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Publications in Immunology by NOMIS researchers

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

November 6, 2023

Chromatin conformation reorganization is emerging as an important layer of regulation for gene expression and lineage specification. Yet, how lineage-specific transcription factors contribute to the establishment of cell type-specific 3D chromatin architecture in the immune cells remains unclear, especially for the late stages of T cell subset differentiation and maturation. Regulatory T cells (Treg) are mainly generated in the thymus as a subpopulation of T cells specializing in suppressing excessive immune responses. Here, by comprehensively mapping 3D chromatin organization during Treg cell differentiation, we show that Treg-specific chromatin structures were progressively established during its lineage specification, and highly associated with Treg signature gene expression. Additionally, the binding sites of Foxp3, a Treg lineage specifying transcription factor, were highly enriched at Treg-specific chromatin loop anchors. Further comparison of the chromatin interactions between wide-type Tregs versus Treg cells from Foxp3 knock-in/knockout or newly-generated Foxp3 domain-swap mutant mouse revealed that Foxp3 was essential for the establishment of Treg-specific 3D chromatin architecture, although it was not dependent on the formation of the Foxp3 domain-swapped dimer. These results highlighted an underappreciated role of Foxp3 in modulating Treg-specific 3D chromatin structure formation.

Research field(s)
Genetics & Heredity, Immunology, Oncology & Carcinogenesis

NOMIS Researcher(s)

December 26, 2022

Introduction: Plasma-measured tau phosphorylated at threonine 217 (p-tau217) is a potential non-invasive biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We investigated whether plasma p-tau217 predicts subsequent cognition and positron emission tomography (PET) markers of pathology in autosomal dominant AD. Methods: We analyzed baseline levels of plasma p-tau217 and its associations with amyloid PET, tau PET, and word list delayed recall measured 7.61 years later in non-demented age- and education-matched presenilin-1 E280A carriers (n = 24) and non-carrier (n = 20) family members. Results: Carriers had higher plasma p-tau217 levels than non-carriers. Baseline plasma p-tau217 was associated with subsequent amyloid and tau PET pathology levels and cognitive function. Discussion: Our findings suggest that plasma p-tau217 predicts subsequent brain pathological burden and memory performance in presenilin-1 E280A carriers. These results provide support for plasma p-tau217 as a minimally invasive diagnostic and prognostic biomarker for AD, with potential utility in clinical practice and trials. Highlights: Non-demented presenilin-1 E280A carriers have higher plasma tau phosphorylated at threonine 217 (p-tau217) than do age-matched non-carriers. Higher baseline p-tau217 is associated with greater future amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) pathology burden. Higher baseline p-tau217 is associated with greater future tau PET pathology burden. Higher baseline p-tau217 is associated with worse future memory performance. © 2022 the Alzheimer’s Association.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

The pleiotropic actions of the Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) are required for gut health, and reciprocally, reduced intestinal FXR signaling is seen in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs). Here, we show that activation of FXR selectively in the intestine is protective in inflammation-driven models of IBD. Prophylactic activation of FXR restored homeostatic levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, most notably IL17. Importantly, these changes were attributed to FXR regulation of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), with both the inflammation-driven increases in ILCs, and ILC3s in particular, and the induction of Il17a and Il17f in ILC3s blocked by FXR activation. Moreover, a population of ILC precursor-like cells increased with treatment, implicating FXR in the maturation/ differentiation of ILC precursors. These findings identify FXR as an intrinsic regulator of intestinal ILCs and a potential therapeutic target in inflammatory intestinal diseases.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

July 29, 2022

Many apoptotic thymocytes are generated during the course of T cell selection in the thymus, yet the machinery through which these dead cells are recognized and phagocytically cleared is incompletely understood. We found that the TAM receptor tyrosine kinases Axl and Mer, which are co-expressed by a specialized set of phagocytic thymic macrophages, are essential components of this machinery. Mutant mice lacking Axl and Mer exhibited a marked accumulation of apoptotic cells during the time that autoreactive and nonreactive thymocytes normally die. Unexpectedly, these double mutants also displayed a profound deficit in the total number of highly phagocytic macrophages in the thymus, and concomitantly exhibited diminished expression of TIM-4, CD163, and other non-TAM phagocytic engulfment systems in the macrophages that remained. Importantly, these previously unrecognized deficits were not confined to the thymus, as they were also evident in the spleen and bone marrow. They had pleiotropic consequences for the double mutants, also previously unrecognized, which included dysregulation of hemoglobin turnover and iron metabolism leading to anemia.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

July 1, 2022

Maintenance of tissue homeostasis is dependent on the communication between stem cells and supporting cells in the same niche. Regulatory T cells (Treg cells) are emerging as a critical component of the stem-cell niche for supporting their differentiation. How Treg cells sense dynamic signals in this microenvironment and communicate with stem cells is mostly unknown. In the present study, by using hair follicles (HFs) to study Treg cell–stem cell crosstalk, we show an unrecognized function of the steroid hormone glucocorticoid in instructing skin-resident Treg cells to facilitate HF stem-cell (HFSC) activation and HF regeneration. Ablation of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in Treg cells blocks hair regeneration without affecting immune homeostasis. Mechanistically, GR and Foxp3 cooperate in Treg cells to induce transforming growth factor β3 (TGF-β3), which activates Smad2/3 in HFSCs and facilitates HFSC proliferation. The present study identifies crosstalk between Treg cells and HFSCs mediated by the GR–TGF-β3 axis, highlighting a possible means of manipulating Treg cells to support tissue regeneration.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

April 14, 2022

Decades of work have elucidated cytokine signalling and transcriptional pathways that control T cell differentiation and have led the way to targeted biologic therapies that are effective in a range of autoimmune, allergic and inflammatory diseases. Recent evidence indicates that obesity and metabolic disease can also influence the immune system1–7, although the mechanisms and effects on immunotherapy outcomes remain largely unknown. Here, using two models of atopic dermatitis, we show that lean and obese mice mount markedly different immune responses. Obesity converted the classical type 2 T helper (TH2)-predominant disease associated with atopic dermatitis to a more severe disease with prominent TH17 inflammation. We also observed divergent responses to biologic therapies targeting TH2 cytokines, which robustly protected lean mice but exacerbated disease in obese mice. Single-cell RNA sequencing coupled with genome-wide binding analyses revealed decreased activity of nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) in TH2 cells from obese mice relative to lean mice. Conditional ablation of PPARγ in T cells revealed that PPARγ is required to focus the in vivo TH response towards a TH2-predominant state and prevent aberrant non-TH2 inflammation. Treatment of obese mice with a small-molecule PPARγ agonist limited development of TH17 pathology and unlocked therapeutic responsiveness to targeted anti-TH2 biologic therapies. These studies reveal the effects of obesity on immunological disease and suggest a precision medicine approach to target the immune dysregulation caused by obesity.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

November 12, 2021

Recent studies indicate that the adaptive immune system plays a role in Lewy body dementia (LBD). However, the mechanism regulating T cell brain homing in LBD is unknown. Here, we observed T cells adjacent to Lewy bodies and dopaminergic neurons in postmortem LBD brains. Single-cell RNA sequencing of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) identified up-regulated expression of C-X-C motif chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) in CD4+ T cells in LBD. CSF protein levels of the CXCR4 ligand, C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 12 (CXCL12), were associated with neuroaxonal damage in LBD. Furthermore, we observed clonal expansion and up-regulated interleukin 17A expression by CD4+ T cells stimulated with a phosphorylated a-synuclein epitope. Thus, CXCR4-CXCL12 signaling may represent a mechanistic target for inhibiting pathological interleukin-17-producing T cell trafficking in LBD.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

September 1, 2021

Fundamental to the concept of adaptive immunity is the ability of lymphocytes to recognize and respond to specific foreign Ags. B and T cells that are specific for peptides of an invading pathogen will proliferate and produce Abs, cytokines, and effector molecules and, upon resolution of the infection, form a long-lived memory response to protect against reinfection. However, for many decades, it was not possible for immunologists to track cells specific to a particular Ag over an extended time period. And although we have now delineated molecular markers of the many B and T cell subsets that occupy distinct spatial and functional niches, much of this progress arose from the physical ability to sort, classify, and track Ag-specific cells.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

August 1, 2021

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 52-week study (no. NCT03068468) evaluated gosuranemab, an anti-tau monoclonal antibody, in the treatment of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). In total, 486 participants dosed were assigned to either gosuranemab (n = 321) or placebo (n = 165). Efficacy was not demonstrated on adjusted mean change of PSP Rating Scale score at week 52 between gosuranemab and placebo (10.4 versus 10.6, P = 0.85, primary endpoint), or at secondary endpoints, resulting in discontinuation of the open-label, long-term extension. Unbound N-terminal tau in cerebrospinal fluid decreased by 98% with gosuranemab and increased by 11% with placebo (P < 0.0001). Incidences of adverse events and deaths were similar between groups. This well-powered study suggests that N-terminal tau neutralization does not translate into clinical efficacy.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

July 13, 2021

A common metabolic alteration in the tumor microenvironment (TME) is lipid accumulation, a feature associated with immune dysfunction. Here, we examined how CD8+ tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) respond to lipids within the TME. We found elevated concentrations of several classes of lipids in the TME and accumulation of these in CD8+ TILs. Lipid accumulation was associated with increased expression of CD36, a scavenger receptor for oxidized lipids, on CD8+ TILs, which also correlated with progressive T cell dysfunction. Cd36−/− T cells retained effector functions in the TME, as compared to WT counterparts. Mechanistically, CD36 promoted uptake of oxidized low-density lipoproteins (OxLDL) into T cells, and this induced lipid peroxidation and downstream activation of p38 kinase. Inhibition of p38 restored effector T cell functions in vitro, and resolution of lipid peroxidation by overexpression of glutathione peroxidase 4 restored functionalities in CD8+ TILs in vivo. Thus, an oxidized lipid-CD36 axis promotes intratumoral CD8+ T cell dysfunction and serves as a therapeutic avenue for immunotherapies.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

June 1, 2021

Abstract: The progression of prion diseases is accompanied by the accumulation of prions in the brain. Ablation of microglia enhances prion accumulation and accelerates disease progression, suggesting that microglia play a neuroprotective role by clearing prions. However, the mechanisms underlying the phagocytosis and clearance of prion are largely unknown. The macrophage scavenger receptor 1 (Msr1) is an important phagocytic receptor expressed by microglia in the brain and is involved in the uptake and clearance of soluble amyloid-β. We therefore asked whether Msr1 might play a role in prion clearance and assessed the scavenger function of Msr1 in prion pathogenesis. We found that Msr1 expression was upregulated in prion-infected mouse brains. However, Msr1 deficiency did not change prion disease progression or lesion patterns. Prion deposition in Msr1 deficient mice was similar to their wild-type littermates. In addition, prion-induced neuroinflammation was not affected by Msr1 ablation. We conclude that Msr1 does not play a major role in prion pathogenesis. Key messages: Msr1 expression is upregulated in prion-infected mouse brains at the terminal stageMsr1 deficiency does not affect prion disease progressionMsr1 does not play a major role in prion clearance or prion pathogenesisMicroglia-mediated phagocytosis and clearance of Aβ and prion may adopt distinct molecular pathways.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

May 26, 2021

Neuroinflammation is an emerging focus of translational stroke research. Preclinical studies have demonstrated a critical role for brain-invading lymphocytes in post-stroke pathophysiology. Reducing cerebral lymphocyte invasion by anti-CD49d antibodies consistently improves outcome in the acute phase after experimental stroke models. However, clinical trials testing this approach failed to show efficacy in stroke patients for the chronic outcome 3 mo after stroke. Here, we identify a potential mechanistic reason for this phenomenon by detecting chronic T cell accumulation—evading the systemic therapy—in the post-ischemic brain. We observed a persistent accumulation of T cells in mice and human autopsy samples for more than 1 mo after stroke. Cerebral T cell accumulation in the post-ischemic brain was driven by increased local T cell proliferation rather than by T cell invasion. This observation urges re-evaluation of current immunotherapeutic approaches, which target circulating lymphocytes for promoting recovery after stroke.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

May 1, 2021

Two microglial TAM receptor tyrosine kinases, Axl and Mer, have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, but their roles in disease have not been tested experimentally. We find that in Alzheimer’s disease and its mouse models, induced expression of Axl and Mer in amyloid plaque–associated microglia was coupled to induced plaque decoration by the TAM ligand Gas6 and its co-ligand phosphatidylserine. In the APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, genetic ablation of Axl and Mer resulted in microglia that were unable to normally detect, respond to, organize or phagocytose amyloid-β plaques. These major deficits notwithstanding, TAM-deficient APP/PS1 mice developed fewer dense-core plaques than APP/PS1 mice with normal microglia. Our findings reveal that the TAM system is an essential mediator of microglial recognition and engulfment of amyloid plaques and that TAM-driven microglial phagocytosis does not inhibit, but rather promotes, dense-core plaque development.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

April 1, 2021

Along with emergence of the organoids, their application in biomedical research has been currently one of the most fascinating themes. For the past few years, scientists have made significant contributions to deriving organoids representing the whole brain and specific brain regions. Coupled with somatic cell reprogramming and CRISPR/Cas9 editing, the organoid technologies were applied for disease modeling and drug screening. The methods to develop organoids further improved for rapid and efficient generation of cerebral organoids. Additionally, refining the methods to develop the regionally specified brain organoids enabled the investigation of development and interaction of the specific brain regions. Recent studies started resolving the issue in the lack of non-neuroectodermal cells in brain organoids, including vascular endothelial cells and microglia, which play fundamental roles in neurodevelopment and are involved in the pathophysiology of acute and chronic neural disorders. In this review, we highlight recent advances of neuronal organoid technologies, focusing on the region-specific brain organoids and complementation with endothelial cells and microglia, and discuss their potential applications to neuronal diseases.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

July 14, 2020

Regulation of Foxp3 expression is central to Treg cell development and function. Loo et al. performed a genome-wide CRISPR screen and identified the Brd9-containing ncBAF complex as a key regulator of Foxp3 and a subset of its target genes, which could be targeted to cripple Treg cell function and improve anti-tumor immunity.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

February 1, 2020

Metabolic processes occurring during host–microbiota–pathogen interactions can favorably or negatively influence host survival during infection. Defining the metabolic needs of the three players, the mechanisms through which they acquire nutrients, and whether each participant cooperates or competes with each other to meet their own metabolic demands during infection has the potential to reveal new approaches to treat disease. Here, we review topical findings in organismal metabolism and infection and highlight four emerging lines of investigation: how host–microbiota metabolic partnerships protect against infection; competition for glucose between host and pathogen; significance of infection-induced anorexia; and redefinition of the role of iron during infection. We also discuss how these discoveries shape our understanding of infection biology and their likely therapeutic value.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

December 1, 2019

Aging is a predominant risk factor for several chronic diseases that limit healthspan1. Mechanisms of aging are thus increasingly recognized as potential therapeutic targets. Blood from young mice reverses aspects of aging and disease across multiple tissues2–10, which supports a hypothesis that age-related molecular changes in blood could provide new insights into age-related disease biology. We measured 2,925 plasma proteins from 4,263 young adults to nonagenarians (18–95 years old) and developed a new bioinformatics approach that uncovered marked non-linear alterations in the human plasma proteome with age. Waves of changes in the proteome in the fourth, seventh and eighth decades of life reflected distinct biological pathways and revealed differential associations with the genome and proteome of age-related diseases and phenotypic traits. This new approach to the study of aging led to the identification of unexpected signatures and pathways that might offer potential targets for age-related diseases.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

November 1, 2019

We identified a PSEN1 (presenilin 1) mutation carrier from the world’s largest autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease kindred, who did not develop mild cognitive impairment until her seventies, three decades after the expected age of clinical onset. The individual had two copies of the APOE3 Christchurch (R136S) mutation, unusually high brain amyloid levels and limited tau and neurodegenerative measurements. Our findings have implications for the role of APOE in the pathogenesis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

September 1, 2019

Adipose tissue (AT) serves a crucial role in maintaining organismal metabolic homeostasis. Studies have demonstrated that AT is populated with a diverse array of immune cells that coordinate and regulate AT function. This adipo-immune system is highly dynamic, reflecting the physiologic state of the organism (e.g., obese, lean, aged, or young) as well as the constant physiologic remodeling of AT associated with the daily rhythms of fasting and feeding. Many of the adaptive and maladaptive functional changes of AT are regulated by changes in the quantity and quality of distinct sets of AT-resident immune cells. Here we present protocols to assess the dynamic state of the immune system within AT by constructing censuses of adipose-resident immune cells (macrophages, dendritic cells, neutrophils, eosinophils, NK cells, innate lymphocytes, T cells, and B cells, etc.) based on flow cytometry, which we term adipo-immune profiles (AIPs). Constructing AIPs can be an integral part of assessment for AT health and function. This article describes the protocols to generate such AIPs. © 2019 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

June 1, 2019

An aged circulatory environment can activate microglia, reduce neural precursor cell activity and impair cognition in mice. We hypothesized that brain endothelial cells (BECs) mediate at least some of these effects. We observe that BECs in the aged mouse hippocampus express an inflammatory transcriptional profile with focal upregulation of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM1), a protein that facilitates vascular–immune cell interactions. Concomitantly, levels of the shed, soluble form of VCAM1 are prominently increased in the plasma of aged humans and mice, and their plasma is sufficient to increase VCAM1 expression in cultured BECs and the hippocampi of young mice. Systemic administration of anti-VCAM1 antibody or genetic ablation of Vcam1 in BECs counteracts the detrimental effects of plasma from aged individuals on young brains and reverses aging aspects, including microglial reactivity and cognitive deficits, in the brains of aged mice. Together, these findings establish brain endothelial VCAM1 at the blood–brain barrier as a possible target to treat age-related neurodegeneration.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

April 1, 2019

SARM1 (sterile α and HEAT/armadillo motif-containing protein) is a member of the MyD88 (myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88) family, which mediates innate immune responses. Because inactivation of SARM1 prevents various forms of axonal degeneration, we tested whether it might protect against prion-induced neurotoxicity. Instead, we found that SARM1 deficiency exacerbates the progression of prion pathogenesis. This deleterious effect was not due to SARM1-dependent modulation of prion-induced neuroinflammation, since microglial activation, astrogliosis, and brain cytokine profiles were not altered by SARM1 deficiency. Whole-transcriptome analyses indicated that SARM1 deficiency led to strong, selective overexpression of the pro-apoptotic gene XAF1 (X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis-associated factor 1). Consequently, the activity of pro-apoptotic caspases and neuronal death were enhanced in prion-infected SARM1−/− mice. These results point to an unexpected function of SARM1 as a regulator of prion-induced neurodegeneration and suggest that XAF1 might constitute a therapeutic target in prion disease.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Immunology