Molecular pathways: interleukin-15 signaling in health and in cancer.
ABSTRACT: Interleukin-15 (IL-15) is a proinflammatory cytokine involved in the development, survival, proliferation, and activation of multiple lymphocyte lineages utilizing a variety of signaling pathways. IL-15 utilizes three distinct receptor chains in at least two different combinations to signal and exert its effects on the immune system. The binding of IL-15 to its receptor complex activates an "immune-enhancing" signaling cascade in natural killer cells and subsets of T cells, as well as the induction of a number of proto-oncogenes. Additional studies have explored the role of IL-15 in the development and progression of cancer, notably leukemia of large granular lymphocytes, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. This review provides an overview of the molecular events in the IL-15 signaling pathway and the aberrancies in its regulation that are associated with chronic inflammation and cancer. We briefly explore the potential therapeutic opportunities that have arisen as a result of these studies to further the treatment of cancer. These involve both targeting the disruption of IL-15 signaling as well as IL-15-mediated enhancement of innate and antigen-specific immunity.
Project description:How inflammation causes cancer is unclear. Interleukin-15 (IL-15) is a pro-inflammatory cytokine elevated in human large granular lymphocyte (LGL) leukemia. Mice overexpressing IL-15 develop LGL leukemia. Here, we show that prolonged in vitro exposure of wild-type (WT) LGL to IL-15 results in Myc-mediated upregulation of aurora kinases, centrosome aberrancies, and aneuploidy. Simultaneously, IL-15 represses miR-29b via induction of Myc/NF-?Bp65/Hdac-1, resulting in Dnmt3b overexpression and DNA hypermethylation. All this is validated in human LGL leukemia. Adoptive transfer of WT LGL cultured with IL-15 led to malignant transformation in vivo. Drug targeting that reverses miR-29b repression cures otherwise fatal LGL leukemia. We show how excessive IL-15 initiates cancer and demonstrate effective drug targeting for potential therapy of human LGL leukemia.
Project description:Interleukin-15 (IL-15) and IL-2 drive T-cell malignancies including T-cell large granular lymphocyte leukemia (T-LGLL) and HTLV-1 driven adult T-cell leukemia (ATL). Both cytokines share common ?-chain receptors and downstream signaling pathways. T-LGLL is characterized by clonal expansion of cytotoxic T cells and is associated with abnormal JAK/STAT signaling. ATL is an aggressive CD4+ T-cell neoplasm associated with HTLV-1. T-LGLL and ATL share dependence on IL-2 and IL-15 for survival and both diseases lack effective therapies. BNZ-1 is a pegylated peptide designed to specifically bind the ?c receptor to selectively block IL-2, IL-15, and IL-9 signaling. We hypothesized that treatment with BNZ-1 would reduce cytokine-mediated proliferation and viability. Our results demonstrated that in vitro treatment of a T-LGLL cell line and ex vivo treatment of T-LGLL patient cells with BNZ-1 inhibited cytokine-mediated viability. Furthermore, BNZ-1 blocked downstream signaling and increased apoptosis. These results were mirrored in an ATL cell line and in ex vivo ATL patient cells. Lastly, BNZ-1 drastically reduced leukemic burden in an IL-15-driven human ATL mouse xenograft model. Thus, BNZ-1 shows great promise as a novel therapy for T-LGLL, ATL, and other IL-2 or IL-15 driven hematopoietic malignancies.
Project description:Twelve patients with T cell large granular lymphocyte leukemia and associated hematocytopenia were treated in a phase I dose-escalation trial with the murine monoclonal antibody Mikbeta1. Mikbeta1 identifies CD122, the beta-subunit shared by the IL-2 and IL-15 receptors. At the doses administered in this study the antibody inhibited the actions of IL-15 on both natural killer and T cells and that of IL-2 when the intermediate-affinity IL-2 receptor was expressed. Mikbeta1 treatment was not associated with significant toxicity or with the development of an immune response to the infused monoclonal antibody. At these doses of Mikbeta1, >95% saturation of the IL-2/IL-15beta receptor (CD122) on the surfaces of the leukemic cells was achieved. Furthermore, in seven patients this led to the down-modulation of the receptor from the surfaces of the leukemic cells. Nevertheless, no patients manifested a reduction in peripheral leukemic cell count or an amelioration of their hematocytopenia. This latter observation may reflect the fact that the monoclonal T cell large granular lymphocyte leukemia leukemic cells of the patients did not produce IL-2 or IL-15 or require their actions for cell survival. In light of the lack of toxicity and lack of immunogenicity of the antibody observed in the present study and the role for IL-15 in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, clinical trials should be performed using the humanized version of Mikbeta1 in groups of patients with human T cell lymphotropic virus I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and refractory celiac disease.
Project description:Treatment of hematological malignancies by adoptive transfer of activated natural killer (NK) cells is limited by poor postinfusion persistence. We compared the ability of interleukin-2 (IL-2) and IL-15 to sustain human NK-cell functions following cytokine withdrawal to model postinfusion performance. In contrast to IL-2, IL-15 mediated stronger signaling through the IL-2/15 receptor complex and provided cell function advantages. Genome-wide analysis of cytosolic and polysome-associated messenger RNA (mRNA) revealed not only cytokine-dependent differential mRNA levels and translation during cytokine activation but also that most gene expression differences were primed by IL-15 and only manifested after cytokine withdrawal. IL-15 augmented mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling, which correlated with increased expression of genes related to cell metabolism and respiration. Consistently, mTOR inhibition abrogated IL-15-induced cell function advantages. Moreover, mTOR-independent STAT-5 signaling contributed to improved NK-cell function during cytokine activation but not following cytokine withdrawal. The superior performance of IL-15-stimulated NK cells was also observed using a clinically applicable protocol for NK-cell expansion in vitro and in vivo. Finally, expression of IL-15 correlated with cytolytic immune functions in patients with B-cell lymphoma and favorable clinical outcome. These findings highlight the importance of mTOR-regulated metabolic processes for immune cell functions and argue for implementation of IL-15 in adoptive NK-cell cancer therapy.
Project description:IL-15 regulates the development, survival, and proliferation of multiple innate and adaptive immune cells and plays a dual role, inducing both tumor cell growth and antitumor immunity. However, the role of IL-15 in inflammation-induced cancer remains unclear. To explore this, we have compared the colon carcinoma burden of Il15(-/-) and Il15r? (-/-) mice with wild type (WT) mice after induction of colitis-associated colon carcinogenesis utilizing the AOM/DSS model. Compared to WT mice, Il15(-/-) but not Il15r? (-/-) mice showed reduced survival, along with higher tumor incidence, colon weight, and tumor size. This suggests that low affinity IL-15 signaling via the shared IL-2R?/?c decreases the risk for developing colitis-associated cancer. CD11c-Il15 mice, in which IL-15 expression is reconstituted in Il15(-/-) mice under the control of the CD11c-promoter, showed that selective reconstitution of IL-15 in antigen-presenting cells restored the CD8(+) T and NK cell compartments, serum levels of IFN?, G-CSF, IL-10, and CXCL1 and reduced tumor burden. After demonstrating IL-15 expression in human colorectal cancer (CRC) cells in situ, we investigated the role of this cytokine in the modulation of key colonic oncogenic pathways in the tumor. While these pathways were found to be unaltered in the absence of IL-15, tumor transcriptome analysis showed that the loss of IL-15 upregulates key inflammatory mediators associated with colon cancer progression, such as IL-1?, IL-22, IL-23, Cxcl5, and Spp1. These findings provide evidence that IL-15 suppresses colitis-associated colon carcinogenesis through regulation of antitumor cytotoxicity, and modulation of the inflammatory tumor micromilieu.
Project description:Dendritic cells (DCs) are important innate and adaptive immune effectors, and have a key role in antigen presentation and T-cell activation. Different lineages of DCs can be developed from hematopoietic progenitors following cytokine signaling, and the various lineages of DCs display distinct morphology, phenotype and functions. There has been limited information on differential cytokine-mediated molecular signaling in DCs. Analyses of surface molecules by flow cytometry and quantitative RNA profiling revealed differences between DCs derived from interleukin-4 (IL-4) versus IL-15 signaling, yet both lineages of DCs exhibited similar levels of surface molecules key to immune activation. Functional assays confirmed that IL-15-derived DCs elicited greater antigen-specific, primary and secondary CD8 and CD4 T-cell responses than did IL-4-derived DCs. Importantly, IL-15 DCs secreted substantial amounts of proinflammatory cytokines, including IL-6, interferon-? (IFN-?) and tumor necrosis factor-? (TNF?), which helped polarize a strong T-cell response. Assessment of signaling pathways revealed that IL-15 DCs exhibited a lower levels of activated signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5), STAT6 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 than IL-4 DCs, but after lipopolysaccharide (LPS)/TNF? treatment, the STAT3 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activities were significantly enhanced in the IL-15 DCs. Surprisingly, contrary to the canonical IL-15-mediated STAT5 signaling pathway in lymphoid cells, IL-15 did not mediate a strong STAT5 or STAT3 activation in DCs. Further analysis using specific inhibitors to STAT3 and p38 MAPK pathways revealed that the STAT3 signaling, but not p38 MAPK signaling, contributed to IFN-? production in DCs. Therefore, while IL-15 does not promote the STAT signaling in DCs, the increased STAT3 activity after LPS/TNF? treatment of the IL-15 DCs has a key role in their high IFN-? effector activities.
Project description:NK cells are large granular lymphocytes that form a critical component of the innate immune system, whose functions include the killing of cells expressing stress-induced molecules. It is increasingly accepted that despite being considered prototypical effector cells, NK cells require signals to reach their full cytotoxic potential. We previously showed that IL-15 is capable of arming CD8 effector T cells to kill independently of their TCR via NKG2D in a cPLA2-dependent process. As NK cells also express NKG2D, we wanted to investigate whether this pathway functioned in an analogous manner and if resting NK cells could be primed to the effector phase by IL-15. Furthermore, to establish relevance to human disease we studied a possible role for this pathway in the pathogenesis of psoriatic arthritis, since there are aspects of this disease that suggest a potential effector role for the innate immune system. We found that PsA patients had upregulated IL-15 and MIC in their affected synovial tissues, and that this unique inflammatory environment enabled NK cell activation and killing via NKG2D and cPLA2. Moreover, we were able to reproduce the phenotype of joint NK cells from blood NK cells by incubating them with IL-15. Altogether, these findings suggest a destructive role for NK cells when activated by environmental stress signals during the pathogenesis of PsA and demonstrate that IL-15 is capable of priming resting NK cells in tissues to the effector phase.
Project description:Interleukin-15 (IL-15) and its high affinity receptor interleukin-15 receptor alpha (IL-15R?) are widely expressed in immune cells and hepatic resident cells. IL-15 signaling has important functions in homeostasis of natural killer (NK), natural killer T (NKT) and cytotoxic T (CD8(+) T) cells, and in liver regeneration. We hypothesized that IL-15 has a protective role in liver fibrosis progression by maintaining NK cell homeostasis.Fibrosis was induced using two mechanistically distinct models. Congenic bone marrow transplantation was used to evaluate the contribution of IL-15 signaling from various compartments to NK, CD8(+) T and NKT cell homeostasis and fibrogenesis. The gene expression profile of hepatic stellate cell (HSC) from IL-15R? knockout (IL-15R?KO) mice and wild-type mice were captured using microarray analysis and validated in isolated HSC. Quantitative real-time PCR was used to assess repressors of collagen transcription.IL-15R?KO mice exhibited more fibrosis in both models. IL-15 signaling from specific types of hepatic cells had divergent roles in maintaining liver NK, CD8(+) T and NKT cells, with a direct and protective role on radio-resistant non-parenchymal cells beyond the control of NK homeostasis. HSCs isolated from IL-15R?KO mice demonstrated upregulation of collagen production. Finally, IL-15R?KO HSC with or without transforming growth factor beta (TGF-?) stimulation exhibited increased expression of fibrosis markers and decreased collagen transcription repressors expression.IL-15R? signaling has a direct anti-fibrotic effect independent of preserving NK homeostasis. These findings establish a rationale to further explore the anti-fibrotic potential of enhancing IL-15 signaling in HSCs.We investigated how a cellular protein, Interleukin-15 (IL-15), decreases the amount of scar tissue that is formed upon liver injury. We found that IL-15 and its receptor decrease the amount of scar tissue that is created by specialized liver cells (called stellate cells) and increase the number of a specific subgroup of immune cells (natural killer cells) that are known to eliminate stellate cells.GSE45612, GSE 68001 and GSE 25097.
Project description:The immune stimulatory cytokine interleukin-15 was recognized as one of the most promising cancer cure drug in an NIH guided review and is currently in clinical trial alone or as an adjuvant for certain types of metastatic solid tumors. IL-15 is an essential survival factor for natural killer (NK), natural killer-like T (NKT), and CD44hi memory CD8 T cells. The bioactivity of IL-15 in vivo is conferred mainly through a trans-presentation mechanism in which IL-15 is presented in complex with the ?-subunit of soluble IL-15 receptor (IL-15R) to NK, NKT or T cells rather than directly interacts with membrane-bound IL-15R. With these understandings, recent studies have been focused on generating IL-15 agonists which consist of IL-15 and partial or whole of soluble IL-15R to improve its in vivo bioactivity. This minireview will summarize the key features of IL-15 as a potential cancer treatment cytokine and the most recent development of IL-15 agonists and preclinical studies. Critical milestones to translate the pre-clinical development to in-patients treatment are emphasized.
Project description:IL-15 is a proinflammatory cytokine that plays an essential role in the development and activation of natural killer (NK) cells. Adipose tissue acts as an endocrine organ that secretes cytokines and is an important reservoir for lymphocytes. We hypothesized that activation of the IL-15 signaling in adipose tissue will activate and expand the NK cell population and control tumor growth. We recently developed an adipocyte-targeting recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV) vector with minimal off-target transgene expression in the liver. Here, we used this rAAV system to deliver an IL-15/IL-15R? complex to the abdominal fat by intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection. Adipose IL-15/IL-15R? complex gene transfer led to the expansion of NK cells in the adipose tissue and spleen in normal mice without notable side effects. The i.p. injection of rAAV-IL-15/IL-15R? complex significantly suppressed the growth of Lewis lung carcinoma implanted subcutaneously and exerted a significant survival advantage in a B16-F10 melanoma metastasis model. The antitumor effects were associated with the expansion of the NK cells in the blood, spleen, abdominal fat, and tumor, as well as the enhancement of NK cell maturity. Our proof-of-concept preclinical studies demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the adipocyte-specific IL-15/IL-15R? complex vector as a novel cancer immune gene therapy.