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This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Human peripheral blood monocytes (Mo) consist of subsets distinguished by expression of CD16 (FCγRIII) and chemokine receptors. Classical CD16- Mo express CCR2 and migrate in response to CCL2, while a minor CD16+ Mo subset expresses CD16 and CX3CR1 and migrates into tissues expressing CX3CL1. CD16+ Mo produce pro-inflammatory cytokines and are expanded in certain inflammatory conditions including sepsis and HIV infection.
To gain insight into the developmental relationship and functions of CD16+ and CD16- Mo, we examined transcriptional profiles of these Mo subsets in peripheral blood from healthy individuals. Of 16,328 expressed genes, 2,759 genes were differentially expressed and 228 and 250 were >2-fold upregulated and downregulated, respectively, in CD16+ compared to CD16- Mo. CD16+ Mo were distinguished by upregulation of transcripts for dendritic cell (DC) (SIGLEC10, CD43, RARA) and macrophage (MΦ) (CSF1R/CD115, MafB, CD97, C3aR) markers together with transcripts relevant for DC-T cell interaction (CXCL16, ICAM-2, LFA-1), cell activation (LTB, TNFRSF8, LST1, IFITM1-3, HMOX1, SOD-1, WARS, MGLL), and negative regulation of the cell cycle (CDKN1C, MTSS1), whereas CD16- Mo were distinguished by upregulation of transcripts for myeloid (CD14, MNDA, TREM1, CD1d, C1qR/CD93) and granulocyte markers (FPR1, GCSFR/CD114, S100A8-9/12). Differential expression of CSF1R, CSF3R, C1QR1, C3AR1, CD1d, CD43, CXCL16, and CX3CR1 was confirmed by flow cytometry. Furthermore, increased expression of RARA and KLF2 transcripts in CD16+ Mo coincided with absence of cell surface cutaneous lymphocyte associated antigen (CLA) expression, indicating potential imprinting for non-skin homing.
These results suggest that CD16+ and CD16- Mo originate from a common myeloid precursor, with CD16+ Mo having a more MΦ – and DC-like transcription program suggesting a more advanced stage of differentiation. Distinct transcriptional programs, together with their recruitment into tissues via different mechanisms, also suggest that CD16+ and CD16- Mo give rise to functionally distinct DC and MΦ in vivo.