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1.  Effects of Blood Transportation on Human Peripheral Mononuclear Cell Yield, Phenotype and Function: Implications for Immune Cell Biobanking 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115920.
Human biospecimen collection, processing and preservation are rapidly emerging subjects providing essential support to clinical as well as basic researchers. Unlike collection of other biospecimens (e.g. DNA and serum), biobanking of viable immune cells, such as peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and/or isolated immune cell subsets is still in its infancy. While certain aspects of processing and freezing conditions have been studied in the past years, little is known about the effect of blood transportation on immune cell survival, phenotype and specific functions. However, especially for multicentric and cooperative projects it is vital to precisely know those effects. In this study we investigated the effect of blood shipping and pre-processing delay on immune cell phenotype and function both on cellular and subcellular levels. Peripheral blood was collected from healthy volunteers (n = 9): at a distal location (shipped overnight) and in the central laboratory (processed immediately). PBMC were processed in the central laboratory and analyzed post-cryopreservation. We analyzed yield, major immune subset distribution, proliferative capacity of T cells, cytokine pattern and T-cell receptor signal transduction. Results show that overnight transportation of blood samples does not globally compromise T- cell subsets as they largely retain their phenotype and proliferative capacity. However, NK and B cell frequencies, the production of certain PBMC-derived cytokines and IL-6 mediated cytokine signaling pathway are altered due to transportation. Various control experiments have been carried out to compare issues related to shipping versus pre-processing delay on site. Our results suggest the implementation of appropriate controls when using multicenter logistics for blood transportation aiming at subsequent isolation of viable immune cells, e.g. in multicenter clinical trials or studies analyzing immune cells/subsets. One important conclusion might be that despite changes due to overnight shipment, highly standardized central processing (and analysis) could be superior to multicentric de-central processing with more difficult standardization.
PMCID: PMC4277394  PMID: 25541968
3.  Tethering of ICAM on target cells is required for LFA-1-dependent NK cell adhesion and granule polarization 
Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)  2010;185(5):10.4049/jimmunol.1000761.
αLβ2 integrin (LFA-1) has an important role in the formation of T cell and NK cell cytotoxic immunological synapses and in target cell killing. Binding of LFA-1 to ICAM on target cells promotes not only adhesion, but also polarization of cytolytic granules in NK cells. Here we tested whether LFA-1-dependent NK cell responses are regulated by the distribution and mobility of ICAM at the surface of target cells. We show that depolymerization of F-actin in NK-sensitive target cells abrogated LFA-1-dependent conjugate formation and granule polarization in primary NK cells. Degranulation, which is not controlled by LFA-1, was not impaired. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching experiments and particle tracking by total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy revealed that ICAM-1 and ICAM-2 were distributed in largely immobile clusters. ICAM clusters were maintained and became highly mobile after actin depolymerization. Moreover, reducing ICAM-2 mobility on an NK-resistant target cell through expression of ezrin, an adapter molecule that tethers proteins to the actin cytoskeleton, enhanced LFA-1-dependent adhesion and granule polarization. Finally, while NK cells kept moving over freely diffusible ICAM-1 on a lipid bilayer, they bound and spread over solid-phase ICAM-1. We conclude that tethering, rather than clustering of ICAM promotes proper signaling by LFA-1 in NK cells. Our findings suggest that the lateral diffusion of integrin ligands on cells may be an important determinant of susceptibility to lysis by cytotoxic lymphocytes.
PMCID: PMC3867939  PMID: 20675589
NK cell; adhesion; LFA-1; granule polarization; cytoskeleton; ezrin
4.  NKG2D-dependent cytotoxicity is controlled by ligand distribution in the target cell membrane 
Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)  2011;186(10):10.4049/jimmunol.1002254.
While the importance of membrane microdomains in receptor-mediated activation of lymphocytes has been established, much less is known about the role of receptor ligand distribution on APC and target cells. Detergent-resistant membrane (DRM) domains, into which glycophosphatidylinositol (GPI)-linked proteins partition, are enriched in cholesterol and glycosphingolipids. ULBP1 is a GPI-linked ligand for natural cytotoxicity receptor NKG2D. To investigate how ULBP1 distribution on target cells affects NKG2D-dependent NK cell activation, we fused the extracellular domain of ULBP1 to the transmembrane domain of CD45. Introduction of this transmembrane domain eliminated the association of ULBP1 with the DRM fraction and caused a significant reduction of cytotoxicity and degranulation by NK cells. Clustering and lateral diffusion of ULBP1 was not affected by changes in the membrane anchor. These results show that the partitioning of receptor ligands in discrete membrane domains of target cells is an important determinant of NK cell activation.
PMCID: PMC3865715  PMID: 21464092
NK cell; NKG2D; ULBP1; detergent resistant membrane; cytotoxicity; degranulation
5.  Use of transfected Drosophila S2 cells to study NK cell activation 
Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)  2010;612:10.1007/978-1-60761-362-6_6.
Determining the contribution of individual receptors to natural killer (NK) cell function is complicated by the multiplicity of activating and inhibitory NK cell receptors. Mammalian target cells typically express a variety of ligands for NK cell receptors. Engagement of NK cell receptors by antibodies may not mimic activation by natural ligands. To define requirements for activation and dissect the contribution of receptors to NK cell function, we have generated Drosophila Schneider line 2 (S2) cell transfectants expressing ligands for NK cell receptors. The evolutionary distance between Drosophila and mammals greatly reduces the potential of recognition of insect cell molecules by mammalian NK cells. Here, we present methods for maintenance and transfection of S2 cells, as well as protocols for their use in NK cell assays.
PMCID: PMC3843938  PMID: 20033635
Drosophila; S2; insect cells; NK cells; activation; inhibition; transfection
6.  CD4+NKG2D+ T Cells Exhibit Enhanced Migratory and Encephalitogenic Properties in Neuroinflammation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81455.
Migration of encephalitogenic CD4+ T lymphocytes across the blood-brain barrier is an essential step in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS). We here demonstrate that expression of the co-stimulatory receptor NKG2D defines a subpopulation of CD4+ T cells with elevated levels of markers for migration, activation, and cytolytic capacity especially when derived from MS patients. Furthermore, CD4+NKG2D+ cells produce high levels of proinflammatory IFN-γ and IL-17 upon stimulation. NKG2D promotes the capacity of CD4+NKG2D+ cells to migrate across endothelial cells in an in vitro model of the blood-brain barrier. CD4+NKG2D+ T cells are enriched in the cerebrospinal fluid of MS patients, and a significant number of CD4+ T cells in MS lesions coexpress NKG2D. We further elucidated the role of CD4+NKG2D+ T cells in the mouse system. NKG2D blockade restricted central nervous system migration of T lymphocytes in vivo, leading to a significant decrease in the clinical and pathologic severity of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an animal model of MS. Blockade of NKG2D reduced killing of cultivated mouse oligodendrocytes by activated CD4+ T cells. Taken together, we identify CD4+NKG2D+ cells as a subpopulation of T helper cells with enhanced migratory, encephalitogenic and cytotoxic properties involved in inflammatory CNS lesion development.
PMCID: PMC3839937  PMID: 24282598
7.  Palmitoylation of MICA, a ligand for NKG2D, mediates its recruitment to membrane microdomains and promotes its shedding 
European journal of immunology  2011;41(12):3667-3676.
MICA and MICB (MHC-class-I-related chain A/B) are transmembrane proteins expressed in pathological conditions that are ligands for NKG2D, an activating receptor found on cytotoxic lymphocytes. The recognition on target cells of NKG2D ligands leads to the activation of lysis and cytokine secretion by NK cells and T cells. Besides being expressed at the cell surface, MICA/B can be released as soluble proteins. Soluble NKG2D ligands downmodulate expression of the NKG2D receptor on lymphocytes, leading to a diminished cytotoxic response. Prior studies suggested that recruitment of MICA/B molecules to cholesterol-enriched microdomains was an important factor regulating the proteolytic release of these molecules. We now show that recruitment of MICA to these microdomains depends on palmitoylation of two cysteine residues that allow MICA molecules to reside in the membrane in the same domains as caveolin-1. Compared with WT molecules, nonpalmitoylated mutant MICA molecules were shed to the supernatant with low efficiency; however, both WT and mutant MICA were able to trigger NK cell cytotoxicity. These data suggest that the presence of NKG2D ligands at the plasma membrane is sufficient to activate cytotoxicity and reflect the need of different ligands to exploit different cellular pathways to reach the cell surface upon different stress situations.
PMCID: PMC3709245  PMID: 21928280
MHC-class I-related chain A; NK cell; NKG2D; Palmitoylation
8.  Cytotoxic CD8+ T cells and CD138+ plasma cells prevail in cerebrospinal fluid in non-paraneoplastic cerebellar ataxia with contactin-associated protein-2 antibodies 
The purpose of this paper is to report a patient with otherwise unexplained cerebellar ataxia with serum antibodies against contactin-associated protein-2 (CASPR-2) and provide a detailed description of the composition of cellular infiltrates in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) compared to the peripheral blood (PB). CASPR-2 antibodies strongly labeling axons of cerebellar granule neurons have recently been identified in sera from nine patients with otherwise unexplained progressive cerebellar ataxia with mild to severe cerebellar atrophy.
This is a report of a single case.
The study methods used were neurologic examination, magnetic resonance imaging, fluorodeoxyglucose positron emisson tomography, lumbar puncture and multicolor flow-cytometry.
A 23-year-old Caucasian male presented with a two-year history of a progressive cerebellar and brainstem syndrome. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed pronounced cerebellar atrophy, especially of the medial parts of the hemispheres and the vermis. Cerebral fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) showed pronounced hypometabolism of the whole cerebellum. CASPR-2 antibodies were detected in the serum but not the CSF, and none of the staging and laboratory assessments revealed other causes of progressive cerebellar degeneration. Interestingly, flow-cytometry of the CSF as compared to the PB showed increased fractions of CD138+ plasma cells as well as human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DR+ CD8+ T cells suggesting that both B cells and CD8+ T cells were preferentially recruited to and activated within the CSF- (and putatively central nervous system (CNS)-) compartment.
We confirm the association of CASPR-2 serum antibodies with cerebellar ataxia and provide the first evidence for a combined humoral and cellular immune response in this novel antibody-associated inflammatory CNS disease.
PMCID: PMC3464990  PMID: 22759321
CD138+ plasma cells; Cytotoxic CD8+ T cells; Contactin-2-associated protein-2; Cerebellar ataxia
9.  Ventral Premotor Cortex May Be Required for Dynamic Changes in the Feeling of Limb Ownership: A Lesion Study 
The feeling of “body ownership” may be experimentally investigated by perceptual illusions. The “rubber hand illusion” (RHI) leads human subjects to experience an artificial hand as their own. According to functional imaging, the ventral premotor cortex (PMv) plays a key role in the integration of multisensory inputs allowing the “incorporation” of the rubber hand into body representation. However, causal structure–function relationships can only be obtained by lesion studies.
Here, we tested the RHI in 70 stroke patients and in 40 age-matched healthy controls. Additionally, asomatognosia, the unawareness of one’s own body parts, was assessed in a subgroup of 64 stroke patients. Ischemic lesions were delineated on diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images and normalized. Right-hemispheric lesions were mirrored across the midline. Voxels that might be essential for RHI and/or somatognosia were defined by voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping. Probabilistic diffusion tractography was used to identify tracts passing through these voxels.
Contralesional rubber hand illusion failure (RHIF) was observed in 18 (26%) of 70 stroke patients, an additional ipsilesional RHIF in seven of these patients. RHIF-associated lesion voxels were located subcortically adjacent to the insula, basal ganglia, and within the periventricular white matter. Tractography revealed fiber tract connections of these voxels with premotor, parietal, and prefrontal cortex. Contralesional asomatognosia was found in 18 (28%) of 64 stroke patients. In contrast to RHIF, asomatognosia-associated lesion voxels showed no connection with PMv.
The results point to a role of PMv and its connections in mediating changes in the sense of limb ownership driven by multisensory stimulation.
PMCID: PMC3119817  PMID: 21451023
10.  Synergistic Signals for Natural Cytotoxicity Are Required to Overcome Inhibition by c-Cbl 
Immunity  2010;32(2):175-186.
To safeguard from “permissive” NK cell reactivity towards target cells, activation by receptors such as NKG2D and 2B4 includes a requirement for synergistic coactivation. How synergy occurs is not known. Synergistic phosphorylation of PLC-γ2, Ca2+ mobilization, and degranulation triggered by NKG2D and 2B4 coengagement were blocked by Vav1 knockdown, but enhanced by knockdown of the ubiquitin ligase c-Cbl. c-Cbl inhibits Vav1-dependent signals, as c-Cbl knockdown did not rescue the Vav1 defect. Moreover, c-Cbl knockdown and Vav1 overexpression each circumvented the requirement for synergy, as NKG2D or 2B4 alone became sufficient for activation. Thus, synergy does not require strict complementation but, rather, enhanced Vav1 signals to overcome inhibition by c-Cbl. Inhibition of cytotoxicity by CD94-NKG2A binding to HLA-E on target cells was dominant over synergistic activation, even after c-Cbl knockdown. Therefore, NK cell activation by synergizing receptors is regulated at the level of Vav1 by a hierarchy of inhibitory mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2843589  PMID: 20189481
11.  Influence of Hsp70 and HLA-E on the killing of leukemic blasts by cytokine/Hsp70 peptide-activated human natural killer (NK) cells 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2008;13(2):221-230.
This study compared the effects of the human 70-kDa stress protein (Hsp70) peptide, TKDNNLLGRFELSG (TKD), proinflammatory cytokines, or a combination of both on the repertoire of receptors expressed by human natural killer (NK) cells and their capacity to kill human CX colon carcinoma cells, K562 erythroleukemic cells, and leukemic blasts from two patients with acute myelogenous leukemia. Low-dose interleukin (IL) 2/IL-15 and TKD increase the expression density of activatory (NKG2D, NKp30, NKp44, NKp46, CD94/NKG2C) and inhibitory (CD94/NKG2A) receptors on NK cells. Concomitantly, IL-2/TKD treatment enhances the cytotoxicity of NK cells (as reflected by their secretion of granzyme B) against Hsp70 membrane-positive and human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-E membrane-negative (Hsp70+/HLA-E−) CX+ and K562 cells. However, it had no effect on the responsiveness to Hsp70−/HLA-E− CX− cells over that induced by IL-2 alone. The cytotoxicity of IL-2/TKD-activated, purified NK cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells against Hsp70+/HLA-E+ leukemic blasts was weaker than that against Hsp70+/HLA-E− K562 cells. Hsp70-blocking and HLA-E transfection experiments confirmed membrane-bound Hsp70 as being a recognition/activatory ligand for NK cells, as cytotoxicity was reduced by the presence of the anti-Hsp70 monoclonal antibody cmHsp70.2 and by inhibiting Hsp70 synthesis using short interference ribonucleic acid. HLA-E was confirmed as an inhibitory ligand, as the extent of NK cell-mediated lysis of K562 cell populations that had been transfected with HLA-ER or HLA-EG alleles was dependent on the proportion of HLA-E-expressing cells. These findings indicate that Hsp70 (as an activatory molecule) and HLA-E (as an inhibitory ligand) expression influence the susceptibility of leukemic cells to the cytolytic activities of cytokine/TKD-activated NK cells.
PMCID: PMC2673894  PMID: 18759005
Human; Natural killer cells; Cell surface molecules; Cytotoxicity; Tumor immunity
12.  Heat Shock Protein 70 Surface-Positive Tumor Exosomes Stimulate Migratory and Cytolytic Activity of Natural Killer Cells 
Cancer research  2005;65(12):5238-5247.
Detergent-soluble membrane vesicles are actively released by human pancreas (Colo−/Colo+) and colon (CX−/CX+) carcinoma sublines, differing in their capacity to present heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70)/Bag-4 on their plasma membranes. Floating properties, acetylcholine esterase activity, and protein composition characterized them as exosomes. An enrichment of Rab-4 documented their intracellular transport route from early endosomes to the plasma membrane. After solubilization, comparable amounts of cytosolic proteins, including tubulin, Hsp70, Hsc70, and Bag-4, but not ER-residing Grp94 and calnexin, were detectable in tumor-derived exosomes. However, with respect to the exosomal surface, only Colo+/CX+ but not Colo−/CX exosomes were Hsp70 membrane derived positive. Therefore, concomitant with an up-regulated cell surface density of activation markers, migration and Hsp70 reactivity of natural killer (NK) cells was stimulated selectively by Hsp70/Bag-4 surface-positive exosomes, but not by their negative counterparts and tumor cell lysates. Moreover, the exosome-mediated lytic activity of NK cells was blockable by Hsp70-specific antibody. As already shown for TKD stimulation, NK cells preincubated with Hsp70 surface-positive exosomes initiated apoptosis in tumors through granzyme B release. In summary, our data provide an explanation how Hsp70 reactivity in NK cells is induced by tumor-derived exosomes.
PMCID: PMC1785299  PMID: 15958569
13.  Heat shock protein 70-reactivity is associated with increased cell surface density of CD94/CD56 on primary natural killer cells 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2003;8(4):348-360.
Previously we described an involvement of the C-type lectin receptor CD94 and the neuronal adhesion molecule CD56 in the interaction of natural killer (NK) cells with Hsp70-protein and Hsp70-peptide TKD. Therefore, differences in the cell surface density of these NK cell–specific markers were investigated comparatively in CD94-sorted, primary NK cells and in established NK cell lines NK-92, NKL, and YT after TKD stimulation. Initially, all NK cell types were positive for CD94; the CD56 expression varied. After stimulation with TKD, the mean fluorescence intensity (mfi) of CD94 and CD56 was upregulated selectively in primary NK cells but not in NK cell lines. Other cell surface markers including natural cytotoxicity receptors remained unaffected in all cell types. CD3-enriched T cells neither expressing CD94 nor CD56 served as a negative control. High receptor densities of CD94/CD56 were associated with an increased cytolytic response against Hsp70 membrane–positive tumor target cells. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I–negative, Hsp70-positive target cell line K562 was efficiently lysed by primary NK cells and to a lower extent by NK lines NK-92 and NKL. YT and CD3-positive T cells were unable to kill K562 cells. MHC class-I and Hsp70-positive, Cx+ tumor target cells were efficiently lysed only by CD94-sorted, TKD-stimulated NK cells with high CD94/CD56 mfi values. Hsp70-specificity was demonstrated by antibody blocking assays, comparative phenotyping of the tumor target cells, and by correlating the amount of membrane-bound Hsp70 with the sensitivity to lysis. Remarkably, a 14-mer peptide (LKD), exhibiting only 1 amino acid exchange at position 1 (T to L), neither stimulated Hsp70-reactivity nor resulted in an upregulated CD94 expression on primary NK cells. Taken together our findings indicate that an MHC class I–independent, Hsp70 reactivity could be associated with elevated cell surface densities of CD94 and CD56 after TKD stimulation.
PMCID: PMC514906  PMID: 15115287
14.  Inhibition of tumor growth in mice with severe combined immunodeficiency is mediated by heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70)-peptide–activated, CD94 positive natural killer cells 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2002;7(4):365-373.
Previously, we reported that the major stress-inducible heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) acts as a recognition structure for natural killer (NK) cells, if localized on the cell surface of tumor cells. Incubation of purified NK cells with low-dose interleukin (IL)-2 (100 IU/mL) plus recombinant Hsp70-protein or the immunogenic 14-mer Hsp70-peptide TKDNNLLGRFELSG450–463, termed TKD (2 μg/mL), enhances the cytolytic activity against Hsp70 membrane-positive (CX+) but not against Hsp70-negative (CX−) tumor cells. Here, we show that the cytolytic activity against Hsp70-positive tumor cells is inducible by incubation of unseparated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMNC) with low-dose IL-2 plus TKD. Cell sorting experiments revealed that within the PBMNC population CD94+/CD3− NK cells, and not CD94−/CD3+ T cells, mediate the cytotoxic activity against Hsp70-positive tumor cells. The antitumoral effect of PBMNC stimulated either with IL-2 plus TKD or with IL-2 alone was assessed in tumor-bearing severe combined immunodeficiency/beige mice. A single intravenous (iv) injection of 40 × 106 IL-2 plus TKD-stimulated PBMNC (containing 5.2 × 106 NK cells) on day 4 results in a 60% reduction in tumor size, from 3.89 g to 1.56 g. In contrast, the adoptive transfer of the identical amount PBMNC stimulated with low-dose IL-2 only (containing 4.4 × 106 NK cells) reduces the tumor size only less than 10% (3.64 g). A phenotypic characterization of the excised tumors revealed that predominantly Hsp70-positive tumor cells were eliminated by TKD-activated PBMNC. Kinetic studies demonstrate that the in vivo cytolytic capacity of TKD-stimulated PBMNC is dependent on the effector to target cell ratio. An iv injection of effector cells on day 1 or 2 after tumor cell inoculation results in significantly smaller tumors (0.77 g or 0.89 g) on day 21 as compared with mice that were immunoreconstituted on day 4 or 8 (1.39 g or 2.23 g). The tumor size of nonimmunoreconstituted control animals was 3.55 g.
PMCID: PMC514836  PMID: 12653481
15.  A 14-mer Hsp70 peptide stimulates natural killer (NK) cell activity 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2001;6(4):337-344.
Compared with normal cells, tumor cell lines exhibit an unusual plasma membrane localization of heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70). This tumor-selective Hsp70 membrane expression has been found to correlate with an increased sensitivity to lysis mediated by human natural killer (NK) cells that transiently adhere to plastic following cytokine stimulation. A human Hsp70-specific monoclonal antibody (mAb) detects membrane-bound Hsp70 on viable tumor cells and blocks the immune response of NK cells against Hsp70-expressing tumor cells. By peptide scanning (pepscan) analysis, the epitope of this mAb was mapped as the C-terminal–localized 8-mer NLLGRFEL (NLL, amino acids [aa] 454–461). Most interestingly, similar to full-length Hsp70 protein, the N-terminal–extended 14-mer peptide TKDNNLLGRFELSG (TKD, aa 450–463) was able to stimulate the cytolytic and proliferative activity of NK cells at concentrations equivalent to full-length Hsp70 protein. Blocking studies revealed that an excess of the 14-mer peptide TKDNNLLGRFELSG inhibits the cytolytic activity of NK cells similar to that of Hsp70 protein. In comparison, other TKD-related peptides, including the 8-mer antibody epitope NLLGRFEL (aa 454–461), the 12-mer TKDNNLLGRFEL (aa 450–461), the 13-mer C-terminal–extended peptide NLLGRFELSGIPP (aa 454–466), the 14-mer TKD-equivalent sequences of Hsp70hom TKDNNLLGRFELTG (aa 450–463), Hsc70 TKDNNLLGKFELTG (aa 450–463), and DnaK AADNKSLGQFNLDG (aa 447–460) failed to activate NK activity.
PMCID: PMC434416  PMID: 11795470

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