• Bactericidal Activity of the Human Skin Fatty Acid cis-6-Hexadecanoic Acid on Staphylococcus aureus.

      Cartron, Michaël L; England, Simon R; Chiriac, Alina Iulia; Josten, Michaele; Turner, Robert; Rauter, Yvonne; Hurd, Alexander; Sahl, Hans-Georg; Jones, Simon; Foster, Simon J (2014-07)
      Human skin fatty acids are a potent aspect of our innate defenses, giving surface protection against potentially invasive organisms. They provide an important parameter in determining the ecology of the skin microflora, and alterations can lead to increased colonization by pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus. Harnessing skin fatty acids may also give a new avenue of exploration in the generation of control measures against drug-resistant organisms. Despite their importance, the mechanism(s) whereby skin fatty acids kill bacteria has remained largely elusive. Here, we describe an analysis of the bactericidal effects of the major human skin fatty acid cis-6-hexadecenoic acid (C6H) on the human commensal and pathogen S. aureus. Several C6H concentration-dependent mechanisms were found. At high concentrations, C6H swiftly kills cells associated with a general loss of membrane integrity. However, C6H still kills at lower concentrations, acting through disruption of the proton motive force, an increase in membrane fluidity, and its effects on electron transfer. The design of analogues with altered bactericidal effects has begun to determine the structural constraints on activity and paves the way for the rational design of new antistaphylococcal agents.
    • Blimp1 Prevents Methylation of Foxp3 and Loss of Regulatory T Cell Identity at Sites of Inflammation.

      Garg, Garima; Muschaweckh, Andreas; Moreno, Helena; Vasanthakumar, Ajithkumar; Floess, Stefan; Lepennetier, Gildas; Oellinger, Rupert; Zhan, Yifan; Regen, Tommy; Hiltensperger, Michael; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2019-02-12)
      Summary Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells restrict immune pathology in inflamed tissues; however, an inflammatory environment presents a threat to Treg cell identity and function. Here, we establish a transcriptional signature of central nervous system (CNS) Treg cells that accumulate during experimental autoimmune encephalitis (EAE) and identify a pathway that maintains Treg cell function and identity during severe inflammation. This pathway is dependent on the transcriptional regulator Blimp1, which prevents downregulation of Foxp3 expression and “toxic” gain-of-function of Treg cells in the inflamed CNS. Blimp1 negatively regulates IL-6- and STAT3-dependent Dnmt3a expression and function restraining methylation of Treg cell-specific conserved non-coding sequence 2 (CNS2) in the Foxp3 locus. Consequently, CNS2 is heavily methylated when Blimp1 is ablated, leading to a loss of Foxp3 expression and severe disease. These findings identify a Blimp1-dependent pathway that preserves Treg cell stability in inflamed non-lymphoid tissues.
    • c-FLIP and CD95 signaling are essential for survival of renal cell carcinoma.

      Luebke, Tobias; Schwarz, Lisa; Beer, Yan Yan; Schumann, Sabrina; Misterek, Maria; Sander, Frida Ewald; Plaza-Sirvent, Carlos; Schmitz, Ingo; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer-Nature, 2019-05-16)
      Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is the most-prominent tumor type of kidney cancers. Resistance of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) against tumor therapy is often owing to apoptosis resistance, e.g., by overexpression of anti-apoptotic proteins. However, little is known about the role of the apoptosis inhibitor c-FLIP and its potential impact on death receptor-induced apoptosis in ccRCC cells. In this study, we demonstrate that c-FLIP is crucial for resistance against CD95L-induced apoptosis in four ccRCC cell lines. Strikingly, downregulation of c-FLIP expression by short hairpin RNA (shRNA)interference led to spontaneous caspase activation and apoptotic cell death. Of note, knockdown of all c-FLIP splice variants was required to induce apoptosis. Stimulation of ccRCC cells with CD95L induced NF-κB and MAP kinase survival pathways as revealed by phosphorylation of RelA/p65 and Erk1/2. Interestingly, CD95L surface expression was high in all cell lines analyzed, and CD95 but not TNF-R1 clustered at cell contact sites. Downstream of CD95, inhibition of the NF-κB pathway led to spontaneous cell death. Surprisingly, knockdown experiments revealed that c-FLIP inhibits NF-κB activation in the context of CD95 signaling. Thus, c-FLIP inhibits apoptosis and dampens NF-κB downstream of CD95 but allows NF-κB activation to a level sufficient for ccRCC cell survival. In summary, we demonstrate a complex CD95-FLIP-NF-κB-signaling circuit, in which CD95-CD95L interactions mediate a paracrine survival signal in ccRCC cells with c-FLIP and NF-κB both being required for inhibiting cell death and ensuring survival. Our findings might lead to novel therapeutic approaches of RCC by circumventing apoptosis resistance.
    • c-FLIP Expression in Foxp3-Expressing Cells Is Essential for Survival of Regulatory T Cells and Prevention of Autoimmunity.

      Plaza-Sirvent, Carlos; Schuster, Marc; Neumann, Yvonne; Heise, Ulrike; Pils, Marina C; Schulze-Osthoff, Klaus; Schmitz, Ingo; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01-03)
      Regulatory T (Treg) cells are critical for the shutdown of immune responses and have emerged as valuable targets of immunotherapies. Treg cells can rapidly proliferate; however, the homeostatic processes that limit excessive Treg cell numbers are poorly understood. Here, we show that, compared to conventional T cells, Treg cells have a high apoptosis rate ex vivo correlating with low c-FLIP expression. Treg-specific deletion of c-FLIP in mice resulted in fatal autoimmune disease of a scurfy-like phenotype characterized by absent peripheral Treg cells, activation of effector cells, multi-organ immune cell infiltration, and premature death. Surprisingly, blocking CD95L did not rescue Treg survival in vivo, suggesting additional survival functions of c-FLIP in Treg cells in addition to its classical role in the inhibition of death receptor signaling. Thus, our data reveal a central role for c-FLIP in Treg cell homeostasis and prevention of autoimmunity.
    • c-FLIP is crucial for IL-7/IL-15-dependent NKp46 ILC development and protection from intestinal inflammation in mice.

      Bank, Ute; Deiser, Katrin; Plaza-Sirvent, Carlos; Osbelt, Lisa; Witte, Amelie; Knop, Laura; Labrenz, Rebecca; Jänsch, Robert; Richter, Felix; Biswas, Aindrila; et al. (Nature research, 2020-02-26)
      NKp46+ innate lymphoid cells (ILC) modulate tissue homeostasis and anti-microbial immune responses. ILC development and function are regulated by cytokines such as Interleukin (IL)-7 and IL-15. However, the ILC-intrinsic pathways translating cytokine signals into developmental programs are largely unknown. Here we show that the anti-apoptotic molecule cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein (c-FLIP) is crucial for the generation of IL-7/IL-15-dependent NKp46+ ILC1, including conventional natural killer (cNK) cells, and ILC3. Cytokine-induced phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) precedes up-regulation of c-FLIP, which protects developing NKp46+ ILC from TNF-induced apoptosis. NKp46+ ILC-specific inactivation of c-FLIP leads to the loss of all IL-7/IL-15-dependent NKp46+ ILC, thereby inducing early-onset chronic colitis and subsequently microbial dysbiosis; meanwhile, the depletion of cNK, but not NKp46+ ILC1/3, aggravates experimental colitis. In summary, our data demonstrate a non-redundant function of c-FLIP for the generation of NKp46+ ILC, which protect T/B lymphocyte-sufficient mice from intestinal inflammation.
    • CD8+ Foxp3+ T cells share developmental and phenotypic features with classical CD4+ Foxp3+ regulatory T cells but lack potent suppressive activity.

      Mayer, Christian T; Floess, Stefan; Baru, Abdul Mannan; Lahl, Katharina; Huehn, Jochen; Sparwasser, Tim (2011-03)
      "Suppressor T cells" were historically defined within the CD8(+) T-cell compartment and recent studies have highlighted several naturally occurring CD8(+) Foxp3(-) Treg populations. However, the relevance of CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells, which represent a minor population in both thymi and secondary lymphoid organs of nonmanipulated mice, remains unclear. We here demonstrate that de novo Foxp3 induction in peripheral CD8(+) Foxp3(-) T cells is counter-regulated by DC-mediated co-stimulation via CD80/CD86. CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells fail to develop in TCR-transgenic mice with Rag1(-/-) background, similar to classical CD4(+) Foxp3(+) Tregs. Notably, both naturally occurring and induced CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells express bona fide Treg markers including CD25, GITR, CTLA4 and CD103, and show defective IFN-γ production upon restimulation when compared with their CD8(+) Foxp3(-) counterparts. However, utilizing DEREG transgenic mice for the isolation of Foxp3(+) cells by eGFP reporter expression, we demonstrate that induced CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells similar to activated CD8(+) Foxp3(-) T cells only mildly suppress T-cell proliferation and IFN-γ production. We therefore categorize CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells as a tightly controlled population sharing certain developmental and phenotypic properties with classical CD4(+) Foxp3(+) Tregs, but lacking potent suppressive activity.
    • Chimeric antigen receptor-induced BCL11B suppression propagates NK-like cell development.

      Maluski, Marcel; Ghosh, Arnab; Herbst, Jessica; Scholl, Vanessa; Baumann, Rolf; Huehn, Jochen; Geffers, Robert; Meyer, Johann; Maul, Holger; Eiz-Vesper, Britta; et al. (American Society for Clinical Investigation, 2019-12-02)
      The transcription factor B cell CLL/lymphoma 11B (BCL11B) is indispensable for T lineage development of lymphoid progenitors. Here, we show that chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) expression during early phases of ex vivo generation of lymphoid progenitors suppressed BCL11B, leading to suppression of T cell-associated gene expression and acquisition of NK cell-like properties. Upon adoptive transfer into hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients, CAR-expressing lymphoid progenitors differentiated into CAR-induced killer (CARiK) cells that mediated potent antigen-directed antileukemic activity even across MHC barriers. CD28 and active immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motifs were critical for a functional CARiK phenotype. These results give important insights into differentiation of murine and human lymphoid progenitors driven by synthetic CAR transgene expression and encourage further evaluation of ex vivo-generated CARiK cells for targeted immunotherapy.
    • Constitutive expression of murine c-FLIPR causes autoimmunity in aged mice.

      Ewald, F; Annemann, M; Pils, M C; Plaza-Sirvent, C; Neff, F; Erck, C; Reinhold, D; Schmitz, I (2014)
      Death receptor-mediated apoptosis is a key mechanism for the control of immune responses and dysregulation of this pathway may lead to autoimmunity. Cellular FLICE-inhibitory proteins (c-FLIPs) are known as inhibitors of death receptor-mediated apoptosis. The only short murine c-FLIP splice variant is c-FLIPRaji (c-FLIPR). To investigate the functional role of c-FLIPR in the immune system, we used the vavFLIPR mouse model constitutively expressing murine c-FLIPR in all hematopoietic compartments. Lymphocytes from these mice are protected against CD95-mediated apoptosis and activation-induced cell death. Young vavFLIPR mice display normal lymphocyte compartments, but the lymphocyte populations alter with age. We identified reduced levels of T cells and slightly higher levels of B cells in 1-year-old vavFLIPR mice compared with wild-type (WT) littermates. Moreover, both B and T cells from aged vavFLIPR animals show activated phenotypes. Sera from 1-year-old WT and transgenic animals were analysed for anti-nuclear antibodies. Notably, elevated titres of these autoantibodies were detected in vavFLIPR sera. Furthermore, tissue damage in kidneys and lungs from aged vavFLIPR animals was observed, indicating that vavFLIPR mice develop a systemic lupus erythematosus-like phenotype with age. Taken together, these data suggest that c-FLIPR is an important modulator of apoptosis and enforced expression leads to autoimmunity.
    • Development of a unique epigenetic signature during in vivo Th17 differentiation.

      Yang, Bi-Huei; Floess, Stefan; Hagemann, Stefanie; Deyneko, Igor V; Groebe, Lothar; Pezoldt, Joern; Sparwasser, Tim; Lochner, Matthias; Huehn, Jochen; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-02-18)
      Activated naive CD4(+) T cells are highly plastic cells that can differentiate into various T helper (Th) cell fates characterized by the expression of effector cytokines like IFN-γ (Th1), IL-4 (Th2) or IL-17A (Th17). Although previous studies have demonstrated that epigenetic mechanisms including DNA demethylation can stabilize effector cytokine expression, a comprehensive analysis of the changes in the DNA methylation pattern during differentiation of naive T cells into Th cell subsets is lacking. Hence, we here performed a genome-wide methylome analysis of ex vivo isolated naive CD4(+) T cells, Th1 and Th17 cells. We could demonstrate that naive CD4(+) T cells share more demethylated regions with Th17 cells when compared to Th1 cells, and that overall Th17 cells display the highest number of demethylated regions, findings which are in line with the previously reported plasticity of Th17 cells. We could identify seven regions located in Il17a, Zfp362, Ccr6, Acsbg1, Dpp4, Rora and Dclk1 showing pronounced demethylation selectively in ex vivo isolated Th17 cells when compared to other ex vivo isolated Th cell subsets and in vitro generated Th17 cells, suggesting that this unique epigenetic signature allows identifying and functionally characterizing in vivo generated Th17 cells.
    • Differences and Similarities in TRAIL- and Tumor Necrosis Factor-Mediated Necroptotic Signaling in Cancer Cells.

      Sosna, Justyna; Philipp, Stephan; Fuchslocher Chico, Johaiber; Saggau, Carina; Fritsch, Jürgen; Föll, Alexandra; Plenge, Johannes; Arenz, Christoph; Pinkert, Thomas; Kalthoff, Holger; et al. (2016-10-15)
      Recently, a type of regulated necrosis (RN) called necroptosis was identified to be involved in many pathophysiological processes and emerged as an alternative method to eliminate cancer cells. However, only a few studies have elucidated components of TRAIL-mediated necroptosis useful for anticancer therapy. Therefore, we have compared this type of cell death to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-mediated necroptosis and found similar signaling through acid and neutral sphingomyelinases, the mitochondrial serine protease HtrA2/Omi, Atg5, and vacuolar H(+)-ATPase. Notably, executive mechanisms of both TRAIL- and TNF-mediated necroptosis are independent of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP-1), and depletion of p38α increases the levels of both types of cell death. Moreover, we found differences in signaling between TNF- and TRAIL-mediated necroptosis, e.g., a lack of involvement of ubiquitin carboxyl hydrolase L1 (UCH-L1) and Atg16L1 in executive mechanisms of TRAIL-mediated necroptosis. Furthermore, we discovered indications of an altered involvement of mitochondrial components, since overexpression of the mitochondrial protein Bcl-2 protected Jurkat cells from TRAIL- and TNF-mediated necroptosis, and overexpression of Bcl-XL diminished only TRAIL-induced necroptosis in Colo357 cells. Furthermore, TRAIL does not require receptor internalization and endosome-lysosome acidification to mediate necroptosis. Taken together, pathways described for TRAIL-mediated necroptosis and differences from those for TNF-mediated necroptosis might be unique targets to increase or modify necroptotic signaling and eliminate tumor cells more specifically in future anticancer approaches.
    • Dynamic Imprinting of the Treg Cell-Specific Epigenetic Signature in Developing Thymic Regulatory T Cells.

      Herppich, Susanne; Toker, Aras; Pietzsch, Beate; Kitagawa, Yohko; Ohkura, Naganari; Miyao, Takahisa; Floess, Stefan; Hori, Shohei; Sakaguchi, Shimon; Huehn, Jochen; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      Regulatory T (Treg) cells mainly develop within the thymus and arise from CD25+Foxp3- (CD25+ TregP) or CD25-Foxp3+ (Foxp3+ TregP) Treg cell precursors resulting in Treg cells harboring distinct transcriptomic profiles and complementary T cell receptor repertoires. The stable and long-term expression of Foxp3 in Treg cells and their stable suppressive phenotype are controlled by the demethylation of Treg cell-specific epigenetic signature genes including an evolutionarily conserved CpG-rich element within the Foxp3 locus, the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR). Here we analyzed the dynamics of the imprinting of the Treg cell-specific epigenetic signature genes in thymic Treg cells. We could demonstrate that CD25+Foxp3+ Treg cells show a progressive demethylation of most signature genes during maturation within the thymus. Interestingly, a partial demethylation of several Treg cell-specific epigenetic signature genes was already observed in Foxp3+ TregP but not in CD25+ TregP. Furthermore, Foxp3+ TregP were very transient in nature and arose at a more mature developmental stage when compared to CD25+ TregP. When the two Treg cell precursors were cultured in presence of IL-2, a factor known to be critical for thymic Treg cell development, we observed a major impact of IL-2 on the demethylation of the TSDR with a more pronounced effect on Foxp3+ TregP. Together, these results suggest that the establishment of the Treg cell-specific hypomethylation pattern is a continuous process throughout thymic Treg cell development and that the two known Treg cell precursors display distinct dynamics for the imprinting of the Treg cell-specific epigenetic signature genes.
    • Effector molecules released by Th1 but not Th17 cells drive an M1 response in microglia.

      Prajeeth, Chittappen K; Löhr, Kirsten; Floess, Stefan; Zimmermann, Julian; Ulrich, Reiner; Gudi, Viktoria; Beineke, Andreas; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; Müller, Marcus; Huehn, Jochen; et al. (2014-03)
      Microglia act as sensors of inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS) and respond to many stimuli. Other key players in neuroinflammatory diseases are CD4+ T helper cell (Th) subsets that characteristically secrete IFN-γ (Th1) or IL-17 (Th17). However, the potential of a distinct cytokine milieu generated by these effector T cell subsets to modulate microglial phenotype and function is poorly understood. We therefore investigated the ability of factors secreted by Th1 and Th17 cells to induce microglial activation. In vitro experiments wherein microglia were cultured in the presence of supernatants derived from polarized Th1 or Th17 cultures, revealed that Th1-associated factors could directly activate and trigger a proinflammatory M1-type gene expression profile in microglia that was cell-cell contact independent, whereas Th17 cells or its associated factors did not have any direct influence on microglia. To assess the effects of the key Th17 effector cytokine IL-17A in vivo we used transgenic mice in which IL-17A is specifically expressed in astrocytes. Flow cytometric and histological analysis revealed only subtle changes in the phenotype of microglia suggesting only minimal effects of constitutively produced IL-17A on microglia in vivo. Neither IL-23 signaling nor addition of GM-CSF, a recently described effector molecule of Th17 cells, changed the incapacity of Th17 cells to activate microglia. These findings demonstrate a potent effect of Th1 cells on microglia, however, the mechanism of how Th17 cells achieve their effect in CNS inflammation remains unclear.
    • Effectors of Th1 and Th17 cells act on astrocytes and augment their neuroinflammatory properties.

      Prajeeth, Chittappen K; Kronisch, Julius; Khorooshi, Reza; Knier, Benjamin; Toft-Hansen, Henrik; Gudi, Viktoria; Floess, Stefan; Huehn, Jochen; Owens, Trevor; Korn, Thomas; et al. (2017-10-16)
      Autoreactive Th1 and Th17 cells are believed to mediate the pathology of multiple sclerosis in the central nervous system (CNS). Their interaction with microglia and astrocytes in the CNS is crucial for the regulation of the neuroinflammation. Previously, we have shown that only Th1 but not Th17 effectors activate microglia. However, it is not clear which cells are targets of Th17 effectors in the CNS.
    • Effectors of Th1 and Th17 cells act on astrocytes and augment their neuroinflammatory properties.

      Prajeeth, Chittappen K; Kronisch, Julius; Khorooshi, Reza; Knier, Benjamin; Toft-Hansen, Henrik; Gudi, Viktoria; Floess, Stefan; Huehn, Jochen; Owens, Trevor; Korn, Thomas; et al. (2017-10-16)
      Autoreactive Th1 and Th17 cells are believed to mediate the pathology of multiple sclerosis in the central nervous system (CNS). Their interaction with microglia and astrocytes in the CNS is crucial for the regulation of the neuroinflammation. Previously, we have shown that only Th1 but not Th17 effectors activate microglia. However, it is not clear which cells are targets of Th17 effectors in the CNS. To understand the effects driven by Th17 cells in the CNS, we induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in wild-type mice and CD4 We observed in α4-deficient mice weak microglial activation but comparable astrogliosis to that of wild-type mice in the regions of the brain populated with Th17 infiltrates, suggesting that Th17 cells target astrocytes and not microglia. In vitro, in response to supernatants from Th1 and Th17 cultures, astrocytes showed altered expression of neurotrophic factors, pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. Furthermore, increased expression of chemokines in Th1- and Th17-treated astrocytes enhanced recruitment of microglia and transendothelial migration of Th17 cells in vitro. Our results demonstrate the delicate interaction between T cell subsets and glial cells and how they communicate to mediate their effects. Effectors of Th1 act on both microglia and astrocytes whereas Th17 effectors preferentially target astrocytes to promote neuroinflammation.
    • Epigenetic modification of the human CCR6 gene is associated with stable CCR6 expression in T cells.

      Steinfelder, Svenja; Floess, Stefan; Engelbert, Dirk; Haeringer, Barbara; Baron, Udo; Rivino, Laura; Steckel, Bodo; Gruetzkau, Andreas; Olek, Sven; Geginat, Jens; et al. (2011-03-10)
      CCR6 is a chemokine receptor expressed on Th17 cells and regulatory T cells that is induced by T-cell priming with certain cytokines, but how its expression and stability are regulated at the molecular level is largely unknown. Here, we identified and characterized a noncoding region of the human CCR6 locus that displayed unmethylated CpG motifs (differentially methylated region [DMR]) selectively in CCR6(+) lymphocytes. CCR6 expression on circulating CD4(+) T cells was stable on cytokine-induced proliferation but partially down-regulated on T-cell receptor stimulation. However, CCR6 down-regulation was mostly transient, and the DMR within the CCR6 locus remained demethylated. Notably, in vitro induction of CCR6 expression with cytokines in T-cell receptor-activated naive CD4(+) T cells was not associated with a demethylated DMR and resulted in unstable CCR6 expression. Conversely, treatment with the DNA methylation inhibitor 5'-azacytidine induced demethylation of the DMR and led to increased and stable CCR6 expression. Finally, when cloned into a reporter gene plasmid, the DMR displayed transcriptional activity in memory T cells that was suppressed by DNA methylation. In summary, we have identified a noncoding region of the human CCR6 gene with methylation-sensitive transcriptional activity in CCR6(+) T cells that controls stable CCR6 expression via epigenetic mechanisms.
    • Epigenetic orchestration of thymic Treg cell development.

      Beyer, Marc; Huehn, Jochen; Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01-19)
    • Extracellular NAD+ shapes the Foxp3+ regulatory T cell compartment through the ART2-P2X7 pathway.

      Hubert, Sandra; Rissiek, Björn; Klages, Katjana; Huehn, Jochen; Sparwasser, Tim; Haag, Friedrich; Koch-Nolte, Friedrich; Boyer, Olivier; Seman, Michel; Adriouch, Sahil; et al. (2010-11-22)
      CD4(+)CD25(+)FoxP3(+) regulatory T cells (T reg cells) play a major role in the control of immune responses but the factors controlling their homeostasis and function remain poorly characterized. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD(+)) released during cell damage or inflammation results in ART2.2-mediated ADP-ribosylation of the cytolytic P2X7 receptor on T cells. We show that T reg cells express the ART2.2 enzyme and high levels of P2X7 and that T reg cells can be depleted by intravenous injection of NAD(+). Moreover, lower T reg cell numbers are found in mice deficient for the NAD-hydrolase CD38 than in wild-type, P2X7-deficient, or ART2-deficient mice, indicating a role for extracellular NAD(+) in T reg cell homeostasis. Even routine cell preparation leads to release of NAD(+) in sufficient quantities to profoundly affect T reg cell viability, phenotype, and function. We demonstrate that T reg cells can be protected from the deleterious effects of NAD(+) by an inhibitory ART2.2-specific single domain antibody. Furthermore, selective depletion of T reg cells by systemic administration of NAD(+) can be used to promote an antitumor response in several mouse tumor models. Collectively, our data demonstrate that NAD(+) influences survival, phenotype, and function of T reg cells and provide proof of principle that acting on the ART2-P2X7 pathway represents a new strategy to manipulate T reg cells in vivo.
    • Filamin A Phosphorylation at Serine 2152 by the Serine/Threonine Kinase Ndr2 Controls TCR-Induced LFA-1 Activation in T Cells.

      Waldt, Natalie; Seifert, Anke; Demiray, Yunus Emre; Devroe, Eric; Turk, Benjamin E; Reichardt, Peter; Mix, Charlie; Reinhold, Annegret; Freund, Christian; Müller, Andreas J; et al. (Frontiers, 2018-01-01)
      The integrin LFA-1 (CD11a/CD18) plays a critical role in the interaction of T cells with antigen presenting cells (APCs) to promote lymphocyte differentiation and proliferation. This integrin can be present either in a closed or in an open active conformation and its activation upon T-cell receptor (TCR) stimulation is a critical step to allow interaction with APCs. In this study we demonstrate that the serine/threonine kinase Ndr2 is critically involved in the initiation of TCR-mediated LFA-1 activation (open conformation) in T cells. Ndr2 itself becomes activated upon TCR stimulation and phosphorylates the intracellular integrin binding partner Filamin A (FLNa) at serine 2152. This phosphorylation promotes the dissociation of FLNa from LFA-1, allowing for a subsequent association of Talin and Kindlin-3 which both stabilize the open conformation of LFA-1. Our data suggest that Ndr2 activation is a crucial step to initiate TCR-mediated LFA-1 activation in T cells.
    • Foxp3(+) T cells expressing RORγt represent a stable regulatory T-cell effector lineage with enhanced suppressive capacity during intestinal inflammation.

      Yang, B-H; Hagemann, S; Mamareli, P; Lauer, U; Hoffmann, U; Beckstette, M; Föhse, L; Prinz, I; Pezoldt, J; Suerbaum, S; et al. (2016-03)
      Foxp3 (forkhead box P3 transcription factor)-expressing regulatory T cells (Tregs) are essential for immunological tolerance, best illustrated by uncontrolled effector T-cell responses and autoimmunity upon loss of Foxp3 expression. Tregs can adopt specific effector phenotypes upon activation, reflecting the diversity of functional demands in the different tissues of the body. Here, we report that Foxp3(+)CD4(+) T cells coexpressing retinoic acid-related orphan receptor-γt (RORγt), the master transcription factor for T helper type 17 (Th17) cells, represent a stable effector Treg lineage. Transcriptomic and epigenetic profiling revealed that Foxp3(+)RORγt(+) T cells display signatures of both Tregs and Th17 cells, although the degree of similarity was higher to Foxp3(+)RORγt(-) Tregs than to Foxp3(-)RORγt(+) T cells. Importantly, Foxp3(+)RORγt(+) T cells were significantly demethylated at Treg-specific epigenetic signature genes such as Foxp3, Ctla-4, Gitr, Eos, and Helios, suggesting that these cells have a stable regulatory rather than inflammatory function. Indeed, adoptive transfer of Foxp3(+)RORγt(+) T cells in the T-cell transfer colitis model confirmed their Treg function and lineage stability in vivo, and revealed an enhanced suppressive capacity as compared with Foxp3(+)RORγt(-) Tregs. Thus, our data suggest that RORγt expression in Tregs contributes to an optimal suppressive capacity during gut-specific immune responses, rendering Foxp3(+)RORγt(+) T cells as an important effector Treg subset in the intestinal system.
    • Gadd45 proteins in immunity.

      Schmitz, Ingo; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2013)
      The vertebrate immune system protects the host against invading pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and parasites. It consists of an innate branch and an adaptive branch that provide immediate and long-lasting protection, respectively. As the immune system is composed of different cell types and distributed throughout the whole body, immune cells need to communicate with each other. Intercellular communication in the immune system is mediated by cytokines, which bind to specific receptors on the cell surface and activate intracellular signalling networks. Growth arrest and DNA damage-inducible 45 (Gadd45) proteins are important components of these intracellular signalling networks. They are induced by a number of cytokines and by bacterial lipopolysaccharide. Within the innate immune system, Gadd45 proteins are crucial for the differentiation of myeloid cells as well as for the function of granulocytes and macrophages. Moreover, Gadd45β regulates autophagy, a catabolic pathway that also degrades intracellular pathogens. Regarding adaptive immunity, Gadd45 proteins are especially well characterized in T cells. For instance, Gadd45β and Gadd45γ regulate cytokine expression and Th1 differentiation, while Gadd45α inhibits p38 kinase activation downstream of the T cell receptor. Due to their many functions in the immune system, deficiency in Gadd45 proteins causes autoimmune diseases and less efficient tumour immunosurveillance.