Dicer insufficiency and microRNA-155 overexpression in lupus regulatory T cells: an apparent paradox in the setting of an inflammatory milieu.
ABSTRACT: Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by loss of tolerance to self-Ags and activation of autoreactive T cells. Regulatory T (Treg) cells play a critical role in controlling the activation of autoreactive T cells. In this study, we investigated mechanisms of potential Treg cell defects in systemic lupus erythematosus using MRL-Fas(lpr/lpr) (MRL/lpr) and MRL-Fas(+/+) mouse models. We found a significant increase in CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) Treg cells, albeit with an altered phenotype (CD62L(-)CD69(+)) and with a reduced suppressive capacity, in the lymphoid organs of MRL strains compared with non-autoimmune C3H/HeOuj mice. A search for mechanisms underlying the altered Treg cell phenotype in MRL/lpr mice led us to find a profound reduction in Dicer expression and an altered microRNA (miRNA, miR) profile in MRL/lpr Treg cells. Despite having a reduced level of Dicer, MRL/lpr Treg cells exhibited a significant overexpression of several miRNAs, including let-7a, let-7f, miR-16, miR-23a, miR-23b, miR-27a, and miR-155. Using computational approaches, we identified one of the upregulated miRNAs, miR-155, that can target CD62L and may thus confer the altered Treg cell phenotype in MRL/lpr mice. In fact, the induced overexpression of miR-155 in otherwise normal (C3H/HeOuj) Treg cells reduced their CD62L expression, which mimics the altered Treg cell phenotype in MRL/lpr mice. These data suggest a role of Dicer and miR-155 in regulating Treg cell phenotype. Furthermore, simultaneous appearance of Dicer insufficiency and miR-155 overexpression in diseased mice suggests a Dicer-independent alternative mechanism of miRNA regulation under inflammatory conditions.
Project description:Recent reports have shown that microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate vital immunological processes and have emerged as key regulators of immune system development and function. Therefore, it is important to determine miRNA dysregulation and its pathogenic contribution in autoimmune diseases, an aspect not adequately addressed thus far.In this study, we profiled miRNA expressions in splenic lymphocytes from three murine lupus models (MRL-lpr, B6-lpr and NZB/W(F?)) with different genetic background by miRNA microarray assays and Real-time RT-PCR. Despite the genetic differences among these three lupus stains, a common set of dysregulated miRNAs (miR-182-96-183 cluster, miR-31, and miR-155) was identified in splenocytes when compared with age-matched control mice. The association of these miRNAs with the disease was highlighted by our observation that this miRNA expression pattern was evident in NZB/W mice only at an age when lupus disease is manifested. Further, we have shown that the miRNA dysregulation in MRL-lpr mice was not simply due to the activation of splenocytes. By Real-time RT-PCR, we confirmed that these miRNAs were upregulated in both purified splenic B and T cells from MRL-lpr mice. miR-127 and miR-379, which were greatly upregulated in splenocytes from lpr mice, were moderately increased in diseased NZB/W mice. In addition, Real-time RT-PCR revealed that miR-146a, miR-101a, and miR-17-92 were also markedly upregulated in splenic T, but not B cells from MRL-lpr mice.The identification of common lupus disease-associated miRNAs now forms the basis for the further investigation of the pathogenic contribution of these miRNAs in autoimmune lupus, which will advance our knowledge of the role of miRNAs in autoimmunity. Given that miRNAs are conserved, with regard to both evolution and function, our observation of a common lupus disease-associated miRNA expression pattern in murine lupus models is likely to have significant pathogenic, diagnostic, and/or therapeutic implications in human lupus.
Project description:MRL/MpJ-Fas(lpr/lpr)/J (MRL(lpr)) mice develop lupus-like disease manifestations in an IL-21-dependent manner. IL-21 is a pleiotropic cytokine that can influence the activation, differentiation, and expansion of B and T cell effector subsets. Notably, autoreactive CD4(+) T and B cells spontaneously accumulate in MRL(lpr) mice and mediate disease pathogenesis. We sought to identify the particular lymphocyte effector subsets regulated by IL-21 in the context of systemic autoimmunity and, thus, generated MRL(lpr) mice deficient in IL-21R (MRL(lpr).IL-21R(-/-)). Lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly, which are characteristic traits of the MRL(lpr) model were significantly reduced in the absence of IL-21R, suggesting that immune activation was likewise decreased. Indeed, spontaneous germinal center formation and plasma cell accumulation were absent in IL-21R-deficient MRL(lpr) mice. Correspondingly, we observed a significant reduction in autoantibody titers. Activated CD4(+) CD44(+) CD62L(lo) T cells also failed to accumulate, and CD4(+) Th cell differentiation was impaired, as evidenced by a significant reduction in CD4(+) T cells that produced the pronephritogenic cytokine IFN-?. T extrafollicular helper cells are a recently described subset of activated CD4(+) T cells that function as the primary inducers of autoantibody production in MRL(lpr) mice. Importantly, we demonstrated that T extrafollicular helper cells are dependent on IL-21R for their generation. Together, our data highlighted the novel observation that IL-21 is a critical regulator of multiple pathogenic B and T cell effector subsets in MRL(lpr) mice.
Project description:Mesenchymal stem cell transplantation (MSCT) has been used to treat human diseases, but the detailed mechanisms underlying its success are not fully understood. Here we show that MSCT rescues bone marrow MSC (BMMSC) function and ameliorates osteopenia in Fas-deficient-MRL/lpr mice. Mechanistically, we show that Fas deficiency causes failure of miR-29b release, thereby elevating intracellular miR-29b levels, and downregulates DNA methyltransferase 1 (Dnmt1) expression in MRL/lpr BMMSCs. This results in hypomethylation of the Notch1 promoter and activation of Notch signaling, in turn leading to impaired osteogenic differentiation. Furthermore, we show that exosomes, secreted due to MSCT, transfer Fas to recipient MRL/lpr BMMSCs to reduce intracellular levels of miR-29b, which results in recovery of Dnmt1-mediated Notch1 promoter hypomethylation and thereby improves MRL/lpr BMMSC function. Collectively our findings unravel the means by which MSCT rescues MRL/lpr BMMSC function through reuse of donor exosome-provided Fas to regulate the miR-29b/Dnmt1/Notch epigenetic cascade.
Project description:Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) features a decreased pool of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ T regulatory (Treg) cells. We had previously observed NKG2D+CD4+ T cell expansion in contrast to a decreased pool of Treg cells in SLE patients, but whether NKG2D+CD4+ T cells contribute to the decreased Treg cells remains unclear. In the present study, we found that the NKG2D+CD4+ T cells efficiently killed NKG2D ligand (NKG2DL)+ Treg cells in vitro, whereby the surviving Treg cells in SLE patients showed no detectable expression of NKG2DLs. It was further found that MRL/lpr lupus mice have significantly increased percentage of NKG2D+CD4+ T cells and obvious decreased percentage of Treg cells, as compared with wild-type mice. Adoptively transferred NKG2DL+ Treg cells were found to be efficiently killed in MRL/lpr lupus mice, with NKG2D neutralization remarkably attenuating this killing. Anti-NKG2D or anti-interferon-alpha receptor (IFNAR) antibodies treatment in MRL/lpr mice restored Treg cells numbers and markedly ameliorated the lupus disease. These results suggest that NKG2D+CD4+ T cells are involved in the pathogenesis of SLE by killing Treg cells in a NKG2D-NKG2DL-dependent manner. Targeting the NKG2D-NKG2DL interaction might be a potential therapeutic strategy by which Treg cells can be protected from cytolysis in SLE patients.
Project description:Previous studies showed that loss of tumor necrosis factor ? (TNF?) signaling delayed fracture healing by delaying chondrocyte apoptosis and cartilage resorption. Mechanistic studies showed that TNF? induced Fas expression within chondrocytes; however, the degree to which chondrocyte apoptosis is mediated by TNF? alone or dependent on the induction of Fas is unclear. This question was addressed by assessing fracture healing in Fas-deficient B6.MRL/Fas(lpr) /J mice. Loss of Fas delayed cartilage resorption but also lowered bone fraction in the calluses. The reduced bone fraction was related to elevated rates of coupled bone turnover in the B6.MRL/Fas(lpr) /J calluses, as evidenced by higher osteoclast numbers and increased osteogenesis. Analysis of the apoptotic marker caspase 3 showed fewer positive chondrocytes and osteoclasts in calluses of B6.MRL/Fas(lpr) /J mice. To determine if an active autoimmune state contributed to increased bone turnover, the levels of activated T cells and Treg cells were assessed. B6.MRL/Fas(lpr) /J mice had elevated Treg cells in both spleens and bones of B6.MRL/Fas(lpr) /J but decreased percentage of activated T cells in bone tissues. Fracture led to ?30% to 60% systemic increase in Treg cells in both wild-type and B6.MRL/Fas(lpr) /J bone tissues during the period of cartilage formation and resorption but either decreased (wild type) or left unchanged (B6.MRL/Fas(lpr) /J) the numbers of activated T cells in bone. These results show that an active autoimmune state is inhibited during the period of cartilage resorption and suggest that iTreg cells play a functional role in this process. These data show that loss of Fas activity specifically in chondrocytes prolonged the life span of chondrocytes and that Fas synergized with TNF? signaling to mediate chondrocyte apoptosis. Conversely, loss of Fas systemically led to increased osteoclast numbers during later periods of fracture healing and increased osteogenesis. These findings suggest that retention of viable chondrocytes locally inhibits osteoclast activity or matrix proteolysis during cartilage resorption.
Project description:Epigenetic factors such as DNA methylation and microRNAs (miRNAs) are now increasingly recognized as vital contributors to lupus etiology. In this study, we investigated the potential interaction of these two epigenetic factors in lupus-prone MRL-lpr mice. We recently reported dysregulated expression of miRNAs in splenocytes of MRL-lpr mice. Here, we report that a majority of the upregulated miRNAs in MRL-lpr mice is located at the genomic imprinted DLK1-Dio3 domain. Further, we show a differential magnitude of upregulation of DLK1-Dio3 miRNA cluster in purified splenic CD4+ T, CD19+ B, and splenic CD4-CD19- cells from MRL-lpr lupus mice when compared to control MRL mice. MRL-lpr splenocytes (especially CD19+ and CD4-CD19- subsets) were hypomethylated compared to cells from control, MRL mice. We further show that deliberate demethylation of splenocytes from control MRL mice, but not from MRL-lpr lupus mice, with specific DNA methylation inhibitor 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine significantly augmented DLK1-Dio3 miRNAs expression. These findings strongly indicate that the upregulation of DLK1-Dio3 miRNAs in lupus splenic cell subsets is associated with reduced global DNA methylation levels in lupus cells. There was a differential upregulation of DLK-Dio3 miRNAs among various demethylated splenic cell subsets, which implies varied sensitivity of DLK1-Dio3 miRNA cluster in these cell subsets to DNA hypomethylation. Finally, inhibition of select DLK1-Dio3 miRNA such as miR-154, miR-379 and miR-300 with specific antagomirs significantly reduced the production of lupus-relevant IFN?, IL-1?, IL-6, and IL-10 in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) activated splenocytes from MRL-lpr mice. Our study is the first to show that DNA methylation regulates genomic imprinted DLK1-Dio3 miRNAs in autoimmune lupus, which suggests a connection of DNA methylation, miRNA and genomic imprinting in lupus pathogenesis.
Project description:Autoantibody and inflammatory cytokines play crucial roles in the development of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); however, the regulation of their production warrants further investigation. This study aimed to investigate the role of basophil activation in the development of SLE based on studies in patients with SLE and spontaneous lupus-prone MRL-lpr/lpr mice.The phenotypes of peripheral basophils and the production of autoantibody and interleukin (IL)-17 in patients with SLE were determined by flow cytometry and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and also their correlations were investigated by statistical analysis. Thereafter, the effect of basophils on autoantibody production by B cells and Th17 differentiation in SLE were evaluated in vitro. Finally, the effect of basophil depletion on the development of autoimmune disorders in spontaneous lupus-prone MRL-lpr/lpr mice was examined.The decreased numbers and an increased activation of peripheral basophils were found to be correlated with increased autoantibody production and disease activity in patients with SLE. Correspondingly, in vitro coculture studies showed that basophils obtained from patients with SLE promoted autoantibody production by SLE B cells and promoted Th17 differentiation from SLE naïve CD4+ T cells. The decrease of peripheral basophils in patients with SLE might be due to their migration to lymph nodes post their activation mediated by (autoreactive) IgE as supported by their increased CD62L and CCR7 expressions and accumulation in the lymph nodes of MRL-lpr/lpr mice. Furthermore, an increased activation of peripheral basophils was identified in MRL-lpr/lpr mice. Importantly, basophil-depleted MRL-lpr/lpr mice exhibited an extended life span, improved renal function, and lower serum levels of autoantibodies and IL-17, while basophil-adoptive-transferred mice exhibited the opposite results.These finding suggest that basophil activation-dependent autoantibody and IL-17 production may constitute a critical pathogenic mechanism in SLE.
Project description:A number of evidence shows that the differentiation of B lymphocytes into plasma cells plays an important role in lupus pathogenesis. In this study we investigated how prednisone, a classical therapeutic drug for autoimmune diseases, regulated plasma cell differentiation in MRL/MpSlac-lpr mice.MRL/lpr mice were treated with prednisone (2.5 or 5 mg·kg(-1)·d(-1), ig) for 13 weeks, and the proteinuria levels and survival times were monitored. After the mice were euthanized, blood sample, spleen and thymus were collected. The serum levels of anti-dsDNA antibody, anti-nuclear antibody, IL-21, and IL-10 were detected using ELISA kits. Subsets of splenic B and T lymphocytes were quantified with flow cytometry. Transcription factor Blimp-1 and Bcl-6 expression was determined using qPCR and Western blot.Prednisone treatment dose-dependently attenuated the lupus symptoms in MRL/lpr mice with decreased proteinuria levels, prolonged survival times, decreased serum anti-nuclear antibody levels, and reduced spleen and thymus indices. Prednisone treatment also significantly decreased the elevated percentages of plasma cells and plasma cell precursors, decreased the percentages of activated T cells, and increased the frequency of CD4(+)CD62L(+) cells, demonstrated that decreased anti-nuclear antibodies and improvements in lupus symptoms were associated with decreased plasma cells. Furthermore, prednisone treatment decreased serum IL-21 and IL-10 levels and reduced the expression of splenic Blimp-1 and Bcl-6 (two key regulatory factors for plasma cell differentiation) in MRL/lpr mice.Prednisone treatment restricts B lymphocyte differentiation into plasma cells in MRL/lpr mice, which may be correlated with the inhibition of IL-21 production and the restoration of the balance between Blimp-1 and Bcl-6.
Project description:CSF-1, required for macrophage (Mø) survival, proliferation, and activation, is upregulated in the tubular epithelial cells (TECs) during kidney inflammation. CSF-1 mediates Mø-dependent destruction in lupus-susceptible mice with nephritis and, paradoxically, Mø-dependent renal repair in lupus-resistant mice after transient ischemia/reperfusion injury (I/R). We now report that I/R leads to defective renal repair, nonresolving inflammation, and, in turn, early-onset lupus nephritis in preclinical MRL/MpJ-Faslpr/Fas(lpr) mice (MRL-Fas(lpr) mice). Moreover, defective renal repair is not unique to MRL-Fas(lpr) mice, as flawed healing is a feature of other lupus-susceptible mice (Sle 123) and MRL mice without the Fas(lpr) mutation. Increasing CSF-1 hastens renal healing after I/R in lupus-resistant mice but hinders healing, exacerbates nonresolving inflammation, and triggers more severe early-onset lupus nephritis in MRL-Fas(lpr) mice. Probing further, the time-related balance of M1 "destroyer" Mø shifts toward the M2 "healer" phenotype in lupus-resistant mice after I/R, but M1 Mø continue to dominate in MRL-Fas(lpr) mice. Moreover, hypoxic TECs release mediators, including CSF-1, that are responsible for stimulating the expansion of M1 Mø inherently poised to destroy the kidney in MRL-Fas(lpr) mice. In conclusion, I/R induces CSF-1 in injured TECs that expands aberrant Mø (M1 phenotype), mediating defective renal repair and nonresolving inflammation, and thereby hastens the onset of lupus nephritis.