bims-imseme Biomed News
on Immunosenescence and T cell metabolism
Issue of 2021‒07‒18
twenty papers selected by
Pierpaolo Ginefra
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

  1. Nat Rev Immunol. 2021 Jul 12.
      CD8+ T cells specific for cancer cells are detected within tumours. However, despite their presence, tumours progress. The clinical success of immune checkpoint blockade and adoptive T cell therapy demonstrates the potential of CD8+ T cells to mediate antitumour responses; however, most patients with cancer fail to achieve long-term responses to immunotherapy. Here we review CD8+ T cell differentiation to dysfunctional states during tumorigenesis. We highlight similarities and differences between T cell dysfunction and other hyporesponsive T cell states and discuss the spatio-temporal factors contributing to T cell state heterogeneity in tumours. An important challenge is predicting which patients will respond to immunotherapeutic interventions and understanding which T cell subsets mediate the clinical response. We explore our current understanding of what determines T cell responsiveness and resistance to immunotherapy and point out the outstanding research questions.
  2. Nat Commun. 2021 Jul 16. 12(1): 4371
      Metabolic programming and mitochondrial dynamics along with T cell differentiation affect T cell fate and memory development; however, how to control metabolic reprogramming and mitochondrial dynamics in T cell memory development is unclear. Here, we provide evidence that the SUMO protease SENP1 promotes T cell memory development via Sirt3 deSUMOylation. SENP1-Sirt3 signalling augments the deacetylase activity of Sirt3, promoting both OXPHOS and mitochondrial fusion. Mechanistically, SENP1 activates Sirt3 deacetylase activity in T cell mitochondria, leading to reduction of the acetylation of mitochondrial metalloprotease YME1L1. Consequently, deacetylation of YME1L1 suppresses its activity on OPA1 cleavage to facilitate mitochondrial fusion, which results in T cell survival and promotes T cell memory development. We also show that the glycolytic intermediate fructose-1,6-bisphosphate (FBP) as a negative regulator suppresses AMPK-mediated activation of the SENP1-Sirt3 axis and reduces memory development. Moreover, glucose limitation reduces FBP production and activates AMPK during T cell memory development. These data show that glucose limitation activates AMPK and the subsequent SENP1-Sirt3 signalling for T cell memory development.
  3. Front Immunol. 2021 ;12 686333
      Ataxia Telangiectasia (AT) is a rare inherited disorder characterized by progressive cerebellar ataxia, chromosomal instability, cancer susceptibility and immunodeficiency. AT is caused by mutations in the ATM gene, which is involved in multiple processes linked to DNA double strand break repair. Immunologically, ATM mutations lead to hampered V(D)J recombination and consequently reduced numbers of naive B and T cells. In addition, class switch recombination is disturbed resulting in antibody deficiency causing common, mostly sinopulmonary, bacterial infections. Yet, AT patients in general have no clinical T cell associated infections and numbers of memory T cells are usually normal. In this study we investigated the naive and memory T cell compartment in five patients with classical AT and compared them with five healthy controls using a 24-color antibody panel and spectral flow cytometry. Multidimensional analysis of CD4 and CD8 TCRαβ+ cells revealed that early naive T cell populations, i.e. CD4+CD31+ recent thymic emigrants and CD8+CCR7++CD45RA++ T cells, were strongly reduced in AT patients. However, we identified normal numbers of stem cell memory T cells expressing CD95, which are antigen-experienced T cells that can persist for decades because of their self-renewal capacity. We hypothesize that the presence of stem cell memory T cells explains why AT patients have an intact memory T cell compartment. In line with this novel finding, memory T cells of AT patients were normal in number and expressed chemokine receptors, activating and inhibitory receptors in comparable percentages as controls. Comparing memory T cell phenotypes by Boolean gating revealed similar diversity indices in AT compared to controls. We conclude that AT patients have a fully developed memory T cell compartment despite strongly reduced naive T cells. This could be explained by the presence of normal numbers of stem cell memory T cells in the naive T cell compartment, which support the maintenance of the memory T cells. The identification of stem cell memory T cells via our spectral flow cytometric approach is highly relevant for better understanding of T cell immunity in AT. Moreover, it provides possibilities for further research on this recently identified T cell population in other inborn errors of immunity.
    Keywords:  Ataxia Telangiectasia; cellular immunity; recent thymic emigrants; spectral flow cytometry; stem cell memory T cells
  4. Nat Rev Cardiol. 2021 Jul 12.
      T cells are among the most common cell types present in atherosclerotic plaques and are increasingly being recognized as a central mediator in atherosclerosis development and progression. At the same time, triglycerides and fatty acids have re-emerged as crucial risk factors for atherosclerosis. Triglycerides and fatty acids are important components of the milieu to which the T cell is exposed from the circulation to the plaque, and increasing evidence shows that fatty acids influence T cell function. In this Review, we discuss the effects of fatty acids on four components of the T cell response - metabolism, activation, proliferation and polarization - and the influence of these changes on the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. We also discuss how quiescent T cells can undergo a type of metabolic reprogramming induced by exposure to fatty acids in the circulation that influences the subsequent functions of T cells after activation, such as in atherosclerotic plaques.
  5. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jul 20. pii: e2019639118. [Epub ahead of print]118(29):
      CD8+ T cells are inherently cross-reactive and recognize numerous peptide antigens in the context of a given major histocompatibility complex class I (MHCI) molecule via the clonotypically expressed T cell receptor (TCR). The lineally expressed coreceptor CD8 interacts coordinately with MHCI at a distinct and largely invariant site to slow the TCR/peptide-MHCI (pMHCI) dissociation rate and enhance antigen sensitivity. However, this biological effect is not necessarily uniform, and theoretical models suggest that antigen sensitivity can be modulated in a differential manner by CD8. We used two intrinsically controlled systems to determine how the relationship between the TCR/pMHCI interaction and the pMHCI/CD8 interaction affects the functional sensitivity of antigen recognition. Our data show that modulation of the pMHCI/CD8 interaction can reorder the agonist hierarchy of peptide ligands across a spectrum of affinities for the TCR.
    Keywords:  CD8 coreceptor; T cell activation; pMHCI
  6. Cancer Res. 2021 Jul 08. pii: canres.0052.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Reducing metabolic stress within the tumor microenvironment (TME) could be essential for improving the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy. Using a mouse model of melanoma, we show here that appropriately timed treatment with the PPARa agonist fenofibrate improves the ability of a T cell-inducing cancer vaccine to delay tumor progression. Fenofibrate reduced the use of glucose by tumor and stromal cells in the TME and promoted the use of fatty acids for their metabolic needs. The glucose within the TME was in turn available for use by vaccine-induced tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells, which improved their ability to slow tumor progression. Early fenofibrate treatment 3 days after vaccination improved functions of circulating CD8+ T cells but failed to significantly affect tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) metabolism or decrease tumor progression. In contrast, delaying treatment until day 5 after vaccination modified TIL metabolism and augmented the vaccine's ability to slow tumor progression. In summary, our findings reveal that a PPARa agonist can increase the efficacy of a cancer vaccine by reprogramming cells within tumors to increase fatty acid metabolism, providing T cells access to glucose in the TME.
  7. J Immunother Cancer. 2021 Jul;pii: e002503. [Epub ahead of print]9(7):
      BACKGROUND: Although cancer immunotherapy is one of the most effective advanced-stage cancer therapies, no clinically approved cancer immunotherapies currently exist for colorectal cancer (CRC). Recently, programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) blockade has exhibited clinical benefits according to ongoing clinical trials. However, ongoing clinical trials for cancer immunotherapies are focused on PD-1 signaling inhibitors such as pembrolizumab, nivolumab, and atezolizumab. In this study, we focused on revealing the distinct response mechanism for the potent CD73 ectoenzyme selective inhibitor AB680 as a promising drug candidate that functions by blocking tumorigenic ATP/adenosine signaling in comparison to current therapeutics that block PD-1 to assess the value of this drug as a novel immunotherapy for CRC.METHODS: To understand the distinct mechanism of AB680 in comparison to that of a neutralizing antibody against murine PD-1 used as a PD-1 blocker, we performed single-cell RNA sequencing of CD45+ tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes from untreated controls (n=3) and from AB680-treated (n=3) and PD-1-blockade-treated murine CRC in vivo models. We also used flow cytometry, Azoxymethane (AOM)/Dextran Sulfate Sodium (DSS) models, and in vitro functional assays to validate our new findings.
    RESULTS: We initially observed that the expressions of Nt5e (a gene for CD73) and Entpd1 (a gene for CD39) affect T cell receptor (TCR) diversity and transcriptional profiles of T cells, thus suggesting their critical roles in T cell exhaustion within tumor. Importantly, PD-1 blockade significantly increased the TCR diversity of Entpd1-negative T cells and Pdcd1-positive T cells. Additionally, we determined that AB680 improved the anticancer functions of immunosuppressed cells such as Treg and exhausted T cells, while the PD-1 blocker quantitatively reduced Malat1high Treg and M2 macrophages. We also verified that PD-1 blockade induced Treg depletion in AOM/DSS CRC in vivo models, and we confirmed that AB680 treatment caused increased activation of CD8+ T cells using an in vitro T cell assay.
    CONCLUSIONS: The intratumoral immunomodulation of CD73 inhibition is distinct from PD-1 inhibition and exhibits potential as a novel anticancer immunotherapy for CRC, possibly through a synergistic effect when combined with PD-1 blocker treatments. This study may contribute to the ongoing development of anticancer immunotherapies targeting refractory CRC.
    Keywords:  combination; drug therapy; immunotherapy; tumor biomarkers; tumor microenvironment
  8. Int Rev Cell Mol Biol. 2021 ;pii: S1937-6448(21)00062-9. [Epub ahead of print]362 111-140
      Hematopoiesis is based on the existence of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) with the capacity to self-proliferate and self-renew or to differentiate into specialized cells. The hematopoietic niche is the essential microenvironment where stem cells reside and integrate various stimuli to determine their fate. Recent studies have identified niche containing high level of calcium (Ca2+) suggesting that HSCs are sensitive to Ca2+. This is a highly versatile and ubiquitous second messenger that regulates a wide variety of cellular functions. Advanced methods for measuring its concentrations, genetic experiments, cell fate tracing data, single-cell imaging, and transcriptomics studies provide information into its specific roles to integrate signaling into an array of mechanisms that determine HSC identity, lineage potential, maintenance, and self-renewal. Accumulating and contrasting evidence, are revealing Ca2+ as a previously unacknowledged feature of HSC, involved in functional maintenance, by regulating multiple actors including transcription and epigenetic factors, Ca2+-dependent kinases and mitochondrial physiology. Mitochondria are significant participants in HSC functions and their responsiveness to cellular demands is controlled to a significant extent via Ca2+ signals. Recent reports indicate that mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake also controls HSC fate. These observations reveal a physiological feature of hematopoietic stem cells that can be harnessed to improve HSC-related disease. In this review, we discuss the current knowledge Ca2+ in hematopoietic stem cell focusing on its potential involvement in proliferation, self-renewal and maintenance of HSC and discuss future research directions.
    Keywords:  AML; Ca(2+); Hematopoietic stem cell; MDS; Mitochondria; Preleukemia; Self-renewal
  9. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 698076
      Objective: The objective of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to determine the prognostic value of memory CD8(+) T cells in cancer patients with immunotherapy.Methods: EMBASE, MEDLINE (PubMed), and Web of Science databases were searched to identify suitabile articles published before March 2021. Risk of bias on the study level was assessed using the Cochrane Bias Risk Assessment Tool. The hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of pooled progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were calculated using RevMan 5.4 to evaluate the prognostic impact of memory CD8(+) T cells.
    Results: In total, nine studies were included in the final analysis. High levels of memory CD8(+) T cells were significantly closely correlated with better progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) of cancer patients with immunotherapy (PFS, HR 0.64, 95% CI 0.53-0.78; OS, HR 0.37, 95% CI 0.21-0.65). Memory CD8(+) T cells still have significant prognostic value in cancer patients given immunotherapy alone after excluding of other interfering factors such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and targeted therapy (PFS, HR 0.65, 95% CI 0.48-0.89; OS, HR 0.23, 95% CI 0.13-0.42). However, high memory CD8(+) T cells levels did not correspond to a longer PFS or OS in cancer patients with non-immunotherapy (PFS, HR 1.05, 95% CI 0.63-1.73; OS, HR 1.29, 95% CI 0.48-3.48). Thus, memory CD8(+) T cells might be a promising predictor in cancer patients with immunotherapy.
    Conclusions: The host's overall immune status, and not only the tumor itself, should be considered to predict the efficacy of immunotherapy in cancer patients. This study is the first to show the significant prognostic value of memory CD8(+) T cells in immunotherapy of cancer patients through systematic review and meta-analysis. Thus, the detection of memory CD8(+) T cells has a considerable value in clinical practice in cancer patients with immunotherapy. Memory CD8(+) T cells may be promising immunotherapy targets.
    Keywords:  human cancers; immune checkpoint; immunotherapy; memory CD8(+) T cell; meta-analysis; prognosis
  10. Nat Immunol. 2021 Jul 15.
      Pathogens and vaccines that produce persisting antigens can generate expanded pools of effector memory CD8+ T cells, described as memory inflation. While properties of inflating memory CD8+ T cells have been characterized, the specific cell types and tissue factors responsible for their maintenance remain elusive. Here, we show that clinically applied adenovirus vectors preferentially target fibroblastic stromal cells in cultured human tissues. Moreover, we used cell-type-specific antigen targeting to define critical cells and molecules that sustain long-term antigen presentation and T cell activity after adenovirus vector immunization in mice. While antigen targeting to myeloid cells was insufficient to activate antigen-specific CD8+ T cells, genetic activation of antigen expression in Ccl19-cre-expressing fibroblastic stromal cells induced inflating CD8+ T cells. Local ablation of vector-targeted cells revealed that lung fibroblasts support the protective function and metabolic fitness of inflating memory CD8+ T cells in an interleukin (IL)-33-dependent manner. Collectively, these data define a critical fibroblastic niche that underpins robust protective immunity operating in a clinically important vaccine platform.
  11. Cell Metab. 2021 Jul 08. pii: S1550-4131(21)00277-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      The visceral adipose tissue (VAT) of lean mice hosts a unique population of regulatory T cells (Tregs) that have a distinct transcriptome and T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire and regulate local and systemic inflammation and metabolism. Perplexingly, this population disappears in obese mice, limiting the promise of Treg-based therapies for metabolic disorders. We exploited the power of a VAT-Treg TCR-transgenic mouse model to follow the dynamics of, and phenotypic changes in, the VAT-Treg population throughout the development of diet-induced obesity. Our results show that VAT-Tregs are lost under obesogenic conditions due to downregulation of their defining transcription factor, PPARγ, coupled with their strikingly enhanced responses to pro-inflammatory cytokines. In particular, the VAT from obese mice (and reportedly humans) was strongly enriched in plasmacytoid dendritic cells that actively express interferon-alpha. These cells were directly toxic to PPARγ+ VAT-Tregs. Blocking this pathway in obese mice by multiple approaches substantially restored the VAT-Treg population and enhanced insulin sensitivity.
    Keywords:  CRISPR-Cas9; Tregs; adipose tissue; immunometabolism; inflammatory cytokine; interferon; obesity; pDC
  12. Immunity. 2021 Jul 10. pii: S1074-7613(21)00257-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) often develops following chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and responds poorly to immune checkpoint blockade. Here, we examined the antigen specificities of HCC-infiltrating T cells and their relevance to tumor control. Using highly multiplexed peptide-MHC tetramer staining of unexpanded cells from blood, liver, and tumor tissues from 46 HCC patients, we detected 91 different antigen-specific CD8+ T cell populations targeting HBV, neoantigen, tumor-associated, and disease-unrelated antigens. Parallel high-dimensional analysis delineated five distinct antigen-specific tissue-resident memory T (Trm) cell populations. Intratumoral and intrahepatic HBV-specific T cells were enriched for two Trm cell subsets that were PD-1loTOXlo, despite being clonally expanded. High frequencies of intratumoral terminally exhausted T cells were uncommon. Patients with tumor-infiltrating HBV-specific CD8+ Trm cells exhibited longer-term relapse-free survival. Thus, non-terminally exhausted HBV-specific CD8+ Trm cells show hallmarks of active involvement and effective antitumor response, implying that these cells could be harnessed for therapeutic purposes.
    Keywords:  CD8; HBV; HCC; T cell exhaustion; TCR; Tex; Trm; highly multiplexed pMHC tetramer; mass cytometry; virus-specific T cell
  13. Nat Metab. 2021 Jul 12.
      Cell competition is emerging as a quality-control mechanism that eliminates unfit cells in a wide range of settings from development to the adult. However, the nature of the cells normally eliminated by cell competition and what triggers their elimination remains poorly understood. In mice, 35% of epiblast cells are eliminated before gastrulation. Here we show that cells with mitochondrial defects are eliminated by cell competition during early mouse development. Using single-cell transcriptional profiling of eliminated mouse epiblast cells, we identify hallmarks of cell competition and mitochondrial defects. We demonstrate that mitochondrial defects are common to a range of different loser cell types and that manipulating mitochondrial function triggers cell competition. Moreover, we show that in the mouse embryo, cell competition eliminates cells with sequence changes in mt-Rnr1 and mt-Rnr2, and that even non-pathological changes in mitochondrial DNA sequences can induce cell competition. Our results suggest that cell competition is a purifying selection that optimizes mitochondrial performance before gastrulation.
  14. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 Jul 11. undefined(undefined):
    Keywords:  DNA methylation; cytochrome P450; histones; liver; xenobiotic metabolism
  15. Nat Rev Cancer. 2021 Jul 16.
      Tumour initiation and progression requires the metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells. Cancer cells autonomously alter their flux through various metabolic pathways in order to meet the increased bioenergetic and biosynthetic demand as well as mitigate oxidative stress required for cancer cell proliferation and survival. Cancer driver mutations coupled with environmental nutrient availability control flux through these metabolic pathways. Metabolites, when aberrantly accumulated, can also promote tumorigenesis. The development and application of new technologies over the last few decades has not only revealed the heterogeneity and plasticity of tumours but also allowed us to uncover new metabolic pathways involved in supporting tumour growth. The tumour microenvironment (TME), which can be depleted of certain nutrients, forces cancer cells to adapt by inducing nutrient scavenging mechanisms to sustain cancer cell proliferation. There is growing appreciation that the metabolism of cell types other than cancer cells within the TME, including endothelial cells, fibroblasts and immune cells, can modulate tumour progression. Because metastases are a major cause of death of patients with cancer, efforts are underway to understand how metabolism is harnessed by metastatic cells. Additionally, there is a new interest in exploiting cancer genetic analysis for patient stratification and/or dietary interventions in combination with therapies that target metabolism. In this Perspective, we highlight these main themes that are currently under investigation in the context of in vivo tumour metabolism, specifically emphasizing questions that remain unanswered.
  16. Cell Metab. 2021 Jul 08. pii: S1550-4131(21)00283-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Electron transport chain (ETC) dysfunction or hypoxia causes toxic NADH accumulation. How cells regenerate NAD+ under such conditions remains elusive. Here, integrating bioinformatic analysis and experimental validation, we identify glycerol-3-phosphate (Gro3P) biosynthesis as an endogenous NAD+-regeneration pathway. Under genetic or pharmacological ETC inhibition, disrupting Gro3P synthesis inhibits yeast proliferation, shortens lifespan of C. elegans, impairs growth of cancer cells in culture and in xenografts, and causes metabolic derangements in mouse liver. Moreover, the Gro3P shuttle selectively regenerates cytosolic NAD+ under mitochondrial complex I inhibition; enhancing Gro3P synthesis promotes shuttle activity to restore proliferation of complex I-impaired cells. Mouse brain has much lower levels of Gro3P synthesis enzymes as compared with other organs. Strikingly, enhancing Gro3P synthesis suppresses neuroinflammation and extends lifespan in the Ndufs4-/- mice. Collectively, our results reveal Gro3P biosynthesis as an evolutionarily conserved coordinator of NADH/NAD+ redox homeostasis and present a therapeutic target for mitochondrial complex I diseases.
    Keywords:  ETC dysfunction and hypoxia; NAD(+) regeneration; glycerol-3-phosphate biosynthesis; mitochondrial complex I disease
  17. Nat Cell Biol. 2021 Jul;23(7): 684-691
      Members of the mammalian AlkB family are known to mediate nucleic acid demethylation1,2. ALKBH7, a mammalian AlkB homologue, localizes in mitochondria and affects metabolism3, but its function and mechanism of action are unknown. Here we report an approach to site-specifically detect N1-methyladenosine (m1A), N3-methylcytidine (m3C), N1-methylguanosine (m1G) and N2,N2-dimethylguanosine (m22G) modifications simultaneously within all cellular RNAs, and discovered that human ALKBH7 demethylates m22G and m1A within mitochondrial Ile and Leu1 pre-tRNA regions, respectively, in nascent polycistronic mitochondrial RNA4-6. We further show that ALKBH7 regulates the processing and structural dynamics of polycistronic mitochondrial RNAs. Depletion of ALKBH7 leads to increased polycistronic mitochondrial RNA processing, reduced steady-state mitochondria-encoded tRNA levels and protein translation, and notably decreased mitochondrial activity. Thus, we identify ALKBH7 as an RNA demethylase that controls nascent mitochondrial RNA processing and mitochondrial activity.
  18. Nat Aging. 2021 May;1(5): 454-472
      Cellular senescence restrains the expansion of neoplastic cells through several layers of regulation. We report that the histone H3-specific demethylase KDM4 is expressed as human stromal cells undergo senescence. In clinical oncology, upregulated KDM4 and diminished H3K9/H3K36 methylation correlate with poorer survival of prostate cancer patients post-chemotherapy. Global chromatin accessibility mapping via ATAC-seq, and expression profiling through RNA-seq, reveal global changes of chromatin openness and spatiotemporal reprogramming of the transcriptomic landscape, which underlie the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Selective targeting of KDM4 dampens the SASP of senescent stromal cells, promotes cancer cell apoptosis in the treatment-damaged tumor microenvironment (TME), and prolongs survival of experimental animals. Our study supports dynamic changes of H3K9/H3K36 methylation during senescence, identifies an unusually permissive chromatin state, and unmasks KDM4 as a key SASP modulator. KDM4 targeting presents a novel therapeutic avenue to manipulate cellular senescence and limit its contribution to age-related pathologies including cancer.