and this led to ERK signaling dependency in tumor cells. Our studies unveiled a mechanism by which carcinoma cells hijacked a hematopoietic factor to gain anchorage independence and suggested that the intervention of ERK signaling may suppress metastasis and improve the therapeutic outcome of patients with GFI1-positive lung cancer.
Hao Wang, Zhenzhen Lin, Zhe Nian, Wei Zhang, Wenxu Liu, Fei Yan, Zengtuan Xiao, Xia Wang, Zhenfa Zhang, Zhenyi Ma, Zhe Liu
Mitohormesis defines the increase in fitness mediated by adaptive responses to mild mitochondrial stress. Tetracyclines inhibit not only bacterial but also mitochondrial translation, thus imposing a low level of mitochondrial stress on eukaryotic cells. We demonstrate in cell and germ-free mouse models that tetracyclines induce a mild adaptive mitochondrial stress response (MSR), involving both the ATF4-mediated integrative stress response and type I interferon (IFN) signaling. To overcome the interferences of tetracyclines with the host microbiome, we identify tetracycline derivatives that have minimal antimicrobial activity, yet retain full capacity to induce the MSR, such as the lead compound, 9-tert-butyl doxycycline (9-TB). The MSR induced by doxycycline (Dox) and 9-TB improves survival and disease tolerance against lethal influenza virus (IFV) infection when given preventively. 9-TB, unlike Dox, did not affect the gut microbiome and also showed encouraging results against IFV when given in a therapeutic setting. Tolerance to IFV infection is associated with the induction of genes involved in lung epithelial cell and cilia function, and with downregulation of inflammatory and immune gene sets in lungs, liver, and kidneys. Mitohormesis induced by non-antimicrobial tetracyclines and the ensuing IFN response may dampen excessive inflammation and tissue damage during viral infections, opening innovative therapeutic avenues.
Adrienne Mottis, Terytty Y. Li, Gaby El Alam, Alexis Rapin, Elena Katsyuba, David Liaskos, Davide D’Amico, Nicola L. Harris, Mark C. Grier, Laurent Mouchiroud, Mark L. Nelson, Johan Auwerx
In chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), combination therapies with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) aim to improve the achievement of deep molecular remission that would allow therapy discontinuation. IFN-α is one promising candidate, as it has long-lasting effects on both malignant and immune cells. In connection with a multicenter clinical trial combining dasatinib with IFN-α in 40 patients with chronic-phase CML (NordCML007, NCT01725204), we performed immune monitoring with single-cell RNA and T cell receptor (TCR) sequencing (n = 4, 12 samples), bulk TCRβ sequencing (n = 13, 26 samples), flow cytometry (n = 40, 106 samples), cytokine analyses (n = 17, 80 samples), and ex vivo functional studies (n = 39, 80 samples). Dasatinib drove the immune repertoire toward terminally differentiated NK and CD8+ T cells with dampened functional capabilities. Patients with dasatinib-associated pleural effusions had increased numbers of CD8+ recently activated effector memory T (Temra) cells. In vitro, dasatinib prevented CD3-induced cell death by blocking TCR signaling. The addition of IFN-α reversed the terminally differentiated phenotypes and increased the number of costimulatory intercellular interactions and the number of unique putative epitope-specific TCR clusters. In vitro IFN-α had costimulatory effects on TCR signaling. Our work supports the combination of IFN-α with TKI therapy, as IFN-α broadens the immune repertoire and restores immunological function.
Jani Huuhtanen, Mette Ilander, Bhagwan Yadav, Olli M.J. Dufva, Hanna Lähteenmäki, Tiina Kasanen, Jay Klievink, Ulla Olsson-Strömberg, Jesper Stentoft, Johan Richter, Perttu Koskenvesa, Martin Höglund, Stina Söderlund, Arta Dreimane, Kimmo Porkka, Tobias Gedde-Dahl, Björn T. Gjertsen, Leif Stenke, Kristina Myhr-Eriksson, Berit Markevärn, Anna Lübking, Andreja Dimitrijevic, Lene Udby, Ole Weis Bjerrum, Henrik Hjorth-Hansen, Satu Mustjoki
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are age-related myeloid neoplasms with increased risk of progression to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The mechanisms of transformation of MDS to AML are poorly understood, especially in relation to the aging microenvironment. We previously established an mDia1/miR-146a double knockout (DKO) mouse model phenocopying MDS. These mice develop age-related pancytopenia with oversecretion of proinflammatory cytokines. Here, we found that most of the DKO mice underwent leukemic transformation at 12–14 months of age. These mice showed myeloblast replacement of fibrotic bone marrow and widespread leukemic infiltration. Strikingly, depletion of IL-6 in these mice largely rescued the leukemic transformation and markedly extended survival. Single-cell RNA sequencing analyses revealed that DKO leukemic mice had increased monocytic blasts that were reduced with IL-6 knockout. We further revealed that the levels of surface and soluble IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) in the bone marrow were significantly increased in high-risk MDS patients. Similarly, IL-6R was also highly expressed in older DKO mice. Blocking of IL-6 signaling significantly ameliorated AML progression in the DKO model and clonogenicity of CD34-positive cells from MDS patients. Our study establishes a mouse model of progression of age-related MDS to AML and indicates the clinical significance of targeting IL-6 signaling in treating high-risk MDS.
Yang Mei, Kehan Ren, Yijie Liu, Annabel Ma, Zongjun Xia, Xu Han, Ermin Li, Hamza Tariq, Haiyan Bao, Xinshu Xie, Cheng Zou, Dingxiao Zhang, Zhaofeng Li, Lili Dong, Amit Verma, Xinyan Lu, Yasmin Abaza, Jessica K. Altman, Madina Sukhanova, Jing Yang, Peng Ji
Solid organ transplantation is the preferred treatment for end-stage organ failure. Although transplant recipients take life-long immunosuppressive drugs, a substantial percentage of them still reject their allografts. Strikingly, barrier organs colonized with microbiota have significantly shorter half-lives than non-barrier transplanted organs, even in immunosuppressed hosts. We previously demonstrated that skin allografts monocolonized with the common human commensal Staphylococcus epidermidis (S.epi) are rejected faster than germ-free (GF) allografts in mice because the presence of S.epi augments the effector alloimmune response locally in the graft. Here, we tested whether host immune responses against graft-resident commensal microbes, including S.epi, can damage colonized grafts independently from the alloresponse. Naive hosts mounted an anticommensal T cell response to colonized, but not GF, syngeneic skin grafts. Whereas naive antigraft commensal T cells modestly damaged colonized syngeneic skin grafts, hosts with prior anticommensal T cell memory mounted a post-transplant immune response against graft-resident commensals that significantly damaged colonized, syngeneic skin grafts. Importantly, allograft recipients harboring this host-versus-commensal immune response resisted immunosuppression. The dual effects of host-versus-commensal and host-versus-allograft responses may partially explain why colonized organs have poorer outcomes than sterile organs in the clinic.
Isabella Pirozzolo, Martin Sepulveda, Luqiu Chen, Ying Wang, Yuk Man Lei, Zhipeng Li, Rena Li, Husain Sattar, Betty Theriault, Yasmine Belkaid, Anita S. Chong, Maria-Luisa Alegre
Immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) has demonstrated clinical success in “inflamed” tumors with substantial T cell infiltrates, but tumors with an immune-desert tumor microenvironment (TME) fail to benefit. The tumor cell–intrinsic molecular mechanisms of the immune-desert phenotype remain poorly understood. Here, we demonstrated that inactivation of the polycomb-repressive complex 2 (PRC2) core components embryonic ectoderm development (EED) or suppressor of zeste 12 homolog (SUZ12), a prevalent genetic event in malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) and sporadically in other cancers, drove a context-dependent immune-desert TME. PRC2 inactivation reprogramed the chromatin landscape that led to a cell-autonomous shift from primed baseline signaling-dependent cellular responses (e.g., IFN-γ signaling) to PRC2-regulated developmental and cellular differentiation transcriptional programs. Further, PRC2 inactivation led to diminished tumor immune infiltrates through reduced chemokine production and impaired antigen presentation and T cell priming, resulting in primary resistance to ICB. Intratumoral delivery of inactivated modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) enhanced tumor immune infiltrates and sensitized PRC2-loss tumors to ICB. Our results identify molecular mechanisms of PRC2 inactivation–mediated, context-dependent epigenetic reprogramming that underline the immune-desert phenotype in cancer. Our studies also point to intratumoral delivery of immunogenic viruses as an initial therapeutic strategy to modulate the immune-desert TME and capitalize on the clinical benefit of ICB.
Juan Yan, Yuedan Chen, Amish J. Patel, Sarah Warda, Cindy J. Lee, Briana G. Nixon, Elissa W.P. Wong, Miguel A. Miranda-Román, Ning Yang, Yi Wang, Mohini R. Pachai, Jessica Sher, Emily Giff, Fanying Tang, Ekta Khurana, Sam Singer, Yang Liu, Phillip M. Galbo Jr., Jesper L.V. Maag, Richard P. Koche, Deyou Zheng, Cristina R. Antonescu, Liang Deng, Ming O. Li, Yu Chen, Ping Chi
Epithelial cells lining mucosal surfaces of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts uniquely express ERN2/IRE1β, a paralogue of the most evolutionarily conserved endoplasmic reticulum stress sensor, ERN1/IRE1α. How ERN2 functions at the host-environment interface and why a second paralogue evolved remain incompletely understood. Using conventionally raised and germ-free Ern2–/– mice, we found that ERN2 was required for microbiota-induced goblet cell maturation and mucus barrier assembly in the colon. This occurred only after colonization of the alimentary tract with normal gut microflora, which induced Ern2 expression. ERN2 acted by splicing Xbp1 mRNA to expand ER function and prevent ER stress in goblet cells. Although ERN1 can also splice Xbp1 mRNA, it did not act redundantly to ERN2 in this context. By regulating assembly of the colon mucus layer, ERN2 further shaped the composition of the gut microbiota. Mice lacking Ern2 had a dysbiotic microbial community that failed to induce goblet cell development and increased susceptibility to colitis when transferred into germ-free WT mice. These results show that ERN2 evolved at mucosal surfaces to mediate crosstalk between gut microbes and the colonic epithelium required for normal homeostasis and host defense.
Michael J. Grey, Heidi De Luca, Doyle V. Ward, Irini A.M. Kreulen, Katlynn Bugda Gwilt, Sage E. Foley, Jay R. Thiagarajah, Beth A. McCormick, Jerrold R. Turner, Wayne I. Lencer
Human β-defensin-3 (hBD-3) exhibits antimicrobial and immunomodulatory activities; however, its contribution to autophagy regulation remains unclear, and the role of autophagy in the regulation of the epidermal barrier in atopic dermatitis (AD) is poorly understood. Here, keratinocyte autophagy was restrained in the skin lesions of patients with AD and murine models of AD. Interestingly, hBD-3 alleviated the IL-4– and IL-13–mediated impairment of the tight junction (TJ) barrier through keratinocyte autophagy activation, which involved aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) signaling. While autophagy deficiency impaired the epidermal barrier and exacerbated inflammation, hBD-3 attenuated skin inflammation and enhanced the TJ barrier in AD. Importantly, hBD-3–mediated improvement of the TJ barrier was abolished in autophagy-deficient AD mice and in AhR-suppressed AD mice, suggesting a role for hBD-3–mediated autophagy in the regulation of the epidermal barrier and inflammation in AD. Thus, autophagy contributes to the pathogenesis of AD, and hBD-3 could be used for therapeutic purposes.
Ge Peng, Saya Tsukamoto, Risa Ikutama, Hai Le Thanh Nguyen, Yoshie Umehara, Juan V. Trujillo-Paez, Hainan Yue, Miho Takahashi, Takasuke Ogawa, Ryoma Kishi, Mitsutoshi Tominaga, Kenji Takamori, Jiro Kitaura, Shun Kageyama, Masaaki Komatsu, Ko Okumura, Hideoki Ogawa, Shigaku Ikeda, François Niyonsaba
FcγRIIB is an inhibitory receptor expressed throughout B cell development. Diminished expression or function is associated with lupus in mice and humans, in particular through an effect on autoantibody production and plasma cell (PC) differentiation. Here, we analyzed the effect of B cell–intrinsic FcγRIIB expression on B cell activation and PC differentiation. Loss of FcγRIIB on B cells in Fcgr2b–conditional KO (Fcgr2b-cKO) mice led to a spontaneous increase in autoantibody titers. This increase was most striking for IgG3, suggestive of increased extrafollicular responses. Marginal zone (MZ) B cells had the highest expression of FcγRIIB in both mice and humans. This high expression of FcγRIIB was linked to increased MZ B cell activation, Erk phosphorylation, and calcium flux in the absence of FcγRIIB triggering. We observed a marked increase in IgG3+ PCs and B cells during extrafollicular PC responses in Fcgr2b-cKO mice. The increased IgG3 response following immunization of Fcgr2b-cKO mice was lost in MZ-deficient Notch2 Fcgr2b–double KO mice. Importantly, patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) had a decrease in FcγRIIB expression that was strongest in MZ B cells. Thus, we present a model in which high FcγRIIB expression in MZ B cells prevented their hyperactivation and ensuing autoimmunity.
Ashley N. Barlev, Susan Malkiel, Izumi Kurata-Sato, Annemarie L. Dorjée, Jolien Suurmond, Betty Diamond
An extreme chronic wound tissue microenvironment causes epigenetic gene silencing. An unbiased whole-genome methylome was studied in the wound-edge tissue of patients with chronic wounds. A total of 4,689 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were identified in chronic wound-edge skin compared with unwounded human skin. Hypermethylation was more frequently observed (3,661 DMRs) in the chronic wound-edge tissue compared with hypomethylation (1,028 DMRs). Twenty-six hypermethylated DMRs were involved in epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Bisulfite sequencing validated hypermethylation of a predicted specific upstream regulator TP53. RNA-Seq analysis was performed to qualify findings from methylome analysis. Analysis of the downregulated genes identified the TP53 signaling pathway as being significantly silenced. Direct comparison of hypermethylation and downregulated genes identified 4 genes, ADAM17, NOTCH, TWIST1, and SMURF1, that functionally represent the EMT pathway. Single-cell RNA-Seq studies revealed that these effects on gene expression were limited to the keratinocyte cell compartment. Experimental murine studies established that tissue ischemia potently induces wound-edge gene methylation and that 5′-azacytidine, inhibitor of methylation, improved wound closure. To specifically address the significance of TP53 methylation, keratinocyte-specific editing of TP53 methylation at the wound edge was achieved by a tissue nanotransfection-based CRISPR/dCas9 approach. This work identified that reversal of methylation-dependent keratinocyte gene silencing represents a productive therapeutic strategy to improve wound closure.
Kanhaiya Singh, Yashika Rustagi, Ahmed S. Abouhashem, Saba Tabasum, Priyanka Verma, Edward Hernandez, Durba Pal, Dolly K. Khona, Sujit K. Mohanty, Manishekhar Kumar, Rajneesh Srivastava, Poornachander R. Guda, Sumit S. Verma, Sanskruti Mahajan, Jackson A. Killian, Logan A. Walker, Subhadip Ghatak, Shomita S. Mathew-Steiner, Kristen E. Wanczyk, Sheng Liu, Jun Wan, Pearlly Yan, Ralf Bundschuh, Savita Khanna, Gayle M. Gordillo, Michael P. Murphy, Sashwati Roy, Chandan K. Sen
Cancer-related cognitive impairment (CRCI) is a major neurotoxicity affecting more than 50% of cancer survivors. The underpinning mechanisms are mostly unknown, and there are no FDA-approved interventions. Sphingolipidomic analysis of mouse prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, key sites of cognitive function, revealed that cisplatin increased levels of the potent signaling molecule sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) and led to cognitive impairment. At the biochemical level, S1P induced mitochondrial dysfunction, activation of NOD-, LRR-, and pyrin domain–containing protein 3 inflammasomes, and increased IL-1β formation. These events were attenuated by systemic administration of the functional S1P receptor 1 (S1PR1) antagonist FTY720, which also attenuated cognitive impairment without adversely affecting locomotor activity. Similar attenuation was observed with ozanimod, another FDA-approved functional S1PR1 antagonist. Mice with astrocyte-specific deletion of S1pr1 lost their ability to respond to FTY720, implicating involvement of astrocytic S1PR1. Remarkably, our pharmacological and genetic approaches, coupled with computational modeling studies, revealed that cisplatin increased S1P production by activating TLR4. Collectively, our results identify the molecular mechanisms engaged by the S1P/S1PR1 axis in CRCI and establish S1PR1 antagonism as an approach to target CRCI with therapeutics that have fast-track clinical application.
Silvia Squillace, Michael L. Niehoff, Timothy M. Doyle, Michael Green, Emanuela Esposito, Salvatore Cuzzocrea, Christopher K. Arnatt, Sarah Spiegel, Susan A. Farr, Daniela Salvemini
A diverse T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire is essential for protection against a variety of pathogens, and TCR repertoire size is believed to decline with age. However, the precise size of human TCR repertoires, in both total and subsets of T cells, as well as their changes with age, are not fully characterized. We conducted a longitudinal analysis of the human blood TCRα and TCRβ repertoire of CD4+ and CD8+ T cell subsets using a unique molecular identifier–based (UMI-based) RNA-seq method. Thorough analysis of 1.9 × 108 T cells yielded the lower estimate of TCR repertoire richness in an adult at 3.8 × 108. Alterations of the TCR repertoire with age were observed in all 4 subsets of T cells. The greatest reduction was observed in naive CD8+ T cells, while the greatest clonal expansion was in memory CD8+ T cells, and the highest increased retention of TCR sequences was in memory CD8+ T cells. Our results demonstrated that age-related TCR repertoire attrition is subset specific and more profound for CD8+ than CD4+ T cells, suggesting that aging has a more profound effect on cytotoxic as opposed to helper T cell functions. This may explain the increased susceptibility of older adults to novel infections.
Xiaoping Sun, Thomas Nguyen, Achouak Achour, Annette Ko, Jeffrey Cifello, Chen Ling, Jay Sharma, Toyoko Hiroi, Yongqing Zhang, Chee W. Chia, William Wood III, Wells W. Wu, Linda Zukley, Je-Nie Phue, Kevin G. Becker, Rong-Fong Shen, Luigi Ferrucci, Nan-ping Weng
The in vivo persistence of adoptively transferred T cells is predictive of antitumor response. Identifying functional properties of infused T cells that lead to in vivo persistence and tumor eradication has remained elusive. We profiled CD19-specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells as the infusion products used to treat large B cell lymphomas using high-throughput single-cell technologies based on time-lapse imaging microscopy in nanowell grids (TIMING), which integrates killing, cytokine secretion, and transcriptional profiling. Our results show that the directional migration of CD19-specific CAR T cells is correlated with multifunctionality. We showed that CD2 on T cells is associated with directional migration and that the interaction between CD2 on T cells and CD58 on lymphoma cells accelerates killing and serial killing. Consistent with this, we observed that elevated CD58 expression on pretreatment tumor samples in patients with relapsed or refractory large B cell lymphomas treated with CD19-specific CAR T cell therapy was associated with complete clinical response and survival. These results highlight the importance of studying dynamic T cell–tumor cell interactions in identifying optimal antitumor responses.
Gabrielle Romain, Paolo Strati, Ali Rezvan, Mohsen Fathi, Irfan N. Bandey, Jay R T. Adolacion, Darren Heeke, Ivan Liadi, Mario L. Marques-Piubelli, Luisa M. Solis, Ankit Mahendra, Francisco Vega, Laurence J.N. Cooper, Harjeet Singh, Mike Mattie, Adrian Bot, Sattva S. Neelapu, Navin Varadarajan
Respiratory viruses such as influenza do not typically cause viremia; however, SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in the blood of COVID-19 patients with mild and severe symptoms. Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in blood raises questions about its role in pathogenesis as well as transfusion safety concerns. Blood donor reports of symptoms or a diagnosis of COVID-19 after donation (post-donation information, PDI) preceded or coincided with increased general population COVID-19 mortality. Plasma samples from 2,250 blood donors who reported possible COVID-19–related PDI were tested for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Detection of RNAemia peaked at 9%–15% of PDI donors in late 2020 to early 2021 and fell to approximately 4% after implementation of widespread vaccination in the population. RNAemic donors were 1.2- to 1.4-fold more likely to report cough or shortness of breath and 1.8-fold more likely to report change in taste or smell compared with infected donors without detectable RNAemia. No infectious virus was detected in plasma from RNAemic donors; inoculation of permissive cell lines produced less than 0.7–7 plaque-forming units (PFU)/mL and in susceptible mice less than 100 PFU/mL in RNA-positive plasma based on limits of detection in these models. These findings suggest that blood transfusions are highly unlikely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Paula Saá, Rebecca V. Fink, Sonia Bakkour, Jing Jin, Graham Simmons, Marcus O. Muench, Hina Dawar, Clara Di Germanio, Alvin J. Hui, David J. Wright, David E. Krysztof, Steven H. Kleinman, Angela Cheung, Theresa Nester, Debra A. Kessler, Rebecca L. Townsend, Bryan R. Spencer, Hany Kamel, Jacquelyn M. Vannoy, Honey Dave, Michael P. Busch, Susan L. Stramer, Mars Stone, Rachael P. Jackman, Philip J. Norris, for the NHLBI Recipient Epidemiology and Donor Evaluation Study-IV-Pediatric (REDS-IV-P)