• Hepatitis E Virus (HEV)-Specific T Cell Receptor Cross-Recognition: Implications for Immunotherapy.

      Soon, Chai Fen; Zhang, Shihong; Suneetha, Pothakamuri Venkata; Antunes, Dinler Amaral; Manns, Michael Peter; Raha, Solaiman; Schultze-Florey, Christian; Prinz, Immo; Wedemeyer, Heiner; Sällberg Chen, Margaret; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      T cell immunotherapy is a concept developed for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases, based on cytotoxic T lymphocytes to target tumor- or pathogen-specific antigens. Antigen-specificity of the T cell receptors (TCRs) is an important selection criterion in the developmental design of immunotherapy. However, off-target specificity is a possible autoimmunity concern if the engineered antigen-specific T cells are cross-reacting to self-peptides in-vivo. In our recent work, we identified several hepatitis E virus (HEV)-specific TCRs as potential candidates to be developed into T cell therapy to treat chronic hepatitis E. One of the identified TCRs, targeting a HLA-A2-restricted epitope at the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (HEV-1527: LLWNTVWNM), possessed a unique multiple glycine motif in the TCR-β CDR3, which might be a factor inducing cross-reactivity. The aim of our study was to explore if this TCR could cross-recognize self-peptides to underlay autoimmunity. Indeed, we found that this HEV-1527-specific TCR could also cross-recognize an apoptosis-related epitope, Nonmuscle Myosin Heavy Chain 9 (MYH9-478: QLFNHTMFI). While this TCR had dual specificities to both viral epitope and a self-antigen by double Dextramer binding, it was selectively functional against HEV-1527 but not activated against MYH9-478. The consecutive glycine motif in β chain may be the reason promoting TCR binding promiscuity to recognize a secondary target, thereby facilitating cross-recognition. In conclusion, candidate TCRs for immunotherapy development should be screened for autoimmune potential, especially when the TCRs exhibit unique sequence pattern.
    • miR-181a/b-1 controls thymic selection of Treg cells and tunes their suppressive capacity.

      Łyszkiewicz, Marcin; Winter, Samantha J; Witzlau, Katrin; Föhse, Lisa; Brownlie, Rebecca; Puchałka, Jacek; Verheyden, Nikita A; Kunze-Schumacher, Heike; Imelmann, Esther; Blume, Jonas; et al. (PLOS, 2019-03-01)
      The interdependence of selective cues during development of regulatory T cells (Treg cells) in the thymus and their suppressive function remains incompletely understood. Here, we analyzed this interdependence by taking advantage of highly dynamic changes in expression of microRNA 181 family members miR-181a-1 and miR-181b-1 (miR-181a/b-1) during late T-cell development with very high levels of expression during thymocyte selection, followed by massive down-regulation in the periphery. Loss of miR-181a/b-1 resulted in inefficient de novo generation of Treg cells in the thymus but simultaneously permitted homeostatic expansion in the periphery in the absence of competition. Modulation of T-cell receptor (TCR) signal strength in vivo indicated that miR-181a/b-1 controlled Treg-cell formation via establishing adequate signaling thresholds. Unexpectedly, miR-181a/b-1-deficient Treg cells displayed elevated suppressive capacity in vivo, in line with elevated levels of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated 4 (CTLA-4) protein, but not mRNA, in thymic and peripheral Treg cells. Therefore, we propose that intrathymic miR-181a/b-1 controls development of Treg cells and imposes a developmental legacy on their peripheral function.