Skills and Expertise
Research Items (23)
- Feb 2019
ALS is the most frequent motor neuron disorder in adults with suggested complex relationship regarding gender. Studies investigating ALS and hormones have provided varying results. ALS onset during pregnancy is uncommon and pregnancy after the ALS symptom onset is even rarer. We present three patients with the onset of ALS symptoms before or during pregnancy and propose a putative disease modifying mechanism leading to attenuation of disease progression that we observed during the pregnancies.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressive fatal neurodegenerative disease affecting 1 in 350 people. The aim of Project MinE is to elucidate the pathophysiology of ALS through whole-genome sequencing at least 15,000 ALS patients and 7,500 controls at 30X coverage. Here, we present the Project MinE data browser (databrowser.projectmine.com), a unique and intuitive one-stop, open-access server that provides detailed information on genetic variation analyzed in a new and still growing set of 4,366 ALS cases and 1,832 matched controls. Through its visual components and interactive design, the browser specifically aims to be a resource to those without a biostatistics background and allow clinicians and preclinical researchers to integrate Project MinE data into their own research. The browser allows users to query a transcript and immediately access a unique combination of detailed (meta)data, annotations and association statistics that would otherwise require analytic expertise and visits to scattered resources.
Mutations in a ubiquitin (Ub)-binding adaptor protein optineurin have been found in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease with a prominent neuroinflammatory component. Unlike more frequent ALS mutations which cause disease by gaining toxic properties such as aggregation, mutated optineurin is thought to cause disease by loss-of-function, highlighting its neuroprotective role. Optineurin regulates inflammatory signalling by acting as a scaffold for Tank-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) activation and interferon (IFN)-β production in peripheral immune cells. The relevance of this pathway in the CNS is unclear. To investigate IFN-β pathway as a potential mechanism of optineurin-mediated protection from neurodegeneration, we have generated a mouse model in which the Ub-binding region of optineurin was deleted (Optn470T), mimicking C-terminal truncations found in patients. Here we report reduced TBK1 activation and IFN-β production in primary microglia from Optn470T model upon Toll-like receptor (TLR) stimulation. Likewise, we found diminished expression and activation of several transcription factors that support the amplification loop for IFN-β production including STAT1, IRF7 and IRF9. Notably, although optineurin was also reported to block proinflammatory transcription factor NF-κB, normal NF-κB activation and TNF production were found in Optn470T microglia. However, expression of both proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory factors distal to IFN-β was diminished, and could be restored upon IFN-β supplementation. Taken together with the recent discoveries of TBK1 mutations as an important genetic factor in ALS, our results open up the possibility that disruption of optineurin/TBK1-mediated IFN-β axis leads to an immune failure in containing neuronal damage, which could predispose to neurodegeneration.
When optineurin mutations showed up on the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) landscape in 2010, they differed from most other ALS-causing genes. They seemed to act by loss- rather than gain-of-function, and it was unclear how a polyubiquitin-binding adaptor protein, which was proposed to regulate a variety of cellular functions including cell signaling and vesicle trafficking, could mediate neuroprotection. This review discusses the considerable progress that has been made since then. A large number of mutations in optineurin and optineurin-interacting proteins TANK-binding kinase (TBK1) and p62/SQSTM-1 have been found in the ALS patients, suggesting a common neuroprotective pathway. Moreover, functional studies of the ALS-causing optineurin mutations and the recently established optineurin ubiquitin-binding deficient and knockout mouse models helped identify three major mechanisms likely to mediate neuroprotection: regulation of autophagy, mitigation of (chronic) inflammatory signaling, and blockade of necroptosis. These three processes crosstalk, and require multiple levels of control, many of which can be mediated by optineurin. Based on the role of optineurin in multiple processes and the unexpected finding that targeted optineurin deletion in microglia and oligodendrocytes ultimately leads to the same phenotype of axonal degeneration despite different initial defects, we propose that the failure of the weakest link in the optineurin neuroprotective network is sufficient to disturb homeostasis and set-off the domino effect that could ultimately lead to neurodegeneration.
- Mar 2017
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) combines a photosensitiser, light and molecular oxygen to induce oxidative stress that can be used to kill pathogens, cancer cells and other highly proliferative cells. There is a growing number of clinically approved photosensitisers and applications of PDT, whose main advantages include the possibility of selective targeting, localised action and stimulation of the immune responses. Further improvements and broader use of PDT could be accomplished by designing new photosensitisers with increased selectivity and bioavailability. Porphyrin-based photosensitisers with amphiphilic properties, bearing one or more positive charges, are an effective tool in PDT against cancers, microbial infections and, most recently, autoimmune skin disorders. The aim of the review is to present some of the recent examples of the applications and research that employ this specific group of photosensitisers. Furthermore, we will highlight the link between their structural characteristics and PDT efficiency, which will be helpful as guidelines for rational design and evaluation of new PSs.
Background After viral infection and the stimulation of some pattern-recognition receptors, TANK-binding kinase I (TBK1) is activated by K63-linked polyubiquitination followed by trans-autophosphorylation. While the activated TBK1 induces type I interferon production by phosphorylating the transcription factor IRF3, the precise molecular mechanisms underlying TBK1 activation remain unclear. ResultsWe report here the localization of the ubiquitinated and phosphorylated active form of TBK1 to the Golgi apparatus after the stimulation of RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs) or Toll-like receptor-3 (TLR3), due to TBK1 K63-linked ubiquitination on lysine residues 30 and 401. The ubiquitin-binding protein optineurin (OPTN) recruits ubiquitinated TBK1 to the Golgi apparatus, leading to the formation of complexes in which TBK1 is activated by trans-autophosphorylation. Indeed, OPTN deficiency in various cell lines and primary cells impairs TBK1 targeting to the Golgi apparatus and its activation following RLR or TLR3 stimulation. Interestingly, the Bluetongue virus NS3 protein binds OPTN at the Golgi apparatus, neutralizing its activity and thereby decreasing TBK1 activation and downstream signaling. Conclusions Our results highlight an unexpected role of the Golgi apparatus in innate immunity as a key subcellular gateway for TBK1 activation after RNA virus infection.
Pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) recognition leads to TANK-binding kinase (TBK1) polyubiquitination and activation by trans-autophosphorylation, resulting in IFN-β production. Here we describe a mouse model of optineurin insufficiency (OptnΔ(157) ) in which the TBK1-interacting N-terminus of optineurin was deleted. PAMP-stimulated cells from OptnΔ(157) mice had reduced TBK1 activity, no phosphorylation of optineurin Ser(187) , and mounted low IFN-β responses. In contrast to pull-down assays where the presence of N-terminus was sufficient for TBK1 binding, both the N-terminal and the ubiquitin-binding regions of optineurin were needed for PAMP-induced binding. This report establishes optineurin as a positive regulator TBK1 via a bipartite interaction between these molecules. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Author Summary Sepsis refers to life-threatening systemic inflammation, often caused by infection with bacteria that produce lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Glucocorticoids, immunosuppressive hormones produced by the adrenals, have been used to treat sepsis for over 50 y, but little is known about the role of endogenous (naturally occurring) glucocorticoids in systemic inflammation. Macrophages have been considered the primary source of inflammatory mediators (cytokines) and a target for glucocorticoid-mediated suppression. The possible role of another immune cell population, dendritic cells, has not been explored in detail. We created a mouse model in which the glucocorticoid receptor is selectively deleted in dendritic cells (DCs). We found that the elevation of glucocorticoids that accompanies sepsis protects mice from LPS-induced septic shock by suppressing DC production of IL-12, a cytokine that causes the secretion of other inflammatory mediators. In addition, LPS-induced glucocorticoids caused the death of a subset of DCs that are the primary producers of IL-12. Glucocorticoids were also found to be important for the phenomenon of "LPS tolerance", in which inoculation with low-dose LPS makes mice resistant to rechallenge with a high dose. This unexpected role of DC-produced IL-12 and its suppression by endogenous glucocorticoids may account, at least in part, for the known association of adrenal insufficiency and prolonged sepsis.
Cellular inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (c-IAP) 1 and 2 are widely expressed ubiquitin protein ligases that regulate a variety of cellular functions, including the sensitivity of T cells to co-stimulation. 4-1BB is a TNFR family member that signals via a complex that includes TRAF family members and the c-IAPs to upregulate NF-κB and ERK, and has been implicated in memory T-cell survival. Here we show that effector and memory T cells from mice expressing a dominant negative E3-inactive c-IAP2 (c-IAP2(H570A) ) have impaired signaling downstream of 4-1BB. When infected with LCMV, unlike mice in which c-IAPs were acutely downregulated by c-IAP antagonists, the primary response of c-IAP2(H570A) mice was normal. However, the number of antigen-specific CD8(+) but not CD4(+) T cells declined more rapidly and to a greater extent in c-IAP2(H570A) mice than in wild type (WT) controls. Studies with T-cell adoptive transfer demonstrated that the enhanced decay of memory cells was T-cell-intrinsic. Thus, c-IAP E3 activity is required for 4-1BB co-receptor signaling and maintenance of CD8(+) T-cell memory. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Optineurin is a widely expressed polyubiquitin-binding protein that has been implicated in regulating cell signaling via its NF-κB essential modulator-homologous C-terminal ubiquitin (Ub)-binding region. Its functions are controversial, with in vitro studies finding that optineurin suppressed TNF-mediated NF-κB activation and virus-induced activation of IFN regulatory factor 3 (IRF3), whereas bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs) from mice carrying an optineurin Ub-binding point mutation had normal TLR-mediated NF-κB activation and diminished IRF3 activation. We have generated a mouse model in which the entire Ub-binding C-terminal region is deleted (Optn(470T)). Akin to C-terminal optineurin mutations found in patients with certain neurodegenerative diseases, Optn(470T) was expressed at substantially lower levels than the native protein, allowing assessment not only of the lack of Ub binding, but also of protein insufficiency. Embryonic lethality with incomplete penetrance was observed for 129 × C57BL/6 Optn(470T/470T) mice, but after further backcrossing to C57BL/6, offspring viability was restored. Moreover, the mice that survived were indistinguishable from wild type littermates and had normal immune cell distributions. Activation of NF-κB in Optn(470T) BMDM and BM-derived dendritic cells with TNF or via TLR4, T cells via the TCR, and B cells with LPS or anti-CD40 was normal. In contrast, optineurin and/or its Ub-binding function was necessary for optimal TANK binding kinase 1 and IRF3 activation, and both Optn(470T) BMDMs and bone marrow-derived dendritic cells had diminished IFN-β production upon LPS stimulation. Importantly, Optn(470T) mice produced less IFN-β upon LPS challenge. Therefore, endogenous optineurin is dispensable for NF-κB activation but necessary for optimal IRF3 activation in immune cells.
Engagement of the receptor CD27 by CD70 affects the magnitude and quality of T cell responses in a variety of infection models, and exaggerated signaling via this pathway results in enhanced immune responses and autoimmunity. One means by which signaling is regulated is tight control of cell surface CD70, which is expressed on dendritic cells (DCs), T cells, and B cells only upon activation. In this article, we show that a second level of regulation also is present. First, although undetectable on the cell surface by flow cytometry, immature DCs have a small pool of CD70 that continuously recycles from the plasma membrane. In addition, surface levels of CD70 on DCs and T cells were higher in mice deficient in CD27, or on DCs for which the interaction between CD70 and CD27 was precluded by blocking Abs. Binding of CD70 by its receptor resulted in downregulation of CD70 transcription and protein levels, suggesting that CD70-mediated "reverse signals" regulate its own levels. Therefore, the ability of CD70 to trigger costimulation is self-regulated when it binds its complementary receptor.
CD27 interactions with its ligand, CD70, are thought to be necessary for optimal primary and memory adaptive immune responses to a variety of pathogens. Thus far, all studies addressing the function of the CD27-CD70 axis have been performed in mice lacking CD27, in those overexpressing CD70, or in those in which these molecules were blocked or mimicked by Abs or recombinant soluble CD70. Because these methods have in some cases led to divergent results, we generated CD70-deficient mice to directly assess its role in vivo. We find that lack of CD70-mediated stimulation during primary responses to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus lowered the magnitude of CD8 Ag-specific T cell response, resulting in impaired viral clearance, without affecting CD4 T cell responses. Unexpectedly, CD70-CD27 costimulation was not needed for memory CD8 T cell generation or the ability to mount a recall response to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. Adoptive transfers of wild-type memory T cells into CD70(-/-) or wild-type hosts also showed no need for CD70-mediated stimulation during the course of the recall response. Moreover, CD70 expression by CD8 T cells could not rescue endogenous CD70(-/-) cells from defective expansion, arguing against a role for CD70-mediated T:T help in this model. Therefore, CD70 appears to be an important factor in the initiation of a robust and effective primary response but dispensable for CD8 T cell memory responses.
An efficient immune response requires coordination between innate and adaptive immunity, which act through cells different in origin and function. Here we report the identification of thymus-derived αβ-T-cell receptor(+) cells that express CD11c and major histocompatibility complex class II, and require FLT3 ligand for development (T(DC)). T(DC) express genes heretofore found uniquely in T cells or dendritic cells, as well as a distinctive signature of cytotoxicity-related genes. Unlike other innate T-cell subsets, T(DC) have a polyclonal T-cell receptor repertoire and respond to cognate antigens. However, they differ from conventional T cells in that they do not require help from antigen-presenting cells, respond to Toll-like receptor-mediated stimulation by producing interleukin-12 and process and present antigen. The physiological relevance of T(DC), found in mice and humans, is still under investigation, but the fact that they combine key features of T and dendritic cells suggests that they provide a bridge between the innate and adaptive immune systems.
Several cytokines (including IL-2, IL-7, IL-15, and IL-21) that signal through receptors sharing the common gamma chain (gamma(c)) are critical for the generation and peripheral homeostasis of naive and memory T cells. Recently, we demonstrated that effector functions fail to develop in CD4(+) T cells that differentiate in the absence of gamma(c). To assess the role of gamma(c) cytokines in cell-fate decisions that condition effector versus memory CD8(+) T cell generation, we compared the response of CD8(+) T cells from gamma(c)(+) or gamma(c)(-) P14 TCR transgenic mice after challenge with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. The intrinsic IL-7-dependent survival defect of gamma(c)(-) naive CD8(+) T cells was corrected by transgenic expression of human Bcl-2. We demonstrated that although gamma(c)-dependent signals are dispensable for the initial expansion and the acquisition of cytotoxic functions following antigenic stimulation, they condition the terminal proliferation and differentiation of CD8(+) effector T cells (i.e., KLRG1(high) CD127(low) short-lived effector T cells) via the transcription factor, T-bet. Moreover, the gamma(c)-dependent signals that are critical for memory T cell formation are not rescued by Bcl2 overexpression. Together, these data reveal an unexpected divergence in the requirement for gamma(c) cytokines in the differentiation of CD4(+) versus CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes.
- Jan 2010
Naïve CD8 T cells differentiate in response to antigen stimulation. They acquire the capacity to express multiple effector molecules and mediate effector functions that contribute to infection control. Once antigen loads are reduced they revert progressively to a less activated status and eventually reach a steady-state referred to as "memory" that is very different from that of naive cells. Indeed, these "memory" cells are "ready-to-go" populations that acquired the capacity to respond more efficiently to antigen stimulation. They modify their cell cycle machinery in order to divide faster; they likely improve DNA repair and other cell survival mechanisms in order to survive during division and thus to generate much larger clones of effector cells; finally, they also mediate effector functions much faster. These modifications are the consequence of changes in the expression of multiple genes, i.e., on the utilization of a new transcription program.
To evaluate the impact of immunodominance on CD8 T-cell properties, we compared the functional properties of dominant and subdominant populations in the response to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). To improve functional discrimination, in addition to the usual tests of phenotype and function, we used a sensitive technique that allows the screening of all CD8 effector genes simultaneously in single cells. Surprisingly, these methods failed to reveal a major impact of clonal dominance in CD8 properties throughout the response. Aiming to increase clonal dominance, we examined high-frequency transferred P14 T-cell receptor transgenic (TCR Tg) cells. Under these conditions LCMV is cleared faster, and accordingly we found an accelerated response. However, when Tg and endogenous cells were studied in the same mice, where they should be subjected to the same antigen load, they showed overlapping properties, and the presence of P14 cells did not modify endogenous responses to other LCMV epitopes or a perturbed immunodominance hierarchy in the memory phase. Using allotype-labeled Tg cells, we found that during acute infection up to 80% downregulated their TCR and were undetectable by tetramer binding, and that tetramer-negative and tetramer-positive cells had very different features. Since Tg cells are not available to evaluate immune responses in humans and, in many cases, are not available from the mouse, the tetramer-based evaluation of early immune responses in most situations of high viremia may be incomplete and biased.
- Aug 2009
The ability of the adaptive immune system to respond rapidly and robustly upon repeated antigen exposure is known as immunologic memory, and it is thought that acquisition of memory T-cell function is an irreversible differentiation event. In this study, we report that many phenotypic and functional characteristics of antigen-specific CD8 memory T cells are lost when they are deprived of contact with dendritic cells. Under these circumstances, memory T cells reverted from G(1) to the G(0) cell-cycle state and responded to stimulation like naive T cells, as assessed by proliferation, dependence upon costimulation, and interferon-gamma production, without losing cell surface markers associated with memory. The memory state was maintained by signaling via members of the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily, CD27 and 4-1BB. Foxo1, a transcription factor involved in T-cell quiescence, was reduced in memory cells, and stimulation of naive CD8 cells via CD27 caused Foxo1 to be phosphorylated and emigrate from the nucleus in a phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase-dependent manner. Consistent with these results, maintenance of G(1) in vivo was compromised in antigen-specific memory T cells in vesicular stomatitis virus-infected CD27-deficient mice. Therefore, sustaining the functional phenotype of T memory cells requires active signaling and maintenance.
To study in vivo CD8 T cell differentiation, we quantified the coexpression of multiple genes in single cells throughout immune responses. After in vitro activation, CD8 T cells rapidly express effector molecules and cease their expression when the antigen is removed. Gene behavior after in vivo activation, in contrast, was quite heterogeneous. Different mRNAs were induced at very different time points of the response, were transcribed during different time periods, and could decline or persist independently of the antigen load. Consequently, distinct gene coexpression patterns/different cell types were generated at the various phases of the immune responses. During primary stimulation, inflammatory molecules were induced and down-regulated shortly after activation, generating early cells that only mediated inflammation. Cytotoxic T cells were generated at the peak of the primary response, when individual cells simultaneously expressed multiple killer molecules, whereas memory cells lost killer capacity because they no longer coexpressed killer genes. Surprisingly, during secondary responses gene transcription became permanent. Secondary cells recovered after antigen elimination were more efficient killers than cytotoxic T cells present at the peak of the primary response. Thus, primary responses produced two transient effector types. However, after boosting, CD8 T cells differentiate into long-lived killer cells that persist in vivo in the absence of antigen.
The commitment of naive T cells to proliferate is a function of the strength and duration of stimuli mediated by the TCR and coreceptors. Ranges of 2-20 h of stimulation have been reported as necessary in vitro. Whether T cells actually experience uninterrupted stimulation for such long periods under physiological conditions is controversial. Here we ask whether commitment to proliferate requires continuous stimulation, or can T cells integrate intermittent periods of stimulation. T cells were stimulated for two short-term (subthreshold) periods (5-7 h) either sequentially or separated by an interval of rest. Naive lymph node T cells were able to integrate interrupted stimulation, even when the duration of rest was as long as 2 days. Furthermore, when short-term-stimulated T cells were separated by density, three populations were observed: low density blasts, intermediate density G(1) cells, and high density G(0) cells. Low density cells progressed to division without further stimulation, whereas G(0) and G(1) cells remained undivided. However, after a period of rest, a second subthreshold stimulation caused the G(1) but not the G(0) fraction to quickly proceed through the cell cycle. We conclude that noncycling T cells in the G(1) phase of the cell cycle remain in a state of readiness for prolonged periods of time, and may represent a population of memory-like effectors capable of responding rapidly to antigenic challenge.
Interleukin-7 receptor (IL-7R) levels are tightly controlled during ontogeny: high on double-negative (DN) cells, absent on double-positive (DP) cells, and high once again on thymocytes undergoing positive selection. To determine if loss of IL-7-mediated survival signals in DP cells is necessary for normal antigen-specific selection, we created T-lineage-specific IL-7R alpha chain (IL-7Ralpha) transgenic (Tg) mice in which IL-7R is expressed throughout ontogeny. There was no effect of the IL-7Ralpha Tg on negative selection. Surprisingly, however, although the thymi of IL-7Ralpha Tg mice were comparable at birth, there was a decrease in thymocyte number as the mice aged. This was found to be due to competition between DN and IL-7R-expressing DP cells for endogenous IL-7, which resulted in decreased levels of Bcl-2 in DN cells, increased DN apoptosis, and decreased DN cell number. Therefore, the down-regulation of IL-7R on DP cells is an "altruistic" act required for maintaining an adequate supply of local IL-7 for DN cells.
The ability of a T cell to be activated is critically regulated by the number of TCRs expressed on the plasma membrane. Cell surface TCR expression is influenced by dynamic processes such as synthesis and transport of newly assembled receptors, endocytosis of surface TCR, and recycling to the plasma membrane of internalized receptors. In this study, the internalization of fluorescently labeled anti-TCR Abs was used to analyze constitutive endocytosis of TCRs on T cells, and to investigate the role of the zeta-chain in this process. We found that cell surface TCRs lacking zeta were endocytosed more rapidly than completely assembled receptors, and that reexpression of full-length zeta led to a dose-dependent decrease in the rate of TCR internalization. Rapid TCR internalization was also observed with CD4(+)CD8(+) thymocytes from zeta-deficient mice, whereas TCR internalization on thymocytes from CD3-delta deficient animals was slow, similar to that of wild-type thymocytes. This identifies a specific role for zeta in the regulation of constitutive receptor internalization. Furthermore, chimeric zeta molecules containing non-native intracellular amino acid sequences also led to high levels of TCR expression and reduced TCR cycling. These effects were dependent solely on the length of the intracellular tail, ruling out a role for intracellular zeta-specific interactions with other molecules as a mechanism for regulating TCR internalization. Rather, these findings strongly support a model in which the zeta-chain stabilizes TCR residency on the cell surface, and functions to maintain cell surface receptor expression by sterically blocking internalization sequences in other TCR components.