The disease spectrum of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) ranges from no symptoms to multisystem failure and death. Characterization of virus-specific immune responses to severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is key to understanding disease pathogenesis, but few studies have evaluated T cell immunity. In this issue of the JCI, Sattler et al. sampled blood from subjects with COVID-19 and analyzed the activation and function of virus antigen-specific CD4+ T cells. T cells that failed to respond to peptides from the membrane, spike or nucleocapsid proteins were more common in subjects who died. In those whose T cells had the capacity to respond, older patients with more co-morbidity had larger numbers of activated T cells compared with patients that had fewer risk factors, but these cells showed impaired IFN- production. This cross-sectional study relates activated T cell responses to patient risk factors and outcome. However, T cell response trajectory over the disease course remains an open question.
Diane E. Griffin
Background. Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is the most common histologically defined renal cancer. However, it is not a uniform disease and includes several genetic subtypes with different prognosis. ccRCC is also characterized by distinguished metabolic reprogramming. Tobacco smoking (TS) is an established risk factor for ccRCC with unknown effects on tumor pathobiology. Methods. We investigated the landscape of ccRCCs and paired normal kidney tissues (NKTs) using integrated transcriptomic, metabolomic and metallomic approaches in a cohort of never smokers (NS) and long-term current smokers (LTS) Caucasian males. Results. All three Omics domains consistentl identified a distinct metabolic subtype of ccRCCs in LTS, characterized by activation of oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) coupled with reprogramming of the malate-aspartate shuttle and metabolism of aspartate, glutamate, glutamine and histidine. Cadmium, copper and inorganic arsenic accumulated in LTS tumors showing redistribution among intracellular pools, including relocation of copper into the cytochrome c oxidase complex. Gene expression signature based on the LTS metabolic subtype provided prognostic stratification of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) ccRCC tumors that was independent from genomic alterations. Conclusions. The work identifies the TS related metabolic subtype of ccRCC with vulnerabilities that can be exploited for precision medicine approaches targeting metabolic pathways. The results provide rationale for the development of metabolic biomarkers with diagnostic and prognostic applications using evaluation of OxPhos status. The metallomic analysis reveals the role of disrupted metal homeostasis in ccRCC highlighting the importance of studying effects of metals from e-cigarettes and environmental exposures.
James Reigle, Dina Secic, Jacek Biesiada, Collin Wetzel, Behrouz Shamsaei, Johnson Chu, Yuanwei Zang, Xiang Zhang, Nicholas J. Talbot, Megan E. Bischoff, Yongzhen Zhang, Charuhas V. Thakar, Krishnanath Gaitonde, Abhinav Sidana, Hai Bui, John T. Cunningham, Qing Zhang, Laura S. Schmidt, W. Marston Linehan, Mario Medvedovic, David R. Plas, Julio A. Landero Figueroa, Jarek Meller, Maria F. Czyzyk-Krzeska
Background: Viral load surrogate endpoints transformed development of HIV and hepatitis C therapeutics. Surrogate endpoints for cytomegalovirus (CMV)-related morbidity and mortality could advance development of antiviral treatments. While observational data support using CMV viral load (VL) as a trial endpoint, randomized controlled trials (RCT) demonstrating direct associations between virologic markers and clinical endpoints are lacking. Methods: We performed CMV DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on frozen serum samples from the only placebo-controlled RCT of ganciclovir for early treatment of CMV after hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). We used established criteria to assess VL kinetics as surrogates for CMV disease or death by weeks 8, 24, and 48 after randomization and quantified antiviral effects captured by each marker. We used ensemble-based machine learning to assess the predictive ability of VL kinetics and performed this analysis on a ganciclovir prophylaxis RCT for validation. Results: VL suppression with ganciclovir reduced cumulative incidence of CMV disease and death for 20 years after HCT. Mean VL, peak VL, and change in VL during the first five weeks of treatment fulfilled the Prentice definition for surrogacy, capturing > 95% of ganciclovir’s effect, and yielded highly sensitive and specific predictions by week 48. In the prophylaxis trial, viral shedding rate satisfied the Prentice definition for CMV disease by week 24. Conclusion: Our results support using CMV VL kinetics as surrogates for CMV disease, provide a framework for developing CMV preventative and therapeutic agents, and support reductions in viral load as the mechanism through which antivirals reduce CMV disease.
Elizabeth R. Duke, Brian D. Williamson, Bhavesh Borate, Jonathan L. Golob, Chiara Wychera, Terry Stevens-Ayers, Meei-Li Huang, Nicole Cossrow, Hong Wan, T. Christopher Mast, Morgan A. Marks, Mary Flowers, Keith R. Jerome, Lawrence Corey, Peter B. Gilbert, Joshua T. Schiffer, Michael Boeckh
Dr. Rotonya Carr provides her thoughts on being one of the only Black women in her field, the persistent race-gender gap among academic medical center faculty, and possible solutions to retaining and promoting Black women in academia.
Rotonya M. Carr
BACKGROUND. The T cell responses to the common cold coronaviruses have not been well characterized. Pre-existing T cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2 has been reported, and a recent study suggested that this was due to cross-recognition of the novel coronavirus by T cells specific for the common cold coronaviruses. METHODS. We used the ELISpot assay to characterize the T cell responses against peptide pools derived from the spike protein of three common cold coronaviruses (HCoV-229E, HCoV-NL63, and HCoV-OC43) and SARS-CoV-2 in 21 healthy donors who were seronegative for SARS-CoV-2 and had no known exposure to the virus. An in vitro expansion culture assay was also used to analyze memory T cell responses. RESULTS. We found responses to the spike protein of the three common cold coronaviruses in many donors. We then focused on HCoV-NL63 and demonstrated broad T cell responses to the spike protein and identified 22 targeted peptides. Interestingly, only one subject had a significant response to SARS-CoV-2 spike or nucleocapsid protein in the ELISpot assay. In vitro expansion studies suggested that T cells specific for the HCoV-NL63 spike protein in this subject could also recognize SARS-CoV-2 spike protein peptide pools. CONCLUSIONS. Healthy donors have circulating T cells specific for the spike proteins of HCoV-NL63, HCoV-229E, and HCoV-OC43. T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 spike and nucleocapsid proteins were present in only one subject and were potentially the result of cross-recognition by T cells specific for the common cold coronaviruses. Further studies are needed to determine whether this influences COVID-19 outcomes.
Bezawit A. Woldemeskel, Abena K. Kwaa, Caroline C. Garliss, Oliver Laeyendecker, Stuart C. Ray, Joel N. Blankson
The aorta and the large conductive arteries are immunoprivileged tissues and are protected against inflammatory attack. A breakdown of the immunoprivilege leads to autoimmune vasculitis, such as giant cell arteritis (GCA), in which CD8+ T regulatory (Treg) cells fail to contain CD4+ T cells and macrophages, resulting in the formation of tissue-destructive granulomatous lesions. Here, we report that the molecular defect of malfunctioning CD8+ Treg cells lies in aberrant NOTCH4 signaling that deviates endosomal trafficking and minimizes exosome production. By transcriptionally controlling the profile of RAB GTPases, NOTCH4 signaling restricted membrane translocation and vesicular secretion of the enzyme NADPH oxidase 2 (NOX2). Specifically, NOTCH4hiCD8+ Treg cells increased RAB5A and RAB11A expression and suppressed RAB7A, culminating in the accumulation of early and recycling endosomes and trapping of NOX2 in an intracellular, non-secretory compartment. RAB7AloCD8+ Treg cells failed in the surface translocation and the exosomal release of NOX2. NOTCH4hi RAB5Ahi RAB7Alo RAB11Ahi CD8+ Treg cells left adaptive immunity unopposed, enabling a breakdown in tissue tolerance and aggressive vessel wall inflammation. Inhibiting NOTCH4 signaling corrected the defect and protected arteries from inflammatory insult. The study implicates NOTCH4-dependent transcriptional control of RAB proteins and intracellular vesicle trafficking in autoimmune disease and in vascular inflammation.
Ke Jin, Zhenke Wen, Bowen Wu, Hui Zhang, Jingtao Qiu, Yanan Wang, Kenneth J. Warrington, Gerald Berry, Jörg J. Goronzy, Cornelia M. Weyand
Inborn errors of TLR3-dependent IFN-α/β- and -λ-mediated immunity in the central nervous system (CNS) can underlie herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) encephalitis (HSE). The respective contributions of IFN-α/β and -λ are unknown. We report a child homozygous for a genomic deletion of the entire coding sequence and part of the 3’UTR of the last exon of IFNAR1, who died from HSE at the age of two years. An older cousin died following vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella at 12 months of age, and another 17-year-old cousin homozygous for the same variant has had other, less severe viral illnesses. The encoded IFNAR1 protein is expressed on the cell surface but is truncated and cannot interact with the tyrosine kinase TYK2. The patient’s fibroblasts and EBV-B cells did not respond to IFN-α2b or IFN-β, in terms of STAT1, STAT2 and STAT3 phosphorylation, or the genome-wide induction of IFN-stimulated genes. The patient’s fibroblasts were susceptible to viruses, including HSV-1, even in the presence of exogenous IFN-α2b or IFN-β. HSE is therefore a consequence of inherited complete IFNAR1 deficiency. This viral disease occurred in natural conditions, unlike those previously reported in other patients with IFNAR1 or IFNAR2 deficiency. This experiment of Nature indicates that IFN-α/β are essential for anti-HSV-1 immunity in the CNS.
Paul Bastard, Jeremy Manry, Jie Chen, Jérémie Rosain, Yoann Seeleuthner, Omar AbuZaitun, Lazaro Lorenzo, Taushif Khan, Mary Hasek, Nicholas Hernandez, Benedetta Bigio, Peng Zhang, Romain Lévy, Shai Shrot, Eduardo J. Garcia Reino, Yoon Seung Lee, Soraya Boucherit, Mélodie Aubart, Rik Gijsbers, Vivien Béziat, Zhi Li, Sandra Pellegrini, Isabelle Meyts, Flore Rozenberg, Nico Marr, Bertrand Boisson, Aurélie Cobat, Jacinta Bustamante, Qian Zhang, Emmanuelle Jouanguy, Laurent Abel, Raz Somech, Jean-Laurent Casanova, Shen-Ying Zhang
Estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer is thought to be more malignant and devastating than ER-positive breast cancer and exhibit elevated NF-κB activity. How abnormally high NF-κB activity is maintained in ER-negative breast cancer is poorly understood. The importance of linear ubiquitination, which is generated by the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex (LUBAC), is increasingly appreciated in NF-κB signaling, which regulates cell activation and death. Here, we showed that epsin proteins, a family of ubiquitin-binding endocytic adaptors, interacted with LUBAC via its Ubiquitin-Interacting Motif (UIM) and bound LUBAC’s bona fide substrate NEMO via its N-terminal homolog (ENTH) domain. Furthermore, epsins promoted NF-κB essential modulator (NEMO) linear ubiquitination and served as scaffolds for recruiting other components of the IκB kinase (IKK) complex; thereby, resulting in the heightened IKK activation and sustained NF-κB signaling essential for the development of ER-negative breast cancer. Heightened epsin levels in ER-negative human breast cancer are associated with poor, relapse-free survival. We showed that transgenic and pharmacological approaches eliminating epsins potently impeded breast cancer development in both spontaneous and patient-derived xenograft breast cancer mouse models. Our findings established the pivotal role epsins played in promoting breast cancer. Thus, targeting epsins may represent a strategy to restrain NF-κB signaling, and provide an important perspective into ER-negative breast cancer treatment.
Kai Song, Xiaofeng Cai, Yunzhou Dong, Hao Wu, Yong Wei, Uma Shankavaram, Kui Cui, Yang Lee, Bo Zhu, Sudarshan Bhattacharjee, Beibei Wang, Kun Zhang, Aiyun Wen, Scott Wong, Lili Yu, Lijun Xia, Alana L Welm, Diane R. Bielenberg, Kevin Camphausen, Yibin Kang, Hong Chen
Muscular dystrophies are a heterogeneous group of genetic diseases, characterized by progressive degeneration of skeletal and cardiac muscle. Despite the intense investigation of different therapeutic options, a definitive treatment has not been yet developed for this debilitating class of pathologies. Cell-based therapies in muscular dystrophies have been pursued experimentally for the last three decades. Several cell types with different characteristics and tissues of origin, including myogenic stem and progenitor cells, stromal cells, and pluripotent stem cells, have been investigated over the years and have recently entered in the clinical arena with mixed results. In this review, we will do a roundup of the past attempts and describe the updated status of cell-based therapies aimed at counteracting the skeletal and cardiac myopathy present in dystrophic patients. We will present current challenges, summarize recent progresses, and make recommendations for future research and clinical trials.
Stefano Biressi, Antonio Filareto, Thomas A. Rando
Macrophages are main effectors of heme metabolism, increasing transiently in the liver during heightened disposal of damaged or senescent red blood cells (sRBC). Macrophages are also essential in defense against microbial threats, but pathologic states of heme excess may be immunosuppressive. Herein, we uncovered a mechanism whereby an acute rise in sRBC disposal by macrophages led to an immunosuppressive phenotype following intrapulmonary Klebsiella pneumoniae infection characterized by increased extrapulmonary bacterial proliferation and reduced survival from sepsis in mice. The impaired immunity to K. pneumoniae during heightened sRBC disposal was independent of iron acquisition by bacterial siderophores, as K. pneumoniae mutant lacking siderophore function recapitulated findings observed with wildtype strain. Rather, sRBC disposal induced a liver transcriptomic profile notable for suppression of Stat1 and interferon-related responses during K. pneumoniae sepsis. Excess heme handling by macrophages recapitulated STAT1 suppression during infection that required synergistic NRF1 and NRF2 activation but was independent of heme oxygenase-1 induction. Whereas iron was dispensable, the porphyrin moiety of heme was sufficient to mediate suppression of STAT1-dependent responses in human and mouse macrophages and promoted liver dissemination of K. pneumoniae in vivo. Thus, cellular heme metabolism dysfunction negatively regulates the STAT1 pathway with implications in severe infection.
Tolani F. Olonisakin, Tomeka L. Suber, Shekina Gonzalez-Ferrer, Zeyu Xiong, Hernán F. Peñaloza, Rick van der Geest, Yuting Xiong, David O. Osei-Hwedieh, Jesus Tejero, Matthew R. Rosengart, Wendy M. Mars, Daria Van Tyne, Andreas Perlegas, Samuel Brashears, Daniel B. Kim-Shapiro, Mark T. Gladwin, Michael A. Bachman, Eldad A. Hod, Claudette St. Croix, Yulia Y. Tyurina, Valerian E. Kagan, Rama K. Mallampalli, Anuradha Ray, Prabir Ray, Janet S. Lee
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