• Inhibition of the JAK/STAT Signaling Pathway in Regulatory T Cells Reveals a Very Dynamic Regulation of Foxp3 Expression.

      Goldstein, Jérémie D; Burlion, Aude; Zaragoza, Bruno; Sendeyo, Kélhia; Polansky, Julia K; Huehn, Jochen; Piaggio, Eliane; Salomon, Benoit L; Marodon, Gilles; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      The IL-2/JAK3/STAT-5 signaling pathway is involved on the initiation and maintenance of the transcription factor Foxp3 in regulatory T cells (Treg) and has been associated with demethylation of the intronic Conserved Non Coding Sequence-2 (CNS2). However, the role of the JAK/STAT pathway in controlling Foxp3 in the short term has been poorly investigated. Using two different JAK/STAT pharmacological inhibitors, we observed a detectable loss of Foxp3 after 10 min. of treatment that affected 70% of the cells after one hour. Using cycloheximide, a general inhibitor of mRNA translation, we determined that Foxp3, but not CD25, has a high turnover in IL-2 stimulated Treg. This reduction was correlated with a rapid reduction of Foxp3 mRNA. This loss of Foxp3 was associated with a loss in STAT-5 binding to the CNS2, which however remains demethylated. Consequently, Foxp3 expression returns to normal level upon restoration of basal JAK/STAT signaling in vivo. Reduced expression of several genes defining Treg identity was also observed upon treatment. Thus, our results demonstrate that Foxp3 has a rapid turn over in Treg partly controlled at the transcriptional level by the JAK/STAT pathway.
    • Polymicrobial sepsis and non-specific immunization induce adaptive immunosuppression to a similar degree.

      Schmoeckel, Katrin; Mrochen, Daniel M; Hühn, Jochen; Pötschke, Christian; Bröker, Barbara M; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018)
      Sepsis is frequently complicated by a state of profound immunosuppression, in its extreme form known as immunoparalysis. We have studied the role of the adaptive immune system in the murine acute peritonitis model. To read out adaptive immunosuppression, we primed post-septic and control animals by immunization with the model antigen TNP-ovalbumin in alum, and measured the specific antibody-responses via ELISA and ELISpot assay as well as T-cell responses in a proliferation assay after restimulation. Specific antibody titers, antibody affinity and plasma cell counts in the bone marrow were reduced in post-septic animals. The antigen-induced splenic proliferation was also impaired. The adaptive immunosuppression was positively correlated with an overwhelming general antibody response to the septic insult. Remarkably, antigen "overload" by non-specific immunization induced a similar degree of adaptive immunosuppression in the absence of sepsis. In both settings, depletion of regulatory T cells before priming reversed some parameters of the immunosuppression. In conclusion, our data show that adaptive immunosuppression occurs independent of profound systemic inflammation and life-threatening illness.
    • The Treg-specific demethylated region stabilizes Foxp3 expression independently of NF-κB signaling.

      Schreiber, Lisa; Pietzsch, Beate; Floess, Stefan; Farah, Carla; Jänsch, Lothar; Schmitz, Ingo; Huehn, Jochen; Department Experimental Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2014)
      Regulatory T cells (Tregs) obtain immunosuppressive capacity by the upregulation of forkhead box protein 3 (Foxp3), and persistent expression of this transcription factor is required to maintain their immune regulatory function and ensure immune homeostasis. Stable Foxp3 expression is achieved through epigenetic modification of the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR), an evolutionarily conserved non-coding element within the Foxp3 gene locus. Here, we present molecular data suggesting that TSDR enhancer activity is restricted to T cells and cannot be induced in other immune cells such as macrophages or B cells. Since NF-κB signaling has been reported to be instrumental to induce Foxp3 expression during Treg development, we analyzed how NF-κB factors are involved in the molecular regulation of the TSDR. Unexpectedly, we neither observed transcriptional activity of a previously postulated NF-κB binding site within the TSDR nor did the entire TSDR show any transcriptional responsiveness to NF-κB activation at all. Finally, the NF-κB subunit c-Rel revealed to be dispensable for epigenetic imprinting of sustained Foxp3 expression by TSDR demethylation. In conclusion, we show that NF-κB signaling is not substantially involved in TSDR-mediated stabilization of Foxp3 expression in Tregs.
    • Viral Infection of the Central Nervous System Exacerbates Interleukin-10 Receptor Deficiency-Mediated Colitis in SJL Mice.

      Uhde, Ann-Kathrin; Herder, Vanessa; Akram Khan, Muhammad; Ciurkiewicz, Malgorzata; Schaudien, Dirk; Teich, René; Floess, Stefan; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; Huehn, Jochen; Beineke, Andreas; et al. (2016)
      Theiler´s murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV)-infection is a widely used animal model for studying demyelinating disorders, including multiple sclerosis (MS). The immunosuppressive cytokine Interleukin (IL)-10 counteracts hyperactive immune responses and critically controls immune homeostasis in infectious and autoimmune disorders. In order to investigate the effect of signaling via Interleukin-10 receptor (IL-10R) in infectious neurological diseases, TMEV-infected SJL mice were treated with IL-10R blocking antibody (Ab) in the acute and chronic phase of the disease. The findings demonstrate that (i) Ab-mediated IL-10 neutralization leads to progressive colitis with a reduction in Foxp3+ regulatory T cells and increased numbers of CD8+CD44+ memory T cells as well as activated CD4+CD69+ and CD8+CD69+ T cells in uninfected mice. (ii) Concurrent acute TMEV-infection worsened enteric disease-mediated by IL-10R neutralization. Virus-triggered effects were associated with an enhanced activation of CD4+ T helper cells and CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes and augmented cytokine expression. By contrast, (iii) IL-10R neutralization during chronic TMEV-infection was not associated with enhanced peripheral immunopathology but an increased CD3+ T cell influx in the spinal cord. IL-10R neutralization causes a breakdown in peripheral immune tolerance in genetically predisposed mice, which leads to immune-mediated colitis, resembling inflammatory bowel disease. Hyperactive immune state following IL-10R blockade is enhanced by central nervous system-restricted viral infection in a disease phase-dependent manner.