Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: T cell


Sunlight has important biological effects in human skin. Ultraviolet (UV) light striking the epidermis catalyzes the synthesis of Vitamin D and triggers melanin production. Although a causative element in skin cancers, sunlight is also associated with positive health outcomes including reduced incidences of autoimmune diseases and cancers. The mechanisms, however, by which light affects immune function remain unclear. Here we describe direct photon sensing in human and mouse T lymphocytes, a cell-type highly abundant in skin. Blue light irradiation at low doses (<300 mJ cm(-2)) triggers synthesis of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in T cells revealed by the genetically encoded reporter HyPerRed. In turn, H2O2 activates a Src kinase/phospholipase C-γ1 (PLC-γ1) signaling pathway and Ca(2+) mobilization. Pharmacologic inhibition or genetic disruption of Lck kinase, PLC-γ1 or the T cell receptor complex inhibits light-evoked Ca(2+) transients. Notably, both light and H2O2 enhance T-cell motility in a Lck-dependent manner. Thus, T lymphocytes possess intrinsic photosensitivity and this property may enhance their motility in skin.

Concepts: Immune system, Vitamin D, Ultraviolet, T cell, Major histocompatibility complex, T cell receptor, Lck, Thymus


Extracellular ATP is released from live cells in controlled conditions, as well as dying cells in inflammatory conditions, and, thereby, regulates T cell responses, including Th17 cell induction. The level of extracellular ATP is closely regulated by ATP hydrolyzing enzymes, such as ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolases (ENTPDases). ENTPDase1/CD39, which is expressed in immune cells, was shown to regulate immune responses by downregulating the ATP level. In this study, we analyzed the immunomodulatory function of ENTPDase7, which is preferentially expressed in epithelial cells in the small intestine. The targeted deletion of Entpd7 encoding ENTPDase7 in mice resulted in increased ATP levels in the small intestinal lumen. The number of Th17 cells was selectively increased in the small intestinal lamina propria in Entpd7(-/-) mice. Th17 cells were decreased by oral administration of antibiotics or the ATP antagonist in Entpd7(-/-) mice, indicating that commensal microbiota-dependent ATP release mediates the enhanced Th17 cell development in the small intestinal lamina propria of Entpd7(-/-) mice. In accordance with the increased number of small intestinal Th17 cells, Entpd7(-/-) mice were resistant to oral infection with Citrobacter rodentium. Entpd7(-/-) mice suffered from severe experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, which was associated with increased numbers of CD4(+) T cells producing both IL-17 and IFN-γ. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that ENTPDase7 controls the luminal ATP level and, thereby, regulates Th17 cell development in the small intestine.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Adenosine triphosphate, T cell, Large intestine, Intestine, Small intestine, Lacteal


Distinct signaling pathways producing diverse cellular outcomes can utilize similar subsets of proteins. For example, proteins from the T cell receptor (TCR) early signaling complex (ESC) are also involved in interferon-α receptor signaling. Defining the mechanism for how these proteins function within a given pathway is important in understanding the integration and communication of signaling networks with one another. We investigated the contributions of the TCR ESC proteins Lck, ZAP-70, Vav1, SLP-76, and LAT to integrin outside-in signaling in human T cells. Lck, ZAP-70, SLP-76, Vav1, and LAT were activated by α4β1 outside-in signaling but in a manner different from TCR signaling. TCR stimulation recruits ESC proteins to activate the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). α4β1 outside-in-mediated ERK activation did not require TCR ESC proteins. However, α4β1 outside-in signaling induced CD25 and costimulated CD69 and this was dependent upon TCR ESC proteins. TCR and α4β1 outside-in signaling are integrated through the common use of TCR ESC proteins; however, these proteins display functionally distinct roles in these pathways. These novel insights into the crosstalk between integrin outside-in and TCR signaling pathways are highly relevant to the development of therapeutic strategies to overcome disease associated with T cell deregulation.

Concepts: Protein, Signal transduction, T cell, T cell receptor, Lck, MAPK/ERK pathway, Mitogen-activated protein kinase, Extracellular signal-regulated kinases


It is generally accepted that the success of immunotherapy depends on the presence of tumor-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T cells and the modulation of the tumor environment. In this study, we validated mRNA encoding soluble factors as a tool to modulate the tumor microenvironment to potentiate infiltration of tumor-specific T cells. Intratumoral delivery of mRNA encoding a fusion protein consisting of interferon-β and the ectodomain of the transforming growth factor-β receptor II, referred to as Fβ2, showed therapeutic potential. The treatment efficacy was dependent on CD8+ T cells and could be improved through blockade of PD-1/PD-L1 interactions. In vitro studies revealed that administration of Fβ2 to tumor cells resulted in a reduced proliferation and increased expression of MHC I but also PD-L1. Importantly, Fβ2 enhanced the antigen presenting capacity of dendritic cells, whilst reducing the suppressive activity of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. In conclusion, these data suggest that intratumoral delivery of mRNA encoding soluble proteins, such as Fβ2, can modulate the tumor microenvironment, leading to effective antitumor T cell responses, which can be further potentiated through combination therapy.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Protein, Cancer, T cell, Major histocompatibility complex, Cytotoxic T cell, MHC class I


A major step toward an HIV-1 vaccine is an immunogen capable of inducing neutralizing antibodies. Envelope glycoprotein (Env) mimetics, such as the NFL and SOSIP designs, generate native-like, well-ordered trimers and elicit tier 2 homologous neutralization (SOSIPs). We reasoned that the display of well-ordered trimers by high-density, particulate array would increase B cell activation compared to soluble trimers. Here, we present the design of liposomal nanoparticles displaying well-ordered Env spike trimers on their surface. Biophysical analysis, cryo- and negative stain electron microscopy, as well as binding analysis with a panel of broadly neutralizing antibodies confirm a high-density, well-ordered trimer particulate array. The Env-trimer-conjugated liposomes were superior to soluble trimers in activating B cells ex vivo and germinal center B cells in vivo. In addition, the trimer-conjugated liposomes elicited modest tier 2 homologous neutralizing antibodies. The trimer-conjugated liposomes represent a promising initial lead toward the development of more effective HIV vaccine immunogens.

Concepts: HIV, Immune system, Antibody, Protein, Biology, Microscope, T cell, Antigen


The mechanosensing ability of lymphocytes regulates their activation in response to antigen stimulation, but the underlying mechanism remains unexplored. Here, we report that B cell mechanosensing-governed activation requires BCR signaling molecules. PMA-induced activation of PKCβ can bypass the Btk and PLC-γ2 signaling molecules that are usually required for B cells to discriminate substrate stiffness. Instead, PKCβ-dependent activation of FAK is required, leading to FAK-mediated potentiation of B cell spreading and adhesion responses. FAK inactivation or deficiency impaired B cell discrimination of substrate stiffness. Conversely, adhesion molecules greatly enhanced this capability of B cells. Lastly, B cells derived from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients exhibited an altered BCR response to substrate stiffness in comparison with healthy controls. These results provide a molecular explanation of how initiation of B cell activation discriminates substrate stiffness through a PKCβ-mediated FAK activation dependent manner.

Concepts: Lymphocyte, Protein, Enzyme, B cell, Rheumatoid arthritis, T cell, Focal adhesion, Discrimination


Silymarin (SM), and its flavonolignan components, alter cellular metabolism and inhibit inflammatory status in human liver and T cell lines. In this study, we hypothesized that SM suppresses both acute and chronic immune activation (CIA), including in the context of HIV infection. SM treatment suppressed the expression of T cell activation and exhaustion markers on CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from chronically-infected, HIV-positive subjects. SM also showed a trend towards modifying CD4+ T cell memory subsets from HIV+ subjects. In the HIV-negative setting, SM treatment showed trends towards suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines from non-activated and pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP)-activated primary human monocytes, and non-activated and cytokine- and T cell receptor (TCR)-activated mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells. The data suggest that SM elicits broad anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory activity in primary human immune cells. By using novel compounds to alter cellular inflammatory status, it may be possible to regulate inflammation in both non-disease and disease states.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, White blood cell, Protein, Gene, Cell biology, Hormone, T cell


Autologous T cells engineered to express chimeric antigen receptor against the B cell antigen CD19 (CAR19) are achieving marked leukemic remissions in early-phase trials but can be difficult to manufacture, especially in infants or heavily treated patients. We generated universal CAR19 (UCART19) T cells by lentiviral transduction of non-human leukocyte antigen-matched donor cells and simultaneous transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN)-mediated gene editing of T cell receptor α chain and CD52 gene loci. Two infants with relapsed refractory CD19(+) B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia received lymphodepleting chemotherapy and anti-CD52 serotherapy, followed by a single-dose infusion of UCART19 cells. Molecular remissions were achieved within 28 days in both infants, and UCART19 cells persisted until conditioning ahead of successful allogeneic stem cell transplantation. This bridge-to-transplantation strategy demonstrates the therapeutic potential of gene-editing technology.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, B cell, T cell, Major histocompatibility complex, T cell receptor, Leukemia, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Autoimmune diseases mediated by a type of white blood cell-T lymphocytes-are currently treated using mainly broad-spectrum immunosuppressants that can lead to adverse side effects. Antioxidants represent an alternative approach for therapy of autoimmune disorders; however, dietary antioxidants are insufficient to play this role. Antioxidant carbon nanoparticles scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS) with higher efficacy than dietary and endogenous antioxidants. Furthermore, the affinity of carbon nanoparticles for specific cell types represents an emerging tactic for cell-targeted therapy. Here, we report that nontoxic poly(ethylene glycol)-functionalized hydrophilic carbon clusters (PEG-HCCs), known scavengers of the ROS superoxide (O2(•-)) and hydroxyl radical, are preferentially internalized by T lymphocytes over other splenic immune cells. We use this selectivity to inhibit T cell activation without affecting major functions of macrophages, antigen-presenting cells that are crucial for T cell activation. We also demonstrate the in vivo effectiveness of PEG-HCCs in reducing T lymphocyte-mediated inflammation in delayed-type hypersensitivity and in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an animal model of multiple sclerosis. Our results suggest the preferential targeting of PEG-HCCs to T lymphocytes as a novel approach for T lymphocyte immunomodulation in autoimmune diseases without affecting other immune cells.

Concepts: Immune system, White blood cell, Antibody, Reactive oxygen species, Natural killer cell, B cell, T cell, Thymus


The innate immune system is strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In contrast, the role of adaptive immunity in AD remains largely unknown. However, numerous clinical trials are testing vaccination strategies for AD, suggesting that T and B cells play a pivotal role in this disease. To test the hypothesis that adaptive immunity influences AD pathogenesis, we generated an immune-deficient AD mouse model that lacks T, B, and natural killer (NK) cells. The resulting “Rag-5xfAD” mice exhibit a greater than twofold increase in β-amyloid (Aβ) pathology. Gene expression analysis of the brain implicates altered innate and adaptive immune pathways, including changes in cytokine/chemokine signaling and decreased Ig-mediated processes. Neuroinflammation is also greatly exacerbated in Rag-5xfAD mice as indicated by a shift in microglial phenotype, increased cytokine production, and reduced phagocytic capacity. In contrast, immune-intact 5xfAD mice exhibit elevated levels of nonamyloid reactive IgGs in association with microglia, and treatment of Rag-5xfAD mice or microglial cells with preimmune IgG enhances Aβ clearance. Last, we performed bone marrow transplantation studies in Rag-5xfAD mice, revealing that replacement of these missing adaptive immune populations can dramatically reduce AD pathology. Taken together, these data strongly suggest that adaptive immune cell populations play an important role in restraining AD pathology. In contrast, depletion of B cells and their appropriate activation by T cells leads to a loss of adaptive-innate immunity cross talk and accelerated disease progression.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Gene, Vaccination, Innate immune system, Humoral immunity, Adaptive immune system, T cell