Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) densely accumulate into tumors and potently suppress antitumor immune responses, promoting tumor development. Targeting MDSCs in tumor immunotherapy has been hampered by lack of understanding of the molecular pathways that govern MDSC differentiation and function. Herein, we identify autophagy as a crucial pathway for MDSC-mediated suppression of antitumor immunity. Specifically, MDSCs in patients with melanoma and mouse melanoma exhibited increased levels of functional autophagy. Ablation of autophagy in myeloid cells markedly delayed tumor growth and endowed antitumor immune responses. Notably, tumor-infiltrating autophagy-deficient monocytic MDSCs (M-MDSCs) demonstrated impaired suppressive activity in vitro and in vivo, whereas transcriptome analysis revealed substantial differences in genes related to lysosomal function. Accordingly, autophagy-deficient M-MDSCs exhibited impaired lysosomal degradation, thereby enhancing surface expression of MHC class II molecules, resulting in efficient activation of tumor-specific CD4+ T cells. Finally, targeting of the membrane-associated RING-CH1 (MARCH1) E3 ubiquitin ligase that mediates the lysosomal degradation of MHC II in M-MDSCs attenuated their suppressive function, and resulted in markedly decreased tumor volume followed by development of a robust antitumor immunity. Collectively, these findings depict autophagy as a molecular target of MDSC-mediated suppression of antitumor immunity.
Themis Alissafi, Aikaterini Hatzioannou, Konstantinos Mintzas, Roza Maria Barouni, Aggelos Banos, Sundary Sormendi, Alexandros Polyzos, Maria Xilouri, Ben Wielockx, Helen Gogas, Panayotis Verginis
Dormant or slow-cycling tumor cells can form a residual chemoresistant reservoir responsible for relapse in patients, years after curative surgery and adjuvant therapy. We have adapted the pulse-chase expression of H2BeGFP for labeling and isolating slow-cycling cancer cells (SCCCs). SCCCs showed cancer initiation potential and enhanced chemoresistance. Cells at this slow-cycling status presented a distinctive nongenetic and cell-autonomous gene expression profile shared across different tumor types. We identified TET2 epigenetic enzyme as a key factor controlling SCCC numbers, survival, and tumor recurrence. 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), generated by TET2 enzymatic activity, labeled the SCCC genome in carcinomas and was a predictive biomarker of relapse and survival in cancer patients. We have shown the enhanced chemoresistance of SCCCs and revealed 5hmC as a biomarker for their clinical identification and TET2 as a potential drug target for SCCC elimination that could extend patients’ survival.
Isabel Puig, Stephan P. Tenbaum, Irene Chicote, Oriol Arqués, Jordi Martínez-Quintanilla, Estefania Cuesta-Borrás, Lorena Ramírez, Pilar Gonzalo, Atenea Soto, Susana Aguilar, Cristina Eguizabal, Ginevra Caratù, Aleix Prat, Guillem Argilés, Stefania Landolfi, Oriol Casanovas, Violeta Serra, Alberto Villanueva, Alicia G. Arroyo, Luigi Terracciano, Paolo Nuciforo, Joan Seoane, Juan A. Recio, Ana Vivancos, Rodrigo Dienstmann, Josep Tabernero, Héctor G. Palmer
Hypoglycemia activates the counterregulatory response (CRR), a neural-endocrine reflex that restores euglycemia. Although effective if occasionally activated, repeated induction of the CRR leads to a decline in responsiveness and prolonged exposure to hypoglycemia. The mechanism underlying this impairment is not known. We found that the reduction in epinephrine release that characterizes a suppressed CRR involves a long-lasting form of sympatho-adrenal synaptic plasticity. Using optogenetically evoked catecholamine release, we show that recurrent hypoglycemia reduced the secretory capacity of mouse adrenal chromaffin cells. Single activation of the CRR increased the adrenal levels of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme for catecholamine synthesis, but this was prevented by repeated activation. In contrast, the level of neuropeptide Y (NPY), an adrenal cotransmitter, remained elevated after recurrent hypoglycemia. Inhibition of NPY or Y1 signaling, either transgenically or pharmacologically, prevented the attenuation of both TH expression and epinephrine release. These results indicate that impairment of the CRR involves suppressed activity at the adrenal level. Interfering with the peripheral NPY–dependent negative feedback loop may provide a way to avoid the pathophysiological consequences of recurrent hypoglycemia which are common in the diabetic state.
Yunbing Ma, Qian Wang, Debria Joe, Manqi Wang, Matthew D. Whim
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a heterogeneous and fatal disease of the lung vasculature, where metabolic and mitochondrial dysfunction may drive pathogenesis. Similar to the Warburg effect in cancer, a shift from mitochondrial oxidation to glycolysis occurs in diseased pulmonary vessels and the right ventricle. However, appreciation of metabolic events in PH beyond the Warburg effect is only just emerging. This Review discusses molecular, translational, and clinical concepts centered on the mitochondria and highlights promising, controversial, and challenging areas of investigation. If we can move beyond the “mountains” of obstacles in this field and elucidate these fundamental tenets of pulmonary vascular metabolism, such work has the potential to usher in much-needed diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for the mitochondrial and metabolic management of PH.
Miranda K. Culley, Stephen Y. Chan
BACKGROUND. The circadian clock is a fundamental and pervasive biological program that coordinates 24-hour rhythms in physiology, metabolism, and behavior, and it is essential to health. Whereas therapy adapted to time of day is increasingly reported to be highly successful, it needs to be personalized, since internal circadian time is different for each individual. In addition, internal time is not a stable trait, but is influenced by many factors, including genetic predisposition, age, sex, environmental light levels, and season. An easy and convenient diagnostic tool is currently missing. METHODS. To establish a validated test, we followed a 3-stage biomarker development strategy: (a) using circadian transcriptomics of blood monocytes from 12 individuals in a constant routine protocol combined with machine learning approaches, we identified biomarkers for internal time; and these biomarkers (b) were migrated to a clinically relevant gene expression profiling platform (NanoString) and (c) were externally validated using an independent study with 28 early or late chronotypes. RESULTS. We developed a highly accurate and simple assay (BodyTime) to estimate the internal circadian time in humans from a single blood sample. Our assay needs only a small set of blood-based transcript biomarkers and is as accurate as the current gold standard method, dim-light melatonin onset, at smaller monetary, time, and sample-number cost. CONCLUSION. The BodyTime assay provides a new diagnostic tool for personalization of health care according to the patient’s circadian clock. FUNDING. This study was supported by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, Germany (FKZ: 13N13160 and 13N13162) and Intellux GmbH, Germany.
Nicole Wittenbrink, Bharath Ananthasubramaniam, Mirjam Münch, Barbara Koller, Bert Maier, Charlotte Weschke, Frederik Bes, Jan de Zeeuw, Claudia Nowozin, Amely Wahnschaffe, Sophia Wisniewski, Mandy Zaleska, Osnat Bartok, Reut Ashwal-Fluss, Hedwig Lammert, Hanspeter Herzel, Michael Hummel, Sebastian Kadener, Dieter Kunz, Achim Kramer
The mechanisms responsible for the development of the impaired awareness of hypoglycemia often seen in insulin-treated patients with diabetes remain uncertain, but cerebral adaptations to recurrent hypoglycemia are frequently hypothesized. In this issue of the JCI, Ma et al. demonstrate that neuropeptide Y (NPY) secretion from adrenal chromaffin cells persists during exposure to recurrent hypoglycemia and activation of the sympathetic nerves at the same time that epinephrine secretion is reduced. This results in the inhibition of tyrosine hydroxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme for catecholamine synthesis. These observations suggest that a peripheral mechanism downstream from the brain contributes to the development of impaired awareness of hypoglycemia.
Elizabeth R. Seaquist
Robert M. Wachter, Talmadge E. King Jr.
The introduction of a whole-cell vaccine against Bordetella pertussis, the causative agent of whooping cough, dramatically reduced disease incidence. Unfortunately, the whole-cell formulation also induces severe reactions in some infants. Because of this, acellular vaccines have been developed, but they are used exclusively in high-income countries. However, the acellular vaccines do not provide long-term protection, and despite the use of routine boosters, the disease is on the rise. In this issue of the JCI, da Silva Antunes and colleagues demonstrate that the whole-cell vaccines promote long-term polarization toward Th1 and Th17 responses, while the acellular vaccines induce Th2 polarization. Moreover, this polarization is long term, as the response to acellular boosters is dependent on the initial vaccine given in infancy. The authors speculate that Tregs may be induced by initial acellular vaccine administration. The results of this study have important implications for the development of pertussis vaccination strategies that would induce Th1 and Th17 polarization.
Stanley A. Plotkin
Early T cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ETP-ALL) is a new pathological entity with poor outcomes in T cell ALL (T-ALL) that is characterized by a high incidence of loss-of-function mutations in polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) genes. We generated a mouse model of ETP-ALL by deleting Ezh2, one of the PRC2 genes, in p53-null hematopoietic cells. The loss of Ezh2 in p53-null hematopoietic cells impeded the differentiation of ETPs and eventually induced ETP-ALL–like disease in mice, indicating that PRC2 functions as a bona fide tumor suppressor in ETPs. A large portion of PRC2 target genes acquired DNA hypermethylation of their promoters following reductions in H3K27me3 levels upon the loss of Ezh2, which included pivotal T cell differentiation–regulating genes. The reactivation of a set of regulators by a DNA-demethylating agent, but not the transduction of single regulator genes, effectively induced the differentiation of ETP-ALL cells. Thus, PRC2 protects key T cell developmental regulators from DNA hypermethylation in order to keep them primed for activation upon subsequent differentiation phases, while its insufficiency predisposes ETPs to leukemic transformation. These results revealed a previously unrecognized epigenetic switch in response to PRC2 dysfunction and provide the basis for specific rational epigenetic therapy for ETP-ALL with PRC2 insufficiency.
Changshan Wang, Motohiko Oshima, Daisuke Sato, Hirotaka Matsui, Sho Kubota, Kazumasa Aoyama, Yaeko Nakajima-Takagi, Shuhei Koide, Jun Matsubayashi, Makiko Mochizuki-Kashio, Takako Nakano-Yokomizo, Jie Bai, Toshitaka Nagao, Akinori Kanai, Atsushi Iwama, Goro Sashida
The biological basis of human aging remains one of the greatest unanswered scientific questions. Increasing evidence, however, points to a role for alterations in mitochondrial function as a potential central regulator of the aging process. Here, we focus primarily on three aspects of mitochondrial biology that link this ancient organelle to how and why we age. In particular, we discuss the role of mitochondria in regulating the innate immune system, the mechanisms linking mitochondrial quality control to age-dependent pathology, and the possibility that mitochondrial-to-nuclear signaling might regulate the rate of aging.
Ji Yong Jang, Arnon Blum, Jie Liu, Toren Finkel
Acute pancreatitis (AP), a human disease in which the pancreas digests itself, has substantial mortality with no specific therapy. The major causes of AP are alcohol abuse and gallstone complications, but it also occurs as an important side effect of the standard asparaginase-based therapy for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Previous investigations into the mechanisms underlying pancreatic acinar cell death induced by alcohol metabolites, bile acids, or asparaginase indicated that loss of intracellular ATP generation is an important factor. We now report that, in isolated mouse pancreatic acinar cells or cell clusters, removal of extracellular glucose had little effect on this ATP loss, suggesting that glucose metabolism was severely inhibited under these conditions. Surprisingly, we show that replacing glucose with galactose prevented or markedly reduced the loss of ATP and any subsequent necrosis. Addition of pyruvate had a similar protective effect. We also studied the effect of galactose in vivo in mouse models of AP induced either by a combination of fatty acids and ethanol or asparaginase. In both cases, galactose markedly reduced acinar necrosis and inflammation. Based on these data, we suggest that galactose feeding may be used to protect against AP.
Shuang Peng, Julia V. Gerasimenko, Tetyana M. Tsugorka, Oleksiy Gryshchenko, Sujith Samarasinghe, Ole H. Petersen, Oleg V. Gerasimenko
SUMOylation is involved in the development of several inflammatory diseases, but the physiological significance of SUMO-modulated c-Maf in autoimmune diabetes is not completely understood. Here, we report that an age-dependent attenuation of c-Maf SUMOylation in CD4+ T cells is positively correlated with the IL-21–mediated diabetogenesis in NOD mice. Using 2 strains of T cell–specific transgenic NOD mice overexpressing wild-type c-Maf (Tg-WTc) or SUMOylation site–mutated c-Maf (Tg-KRc), we demonstrated that Tg-KRc mice developed diabetes more rapidly than Tg-WTc mice in a CD4+ T cell–autonomous manner. Moreover, SUMO-defective c-Maf preferentially transactivated Il21 to promote the development of CD4+ T cells with an extrafollicular helper T cell phenotype and expand the numbers of granzyme B–producing effector/memory CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, SUMO-defective c-Maf selectively inhibited recruitment of Daxx/HDAC2 to the Il21 promoter and enhanced histone acetylation mediated by CREB-binding protein (CBP) and p300. Using pharmacological interference with CBP/p300, we illustrated that CBP30 treatment ameliorated c-Maf–mediated/IL-21–based diabetogenesis. Taken together, our results show that the SUMOylation status of c-Maf has a stronger regulatory effect on IL-21 than the level of c-Maf expression, through an epigenetic mechanism. These findings provide new insights into how SUMOylation modulates the pathogenesis of autoimmune diabetes in a T cell–restricted manner and on the basis of a single transcription factor.
Chao-Yuan Hsu, Li-Tzu Yeh, Shin-Huei Fu, Ming-Wei Chien, Yu-Wen Liu, Shi-Chuen Miaw, Deh-Ming Chang, Huey-Kang Sytwu
Pain signals are transmitted by multisynaptic glutamatergic pathways. Their first synapse between primary nociceptors and excitatory spinal interneurons gates the sensory load. In this pathway, glutamate release is orchestrated by Ca2+-sensor proteins, with N-terminal EF-hand Ca2+-binding protein 2 (NECAB2) being particular abundant. However, neither the importance of NECAB2+ neuronal contingents in dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) and spinal cord nor the function determination by NECAB2 has been defined. A combination of histochemical analyses and single-cell RNA-sequencing showed NECAB2 in small- and medium-sized C- and Aδ D-hair low-threshold mechanoreceptors in DRGs, as well as in protein kinase C γ excitatory spinal interneurons. NECAB2 was downregulated by peripheral nerve injury, leading to the hypothesis that NECAB2 loss of function could limit pain sensation. Indeed, Necab2–/– mice reached a pain-free state significantly faster after peripheral inflammation than did WT littermates. Genetic access to transiently activated neurons revealed that a mediodorsal cohort of NECAB2+ neurons mediates inflammatory pain in the mouse spinal dorsal horn. Here, besides dampening excitatory transmission in spinal interneurons, NECAB2 limited pronociceptive brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) release from sensory afferents. Hoxb8-dependent reinstatement of NECAB2 expression in Necab2–/– mice then demonstrated that spinal and DRG NECAB2 alone could control inflammation-induced sensory hypersensitivity. Overall, we identify NECAB2 as a critical component of pronociceptive pain signaling, whose inactivation offers substantial pain relief.
Ming-Dong Zhang, Jie Su, Csaba Adori, Valentina Cinquina, Katarzyna Malenczyk, Fatima Girach, Changgeng Peng, Patrik Ernfors, Peter Löw, Lotta Borgius, Ole Kiehn, Masahiko Watanabe, Mathias Uhlén, Nicholas Mitsios, Jan Mulder, Tibor Harkany, Tomas Hökfelt
Intestinal homeostasis depends on a slowly proliferating stem cell compartment in crypt cells, followed by rapid proliferation of committed progenitor cells in the transit amplifying (TA) compartment. The balance between proliferation and differentiation in intestinal stem cells (ISCs) is regulated by Wnt/β-catenin signaling, although the mechanism remains unclear. We previously targeted PORCN, an enzyme essential for all Wnt secretion, and demonstrated that stromal production of Wnts was required for intestinal homeostasis. Here, a PORCN inhibitor was used to acutely suppress Wnt signaling. Unexpectedly, the treatment induced an initial burst of proliferation in the stem cell compartment of the small intestine, due to conversion of ISCs into TA cells with a loss of intrinsic ISC self-renewal. This process involved MAPK pathway activation, as the proliferating cells in the base of the intestinal crypt contained phosphorylated ERK1/2, and a MEK inhibitor attenuated the proliferation of ISCs and their differentiation into TA cells. These findings suggest a role for Wnt signaling in suppressing the MAPK pathway at the crypt base to maintain a pool of ISCs. The interaction between Wnt and MAPK pathways in vivo has potential therapeutic applications in cancer and regenerative medicine.
Zahra Kabiri, Gediminas Greicius, Hamed Zaribafzadeh, Amanda Hemmerich, Christopher M. Counter, David M. Virshup
Remodeling of mitochondrial metabolism plays an important role in regulating immune cell fate, proliferation, and activity. Furthermore, given their bacterial ancestry, disruption in mitochondrial fidelity leading to extravasation of their content initiates and amplifies innate immune surveillance with a myriad of physiologic and pathologic consequences. Investigations into the role of mitochondria in the immune system have come to the fore, and appreciation of mitochondrial function and quality control in immune regulation has enhanced our understanding of disease pathogenesis and identified new targets for immune modulation. This mitochondria-centered Review focuses on the role of mitochondrial metabolism and fidelity, as well as the role of the mitochondria as a structural platform, for the control of immune cell polarity, activation, and signaling. Mitochondria-linked disease and mitochondrially targeted therapeutic strategies to manage these conditions are also discussed.
Michael N. Sack
Enhancer of zeste homolog 2–mediated (EZH2-mediated) epigenetic regulation of T cell differentiation and Treg function has been described previously; however, the role of EZH2 in T cell–mediated antitumor immunity, especially in the context of immune checkpoint therapy, is not understood. Here, we showed that genetic depletion of EZH2 in Tregs (FoxP3creEZH2fl/fl mice) leads to robust antitumor immunity. In addition, pharmacological inhibition of EZH2 in human T cells using CPI-1205 elicited phenotypic and functional alterations of the Tregs and enhanced cytotoxic activity of Teffs. We observed that ipilimumab (anti–CTLA-4) increased EZH2 expression in peripheral T cells from treated patients. We hypothesized that inhibition of EZH2 expression in T cells would increase the effectiveness of anti–CTLA-4 therapy, which we tested in murine models. Collectively, our data demonstrated that modulating EZH2 expression in T cells can improve antitumor responses elicited by anti–CTLA-4 therapy, which provides a strong rationale for a combination trial of CPI-1205 plus ipilimumab.
Sangeeta Goswami, Irina Apostolou, Jan Zhang, Jill Skepner, Swetha Anandhan, Xuejun Zhang, Liangwen Xiong, Patrick Trojer, Ana Aparicio, Sumit K. Subudhi, James P. Allison, Hao Zhao, Padmanee Sharma
Control of cellular metabolism is critical for efficient cell function, although little is known about the interplay between cell subset–specific metabolites in situ, especially in the tumor setting. Here, we determined how a macrophage-specific (Mϕ-specific) metabolite, itaconic acid, can regulate tumor progression in the peritoneum. We show that peritoneal tumors (B16 melanoma or ID8 ovarian carcinoma) elicited a fatty acid oxidation–mediated increase in oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and glycolysis in peritoneal tissue–resident macrophages (pResMϕ). Unbiased metabolomics identified itaconic acid, the product of immune-responsive gene 1–mediated (Irg1-mediated) catabolism of mitochondrial cis-aconitate, among the most highly upregulated metabolites in pResMϕ of tumor-bearing mice. Administration of lentivirally encoded Irg1 shRNA significantly reduced peritoneal tumors. This resulted in reductions in OXPHOS and OXPHOS-driven production of ROS in pResMϕ and ROS-mediated MAPK activation in tumor cells. Our findings demonstrate that tumors profoundly alter pResMϕ metabolism, leading to the production of itaconic acid, which potentiates tumor growth. Monocytes isolated from ovarian carcinoma patients’ ascites fluid expressed significantly elevated levels of IRG1. Therefore, IRG1 in pResMϕ represents a potential therapeutic target for peritoneal tumors.
Jonathan M. Weiss, Luke C. Davies, Megan Karwan, Lilia Ileva, Michelle K. Ozaki, Robert Y.S. Cheng, Lisa A. Ridnour, Christina M. Annunziata, David A. Wink, Daniel W. McVicar
Lysine-63–linked (K63-linked) polyubiquitination of TRAF3 coordinates the engagement of pattern-recognition receptors with recruited adaptor proteins and downstream activator TBK1 in pathways that induce type I IFN. Whether autoubiquitination or other E3 ligases mediate K63-linked TRAF3 polyubiquitination remains unclear. We demonstrated that mice deficient in the E3 ligase gene Hectd3 remarkably increased host defense against infection by intracellular bacteria Francisella novicida, Mycobacterium, and Listeria by limiting bacterial dissemination. In the absence of HECTD3, type I IFN response was impaired during bacterial infection both in vivo and in vitro. HECTD3 regulated type I IFN production by mediating K63-linked polyubiquitination of TRAF3 at residue K138. The catalytic domain of HECTD3 regulated TRAF3 K63 polyubiquitination, which enabled TRAF3-TBK1 complex formation. Our study offers insights into mechanisms of TRAF3 modulation and provides potential therapeutic targets against infections by intracellular bacteria and inflammatory diseases.
Fubing Li, Yang Li, Huichun Liang, Tao Xu, Yanjie Kong, Maobo Huang, Ji Xiao, Xi Chen, Houjun Xia, Yingying Wu, Zhongmei Zhou, Xiaomin Guo, Chunmiao Hu, Chuanyu Yang, Xu Cheng, Ceshi Chen, Xiaopeng Qi