During infection and autoimmune disease, activation and expansion of T cells take place. Consequently, the TCR repertoire contains information about ongoing and past diseases. Analysis and interpretation of the human TCR repertoire are hampered by its size and stochastic variation and by the diversity of Ags and Ag-presenting molecules encoded by the MHC, but are highly desirable and would greatly impact fundamental and clinical immunology. A subset of the TCR repertoire is formed by invariant T cells. Invariant T cells express interdonor-conserved TCRs and recognize a limited set of Ags, presented by nonpolymorphic Ag-presenting molecules. Discovery of the three known invariant T cell populations has been a tedious and slow process, identifying them one by one. Because conservation of the TCR ?-chain of invariant T cells is much higher than the ?-chain, and because the TCR ?-chain V gene segment TRAV1-2 is used by two of the three known invariant TCRs, we employed next-generation sequencing of TCR ?-chains that contain the TRAV1-2 gene segment to identify 16 invariant TCRs shared among many blood donors. Frequency analysis of individual clones indicates these T cells are expanded in many donors, implying an important role in human immunity. This approach extends the number of known interdonor-conserved TCRs and suggests that many more exist and that these TCR patterns can be used to systematically evaluate human Ag exposure.
CD1c is a member of the group 1 CD1 family of proteins that are specialized for lipid antigen presentation. Despite high cell surface expression of CD1c on key antigen-presenting cells and the discovery of its mycobacterial lipid antigen presentation capability, the molecular basis of CD1c recognition by T cells is unknown. Here we present a comprehensive functional and molecular analysis of ?? T-cell receptor (TCR) recognition of CD1c presenting mycobacterial phosphomycoketide antigens. Our structure of CD1c with the mycobacterial phosphomycoketide (PM) shows similarities to that of CD1c-mannosyl-?1-phosphomycoketide in that the A' pocket accommodates the mycoketide alkyl chain; however, the phosphate head-group of PM is shifted ?6 Å in relation to that of mannosyl-?1-PM. We also demonstrate a bona fide interaction between six human TCRs and CD1c-mycoketide complexes, measuring high to moderate affinities. The crystal structure of the DN6 TCR and mutagenic studies reveal a requirement of five complementarity determining region (CDR) loops for CD1c recognition. Furthermore, mutagenesis of CD1c reveals residues in both the ?1 and ?2 helices involved in TCR recognition, yet not entirely overlapping among the examined TCRs. Unlike patterns for MHC I, no archetypical binding footprint is predicted to be shared by CD1c-reactive TCRs, even when recognizing the same or similar antigens.
Lipids from mycobacteria can be presented to human T cells by group 1 CD1 Ag-presenting molecules (CD1a, CD1b, and CD1c). Group 1 CD1-restricted T cells are activated by lipid Ags presented by myeloid dendritic cells (DCs), after which they generate antibacterial effector functions, including IFN-? secretion and cytolysis. Thus, mycobacterial lipids are being investigated as components of novel vaccines for mycobacterial infections. In this study we show that the mycobacterial lipid Ag C80 glucose-6-monomycolate can be delivered to human CD1b(+) DCs via targeted liposomal nanoparticles, leading to robust group 1 CD1-restricted activation of T cells. Targeting was achieved by decorating the liposomes with a high-affinity glycan ligand of sialic acid-binding Ig-like lectin (Siglec)-7, a siglec receptor expressed on DCs that mediates rapid endocytosis and transport of its cargo to lysosomes. An Ab to Siglec-7 completely blocked the binding of targeted liposomes to human monocyte-derived DCs (Mo-DCs), demonstrating their targeting specificity. Mo-DCs pulsed with targeted liposomes containing C80 glucose-6-monomycolate more potently activated a CD1b-restricted T cell line relative to Mo-DCs pulsed with free lipid Ag or antigenic liposomes without Siglec-7 ligand. These data suggest that the endocytic function of Siglec-7 can be exploited to deliver glycolipid Ags to their target cell and increase the efficiency of display to T cells.
For decades immunologists thought that T cells solely recognize peptides bound to Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) proteins. Therefore, nearly all medical technology that seeks to measure and manipulate human T cells during immunization, infection, allergy and autoimmune diseases relies on peptide antigens. Newer insights into ?? and ?? T cell activation by CD1 or MR1 proteins greatly expand the biochemical range of T cell antigens to include lipids and non-peptidic small molecules. Moving beyond in vitro studies, the recent development of human CD1a, CD1b, CD1c and MR1 tetramers allows direct and specific enumeration of lipid-reactive and small molecule-reactive T cells, providing a new approach to study of T cell-mediated diseases.
Current views emphasize TCR diversity as a key feature that differentiates the group 1 (CD1a, CD1b, CD1c) and group 2 (CD1d) CD1 systems. Whereas TCR sequence motifs define CD1d-reactive NKT cells, the available data do not allow a TCR-based organization of the group 1 CD1 repertoire. The observed TCR diversity might result from donor-to-donor differences in TCR repertoire, as seen for MHC-restricted T cells. Alternatively, diversity might result from differing CD1 isoforms, Ags, and methods used to identify TCRs. Using CD1b tetramers to isolate clones recognizing the same glycolipid, we identified a previously unknown pattern of V gene usage (TRAV17, TRBV4-1) among unrelated human subjects. These TCRs are distinct from those present on NKT cells and germline-encoded mycolyl lipid-reactive T cells. Instead, they resemble the TCR of LDN5, one of the first known CD1b-reactive clones that was previously thought to illustrate the diversity of the TCR repertoire. Interdonor TCR conservation was observed in vitro and ex vivo, identifying LDN5-like T cells as a distinct T cell type. These data support TCR-based organization of the CD1b repertoire, which consists of at least two compartments that differ in TCR sequence motifs, affinity, and coreceptor expression.
Whereas research on CD1d has emphasized a few glycosyl ceramides, the broader family of four human CD1 antigen-presenting molecules binds hundreds of distinct self-lipids. Individual lipid types bind within CD1 grooves in different ways, such that they partially fill the groove, match the groove volume, or protrude substantially from the groove. These differing modes of binding can now be connected to differing immunological functions, as individual lipids can act as stimulatory antigens, inhibitory ligands, or space-filling scaffolds. Because each type of CD1 protein folds to produce antigen-binding grooves with differing sizes and shapes, CD1a, CD1b, CD1c, CD1d, and CD1e have distinct mechanisms of capturing self-lipids and exchanging them for foreign lipids. The size discrepancy between endogeneous lipids and groove volume is most pronounced for CD1b. Recent studies show that the large CD1b cavity can simultaneously bind two self-lipids, the antigen, and its scaffold lipid, which can be exchanged for one large bacterial lipid. In this review, we will highlight recent studies showing how cells regulate lipid antigen loading and the roles CD1 groove structures have in control of the presentation of chemically diverse lipids to T cells.
To identify lipids with roles in tuberculosis disease, we systematically compared the lipid content of virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis with the attenuated vaccine strain Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin. Comparative lipidomics analysis identified more than 1,000 molecular differences, including a previously unknown, Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific lipid that is composed of a diterpene unit linked to adenosine. We established the complete structure of the natural product as 1-tuberculosinyladenosine (1-TbAd) using mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy. A screen for 1-TbAd mutants, complementation studies, and gene transfer identified Rv3378c as necessary for 1-TbAd biosynthesis. Whereas Rv3378c was previously thought to function as a phosphatase, these studies establish its role as a tuberculosinyl transferase and suggest a revised biosynthetic pathway for the sequential action of Rv3377c-Rv3378c. In agreement with this model, recombinant Rv3378c protein produced 1-TbAd, and its crystal structure revealed a cis-prenyl transferase fold with hydrophobic residues for isoprenoid binding and a second binding pocket suitable for the nucleoside substrate. The dual-substrate pocket distinguishes Rv3378c from classical cis-prenyl transferases, providing a unique model for the prenylation of diverse metabolites. Terpene nucleosides are rare in nature, and 1-TbAd is known only in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Thus, this intersection of nucleoside and terpene pathways likely arose late in the evolution of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex; 1-TbAd serves as an abundant chemical marker of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and the extracellular export of this amphipathic molecule likely accounts for the known virulence-promoting effects of the Rv3378c enzyme.
Siderophores are small iron-binding molecules secreted by bacteria to scavenge iron. Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the etiologic agent of tuberculosis, produces the siderophores mycobactin and carboxymycobactin. Complexes of the mycobacterial membrane proteins MmpS4 and MmpS5 with the transporters MmpL4 and MmpL5 are required for siderophore export and virulence in Mtb. Here we show that, surprisingly, mycobactin or carboxymycobactin did not rescue the low-iron growth defect of the export mutant but severely impaired growth. Exogenous siderophores were taken up by the export mutant, and siderophore-delivered iron was used, but the deferrated siderophores accumulated intracellularly, indicating a blockade of siderophore recycling. This hypothesis was confirmed by the observation that radiolabeled carboxymycobactin was taken up and secreted again by Mtb. Addition of iron salts to an Mtb siderophore biosynthesis mutant stimulated more growth in the presence of a limiting amount of siderophores than iron-loaded siderophores alone. Thus, recycling enables Mtb to acquire iron at lower metabolic cost because Mtb cannot use iron salts without siderophores. Exogenous siderophores were bactericidal for the export mutant in submicromolar quantities. High-resolution mass spectrometry revealed that endogenous carboxymycobactin also accumulated in the export mutant. Toxic siderophore accumulation is prevented by a drug that inhibits siderophore biosynthesis. Intracellular accumulation of siderophores was toxic despite the use of an alternative iron source such as hemin, suggesting an additional inhibitory mechanism independent of iron availability. This study indicates that targeting siderophore export/recycling would deliver a one-two punch to Mtb: restricting access to iron and causing toxic intracellular siderophore accumulation.
Human CD1a mediates foreign Ag recognition by a T cell clone, but the nature of possible TCR interactions with CD1a/lipid are unknown. After incubating CD1a with a mycobacterial lipopeptide Ag, dideoxymycobactin (DDM), we identified and measured binding to a recombinant TCR (TRAV3/ TRBV3-1, KD of ?100 ?M). Detection of ternary CD1a/lipid/TCR interactions enabled development of CD1a tetramers and CD1a multimers with carbohydrate backbones (dextramers), which specifically stained T cells using a mechanism that was dependent on the precise stereochemistry of the peptide backbone and was blocked with a soluble TCR. Furthermore, sorting of human T cells from unrelated tuberculosis patients for bright DDM-dextramer staining allowed recovery of T cells that were activated by CD1a and DDM. These studies demonstrate that the mechanism of T cell activation by lipopeptides occurs via ternary interactions of CD1a/Ag/TCR. Furthermore, these studies demonstrate the existence of lipopeptide-specific T cells in humans ex vivo.
T cells autoreactive to the antigen-presenting molecule CD1a are common in human blood and skin, but the search for natural autoantigens has been confounded by background T cell responses to CD1 proteins and self lipids. After capturing CD1a-lipid complexes, we gently eluted ligands while preserving non-ligand-bound CD1a for testing lipids from tissues. CD1a released hundreds of ligands of two types. Inhibitory ligands were ubiquitous membrane lipids with polar head groups, whereas stimulatory compounds were apolar oils. We identified squalene and wax esters, which naturally accumulate in epidermis and sebum, as autoantigens presented by CD1a. The activation of T cells by skin oils suggested that headless mini-antigens nest within CD1a and displace non-antigenic resident lipids with large head groups. Oily autoantigens naturally coat the surface of the skin; thus, this points to a previously unknown mechanism of barrier immunity.
CD1 proteins evolved to present diverse lipid Ags to T cells. In comparison with MHC proteins, CD1 proteins exhibit minimal allelic diversity as a result of nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). However, it is unknown if common SNPs in gene regulatory regions affect CD1 expression and function. We report surprising diversity in patterns of inducible CD1a expression on human dendritic cells (DCs), spanning the full range from undetectable to high density, a finding not seen with other CD1 isoforms. CD1a-deficient DCs failed to present mycobacterial lipopeptide to T cells but had no defects in endocytosis, cytokine secretion, or expression of costimulatory molecules after LPS treatment. We identified an SNP in the 5 untranslated region (rs366316) that was common and strongly associated with low CD1a surface expression and mRNA levels (p = 0.03 and p = 0.001, respectively). Using a CD1a promoter-luciferase system in combination with mutagenesis studies, we found that the polymorphic allele reduced luciferase expression by 44% compared with the wild-type variant (p < 0.001). Genetic regulation of lipid Ag presentation by varying expression on human DCs provides a mechanism for achieving population level differences in immune responses despite limited structural variation in CD1a proteins.
We have taken the first steps towards a complete reconstruction of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis regulatory network based on ChIP-Seq and combined this reconstruction with system-wide profiling of messenger RNAs, proteins, metabolites and lipids during hypoxia and re-aeration. Adaptations to hypoxia are thought to have a prominent role in M. tuberculosis pathogenesis. Using ChIP-Seq combined with expression data from the induction of the same factors, we have reconstructed a draft regulatory network based on 50 transcription factors. This network model revealed a direct interconnection between the hypoxic response, lipid catabolism, lipid anabolism and the production of cell wall lipids. As a validation of this model, in response to oxygen availability we observe substantial alterations in lipid content and changes in gene expression and metabolites in corresponding metabolic pathways. The regulatory network reveals transcription factors underlying these changes, allows us to computationally predict expression changes, and indicates that Rv0081 is a regulatory hub.
CD1c is expressed with high density on human dendritic cells (DCs) and B cells, yet its antigen presentation functions are the least well understood among CD1 family members. Using a CD1c-reactive T cell line (DN6) to complete an organism-wide survey of M. tuberculosis lipids, we identified C32 phosphomycoketide (PM) as a previously unknown molecule and a CD1c-presented antigen. CD1c binding and presentation of mycoketide antigens absolutely required the unusual, mycobacteria-specific lipid branching patterns introduced by polyketide synthase 12 (pks12). Unexpectedly, one TCR responded to diversely glycosylated and unglycosylated forms of mycoketide when presented by DCs and B cells. Yet cell-free systems showed that recognition was mediated only by the deglycosylated phosphoantigen. These studies identify antigen processing of a natural bacterial antigen in the human CD1c system, indicating that cells act on glycolipids to generate a highly simplified neoepitope composed of a sugar-free phosphate anion. Using knowledge of this processed antigen, we generated human CD1c tetramers, and demonstrate that CD1c-PM complexes stain T cell receptors (TCRs), providing direct evidence for a ternary interaction among CD1c-lipid-TCR. Furthermore, PM-loaded CD1c tetramers detect fresh human T cells from peripheral blood, demonstrating a polyclonal response to PM antigens in humans ex vivo.
The CD1 system is composed of five types of human CD1 proteins, CD1a, CD1b, CD1c, CD1d, and CD1e, and their mammalian orthologs. Each type of CD1 protein has a distinct antigen binding groove and shows differing patterns of expression within cells and in different tissues. Here we review the molecular mechanisms by which CD1a, CD1b, and CD1c capture distinct classes of self- and mycobacterial antigens. We discuss how CD1-restricted T cells participate in the immune response, emphasizing new evidence for mycobacterial recognition in vivo in human and non-human models.
Human T cell antigen receptors (TCRs) pair in millions of combinations to create complex and unique T cell repertoires for each person. Through the use of tetramers to analyze TCRs reactive to the antigen-presenting molecule CD1b, we detected T cells with highly stereotyped TCR ?-chains present among genetically unrelated patients with tuberculosis. The germline-encoded, mycolyl lipid-reactive (GEM) TCRs had an ?-chain bearing the variable (V) region TRAV1-2 rearranged to the joining (J) region TRAJ9 with few nontemplated (N)-region additions. Analysis of TCRs by high-throughput sequencing, binding and crystallography showed linkage of TCR? sequence motifs to high-affinity recognition of antigen. Thus, the CD1-reactive TCR repertoire is composed of at least two compartments: high-affinity GEM TCRs, and more-diverse TCRs with low affinity for CD1b-lipid complexes. We found high interdonor conservation of TCRs that probably resulted from selection by a nonpolymorphic antigen-presenting molecule and an immunodominant antigen.
Infections caused by biofilms are abundant and highly persistent, displaying phenotypic resistance to high concentrations of antimicrobials and modulating host immune systems. Tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, shares these qualities with biofilm infections. To identify genetic determinants of biofilm formation in M. tuberculosis, we performed a small-scale transposon screen using an in vitro pellicle biofilm assay. We identified five M. tuberculosis mutants that were reproducibly attenuated for biofilm production relative to that of the parent strain H37Rv. One of the most attenuated mutants is interrupted in pks1, a polyketide synthase gene. When fused with pks15, as in some M. tuberculosis isolates, pks1 contributes to synthesis of the immunomodulatory phenolic glycolipids (PGLs). However, in strains such as H37Rv with split pks15 and pks1 loci, PGL is not produced and pks1 has no previously defined role. We showed that pks1 complementation restores biofilm production independently of the known role of pks1 in PGL synthesis. We also assessed the relationship among biofilm formation, the pks15/1 genotype, and M. tuberculosis phylogeography. A global survey of M. tuberculosis clinical isolates revealed surprising sequence variability in the pks15/1 locus and substantial variation in biofilm phenotypes. Our studies identify novel M. tuberculosis genes that contribute to biofilm production, including pks1. In addition, we find that the ability to make pellicle biofilms is common among M. tuberculosis isolates from throughout the world, suggesting that this trait is relevant to TB propagation or persistence.
Unlike the dominant role of one class II invariant chain peptide (CLIP) in blocking MHC class II, comparative lipidomics analysis shows that human cluster of differentiation (CD) proteins CD1a, CD1b, CD1c, and CD1d bind lipids corresponding to hundreds of diverse accurate mass retention time values. Although most ions were observed in association with several CD1 proteins, ligands binding selectively to one CD1 isoform allowed the study of how differing antigen-binding grooves influence lipid capture. Although the CD1b groove is distinguished by its unusually large volume (2,200 Å(3)) and the T tunnel, the average mass of compounds eluted from CD1b was similar to that of lipids from CD1 proteins with smaller grooves. Elution of small ligands from the large CD1b groove might be explained if two small lipids bind simultaneously in the groove. Crystal structures indicate that all CD1 proteins can capture one antigen with its hydrophilic head group exposed for T-cell recognition, but CD1b structures show scaffold lipids seated below the antigen. We found that ligands selectively associated with CD1b lacked the hydrophilic head group that is generally needed for antigen recognition but interferes with scaffold function. Furthermore, we identified the scaffolds as deoxyceramides and diacylglycerols and directly demonstrate a function in augmenting presentation of a small glycolipid antigen to T cells. Thus, unlike MHC class II, CD1 proteins capture highly diverse ligands in the secretory pathway. CD1b has a mechanism for presenting either two small or one large lipid, allowing presentation of antigens with an unusually broad range of chain lengths.
Microbial lipids activate T cells by binding directly to CD1 and T cell receptors (TCRs) or by indirect effects on antigen-presenting cells involving induction of lipid autoantigens, CD1 transcription, or cytokine release. To distinguish among direct and indirect mechanisms, we developed fluorescent human CD1b tetramers and measured T cell staining. CD1b tetramer staining of T cells requires glucose monomycolate (GMM) antigens, is specific for TCR structure, and is blocked by a recombinant clonotypic TCR comprised of TRAV17 and TRBV4-1, proving that CD1b-glycolipid complexes bind the TCR. GMM-loaded tetramers brightly stain a small subpopulation of blood-derived cells from humans infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, providing direct detection of a CD1b-reactive T cell repertoire. Polyclonal T cells from patients sorted with tetramers are activated by GMM antigens presented by CD1b. Whereas prior studies emphasized CD8(+) and CD4(-)CD8(-) CD1b-restricted clones, CD1b tetramer-based studies show that nearly all cells express the CD4 co-receptor. These findings prove a cognate mechanism whereby CD1b-glycolipid complexes bind to TCRs. CD1b tetramers detect a natural CD1b-restricted T cell repertoire ex vivo with unexpected features, opening a new investigative path to study the human CD1 system.
The lipidic envelope of Mycobacterium tuberculosis promotes virulence in many ways, so we developed a lipidomics platform for a broad survey of cell walls. Here we report two new databases (MycoMass, MycoMap), 30 lipid fine maps, and mass spectrometry datasets that comprise a static lipidome. Further, by rapidly regenerating lipidomic datasets during biological processes, comparative lipidomics provides statistically valid, organism-wide comparisons that broadly assess lipid changes during infection or among clinical strains of mycobacteria. Using stringent data filters, we tracked more than 5,000 molecular features in parallel with few or no false-positive molecular discoveries. The low error rates allowed chemotaxonomic analyses of mycobacteria, which describe the extent of chemical change in each strain and identified particular strain-specific molecules for use as biomarkers.
Intracellular transport occurs through two general types of carrier, either vesicles or tubules. Coat proteins act as the core machinery that initiates vesicle formation, but the counterpart that initiates tubule formation has been unclear. Here, we find that the coat protein I (COPI) complex initially drives the formation of Golgi buds. Subsequently, a set of opposing lipid enzymatic activities determines whether these buds become vesicles or tubules. Lysophosphatidic acid acyltransferase-? (LPAAT?) promotes COPI vesicle fission for retrograde vesicular transport. In contrast, cytosolic phospholipase A2-? (cPLA2?) inhibits this fission event to induce COPI tubules, which act in anterograde intra-Golgi transport and Golgi ribbon formation. These findings not only advance a molecular understanding of how COPI vesicle fission is achieved, but also provide insight into how COPI acts in intra-Golgi transport and reveal an unexpected mechanistic relationship between vesicular and tubular transport.
CD1 molecules are glycoproteins that present lipids and glycolipids for recognition by T cells. CD1-dependent immune activation has been implicated in a wide range of immune responses, however, our understanding of the role of this pathway in human disease remains limited because of species differences between humans and other mammals: whereas humans express five different CD1 gene products (CD1a, CD1b, CD1c, CD1d, and CD1e), muroid rodents express only one CD1 isoform (CD1d). Here we report that immune deficient mice engrafted with human fetal thymus, liver, and CD34(+) hematopoietic stem cells develop a functional human CD1 compartment. CD1a, b, c, and d isoforms were highly expressed by human thymocytes, and CD1a(+) cells with a dendritic morphology were present in the thymic medulla. CD1(+) cells were also detected in spleen, liver, and lungs. APCs from spleen and liver were capable of presenting bacterial glycolipids to human CD1-restricted T cells. ELISpot analyses of splenocytes demonstrated the presence of CD1-reactive IFN-? producing cells. CD1d tetramer staining directly identified human iNKT cells in spleen and liver samples from engrafted mice, and injection of the glycolipid antigen ?-GalCer resulted in rapid elevation of human IFN-? and IL-4 levels in the blood indicating that the human iNKT cells are biologically active in vivo. Together, these results demonstrate that the human CD1 system is present and functionally competent in this humanized mouse model. Thus, this system provides a new opportunity to study the role of CD1-related immune activation in infections to human-specific pathogens.
The appearance of group 1 CD1 proteins (CD1a, CD1b and CD1c) on maturing myeloid DC is a key event that converts myeloid DC to effective lipid APC. Here, we show that Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, triggers appearance of group 1 CD1 proteins at high density on the surface of human myeloid DC during infection. Within human skin, CD1b and CD1c expression was low or absent prior to infection, but increased significantly after experimental infections and in erythema migrans lesions from Lyme disease patients. The induction of CD1 was initiated by borrelial lipids acting through TLR-2 within minutes, but required 3 days for maximum effect. The delay in CD1 protein appearance involved a multi-step process whereby TLR-2 stimulated cells release soluble factors, which are sufficient to transfer the CD1-inducing effect in trans to other cells. Analysis of these soluble factors identified IL-1? as a previously unknown pathway leading to group 1 CD1 protein function. This study establishes that upregulation of group 1 CD1 proteins is an early event in B. burgdorferi infection and suggests a stepwise mechanism whereby bacterial cell walls, TLR activation and cytokine release cause DC precursors to express group 1 CD1 proteins.
Recent studies suggest that natural killer T (NKT) cells play a role in early antiviral pathogenesis and are rapidly depleted in chronic human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) clade B infection. We aimed to characterize the phenotypic and functional characteristics of NKT cells in HIV-1 clade C-infected Africans at different stages of HIV-1 disease. NKT cell frequencies, subsets, and ex vivo effector functions were assessed using multiparametric flow cytometry in a cross-sectional analysis of cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells from a cohort of 53 HIV-1 clade C chronically infected South African adults with CD4 T cell counts ranging from 94 to 839 cells/?l. We observed a significant decline of NKT cell numbers in advanced HIV-1 disease as well as activation and functional impairment of NKT cells in individuals with low CD4 T cell counts. The loss of NKT cells was largely driven by a reduction in the CD4(+) and CD4(-)CD8(-) NKT cell subsets in advanced disease. These findings demonstrate significant impairment of the NKT cell compartment in progressive HIV-1 clade C disease that might play an important role in the modulation of immune function in HIV-1 infection.
CD1 activates T cells, but the function and size of the possible human T cell repertoires that recognize each of the CD1 antigen-presenting molecules remain unknown. Using an experimental system that bypasses major histocompatibility complex (MHC) restriction and the requirement for defined antigens, we show that polyclonal T cells responded at higher rates to cells expressing CD1a than to those expressing CD1b, CD1c or CD1d. Unlike the repertoire of invariant natural killer T (NKT) cells, the CD1a-autoreactive repertoire contained diverse T cell antigen receptors (TCRs). Functionally, many CD1a-autoreactive T cells homed to skin, where they produced interleukin 22 (IL-22) in response to CD1a on Langerhans cells. The strong and frequent responses among genetically diverse donors define CD1a-autoreactive cells as a normal part of the human T cell repertoire and CD1a as a target of the T(H)22 subset of helper T cells.
Knockout of lprG results in decreased virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) in mice. MTB lipoprotein LprG has TLR2 agonist activity, which is thought to be dependent on its N-terminal triacylation. Unexpectedly, here we find that nonacylated LprG retains TLR2 activity. Moreover, we show LprG association with triacylated glycolipid TLR2 agonists lipoarabinomannan, lipomannan and phosphatidylinositol mannosides (which share core structures). Binding of triacylated species was specific to LprG (not LprA) and increased LprG TLR2 agonist activity; conversely, association of glycolipids with LprG enhanced their recognition by TLR2. The crystal structure of LprG in complex with phosphatidylinositol mannoside revealed a hydrophobic pocket that accommodates the three alkyl chains of the ligand. In conclusion, we demonstrate a glycolipid binding function of LprG that enhances recognition of triacylated MTB glycolipids by TLR2 and may affect glycolipid assembly or transport for bacterial cell wall biogenesis.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a leading killer worldwide, yet the adjuvancy of its cell wall has proven to be a valuable therapeutic tool for vaccination and immunotherapy. Much research effort has focused on the mycobacterial glycolipid trehalose-6,6-dimycolate (TDM), a potent immunostimulant that is also known as cord factor. Now, the identification of the monocyte-inducible C-type lectin (Mincle) as an essential receptor for TDM provides new insight into the formation of the characteristic granulomas in tuberculosis and an avenue for rational adjuvant design.
A glycerophospholipid (1-O-tuberculostearoyl-2-O-palmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis was isolated from the reference strain H37Rv. The molecular structure of this tuberculostearoyl [(R)-10-methyloctadecyl] and palmitoyl containing phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) has been resolved. The substitution pattern on the glycerol backbone could be determined by comparison of the isolate to the two synthetically prepared regioisomers. MS/MS analysis was used to determine its molecular structure. Production of this synthetic version of mycobacterial PE in high yield, with a stereochemically correct and pathogen-specific fatty acyl group, can be used as a standard in LC-MS based lipidomic analyses to detect trace amounts of mycobacterial PE in human blood, sputum, or tissues as a marker of infection by mycobacteria.
The Esx secretion pathway is conserved across Gram-positive bacteria. Esx-1, the best-characterized system, is required for virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, although its precise function during infection remains unclear. Esx-3, a paralogous system present in all mycobacterial species, is required for growth in vitro. Here, we demonstrate that mycobacteria lacking Esx-3 are defective in acquiring iron. To compete for the limited iron available in the host and the environment, these organisms use mycobactin, high-affinity iron-binding molecules. In the absence of Esx-3, mycobacteria synthesize mycobactin but are unable to use the bound iron and are impaired severely for growth during macrophage infection. Mycobacteria thus require a specialized secretion system for acquiring iron from siderophores.
Group 1 CD1 (CD1a, CD1b, and CD1c)-restricted T cells recognize mycobacterial lipid antigens and are found at higher frequencies in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb)-infected individuals. However, their role and dynamics during infection remain unknown because of the lack of a suitable small animal model. We have generated human group 1 CD1 transgenic (hCD1Tg) mice that express all three human group 1 CD1 isoforms and support the development of group 1 CD1-restricted T cells with diverse T cell receptor usage. Both mycobacterial infection and immunization with Mtb lipids elicit group 1 CD1-restricted Mtb lipid-specific T cell responses in hCD1Tg mice. In contrast to CD1d-restricted NKT cells, which rapidly respond to initial stimulation but exhibit anergy upon reexposure, group 1 CD1-restricted T cells exhibit delayed primary responses and more rapid secondary responses, similar to conventional T cells. Collectively, our data demonstrate that group 1 CD1-restricted T cells participate in adaptive immune responses upon mycobacterial infection and could serve as targets for the development of novel Mtb vaccines.
Although CD1 proteins are known to present mycobacterial lipid antigens to T cells, there is little understanding of the in vivo behavior of T cells restricted by CD1a, CD1b and CD1c, and the relative immunogenicity and immunodominance of individual lipids within the total array of lipids that comprise a bacterium. Because bovines express multiple CD1 proteins and are natural hosts of Mycobacterium bovis and Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP), we used them as a new animal model of CD1 function. Here, we report the surprisingly divergent responses against lipids produced by these two pathogens during infection. Despite considerable overlap in lipid content, only three out of 69 animals cross-react with M. bovis and MAP total lipid preparations. The unidentified immunodominant compound of M. bovis is a hydrophilic compound, whereas the immunodominant lipid of MAP is presented by CD1b and was identified as glucose monomycolate (GMM). The preferential recognition of GMM antigen by MAP-infected cattle may be explained by the higher expression of GMM by MAP than by M. bovis. The bacterial species-specific nature of the CD1-restricted, adaptive T-cell response affects the approach to development of lipid based immunodiagnostic tests.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis survival in cells requires mycobactin siderophores. Recently, the search for lipid antigens presented by the CD1a antigen-presenting protein led to the discovery of a mycobactin-like compound, dideoxymycobactin (DDM). Here we synthesize DDMs using solution phase and solid phase peptide synthesis chemistry. Comparison of synthetic standards to natural mycobacterial mycobactins by nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry allowed identification of an unexpected alpha-methyl serine unit in natural DDM. This finding further distinguishes these pre-siderophores as foreign compounds distinct from conventional peptides, and we provide evidence that this chemical variation influences the T cell response. One synthetic DDM recapitulated natural structures and potently stimulated T cells, making it suitable for patient studies of CD1a in infectious disease. DDM analogs differing in the stereochemistry of their butyrate or oxazoline moieties were not recognized by human T cells. Therefore, we conclude that T cells show precise specificity for both arms of the peptide, which are predicted to lie at the CD1a-T cell receptor interface.
The recent discovery of dideoxymycobactin (DDM) as a ligand for CD1a demonstrates how a nonribosomal lipopeptide antigen is presented to T cells. DDM contains an unusual acylation motif and a peptide sequence present only in mycobacteria, but its discovery raises the possibility that ribosomally produced viral or mammalian proteins that commonly undergo lipidation might also function as antigens. To test this, we measured T cell responses to synthetic acylpeptides that mimic lipoproteins produced by cells and viruses. CD1c presented an N-acyl glycine dodecamer peptide (lipo-12) to human T cells, and the response was specific for the acyl linkage as well as the peptide length and sequence. Thus, CD1c represents the second member of the CD1 family to present lipopeptides. lipo-12 was efficiently recognized when presented by intact cells, and unlike DDM, it was inactivated by proteases and augmented by protease inhibitors. Although lysosomes often promote antigen presentation by CD1, rerouting CD1c to lysosomes by mutating CD1 tail sequences caused reduction in lipo-12 presentation. Thus, although certain antigens require antigen processing in lysosomes, others are destroyed there, providing a hypothesis for the evolutionary conservation of large CD1 families containing isoforms that survey early endosomal pathways.
CD1 proteins display lipid antigens to T cell receptors. Studies using CD1d tetramers and CD1d-deficient mice provide important insight into the immunological functions of invariant NK T cells (iNKT) during viral and bacterial infections. However, the mouse CD1 locus is atypical because it encodes only CD1d, whereas most mammalian species have retained many CD1 genes. Viewed from the perspective that CD1 is a diverse gene family that activates several of classes of T cells, new insights into lipid loading and infection response are emerging.
Metabolism is central to cell physiology, and metabolic disturbances play a role in numerous disease states. Despite its importance, the ability to study metabolism at a global scale using genomic technologies is limited. In principle, complete genome sequences describe the range of metabolic reactions that are possible for an organism, but cannot quantitatively describe the behaviour of these reactions. We present a novel method for modeling metabolic states using whole cell measurements of gene expression. Our method, which we call E-Flux (as a combination of flux and expression), extends the technique of Flux Balance Analysis by modeling maximum flux constraints as a function of measured gene expression. In contrast to previous methods for metabolically interpreting gene expression data, E-Flux utilizes a model of the underlying metabolic network to directly predict changes in metabolic flux capacity. We applied E-Flux to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). Key components of mycobacterial cell walls are mycolic acids which are targets for several first-line TB drugs. We used E-Flux to predict the impact of 75 different drugs, drug combinations, and nutrient conditions on mycolic acid biosynthesis capacity in M. tuberculosis, using a public compendium of over 400 expression arrays. We tested our method using a model of mycolic acid biosynthesis as well as on a genome-scale model of M. tuberculosis metabolism. Our method correctly predicts seven of the eight known fatty acid inhibitors in this compendium and makes accurate predictions regarding the specificity of these compounds for fatty acid biosynthesis. Our method also predicts a number of additional potential modulators of TB mycolic acid biosynthesis. E-Flux thus provides a promising new approach for algorithmically predicting metabolic state from gene expression data.
Most vaccines and basic studies of T cell epitopes in Mycobacterium tuberculosis emphasize water-soluble proteins that are secreted into the extracellular space and presented in the context of MHC class II. Much less is known about the role of Ags retained within the cell wall. We used polyclonal T cells from infected humans to probe for responses to immunodominant Ags in the M. tuberculosis cell wall. We found that the magnitude of response to secreted or cell wall intrinsic compounds was similar among healthy controls, patients with latent tuberculosis, and patients with active tuberculosis. Individual responses to secreted Ags and cell wall extract were strongly correlated (r(2) = 0.495, p = 0.001), suggesting that T cells responding to cell wall and secreted Ags are present at similar frequency. Surprisingly, T cell stimulatory factors intrinsic to the cell wall partition into organic solvents; however, these responses are not explained by CD1-mediated presentation of lipids. Instead, we find that molecules soluble in organic solvents are dependent upon MHC class II and recognized by IFN-?-secreting CD4(+) T cells. We reasoned that MHC class II-dependent Ags extracting into lipid mixtures might be found among triacylated lipoproteins present in mycobacteria. We used M. tuberculosis lacking prolipoprotein signal peptidase A (lspA), an enzyme required for lipoprotein synthesis, to demonstrate loss of polyclonal T cell responses. Our results demonstrate the use of bacterial genetics to identify lipoproteins as an unexpected and immunodominant class of cell wall-associated Ags targeted by the polyclonal human T cell response to M. tuberculosis.
Lipidomics is a subspecialty of metabolomics that focuses on water insoluble metabolites that form membrane barriers. Most lipidomic databases catalog lipids from common model organisms, like humans or Escherichia coli. However, model organisms lipid profiles show surprisingly little overlap with those of specialized pathogens, creating the need for organism-specific lipidomic databases. Here we review rapid progress in lipidomic platform development with regard to chromatography, detection and bioinformatics. We emphasize new methods of comparative lipidomics, which use aligned datasets to identify lipids changed after introducing a biological variable. These new methods provide an unprecedented ability to broadly and quantitatively describe lipidic change during biological processes and identify changed lipids with low error rates.
Although CD1d and NKT cells have been proposed to have highly conserved functions in mammals, data on functions of CD1d and NKT cells in species other than humans and rodents are lacking. Upon stimulation with the CD1d-presented synthetic antigen ?-galactosylceramide, human and rodent type I invariant NKT cells release large amounts of cytokines. The two bovine CD1D (boCD1D) genes have structural features that suggest that they cannot be translated into functional proteins expressed on the cell surface. Here we provide evidence that despite an intron-exon structure and signal peptide that are different from all other known CD1 genes, boCD1D can be translated into a protein that is expressed on the cell surface. However, in vivo treatment of cattle (Bos taurus) with 0.1, 1, or 10 µg kg?¹ of the most commonly used ?-galactosylceramide, which has a C26 fatty acid, did not lead to an increase in body temperature and serum cytokine levels of the animals. This lack of reactivity is not due to a complete inability of boCD1d to present glycosphingolipids because ?-galactosylceramide variants with shorter fatty acids could be presented by boCD1d to human NKT cells in vitro. This suggests that the natural ligands of boCD1d are smaller lipids.
Mycolic acid-producing bacteria isolated from the respiratory tract of human and non-human mammals were recently assigned as a distinct genus, Segniliparus, because they diverge from rhodococci and mycobacteria in genetic and chemical features. Using high accuracy mass spectrometry, we determined the chemical composition of 65 homologous mycolic acids in two Segniliparus species and separately analyzed the three subclasses to measure relative chain length, number and stereochemistry of unsaturations and cyclopropyl groups within each class. Whereas mycobacterial mycolate subclasses are distinguished from one another by R groups on the meromycolate chain, Segniliparus species synthesize solely non-oxygenated ?-mycolates with high levels of cis unsaturation. Unexpectedly Segniliparus ?-mycolates diverge into three subclasses based on large differences in carbon chain length with one bacterial culture producing mycolates that range from C58 to C100. Both the overall chain length (C100) and the chain length diversity (C42) are larger than previously seen for mycolic acid-producing organisms and provide direct chemical evidence for assignment of Segniliparus as a distinct genus. Yet, electron microscopy shows that the long and diverse mycolates pack into a typical appearing membrane. Therefore, these new and unexpected extremes of mycolic acid chemical structure raise questions about the modes of mycolic acid packing and folding into a membrane.
In most adult humans, hepatitis B is a self-limiting disease leading to life-long protective immunity, which is the consequence of a robust adaptive immune response occurring weeks after hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Notably, HBV-specific T cells can be detected shortly after infection, but the mechanisms underlying this early immune priming and its consequences for subsequent control of viral replication are poorly understood. Using primary human and mouse hepatocytes and mouse models of transgenic and adenoviral HBV expression, we show that HBV-expressing hepatocytes produce endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated endogenous antigenic lipids including lysophospholipids that are generated by HBV-induced secretory phospholipases and that lead to activation of natural killer T (NKT) cells. The absence of NKT cells or CD1d or a defect in ER-associated transfer of lipids onto CD1d results in diminished HBV-specific T and B cell responses and delayed viral control in mice. NKT cells may therefore contribute to control of HBV infection through sensing of HBV-induced modified self-lipids.
Transferring lipid antigens from membranes into CD1 antigen-presenting proteins represents a major molecular hurdle necessary for T-cell recognition. Saposins facilitate this process, but the mechanisms used are not well understood. We found that saposin B forms soluble saposin protein-lipid complexes detected by native gel electrophoresis that can directly load CD1 proteins. Because saposin B must bind lipids directly to function, we found it could not accommodate long acyl chain containing lipids. In contrast, saposin C facilitates CD1 lipid loading in a different way. It uses a stable, membrane-associated topology and was capable of loading lipid antigens without forming soluble saposin-lipid antigen complexes. These findings reveal how saposins use different strategies to facilitate transfer of structurally diverse lipid antigens.
To measure molecular changes underlying pathogen adaptation, we generated a searchable dataset of more than 12,000 mass spectrometry events, corresponding to lipids and small molecules that constitute a lipidome for Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Iron is essential for M. tuberculosis survival, and the organism imports this metal using mycobactin and carboxymycobactin siderophores. Detection of an unexpected siderophore variant and deletions of genes for iron scavenging has led to a revised mycobactin biosynthesis model. An organism-wide search of the M. tuberculosis database for hypothetical compounds predicted by this model led to the discovery of two families of previously unknown lipids, designated monodeoxymycobactins and monodeoxycarboxymycobactins. These molecules suggest a revised biosynthetic model that alters the substrates and order of action of enzymes through the mycobactin biosynthetic pathway. We tested this model genetically by solving M. tuberculosis lipidomes after deletion of the iron-dependent regulator (ideR), mycobactin synthase B (mbtB), or mycobactin synthase G (mbtG). These studies show that deoxymycobactins are actively regulated during iron starvation, and also define essential roles of MbtG in converting deoxymycobactins to mycobactin and in promoting M. tuberculosis growth. Thus, lipidomics is an efficient discovery tool that informs genetic relationships, leading to a revised general model for the biosynthesis of these virulence-conferring siderophores.
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