bims-imseme Biomed News
on Immunosenescence and T cell metabolism
Issue of 2022‒07‒31
eleven papers selected by
Pierpaolo Ginefra
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

  1. Front Immunol. 2022 ;13 926714
      Exhausted CD8+ T (Tex) cells are a distinct cell population that arise during persistent antigen exposure in the context of chronic infections and cancers. Although characterized by progressive loss of effector functions, high and sustained inhibitory receptor expression and distinct transcriptional and epigenetic programs, Tex cells are heterogeneous. Among these, a self-renewing TCF-1+ Tex population, having unique characteristics and the ability to respond to immune-checkpoint blockade, gives rise to TCF-1- terminally Tex cells. These TCF-1+ cells have stem cell-like properties similar to memory T cell populations, but the signals that regulate the developmental pathways and relationships among exhausted cell populations are still unclear. Here, we review our current understanding of Tex cell biology, and discuss some less appreciated molecules and pathways affecting T cell exhaustion. We highlight two co-stimulatory receptors, CD226 and CD137, and their role in inducing or restraining T cell exhaustion, as well as signaling pathways that may be amenable to pharmacological inhibition with a focus on Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase and IL-2 partial agonists. Finally, we discuss novel methods that may increase TCF-1+ populations and therefore improve immunotherapy responsiveness. Understanding features of and pathways to exhaustion has important implications for the success of immunotherapy, including checkpoint blockade and adoptive T-cell transfer therapies.
    Keywords:  CD137; CD226; CD8+ T cell exhaustion; IL-2; PI3 Kinase delta; TCF-1; metabolism
  2. Nat Immunol. 2022 Jul 26.
      CD8+ T cell homeostasis is maintained by the cytokines IL-7 and IL-15. Here we show that transcription factors Tcf1 and Lef1 were intrinsically required for homeostatic proliferation of CD8+ T cells. Multiomics analyses showed that Tcf1 recruited the genome organizer CTCF and that homeostatic cytokines induced Tcf1-dependent CTCF redistribution in the CD8+ T cell genome. Hi-C coupled with network analyses indicated that Tcf1 and CTCF acted cooperatively to promote chromatin interactions and form highly connected, dynamic interaction hubs in CD8+ T cells before and after cytokine stimulation. Ablating CTCF phenocopied the proliferative defects caused by Tcf1 and Lef1 deficiency. Tcf1 and CTCF controlled a similar set of genes that regulated cell cycle progression and promoted CD8+ T cell homeostatic proliferation in vivo. These findings identified CTCF as a Tcf1 cofactor and uncovered an intricate interplay between Tcf1 and CTCF that modulates the genomic architecture of CD8+ T cells to preserve homeostasis.
  3. Clin Transl Med. 2022 Jul;12(7): e898
      Increasing efforts points to the understanding of how to maximize the capabilities of the adaptive immune system to fight against the development of immune and inflammatory disorders. Here we focus on the role of T cells as immune cells which subtype imbalance may lead to disease onset. Specifically, we propose that autoimmune disorders may develop as a consequence of a metabolic imbalance that modulates switching between T cell phenotypes. We highlight a Systems Biology strategy that integrates computational metabolic modelling with experimental data to investigate the metabolic requirements of T cell phenotypes, and to predict metabolic genes that may be targeted in autoimmune inflammatory diseases. Thus, we propose a new perspective of targeting T cell metabolism to modulate the immune response and prevent T cell phenotype imbalance, which may help to repurpose already existing drugs targeting metabolism for therapeutic treatment.
    Keywords:  Systems Biology; T cell phenotypes; autoimmune disorders; computational modelling; metabolism; multi-scale modelling; phenotype switching
  4. Cell Biol Int. 2022 Jul 28.
      Metabolism is a dynamic process and keeps changing from time to time according to the demand of a particular cell to meet its bio-energetic requirement. Different immune cells rely on distinct metabolic programs which allow the cell to balance its requirements for energy, molecular biosynthesis, and effector activity. In the aspect of infection and cancer immunology, effector T and B cells get exhausted and help tumor cells to evade immunosurveillance. On the other hand, T cells become hyperresponsive in the scenario of autoimmune diseases. In this article, we have explored the uniqueness and distinct metabolic features of key CD4+ T and B helper cell subsets, CD4+ T, B regulatory cell subsets and CD8+ T cells regarding health and disease. Th1 cells rely on glycolysis and glutaminolysis; inhibition of these metabolic pathways promotes Th1 cells in Treg population. However, Th2 cells are also dependent on glycolysis but an abundance of lactate within TME shifts their metabolic dependency to fatty acid metabolism. Th17 cells depend on HIF-1α mediated glycolysis, ablation of HIF-1α reduces Th17 cells but enhance Treg population. In contrast to effector T cells which are largely dependent on glycolysis for their differentiation and function, Treg cells mainly rely on FAO for their function. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to understand the metabolic fates of immune cells and how it facilitates their differentiation and function for different disease models. Targeting metabolic pathways to restore the functionality of immune cells in diseased conditions can lead to potent therapeutic measures.
    Keywords:  autoimmune disorders; cancer; germinal center; immune cell regulation; infectious diseases; metabolic reprogramming
  5. Nat Immunol. 2022 Jul 25.
      T cell antigen-receptor (TCR) signaling controls the development, activation and survival of T cells by involving several layers and numerous mechanisms of gene regulation. N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is the most prevalent messenger RNA modification affecting splicing, translation and stability of transcripts. In the present study, we describe the Wtap protein as essential for m6A methyltransferase complex function and reveal its crucial role in TCR signaling in mouse T cells. Wtap and m6A methyltransferase functions were required for the differentiation of thymocytes, control of activation-induced death of peripheral T cells and prevention of colitis by enabling gut RORγt+ regulatory T cell function. Transcriptome and epitranscriptomic analyses reveal that m6A modification destabilizes Orai1 and Ripk1 mRNAs. Lack of post-transcriptional repression of the encoded proteins correlated with increased store-operated calcium entry activity and diminished survival of T cells with conditional genetic inactivation of Wtap. These findings uncover how m6A modification impacts on TCR signal transduction and determines activation and survival of T cells.
  6. Cells. 2022 Jul 16. pii: 2213. [Epub ahead of print]11(14):
      Vascular aging is based on the development of endothelial dysfunction, which is thought to be promoted by senescent cells accumulating in aged tissues and is possibly affected by their environment via inflammatory mediators and oxidative stress. Senescence appears to be closely interlinked with changes in cell metabolism. Here, we describe an upregulation of both glycolytic and oxidative glucose metabolism in replicative senescent endothelial cells compared to young endothelial cells by employing metabolic profiling and glucose flux measurements and by analyzing the expression of key metabolic enzymes. Senescent cells exhibit higher glycolytic activity and lactate production together with an enhanced expression of lactate dehydrogenase A as well as increases in tricarboxylic acid cycle activity and mitochondrial respiration. The latter is likely due to the reduced expression of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinases (PDHKs) in senescent cells, which may lead to increased activity of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex. Cellular and mitochondrial ATP production were elevated despite signs of mitochondrial dysfunction, such as an increased production of reactive oxygen species and extended mitochondrial mass. A shift from glycolytic to oxidative glucose metabolism induced by pharmacological inhibition of PDHKs in young endothelial cells resulted in premature senescence, suggesting that alterations in cellular glucose metabolism may act as a driving force for senescence in endothelial cells.
    Keywords:  aging; dichloroacetate; endothelial cell; glucose metabolism; lactate; lactate dehydrogenase; pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase; replicative senescence
  7. Sci Signal. 2022 Jul 26. 15(744): eade0564
      Inhibition of a zinc transporter improves the maturation and survival of β cells.
  8. Nat Commun. 2022 Jul 25. 13(1): 4303
      Mitochondria are highly dynamic organelles whose fragmentation by fission is critical to their functional integrity and cellular homeostasis. Here, we develop a method via optogenetic control of mitochondria-lysosome contacts (MLCs) to induce mitochondrial fission with spatiotemporal accuracy. MLCs can be achieved by blue-light-induced association of mitochondria and lysosomes through various photoactivatable dimerizers. Real-time optogenetic induction of mitochondrial fission is tracked in living cells to measure the fission rate. The optogenetic method partially restores the mitochondrial functions of SLC25A46-/- cells, which display defects in mitochondrial fission and hyperfused mitochondria. The optogenetic MLCs system thus provides a platform for studying mitochondrial fission and treating mitochondrial diseases.
  9. J Immunother Cancer. 2022 Jul;pii: e004147. [Epub ahead of print]10(7):
      The gut microbiota and its metabolites have been shown to play a pivotal role in the regulation of metabolic, endocrine and immune functions. Though the exact mechanism of action remains to be fully elucidated, available knowledge supports the ability of microbiota-fermented short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate, to influence epigenetic and metabolic cascades controlling gene expression, chemotaxis, differentiation, proliferation, and apoptosis in several non-immune and immune cell subsets. While used as preferred metabolic substrates and sources of energy by colonic gut epithelial cells, most recent evidence indicates that these metabolites regulate immune functions, and in particular fine-tune T cell effector, regulatory and memory phenotypes, with direct in vivo consequences on the efficacy of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy. Most recent data also support the use of these metabolites over the course of T cell manufacturing, paving the way for refined adoptive T cell therapy engineering. Here, we review the most recent advances in the field, highlighting in vitro and in vivo evidence for the ability of SCFAs to shape T cell phenotypes and functions.
    Keywords:  T-lymphocytes; immunotherapy, adoptive; lymphocyte activation; review
  10. Cancer Discov. 2022 Jul 29. OF1
      Tumor-derived lactate disrupts pyruvate metabolism and cytotoxic function of antitumor CD8+ T cells.
  11. Cancers (Basel). 2022 Jul 22. pii: 3564. [Epub ahead of print]14(15):
      Competent antitumor immune cells are fundamental for tumor surveillance and combating active cancers. Once established, tumors generate a tumor microenvironment (TME) consisting of complex cellular and metabolic elements that serve to suppress the function of antitumor immune cells. T lymphocytes are key cellular elements of the TME. In this review, we explore the role of ion channels, particularly K+ channels, in mediating the suppressive effects of the TME on T cells. First, we will review the complex network of ion channels that mediate Ca2+ influx and control effector functions in T cells. Then, we will discuss how multiple features of the TME influence the antitumor capabilities of T cells via ion channels. We will focus on hypoxia, adenosine, and ionic imbalances in the TME, as well as overexpression of programmed cell death ligand 1 by cancer cells that either suppress K+ channels in T cells and/or benefit from regulating these channels' activity, ultimately shaping the immune response. Finally, we will review some of the cancer treatment implications related to ion channels. A better understanding of the effects of the TME on ion channels in T lymphocytes could promote the development of more effective immunotherapies, especially for resistant solid malignancies.
    Keywords:  antitumor immunity; ion channels; potassium channels; tumor microenvironment