The mechanisms by which epithelial cells distinguish pathogens from commensal microbes have long puzzled us. Now, McEwan et al. (2012) and Dunbar et al. (2012), in this issue of Cell Host and Microbe, demonstrate that in C. elegans, microbial toxin-induced inhibition of host cellular functions, especially blockade of protein translation, activates the effector-triggered immune response dependent on the transcription factor ZIP-2.
A common defining characteristic of pathogenic bacteria is the expression of a repertoire of effector molecules that have been named virulence factors. These bacterial factors include a -variety of proteins, such as toxins that are internalized by receptors and translocate across endosomal membranes to reach the cytosol, as well as others that are introduced directly into the cell by means of bacterial secretory apparatuses. Given the importance of these effectors for understanding bacterial pathogenicity, significant effort has been made to dissect their molecular mechanisms of action and their respective roles during infection. Herein we will discuss how Drosophila have been used as a model system to study these important microbial effectors, and to understand their contribution to pathogenicity.
Caspases have been extensively studied as critical initiators and executioners of cell death pathways. However, caspases also take part in non-apoptotic signalling events such as the regulation of innate immunity and activation of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB). How caspases are activated under these conditions and process a selective set of substrates to allow NF-kappaB signalling without killing the cell remains largely unknown. Here, we show that stimulation of the Drosophila pattern recognition protein PGRP-LCx induces DIAP2-dependent polyubiquitylation of the initiator caspase DREDD. Signal-dependent ubiquitylation of DREDD is required for full processing of IMD, NF-kappaB/Relish and expression of antimicrobial peptide genes in response to infection with Gram-negative bacteria. Our results identify a mechanism that positively controls NF-kappaB signalling via ubiquitin-mediated activation of DREDD. The direct involvement of ubiquitylation in caspase activation represents a novel mechanism for non-apoptotic caspase-mediated signalling.
Innate immune recognition of pathogens is critical to the prompt control of infections, permitting the host to survive to develop long-term immunity via an adaptive immune response. Poxviruses encode a family of proteins that inhibit signaling by Toll-like receptors to their downstream signaling components, severely limiting nuclear translocation of transcription factors such as IRF3 and NF-kappaB and thereby decreasing production of host interferons and cytokines. We describe bioinformatics techniques for identifying candidate poxviral inhibitors of the innate immune response based on similarity to the family of proteins that includes A52, A46, and N1. Robust luciferase assays can determine whether a given poxviral gene affects innate immune signaling, and in combination with other approaches can identify the cellular targets of poxviral innate immune evasion genes. Because apoptosis is an innate immune response of the cell to viral infection, assays for identifying poxviral genes that inhibit apoptosis can also be employed. Novel poxviral innate immune inhibitors are being identified via several approaches and these techniques promise to identify further complexities in the way that poxviruses interact with the host innate immune system.
Innate immune responses have the ability to both combat infectious microbes and drive pathological inflammation. Inflammasome complexes are a central component of these processes through their regulation of interleukin 1beta (IL-1beta), IL-18 and pyroptosis. Inflammasomes recognize microbial products or endogenous molecules released from damaged or dying cells both through direct binding of ligands and indirect mechanisms. The potential of the IL-1 family of cytokines to cause tissue damage and chronic inflammation emphasizes the importance of regulating inflammasomes. Many regulatory mechanisms have been identified that act as checkpoints for attenuating inflammasome signaling at multiple steps. Here we discuss the various regulatory mechanisms that have evolved to keep inflammasome signaling in check to maintain immunological balance.
Structures of the HIN domain:DNA complexes reveal ligand binding and activation mechanisms of the AIM2 inflammasome and IFI16 receptor
Recognition of DNA by the innate immune system is central to antiviral and antibacterial defenses, as well as an important contributor to autoimmune diseases involving self DNA. AIM2 (absent in melanoma 2) and IFI16 (interferon-inducible protein 16) have been identified as DNA receptors that induce inflammasome formation and interferon production, respectively. Here we present the crystal structures of their HIN domains in complex with double-stranded (ds) DNA. Non-sequence-specific DNA recognition is accomplished through electrostatic attraction between the positively charged HIN domain residues and the dsDNA sugar-phosphate backbone. An intramolecular complex of the AIM2 Pyrin and HIN domains in an autoinhibited state is liberated by DNA binding, which may facilitate the assembly of inflammasomes along the DNA staircase. These findings provide mechanistic insights into dsDNA as the activation trigger and oligomerization platform for the assembly of large innate signaling complexes such as the inflammasomes.
TLR9 provokes inflammation in response to fetal DNA: mechanism for fetal loss in preterm birth and preeclampsia
Preterm birth, the major cause of neonatal mortality in developed countries, is associated with intrauterine infections and inflammation, although the exact mechanisms underlying this event are unclear. In this study, we show that circulating fetal DNA, which is elevated in pregnancies complicated by preterm labor or preeclampsia, triggers an inflammatory reaction that results in spontaneous preterm birth. Fetal DNA activates NF-kappaB, shown by IkappaBalpha degradation in human PBMCs resulting in production of proinflammatory IL-6. We show that fetal resorption and preterm birth are rapidly induced in mice after i.p. injection of CpG or fetal DNA (300 mug/dam) on gestational day 10-14. In contrast, TLR9(-/-) mice were protected from these effects. Furthermore, this effect was blocked by oral administration of the TLR9 inhibitor chloroquine. Our data therefore provide a novel mechanism for preterm birth and preeclampsia, highlighting TLR9 as a potential therapeutic target for these common disorders of pregnancy.
Comment on: GBP5 promotes NLRP3 inflammasome assembly and immunity in mammals. [Science. 2012]
The adaptors DOCK8 and MyD88 have been linked to serological memory. Here we report that DOCK8-deficient patients had impaired antibody responses and considerably fewer CD27(+) memory B cells. B cell proliferation and immunoglobulin production driven by Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) were considerably lower in DOCK8-deficient B cells, but those driven by the costimulatory molecule CD40 were not. In contrast, TLR9-driven expression of AICDA (which encodes the cytidine deaminase AID), the immunoglobulin receptor CD23 and the costimulatory molecule CD86 and activation of the transcription factor NF-kappaB, the kinase p38 and the GTPase Rac1 were intact. DOCK8 associated constitutively with MyD88 and the tyrosine kinase Pyk2 in normal B cells. After ligation of TLR9, DOCK8 became tyrosine-phosphorylated by Pyk2, bound the Src-family kinase Lyn and linked TLR9 to a Src-kinase Syk-transcription factor STAT3 cascade essential for TLR9-driven B cell proliferation and differentiation. Thus, DOCK8 functions as an adaptor in a TLR9-MyD88 signaling pathway in B cells.
The innate immune system senses infection by detecting either evolutionarily conserved molecules essential for the survival of microbes or the abnormal location of molecules. Here we demonstrate the existence of a previously unknown innate detection mechanism induced by fusion between viral envelopes and target cells. Virus-cell fusion specifically stimulated a type I interferon response with expression of interferon-stimulated genes, in vivo recruitment of leukocytes and potentiation of signaling via Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) and TLR9. The fusion-dependent response was dependent on the stimulator of interferon genes STING but was independent of DNA, RNA and viral capsid. We suggest that membrane fusion is sensed as a danger signal with potential implications for defense against enveloped viruses and various conditions of giant-cell formation.
Serine/threonine acetylation of TGFbeta-activated kinase (TAK1) by Yersinia pestis YopJ inhibits innate immune signaling
The Gram-negative bacteria Yersinia pestis, causative agent of plague, is extremely virulent. One mechanism contributing to Y. pestis virulence is the presence of a type-three secretion system, which injects effector proteins, Yops, directly into immune cells of the infected host. One of these Yop proteins, YopJ, is proapoptotic and inhibits mammalian NF-kappaB and MAP-kinase signal transduction pathways. Although the molecular mechanism remained elusive for some time, recent work has shown that YopJ acts as a serine/threonine acetyl-transferase targeting MAP2 kinases. Using Drosophila as a model system, we find that YopJ inhibits one innate immune NF-kappaB signaling pathway (IMD) but not the other (Toll). In fact, we show YopJ mediated serine/threonine acetylation and inhibition of dTAK1, the critical MAP3 kinase in the IMD pathway. Acetylation of critical serine/threonine residues in the activation loop of Drosophila TAK1 blocks phosphorylation of the protein and subsequent kinase activation. In addition, studies in mammalian cells show similar modification and inhibition of hTAK1. These data present evidence that TAK1 is a target for YopJ-mediated inhibition.
Role of interferon regulatory factor 7 in T cell responses during acute lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus infection
Type I interferons (IFNs), predominantly IFN-alpha and -beta, play critical roles in both innate and adaptive immune responses against viral infections. Interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF7), a key innate immune molecule in the type I IFN signaling pathway, is essential for the type I IFN response to many viruses, including lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). Here, we show that although IRF7 knockout (KO) mice failed to control the replication of LCMV in the early stages of infection, they were capable of clearing LCMV infection. Despite the lack of type I IFN production, IRF7 KO mice generated normal CD4(+) T cell responses, and the expansion of naive CD8(+) T cells into primary CD8(+) T cells specific for LCMV GP(33-41) was relatively normal. In contrast, the expansion of the LCMV NP(396)-specific CD8(+) T cells was severely impaired in IRF7 KO mice. We demonstrated that this defective CD8(+) T cell response is due neither to an impaired antigen-presenting system nor to any intrinsic role of IRF7 in CD8(+) T cells. The lack of a type I IFN response in IRF7 KO mice did not affect the formation of memory CD8(+) T cells. Thus, the present study provides new insight into the impact of the innate immune system on viral pathogenesis and demonstrates the critical contribution of innate immunity in controlling virus replication in the early stages of infection, which may shape the quality of CD8(+) T cell responses.
Systemic infections with Gram-negative bacteria are characterized by high mortality rates due to the "sepsis syndrome," a widespread and uncontrolled inflammatory response. Though it is well recognized that the immune response during Gram-negative bacterial infection is initiated after the recognition of endotoxin by Toll-like receptor 4, the molecular mechanisms underlying the detrimental inflammatory response during Gram-negative bacteremia remain poorly defined. Here, we identify a TRIF pathway that licenses NLRP3 inflammasome activation by all Gram-negative bacteria. By engaging TRIF, Gram-negative bacteria activate caspase-11. TRIF activates caspase-11 via type I IFN signaling, an event that is both necessary and sufficient for caspase-11 induction and autoactivation. Caspase-11 subsequently synergizes with the assembled NLRP3 inflammasome to regulate caspase-1 activation and leads to caspase-1-independent cell death. These events occur specifically during infection with Gram-negative, but not Gram-positive, bacteria. The identification of TRIF as a regulator of caspase-11 underscores the importance of TLRs as master regulators of inflammasomes during Gram-negative bacterial infection.
NLRP3 inflammasome activation in macrophage cell lines by prion protein fibrils as the source of IL-1beta and neuronal toxicity
Prion diseases are fatal transmissible neurodegenerative diseases, characterized by aggregation of the pathological form of prion protein, spongiform degeneration, and neuronal loss, and activation of astrocytes and microglia. Microglia can clear prion plaques, but on the other hand cause neuronal death via release of neurotoxic species. Elevated expression of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-1beta has been observed in brains affected by several prion diseases, and IL-1R-deficiency significantly prolonged the onset of the neurodegeneration in mice. We show that microglial cells stimulated by prion protein (PrP) fibrils induced neuronal toxicity. Microglia and macrophages release IL-1beta upon stimulation by PrP fibrils, which depends on the NLRP3 inflammasome. Activation of NLRP3 inflammasome by PrP fibrils requires depletion of intracellular K(+), and requires phagocytosis of PrP fibrils and consecutive lysosome destabilization. Among the well-defined molecular forms of PrP, the strongest NLRP3 activation was observed by fibrils, followed by aggregates, while neither native monomeric nor oligomeric PrP were able to activate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Our results together with previous studies on IL-1R-deficient mice suggest the IL-1 signaling pathway as the perspective target for the therapy of prion disease.
5,6-Dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA) activates stimulator of interferon gene (STING)-dependent innate immune pathways and is regulated by mitochondrial membrane potential
The chemotherapeutic agent 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA) is a potent inducer of type I IFNs and other cytokines. This ability is essential for its chemotherapeutic benefit in a mouse cancer model and suggests that it might also be useful as an antiviral agent. However, the mechanism underlying DMXAA-induced type I IFNs, including the host proteins involved, remains unclear. Recently, it was reported that the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) decreased DMXAA-induced TNF-alpha and IL-6, suggesting that oxidative stress may play a role. The goal of this study was to identify host proteins involved in DMXAA-dependent signaling and determine how antioxidants modulate this response. We found that expression of IFN-beta in response to DMXAA in mouse macrophages requires the mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum resident protein STING. Addition of the antioxidant diphenylene iodonium (DPI) diminished DMXAA-induced IFN-beta, but this decrease was independent of both the NADPH oxidase, Nox2, and de novo generation of reactive oxygen species. Additionally, IFN-beta up-regulation by DMXAA was inhibited by agents that target the mitochondrial electron transport chain and, conversely, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential correlated with diminished innate immune signaling in response to DMXAA. Up-regulation of Ifnb1 gene expression mediated by cyclic dinucleotides was also impaired by DPI, whereas up-regulation of Ifnb1 mRNA due to cytosolic double-stranded DNA was not. Although both stimuli signal through STING, cyclic dinucleotides interact directly with STING, suggesting that recognition of DMXAA by STING may also be mediated by direct interaction.
Cutting Edge: FAS (CD95) mediates noncanonical IL-1beta and IL-18 maturation via caspase-8 in an RIP3-independent manner
Fas, a TNF family receptor, is activated by the membrane protein Fas ligand expressed on various immune cells. Fas signaling triggers apoptosis and induces inflammatory cytokine production. Among the Fas-induced cytokines, the IL-1beta family cytokines require proteolysis to gain biological activity. Inflammasomes, which respond to pathogens and danger signals, cleave IL-1beta cytokines via caspase-1. However, the mechanisms by which Fas regulates IL-1beta activation remain unresolved. In this article, we demonstrate that macrophages exposed to TLR ligands upregulate Fas, which renders them responsive to receptor engagement by Fas ligand. Fas signaling activates caspase-8 in macrophages and dendritic cells, leading to the maturation of IL-1beta and IL-18 independently of inflammasomes or RIP3. Hence, Fas controls a novel noncanonical IL-1beta activation pathway in myeloid cells, which could play an essential role in inflammatory processes, tumor surveillance, and control of infectious diseases.
This article is based upon a paper delivered by Anne Beales to the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership, IIMHL, Conference in Killarney, Ireland, May 2010, and developed by the Interrelate group: Daniel Fisher, US, Shaun McNeil, Scotland, Jenny Speed, Australia, Paddy MacGowan, Ireland, Gary Platz, New Zealand, and Joan Edwards-Karmazyn, Canada.
MISSION DIRECT VET (Maintaining Independence and Sobriety through Systems Integration, Outreach, and Networking Diversion & Recovery for Traumatized Veterans, “MDV”) is a study funded by a grant from SAMHSA to the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) being conducted by UMass Medical School, UMass Boston, the Veterans Administration, the DMH, and other state agencies. This court-based diversion program serves Massachusetts veterans with trauma-related mental health and substance use problems.
Trends in the use of antiepileptic drugs among pregnant women in the US, 2001-2007: a medication exposure in pregnancy risk evaluation program study
BACKGROUND: Little is known about the extent of antiepileptic drug (AED) use in pregnancy, particularly for newer agents. Our objective was to assess whether AED use has increased among pregnant women in the US, 2001-2007.
METHODS: We analysed data from the Medication Exposure in Pregnancy Risk Evaluation Program (MEPREP) database, 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2007. We identified liveborn deliveries among women, aged 15-45 years on delivery date, who were members of MEPREP health plans (n=585615 deliveries). Pregnancy exposure to AEDs, determined through outpatient pharmacy dispensing files. Older AEDs were available for clinical use before 1993; other agents were considered newer AEDs. Information on sociodemographic and medical/reproductive factors was obtained from linked birth certificate files. Maternal diagnoses were identified based on ICD-9 codes.
RESULTS: Prevalence of AED use during pregnancy increased between 2001 (15.7 per 1000 deliveries) and 2007 (21.9 per 1000 deliveries), driven primarily by a fivefold increase in the use of newer AEDs. Thirteen per cent of AED-exposed deliveries involved a combination of two or more AEDs. Psychiatric disorders were the most prevalent diagnoses, followed by epileptic and pain disorders, among AED users regardless of AED type, year of conception or gestational period.
CONCLUSIONS: AED use during pregnancy increased between 2001 and 2007, driven by a fivefold increase in the use of newer AEDs. Nearly one in eight AED-exposed deliveries involved the concomitant use of more than one AED. Additional investigations of the reproductive safety of newer AEDs may be needed.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the prevalence, trends, and patterns in use of antidiabetic medications to treat hyperglycemia and insulin resistance before and during pregnancy in a large U.S. cohort of insured pregnant women.
METHODS: Pregnancies resulting in live births were identified (N=437,950) from 2001 to 2007 among 372,543 females 12-50 years of age at delivery from 10 health maintenance organizations participating in the Medication Exposure in Pregnancy Risk Evaluation Program. Information for these descriptive analyses, including all antidiabetic medications dispensed during this period, was extracted from electronic health records and newborn birth certificates.
RESULTS: A little more than 1% (1.21%) of deliveries were to women dispensed antidiabetic medication in the 120 days before pregnancy. Use of antidiabetic medications before pregnancy increased from 0.66% of deliveries in 2001 to 1.66% of deliveries in 2007 (P<.001) because of an increase in metformin use. Most women using metformin before pregnancy had a diagnosis code for polycystic ovaries or female infertility (67.2%), whereas only 13.6% had a diagnosis code for diabetes. The use of antidiabetic medications during the second or third trimester of pregnancy increased from 2.8% of deliveries in 2001 to 3.6% in 2007 (P<.001). Approximately two thirds (68%) of women using metformin before pregnancy did not use any antidiabetic medications during pregnancy.
CONCLUSIONS: Antidiabetic medication use before and during pregnancy increased from 2001 to 2007, possibly because of increasing prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and other conditions associated with insulin resistance.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III.