Glucocorticoids (GCs) are powerful inhibitors of inflammation and immunity. Although glucocorticoid-induced cell death (GICD) is an important part of GCs actions, the cell types and molecular mechanisms involved are not well understood. Untranslated exon 1A3 of the human glucocorticoid receptor (GR) gene is a major determinant of GICD in GICD-sensitive human cancer cell lines, operating to dynamically upregulate GR levels in response to GCs. We measured the GICD sensitivity of freshly isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells and thymocytes to dexamethasone in vitro, relating this to GR exon 1A3 expression. A clear GICD sensitivity hierarchy was detected: B cells>thymocytes/natural killer (NK) cells>peripheral T cells. Within thymocyte populations, GICD sensitivity decreased with maturation. Interestingly, NK cell subsets were differentially sensitive to GICD, with CD16(+)CD56(int) (cytotoxic) NK cells being highly resistant to GICD, whereas CD16(-)CD56(hi) (cytokine producing) NK cells were highly sensitive (similar to B cells). B-cell GICD was rescued by co-culture with interleukin-4. Strikingly, although no significant increases in GR protein were observed during 48?h of culture of GICD-sensitive and -resistant cells alike, GR 1A3 expression was increased over pre-culture levels in a manner directly proportional to the GICD sensitivity of each cell type. Accordingly, this is the first evidence that the GR exon 1A3 promoter is differentially regulated during thymic development and maturation of human T cells. Furthermore, human peripheral blood B cells are exquisitely GICD-sensitive in vitro, giving new insight into how GCs may downregulate immunity. Collectively, these data show that GR 1A3 expression is tied with GICD sensitivity in human lymphocytes, underscoring the potential for GR 1A3 expression to be used as a biomarker for sensitivity to GICD.Immunology and Cell Biology advance online publication, 22 July 2014; doi:10.1038/icb.2014.57.
Many autoimmune diseases exhibit familial aggregation, indicating that they have genetic determinants. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in PTPN2, which encodes T cell protein tyrosine phosphatase (TCPTP), have been linked with the development of several autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes and Crohns disease. In this study, we have identified TCPTP as a key negative regulator of TCR signaling, which might explain the association of PTPN2 SNPs with autoimmune disease. We found that TCPTP dephosphorylates and inactivates Src family kinases to regulate T cell responses. Using T cell-specific TCPTP-deficient mice, we established that TCPTP attenuates T cell activation and proliferation in vitro and blunts antigen-induced responses in vivo. TCPTP deficiency lowered the in vivo threshold for TCR-dependent CD8(+) T cell proliferation. Consistent with this, T cell-specific TCPTP-deficient mice developed widespread inflammation and autoimmunity that was transferable to wild-type recipient mice by CD8(+) T cells alone. This autoimmunity was associated with increased serum levels of proinflammatory cytokines and anti-nuclear antibodies, T cell infiltrates in non-lymphoid tissues, and liver disease. These data indicate that TCPTP is a critical negative regulator of TCR signaling that sets the threshold for TCR-induced naive T cell responses to prevent autoimmune and inflammatory disorders arising.
Type I natural killer T cells (NKT cells) are characterized by an invariant variable region 14-joining region 18 (V(?)14-J(?)18) T cell antigen receptor (TCR) ?-chain and recognition of the glycolipid ?-galactosylceramide (?-GalCer) restricted to the antigen-presenting molecule CD1d. Here we describe a population of ?-GalCer-reactive NKT cells that expressed a canonical V(?)10-J(?)50 TCR ?-chain, which showed a preference for ?-glucosylceramide (?-GlcCer) and bacterial ?-glucuronic acid-containing glycolipid antigens. Structurally, despite very limited TCR? sequence identity, the V(?)10 TCR-CD1d-?-GlcCer complex had a docking mode similar to that of type I TCR-CD1d-?-GalCer complexes, although differences at the antigen-binding interface accounted for the altered antigen specificity. Our findings provide new insight into the structural basis and evolution of glycolipid antigen recognition and have notable implications for the scope and immunological role of glycolipid-specific T cell responses.
The nuclear factor (NF)-?B signalling pathway is known to be critical for natural killer T (NKT) cell differentiation; however, the role of individual NF-?B transcription factors and the precise developmental stages that they control remain unclear. We have investigated the influence of the classical NF-?B transcription factors NF-?B1, c-Rel and RelA on NKT cell development and function, using gene-deleted mice. Individually, none of these factors were essential for the requirement of NF-?B signalling in early NKT cell development before NK1.1 expression, in contrast to earlier reports in which the classical NF-?B pathway was globally disrupted. Instead, we found that each factor played a non-redundant role in later stages of NKT cell maturation and function. Although NF-?B1 deficiency resulted in a moderate reduction in mature NK1.1+ NKT cells, this was found to be more subtle than previously reported. RelA deficiency had a more profound effect on the NK1.1+ stage of NKT cell development, whereas c-Rel-deficient mice had normal NKT cell numbers. All three factors (NF-?B1, RelA and c-Rel) were necessary for normal NKT cell cytokine production. Notably, IL-17, which is produced by a specific subset of NKT cells (NKT-17 cells), defined as NK1.1(-)CD4(-), was not impaired by a lack of these individual NF-?B transcription factors, nor was this subset depleted, suggesting that NKT-17 cells are regulated independently of the NF-?B pathway. Thus, individual NF-?B family members have a largely redundant role in early NKT cell development, but each of them has an important and distinct role in NKT cell maturation and/or function.
The semi-invariant natural killer T cell receptor (NKT TCR) recognizes CD1d-lipid antigens. Although the TCR alpha chain is typically invariant, the beta chain expression is more diverse, where three V beta chains are commonly expressed in mice. We report the structures of V alpha 14-V beta 8.2 and V alpha 14-V beta 7 NKT TCRs in complex with CD1d-alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer) and the 2.5 A structure of the human NKT TCR-CD1d-alpha-GalCer complex. Both V beta 8.2 and V beta 7 NKT TCRs and the human NKT TCR ligated CD1d-alpha-GalCer in a similar manner, highlighting the evolutionarily conserved interaction. However, differences within the V beta domains of the V beta 8.2 and V beta 7 NKT TCR-CD1d complexes resulted in altered TCR beta-CD1d-mediated contacts and modulated recognition mediated by the invariant alpha chain. Mutagenesis studies revealed the differing contributions of V beta 8.2 and V beta 7 residues within the CDR2 beta loop in mediating contacts with CD1d. Collectively we provide a structural basis for the differential NKT TCR V beta usage in NKT cells.
NKT cells are a specialized population of T lymphocytes that have an increasingly recognized role in immunoregulation, including controlling the response to viral infections. The characteristics of NKT cells in the peripheral blood of macaques during simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) or chimeric simian/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (SHIV) infection were assessed. NKT cells comprised a mean of 0.19% of peripheral blood lymphocytes across the 64 uninfected macaques studied. Although the range in the percentages of NKT cells was large (0 to 2.2%), levels were stable over time within individual macaques without SIV/SHIV infection. The majority of NKT cells in macaques were CD4(+) (on average 67%) with smaller populations being CD8(+) (21%) and CD4/CD8 double positive (13%). A precipitous decline in CD4(+) NKT cells occurred in all six macaques infected with CXCR4-tropic SHIV(mn229) early after infection, with a concomitant rise in CD8(+) NKT cells in some animals. The depletion of CD4(+) NKT cells was tightly correlated with the depletion of total CD4(+) T cells. R5-tropic SIV(mac251) infection of macaques resulted in a slower and more variable decline in CD4(+) NKT cells, with animals that were able to control SIV virus levels maintaining higher levels of CD4(+) NKT cells. An inverse correlation between the depletion of total and CD4(+) NKT cells and SIV viral load during chronic infection was observed. Our results demonstrate the infection-driven depletion of peripheral CD4(+) NKT cells during both SHIV and SIV infection of macaques. Further studies of the implications of the loss of NKT cell subsets in the pathogenesis of HIV disease are needed.
CD1d-dependent NKT cells represent a heterogeneous family of effector T cells including CD4(+)CD8(-) and CD4(-)CD8(-) subsets that respond to glycolipid Ags with rapid and potent cytokine production. NKT cell development is regulated by a unique combination of factors, however very little is known about factors that control the development of NKT subsets. In this study, we analyze a novel mouse strain (helpless) with a mis-sense mutation in the BTB-POZ domain of ZBTB7B and demonstrate that this mutation has dramatic, intrinsic effects on development of NKT cell subsets. Although NKT cell numbers are similar in Zbtb7b mutant mice, these cells are hyperproliferative and most lack CD4 and instead express CD8. Moreover, the majority of ZBTB7B mutant NKT cells in the thymus are retinoic acid-related orphan receptor ?t positive, and a high frequency produce IL-17 while very few produce IFN-? or other cytokines, sharply contrasting the profile of normal NKT cells. Mice heterozygous for the helpless mutation also have reduced numbers of CD4(+) NKT cells and increased production of IL-17 without an increase in CD8(+) cells, suggesting that ZBTB7B acts at multiple stages of NKT cell development. These results reveal ZBTB7B as a critical factor genetically predetermining the balance of effector subsets within the NKT cell population.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms in the gene encoding the protein tyrosine phosphatase TCPTP (encoded by PTPN2) have been linked with the development of autoimmunity. Here we have used Cre/LoxP recombination to generate Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice with a global deficiency in TCPTP on a C57BL/6 background and compared the phenotype of these mice to Ptpn2(-/-) mice (BALB/c-129SJ) generated previously by homologous recombination and backcrossed onto the BALB/c background. Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice exhibited growth retardation and a median survival of 32 days, as compared to 21 days for Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice, but the overt signs of morbidity (hunched posture, piloerection, decreased mobility and diarrhoea) evident in Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice were not detected in Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice. At 14 days of age, bone development was delayed in Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice. This was associated with increased trabecular bone mass and decreased bone remodeling, a phenotype that was not evident in Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice. Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice had defects in erythropoiesis and B cell development as evident in Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice, but not splenomegaly and did not exhibit an accumulation of myeloid cells in the spleen as seen in Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice. Moreover, thymic atrophy, another feature of Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice, was delayed in Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice and preceded by an increase in thymocyte positive selection and a concomitant increase in lymph node T cells. Backcrossing Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice onto the C57BL/6 background largely recapitulated the phenotype of Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice. Taken together these results reaffirm TCPTPs important role in lymphocyte development and indicate that the effects on morbidity, mortality, bone development and the myeloid compartment are strain-dependent.
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