bims-imicid Biomed News
on Immunometabolism of infection, cancer and immune-mediated disease
Issue of 2021‒10‒17
twenty-six papers selected by
Dylan Ryan
University of Cambridge

  1. J Immunol. 2021 Oct 11. pii: ji2100488. [Epub ahead of print]
      PGs are important proinflammatory lipid mediators, the significance of which is highlighted by the widespread and efficacious use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the treatment of inflammation. 4-Octyl itaconate (4-OI), a derivative of the Krebs cycle-derived metabolite itaconate, has recently garnered much interest as an anti-inflammatory agent. In this article, we show that 4-OI limits PG production in murine macrophages stimulated with the TLR1/2 ligand Pam3CSK4. This decrease in PG secretion is due to a robust suppression of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX2) expression by 4-OI, with both mRNA and protein levels decreased. Dimethyl fumarate, a fumarate derivative used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, with properties similar to itaconate, replicated the phenotype observed with 4-OI. We also demonstrate that the decrease in COX2 expression and inhibition of downstream PG production occurs in an NRF2-independent manner. Our findings provide a new insight into the potential of 4-OI as an anti-inflammatory agent and also identifies a novel anti-inflammatory function of dimethyl fumarate.
  2. Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz). 2021 Oct 12. 69(1): 29
      T cell activation, differentiation and proliferation is dependent upon and intrinsically linked to a capacity to modulate and adapt cellular metabolism. Antigen-induced activation stimulates a transcriptional programme that results in metabolic reprogramming, enabling T cells to fuel anabolic metabolic pathways and provide the nutrients to sustain proliferation and effector responses. Amino acids are key nutrients for T cells and have essential roles as building blocks for protein synthesis as well as in numerous metabolic pathways. In this review, we discuss the roles for uptake and biosynthesis of non-essential amino acids in T cell metabolism, activation and effector function. Furthermore, we highlight the effects of amino acid metabolism and depletion by cancer cells on T cell anti-tumour function and discuss approaches to modulate and improve T cell metabolism for improved anti-tumour function in these nutrient-depleted microenvironments.
    Keywords:  Immunotherapy; Metabolism; Non-essential amino acid; T cell; Tumour microenvironment
  3. J Immunol. 2021 Oct 11. pii: ji2100402. [Epub ahead of print]
      The protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei is the causative agent of the neglected tropical disease human African trypanosomiasis, otherwise known as sleeping sickness. Trypanosomes have evolved many immune-evasion mechanisms to facilitate their own survival, as well as prolonging host survival to ensure completion of the parasitic life cycle. A key feature of the bloodstream form of T. brucei is the secretion of aromatic keto acids, which are metabolized from tryptophan. In this study, we describe an immunomodulatory role for one of these keto acids, indole-3-pyruvate (I3P). We demonstrate that I3P inhibits the production of PGs in activated macrophages. We also show that, despite the reduction in downstream PGs, I3P augments the expression of cyclooxygenase (COX2). This increase in COX2 expression is mediated in part via inhibition of PGs relieving a negative-feedback loop on COX2. Activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor also participates in this effect. However, the increase in COX2 expression is of little functionality, as we also provide evidence to suggest that I3P targets COX activity. This study therefore details an evasion strategy by which a trypanosome-secreted metabolite potently inhibits macrophage-derived PGs, which might promote host and trypanosome survival.
  4. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Sep 24. pii: 10268. [Epub ahead of print]22(19):
      Immune escape is one of the hallmarks of cancer. While metabolic reprogramming provides survival advantage to tumor cancer cells, accumulating data also suggest such metabolic rewiring directly affects the activation, differentiation and function of immune cells, particularly in the tumor microenvironment. Understanding how metabolic reprogramming affects both tumor and immune cells, as well as their interplay, is therefore critical to better modulate tumor immune microenvironment in the era of cancer immunotherapy. In this review, we discuss alterations in several essential metabolic pathways in both tumor and key immune cells, provide evidence on their dynamic interaction, and propose innovative strategies to improve cancer immunotherapy via the modulation of metabolic pathways.
    Keywords:  immune cells; immunosuppression; immunotherapy; metabolic reprogramming; tumor immune microenvironment; tumor microenvironment
  5. J Physiol. 2021 Oct 13.
      Circulating concentrations of canonically pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines are commonly measured when evaluating the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise. An important caveat to interpreting systemic cytokine concentrations as evidence for the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise is the observed dissociation between circulating cytokine concentrations and cytokine function at the tissue/cellular level. The dichotomization of cytokines as pro- or anti-inflammatory also overlooks the context-dependence of cytokine function, which can vary depending on the physiological state being studied, the cytokine's cellular source/target, and magnitude of cytokine responses. We re-evaluate our current understanding of anti-inflammatory cytokine responses to exercise by highlighting nuances surrounding the interpretation of altered systemic cytokine concentrations as evidence for changes in inflammatory processes occurring at the tissue/cellular level. We highlight the lesser known pro-inflammatory and immunostimulatory actions of the prototypical anti-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin (IL)-10, including: the potentiation of interferon gamma production during endotoxemia, CD8+ T cell activation in tumor bearing rodents and cancer patients in vivo, and CD8+ T lymphocyte and natural killer cell activation in vitro. IL-10's more well-established anti-inflammatory actions can also be blunted following exercise training and under chronic inflammatory states such as type 2 diabetes (T2D) independent of circulating IL-10 concentrations. The resistance to IL-10's anti-inflammatory action in T2D coincides with blunted STAT3 phosphorylation and can be restored with small-molecule activators of IL-10 signaling, highlighting potential therapeutic avenues for restoring IL-10 action. We posit that inferences based on altered circulating cytokine concentrations alone can miss important functional changes in cytokine action occurring at the tissue/cellular level. Abstract Figure Legend. Chronic inflammation is linked to the development and progression of various cardiometabolic diseases. Increased circulating concentrations of classical "anti-inflammatory" cytokines such interleukin-10 (IL-10) are frequently interpreted as evidence for the ability of exercise to reduce inflammation. However, there are several scenarios where circulating IL-10 concentrations may not reflect a reduction in inflammation at the cellular level, including: 1) the ability of IL-10 to act as an immunostimulatory and pro-inflammatory molecule under specific contexts, 2) a reduction in the ability of IL-10 to inhibit cellular inflammation following short-term exercise training, and 3) a hyporesponsiveness to IL-10 action under states of chronic metabolic stress or inflammation. These scenarios highlight situations where interpreting changes in circulating IL-10 concentrations as support for the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise may be inappropriate, as an increase in IL-10 may not necessarily represent a reduction in inflammatory processes occurring at the cellular level. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  SHIP1; STAT3; immune function; inflammation; interleukin-6; macrophages; monocytes; myokines; physical activity
  6. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Biol Lipids. 2021 Oct 06. pii: S1388-1981(21)00194-3. [Epub ahead of print]1867(1): 159066
      Macrophages are professional phagocytes, indispensable for maintenance of tissue homeostasis and integrity. Depending on their resident tissue, macrophages are exposed to highly diverse metabolic environments. Adapted to their niche, they can contribute to local metabolic turnover through metabolite uptake, conversion, storage and release. Disturbances in tissue homeostasis caused by infection, inflammation or damage dramatically alter the local milieu, impacting macrophage activation status and metabolism. In the case of persisting stimuli, defective macrophage responses ensue, which can promote tissue damage and disease. Especially relevant herein are disbalances in lipid rich environments, where macrophages are crucially involved in lipid uptake and turnover, preventing lipotoxicity. Lipid uptake is to a large extent facilitated by macrophage expressed scavenger receptors that are dynamically regulated and important in many metabolic diseases. Here, we review the receptors mediating lipid uptake and summarize recent findings on their role in health and disease. We further highlight the underlying pathways driving macrophage lipid acquisition and their impact on myeloid metabolic remodelling.
  7. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 Oct 11. 13(undefined):
      Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a significant factor for cardiometabolic comorbidities in people living with HIV (PLWH) and a barrier to healthy aging. The long-term consequences of HIV-infection and combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) in metabolic reprogramming are unknown. In this study, we investigated metabolic alterations in well-treated PLWH with MetS to identify potential mechanisms behind the MetS phenotype using advanced statistical and machine learning algorithms. We included 200 PLWH from the Copenhagen Comorbidity in HIV-infection (COCOMO) study. PLWH were grouped into PLWH with MetS (n = 100) defined according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) consensus worldwide definition of the MetS or without MetS (n = 100). The untargeted plasma metabolomics was performed using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (UHPLC/MS/MS) and immune-phenotyping of Glut1 (glucose transporter), xCT (glutamate/cysteine transporter) and MCT1 (pyruvate/lactate transporter) by flow cytometry. We applied several conventional approaches, machine learning algorithms, and linear classification models to identify the biologically relevant metabolites associated with MetS in PLWH. Of the 877 identified biochemicals, 9% (76/877) differed significantly between PLWH with and without MetS (false discovery rate < 0.05). The majority belonged to amino acid metabolism (43%). A consensus identification by combining supervised and unsupervised methods indicated 11 biomarkers of MetS phenotype in PLWH. A weighted co-expression network identified seven communities of positively intercorrelated metabolites. A single community contained six of the potential biomarkers mainly related to glutamate metabolism. Transporter expression identified altered xCT and MCT in both lymphocytic and monocytic cells. Combining metabolomics and immune-phenotyping indicated altered glutamate metabolism associated with MetS in PLWH, which has clinical significance.
    Keywords:  HIV-infection; antiretroviral therapy; immune-phenotyping; metabolic syndrome; metabolomics
  8. Eur J Immunol. 2021 Oct 14.
      Immune cells are important constituents of the tumor microenvironment and essential in eradicating tumor cells during conventional therapies or novel immunotherapies. The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway senses the intra- and extracellular nutrient status, growth factor supply and cell stress-related changes to coordinate cellular metabolism and activation dictating effector and memory functions in mainly all hematopoietic immune cells. In addition, the mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) and mTORC2 are frequently deregulated and become activated in cancer cells to drive cell transformation, survival, neovascularization, and invasion. In this review we provide an overview of the influence of mTOR complexes on immune and cancer cell function and metabolism. We discuss how mTOR inhibitors aiming to target cancer cells will influence immunometabolic cell functions participating either in anti-tumor responses or favoring tumor cell progression in individual immune cells. We suggest immunometabolism as the weak spot of anticancer therapy and propose to evaluate patients according to their predominant immune cell subtype in the cancer tissue. Advances in metabolic drug development that hold promise for more effective treatments in different types of cancer will have to consider their effects on the immune system. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  Immunometabolism; cancer treatment; immunotherapy; mTORC1; tumor microenvironment
  9. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2021 Oct 11.
      PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The aim of this review is to evaluate the recent evidence of the role of metabolism in systemic sclerosis (SSc), highlighting specific aberrations and to appraise the feasibility of targeting these therapeutically.RECENT FINDINGS: SSc is an autoimmune disease that is characterised by three facets: vascular problems, inflammation, and fibrosis. The fibrosis primarily affects the skin and lungs and currently, no antifibrotic treatment has been found effective. In recent years a renaissance in metabolism research has begun with renewed vigour in the role of metabolism in disease, particularly in the immune system. Alterations in glycolysis and utilisation of specific metabolic pathways in specific cell types have been associated with specific diseases. Most recently alterations in glycolysis and glutaminolysis have been determined in SSc fibroblasts mediating fibrosis. Reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide levels have also been described in SSc.
    SUMMARY: Specific metabolic aberrations have been described in SSc and this may lead to novel therapeutic targets in this disease.
  10. Front Immunol. 2021 ;12 747387
      Mycobacterial diseases are a major public health challenge. Their causative agents include, in order of impact, members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (causing tuberculosis), Mycobacterium leprae (causing leprosy), and non-tuberculous mycobacterial pathogens including Mycobacterium ulcerans. Macrophages are mycobacterial targets and they play an essential role in the host immune response to mycobacteria. This review aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the immune-metabolic adaptations of the macrophage to mycobacterial infections. This metabolic rewiring involves changes in glycolysis and oxidative metabolism, as well as in the use of fatty acids and that of metals such as iron, zinc and copper. The macrophage metabolic adaptations result in changes in intracellular metabolites, which can post-translationally modify proteins including histones, with potential for shaping the epigenetic landscape. This review will also cover how critical tuberculosis co-morbidities such as smoking, diabetes and HIV infection shape host metabolic responses and impact disease outcome. Finally, we will explore how the immune-metabolic knowledge gained in the last decades can be harnessed towards the design of novel diagnostic and therapeutic tools, as well as vaccines.
    Keywords:  host-directed therapies; immunometabolism; macrophage; mycobacteria; tuberculosis
  11. Cell Rep. 2021 Oct 12. pii: S2211-1247(21)01264-X. [Epub ahead of print]37(2): 109804
      Patients with activated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase delta (PI3Kδ) syndrome (APDS) present with sinopulmonary infections, lymphadenopathy, and cytomegalvirus (CMV) and/or Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) viremia, yet why patients fail to clear certain chronic viral infections remains incompletely understood. Using patient samples and a mouse model (Pik3cdE1020K/+ mice), we demonstrate that, upon activation, Pik3cdE1020K/+ CD8+ T cells exhibit exaggerated features of effector populations both in vitro and after viral infection that are associated with increased Fas-mediated apoptosis due to sustained FoxO1 phosphorylation and Fasl derepression, enhanced mTORC1 and c-Myc signatures, metabolic perturbations, and an altered chromatin landscape. Conversely, Pik3cdE1020K/+ CD8+ cells fail to sustain expression of proteins critical for central memory, including TCF1. Strikingly, activated Pik3cdE1020K/+ CD8+ cells exhibit altered transcriptional and epigenetic circuits characterized by pronounced interleukin-2 (IL-2)/STAT5 signatures and heightened IL-2 responses that prevent differentiation to memory-like cells in IL-15. Our data position PI3Kδ as integrating multiple signaling nodes that promote CD8+ T cell effector differentiation, providing insight into phenotypes of patients with APDS.
    Keywords:  CD8 T cell memory; IL-2; Myc; Phosphatidylinositide 3 Kinase delta (PI3Kδ); TCF1; apoptosis; effector T cells; long-lived effector cells (LLEC); mTOR; metabolism
  12. J Hematol Oncol. 2021 Oct 15. 14(1): 169
      Altered metabolic patterns in tumor cells not only meet their own growth requirements but also shape an immunosuppressive microenvironment through multiple mechanisms. Noncoding RNAs constitute approximately 60% of the transcriptional output of human cells and have been shown to regulate numerous cellular processes under developmental and pathological conditions. Given their extensive action mechanisms based on motif recognition patterns, noncoding RNAs may serve as hinges bridging metabolic activity and immune responses. Indeed, recent studies have shown that microRNAs, long noncoding RNAs and circRNAs are widely involved in tumor metabolic rewiring, immune cell infiltration and function. Hence, we summarized existing knowledge of the role of noncoding RNAs in the remodeling of tumor metabolism and the immune microenvironment, and notably, we established the TIMELnc manual, which is a free and public manual for researchers to identify pivotal lncRNAs that are simultaneously correlated with tumor metabolism and immune cell infiltration based on a bioinformatic approach.
    Keywords:  Bioinformatic approach; Immune microenvironment; Noncoding RNAs; TIMELnc manual; Tumor metabolism
  13. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Sep 30. pii: 10336. [Epub ahead of print]18(19):
      Sensing microbial tryptophan catabolites by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) plays a pivotal role in host-microbiome homeostasis by modulating the host immune response. Nevertheless, the involved cellular processes triggered by the metabolites are mainly unknown. Here, we analyzed proteomic changes in macrophages after treatment with the tryptophan metabolites indole-3-acetic acid (I3AA) or indole-3-aldehyde (IAld), as well as the prototypic exogenous AhR-ligand benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) in the absence and presence of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to identify affected cellular processes and pathways. The AhR-ligands regulated metabolic and immunologic processes in dependency of LPS co-stimulation. All investigated ligands time-dependently enhanced fatty acid β-oxidation. Differences due to the combination with LPS were observed for all three ligands. Additionally, oxidative phosphorylation was significantly increased by IAld and I3AA in a time and LPS-dependent manner. Immunoregulatory processes were affected in distinct ways. While BaP and I3AA up-regulated IL-8 signaling, IL-6 signaling was decreased by IAld. BaP decreased the inflammasome pathway. Thus, AhR-ligand-dependent regulations were identified, which may modulate the response of macrophages to bacterial infections, but also the commensal microbiota through changes in immune cell signaling and metabolic pathways that may also alter functionality. These findings highlight the relevance of AhR for maintaining microbial homeostasis and, consequently, host health.
    Keywords:  AhR; BaP; LPS; indole-3-acetic acid; indole-3-aldehyde; indoles; macrophages; proteome
  14. Cell Death Dis. 2021 Oct 12. 12(10): 934
      Metformin, traditionally regarded as a hypoglycemic drug, has been studied in other various fields including inflammation. The specific mechanism of metformin's effect on immune cells remains unclear. Herein, it is verified that LPS-induced macrophages are characterized by enhanced endogenous fatty acid synthesis and the inhibition of fatty acid synthase (FASN) downregulates proinflammatory responses. We further show that metformin could suppress such elevation of FASN as well as proinflammatory activation in macrophages. In vivo, metformin treatment ameliorates dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis through impairing proinflammatory activation of colonic lamina propria mononuclear cells (LPMCs). The reduction of FASN by metformin hinders Akt palmitoylation, which further disturbs Akt membrane attachment and its phosphorylation. Metformin-mediated suppression of FASN/Akt pathway and its downstream MAPK signaling contributes to its anti-inflammatory role in macrophages. From the perspective of immunometabolism, our work points towards metformin utilization as an effective and potential intervention against macrophages-involved inflammatory diseases.
  15. Nat Metab. 2021 Oct 14.
      Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) is a classical, pleiotropic pro-inflammatory cytokine. It is also the first 'adipokine' described to be produced from adipose tissue, regulated in obesity and proposed to contribute to obesity-associated metabolic disease. In this review, we provide an overview of TNF in the context of metabolic inflammation or metaflammation, its discovery as a metabolic messenger, its sites and mechanisms of action and some critical considerations for future research. Although we focus on TNF and the studies that elucidated its immunometabolic actions, we highlight a conceptual framework, generated by these studies, that is equally applicable to the complex network of pro-inflammatory signals, their biological activity and their integration with metabolic regulation, and to the field of immunometabolism more broadly.
  16. Nat Metab. 2021 Oct 14.
      Macrophages rely on tightly integrated metabolic rewiring to clear dying neighboring cells by efferocytosis during homeostasis and disease. Here we reveal that glutaminase-1-mediated glutaminolysis is critical to promote apoptotic cell clearance by macrophages during homeostasis in mice. In addition, impaired macrophage glutaminolysis exacerbates atherosclerosis, a condition during which, efficient apoptotic cell debris clearance is critical to limit disease progression. Glutaminase-1 expression strongly correlates with atherosclerotic plaque necrosis in patients with cardiovascular diseases. High-throughput transcriptional and metabolic profiling reveals that macrophage efferocytic capacity relies on a non-canonical transaminase pathway, independent from the traditional requirement of glutamate dehydrogenase to fuel ɑ-ketoglutarate-dependent immunometabolism. This pathway is necessary to meet the unique requirements of efferocytosis for cellular detoxification and high-energy cytoskeletal rearrangements. Thus, we uncover a role for non-canonical glutamine metabolism for efficient clearance of dying cells and maintenance of tissue homeostasis during health and disease in mouse and humans.
  17. Commun Biol. 2021 Oct 14. 4(1): 1186
      The adoptive transfer of regulatory T-cells (Tregs) is a promising therapeutic approach in transplantation and autoimmunity. However, because large cell numbers are needed to achieve a therapeutic effect, in vitro expansion is required. By comparing their function, phenotype and transcriptomic profile against ex vivo Tregs, we demonstrate that expanded human Tregs switch their metabolism to aerobic glycolysis and show enhanced suppressive function through hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF1A) driven acquisition of CD73 expression. In conjunction with CD39, CD73 expression enables expanded Tregs to convert ATP to immunosuppressive adenosine. We conclude that for maximum therapeutic benefit, Treg expansion protocols should be optimised for CD39/CD73 co-expression.
  18. Trends Mol Med. 2021 Oct 08. pii: S1471-4914(21)00252-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      ATP-citrate lyase (Acly) is the target of the new class low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C)-lowering drug bempedoic acid (BA). Acly is a key metabolic enzyme synthesizing acetyl-CoA as the building block of cholesterol and fatty acids. Treatment with BA lowers circulating lipid levels and reduces systemic inflammation, suggesting a dual benefit of this drug for atherosclerosis therapy. Recent studies have shown that targeting Acly in macrophages can attenuate inflammatory responses and decrease atherosclerotic plaque vulnerability. Therefore, it could be beneficial to extend the application of Acly inhibition from solely lipid-lowering by liver-specific inhibition to also targeting macrophages in atherosclerosis. Here, we outline the possibilities of targeting Acly and describe the future needs to translate these findings to the clinic.
    Keywords:  ATP-citrate lyase; atherosclerosis; bempedoic acid; immunometabolism; macrophages
  19. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 703681
      Cancer immunotherapy has accomplished significant progresses on treatment of various cancers in the past decade; however, recent studies revealed more and more heterogeneity in tumor microenvironment which cause unneglectable therapy resistance. A central phenomenon in tumor malignancy is metabolic dysfunctionality; it reprograms metabolic homeostasis in tumor and stromal cells thus affecting metabolic modifications on specific proteins. These posttranslational modifications include glycosylation and palmitoylation, which usually alter the protein localization, stability, and function. Many of these proteins participate in acute or chronic inflammation and play critical roles in tumorigenesis and progression. Therefore, targeting these metabolic modifications in immune checkpoints and inflammation provides an attractive therapeutic strategy for certain cancers. In this review, we summarize the recent progresses on metabolic modifications in this field, focus on the mechanisms on how glycosylation and palmitoylation regulate innate immune and inflammation, and we further discuss designing new immunotherapy targeting metabolic modifications. We aim to improve immunotherapy or targeted-therapy response and achieve more accurate individual therapy.
    Keywords:  PD-1/PD-L1; cancer immunotherapy; glycosylation; inflammation; metabolic modifications; palmitoylation
  20. Immunity. 2021 Oct 05. pii: S1074-7613(21)00395-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Alternatively activated macrophages (AAMs) contribute to the resolution of inflammation and tissue repair. However, molecular pathways that govern their differentiation have remained incompletely understood. Here, we show that uncoupling protein-2-mediated mitochondrial reprogramming and the transcription factor GATA3 specifically controlled the differentiation of pro-resolving AAMs in response to the alarmin IL-33. In macrophages, IL-33 sequentially triggered early expression of pro-inflammatory genes and subsequent differentiation into AAMs. Global analysis of underlying signaling events revealed that IL-33 induced a rapid metabolic rewiring of macrophages that involved uncoupling of the respiratory chain and increased production of the metabolite itaconate, which subsequently triggered a GATA3-mediated AAM polarization. Conditional deletion of GATA3 in mononuclear phagocytes accordingly abrogated IL-33-induced differentiation of AAMs and tissue repair upon muscle injury. Our data thus identify an IL-4-independent and GATA3-dependent pathway in mononuclear phagocytes that results from mitochondrial rewiring and controls macrophage plasticity and the resolution of inflammation.
    Keywords:  GATA3; UCP2; alternatively activated macrophage; interleukin-33; itaconate; mitochondrial rewiring; resolution of inlammation; uncoupling
  21. Cell. 2021 Oct 07. pii: S0092-8674(21)01114-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      The cyclic pyrimidines 3',5'-cyclic cytidine monophosphate (cCMP) and 3',5'-cyclic uridine monophosphate (cUMP) have been reported in multiple organisms and cell types. As opposed to the cyclic nucleotides 3',5'-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and 3',5'-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), which are second messenger molecules with well-established regulatory roles across all domains of life, the biological role of cyclic pyrimidines has remained unclear. Here we report that cCMP and cUMP are second messengers functioning in bacterial immunity against viruses. We discovered a family of bacterial pyrimidine cyclase enzymes that specifically synthesize cCMP and cUMP following phage infection and demonstrate that these molecules activate immune effectors that execute an antiviral response. A crystal structure of a uridylate cyclase enzyme from this family explains the molecular mechanism of selectivity for pyrimidines as cyclization substrates. Defense systems encoding pyrimidine cyclases, denoted here Pycsar (pyrimidine cyclase system for antiphage resistance), are widespread in prokaryotes. Our results assign clear biological function to cCMP and cUMP as immunity signaling molecules in bacteria.
    Keywords:  Pycsar; anti-phage; bacteria; cCMP; cUMP; cyclase; defense; pb8; phage; pyrimidine
  22. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Oct 19. pii: e2106556118. [Epub ahead of print]118(42):
      The tRNA pool determines the efficiency, throughput, and accuracy of translation. Previous studies have identified dynamic changes in the tRNA (transfer RNA) supply and mRNA (messenger RNA) demand during cancerous proliferation. Yet dynamic changes may also occur during physiologically normal proliferation, and these are less well characterized. We examined the tRNA and mRNA pools of T cells during their vigorous proliferation and differentiation upon triggering their antigen receptor. We observed a global signature of switch in demand for codons at the early proliferation phase of the response, accompanied by corresponding changes in tRNA expression levels. In the later phase, upon differentiation, the response of the tRNA pool relaxed back to the basal level, potentially restraining excessive proliferation. Sequencing of tRNAs allowed us to evaluate their diverse base-modifications. We found that two types of tRNA modifications, wybutosine and ms2t6A, are reduced dramatically during T cell activation. These modifications occur in the anticodon loops of two tRNAs that decode "slippery codons," which are prone to ribosomal frameshifting. Attenuation of these frameshift-protective modifications is expected to increase the potential for proteome-wide frameshifting during T cell proliferation. Indeed, human cell lines deleted of a wybutosine writer showed increased ribosomal frameshifting, as detected with an HIV gag-pol frameshifting site reporter. These results may explain HIV's specific tropism toward proliferating T cells since it requires ribosomal frameshift exactly on the corresponding codon for infection. The changes in tRNA expression and modifications uncover a layer of translation regulation during T cell proliferation and expose a potential tradeoff between cellular growth and translation fidelity.
    Keywords:  HIV; T cell activation; tRNA-modifications; transfer RNA
  23. Autophagy. 2021 Oct 10. 1-16
      Macrophages rapidly undergo glycolytic reprogramming in response to macroautophagy/autophagy, inflammasome activation and pyroptosis for the clearance of bacteria. Identification the key molecules involved in these three events will provide critical potential therapeutic applications. Upon S. typhimurium infection, FLT4/VEGFR3 and its ligand VEGFC were inducibly expressed in macrophages, and FLT4 signaling inhibited CASP1 (caspase 1)-dependent inflammasome activation and pyroptosis but enhanced MAP1LC3/LC3 activation for elimination of the bacteria. Consistently, FLT4 mutants lacking the extracellular ligand-binding domain increased production of the proinflammatory metabolites such as succinate and lactate, and reduced antimicrobial metabolites including citrate and NAD(P)H in macrophages and liver upon infection. Mechanistically, FLT4 recruited AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and phosphorylated Y247 and Y441/442 in the PRKAA/alpha subunit for AMPK activation. The AMPK agonist AICAR could rescue glycolytic reprogramming and inflammasome activation in macrophages expressing the mutant FLT4, which has potential translational application in patients carrying Flt4 mutations to prevent recurrent infections. Collectively, we have elucidated that the FLT4-AMPK module in macrophages coordinates glycolytic reprogramming, autophagy, inflammasome activation and pyroptosis to eliminate invading bacteria.
    Keywords:  AMPK; FLT4/VEGFR3; glycolytic reprogramming; inflammasome; pyroptosis
  24. ACS Chem Biol. 2021 Oct 14.
      Phagocytosis is an important physiological process, which, in higher organisms, is a means of fighting infections and clearing cellular debris. During phagocytosis, detrimental foreign particles (e.g. pathogens and apoptotic cells) are engulfed by phagocytes (e.g. macrophages), enclosed in membrane-bound vesicles called phagosomes, and transported to the lysosome for eventual detoxification. During this well-choreographed process, the nascent phagosome (also called early phagosome, EP) undergoes a series of spatiotemporally regulated changes in its protein and lipid composition and matures into a late phagosome (LP), which subsequently fuses with the lysosomal membrane to form the phagolysosome. While several elegant proteomic studies have identified the role of unique proteins during phagosomal maturation, the corresponding lipidomic studies are sparse. Recently, we reported a comparative lipidomic analysis between EPs and LPs and showed that ceramides are enriched on the LPs. Further, we found that this ceramide accumulation on LPs was orchestrated by ceramide synthase 2, inhibition of which hampers phagosomal maturation. Following up on this study, here, using biochemical assays, we first show that the increased ceramidase activity on EPs also significantly contributes to the accumulation of ceramides on LPs. Next, leveraging lipidomics, we show that de novo ceramide synthesis does not significantly contribute to the ceramide accumulation on LPs, while concomitant to increased ceramides, glucosylceramides are substantially elevated on LPs. We validate this interesting finding using biochemical assays and show that LPs indeed have heightened glucosylceramide synthase activity. Taken together, our studies provide interesting insights and possible new roles of sphingolipid metabolism during phagosomal maturation.