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CD1d-restricted invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are innate-like T cells that express an invariant T cell receptor (TCR) α-chain and recognize self and foreign glycolipid antigens. They can rapidly respond to agonist activation and stimulate an extensive array of immune responses. Thymic development and function of iNKT cells are regulated by many different cellular processes, including autophagy, a self-degradation mechanism. In this mini review, we discuss the current understanding of how autophagy regulates iNKT cell development and effector lineage differentiation. Importantly, we propose that iNKT cell development is tightly controlled by metabolic reprogramming.
A robust, quantitative ultraperformance liquid chromatography ion trap multistage scanning mass spectrometric (UPLC/MS(3)) method was established to characterize and measure five guanine adducts formed by reaction of the chemotherapeutic nitrogen mustard (NM) bis(2-chloroethyl)ethylamine with calf thymus (CT) DNA. In addition to the known N7-guanine (NM-G) adduct and its cross-link (G-NM-G), the ring-opened formamidopyrimidine (FapyG) monoadduct (NM-FapyG) and cross-links in which one (FapyG-NM-G) or both (FapyG-NM-FapyG) guanines underwent ring-opening to FapyG units were identified. Authentic standards of all adducts were synthesized and characterized by NMR and mass spectrometry. These adducts were quantified in CT DNA treated with NM (1 μM) as their deglycosylated bases. A two-stage neutral thermal hydrolysis was developed to mitigate the artifactual formation of ring-opened FapyG adducts involving hydrolysis of the cationic adduct at 37 °C, followed by hydrolysis of the FapyG adducts at 95 °C. The limit of quantification values ranged between 0.3 and 1.6 adducts per 10(7) DNA bases when the equivalent of 5 μg of DNA hydrolysate was assayed on column. The principal adduct formed was the G-NM-G cross-link, followed by the NM-G monoadduct; the FapyG-NM-G cross-link adduct; and the FapyG-NM-FapyG was below the limit of detection. The NM-FapyG adducts were formed in CT DNA at a level ∼20% that of the NM-G adduct. NM-FapyG has not been previously quanitified, and the FapyG-NM-G and FapyG-NM-FapyG adducts have not been previously characterized. Our validated analytical method was then applied to measure DNA adduct formation in the MDA-MB-231 mammary tumor cell line exposed to NM (100 μM) for 24 h. The major adduct formed was NM-G (970 adducts per 10(7) bases), followed by G-NM-G (240 adducts per 10(7) bases), NM-FapyG (180 adducts per 10(7) bases), and, last, the FapyG-NM-G cross-link adduct (6.0 adducts per 10(7) bases). These lesions are expected to contribute to NM-mediated toxicity and genotoxicity in vivo.
Recent thymic emigrants are newly generated T cells that need to undergo postthymic maturation to gain functional competency and enter the long-lived naive T cell pool. The mechanism of T cell maturation remains incompletely understood. Previously, we demonstrated that the transcriptional repressor NKAP is required for T cell maturation. Because NKAP associates with histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3), we examined whether HDAC3 is also required for T cell maturation. Although thymic populations are similar in CD4-cre HDAC3 conditional knockout mice compared with wild-type mice, the peripheral numbers of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells are dramatically decreased. In the periphery, the majority of HDAC3-deficient naive T cells are recent thymic emigrants, indicating a block in T cell maturation. CD55 upregulation during T cell maturation is substantially decreased in HDAC3-deficient T cells. Consistent with a block in functional maturation, HDAC3-deficient peripheral T cells have a defect in TNF licensing after TCR/CD28 stimulation. CD4-cre HDAC3 conditional knockout mice do not have a defect in intrathymic migration, thymic egress, T cell survival, or homeostasis. In the periphery, similar to immature NKAP-deficient peripheral T cells, HDAC3-deficient peripheral T cells were bound by IgM and complement proteins, leading to the elimination of these cells. In addition, HDAC3-deficient T cells display decreases in the sialic acid modifications on the cell surface that recruit natural IgM to initiate the classical complement pathway. Therefore, HDAC3 is required for T cell maturation.
Copyright © 2015 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.
BACKGROUND - Poor CD4 lymphocyte recovery on antiretroviral therapy (ART) is associated with reduced function of the thymus. Palifermin (keratinocyte growth factor), by providing support to the thymic epithelium, promotes lymphopoiesis in animal models of bone marrow transplantation and graft-versus-host disease.
METHODS - In AIDS Clinical Trials Group A5212, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 99 HIV-infected patients on ART with plasma HIV-1 RNA levels ≤200 copies per milliliter for ≥6 months and CD4 lymphocyte counts <200 cells per cubic milliliter were randomized 1:1:1:1 to receive once daily intravenous administration of placebo or 20, 40, or 60 μg/kg of palifermin on 3 consecutive days.
RESULTS - The median change in the CD4 T-cell count from baseline to week 12 was not significantly different between the placebo arm [15 (-16, 23) cells/mm] and the 20-μg/kg dose [11 (2, 32) cells/mm], the 40-μg/kg dose [12 (-2, 25) cells/mm], or the 60-μg/kg dose arm [8 (-13, 35) cells/mm] of palifermin. No significant changes were observed in thymus size or in the number of naive T cells or recent thymic emigrants.
CONCLUSIONS - Palifermin in the doses studied was not effective in improving thymic function and did not raise CD4 lymphocyte counts in HIV-infected patients with low CD4 cell counts despite virologically effective ART.
Infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) causes an economically significant disease of chickens worldwide. Very virulent IBDV (vvIBDV) strains have emerged and induce as much as 60% mortality. The molecular basis for vvIBDV pathogenicity is not understood, and the relative contributions of the two genome segments, A and B, to this phenomenon are not known. Isolate 94432 has been shown previously to be genetically related to vvIBDVs but exhibits atypical antigenicity and does not cause mortality. Here the full-length genome of 94432 was determined, and a reverse genetics system was established. The molecular clone was rescued and exhibited the same antigenicity and reduced pathogenicity as isolate 94432. Genetically modified viruses derived from 94432, whose vvIBDV consensus nucleotide sequence was restored in segment A and/or B, were produced, and their pathogenicity was assessed in specific-pathogen-free chickens. We found that a valine (position 321) that modifies the most exposed part of the capsid protein VP2 critically modified the antigenicity and partially reduced the pathogenicity of 94432. However, a threonine (position 276) located in the finger domain of the virus polymerase (VP1) contributed even more significantly to attenuation. This threonine is partially exposed in a hydrophobic groove on the VP1 surface, suggesting possible interactions between VP1 and another, as yet unidentified molecule at this amino acid position. The restored vvIBDV-like pathogenicity was associated with increased replication and lesions in the thymus and spleen. These results demonstrate that both genome segments influence vvIBDV pathogenicity and may provide new targets for the attenuation of vvIBDVs.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW - Improved recognition of velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS) has led to increasing awareness of VCFS by otolaryngologists. Understanding the developmental biologic processes affected in VCFS patients will help improve treatment and outcomes. Advanced application of molecular labeling techniques has better outlined the role of T-Box transcription factor 1 (TBX1) as the primary genetic anomaly leading to VCFS. TBX1 plays multiple roles during branchial, cardiac, and craniofacial development and increased understanding of how these systems are affected by TBX1 mutations will improve patient outcomes. Furthermore, additional modifiers of TBX1 expression have been identified that may explain the variability of VCFS phenotypes. The phenotypic spectrum of VCFS may include cardiac anomalies, velopharyngeal insufficiency, aberrant calcium metabolism, and immune dysfunction. Recent interest has focused on the cognitive and neuropsychiatric manifestations of VCFS. Improved understanding of the biology of VCFS associated mutations has the potential to improve therapeutic outcomes.
RECENT FINDINGS - This article will discuss recent developmental biologic understanding of the role of TBX1 and genetic modifiers generating the phenotypic variability seen in VCFS patients. Special attention is given to advances in the realms of immunodeficiency, hypocalcemia, cardiac and arterial patterning anomalies, velopharyngeal insufficiency, as well as cognitive and psychiatric problems.
SUMMARY - Enhanced understanding of the multiple systems affected by TBX1 mutations will result in improved patient outcomes and improved family education. Future research will lead to improved detection of potential targets for gene therapy and change the way physicians counsel families and treat patients.
Semi-invariant NKT cells are thymus-derived innate-like lymphocytes that modulate microbial and tumor immunity as well as autoimmune diseases. These immunoregulatory properties of NKT cells are acquired during their development. Much has been learned regarding the molecular and cellular cues that promote NKT cell development, yet how these cells are maintained in the thymus and the periphery and how they acquire functional competence are incompletely understood. We found that IL-15 induced several Bcl-2 family survival factors in thymic and splenic NKT cells in vitro. Yet, IL-15-mediated thymic and peripheral NKT cell survival critically depended on Bcl-x(L) expression. Additionally, IL-15 regulated thymic developmental stage 2 to stage 3 lineage progression and terminal NKT cell differentiation. Global gene expression analyses and validation revealed that IL-15 regulated Tbx21 (T-bet) expression in thymic NKT cells. The loss of IL-15 also resulted in poor expression of key effector molecules such as IFN-γ, granzyme A and C, as well as several NK cell receptors, which are also regulated by T-bet in NKT cells. Taken together, our findings reveal a critical role for IL-15 in NKT cell survival, which is mediated by Bcl-x(L), and effector differentiation, which is consistent with a role of T-bet in regulating terminal maturation.
Rapid and efficient removal of apoptotic cells by phagocytes is important during development, tissue homeostasis and in immune responses. Efficient clearance depends on the capacity of a single phagocyte to ingest multiple apoptotic cells successively, and to process the corpse-derived cellular material. However, the factors that influence continued clearance by phagocytes are not known. Here we show that the mitochondrial membrane potential of the phagocyte critically controls engulfment capacity, with lower potential enhancing engulfment and vice versa. The mitochondrial membrane protein Ucp2, which acts to lower the mitochondrial membrane potential, was upregulated in phagocytes engulfing apoptotic cells. Loss of Ucp2 reduced phagocytic capacity, whereas Ucp2 overexpression enhanced engulfment. Mutational and pharmacological studies indicated a direct role for Ucp2-mediated mitochondrial function in phagocytosis. Macrophages from Ucp2-deficient mice were impaired in phagocytosis in vitro, and Ucp2-deficient mice showed profound in vivo defects in clearing dying cells in the thymus and testes. Collectively, these data indicate that mitochondrial membrane potential and Ucp2 are key molecular determinants of apoptotic cell clearance. As Ucp2 is linked to metabolic diseases and atherosclerosis, this newly discovered role for Ucp2 in apoptotic cell clearance has implications for the complex aetiology and pathogenesis of these diseases.
The senescent immune system responds poorly to new stimuli; thymic involution, accumulation of memory cells against other specificities, and general refractoriness to antigen signaling all may contribute to poor resistance to infection. These same changes may pose a significant clinical barrier to organ transplantation, as transplantation tolerance requires thymic participation and integrated, tolerance-promoting responses to novel antigens. We found that after the age of 12 months, mice became resistant to the tolerance-inducing capacity of the monoclonal antibody therapy anti-CD45RB. This resistance to tolerance to cardiac allografts could be overcome by surgical castration of male mice, a procedure that led to thymic regeneration and long-term graft acceptance. The potential for clinical translation of this endocrine-immune interplay was confirmed by the ability of Lupron Depot injections, which temporarily disrupt gonadal function, to restore tolerance in aged mice. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the restoration of tolerance after surgical or chemical castration depended on thymic production of regulatory T cells (T(regs)); thymectomy or T(reg) depletion abrogated tolerance restoration. The aging of the immune system ("immune senescence") is a significant barrier to immune tolerance, but this barrier can be overcome by targeting sex steroid production with commonly used clinical therapeutics.
The mitochondrial uncoupling proteins 2 and 3 (UCP2 and -3) are known to curtail oxidative stress and participate in a wide array of cellular functions, including insulin secretion and the regulation of satiety. However, the molecular control mechanism(s) governing these proteins remains elusive. Here we reveal that UCP2 and UCP3 contain reactive cysteine residues that can be conjugated to glutathione. We further demonstrate that this modification controls UCP2 and UCP3 function. Both reactive oxygen species and glutathionylation were found to activate and deactivate UCP3-dependent increases in non-phosphorylating respiration. We identified both Cys(25) and Cys(259) as the major glutathionylation sites on UCP3. Additional experiments in thymocytes from wild-type and UCP2 null mice demonstrated that glutathionylation similarly diminishes non-phosphorylating respiration. Our results illustrate that UCP2- and UCP3-mediated state 4 respiration is controlled by reversible glutathionylation. Altogether, these findings advance our understanding of the roles UCP2 and UCP3 play in modulating metabolic efficiency, cell signaling, and oxidative stress processes.