TLR3 is known to respond to dsRNA from viruses, apoptotic cells, and/or necrotic cells. Dying cells are a rich source of ligands that can activate TLRs, such as TLR3. TLR3 expressed in the liver is likely to be a mediator of innate activation and inflammation in the liver. The importance of this function of TLR3 during acute hepatitis has not previously been fully explored. We used the mouse model of Con A-induced hepatitis and observed a novel role for TLR3 in hepatocyte damage in the absence of an exogenous viral stimulus. Interestingly, TLR3 expression in liver mononuclear cells and sinus endothelial cells was up-regulated after Con A injection and TLR3−/− mice were protected from Con A-induced hepatitis. Moreover, splenocytes from TLR3−/− mice proliferated less to Con A stimulation in the presence of RNA derived from damaged liver tissue compared with wild-type (WT) mice. To determine the relative contribution of TLR3 expression by hematopoietic cells or nonhematopoietic to liver damage during Con A-induced hepatitis, we generated bone marrow chimeric mice. TLR3−/− mice engrafted with WT hematopoietic cells were protected in a similar manner to WT mice reconstituted with TLR3−/− bone marrow, indicating that TLR3 signaling in both nonhematopoietic and hematopoietic cells plays an important role in mediating liver damage. In summary, our data suggest that TLR3 signaling is necessary for Con A-induced liver damage in vivo and that TLR3 regulates inflammation and the adaptive T cell immune response in the absence of viral infection.
The current model of apoptosis holds that upstream signals lead to activation of downstream effector caspases. We generated mice deficient in the two effectors, caspase 3 and caspase 7, which died immediately after birth with defects in cardiac development. Fibroblasts lacking both enzymes were highly resistant to both mitochondrial and death receptor–mediated apoptosis, displayed preservation of mitochondrial membrane potential, and had defective nuclear translocation of apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF). Furthermore, the early apoptotic events of Bax translocation and cytochrome c release were also delayed. We conclude that caspases 3 and 7 are critical mediators of mitochondrial events of apoptosis.
Inflammasomes are multi-protein intracellular signaling complexes that have recently been hypothesized to play a role in the regulation of the inflammation response. We studied associations between inflammasome-associated cytokines IL-1β and IL-18 in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with bacterial meningitis and clinical outcome, and pneumococcal serotype. In a murine model of pneumococcal meningitis we examined the pathophysiological roles of two inflammasome proteins, NLRP3 (Nod-like receptor protein-3) and adaptor protein ASC (apoptosis-associated speck-like protein).
In a nationwide prospective cohort study, CSF cytokine levels were measured and related to clinical outcome and pneumococcal serotype. In a murine model of pneumococcal meningitis using Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 3, we examined bacterial titers, cytokine profiles and brain histology at 6 and 30 hours after inoculation in wild-type (WT), Asc and Nlrp3 deficient mice.
In patients with bacterial meningitis, CSF levels of inflammasome associated cytokines IL-1β and IL-18 were related to complications, and unfavorable disease outcome. CSF levels of IL-1β were associated with pneumococcal serotype (p<0.001). In our animal model, Asc and Nlrp3 deficient mice had decreased systemic inflammatory responses and bacterial outgrowth as compared to WT mice. Differences between Asc−/− and WT mice appeared sooner after bacterial inoculation and were more widespread (lower pro-inflammatory cytokine levels in both blood and brain homogenate) than in Nlrp3-/-mice. Nlrp3 deficiency was associated with an increase of cerebral neutrophil infiltration and cerebral hemorrhages when compared to WT controls.
Our results implicate an important role for inflammasome proteins NLRP3 and ASC in the regulation of the systemic inflammatory response and the development of cerebral damage during pneumococcal meningitis, which may dependent on the pneumococcal serotype.
Host antibacterial responses include mechanisms that kill bacteria, but also those that protect or tolerize the host to potentially damaging antibacterial effects. We determined that Chitinase 3-like-1 (Chi3l1), a conserved prototypic chitinase-like protein, is induced by Streptococcus pneumoniae and plays central roles in promoting bacterial clearance and mediating host tolerance. S. pneumoniae-infected Chi3l1 null mice exhibit exaggerated lung injury, inflammation and hemorrhage, more frequent bacterial dissemination, decreased bacterial clearance, and enhanced mortality compared to controls. Chi3l1 augments macrophage bacterial killing by inhibiting caspase-1-dependent macrophage pyroptosis and augments host tolerance by controlling inflammasome activation, ATP accumulation, expression of ATP receptor P2×7R, and production of thymic stromal lymphopoietin and type 1, type 2, and type 17 cytokines. These data demonstrate that Chi3l1 is induced during infection, where it promotes bacterial clearance while simultaneously augmenting host tolerance, and that these roles likely contributed to the retention of Chi3l1 over species and evolutionary time.
Mechanical ventilation using high oxygen tensions is often necessary to treat patients with respiratory failure. Recently, TLRs were identified as regulators of noninfectious oxidative lung injury. IRAK-M is an inhibitor of MyD88-dependent TLR signaling. Exposure of mice deficient in IRAK-M (IRAK-M−/−) to 95% oxygen resulted in reduced mortality compared with wild-type mice and occurred in association with decreased alveolar permeability and cell death. Using a bone marrow chimera model, we determined that IRAK-M’s effects were mediated by structural cells rather than bone marrow-derived cells. We confirmed the expression of IRAK-M in alveolar epithelial cells (AECs) and showed that hyperoxia can induce the expression of this protein. In addition, IRAK-M−/− AECs exposed to hyperoxia experienced a decrease in cell death. IRAK-M may potentiate hyperoxic injury by suppression of key antioxidant pathways, because lungs and AECs isolated from IRAK-M−/− mice have increased expression/activity of heme oxygenase-1, a phase II antioxidant, and NF (erythroid-derived)-related factor-2, a transcription factor that initiates antioxidant generation. Treatment of IRAK-M−/− mice in vivo and IRAK-M−/− AECs in vitro with the heme oxygenase-1 inhibitor, tin protoporphyrin, substantially decreased survival and significantly reduced the number of live cells after hyperoxia exposure. Collectively, our data suggest that IRAK-M inhibits the induction of antioxidants essential for protecting the lungs against cell death, resulting in enhanced susceptibility to hyperoxic lung injury.
TGFβ1 is a regulatory cytokine that has an important role in controlling T cell differentiation. T cell-produced TGFβ1 acts on T cells to promote Th17 cell differentiation and the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). However, the exact TGFβ1-producing T cell subset required for Th17 cell generation and its cellular mechanism of action remain unknown. Here we showed that deletion of the Tgfb1 gene from activated T cells and Treg cells, but not Treg cells alone, abrogated Th17 cell differentiation resulting in almost complete protection from EAE. Furthermore, differentiation of T cells both in vitro and in vivo demonstrated that TGFβ1 was highly expressed by Th17 cells and acted in a predominantly autocrine manner to maintain Th17 cells in vivo. These findings reveal an essential role for activated T cell-produced TGFβ1 in promoting the differentiation of Th17 cells and controlling inflammatory diseases.
TLR7 is an innate signaling receptor that recognizes single-stranded viral RNA and is activated by viruses that cause persistent infections. We show that TLR7 signaling dictates either clearance or establishment of life-long chronic infection by lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) Cl 13 but does not affect clearance of the acute LCMV Armstrong 53b strain. TLR7−/− mice infected with LCMV Cl 13 remained viremic throughout life from defects in the adaptive anti-viral immune response, notably diminished T cell function, exacerbated T cell exhaustion, decreased plasma cell maturation, and negligible anti-viral antibody production. Adoptive transfer of TLR7+/+ LCMV immune memory cells that enhance clearance of persistent LCMV Cl 13 infection in TLR7+/+ mice fail to purge LCMV Cl 13 infection in TLR7−/− mice, demonstrating that a TLR7-deficient environment renders anti-viral responses ineffective. Therefore, methods that promote TLR7 signaling are promising treatment strategies for chronic viral infections.
The antiviral response is largely mediated by dendritic cells (DC), including conventional (c) DCs that function as antigen presenting cells and plasmacytoid (p) DCs that produce Type I interferons, making them an attractive target for viruses. We find that the Old-world arenaviruses lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus clone 13 (LCMV Cl13) and Lassa virus bind pDCs to a greater extent than cDCs. Consistently, LCMV Cl13 targets pDCs early after in vivo infection of its natural murine host and establishes a productive and robust replication cycle. pDCs co-produce type I interferons and pro-inflammatory cytokines, with the former being induced in both infected and uninfected pDCs, demonstrating a dissociation from intrinsic virus replication. TLR7 globally mediates pDC responses, limits pDC viral load and promotes rapid innate and adaptive immune cell activation. These early events likely help dictate the outcome of infections with arenaviruses and other DC-replicating viruses and shed light on potential therapeutic targets.
dendritic cell; plasmacytoid dendritic cells; type I interferon; interleukin-12; innate; toll like receptor-7; lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV); Lassa Fever virus (LASV); arenavirus; chronic viral infection
A functional adaptive immune system depends on a diverse and self-tolerant population of T lymphocytes that are generated in the thymus and maintained in the peripheral lymphoid organs. Recent studies have defined the cytokine transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) as a critical regulator of thymic T cell development as well as a crucial player in peripheral T cell homeostasis, tolerance to self antigens, and T cell differentiation during the immune response. The unique mechanism of TGF-β activation and the plasticity of TGF-β signaling create a stage for TGF-β to integrate signals from multiple cell types and environmental cues to regulate T cells.
Inflammasome activation is important for antimicrobial defense because it induces cell death and regulates the secretion of IL-1 family cytokines, which play a critical role in inflammatory responses. The inflammasome activates caspase-1 to process and secrete IL-1β. However, the mechanisms governing IL-1α release are less clear. Recently, a non-canonical inflammasome was described that activates caspase-11 and mediates pyroptosis and release of IL-1α and IL-1β. Caspase-11 activation in response to Gram-negative bacteria requires Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and TIR-domain-containing adaptor-inducing interferon-β (TRIF)-dependent interferon production. Whether additional bacterial signals trigger caspase-11 activation is unknown. Many bacterial pathogens use specialized secretion systems to translocate effector proteins into the cytosol of host cells. These secretion systems can also deliver flagellin into the cytosol, which triggers caspase-1 activation and pyroptosis. However, even in the absence of flagellin, these secretion systems induce inflammasome activation and the release of IL-1α and IL-1β, but the inflammasome pathways that mediate this response are unclear. We observe rapid IL-1α and IL-1β release and cell death in response to the type IV or type III secretion systems of Legionella pneumophila and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Unlike IL-1β, IL-1α secretion does not require caspase-1. Instead, caspase-11 activation is required for both IL-1α secretion and cell death in response to the activity of these secretion systems. Interestingly, whereas caspase-11 promotes IL-1β release in response to the type IV secretion system through the NLRP3/ASC inflammasome, caspase-11-dependent release of IL-1α is independent of both the NAIP5/NLRC4 and NLRP3/ASC inflammasomes as well as TRIF and type I interferon signaling. Furthermore, we find both overlapping and non-redundant roles for IL-1α and IL-1β in mediating neutrophil recruitment and bacterial clearance in response to pulmonary infection by L. pneumophila. Our findings demonstrate that virulent, but not avirulent, bacteria trigger a rapid caspase-11-dependent innate immune response important for host defense.
The inflammasome, a multiprotein complex, is critical for host defense against bacterial infection. The inflammasome activates the host protease caspase-1 to process and secrete IL-1β. Another caspase, caspase-11, can cause cell death and IL-1α release. The bacterial signals that trigger caspase-11 activation are poorly understood. A common feature of many bacterial pathogens is the ability to inject virulence factors and other bacterial molecules into the host cell cytosol by means of a variety of virulence-associated secretion systems. These secretion systems can introduce bacterial flagellin into the host cytosol, which leads to caspase-1 activation and cell death. However, many bacteria lack or down-regulate flagellin yet still activate the inflammasome. Here, we show that the type IV secretion system of Legionella pneumophila and the type III secretion system of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis rapidly trigger caspase-11 activation in a flagellin-independent manner. Caspase-11 activation mediates two separate inflammasome pathways: one leading to IL-1β processing and secretion, and one leading to cell death and IL-1α release. Furthermore, we find these caspase-11-regulated cytokines are critical for neutrophil recruitment to the site of infection and clearance of non-flagellated Legionella in vivo. Overall, our findings show that virulent bacteria activate a rapid caspase-11-dependent immune response that plays a critical role in host defense.
Nucleotide-binding domain leucine-rich repeat containing receptors (NLRs) are cytosolic receptors that initiate immune responses to sterile and infectious insults to the host. Studies have demonstrated that Nlrp3 is critical for the control of Candida albicans infections and in the generation of anti-fungal Th17 responses. Here we show that the NLR family member Nlrp10 also plays a unique role in the control of disseminated C. albicans infection in vivo. Nlrp10-deficient mice had increased susceptibility to disseminated candidiasis as indicated by decreased survival and increased fungal burdens. In contrast to Nlrp3, Nlrp10-deficiency did not affect innate proinflammatory cytokine production from macrophages and dendritic cells challenged with C. albicans. However, Nlrp10-deficient mice displayed a profound defect in Candida-specific Th1 and Th17 responses. These results demonstrate a novel role for Nlrp10 in the generation of adaptive immune responses to fungal infection.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a degenerative skeletal muscle disease caused by mutations in dystrophin. The degree of functional deterioration in muscle stem cells determines the severity of DMD. The mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), which are inactivated by MAPK phosphatases (MKPs), represent a central signaling node in the regulation of muscle stem cell function. Here we show that the dual-specificity protein phosphatase DUSP10/MKP-5 negatively regulates muscle stem cell function in mice. MKP-5 controlled JNK to coordinate muscle stem cell proliferation and p38 MAPK to control differentiation. Genetic loss of Mkp5 in mice improved regenerative myogenesis and dystrophin-deficient mdx mice lacking Mkp5 exhibited an attenuated dystrophic muscle phenotype. Hence, enhanced promyogenic MAPK activity preserved muscle stem cell function even in the absence of dystrophin and ultimately curtailed the pathogenesis associated with DMD. These results identify MKP-5 as an essential negative regulator of the promyogenic actions of the MAPKs and suggest that MKP-5 may serve as a target to promote muscle stem cell function in the treatment of degenerative skeletal muscle diseases.
A novel Bcl6 reporter mouse is used to dissect the developmental requirements, plasticity, and genetic profile of Tfh cells.
T follicular helper cells (Tfh cells) play a pivotal role in germinal center reactions, which require B cell lymphoma 6 (Bcl6) transcription factor. To analyze their relationships with other effector T cell lineages and their stability in vivo, we developed and analyzed a new Bcl6 reporter mouse alone or together with other lineage reporter systems. Assisted with genome-wide transcriptome analysis, we show substantial plasticity of T cell differentiation in the early phase of immune response. At this stage, CXCR5 appears to be expressed in a Bcl6-independent manner. Once Bcl6 is highly expressed, Tfh cells can persist in vivo and some of them develop into memory cells. Together, our results indicate Bcl6 as a bona fide marker for Tfh polarized program.
The tumour microenvironment thwarts conventional immunotherapy through multiple immunologic mechanisms, such as the secretion of the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), which stunts local tumour immune responses. Therefore, high doses of interleukin-2 (IL-2), a conventional cytokine for metastatic melanoma, induces only limited responses. To overcome the immunoinhibitory nature of the tumour microenvironment, we developed nanoscale liposomal polymeric gels (nanolipogels; nLGs) of drug-complexed cyclodextrins and cytokine-encapsulating biodegradable polymers that can deliver small hydrophobic molecular inhibitors and water-soluble protein cytokines in a sustained fashion to the tumour microenvironment. nLGs releasing TGF-β inhibitor and IL-2 significantly delayed tumour growth, increased survival of tumour-bearing mice, and increased the activity of natural killer cells and of intratumoral-activated CD8+ T-cell infiltration. We demonstrate that the efficacy of nLGs in tumour immunotherapy results from a crucial mechanism involving activation of both innate and adaptive immune responses.
There are no mucosal adjuvant formulations licensed for human use, despite protection against many mucosally-transmitted infections probably requiring immunity at the site of pathogen entry1. Polyethyleneimines (PEI) are organic polycations used as nucleic acid transfection reagents in vitro, and gene and DNA vaccine delivery vehicles in vivo2, 3. Here we show that PEI has unexpected and unusually potent mucosal adjuvant activity in conjunction with viral subunit glycoprotein antigens. Single intranasal administration of influenza HA or HSV-2 gD with PEI elicited robust protection from otherwise lethal infection, and was superior to existing experimental mucosal adjuvants. PEI formed nanoscale complexes with antigen that were taken up by antigen presenting cells in vitro and in vivo, promoted DC trafficking to draining lymph nodes and induced non-proinflammatory cytokine responses. PEI adjuvanticity required release of host dsDNA that triggered Irf-3-dependent signaling. PEI therefore merits further investigation as a mucosal adjuvant for human use.
mucosal adjuvant; influenza HA; HSV-2 gD; HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein; innate immunity; adaptive immunity
Microbial penetration of the intestinal epithelial barrier triggers inflammatory responses that include induction of the bactericidal C-type lectin RegIIIγ. Systemic administration of flagellin, a bacterial protein that stimulates Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5), induces epithelial expression of RegIIIγ and protects mice from intestinal colonization with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Flagellin-induced RegIIIγ expression is IL-22-dependent, but how TLR signaling leads to IL-22 expression is incompletely defined. Using conditional depletion of lamina propria dendritic cell (LPDC) subsets, we demonstrated that CD103+ CD11b+ LPDCs, but not monocyte-derived CD103− CD11b+ LPDCs, expressed high amounts of IL-23 following bacterial flagellin administration and drove IL-22-dependent RegIIIγ production. Maximal expression of IL-23 subunits IL-23p19 and IL-12p40 occurred within 60 minutes of exposure to flagellin. IL-23 subsequently induced a burst of IL-22 followed by sustained RegIIIγ expression. Thus, CD103+ CD11b+ LPDCs, in addition to promoting long-term tolerance to ingested antigens, also rapidly produce IL-23 in response to detection of flagellin in the lamina propria.
Increasing evidence suggests that innate immunity plays an important role in alcohol-induced liver injury and most studies have focused on positive regulation of innate immunity. The main objective of this study was to investigate the negative regulator of innate immunity, IL-1/Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling pathways and interleukin receptor-associated kinase-M (IRAK-M) in alcoholic liver injury. We established an alcohol-induced liver injury model using wild type and IRAK-M deficient B6 mice and investigated the possible mechanisms. We found that in the absence of IRAK-M, liver damage by alcohol was worse with higher alanine transaminase (ALT), more immune cell infiltration and increased numbers of IFNγ producing cells. We also found enhanced phagocytic activity in CD68+ cells. Moreover, our results revealed altered gut bacteria after alcohol consumption and this was more striking in the absence of IRAK-M. Our study provides evidence that IRAK-M plays an important role in alcohol-induced liver injury and IRAK-M negatively regulates the innate and possibly the adaptive immune response in the liver reacting to acute insult by alcohol. In the absence of IRAK-M, the hosts developed worse liver injury, enhanced gut permeability and altered gut microbiota.
We all have been taught that the immune system is educated in the thymus; however, where the immune system receives the second lesson in order to be tolerant against non-harmful pathogens, such as commensal bacteria, has never been addressed. Considering that commensal bacteria colonize the intestine and that regulatory T (Treg) cells are enriched in this organ, one could think that the intestine is the place where this second lesson would occur. This idea was now sustained by the work of Lathrop et al., which sheds new light on the complex mechanism of peripheral tolerance induction.
Bacterial pneumonia remains a significant cause of mortality in the United States. The innate immune response is the first line of defense against invading bacteria. Neutrophil recruitment to the lungs is the first step in a multistep sequence leading to bacterial clearance. Ligand interaction with pattern-recognizing receptors (PRRs) leads to chemokine production, which drives neutrophils to the site of infection. Although we demonstrated that RIP2 is important for host defense in the lungs against Escherichia coli, the individual roles of NOD1 and NOD2 in pulmonary defense have not been addressed. Here, we explored the role of NOD2 in neutrophil-mediated host defense against an extracellular pathogen, E. coli. We found enhanced bacterial burden and reduced neutrophil and cytokine/chemokine levels in the lungs of NOD2−/− mice following E. coli infection. Furthermore, we observed reduced activation of NF-κB and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) in the lungs of NOD2−/− mice upon E. coli challenge. Moreover, NOD2−/− neutrophils show impaired intracellular bacterial killing. Using NOD2/RIP2−/− mice, we observed bacterial burden and neutrophil accumulation in the lungs similar to those seen with NOD2−/− mice. In addition, bone marrow-derived macrophages obtained from NOD2/RIP2−/− mice demonstrate a reduction in activation of NF-κB and MAPKs similar to that seen with NOD2−/− mice in response to E. coli. These findings unveil a previously unrecognized role of the NOD2-RIP2 axis for host defense against extracellular Gram-negative bacteria. This pathway may represent a novel target for the treatment of lung infection/inflammation.
In T lymphocytes, calcium ion controls a variety of biological processes including development, survival, proliferation, and effector functions. These distinct and specific roles are regulated by different calcium signals, which are generated by various plasma membrane calcium channels. The repertoire of calcium-conducting proteins in T lymphocytes includes store-operated CRAC channels, transient receptor potential channels, P2X channels, and L-type voltage-gated calcium (Cav1) channels. In this paper, we will focus mainly on the role of the Cav1 channels found expressed by T lymphocytes, where these channels appear to operate in a T cell receptor stimulation-dependent and voltage sensor independent manner. We will review their expression profile at various differentiation stages of CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytes. Then, we will present crucial genetic evidence in favor of a role of these Cav1 channels and related regulatory proteins in both CD4 and CD8 T cell functions such as proliferation, survival, cytokine production, and cytolysis. Finally, we will provide evidence and speculate on how these voltage-gated channels might function in the T lymphocyte, a non-excitable cell.
Cav1 channels; calcium channels; CD4 T cells; CD8 T cells; CRAC channel
Intracellular (clade B) ovalbumin (ov)-serpin protease inhibitors play an important role in tissue homeostasis by protecting cells from death in response to hypoosmotic stress, heat shock and other stimuli. Whether these serpins influence immunological tolerance and the risk for autoimmune diseases is not known. We found that a fraction of young autoimmune diabetes-prone non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice had elevated levels of autoantibodies against a member of clade B family known as serpinB13. High levels of anti-serpinB13 antibodies were accompanied by low levels of anti-insulin autoantibodies, reduced numbers of islet-associated T-cells and delayed onset of diabetes. Exposure to anti-serpinB13 monoclonal antibody (mAb) alone also decreased islet inflammation and co-administration of this reagent and a suboptimal dose of anti-CD3 mAb accelerated recovery from diabetes. In a fashion similar to that discovered in the NOD model, a deficiency in humoral activity against serpinB13 was associated with early onset of human type 1 diabetes. These findings suggest that in addition to limiting exposure to proteases within the cell, clade B serpins help to maintain homeostasis by inducing protective humoral immunity.
Commensal bacterial sensing by Toll-like receptors (TLRs) is critical for maintaining intestinal homeostasis, but can lead to colitis in the absence of IL-10. While TLRs are expressed in multiple cell types in the colon, the cell type(s) responsible for the development of colitis currently unknown. Here, we generated mice that are selectively deficient in MyD88 in various cellular compartments in an IL-10−/− setting. While epithelial expression of MyD88 was dispensable, MyD88 expression in the mononuclear phagocyte (MNP) compartment was required for colitis development. Specifically, phenotypically distinct populations of colonic MNPs expressed high levels IL-1β, IL-23 and IL-6 and promoted Th17 responses in the absence of IL-10. Thus, gut bacterial sensing through MyD88 in MNPs drives inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) when unopposed by IL-10.
Conditional gene knockout (cKO) mediated by the Cre/LoxP system is indispensable for exploring gene functions in mice. However, a major limitation of this method is that gene KO is not reversible. A number of methods have been developed to overcome this, but each method has its own limitations.
We describe a simple method we have named LOFT [LoxP-flippase (FLP) recognition target (FRT) Trap], which is capable of reversible cKO and free of the limitations associated with existing techniques. This method involves two alleles of a target gene: a standard floxed allele, and a multi-functional allele bearing an FRT-flanked gene-trap cassette, which inactivates the target gene while reporting its expression with green fluorescent protein (GFP); the trapped allele is thus a null and GFP reporter by default, but is convertible into a wild-type allele. The floxed and trapped alleles can typically be generated using a single construct bearing a gene-trap cassette doubly flanked by LoxP and FRT sites, and can be used independently to achieve conditional and constitutive gene KO, respectively. More importantly, in mice bearing both alleles and also expressing the Cre and FLP recombinases, sequential function of the two enzymes should lead to deletion of the target gene, followed by restoration of its expression, thus achieving reversible cKO. LOFT should be generally applicable to mouse genes, including the growing numbers of genes already floxed; in the latter case, only the trapped alleles need to be generated to confer reversibility to the pre-existing cKO models. LOFT has other applications, including the creation and reversal of hypomorphic mutations. In this study we proved the principle of LOFT in the context of T-cell development, at a hypomorphic allele of Baf57/Smarce1 encoding a subunit of the chromatin-remodeling Brg/Brahma-associated factor (BAF) complex. Interestingly, the FLP used in the current work caused efficient reversal in peripheral T cells but not thymocytes, which is advantageous for studying developmental epigenetic programming of T-cell functions, a fundamental issue in immunology.
LOFT combines well-established basic genetic methods into a simple and reliable method for reversible gene targeting, with the flexibility of achieving traditional constitutive and conditional KO.
The chronic autoimmune diseases include multiple complex genetic disorders. Recently, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified a large number of major loci, with many associations shared between various autoimmune diseases. These associations highlight key roles for lymphocyte activation and prioritize specific cytokine pathways and mechanisms of host-microbe recognition. Despite success in identifying loci, comprehensive models of disease pathogenesis are currently lacking. Future efforts comparing association patterns between autoimmune diseases may be particularly illustrative. New genomic technologies applied to classic genetic studies involving twins, early onset cases, and phenotypic extremes may provide key insights into developmental and gene-environment interactions in autoimmunity.