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Natural killer (NK) cells are critical to immune surveillance against infections and cancer. Their role in immune surveillance requires that NK cells are present within tissues in a quiescent state. Mechanisms by which NK cells remain quiescent in tissues are incompletely elucidated. The transcriptional repressor BACH2 plays a critical role within the adaptive immune system, but its function within innate lymphocytes has been unclear. Here, we show that BACH2 acts as an intrinsic negative regulator of NK cell maturation and function. BACH2 is expressed within developing and mature NK cells and promotes the maintenance of immature NK cells by restricting their maturation in the presence of weak stimulatory signals. Loss of BACH2 within NK cells results in accumulation of activated NK cells with unrestrained cytotoxic function within tissues, which mediate augmented immune surveillance to pulmonary cancer metastasis. These findings establish a critical function of BACH2 as a global negative regulator of innate cytotoxic function and tumor immune surveillance by NK cells.
Regulatory T cells (Tregs) that express the transcription factor Foxp3 have a critical role in limiting inflammatory processes and tissue damage. Whether Tregs are functional in maintaining epithelial barriers and in control of tight junction expression has not yet been explored. In this study, we investigated the effect of Treg deficiency on the airway epithelial barrier in an experimental murine model in which diphtheria toxin was repeatedly injected in Foxp3-diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR) mice to deplete Tregs. This resulted in spontaneous peribronchial inflammation and led to a systemic and local increase of IL-4, IL-5, CCL3, IFN-γ, and IL-10 and a local (lung) increase of IL-6 and IL-33 and decreased amphiregulin levels. Moreover, Treg depletion increased airway permeability and decreased epithelial tight junction (protein and mRNA) expression. CTLA4-Ig treatment of Treg-depleted mice almost completely prevented barrier dysfunction together with suppression of lung inflammation and cytokine secretion. Treatment with anti-IL-4 partly reversed the effects of Treg depletion on tight junction expression, whereas neutralization of IL-6 of IFN-γ had either no effect or only a limited effect. We conclude that Tregs are essential to protect the epithelial barrier at the level of tight junctions by restricting spontaneous T cell activation and uncontrolled secretion of cytokines, in particular IL-4, in the bronchi.
Perturbation of DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) and of the active DNA demethylation pathway via ten-eleven translocation (TET) methylcytosine dioxygenases results in severe developmental defects and embryonic lethality. Dynamic control of DNA methylation is therefore vital for embryogenesis, yet the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood.
Reprogramming of somatic cells into induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) is a major leap towards personalised approaches to disease modelling and cell-replacement therapies. However, we still lack the ability to fully control the epigenetic status of iPSCs, which is a major hurdle for their downstream applications. Epigenetic fidelity can be tracked by genomic imprinting, a phenomenon dependent on DNA methylation, which is frequently perturbed in iPSCs by yet unknown reasons. To try to understand the causes underlying these defects, we conducted a thorough imprinting analysis using IMPLICON, a high-throughput method measuring DNA methylation levels, in multiple female and male murine iPSC lines generated under different experimental conditions. Our results show that imprinting defects are remarkably common in iPSCs, but their nature depends on the sex of donor cells and their response to culture conditions. Imprints in female iPSCs resist the initial genome-wide DNA demethylation wave during reprogramming, but ultimately cells accumulate hypomethylation defects irrespective of culture medium formulations. In contrast, imprinting defects on male iPSCs depends on the experimental conditions and arise during reprogramming, being mitigated by the addition of vitamin C (VitC). Our findings are fundamental to further optimise reprogramming strategies and generate iPSCs with a stable epigenome.
Host defense against bacterial and fungal infections diminishes with age. In humans, impaired neutrophil responses are thought to contribute to this decline. However, it remains unclear whether neutrophil responses are also impaired in old mice. Here, we investigated neutrophil function in old mice, focusing on responses primed by lipopolysaccharide (LPS), an endotoxin released by gram-negative bacteria like , which signals through toll-like receptor (TLR) 4. We show that old mice have a reduced capacity to clear pathogenic during septic peritonitis. Neutrophil recruitment was elevated during LPS-induced but not aseptic peritonitis. Neutrophils from old mice showed reduced killing of . Their reactive oxygen species (ROS) production was impaired upon priming with LPS but not with GM-CSF/TNFα. Phagocytosis and degranulation were reduced in a partially LPS-dependent manner, whereas impairment of NET release in response to was independent of LPS. Unexpectedly, chemotaxis was normal, as were Rac1 and Rac2 GTPase activities. LPS-primed activation of Erk and p38 Mapk was defective. PIP production was reduced upon priming with LPS but not with GM-CSF/TNFα, whereas PIP levels were constitutively low. The expression of 5% of neutrophil proteins was dysregulated in old age. Granule proteins, particularly cathepsins and serpins, as well as TLR-pathway proteins and membrane receptors were upregulated, whereas chromatin and RNA regulators were downregulated. The upregulation of CD180 and downregulation of MyD88 likely contribute to the impaired LPS signaling. In summary, all major neutrophil responses except chemotaxis decline with age in mice, particularly upon LPS priming. This LPS/TLR4 pathway dependence resolves previous controversy regarding effects of age on murine neutrophils and confirms that mice are an appropriate model for the decline in human neutrophil function.
Bach2 codes for a transcriptional regulator exerting major influences on T cell mediated immune regulation. Effector CTLs derived from in vitro activation of murine CD8 T cells showed increased proliferative and cytolytic capacity in the absence of BACH2. Before activation, BACH2-deficient splenic CD8 T cells had a higher abundance of memory and reduced abundance of naïve cells compared to wild-type. CTLs derived from central memory T cells were more potently cytotoxic than those derived from naïve T cells, but even within separated subsets, BACH2-deficiency conferred a cytotoxic advantage. Immunofluorescence and electron microscopy revealed larger granules in BACH2-deficient compared to wild-type CTLs, and proteomic analysis showed an increase in granule content, including perforin and granzymes. Thus, the enhanced cytotoxicity observed in effector CTLs lacking BACH2 arises not only from differences in their initial differentiation state but also inherent production of enlarged cytolytic granules. These results demonstrate how a single gene deletion can produce a CTL super-killer. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
TET (ten-eleven translocation) enzymes catalyze the oxidation of 5-methylcytosine bases in DNA, thus driving active and passive DNA demethylation. Here, we report that the catalytic domain of mammalian TET enzymes favor CGs embedded within basic helix-loop-helix and basic leucine zipper domain transcription factor-binding sites, with up to 250-fold preference in vitro. Crystal structures and molecular dynamics calculations show that sequence preference is caused by intrasubstrate interactions and CG flanking sequence indirectly affecting enzyme conformation. TET sequence preferences are physiologically relevant as they explain the rates of DNA demethylation in TET-rescue experiments in culture and in vivo within the zygote and germ line. Most and least favorable TET motifs represent DNA sites that are bound by methylation-sensitive immediate-early transcription factors and octamer-binding transcription factor 4 (OCT4), respectively, illuminating TET function in transcriptional responses and pluripotency support.
Biological systems have the capacity to not only build and robustly maintain complex structures but also to rapidly break up and rebuild such structures. Here, using primitive societies of Polistes wasps, we show that both robust specialization and rapid plasticity are emergent properties of multi-scale dynamics. We combine theory with experiments that, after perturbing the social structure by removing the queen, correlate time-resolved multi-omics with video recordings. We show that the queen-worker dimorphism relies on the balance between the development of a molecular queen phenotype in all insects and colony-scale inhibition of this phenotype via asymmetric interactions. This allows Polistes to be stable against intrinsic perturbations of molecular states while reacting plastically to extrinsic cues affecting the whole society. Long-term stability of the social structure is reinforced by dynamic DNA methylation. Our study provides a general principle of how both specialization and plasticity can be achieved in biological systems. A record of this paper's transparent peer review process is included in the supplemental information.
T cells are key effectors of our immune response against tumors and exert their antitumor effects upon recognizing a variety of tumor-specific peptides presented by HLA molecules on the surface of tumor cells. The identification of the tumor-specific antigens of a given tumor is not required for immune checkpoint therapy, which mainly reactivates existing tumor-specific T cells together with T cells of unknown specificities. To decrease the activation of non tumor-specific T cells, active or passive immunizations against tumor-specific antigens are considered. These immunizations require the identification of at least some of the tumor-specific antigens displayed on the tumor cells of a patient. While this has become an easy task for tumors with a large number of mutations generating neoantigens, it remains difficult for the remainder. Here, we review both some facts about human tumor-specific or tumor-associated antigens, as well as some hopes for their future use in cancer immunotherapy.
In the last century, we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of older persons globally, a trend known as the grey (or silver) tsunami. People live markedly longer than their predecessors worldwide, due to remarkable changes in their lifestyle and in progresses made by modern medicine. However, the older we become, the more susceptible we are to a series of age-related pathologies, including infections, cancers, autoimmune diseases, and multi-morbidities. Therefore, a key challenge for our modern societies is how to cope with this fragile portion of the population, so that everybody could have the opportunity to live a long and healthy life. From a holistic point of view, aging results from the progressive decline of various systems. Among them, the distinctive age-dependent changes in the immune system contribute to the enhanced frailty of the elderly. One of these affects a population of lymphocytes, known as regulatory T cells (Tregs), as accumulating evidence suggest that there is a significant increase in the frequency of these cells in secondary lymphoid organs (SLOs) of aged animals. Although there are still discrepancies in the literature about modifications to their functional properties during aging, mounting evidence suggests a detrimental role for Tregs in the elderly in the context of bacterial and viral infections by suppressing immune responses against non-self-antigens. Interestingly, Tregs seem to also contribute to the reduced effectiveness of immunizations against many pathogens by limiting the production of vaccine-induced protective antibodies. In this review, we will analyze the current state of understandings about the role of Tregs in acute and chronic infections as well as in vaccination response in both humans and mice. Lastly, we provide an overview of current strategies for Treg modulation with potential future applications to improve the effectiveness of vaccines in older individuals.
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Quiescent, differentiated adult vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) can be induced to proliferate and switch phenotype. Such plasticity underlies blood vessel homeostasis and contributes to vascular disease development. Oligoclonal VSMC contribution is a hallmark of end-stage vascular disease. Here we aim to understand cellular mechanisms underpinning generation of this VSMC oligoclonality.
Vaccines typically protect against (re)infections by generating pathogen-neutralising antibodies. However, as we age, antibody-secreting cell formation and vaccine-induced antibody titres are reduced. Antibody-secreting plasma cells differentiate from B cells either early post-vaccination through the extrafollicular response or from the germinal centre (GC) reaction, which generates long-lived antibody-secreting cells. As the formation of both the extrafollicular antibody response and the GC requires the interaction of multiple cell types, the impaired antibody response in ageing could be caused by B cell intrinsic or extrinsic factors, or a combination of the two. Here, we show that B cells from older people do not have intrinsic defects in their proliferation and differentiation into antibody-secreting cells in vitro compared to those from the younger donors. However, adoptive transfer of B cells from aged mice to young recipient mice showed that differentiation into extrafollicular plasma cells was favoured at the expense of B cells entering the GC during the early stages of GC formation. In contrast, by the peak of the GC response, GC B cells derived from the donor cells of aged mice had expanded to the same extent as those from the younger donors. This indicates that age-related intrinsic B cell changes delay the GC response but are not responsible for the impaired antibody-secreting response or smaller peak GC response in ageing. Collectively, this study shows that B cells from aged individuals are not intrinsically defective in responding to stimulation and becoming antibody-secreting cells, implicating B cell-extrinsic factors as the primary cause of age-associated impairment in the humoral immunity.
The pre-conceptual, intrauterine, and early life environments can have a profound and long-lasting impact on the developmental trajectories and health outcomes of the offspring. Given the relatively low success rates of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART; ~25%), additives and adjuvants, such as glucocorticoids, are utilized to improve the success rate. Considering the dynamic developmental events that occur during this window, these exposures may alter blastocyst formation at a molecular level, and as such, affect not only the viability of the embryo and ability of the blastocyst to implant, but also the developmental trajectory of the first three cell lineages, ultimately influencing the physiology of the embryo. In this study we present a comprehensive single-cell transcriptome, methylome and small RNA atlas in the day 7 human embryo. We demonstrate that, despite no change in morphology and developmental features, preimplantation glucocorticoid exposure reprograms the molecular profile of the TE lineage and these changes are associated with an altered metabolic and inflammatory response. Our data also suggest that glucocorticoids can precociously mature the TE sub-lineages, supported by the presence of extravillous trophoblast markers in the polar sub-lineage and presence of X Chromosome dosage compensation. Further, we have elucidated that epigenetic regulation (DNA methylation and microRNAs (miRNAs)) likely underlie the transcriptional changes observed. This study suggests that exposures to exogenous compounds during preimplantation may unintentionally reprogram the human embryo, possibly leading to suboptimal development and longer-term health outcomes.
Li et al present the results of a proximity-interaction screen in mammalian cells for the effector proteins of 25 members of the Arf family of small GTPases. This study has generated an important resource for those working in several areas of cell biology and provided an initial characterisation of two new cellular roles for some of the least well studied members of this family, the regulation of PLD1 by ARL11/14 in phagocytosis, and the regulation of PI4KB by ARL5A/5B in the Golgi.
The advent of technologies that can characterize the phenotypes, functions and fates of individual cells has revealed extensive and often unexpected levels of diversity between cells that are nominally of the same subset. CD8 T cells, also known as cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), are no exception. Investigations of individual CD8 T cells both and have highlighted the heterogeneity of cellular responses at the levels of activation, differentiation and function. This review takes a broad perspective on the topic of heterogeneity, outlining different forms of variation that arise during a CD8 T cell response. Specific attention is paid to the impact of T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation strength on heterogeneity. In particular, this review endeavors to highlight connections between variation at different cellular stages, presenting known mechanisms and key open questions about how variation between cells can arise and propagate.
The RAS-regulated RAF-MEK1/2-ERK1/2 signalling pathway is frequently de-regulated in human cancer. Melanoma in particular exhibits a high incidence of activating BRAF and NRAS mutations and such cells are addicted to the activity of these mutant oncoproteins. As a result three different BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) have now been approved for BRAFV600E/K- mutant melanoma and have transformed the treatment of this disease. Despite this, clinical responses are typically transient as tumour cells develop resistance. These resistance mechanisms frequently involve reinstatement of ERK1/2 signalling and BRAFi are now deployed in combination with one of three approved MEK1/2 inhibitors (MEKi) to provide more durable, but still transient, clinical responses. Furthermore, inhibitors to ERK1/2 (ERK1/2i) have also been developed to counteract ERK1/2 signalling. However, recent studies have suggested that BRAFi/MEKi and ERK1/2i resistance can arise through activation of a parallel signalling pathway leading to activation of ERK5, an unusual protein kinase that contains both a kinase domain and a transcriptional transactivation domain. Here we review the evidence supporting ERK5 as a mediator of BRAFi/MEKi and ERK1/2i resistance. We also review the challenges in targeting ERK5 signalling with small molecules, including paradoxical activation of the transcriptional transactivation domain, and discuss new therapeutic modalities that could be employed to target ERK5.
Upon antigen binding, the B cell receptor (BCR) undergoes clustering to form a signalosome that propagates downstream signaling required for normal B cell development and physiology. BCR clustering is dependent on remodeling of the cortical actin network, but the mechanisms that regulate actin remodeling in this context remain poorly defined. In this study, we identify the inositol 5-phosphatase INPP5B as a key regulator of actin remodeling, BCR clustering, and downstream signaling in antigen-stimulated B cells. INPP5B acts via dephosphorylation of the inositol lipid PI(4,5)P2 that in turn is necessary for actin disassembly, BCR mobilization, and cell spreading on immobilized surface antigen. These effects can be explained by increased actin severing by cofilin and loss of actin linking to the plasma membrane by ezrin, both of which are sensitive to INPP5B-dependent PI(4,5)P2 hydrolysis. INPP5B is therefore a new player in BCR signaling and may represent an attractive target for treatment of B cell malignancies caused by aberrant BCR signaling.
Mast cells and basophils have long been implicated in the pathogenesis of IgE-mediated hypersensitivity reactions. They express the high-affinity IgE receptor, FcϵRI, on their surface. Antigen-induced crosslinking of IgE antibodies bound to that receptor triggers a signaling cascade that results in activation, leading to the release of an array of preformed vasoactive mediators and rapidly synthesized lipids, as well as the production of inflammatory cytokines. In addition to bearing activating receptors like FcεRI, these effector cells of allergy express inhibitory ones including FcγR2b, an IgG Fc receptor with a cytosolic inhibitory motif that activates protein tyrosine phosphatases that suppress IgE-mediated activation. We and others have shown that food allergen-specific IgG antibodies strongly induced during the course of oral immunotherapy (OIT), signal FcγR2b to suppress IgE-mediated mast cell and basophil activation triggered by food allergen challenge. However, the potential inhibitory effects of IgA antibodies, which are also produced in response to OIT and are present at high levels at mucosal sites, including the intestine where food allergens are encountered, have not been well studied. Here we uncover an inhibitory function for IgA. We observe that IgA binds mouse bone marrow-derived mast cells (BMMCs) and peritoneal mast cells. Binding to BMMCs is dependent on calcium and sialic acid. We also found that IgA antibodies inhibit IgE-mediated mast cell degranulation in an allergen-specific fashion. Antigen-specific IgA inhibits IgE-mediated mast cell activation early in the signaling cascade, suppressing the phosphorylation of Syk, the proximal protein kinase mediating FcεRI signaling, and suppresses mast cell production of cytokines. Furthermore, using basophils from a peanut allergic donor we found that IgA binds to basophils and that activation by exposure to peanuts is effectively suppressed by IgA. We conclude that IgA serves as a regulator of mast cell and basophil degranulation, suggesting a physiologic role for IgA in the maintenance of immune homeostasis at mucosal sites.
The integrated stress response (ISR) plays a pivotal role in adaptation of translation machinery to cellular stress. Here, we demonstrate an ISR-independent osmoadaptation mechanism involving reprogramming of translation via coordinated but independent actions of mTOR and plasma membrane amino acid transporter SNAT2. This biphasic response entails reduced global protein synthesis and mTOR signaling followed by translation of SNAT2. Induction of SNAT2 leads to accumulation of amino acids and reactivation of mTOR and global protein synthesis, paralleled by partial reversal of the early-phase, stress-induced translatome. We propose SNAT2 functions as a molecular switch between inhibition of protein synthesis and establishment of an osmoadaptive translation program involving the formation of cytoplasmic condensates of SNAT2-regulated RNA-binding proteins DDX3X and FUS. In summary, we define key roles of SNAT2 in osmotolerance.
High-risk neuroblastoma, a pediatric tumor originating from the sympathetic nervous system, has a low mutation load but highly recurrent somatic DNA copy number variants. Previously, segmental gains and/or amplifications allowed identification of drivers for neuroblastoma development. Using this approach, combined with gene dosage impact on expression and survival, we identified ribonucleotide reductase subunit M2 (RRM2) as a candidate dependency factor further supported by growth inhibition upon in vitro knockdown and accelerated tumor formation in a neuroblastoma zebrafish model coexpressing human RRM2 with MYCN. Forced RRM2 induction alleviates excessive replicative stress induced by CHK1 inhibition, while high RRM2 expression in human neuroblastomas correlates with high CHK1 activity. MYCN-driven zebrafish tumors with RRM2 co-overexpression exhibit differentially expressed DNA repair genes in keeping with enhanced ATR-CHK1 signaling activity. In vitro, RRM2 inhibition enhances intrinsic replication stress checkpoint addiction. Last, combinatorial RRM2-CHK1 inhibition acts synergistic in high-risk neuroblastoma cell lines and patient-derived xenograft models, illustrating the therapeutic potential.
Complete, reproducible extraction of protein material is essential for comprehensive and unbiased proteome analyses. A current gold standard is single-pot, solid-phase-enhanced sample preparation (SP3), in which organic solvent and magnetic beads are used to denature and capture protein aggregates, with subsequent washes removing contaminants. However, SP3 is dependent on effective protein immobilization onto beads, risks losses during wash steps, and exhibits losses and greater costs at higher protein inputs. Here, we propose solvent precipitation SP3 (SP4) as an alternative to SP3 protein cleanup, capturing acetonitrile-induced protein aggregates by brief centrifugation rather than magnetism─with optional low-cost inert glass beads to simplify handling. SP4 recovered equivalent or greater protein yields for 1-5000 μg preparations and improved reproducibility (median protein 0.99 (SP4) 0.97 (SP3)). Deep proteome profiling revealed that SP4 yielded a greater recovery of low-solubility and transmembrane proteins than SP3, benefits to aggregating protein using 80 50% organic solvent, and equivalent recovery by SP4 and S-Trap. SP4 was verified in three other labs across eight sample types and five lysis buffers─all confirming equivalent or improved proteome characterization SP3. With near-identical recovery, this work further illustrates protein precipitation as the primary mechanism of SP3 protein cleanup and identifies that magnetic capture risks losses, especially at higher protein concentrations and among more hydrophobic proteins. SP4 offers a minimalistic approach to protein cleanup that provides cost-effective input scalability, the option to omit beads entirely, and suggests important considerations for SP3 applications─all while retaining the speed and compatibility of SP3.
Mendelian susceptibility to mycobacterial disease (MSMD) is caused by inborn errors of IFN-γ immunity. The most frequent genetic defects are found in IL12 or a subunit of its receptor. IL23R deficiency in MSMD has only been reported once, in two pediatric patients from the same kindred with isolated disseminated Bacille Calmette-Guérin disease. We evaluated the impact of a homozygous stop mutation in IL23R (R381X), identified by whole exome sequencing, in an adult patient with disseminated non-tuberculous mycobacterial disease.
The identification of CD4 T cells localizing to B cell follicles has revolutionized the knowledge of how humoral immunity is generated. Follicular helper T (T) cells support germinal center (GC) formation and regulate clonal selection and differentiation of memory and antibody-secreting B cells, thus controlling antibody affinity maturation and memory. T cells are essential in sustaining protective antibody responses necessary for pathogen clearance in infection and vaccine-mediated protection. Conversely, aberrant and excessive T cell responses mediate and sustain pathogenic antibodies to autoantigens, alloantigens, and allergens, facilitate lymphomagenesis, and even harbor viral reservoirs. T cell generation and function are determined by T cell antigen receptor (TCR), costimulation, and cytokine signals, together with specific metabolic and survival mechanisms. Such regulation is crucial to understanding disease pathogenesis and informing the development of emerging therapies for disease or novel approaches to boost vaccine efficacy.