Nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate represents a newly identified second messenger in T cells involved in antigen receptor-mediated calcium signalling. Its function in vivo is, however, unknown due to the lack of biocompatible inhibitors. Using a recently developed inhibitor, we explored the role of nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate in autoreactive effector T cells during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, the animal model for multiple sclerosis. We provide in vitro and in vivo evidence that calcium signalling controlled by nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate is relevant for the pathogenic potential of autoimmune effector T cells. Live two photon imaging and molecular analyses revealed that nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate signalling regulates T cell motility and re-activation upon arrival in the nervous tissues. Treatment with the nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate inhibitor significantly reduced both the number of stable arrests of effector T cells and their invasive capacity. The levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines interferon-gamma and interleukin-17 were strongly diminished. Consecutively, the clinical symptoms of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis were ameliorated. In vitro, antigen-triggered T cell proliferation and cytokine production were evenly suppressed. These inhibitory effects were reversible: after wash-out of the nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate antagonist, the effector T cells fully regained their functions. The nicotinic acid derivative BZ194 induced this transient state of non-responsiveness specifically in post-activated effector T cells. Naïve and long-lived memory T cells, which express lower levels of the putative nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate receptor, type 1 ryanodine receptor, were not targeted. T cell priming and recall responses in vivo were not reduced. These data indicate that the nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate/calcium signalling pathway is essential for the recruitment and the activation of autoaggressive effector T cells within their target organ. Interference with this signalling pathway suppresses the formation of autoimmune inflammatory lesions and thus might qualify as a novel strategy for the treatment of T cell mediated autoimmune diseases.
Brain metastasis frequently occurs in individuals with cancer and is often fatal. We used multiphoton laser scanning microscopy to image the single steps of metastasis formation in real time. Thus, it was possible to track the fate of individual metastasizing cancer cells in vivo in relation to blood vessels deep in the mouse brain over minutes to months. The essential steps in this model were arrest at vascular branch points, early extravasation, persistent close contacts to microvessels and perivascular growth by vessel cooption (melanoma) or early angiogenesis (lung cancer). Inefficient steps differed between the tumor types. Long-term dormancy was only observed for single perivascular cancer cells, some of which moved continuously. Vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) inhibition induced long-term dormancy of lung cancer micrometastases by preventing angiogenic growth to macrometastases. The ability to image the establishment of brain metastases in vivo provides new insights into their evolution and response to therapies.
The tissues of the central nervous system are effectively shielded from the blood circulation by specialized vessels that are impermeable not only to cells, but also to most macromolecules circulating in the blood. Despite this seemingly absolute seclusion, central nervous system tissues are subject to immune surveillance and are vulnerable to autoimmune attacks. Using intravital two-photon imaging in a Lewis rat model of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, here we present in real-time the interactive processes between effector T cells and cerebral structures from their first arrival to manifest autoimmune disease. We observed that incoming effector T cells successively scanned three planes. The T cells got arrested to leptomeningeal vessels and immediately monitored the luminal surface, crawling preferentially against the blood flow. After diapedesis, the cells continued their scan on the abluminal vascular surface and the underlying leptomeningeal (pial) membrane. There, the T cells encountered phagocytes that effectively present antigens, foreign as well as myelin proteins. These contacts stimulated the effector T cells to produce pro-inflammatory mediators, and provided a trigger to tissue invasion and the formation of inflammatory infiltrations.
Recent studies have indicated that nuclear protein of 95 kDa (Np95) is essential for maintaining genomic methylation by recruiting DNA methyltransferase (Dnmt) 1 to hemi-methylated sites. Here, we show that Np95 interacts more strongly with regulatory domains of the de novo methyltransferases Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b. To investigate possible functions, we developed an epigenetic silencing assay using fluorescent reporters in embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Interestingly, silencing of the cytomegalovirus promoter in ESCs preceded DNA methylation and was strictly dependent on the presence of either Np95, histone H3 methyltransferase G9a or Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b. Our results indicate a regulatory role for Np95, Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b in mediating epigenetic silencing through histone modification followed by DNA methylation.
The blood–brain barrier (BBB) and the environment of the central nervous system (CNS) guard the nervous tissue from peripheral immune cells. In the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis, myelin-reactive T-cell blasts are thought to transgress the BBB and create a pro-inflammatory environment in the CNS, thereby making possible a second autoimmune attack that starts from the leptomeningeal vessels and progresses into the parenchyma. Using a Lewis rat model of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, we show here that contrary to the expectations of this concept, T-cell blasts do not efficiently enter the CNS and are not required to prepare the BBB for immune-cell recruitment. Instead, intravenously transferred T-cell blasts gain the capacity to enter the CNS after residing transiently within the lung tissues. Inside the lung tissues, they move along and within the airways to bronchus-associated lymphoid tissues and lung-draining mediastinal lymph nodes before they enter the blood circulation from where they reach the CNS. Effector T cells transferred directly into the airways showed a similar migratory pattern and retained their full pathogenicity. On their way the T cells fundamentally reprogrammed their gene-expression profile, characterized by downregulation of their activation program and upregulation of cellular locomotion molecules together with chemokine and adhesion receptors. The adhesion receptors include ninjurin 1, which participates in T-cell intravascular crawling on cerebral blood vessels. We detected that the lung constitutes a niche not only for activated T cells but also for resting myelin-reactive memory T cells. After local stimulation in the lung, these cells strongly proliferate and, after assuming migratory properties, enter the CNS and induce paralytic disease. The lung could therefore contribute to the activation of potentially autoaggressive T cells and their transition to a migratory mode as a prerequisite to entering their target tissues and inducing autoimmune disease.
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