CMT Publications Publications 2019

Publications 2019

TCR-induced alteration of primary MHC peptide anchor residue.European Journal of Immunology

The HLA‐A*02:01‐restricted decapeptide EAAGIGILTV, derived from melanoma antigen recognized by T‐cells‐1 (MART‐1) protein, represents one of the best‐studied tumor associated T‐cell epitopes, but clinical results targeting this peptide have been disappointing. This limitation may reflect the dominance of the nonapeptide, AAGIGILTV, at the melanoma cell surface. The decapeptide and nonapeptide are presented in distinct conformations by HLA‐A*02:01 and TCRs from clinically relevant T‐cell clones recognize the nonapeptide poorly. Here, we studied the MEL5 TCR that potently recognizes the nonapeptide. The structure of the MEL5‐HLA‐A*02:01‐AAGIGILTV complex revealed an induced fit mechanism of antigen recognition involving altered peptide–MHC anchoring. This “flexing” at the TCR–peptide–MHC interface to accommodate the peptide antigen explains previously observed incongruences in this well‐studied system and has important implications for future therapeutic approaches. Finally, this study expands upon the mechanisms by which molecular plasticity can influence antigen recognition by T cells.

Molecular dissection of box jellyfish venom cytotoxicity highlights an effective venom antidote.Nature Communications

The box jellyfish Chironex fleckeri is extremely venomous, and envenoming causes tissue necrosis, extreme pain and death within minutes after severe exposure. Despite rapid and potent venom action, basic mechanistic insight is lacking. Here we perform moleculardissection of a jellyfish venom-induced cell death pathway by screening for host components required for venom exposure-induced cell death using genome-scale lenti-CRISPR mutagenesis. We identify the peripheral membrane protein ATP2B1, a calcium transporting ATPase, as one host factor required for venom cytotoxicity. Targeting ATP2B1 prevents venom action and confers long lasting protection. Informatics analysis of host genes required for venom cytotoxicity reveal pathways not previously implicated in cell death. We also discover a venom antidote that functions up to 15 minutes after exposure and suppresses tissue necrosis and pain in mice. These results highlight the power of whole genome CRISPR screening to investigate venom mechanisms of action and to rapidly identify new medicines.

Targeting mTOR and Src restricts hepatocellular carcinoma growth in a novel murine liver cancer model.PLoS One, 14 (2).

Liver cancer is a poor prognosis cancer with limited treatment options. To develop a new therapeutic approach, we derived HCC cells from a known model of murine hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We treated adiponectin (APN) knock-out mice with the carcinogen diethylnitrosamine, and the resulting tumors were 7-fold larger than wild-type controls. Tumors were disassociated from both genotypes and their growth characteristics evaluated. A52 cells from APN KO mice had the most robust growth in vitro and in vivo, and presented with pathology similar to the parental tumor. All primary tumors and cell lines exhibited activity of the mammalian target of Rapamycin (mTOR) and Src pathways. Subsequent combinatorial treatment, with the mTOR inhibitor Rapamycin and the Src inhibitor Dasatinib reduced A52 HCC growth 29-fold in vivo. Through protein and histological analyzes we observed activation of these pathways in human HCC, suggesting that targeting both mTOR and Src may be a novel approach for the treatment of HCC.

Social rank does not affect sperm quality in male African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus).Reproduction, Fertility and Development. (In Press)

Sperm banking and AI could benefit endangered African wild dog conservation. However, it is unclear whether their dominance hierarchy causes a decrease in reproductive and sperm quality parameters in subordinate males that typically do not breed. In this study, we investigated the effect of social rank on male reproductive parameters, including faecal androgen and glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations, prostate and testes volume, preputial gland size, semen collection success and sperm quality. Samples were obtained from captive males (prebreeding season: n=12 from four packs; breeding season: n=24 from seven packs) that were classified as alpha (dominant), beta or gamma (subordinates) based on the frequency of dominant versus submissive behaviours. In the prebreeding season, semen was successfully collected from all alpha but only half the subordinate males, with urine contamination (associated with lower rank) significantly reducing total and progressive motility, sperm motility index, normal sperm morphology and acrosome integrity. The breeding season was associated with a significant increase in faecal androgens, prostate and testis volume, as well as progressive motility and the total number of spermatozoa ejaculated. However, with the exception of prostate volume (mean±s.e.m: 12.5±4.5, 7.1±1.0 and 7.3±1.0cm3 in alpha, beta and gamma males respectively; P=0.035), all other reproductive and sperm quality parameters did not differ between males of each social rank. In conclusion, reproductive suppression of subordinate males appears to be behaviourally mediated, because males of all social ranks produce semen of similar quality, making them suitable candidates for sperm banking, particularly during the breeding season when sperm quality improves.

Bone marrow transplantation generates T cell–dependent control of myeloma in mice.Journal of Clinical Investigation, 129 (1). pp. 106-121.

Transplantation with autologous hematopoietic progenitors remains an important consolidation treatment for patients with multiple myeloma (MM) and is thought to prolong the disease plateau phase by providing intensive cytoreduction. However, transplantationinduces inflammation in the context of profound lymphodepletion that may cause hitherto unexpected immunological effects. We developed preclinical models of bone marrow transplantation (BMT) for MM using Vk*MYC myeloma-bearing recipient mice and donor mice that were myeloma naive or myeloma experienced to simulate autologous transplantation. Surprisingly, we demonstrated broad induction of T cell-dependent myeloma control, most efficiently from memory T cells within myeloma-experienced grafts, but also through priming of naive T cells after BMT. CD8+ T cells from mice with controlled myeloma had a distinct T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire and higher clonotype overlap relative to myeloma-free BMT recipients. Furthermore, T cell-dependent myeloma control could be adoptively transferred to secondary recipients and was myeloma cell clone specific. Interestingly, donor-derived IL-17A acted directly on myelomacells expressing the IL-17 receptor to induce a transcriptional landscape that promoted tumor growth and immune escape. Conversely, donor IFN-γ secretion and signaling were critical to protective immunity and were profoundly augmented by CD137 agonists. These data provide new insights into the mechanisms of action of transplantation in myeloma and provide rational approaches to improving clinical outcomes.

Uncovering genetic mechanisms of kidney aging through transcriptomics, genomics, and epigenomics.Kidney International, 95 (3). pp. 624-635.

Nephrons scar and involute during aging, increasing the risk of chronic kidney disease. Little is known, however, about geneticmechanisms of kidney aging. We sought to define the signatures of age on the renal transcriptome using 563 human kidneys. The initial discovery analysis of 260 kidney transcriptomes from the TRANScriptome of renaL humAn TissuE Study (TRANSLATE) and the Cancer Genome Atlas identified 37 age-associated genes. For 19 of those genes, the association with age was replicated in 303 kidneytranscriptomes from the Nephroseq resource. Surveying 42 nonrenal tissues from the Genotype-Tissue Expression project revealed that, for approximately a fifth of the replicated genes, the association with age was kidney-specific. Seventy-three percent of the replicated genes were associated with functional or histological parameters of age-related decline in kidney health, including glomerular filtration rate, glomerulosclerosis, interstitial fibrosis, tubular atrophy, and arterial narrowing. Common genetic variants in four of the age-related genes, namely LYG1, PPP1R3C, LTF and TSPYL5, correlated with the trajectory of age-related changes in their renal expression. Integrative analysis of genomic, epigenomic, and transcriptomic information revealed that the observed age-related decline in renal TSPYL5 expression was determined both genetically and epigenetically. Thus, this study revealed robust molecular signatures of the aging kidney and new regulatory mechanisms of age-related change in the kidney transcriptome

Simple, rapid and inexpensive typing of common HLA class I alleles for immunological studies.Journal of Immunological Methods, 465. pp. 72-76.

Current HLA-typing methods are typically designed to provide exquisitely-detailed identification of multiple HLA-alleles to satisfy the requirements for organ and bone marrow transplantation or genetic studies. Many human immunological studies, on the other hand, focus around only a small number of HLA alleles that are abundant or of relevance to specific diseases. Consequently, for such studies, many HLA typing approaches are not cost-effective and are potentially complicated, slow and not easily performed in-house. Work-flow would be streamlined by a simple, inexpensive and rapid typing method able to be performed in-house. We outline a straightforward approach that provides appropriate data for much immunological research. In a predominantly Caucasian population, flow cytometry using anti-HLA-A2, -B8 and -B7 antibodies consistently and accurately screened for samples carrying the highly-abundant HLA class I alleles HLA-A*02:01, -B*08:01 and -B*07:02 that form the focus of immunological studies. Next, we describe a straightforward and simple strategy for design and use of allele-specific PCR primers to identify, at high-resolution, alleles of interest. When combined with a simple gDNA extraction technique this provides reliable, simple and inexpensive in-house HLA typing demonstrated here for highly-abundant HLA class I alleles.

The role of obesity in inflammatory bowel disease.Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease, 1865 (1). pp. 63-72.

In just over a generation overweight and obesity has become a worldwide health concern. The ramifications for this on future health care costs and longevity are consequent, whilst increased adiposity is a harbinger for diabetes, kidney and bone failure, and cancer. An area of intense interest where the role of adiposity is avidly discussed is in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which presents mainly as Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Studies in patients associating IBD with a western diet are divergent. Nevertheless, elegant studies have found gene polymorphisms in humans that in murine models parallel the inflammatory and gut microbiome changes seen in IBD patients. However, an area not to be ignored are the alterations in adipocyte function with ensuing adiposity, in particular and a focus of this review, the dysregulation of the levels of adipocytokines such as leptin and adiponectin. Herein, we present and discuss the known influences of a western diet on IBD in patients and rodent models and how adipocytokines could influence the IBD disease process.

Exploring immunomodulation by endocrine changes in Lady Windermere Syndrome.Clinical and Experimental Immunology. (In Press)

Lung disease due to nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) occurs with disproportionate frequency in postmenopausal women with a unique phenotype and without clinically apparent predisposing factors. Dubbed 'Lady Windermere syndrome', the phenotype includes low body mass index (BMI), tall stature and higher than normal prevalence of scoliosis, pectus excavatum and mitral valve prolapse. Although the pathomechanism for susceptibility to NTM lung disease in these patients remains uncertain, it is likely to be multi-factorial. A role for the immunomodulatory consequences of oestrogen deficiency and altered adipokine production has been postulated. Altered levels of adipokines and dehydroepiandrosterone have been demonstrated in patients with NTM lung disease. Case reports of NTM lung disease in patients with hypopituitarism support the possibility that altered endocrine function influences disease susceptibility. This paper catalogues the evidence for immunomodulatory consequences of predicted endocrine changes in Lady Windermere syndrome, with emphasis on the immune response to NTM. Collectively, the data warrant further exploration of an endocrine link to disease susceptibility in Lady Windermere syndrome

Hookworm-derived metabolites suppress pathology in a mouse model of colitis and inhibit secretion of key inflammatory cytokines in primary human leukocytes.Infection and Immunity. (In Press)

Iatrogenic hookworm therapy shows promise for treating disorders that result from a dysregulated immune system, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Using a murine model of trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid-induced colitis and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, we demonstrate that low molecular weight metabolites derived from both somatic extracts (LMWM-SE) and excretory-secretory products (LMWM-ESP) of the hookworm, Ancylostoma caninum,display anti-inflammatory properties. Administration to mice of LMWM-ESP as well as sequentially extracted fractions of LMWM-SE using both methanol (SE-MeOH) and hexane: dichloromethane: acetonitrile (SE-HDA) resulted in significant protection against T cell-mediated immunopathology, clinical signs of colitis and impaired histological colon architecture. To assess bioactivity in human cells, we stimulated primary human leukocytes with lipopolysaccharide in the presence of hookworm extracts and showed that SE-HDA suppressed ex vivoproduction of inflammatorycytokines. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (MS) and liquid chromatography-MS analysis revealed the presence of 46 polar metabolites, 22 fatty acids and five short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in the LMWM-SE fraction, and 29 polar metabolites, 13 fatty acids and six SCFAs in the LMWM-ESP fraction. Several of these small metabolites, notably the SCFAs, have been previously reported to have anti-inflammatory properties in various disease settings, including IBD. This is the first report showing that hookworms secrete small molecules with both ex vivoand in vivoanti-inflammatory bioactivity, and warrant further exploration as a novel approach to the development of anti-inflammatory drugs inspired by coevolution of gut-dwelling hookworms with their vertebrate hosts.

Helminth-based therapies for rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.International Immunopharmacology, 66. pp. 366-372

Proteins from parasitic worms have been posed as novel therapies for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other auto-inflammatory diseases. However, with so many potential therapeutics, it is important that drug discovery be based on the specific phyla or species which show the most promising effects. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the reported effects of helminthic secretory proteins and derivative therapy on RA in an animal model. Medline, Scopus and Web of Science were searched to identify studies evaluating helminthic therapy in the collagen-induced arthritis model of RA. A meta-analysis was undertaken to determine the overall effect of the proteins. Subgroup analyses were also undertaken to investigate individual treatments. Seven articles were included in the analysis. Overall, helminthic therapy significantly reduced arthritis score (SMD -1.193, 95% CI -1.525, -0.860). Subgroup analyses found a significant reduction in arthritis score following treatment with helminth protein ES-62 (SMD -1.186, 95% CI -1.633, -0.738) and phosphorylcholine-based treatment (SMD -0.997, 95% CI -1.423, -0.571). Subgroup analyses found ES-62 treatment significantly decreased IFN-γ levels (SMD -1.611, 95% CI -2.734, -0.487) and significantly increased levels of IL-10 (SMD 0.946, 95% CI 0.127, 1.765). Therapeutics from parasitic worms are a promising avenue for drug discovery, especially with all included studies reporting a significant improvement in arthritis score. Based on pooled data presented in this study, the nematode Acanthocheilonema viteae seems to be of particular interest for therapeutics.