To advance understanding of the complex genetics of Crohn disease (CD) we sequenced 42 whole exomes of patients with CD and five healthy control individuals, resulting in identification of a missense mutation in the autophagy receptor calcium binding and coiled-coil domain 2 (CALCOCO2/NDP52) gene. Protein domain modeling and functional studies highlight the potential role of this mutation in controlling NFKB signaling downstream of toll-like receptor (TLR) pathways. We summarize our recent findings and discuss the role of autophagy as a major modulator of proinflammatory signaling in the context of chronic inflammation.
The Brassica-derived isothiocyanate sulforaphane (SFN) is known to induce factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), a transcription factor centrally involved in chemoprevention. Furthermore, SFN exhibits anti-inflammatory properties in vitro and in vivo. However, little is known regarding the anti-inflammatory properties of SFN in severe inflammatory phenotypes. In the present study, we tested if pre-treatment with SFN protects mice from dextran sodium sulphate (DSS)-induced colitis. C57BL/6 mice received either phosphate-buffered saline (control) or 25 mg/kg body weight (BW) SFN per os for 7 days. Subsequently, acute colitis was induced by administering 4% DSS via drinking water for 5 days and BWs, stool consistency and faecal blood loss were recorded. Following endoscopic colonoscopy, mice were sacrificed, the organs excised and spleen weights and colon lengths measured. For histopathological analysis, distal colon samples were fixed in 4% para-formaldehyde, sectioned and stained with hematoxylin/eosin. Inflammatory biomarkers were also measured in distal colon. Treatment with SFN prior to colitis induction significantly minimised both BW loss and the disease activity index compared to control mice. Furthermore, colon lengths in SFN pre-treated mice were significantly longer than in control mice. Both macroscopic and microscopic analysis of the colon revealed attenuated inflammation in SFN pre-treated animals. mRNA analysis of distal colon samples confirmed reduced expression of inflammatory markers and increased expression of Nrf2-dependent genes in SFN pre-treated mice. Our results indicate that pre-treating mice with SFN confers protection from DSS-induced colitis. These protective effects were corroborated macroscopically, microscopically and at the molecular level.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified 140 Crohns disease (CD) susceptibility loci. For most loci, the variants that cause disease are not known and the genes affected by these variants have not been identified. We aimed to identify variants that cause CD through detailed sequencing, genetic association, expression, and functional studies.
NOD2 is an intracellular receptor for the bacterial cell wall component muramyl dipeptide (MDP), and variants of NOD2 are associated with chronic inflammatory diseases of barrier organs (e.g., Crohns disease, asthma, and atopic eczema). It is known that activation of NOD2 induces a variety of inflammatory and antibacterial factors. The exact transcriptomal signatures that define the cellular programs downstream of NOD2 activation and the influence of the Crohn-associated variant L1007fsinsC are yet to be defined. To describe the MDP-induced activation program, we analyzed the transcriptomal reactions of isogenic HEK293 cells expressing NOD2(wt) or NOD2(L1007fsinsC) to stimulation with MDP. Importantly, a clear loss of function could be observed in the cells carrying the Crohn-associated variant L1007fsinsC, whereas the NOD2(wt) cells showed differential regulation of growth factors, chemokines, and several antagonists of NF-?B (e.g., TNFAIP3 [A20] and IER3). This genotype-dependent regulation pattern was confirmed in primary human myelomonocytic cells. The influence of TNFAIP3 and IER3 in the context of NOD2 signaling was characterized, and we could validate the predicted role as inhibitors of NOD2-induced NF-?B activation. We show that IER3 impairs the protective effect of NOD2(wt) against bacterial cytoinvasion. These results further our understanding of NOD2 as a first-line defense molecule and emphasize the importance of simultaneous upregulation of counterregulatory anti-inflammatory factors as an integral part of the NOD2-induced cellular program. Lack of these regulatory events due to the L1007fsinsC variant may pivotally contribute to the induction and perpetuation of chronic inflammation.
Chlamydia trachomatis infections cause severe and irreversible damage that can lead to infertility and blindness in both males and females. Following infection of epithelial cells, Chlamydia induces production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Unconventionally, Chlamydiae use ROS to their advantage by activating caspase-1, which contributes to chlamydial growth. NLRX1, a member of the Nod-like receptor family that translocates to the mitochondria, can augment ROS production from the mitochondria following Shigella flexneri infections. However, in general, ROS can also be produced by membrane-bound NADPH oxidases. Given the importance of ROS-induced caspase-1 activation in growth of the chlamydial vacuole, we investigated the sources of ROS production in epithelial cells following infection with C. trachomatis. In this study, we provide evidence that basal levels of ROS are generated during chlamydial infection by NADPH oxidase, but ROS levels, regardless of their source, are enhanced by an NLRX1-dependent mechanism. Significantly, the presence of NLRX1 is required for optimal chlamydial growth.
Several coding variants of NOD2 and ATG16L1 are associated with increased risk of Crohn disease (CD). NOD2, a cytosolic receptor of the innate immune system activates pro-inflammatory signalling cascades upon recognition of bacterial muramyl dipeptide, but seems also to be involved in antiviral and anti-parasitic defence programs. The CD associated variant L1007fsinsC leads to impaired pro-inflammatory signalling and diminished bacterial clearance. ATG16L1 is a protein essential for autophagosome formation at the phagophore assembly site. The CD associated T300A variant is located in the c-terminal WD40 domain, whose function is still unknown. Basal autophagy is not affected by the T300A variant, but antibacterial autophagy (xenophagy) is impaired, a finding that relates ATG16L1 as well as NOD2 to pathogen defence. Notably, combination of disease-associated alleles of ATG16L1 and NOD2/CARD15 leads to synergistically increased susceptibility for CD, indicating a possible crosstalk between NOD2- and ATG16L1-mediated processes in the pathogenesis of CD. This review surveys current research results and discusses the functional models of potential interplay between NLR-pathways and xenophagy. Interaction between pathways is discussed in the context of reactive oxygen species (ROS), membrane co-localisation, antigen processing and implications of disturbed Paneth cell vesicle export. These effects on pathogen response might imbalance the intestinal barrier epithelia towards chronic inflammation and promote development of Crohn disease. Further elucidation of NOD2/ATG16L1 interplay in xenophagy is relevant for understanding the aetiology of chronic intestinal inflammation and host-microbe interaction in general and could lead to principal new insights to xenophagy induction.
Caspase activating and recruitment domain 8 (CARD8) has been implicated as a co-regulator of several pro-inflammatory and apoptotic signaling pathways. In the present study, we demonstrate a specific modulation of NOD2-induced signaling by CARD8 in intestinal epithelial cells. We show that CARD8 physically interacts with NOD2 and inhibits nodosome assembly and subsequent signaling upon muramyl-dipeptide stimulation. Furthermore, CARD8 inhibits the direct bactericidal effect of NOD2 against intracellular infection by Listeria monocytogenes. Thus, CARD8 represents a novel molecular switch involved in the endogenous regulation of NOD2-dependent inflammatory processes in epithelial cells.
Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptors (NLRs) are a group of intracellular proteins that mediate recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns or other cytosolic danger signals. Mutations in NLR genes have been linked to a variety of inflammatory diseases, underscoring their pivotal role in host defense and immunity. This report describes the genomic organization and regulation of the human NLR family member NLRC5 and aspects of cellular function of the encoded protein. We have analyzed the tissue-specific expression of NLRC5 and have characterized regulatory elements in the NLRC5 promoter region that are responsive to IFN-gamma. We show that NLRC5 is upregulated in human fibroblasts postinfection with CMV and demonstrate the role of a JAK/STAT-mediated autocrine signaling loop involving IFN-gamma. We demonstrate that overexpression and enforced oligomerization of NLRC5 protein results in activation of the IFN-responsive regulatory promoter elements IFN-gamma activation sequence and IFN-specific response element and upregulation of antiviral target genes (e.g., IFN-alpha, OAS1, and PRKRIR). Finally, we demonstrate the effect of small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of NLRC5 on a target gene level in the context of viral infection. We conclude that NLRC5 may represent a molecular switch of IFN-gamma activation sequence/IFN-specific response element signaling pathways contributing to antiviral defense mechanisms.
Generation of microbicidal reactive oxygen species (ROS) is a pivotal protective component of the innate immune system in many eukaryotes. NOD (nucleotide oligomerisation domain containing protein)-like receptors (NLRs) have been implicated as phylogenetically ancient sensors of intracellular pathogens or endogenous danger signals. NOD2 recognizes the bacterial cell wall component muramyldipeptide leading to NFkappaB and MAPK activation via induced proximity signalling through the serine-threonine kinase RIP2. In addition to the subsequent induction of cytokines and antimicrobial peptides, NOD2 has been shown also to exert a direct antibacterial effect. Using a fluorescence-based ROS detection assay we demonstrate controlled ROS generation as an integral component of NOD2-induced signalling in epithelial cells. We demonstrate that the NAD(P)H oxidase family member DUOX2 is involved in NOD2-dependent ROS production. Coimmunoprecipitation and fluorescence microscopy were used to show that DUOX2 interacts and colocalizes with NOD2 at the plasma membrane. Moreover, simultaneous overexpression of NOD2 and DUOX2 was found to result in cooperative protection against bacterial cytoinvasion using the Listeria monocytogenes infection model. RNAi-based studies revealed that DUOX2 is required for the direct bactericidal properties of NOD2. Our results demonstrate a new role of ROS as effector molecules of protective cellular signalling in response to a defined danger signal carried out by a mammalian intracellular NLR system.
The intracellular nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-2 (NOD2) receptor detects bacteria-derived muramyl dipeptide (MDP) and activates the transcription factor NF-?B. Here we describe the regulatome of NOD2 signaling using a systematic RNAi screen. Using three consecutive screens, we identified a set of 20 positive NF-?B regulators including the known pathway members RIPK2, RELA, and BIRC4 (XIAP) as well as FRMPD2 (FERM and PDZ domain-containing 2). FRMPD2 interacts with NOD2 via leucine-rich repeats and forms a complex with the membrane-associated protein ERBB2IP. We demonstrate that FRMPD2 spatially assembles the NOD2-signaling complex, hereby restricting NOD2-mediated immune responses to the basolateral compartment of polarized intestinal epithelial cells. We show that genetic truncation of the NOD2 leucine-rich repeat domain, which is associated with Crohn disease, impairs the interaction with FRMPD2, and that intestinal inflammation leads to down-regulation of FRMPD2. These results suggest a structural mechanism for how polarity of epithelial cells acts on intestinal NOD-like receptor signaling to mediate spatial specificity of bacterial recognition and control of immune responses.
Burkitt lymphoma is a mature aggressive B-cell lymphoma derived from germinal center B cells. Its cytogenetic hallmark is the Burkitt translocation t(8;14)(q24;q32) and its variants, which juxtapose the MYC oncogene with one of the three immunoglobulin loci. Consequently, MYC is deregulated, resulting in massive perturbation of gene expression. Nevertheless, MYC deregulation alone seems not to be sufficient to drive Burkitt lymphomagenesis. By whole-genome, whole-exome and transcriptome sequencing of four prototypical Burkitt lymphomas with immunoglobulin gene (IG)-MYC translocation, we identified seven recurrently mutated genes. One of these genes, ID3, mapped to a region of focal homozygous loss in Burkitt lymphoma. In an extended cohort, 36 of 53 molecularly defined Burkitt lymphomas (68%) carried potentially damaging mutations of ID3. These were strongly enriched at somatic hypermutation motifs. Only 6 of 47 other B-cell lymphomas with the IG-MYC translocation (13%) carried ID3 mutations. These findings suggest that cooperation between ID3 inactivation and IG-MYC translocation is a hallmark of Burkitt lymphomagenesis.
Sarcoidosis is a complex inflammatory disease with a heterogeneous clinical picture. Among others, an acute and chronic clinical course can be distinguished, for which specific genetic risk factors are known.
Malnutrition affects up to one billion people in the world and is a major cause of mortality. In many cases, malnutrition is associated with diarrhoea and intestinal inflammation, further contributing to morbidity and death. The mechanisms by which unbalanced dietary nutrients affect intestinal homeostasis are largely unknown. Here we report that deficiency in murine angiotensin I converting enzyme (peptidyl-dipeptidase A) 2 (Ace2), which encodes a key regulatory enzyme of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), results in highly increased susceptibility to intestinal inflammation induced by epithelial damage. The RAS is known to be involved in acute lung failure, cardiovascular functions and SARS infections. Mechanistically, ACE2 has a RAS-independent function, regulating intestinal amino acid homeostasis, expression of antimicrobial peptides, and the ecology of the gut microbiome. Transplantation of the altered microbiota from Ace2 mutant mice into germ-free wild-type hosts was able to transmit the increased propensity to develop severe colitis. ACE2-dependent changes in epithelial immunity and the gut microbiota can be directly regulated by the dietary amino acid tryptophan. Our results identify ACE2 as a key regulator of dietary amino acid homeostasis, innate immunity, gut microbial ecology, and transmissible susceptibility to colitis. These results provide a molecular explanation for how amino acid malnutrition can cause intestinal inflammation and diarrhoea.
Cathepsin K is a lysosomal cysteine protease that has pleiotropic roles in bone resorption, arthritis, atherosclerosis, blood pressure regulation, obesity and cancer. Recently, it was demonstrated that cathepsin K-deficient (Ctsk(-/-) ) mice are less susceptible to experimental autoimmune arthritis and encephalomyelitis, which implies a functional role for cathepsin K in chronic inflammatory responses. Here, the authors address the relevance of cathepsin K in the intestinal immune response during chronic intestinal inflammation.
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