Germinal center (GC) responses require B cells to respond to a dynamic set of intercellular and microenvironmental signals that instruct B cell positioning, differentiation, and metabolic reprogramming. RHO-associated coiled-coil–containing protein kinase 2 (ROCK2), a serine-threonine kinase that can be therapeutically targeted by ROCK inhibitors or statins, is a key downstream effector of RHOA GTPases. Although RHOA-mediated pathways are emerging as critical regulators of GC responses, the role of ROCK2 in B cells is unknown. Here, we found that ROCK2 was activated in response to key T cell signals like CD40 and IL-21 and that it regulated GC formation and maintenance. RNA-Seq analyses revealed that ROCK2 controlled a unique transcriptional program in GC B cells that promoted optimal GC polarization and cholesterol biosynthesis. ROCK2 regulated this program by restraining AKT activation and subsequently enhancing FOXO1 activity. ATAC-Seq (assay for transposase-accessible chromatin with high-throughput sequencing) and biochemical analyses revealed that the effects of ROCK2 on cholesterol biosynthesis were instead mediated via a novel mechanism. ROCK2 directly phosphorylated interferon regulatory factor 8 (IRF8), a crucial mediator of GC responses, and promoted its interaction with sterol regulatory element–binding transcription factor 2 (SREBP2) at key regulatory regions controlling the expression of cholesterol biosynthetic enzymes, resulting in optimal recruitment of SREBP2 at these sites. These findings thus uncover ROCK2 as a multifaceted and therapeutically targetable regulator of GC responses.
Edd Ricker, Yurii Chinenov, Tania Pannellini, Danny Flores-Castro, Chao Ye, Sanjay Gupta, Michela Manni, James K. Liao, Alessandra B. Pernis
Children and adults with Philadelphia chromosome–like B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph-like B-ALL) experience high relapse rates despite best-available conventional chemotherapy. Ph-like ALL is driven by genetic alterations that activate constitutive cytokine receptor and kinase signaling, and early-phase trials are investigating the potential of the addition of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) to chemotherapy to improve clinical outcomes. However, preclinical studies have shown that JAK or PI3K pathway inhibition is insufficient to eradicate the most common cytokine receptor–like factor 2–rearranged (CRLF2-rearranged) Ph-like ALL subset. We thus sought to define additional essential signaling pathways required in Ph-like leukemogenesis for improved therapeutic targeting. Herein, we describe an adaptive signaling plasticity of CRLF2-rearranged Ph-like ALL following selective TKI pressure, which occurs in the absence of genetic mutations. Interestingly, we observed that Ph-like ALL cells have activated SRC, ERK, and PI3K signaling consistent with activated B cell receptor (BCR) signaling, although they do not express cell surface μ-heavy chain (μHC). Combinatorial targeting of JAK/STAT, PI3K, and “BCR-like” signaling with multiple TKIs and/or dexamethasone prevented this signaling plasticity and induced complete cell death, demonstrating a more optimal and clinically pragmatic therapeutic strategy for CRLF2-rearranged Ph-like ALL.
Christian Hurtz, Gerald B. Wertheim, Joseph P. Loftus, Daniel Blumenthal, Anne Lehman, Yong Li, Asen Bagashev, Bryan Manning, Katherine D. Cummins, Janis K. Burkhardt, Alexander E. Perl, Martin Carroll, Sarah K. Tasian
Proliferation of CD4+ T cells harboring HIV-1 proviruses is a major contributor to viral persistence in people on antiretroviral therapy (ART). To determine whether differential rates of clonal proliferation or HIV-1–specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) pressure shape the provirus landscape, we performed an intact proviral DNA assay (IPDA) and obtained 661 near–full-length provirus sequences from 8 individuals with suppressed viral loads on ART at time points 7 years apart. We observed slow decay of intact proviruses but no changes in the proportions of various types of defective proviruses. The proportion of intact proviruses in expanded clones was similar to that of defective proviruses in clones. Intact proviruses observed in clones did not have more escaped CTL epitopes than intact proviruses observed as singlets. Concordantly, total proviruses at later time points or observed in clones were not enriched in escaped or unrecognized epitopes. Three individuals with natural control of HIV-1 infection (controllers) on ART, included because controllers have strong HIV-1–specific CTL responses, had a smaller proportion of intact proviruses but a distribution of defective provirus types and escaped or unrecognized epitopes similar to that of the other individuals. This work suggests that CTL selection does not significantly check clonal proliferation of infected cells or greatly alter the provirus landscape in people on ART.
Annukka A.R. Antar, Katharine M. Jenike, Sunyoung Jang, Danielle N. Rigau, Daniel B. Reeves, Rebecca Hoh, Melissa R. Krone, Jeanne C. Keruly, Richard D. Moore, Joshua T. Schiffer, Bareng A.S. Nonyane, Frederick M. Hecht, Steven G. Deeks, Janet D. Siliciano, Ya-Chi Ho, Robert F. Siliciano
T follicular helper (Tfh) cells are indispensable for the formation of germinal center (GC) reactions, whereas T follicular regulatory (Tfr) cells inhibit Tfh-mediated GC responses. Aberrant activation of Tfh cells contributes substantially to the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Nonetheless, the molecular mechanisms mitigating excessive Tfh cell differentiation are not fully understood. Herein we demonstrate that the adenovirus E4 promoter-binding protein (E4BP4) mediates a feedback loop and acts as a transcriptional brake to inhibit Tfh cell differentiation. Furthermore, we show that such an immunological mechanism is compromised in patients with SLE. Establishing mice with either conditional knockout (cKO) or knockin (cKI) of the E4bp4 gene in T cells reveals that E4BP4 strongly inhibits Tfh cell differentiation. Mechanistically, E4BP4 regulates Bcl6 transcription by recruiting the repressive epigenetic modifiers HDAC1 and EZH2. E4BP4 phosphorylation site mutants have limited capability with regard to inhibiting Tfh cell differentiation. In SLE, we detected impaired phosphorylation of E4BP4, finding that this compromised transcription factor is positively correlated with disease activity. These findings unveiled molecular mechanisms by which E4BP4 restrains Tfh cell differentiation, whose compromised function is associated with uncontrolled autoimmune reactions in SLE.
Zijun Wang, Ming Zhao, Jinghua Yin, Limin Liu, Longyuan Hu, Yi Huang, Aiyun Liu, Jiajun Ouyang, Xiaoli Min, Shijia Rao, Wenhui Zhou, Haijing Wu, Akihiko Yoshimura, Qianjin Lu
Allergic asthma is mediated by Th2 responses to inhaled allergens. Although previous experiments indicated that Notch signaling activates expression of the key Th2 transcription factor Gata3, it remains controversial how Notch promotes allergic airway inflammation. Here we show that T cell–specific Notch deficiency in mice prevented house dust mite–driven eosinophilic airway inflammation and significantly reduced Th2 cytokine production, serum IgE levels, and airway hyperreactivity. However, transgenic Gata3 overexpression in Notch-deficient T cells only partially rescued this phenotype. We found that Notch signaling was not required for T cell proliferation or Th2 polarization. Instead, Notch-deficient in vitro–polarized Th2 cells showed reduced accumulation in the lungs upon in vivo transfer and allergen challenge, as Notch-deficient Th2 cells were retained in the lung-draining lymph nodes. Transcriptome analyses and sequential adoptive transfer experiments revealed that while Notch-deficient lymph node Th2 cells established competence for lung migration, they failed to upregulate sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 (S1PR1) and its critical upstream transcriptional activator Krüppel-like factor 2 (KLF2). As this KLF2/S1PR1 axis represents the essential cell-intrinsic regulator of T cell lymph node egress, we conclude that the druggable Notch signaling pathway licenses the Th2 response in allergic airway inflammation via promoting lymph node egress.
Irma Tindemans, Anne van Schoonhoven, Alex KleinJan, Marjolein J.W. de Bruijn, Melanie Lukkes, Menno van Nimwegen, Anouk van den Branden, Ingrid M. Bergen, Odilia B.J. Corneth, Wilfred F.J. van IJcken, Ralph Stadhouders, Rudi W. Hendriks
Immune microenvironment plays a critical role in lung cancer control versus progression and metastasis. In this investigation, we explored the effect of tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte subpopulations on lung cancer biology by studying in vitro cocultures, in vivo mouse models, and human lung cancer tissue. Lymphocyte conditioned media (CM) induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and migration in both primary human lung cancer cells and cell lines. Correspondingly, major accumulation of Th9 and Th17 cells was detected in human lung cancer tissue and correlated with poor survival. Coculturing lung cancer cells with Th9/Th17 cells or exposing them to the respective CM induced EMT in cancer cells and modulated the expression profile of genes implicated in EMT and metastasis. These features were reproduced by the signatory cytokines IL-9 and IL-17, with gene regulatory profiles evoked by these cytokines partly overlapping and partly complementary. Coinjection of Th9/Th17 cells with tumor cells in WT, Rag1–/–, Il9r–/–, and Il17ra–/– mice altered tumor growth and metastasis. Accordingly, inhibition of IL-9 or IL-17 cytokines by neutralizing antibodies decreased EMT and slowed lung cancer progression and metastasis. In conclusion, Th9 and Th17 lymphocytes induce lung cancer cell EMT, thereby promoting migration and metastatic spreading and offering potentially novel therapeutic strategies.
Ylia Salazar, Xiang Zheng, David Brunn, Hartmann Raifer, Felix Picard, Yajuan Zhang, Hauke Winter, Stefan Guenther, Andreas Weigert, Benno Weigmann, Laure Dumoutier, Jean-Christophe Renauld, Ari Waisman, Anja Schmall, Amanda Tufman, Ludger Fink, Bernhard Brüne, Tobias Bopp, Friedrich Grimminger, Werner Seeger, Soni Savai Pullamsetti, Magdalena Huber, Rajkumar Savai
The baroreceptor reflex is a powerful neural feedback that regulates arterial pressure (AP). Mechanosensitive channels transduce pulsatile AP to electrical signals in baroreceptors. Here we show that tentonin 3 (TTN3/TMEM150C), a cation channel activated by mechanical strokes, is essential for detecting AP changes in the aortic arch. TTN3 was expressed in nerve terminals in the aortic arch and nodose ganglion (NG) neurons. Genetic ablation of Ttn3 induced ambient hypertension, tachycardia, AP fluctuations, and impaired baroreflex sensitivity. Chemogenetic silencing or activation of Ttn3+ neurons in the NG resulted in an increase in AP and heart rate, or vice versa. More important, overexpression of Ttn3 in the NG of Ttn3–/– mice reversed the cardiovascular changes observed in Ttn3–/– mice. We conclude that TTN3 is a molecular component contributing to the sensing of dynamic AP changes in baroreceptors.
Huan-Jun Lu, Thien-Luan Nguyen, Gyu-Sang Hong, Sungmin Pak, Hyesu Kim, Hyungsup Kim, Dong-Yoon Kim, Sung-Yon Kim, Yiming Shen, Pan Dong Ryu, Mi-Ock Lee, Uhtaek Oh
Emerging immune therapy, such as with the anti–programmed cell death–1 (anti–PD-1) monoclonal antibody nivolumab, has shown efficacy in tumor suppression. Patients with terminal cancer suffer from cancer pain as a result of bone metastasis and bone destruction, but how PD-1 blockade affects bone cancer pain remains unknown. Here, we report that mice lacking Pdcd1 (Pd1−/−) demonstrated remarkable protection against bone destruction induced by femoral inoculation of Lewis lung cancer cells. Compared with WT mice, Pd1−/− mice exhibited increased baseline pain sensitivity, but the development of bone cancer pain was compromised in Pd1−/− mice. Consistently, these beneficial effects in Pd1−/− mice were recapitulated by repeated i.v. applications of nivolumab in WT mice, even though nivolumab initially increased mechanical and thermal pain. Notably, PD-1 deficiency or nivolumab treatment inhibited osteoclastogenesis without altering tumor burden. PD-L1 and CCL2 are upregulated within the local tumor microenvironment, and PD-L1 promoted RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis through JNK activation and CCL2 secretion. Bone cancer upregulated CCR2 in primary sensory neurons, and CCR2 antagonism effectively reduced bone cancer pain. Our findings suggest that, despite a transient increase in pain sensitivity following each treatment, anti–PD-1 immunotherapy could produce long-term benefits in preventing bone destruction and alleviating bone cancer pain by suppressing osteoclastogenesis.
Kaiyuan Wang, Yun Gu, Yihan Liao, Sangsu Bang, Christopher R. Donnelly, Ouyang Chen, Xueshu Tao, Anthony J. Mirando, Matthew J. Hilton, Ru-Rong Ji
Enteric neuronal degeneration, as seen in inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and diabetes, can lead to gastrointestinal dysmotility. Pyroptosis is a novel form of programmed cell death but little is known about its role in enteric neuronal degeneration. We observed higher levels of cleaved caspase-1, a marker of pyroptosis, in myenteric ganglia of overweight and obese human subjects compared with normal-weight subjects. Western diet–fed (WD-fed) mice exhibited increased myenteric neuronal pyroptosis, delayed colonic transit, and impaired electric field stimulation–induced colonic relaxation responses. WD increased TLR4 expression and cleaved caspase-1 in myenteric nitrergic neurons. Overactivation of nitrergic neuronal NF-κB signaling resulted in increased pyroptosis and delayed colonic motility. In caspase-11–deficient mice, WD did not induce nitrergic myenteric neuronal pyroptosis and colonic dysmotility. To understand the contributions of saturated fatty acids and bacterial products to the steps leading to enteric neurodegeneration, we performed in vitro experiments using mouse enteric neurons. Palmitate and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) increased nitrergic, but not cholinergic, enteric neuronal pyroptosis. LPS gained entry to the cytosol in the presence of palmitate, activating caspase-11 and gasdermin D, leading to pyroptosis. These results support a role of the caspase-11–mediated pyroptotic pathway in WD-induced myenteric nitrergic neuronal degeneration and colonic dysmotility, providing important therapeutic targets for enteric neuropathy.
Lan Ye, Ge Li, Anna Goebel, Abhinav V. Raju, Feng Kong, Yanfei Lv, Kailin Li, Yuanjun Zhu, Shreya Raja, Peijian He, Fang Li, Simon Musyoka Mwangi, Wenhui Hu, Shanthi Srinivasan
β Cell apoptosis and dedifferentiation are 2 hotly debated mechanisms underlying β cell loss in type 2 diabetes; however, the molecular drivers underlying such events remain largely unclear. Here, we performed a side-by-side comparison of mice carrying β cell–specific deletion of ER-associated degradation (ERAD) and autophagy. We reported that, while autophagy was necessary for β cell survival, the highly conserved Sel1L-Hrd1 ERAD protein complex was required for the maintenance of β cell maturation and identity. Using single-cell RNA-Seq, we demonstrated that Sel1L deficiency was not associated with β cell loss, but rather loss of β cell identity. Sel1L-Hrd1 ERAD controlled β cell identity via TGF-β signaling, in part by mediating the degradation of TGF-β receptor 1. Inhibition of TGF-β signaling in Sel1L-deficient β cells augmented the expression of β cell maturation markers and increased the total insulin content. Our data revealed distinct pathogenic effects of 2 major proteolytic pathways in β cells, providing a framework for therapies targeting distinct mechanisms of protein quality control.
Neha Shrestha, Tongyu Liu, Yewei Ji, Rachel B. Reinert, Mauricio Torres, Xin Li, Maria Zhang, Chih-Hang Anthony Tang, Chih-Chi Andrew Hu, Chengyang Liu, Ali Naji, Ming Liu, Jiandie D. Lin, Sander Kersten, Peter Arvan, Ling Qi
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