Many processes regulating immune responses are initiated by G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and report biochemical changes in the microenvironment. Dendritic cells (DCs) are the most potent antigen-presenting cells and crucial for the regulation of innate and adaptive immune responses. The lipid mediator Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) via four GPCR subtypes (EP1-4) critically regulates DC generation, maturation and migration. The role of PGE2 signaling in DC biology was unraveled by the characterization of EP receptor subtype expression in DC progenitor cells and DCs, the identification of the signaling pathways initiated by these GPCR subtypes and the classification of DC responses to PGE2 at different stages of differentiation. Here, we review the advances in PGE2 signaling in DCs and describe the efforts still to be made to understand the spatio-temporal fine-tuning of PGE2 responses by DCs.
Podosomes are cellular adhesion structures involved in matrix degradation and invasion that comprise an actin core and a ring of cytoskeletal adaptor proteins. They are most often identified by staining with phalloidin, which binds F-actin and therefore visualizes the core. However, not only podosomes, but also many other cytoskeletal structures contain actin, which makes podosome segmentation by automated image processing difficult. Here, we have developed a quantitative image analysis algorithm that is optimized to identify podosome cores within a typical sample stained with phalloidin. By sequential local and global thresholding, our analysis identifies up to 76% of podosome cores excluding other F-actin-based structures. Based on the overlap in podosome identifications and quantification of podosome numbers, our algorithm performs equally well compared to three experts. Using our algorithm we show effects of actin polymerization and myosin II inhibition on the actin intensity in both podosome core and associated actin network. Furthermore, by expanding the core segmentations, we reveal a previously unappreciated differential distribution of cytoskeletal adaptor proteins within the podosome ring. These applications illustrate that our algorithm is a valuable tool for rapid and accurate large-scale analysis of podosomes to increase our understanding of these characteristic adhesion structures.
Phagocytosis is a complex process that involves membranelipid remodeling and the attraction and retention of key effector proteins. Phagosome phenotype depends on the type of receptor engaged and can be influenced by extracellular signals. Interleukin 4 (IL-4) is a cytokine that induces the alternative activation of macrophages (M?s) upon prolonged exposure, triggering a different cell phenotype that has an altered phagocytic capacity. In contrast, the direct effects of IL-4 during phagocytosis remain unknown. Here, we investigate the impact of short-term IL-4 exposure (1 hour) during phagocytosis of IgG-opsonized yeast particles by M?s. By time-lapse confocal microscopy of GFP-tagged lipid-sensing probes, we show that IL-4 increases the negative charge of the phagosomal membrane by prolonging the presence of the negatively charged second messenger PI(3,4,5)P3. Biochemical assays reveal an enhanced PI3K/Akt activity upon phagocytosis in the presence of IL-4. Blocking the specific class I PI3K after the onset of phagocytosis completely abrogates the IL-4-induced changes in lipid remodeling and concomitant membrane charge. Finally, we show that IL-4 direct signaling leads to a significantly prolonged retention profile of the signaling molecules Rac1 and Rab5 to the phagosomal membrane in a PI3K-dependent manner. This protracted early phagosome phenotype suggests an altered maturation, which is supported by the delayed phagosome acidification measured in the presence of IL-4. Our findings reveal that molecular differences in IL-4 levels, in the extracellular microenvironment, influence the coordination of lipid remodeling and protein recruitment, which determine phagosome phenotype and, eventually, fate. Endosomal and phagosomal membranes provide topological constraints to signaling molecules. Therefore, changes in the phagosome phenotype modulated by extracellular factors may represent an additional mechanism that regulates the outcome of phagocytosis and could have significant impact on the net biochemical output of a cell.
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