CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells are essential for the active suppression of autoimmunity. Here we report that the forkhead transcription factor Foxp3 is specifically expressed in CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells and is required for their development. The lethal autoimmune syndrome observed in Foxp3-mutant scurfy mice and Foxp3-null mice results from a CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cell deficiency and not from a cell-intrinsic defect of CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells. CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells rescue disease development and preferentially expand when transferred into neonatal Foxp3-deficient mice. Furthermore, ectopic expression of Foxp3 confers suppressor function on peripheral CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells. Thus, Foxp3 is a critical regulator of CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cell development and function.
The molecular properties that characterize CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells (T-R cells) remain elusive. Absence of the transcription factor Scurfin (also known as forkhead box P3 and encoded by Foxp3) causes a rapidly fatal lymphoproliferative disease, similar to that seen in mice lacking cytolytic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4). Here we show that Foxp3 is highly expressed by T-R cells and is associated with T-R cell activity and phenotype. Scurfin-deficient mice lack T-R cells, whereas mice that overexpress Foxp3 possess more T-R cells. In Foxp3-overexpressing mice, both CD4(+)CD25(-) and CD4(-)CD8(+) T cells show suppressive activity and CD4(+)CD25(-) cells express glucocorticoid-induced tumor-necrosis factor receptor-related (GITR) protein. The forced expression of Foxp3 also delays disease in CTLA-4(-/-) mice, indicating that the Scurfin and CTLA-4 pathways may intersect and providing further insight into the T-R cell lineage.
Expression of peripheral antigens in the thymus has been implicated in T cell tolerance and autoimmunity. Here we identified medullary thymic epithelial cells as being a unique cell type that expresses a diverse range of tissue-specific antigens. We found that this promiscuous gene expression was a cell-autonomous property of medullary epithelial cells and was maintained during the entire period of thymic T cell output. It may facilitate tolerance induction to self-antigens that would otherwise be temporally or spatially secluded from the immune system. However, the array of promiscuously expressed self-antigens appeared random rather than selected and was not confined to secluded self-antigens.
Asthma is a common disease that affects 300 million people worldwide. Given the large number of eosinophils in the airways of people with mild asthma, and verified by data from murine models, asthma was long considered the hallmark T helper type 2 (T(H)2) disease of the airways. It is now known that some asthmatic inflammation is neutrophilic, controlled by the T(H)17 subset of helper T cells, and that some eosinophilic inflammation is controlled by type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2 cells) acting together with basophils. Here we discuss results from in-depth molecular studies of mouse models in light of the results from the first clinical trials targeting key cytokines in humans and describe the extraordinary heterogeneity of asthma.
Zika virus (ZIKV) was discovered in 1947 and was thought to lead to relatively mild disease. The recent explosive outbreak of ZIKV in South America has led to widespread concern, with reports of neurological sequelae ranging from Guillain Barre syndrome to microcephaly. ZIKV infection has occurred in areas previously exposed to dengue virus (DENV), a flavivirus closely related to ZIKV. Here we investigated the serological cross-reaction between the two viruses. Plasma immune to DENV showed substantial cross-reaction to ZIKV and was able to drive antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) of ZIKV infection. Using a panel of human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to DENV, we showed that most antibodies that reacted to DENV envelope protein also reacted to ZIKV. Antibodies to linear epitopes, including the immunodominant fusion-loop epitope, were able to bind ZIKV but were unable to neutralize the virus and instead promoted ADE. Our data indicate that immunity to DENV might drive greater ZIKV replication and have clear implications for disease pathogenesis and future vaccine programs for ZIKV and DENV.
Interleukin 6 (IL-6) has a broad effect on cells of the immune system and those not of the immune system and often displays hormone-like characteristics that affect homeostatic processes. IL-6 has context-dependent pro-and anti-inflammatory properties and is now regarded as a prominent target for clinical intervention. However, the signaling cassette that controls the activity of IL-6 is complicated, and distinct intervention strategies can inhibit this pathway. Clinical experience with antagonists of IL-6 has raised new questions about how and when to block this cytokine to improve disease outcome and patient wellbeing. Here we discuss the effect of IL-6 on innate and adaptive immunity and the possible advantages of various antagonists of IL-6 and consider how the immunobiology of IL-6 may inform clinical decisions.
Most tumor cells express antigens that can mediate recognition by host CD8(+) T cells. Cancers that are detected clinically must have evaded antitumor immune responses to grow progressively. Recent work has suggested two broad categories of tumor escape based on cellular and molecular characteristics of the tumor microenvironment. One major subset shows a T cell-inflamed phenotype consisting of infiltrating T cells, a broad chemokine profile and a type I interferon signature indicative of innate immune activation. These tumors appear to resist immune attack through the dominant inhibitory effects of immune system-suppressive pathways. The other major phenotype lacks this T cell-inflamed phenotype and appears to resist immune attack through immune system exclusion or ignorance. These two major phenotypes of tumor microenvironment may require distinct immunotherapeutic interventions for maximal therapeutic effect.
Microbial infections are recognized by the innate immune system both to elicit immediate defense and to generate long-lasting adaptive immunity. To detect and respond to vastly different groups of pathogens, the innate immune system uses several recognition systems that rely on sensing common structural and functional features associated with different classes of microorganisms. These recognition systems determine microbial location, viability, replication and pathogenicity. Detection of these features by recognition pathways of the innate immune system is translated into different classes of effector responses though specialized populations of dendritic cells. Multiple mechanisms for the induction of immune responses are variations on a common design principle wherein the cells that sense infections produce one set of cytokines to induce lymphocytes to produce another set of cytokines, which in turn activate effector responses. Here we discuss these emerging principles of innate control of adaptive immunity.
The recognition of microbial nucleic acids is a major mechanism by which the immune system detects pathogens. Cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP) synthase (cGAS) is a cytosolic DNA sensor that activates innate immune responses through production of the second messenger cGAMP, which activates the adaptor STING. The cGAS-STING pathway not only mediates protective immune defense against infection by a large variety of DNA-containing pathogens but also detects tumor-derived DNA and generates intrinsic antitumor immunity. However, aberrant activation of the cGAS pathway by self DNA can also lead to autoimmune and inflammatory disease. Thus, the cGAS pathway must be properly regulated. Here we review the recent advances in understanding of the cGAS-STING pathway, focusing on the regulatory mechanisms and roles of this pathway in heath and disease.
Group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2 cells) are type 2 cytokine-producing cells of the innate immune system with important roles in helminth infection and allergic inflammation. Here we found that tissue-resident ILC2 cells proliferated in situ without migrating during inflammatory responses. Both type I and type II interferons and interleukin 27 (IL-27) suppressed ILC2 function in a manner dependent on the transcription factor STAT1. ILC2-mediated lung inflammation was enhanced in the absence of the interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) receptor on ILC2 cells in vivo. IFN-gamma effectively suppressed the function of tissue-resident ILC2 cells but not that of inflammatory ILC2 cells, and IL-27 suppressed tissue-resident ILC2 cells but not tissue-resident TH2 cells during lung inflammation induced by Alternaria alternata. Our results demonstrate that suppression mediated by interferon and IL-27 is a negative feedback mechanism for ILC2 function in vivo.
Research over the last 7 years has led to the formal identification of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), increased the understanding of their tissue distribution and has established essential functions of ILCs in diverse physiological processes. These include resistance to pathogens, the regulation of autoimmune inflammation, tissue remodeling, cancer and metabolic homeostasis. Notably, many ILC functions appear to be regulated by mechanisms distinct from those of other innate and adaptive immune cells. In this Review, we focus on how group 2 ILC (ILC2) and group 3 ILC (ILC3) responses are regulated and how these cells interact with other immune and non-immune cells to mediate their functions. We highlight experimental evidence from mouse models and patient-based studies that have elucidated the effects of ILCs on the maintenance of tissue homeostasis and the consequences for health and disease.
Alteration in the expression of cell-surface proteins is a common consequence of malignant transformation. Natural killer (NK) cells use an array of germline-encoded activating and inhibitory receptors that scan for altered protein-expression patterns, but tumor evasion of detection by the immune system is now recognized as one of the hallmarks of cancer. NK cells display rapid and potent immunity to metastasis or hematological cancers, and major efforts are now being undertaken to fully exploit NK cell anti-tumor properties in the clinic. Diverse approaches encompass the development of large-scale NK cell-expansion protocols for adoptive transfer, the establishment of a microenvironment favorable to NK cell activity, the redirection of NK cell activity against tumor cells and the release of inhibitory signals that limit NK cell function. In this Review we detail recent advances in NK cell based immunotherapies and discuss the advantages and limitations of these strategies.
Tissue-resident macrophages are a heterogeneous population of immune cells that fulfill tissue-specific and niche-specific functions. These range from dedicated homeostatic functions, such as clearance of cellular debris and iron processing, to central roles in tissue immune surveillance, response to infection and the resolution of inflammation. Recent studies highlight marked heterogeneity in the origins of tissue macrophages that arise from hematopoietic versus self-renewing embryo-derived populations. We discuss the tissue niche-specific factors that dictate cell phenotype, the definition of which will allow new strategies to promote the restoration of tissue homeostasis. Understanding the mechanisms that dictate tissue macrophage heterogeneity should explain why simplified models of macrophage activation do not explain the extent of heterogeneity seen in vivo.
Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are a heterogeneous population of cells generated during a large array of pathologic conditions ranging from cancer to obesity. These cells represent a pathologic state of activation of monocytes and relatively immature neutrophils. MDSCs are characterized by a distinct set of genomic and biochemical features, and can, on the basis of recent findings, be distinguished by specific surface molecules. The salient feature of these cells is their ability to inhibit T cell function and thus contribute to the pathogenesis of various diseases. In this Review, we discuss the origin and nature of these cells; their distinctive features; and their biological roles in cancer, infectious diseases, autoimmunity, obesity and pregnancy.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent stromal cells that exist in many tissues and are capable of differentiating into several different cell types. Exogenously administered MSCs migrate to damaged tissue sites, where they participate in tissue repair. Their communication with the inflammatory microenvironment is an essential part of this process. In recent years, much has been learned about the cellular and molecular mechanisms of the interaction between MSCs and various participants in inflammation. Depending on their type and intensity, inflammatory stimuli confer on MSCs the ability to suppress the immune response in some cases or to enhance it in others. Here we review the current findings on the immunoregulatory plasticity of MSCs in disease pathogenesis and therapy.
We assessed gene expression in tissue macrophages from various mouse organs. The diversity in gene expression among different populations of macrophages was considerable. Only a few hundred mRNA transcripts were selectively expressed by macrophages rather than dendritic cells, and many of these were not present in all macrophages. Nonetheless, well-characterized surface markers, including MerTK and Fc gamma R1 (CD64), along with a cluster of previously unidentified transcripts, were distinctly and universally associated with mature tissue macrophages. TCEF3, C/EBP-alpha, Bach1 and CREG-1 were among the transcriptional regulators predicted to regulate these core macrophage-associated genes. The mRNA encoding other transcription factors, such as Gata6, was associated with single macrophage populations. We further identified how these transcripts and the proteins they encode facilitated distinguishing macrophages from dendritic cells.
Foxp3(+) regulatory T (T-reg) cells in visceral adipose tissue (VAT-T-reg cells) are functionally specialized tissue-resident cells that prevent obesity-associated inflammation and preserve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Their development depends on the transcription factor PPAR-gamma; however, the environmental cues required for their differentiation are unknown. Here we show that interleukin 33 (IL-33) signaling through the IL-33 receptor ST2 and myeloid differentiation factor MyD88 is essential for development and maintenance of VAT-T-reg cells and sustains their transcriptional signature. Furthermore, the transcriptional regulators BATF and IRF4 were necessary for VAT-T-reg differentiation through direct regulation of ST2 and PPAR-gamma expression. IL-33 administration induced vigorous population expansion of VAT-T-reg cells, which tightly correlated with improvements in metabolic parameters in obese mice. Human omental adipose tissue Treg cells also showed high ST2 expression, suggesting an evolutionarily conserved requirement for IL-33 in VAT-T-reg cell homeostasis.
The paradigm that macrophages that reside in steady-state tissues are derived from embryonic precursors has never been investigated in the intestine, which contains the largest pool of macrophages. Using fate-mapping models and monocytopenic mice, together with bone marrow chimera and parabiotic models, we found that embryonic precursor cells seeded the intestinal mucosa and demonstrated extensive in situ proliferation during the neonatal period. However, these cells did not persist in the intestine of adult mice. Instead, they were replaced around the time of weaning by the chemokine receptor CCR2-dependent influx of Ly6C(hi) monocytes that differentiated locally into mature, anti-inflammatory macrophages. This process was driven largely by the microbiota and had to be continued throughout adult life to maintain a normal intestinal macrophage pool.
Perivascular, subdural meningeal and choroid plexus macrophages are non-parenchymal macrophages that mediate immune responses at brain boundaries. Although the origin of parenchymal microglia has recently been elucidated, much less is known about the precursors, the underlying transcriptional program and the dynamics of the other macrophages in the central nervous system (CNS). It was assumed that they have a high turnover from blood-borne monocytes. However, using parabiosis and fate-mapping approaches in mice, we found that CNS macrophages arose from hematopoietic precursors during embryonic development and established stable populations, with the notable exception of choroid plexus macrophages, which had dual origins and a shorter life span. The generation of CNS macrophages relied on the transcription factor PU.1, whereas the MYB, BATF3 and NR4A1 transcription factors were not required.