The vast majority of currently licensed human vaccines work on the basis of long-term protective antibody responses. It is now conceivable that an antibody-dependent HIV vaccine might be possible, given the discovery of HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) in some HIV-infected individuals. However, these antibodies are difficult to develop and have characteristics indicative of a high degree of affinity maturation in germinal centers (GCs). CD4? T follicular helper (Tfh) cells are specialized for B cell help and necessary for GCs. Therefore, the development of HIV bnAbs might depend on Tfh cells. Here, we identified in normal individuals a subpopulation of circulating memory PD-1?CXCR5?CD4? T cells that are resting memory cells most related to bona fide GC Tfh cells by gene expression profile, cytokine profile, and functional properties. Importantly, the frequency of these cells correlated with the development of bnAbs against HIV in a large cohort of HIV? individuals.
Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS) is an X-linked primary immunodeficiency characterized by thrombocytopenia, eczema, infections, autoimmunity, and lymphomas. Transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells from HLA-identical donors is curative, but it is not available to all patients. We have developed a gene therapy (GT) approach for WAS by using a lentiviral vector encoding for human WAS promoter/cDNA (w1.6W) and demonstrated its preclinical efficacy and safety.
The Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS) protein (WASp) is a regulator of actin cytoskeleton in hematopoietic cells. Mutations of the WASp gene cause WAS. Although WASp is involved in various immune cell functions, its role in invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells has never been investigated. Defects of iNKT cells could indeed contribute to several WAS features, such as recurrent infections and high tumor incidence. We found a profound reduction of circulating iNKT cells in WAS patients, directly correlating with the severity of clinical phenotype. To better characterize iNKT cell defect in the absence of WASp, we analyzed was(-/-) mice. iNKT cell numbers were significantly reduced in the thymus and periphery of was(-/-) mice as compared with wild-type controls. Moreover analysis of was(-/-) iNKT cell maturation revealed a complete arrest at the CD44(+) NK1.1(-) intermediate stage. Notably, generation of BM chimeras demonstrated a was(-/-) iNKT cell-autonomous developmental defect. was(-/-) iNKT cells were also functionally impaired, as suggested by the reduced secretion of interleukin 4 and interferon gamma upon in vivo activation. Altogether, these results demonstrate the relevance of WASp in integrating signals critical for development and functional differentiation of iNKT cells and suggest that defects in these cells may play a role in WAS pathology.
Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome (WAS) is a life-threatening X-linked disease characterized by immunodeficiency, thrombocytopenia, autoimmunity, and malignancies. Gene therapy could represent a therapeutic option for patients lacking a suitable bone marrow (BM) donor. In this study, we analyzed the long-term outcome of WAS gene therapy mediated by a clinically compatible lentiviral vector (LV) in a large cohort of was(null) mice. We demonstrated stable and full donor engraftment and Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome protein (WASP) expression in various hematopoietic lineages, up to 12 months after gene therapy. Importantly, we observed a selective advantage for T and B lymphocytes expressing transgenic WASP. T-cell receptor (TCR)-driven T-cell activation, as well as B-cells ability to migrate in response to CXCL13, was fully restored. Safety was evaluated throughout the long-term follow-up of primary and secondary recipients of WAS gene therapy. WAS gene therapy did not affect the lifespan of treated animals. Both hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic tumors arose, but we excluded the association with gene therapy in all cases. Demonstration of long-term efficacy and safety of WAS gene therapy mediated by a clinically applicable LV is a key step toward the implementation of a gene therapy clinical trial for WAS.
Humans and mice deficient in the adaptor protein SAP (Sh2d1a) have a major defect in humoral immunity, resulting from a lack of T cell help for B cells. The role of SAP in this process is incompletely understood. We found that deletion of receptor Ly108 (Slamf6) in CD4(+) T cells reversed the Sh2d1a(-/-) phenotype, eliminating the SAP requirement for germinal centers. This potent negative signaling by Ly108 required immunotyrosine switch motifs (ITSMs) and SHP-1 recruitment, resulting in high amounts of SHP-1 at the T cell:B cell synapse, limiting T cell:B cell adhesion. Ly108-negative signaling was important not only in CD4(+) T cells; we found that NKT cell differentiation was substantially restored in Slamf6(-/-)Sh2d1a(-/-) mice. The ability of SAP to regulate both positive and negative signals in T cells can explain the severity of SAP deficiency and highlights the importance of SAP and SHP-1 competition for Ly108 ITSM binding as a rheostat for the magnitude of T cell help to B cells.
Follicular helper CD4 T (Tfh) cells provide B cells with signals that are important for the generation of high-affinity Abs and immunological memory and, therefore, are critical for the protective immunity elicited by most human vaccines. Transcriptional regulators of human Tfh cell differentiation are poorly understood. In this article, we demonstrate that Bcl6 controls specific gene modules for human Tfh cell differentiation. The introduction of Bcl6 expression in primary human CD4 T cells resulted in the regulation of a core set of migration genes that enable trafficking to germinal centers: CXCR4, CXCR5, CCR7, and EBI2. Bcl6 expression also induced a module of protein expression critical for T-B interactions, including SAP, CD40L, PD-1, ICOS, and CXCL13. This constitutes direct evidence for Bcl6 control of most of these functions and includes three genes known to be loci of severe human genetic immunodeficiencies (CD40L, SH2D1A, and ICOS). Introduction of Bcl6 did not alter the expression of IL-21 or IL-4, the primary cytokines of human Tfh cells. We show in this article that introduction of Maf (c-Maf) does induce the capacity to express IL-21. Surprisingly, Maf also induced CXCR5 expression. Coexpression of Bcl6 and Maf revealed that Bcl6 and Maf cooperate in the induction of CXCR4, PD-1, and ICOS. Altogether, these findings reveal that Bcl6 and Maf collaborate to orchestrate a suite of genes that define core characteristics of human Tfh cell biology.
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