• Targeting Antigens to Dendritic Cells the DC-Specific-ICAM3-Grabbing-Nonintegrin Receptor Induces Strong T-Helper 1 Immune Responses.

      Velasquez, Lis Noelia; Stüve, Philipp; Gentilini, Maria Virginia; Swallow, Maxine; Bartel, Judith; Lycke, Nils Yngve; Barkan, Daniel; Martina, Mariana; Lujan, Hugo D; Kalay, Hakan; et al. (2018-01-01)
      Tuberculosis remains a major global health problem and efforts to develop a more effective vaccine have been unsuccessful so far. Targeting antigens (Ags) to dendritic cells (DCs) in vivo has emerged as a new promising vaccine strategy. In this approach, Ags are delivered directly to DCs via antibodies that bind to endocytic cell-surface receptors. Here, we explored DC-specifc-ICAM3-grabbing-nonintegrin (DC-SIGN) targeting as a potential vaccine against tuberculosis. For this, we made use of the hSIGN mouse model that expresses human DC-SIGN under the control of the murine CD11c promoter. We show that in vitro and in vivo delivery of anti-DC-SIGN antibodies conjugated to Ag85B and peptide 25 of Ag85B in combination with anti-CD40, the fungal cell wall component zymosan, and the cholera toxin-derived fusion protein CTA1-DD induces strong Ag-specifc CD4+ T-cell responses. Improved anti-mycobacterial immunity was accompanied by increased frequencies of Ag-specifc IFN-γ+ IL-2+ TNF-α+ polyfunctional CD4+ T cells in vaccinated mice compared with controls. Taken together, in this study we provide the proof of concept that the human DC-SIGN receptor can be effciently exploited for vaccine purposes to promote immunity against mycobacterial infections.
    • TGFβ-activation by dendritic cells drives Th17 induction and intestinal contractility and augments the expulsion of the parasite Trichinella spiralis in mice.

      Steel, Nicola; Faniyi, Aduragbemi A; Rahman, Sayema; Swietlik, Stefanie; Czajkowska, Beata I; Chan, Bethany T; Hardgrave, Alexander; Steel, Anthony; Sparwasser, Tim D; Assas, Mushref B; et al. (PLOS, 2019-01-01)
      Helminths are highly prevalent metazoan parasites that infect over a billion of the world’s population. Hosts have evolved numerous mechanisms to drive the expulsion of these parasites via Th2-driven immunity, but these responses must be tightly controlled to prevent equally devastating immunopathology. However, mechanisms that regulate this balance are still unclear. Here we show that the vigorous Th2 immune response driven by the small intestinal helminth Trichinella spiralis, is associated with increased TGFβ signalling responses in CD4+ T-cells. Mechanistically, enhanced TGFβ signalling in CD4+ T-cells is dependent on dendritic cell-mediated TGFβ activation which requires expression of the integrin αvβ8. Importantly, mice lacking integrin αvβ8 on DCs had a delayed ability to expel a T. spiralis infection, indicating an important functional role for integrin αvβ8-mediated TGFβ activation in promoting parasite expulsion. In addition to maintaining regulatory T-cell responses, the CD4+ T-cell signalling of this pleiotropic cytokine induces a Th17 response which is crucial in promoting the intestinal muscle hypercontractility that drives worm expulsion. Collectively, these results provide novel insights into intestinal helminth expulsion beyond that of classical Th2 driven immunity, and highlight the importance of IL-17 in intestinal contraction which may aid therapeutics to numerous diseases of the intestine.
    • Therapeutic HNF4A mRNA attenuates liver fibrosis in a preclinical model.

      Yang, Taihua; Poenisch, Marion; Khanal, Rajendra; Hu, Qingluan; Dai, Zhen; Li, Ruomeng; Song, Guangqi; Yuan, Qinggong; Yao, Qunyan; Shen, Xizhong; et al. (Elsevier, 2021-08-25)
      Background & aims: Therapeutic targeting of injuries that require transient restoration of proteins by mRNA delivery is an attractive approach that, until recently, has remained poorly explored. In this study, we examined the therapeutic utility of mRNA delivery for liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. Specifically, we aimed to demonstrate the therapeutic efficacy of human hepatocyte nuclear factor alpha (HNF4A) mRNA in mouse models of fibrosis and cirrhosis. Methods: We investigated restoration of hepatocyte functions by HNF4A mRNA transfection in vitro, and analyzed the attenuation of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in multiple mouse models, by delivering hepatocyte-targeted biodegradable lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) encapsulating HNF4A mRNA. To identify potential mechanisms of action, we performed microarray-based gene expression profiling, single-cell RNA sequencing, and chromatin immunoprecipitation. We used primary liver cells and human liver buds for additional functional validation. Results: Expression of HNF4A mRNA led to restoration of the metabolic activity of fibrotic primary murine and human hepatocytes in vitro. Repeated in vivo delivery of LNP-encapsulated HNF4A mRNA induced a robust inhibition of fibrogenesis in 4 independent mouse models of hepatotoxin- and cholestasis-induced liver fibrosis. Mechanistically, we discovered that paraoxonase 1 is a direct target of HNF4A and it contributes to HNF4A-mediated attenuation of liver fibrosis via modulation of liver macrophages and hepatic stellate cells. Conclusion: Collectively, our findings provide the first direct preclinical evidence of the applicability of HNF4A mRNA therapeutics for the treatment of fibrosis in the liver. Lay summary: Liver fibrosis and cirrhosis remain unmet medical needs and contribute to high mortality worldwide. Herein, we take advantage of a promising therapeutic approach to treat liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. We demonstrate that restoration of a key gene, HNF4A, via mRNA encapsulated in lipid nanoparticles decreased injury in multiple mouse models of fibrosis and cirrhosis. Our study provides proof-of-concept that mRNA therapy is a promising strategy for reversing liver fibrosis and cirrhosis.
    • TLR4 abrogates the Th1 immune response through IRF1 and IFN-β to prevent immunopathology during L. infantum infection.

      Sacramento, Laís Amorim; Benevides, Luciana; Maruyama, Sandra Regina; Tavares, Lucas; Fukutani, Kiyoshi Ferreira; Francozo, Marcela; Sparwasser, Tim; Cunha, Fernando Queiroz; Almeida, Roque Pacheco; da Silva, João Santana; et al. (PLOS, 2020-03-25)
      A striking feature of human visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is chronic inflammation in the spleen and liver, and VL patients present increased production levels of multiple inflammatory mediators, which contribute to tissue damage and disease severity. Here, we combined an experimental model with the transcriptional profile of human VL to demonstrate that the TLR4-IFN-β pathway regulates the chronic inflammatory process and is associated with the asymptomatic form of the disease. Tlr4-deficient mice harbored fewer parasites in their spleen and liver than wild-type mice. TLR4 deficiency enhanced the Th1 immune response against the parasite, which was correlated with an increased activation of dendritic cells (DCs). Gene expression analyses demonstrated that IRF1 and IFN-β were expressed downstream of TLR4 after infection. Accordingly, IRF1- and IFNAR-deficient mice harbored fewer parasites in the target organs than wild-type mice due to having an increased Th1 immune response. However, the absence of TLR4 or IFNAR increased the serum transaminase levels in infected mice, indicating the presence of liver damage in these animals. In addition, IFN-β limits IFN-γ production by acting directly on Th1 cells. Using RNA sequencing analysis of human samples, we demonstrated that the transcriptional signature for the TLR4 and type I IFN (IFN-I) pathways was positively modulated in asymptomatic subjects compared with VL patients and thus provide direct evidence demonstrating that the TLR4-IFN-I pathway is related to the nondevelopment of the disease. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that the TLR4-IRF1 pathway culminates in IFN-β production as a mechanism for dampening the chronic inflammatory process and preventing immunopathology development.
    • TLR7 Controls VSV Replication in CD169 SCS Macrophages and Associated Viral Neuroinvasion.

      Solmaz, Gülhas; Puttur, Franz; Francozo, Marcela; Lindenberg, Marc; Guderian, Melanie; Swallow, Maxine; Duhan, Vikas; Khairnar, Vishal; Kalinke, Ulrich; Ludewig, Burkhard; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is an insect-transmitted rhabdovirus that is neurovirulent in mice. Upon peripheral VSV infection, CD169+ subcapsular sinus (SCS) macrophages capture VSV in the lymph, support viral replication, and prevent CNS neuroinvasion. To date, the precise mechanisms controlling VSV infection in SCS macrophages remain incompletely understood. Here, we show that Toll-like receptor-7 (TLR7), the main sensing receptor for VSV, is central in controlling lymph-borne VSV infection. Following VSV skin infection, TLR7-/- mice display significantly less VSV titers in the draining lymph nodes (dLN) and viral replication is attenuated in SCS macrophages. In contrast to effects of TLR7 in impeding VSV replication in the dLN, TLR7-/- mice present elevated viral load in the brain and spinal cord highlighting their susceptibility to VSV neuroinvasion. By generating novel TLR7 floxed mice, we interrogate the impact of cell-specific TLR7 function in anti-viral immunity after VSV skin infection. Our data suggests that TLR7 signaling in SCS macrophages supports VSV replication in these cells, increasing LN infection and may account for the delayed onset of VSV-induced neurovirulence observed in TLR7-/- mice. Overall, we identify TLR7 as a novel and essential host factor that critically controls anti-viral immunity to VSV. Furthermore, the novel mouse model generated in our study will be of valuable importance to shed light on cell-intrinsic TLR7 biology in future studies.
    • Transient Depletion of Foxp3 Regulatory T Cells Selectively Promotes Aggressive β Cell Autoimmunity in Genetically Susceptible DEREG Mice.

      Watts, Deepika; Janßen, Marthe; Jaykar, Mangesh; Palmucci, Francesco; Weigelt, Marc; Petzold, Cathleen; Hommel, Angela; Sparwasser, Tim; Bonifacio, Ezio; Kretschmer, Karsten; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-08-10)
      Type 1 diabetes (T1D) represents a hallmark of the fatal multiorgan autoimmune syndrome affecting humans with abrogated Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cell function due to Foxp3 gene mutations, but whether the loss of Foxp3+ Treg cell activity is indeed sufficient to promote β cell autoimmunity requires further scrutiny. As opposed to human Treg cell deficiency, β cell autoimmunity has not been observed in non-autoimmune-prone mice with constitutive Foxp3 deficiency or after diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR)-mediated ablation of Foxp3+ Treg cells. In the spontaneous nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse model of T1D, constitutive Foxp3 deficiency did not result in invasive insulitis and hyperglycemia, and previous studies on Foxp3+ Treg cell ablation focused on Foxp3DTR NOD mice, in which expression of a transgenic BDC2.5 T cell receptor (TCR) restricted the CD4+ TCR repertoire to a single diabetogenic specificity. Here we revisited the effect of acute Foxp3+ Treg cell ablation on β cell autoimmunity in NOD mice in the context of a polyclonal TCR repertoire. For this, we took advantage of the well-established DTR/GFP transgene of DEREG mice, which allows for specific ablation of Foxp3+ Treg cells without promoting catastrophic autoimmune diseases. We show that the transient loss of Foxp3+ Treg cells in prediabetic NOD.DEREG mice is sufficient to precipitate severe insulitis and persistent hyperglycemia within 5 days after DT administration. Importantly, DT-treated NOD.DEREG mice preserved many clinical features of spontaneous diabetes progression in the NOD model, including a prominent role of diabetogenic CD8+ T cells in terminal β cell destruction. Despite the severity of destructive β cell autoimmunity, anti-CD3 mAb therapy of DT-treated mice interfered with the progression to overt diabetes, indicating that the novel NOD.DEREG model can be exploited for preclinical studies on T1D under experimental conditions of synchronized, advanced β cell autoimmunity. Overall, our studies highlight the continuous requirement of Foxp3+ Treg cell activity for the control of genetically pre-installed autoimmune diabetes.