Killer Ig-like receptors (KIRs) control the activation of human NK cells via interactions with peptide-laden HLAs. KIR3DL1 is a highly polymorphic inhibitory receptor that recognizes a diverse array of HLA molecules expressing the Bw4 epitope, a group with multiple polymorphisms incorporating variants within the Bw4 motif. Genetic studies suggest that KIR3DL1 variation has functional significance in several disease states, including HIV infection. However, owing to differences across KIR3DL1 allotypes, HLA-Bw4, and associated peptides, the mechanistic link with biological outcome remains unclear. In this study, we elucidated the impact of KIR3DL1 polymorphism on peptide-laden HLA recognition. Mutational analysis revealed that KIR residues involved in water-mediated contacts with the HLA-presented peptide influence peptide binding specificity. In particular, residue 282 (glutamate) in the D2 domain underpins the lack of tolerance of negatively charged C-terminal peptide residues. Allotypic KIR3DL1 variants, defined by neighboring residue 283, displayed differential sensitivities to HLA-bound peptide, including the variable HLA-B*57:01–restricted HIV-1 Gag-derived epitope TW10. Residue 283, which has undergone positive selection during the evolution of human KIRs, also played a central role in Bw4 subtype recognition by KIR3DL1. Collectively, our findings uncover a common molecular regulator that controls HLA and peptide discrimination without participating directly in peptide-laden HLA interactions. Furthermore, they provide insight into the mechanics of interaction and generate simple, easily assessed criteria for the definition of KIR3DL1 functional groupings that will be relevant in many clinical applications, including bone marrow transplantation.
Killer Immunoglobulin-like Receptors (KIR) are a family of receptors expressed on Natural Killer (NK) and T cell subsets. KIR3DL1 is a highly polymorphic receptor that binds to groups of HLA-A and HLA-B allotypes that express the Bw4 epitope. The variation in KIR3DL1 allotypes manifests at a number of levels. Most dramatically, a common allelic variant encodes an activating rather than an inhibitory receptor (KIR3DS1). In addition, sequence variants can affect both the frequency of expression within the NK cell population, and the intensity of expression on a given cell. KIR3DL1 polymorphism also influences the interaction with HLA-Bw4 molecules due to contacts with the HLA molecule itself and sensitivity to the presented peptide. There is a body of evidence from genetic association studies supporting the biological significance not only of the interaction of KIR3DL1 with HLA-Bw4, but also the functional variation seen with different KIR3DL1 and HLA allotypes. In this review we will discuss our current understanding of KIR3DL1 function and our recent insights from the structure of the KIR3DL1 in complex with HLA. In addition, we will summarize our current understanding of KIR3DS1, including its ligand specificity and role in immune responses.
Killer Immunoglobulin-like Receptors; Natural Killer Cells; Human Leukocyte Antigen; Innate Immunity
While most carriers of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) remain asymptomatic throughout their lifetime, infection is associated with the development of adult T cell leukemia (ATL) and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). The exact parameters that determine these outcomes are unknown but are believed to include host genetic factors that control the immune response to infection. Host response to fellow retroviridae member HIV is influenced by the expression of members of the Killer Immunoglobulin Receptor (KIR) family including KIR3DS1. In this study we examined the association of KIR3DS1 with the outcome of HTLV-1 infection in three geographically distinct cohorts (Jamaican, Japanese and Brazilian). Despite increased prevalence of KIR3DS1 in the HAM/TSP patients of the Jamaican cohort, we found no evidence for a role of KIR3DS1 in influencing control of proviral load or disease outcome. This suggests that unlike HIV, KIR3DS1-mediated regulation of HTLV-1 infection does not occur, or is ineffective.
Recognition of microbial components via innate receptors including the C-type lectin receptor Dectin-1, together with the inflammatory environment, programs dendritic cells (DCs) to orchestrate the magnitude and type of adaptive immune responses. The exposure to β-glucan, a known Dectin-1 agonist and component of fungi, yeasts, and certain immune support supplements, activates DCs to induce T helper (Th)17 cells that are essential against fungal pathogens and extracellular bacteria but may trigger inflammatory pathology or autoimmune diseases. However, the exact mechanisms of DC programming by β-glucan have not yet been fully elucidated. Using a gene expression/perturbation approach, we demonstrate that in human DCs β-glucan transcriptionally activates via an interleukin (IL)-1- and inflammasome-mediated positive feedback late-induced genes that bridge innate and adaptive immunity. We report that in addition to its known ability to directly prime T cells toward the Th17 lineage, IL-1 by promoting the transcriptional cofactor inhibitor of κB-ζ (IκB-ζ) also programs β-glucan-exposed DCs to express cell adhesion and migration mediators, antimicrobial molecules, and Th17-polarizing factors. Interferon (IFN)-γ interferes with the IL-1/IκB-ζ axis in β-glucan-activated DCs and promotes T cell-mediated immune responses with increased release of IFN-γ and IL-22, and diminished production of IL-17. Thus, our results identify IL-1 and IFN-γ as regulators of DC programming by β-glucan. These molecular networks provide new insights into the regulation of the Th17 response as well as new targets for the modulation of immune responses to β-glucan-containing microorganisms.
NK cell activity is regulated by the integration of positive and negative signals. One important source of these signals for human NK cells is the KIR family which includes both members that transduce positive and those that generate negative signals. KIR3DL1 inhibits NK cell activity upon engagement by its ligand HLA-Bw4. The highly homologous KIR3DS1 is an activating receptor, which has implicated in the outcome of a variety of pathological situations. However, unlike KIR3DL1, direct binding of KIR3DS1+ cells to HLA has not been demonstrated. We analyzed four key amino acid differences between KIR3DL1*01502 and KIR3DS1*013 to determine their role in KIR binding to HLA. Single substitutions of these residues dramatically reduced binding by KIR3DL1. In the reciprocal experiment, we found that the rare KIR3DS1 allotype KIR3DS1*014 binds HLA-Bw4 even though it differs from KIR3DS1*013 at only one of these positions (138). This reactivity was unexpectedly dependent on residues at other variable positions, as HLA-Bw4 binding was lost in receptors with KIR3DL1-like residues at both positions 199 and 138. These data provide the first evidence for the direct binding of a KIR3DS1+ cells to HLA-Bw4, and highlights the key role for position 138 in determining ligand specificity of KIR3DS1. They also reveal that KIR3DS1 reactivity and specificity is dictated by complex interactions between the residues in this region, suggesting a unique functional evolution of KIR3DS1 within the activating KIR family.
Allotypes of the natural killer (NK) cell receptor KIR3DL1 vary in both NK cell expression patterns and inhibitory capacity upon binding to their ligands, HLA-B Bw4 molecules, present on target cells. Using a sample size of over 1,500 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)+ individuals, we show that various distinct allelic combinations of the KIR3DL1 and HLA-B loci significantly and strongly influence both AIDS progression and plasma HIV RNA abundance in a consistent manner. These genetic data correlate very well with previously defined functional differences that distinguish KIR3DL1 allotypes. The various epistatic effects observed here for common, distinct KIR3DL1 and HLA-B Bw4 combinations are unprecedented with regard to any pair of genetic loci in human disease, and indicate that NK cells may have a critical role in the natural history of HIV infection.
Since the discovery of triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells (TREM)-1 in 2000, evidence documenting the profound ability of the TREM and TREM-like receptors to regulate inflammation has rapidly accumulated. Monocytes, macrophages, myeloid dendritic cells, plasmacytoid dendritic cells, neutrophils, microglia, osteoclasts and platelets all express at least one member of the TREM family, underscoring the importance of these proteins in the regulation of innate resistance. Recent work on the TREM family includes: characterization of a new receptor expressed on plasmacytoid dendritic cells; definition of a key role for TREM in inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis; an expanded list of diseases associated with the release of soluble forms of TREM proteins; and identification of the first well characterized TREM ligand: B7-H3, a ligand for TREM-like Transcript (TLT)-2. Moreover, analysis of TREM signaling has now identified key regulatory components and defined pathways that may be responsible for the complex functional interactions between the TREM and toll-like receptors. In addition, there is expanding evidence of a role for TREM in the regulation of integrin function via Plexin-A1. Together these new findings define the TREM and TREM-like receptors as pluripotent modifiers of disease through the integration of inflammatory signals with those associated with leukocyte adhesion.
Natural Killer cells are cells of the innate immune system that are important for the recognition and clearance of virally infected cells or tumors. Examination of the development and signaling of these cells has been severely hampered due to an inability to over-express proteins in these cells. We developed a novel technique to generate NK cells in vivo, all of which express a gene of interest. IL2Rγc-/-/Rag2-/- mice do not develop NK cells due to the lack of IL15 signaling. We infected bone marrow from IL2Rγc-/-/Rag2-/- mice with a retroviral construct encoding EGFP and IL2Rγc connected by an IRES. NK cells selectively developed through expression of IL2Rγc and 100% of these NK cells were found to be EGFP+. In order to test the utilization of this method to examine the function of biologically relevant proteins, constitutively active PI3K p110γ and p110δ isoforms were over-expressed in this system. Constitutively active p110γ revealed profound effects on NK cell development and function in vivo while p110δ had little effect.
Natural Killer Cells; IL2Rγc; PI3K
Triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells–like (TREM-like) transcript-1 (TLT-1), a type 1 single Ig domain orphan receptor specific to platelet and megakaryocyte α-granules, relocates to the platelet surface upon platelet stimulation. We found here that patients diagnosed with sepsis, in contrast to healthy individuals, had substantial levels of soluble TLT-1 (sTLT-1) in their plasma that correlated with the presence of disseminated intravascular coagulation. sTLT-1 bound to fibrinogen and augmented platelet aggregation in vitro. Furthermore, the cytoplasmic domain of TLT-1 could also bind ezrin/radixin/moesin family proteins, suggesting its ability to link fibrinogen to the platelet cytoskeleton. Accordingly, platelets of Treml1–/– mice failed to aggregate efficiently, extending tail-bleeding times. Lipopolysaccharide-treated Treml1–/– mice developed higher plasma levels of TNF and D-dimers than wild-type mice and were more likely to succumb during challenge. Finally, Treml1–/– mice were predisposed to hemorrhage associated with localized inflammatory lesions. Taken together, our findings suggest that TLT-1 plays a protective role during inflammation by dampening the inflammatory response and facilitating platelet aggregation at sites of vascular injury. Therefore, therapeutic modulation of TLT-1–mediated effects may provide clinical benefit to patients with hypercoagulatory conditions, including those associated with inflammation.
Members of the Killer Immunoglobulin-Like Receptor (KIR) family, a large group of polymorphic receptors expressed on Natural Killer (NK) cells, recognise particular peptide-laden Human Leukocyte Antigen (pHLA) class I molecules and play a pivotal role in innate immune responses1. Allelic variation and extensive polymorphism within the three-domain KIR family (KIR3D, domains D0–D1–D2) affects pHLA binding specificity and is linked to the control of viral replication and the treatment outcome of certain haematological malignancies1–3. We describe the structure of the KIR3DL1 receptor, bound to HLA-B*5701 complexed with a self-peptide. KIR3DL1 clamped around the C-terminal end of the HLA-B*5701 antigen (Ag)-binding cleft, resulting in two discontinuous footprints on the pHLA. Firstly, the D0 domain, a distinguishing feature of the KIR3D family, extended towards β2-microglobulin and abutted a region of the HLA molecule that exhibited limited polymorphism, thereby acting as an “innate HLA sensor” domain. Secondly, while the D2-HLA-B*5701 interface exhibited a high degree of complementarity, the D1-pHLA-B*5701 contacts were sub-optimal and accommodated a degree of sequence variation both within the peptide and the polymorphic region of the HLA molecule. While the two-domain KIR (KIR2D) and KIR3DL1 docked similarly onto HLA-C4,5 and HLA-B respectively, the corresponding D1-mediated interactions differed markedly, thereby providing insight into the specificity of KIR3DL1 for discrete HLA-A and HLA-B allotypes. Collectively, in association with extensive mutagenesis studies at the KIR3DL1-pHLA B*5701 interface, we provide a framework for understanding the intricate interplay between peptide variability, KIR3D and HLA polymorphism in determining the specificity requirements of this essential innate interaction that is conserved across primate species.
Fungal pathogens elicit cytokine responses downstream of immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif (ITAM)-coupled or hemiITAM-containing receptors and TLRs. The Linker for Activation of B cells/Non-T cell Activating Linker (LAB/NTAL) encoded by Lat2, is a known regulator of ITAM-coupled receptors and TLR-associated cytokine responses. Here we demonstrate that LAB is involved in anti-fungal immunity. We show that Lat2−/− mice are more susceptible to C. albicans infection than wild type (WT) mice. Dendritic cells (DCs) express LAB and we show that it is basally phosphorylated by the growth factor M-CSF or following engagement of Dectin-2, but not Dectin-1. Our data revealed a unique mechanism whereby LAB controls basal and fungal/pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMP)-induced nuclear β-catenin levels. This in turn is important for controlling fungal/PAMP-induced cytokine production in DCs. C. albicans- and LPS-induced IL-12 and IL-23 production was blunted in Lat2−/− DCs. Accordingly, Lat2−/− DCs directed reduced Th1 polarization in vitro and Lat2−/− mice displayed reduced Natural Killer (NK) and T cell-mediated IFN-γ production in vivo/ex vivo. Thus our data define a novel link between LAB and β-catenin nuclear accumulation in DCs that facilitates IFN-γ responses during anti-fungal immunity. In addition, these findings are likely to be relevant to other infectious diseases that require IL-12 family cytokines and an IFN-γ response for pathogen clearance.
Fungal infections are a major healthcare problem and the incidence of fungal infections has increased significantly in recent years. Mortality rates are high even with treatment, highlighting the need for a better understanding of anti-fungal immunity in order to develop improved therapies. Adaptive T-helper 1 and T-helper 17 (Th1 and Th17) responses are important mediators of anti-fungal immunity. Dendritic cells express Dectin-1, Dectin-2 and Toll-like receptors, which interact with fungal pathogens to induce these adaptive immune responses. Here we identify LAB as an important facilitator of IFN-γ production by regulating β-catenin activation. Susceptibility to fungal infections is increased in the absence of LAB, in association with reduced IFN-γ production. β-catenin activation in dendritic cells inhibits the IL-12 production required for IFN-γ production. Thus targeting β-catenin therapeutically could help to promote efficient IFN-γ production in patients suffering from fungal infections. These findings are important for fungal infections and potentially for other diseases where IFN-γ production is important for disease outcome.
TLR, expressed on the surface of mast cells, respond to a variety of bacterial and viral components to induce and enhance high affinity IgE receptor (FcεRI)-mediated cytokine production. Recent reports have indicated that specific TLR-dependent responses in macrophages and dendritic cells are regulated by the ITAM-containing molecule, DAP12. When phosphorylated, DAP12 recruits Syk; a critical molecule for mast cell activation. We therefore examined whether DAP12 similarly regulates TLR-mediated responses in mast cells. DAP12 was confirmed to be expressed in both human and mouse mast cells and, upon phosphorylation, to recruit Syk. However, although TLR agonists induced cytokine production, and synergistically enhanced FcεRI-mediated cytokine production, surprisingly, they failed to increase DAP12 phosphorylation in mouse bone marrow-derived mast cells (BMMC). Furthermore, normal TLR-mediated responses were observed in DAP12−/− BMMC. However, DAP12 phosphorylation and subsequent Syk recruitment was observed in BMMC following Con A-induced aggregation of mannose-glycosylated receptors, and these responses, together with Con A-induced degranulation, were substantially reduced in the DAP12−/− BMMC. These data demonstrate that TLR have differential requirements for DAP12 for their function in different cell types and that the inability of TLR to influence mast cell degranulation may be linked to their inability to utilize DAP12 to recruit Syk.
TLR; DAP12; Mast Cells; FcεRI; KIT; signal transduction
Epidemiological studies have shown the protective effect of KIR3DL1/HLA-Bw4 genotypes in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection; however, the functional correlates for the protective effect remain unknown. We investigated whether human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-Bw4-presented HIV-1 peptides could affect the interaction between the inhibitory natural killer (NK) cell receptor KIR3DL1 and its ligand HLA-Bw4. Distinct HIV-1 epitopes differentially modulated the binding of KIR3DL1 to HLA-Bw4. Furthermore, cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) escape mutations within the immunodominant HLA-B57 (Bw4)-restricted Gag epitope TSTLQEQIGW abrogated KIR3DL1 binding to HLA-B57, suggesting that sensing of CTL escape variants by NK cells can contribute to the protective effect of the KIR3DL1/HLA-Bw4 compound genotype.
A variant 35 kb upstream of the HLA-C gene (-35C/T) was previously shown to associate with HLA-C mRNA expression level and steady-state plasma HIV RNA levels. We genotyped this variant in 1,698 patients of European ancestry with HIV. Individuals with known seroconversion dates were used for disease progression analysis and those with longitudinal viral load data were used for viral load analysis. We further tested cell surface expression of HLA-C in normal donors using an HLA-C-specific antibody. We show that the -35C allele is a proxy for high HLA-C cell surface expression, and that individuals with high-expressing HLA-C alleles progress more slowly to AIDS and control viremia significantly better than individuals with low HLA-C expressing alleles. These data strongly implicate high HLA-C expression levels in more effective control of HIV-1, potentially through better antigen presentation to cytotoxic T lymphocytes or recognition and killing of infected cells by natural killer cells.
Interleukin-7 (IL-7) is required for lymphocyte development and homeostasis although the actual sites of IL-7 production have never been clearly identified. We produced a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) transgenic mouse expressing ECFP in the Il7 locus. The construct lacked a signal peptide and ECFP (enhanced cyan fluorescent protein ) accumulated inside IL-7-producing stromal cells in thoracic thymus, cervical thymus and bone marrow. In thymus, an extensive reticular network of IL-7-containing processes extended from cortical and medullary epithelial cells, closely contacting thymocytes. Central memory CD8 T cells, which require IL-7 and home to bone marrow, physically associated with IL-7-producing cells as we demonstrate by intravital imaging.
Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are an important source of type I interferon (IFN) during initial immune responses to viral infections. In mice, pDCs are uniquely characterized by high-level expression of Ly49Q, a C-type lectin-like receptor specific for class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. Despite having a cytoplasmic immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motif, Ly49Q was found to enhance pDC function in vitro, as pDC cytokine production in response to the Toll-like receptor (TLR) 9 agonist CpG-oligonucleotide (ODN) could be blocked using soluble monoclonal antibody (mAb) to Ly49Q or H-2Kb. Conversely, CpG-ODN–dependent IFN-α production by pDCs was greatly augmented upon receptor cross-linking using immobilized anti-Ly49Q mAb or recombinant H-2Kb ligand. Accordingly, Ly49Q-deficient pDCs displayed a severely reduced capacity to produce cytokines in response to TLR7 and TLR9 stimulation both in vitro and in vivo. Finally, TLR9-dependent antiviral responses were compromised in Ly49Q-null mice infected with mouse cytomegalovirus. Thus, class I MHC recognition by Ly49Q on pDCs is necessary for optimal activation of innate immune responses in vivo.
The Gray platelet syndrome (GPS) is a rare inherited disorder linked to undefined molecular abnormalities that prevent the formation and maturation of α-granules. Here, we report studies on two patients from unrelated families that confirm phenotypic heterogeneity in the disease. First we used immunoelectron microscopy (I-EM) to confirm that TREM-like transcript-1 (TLT-1) is mostly localized to α-granule membranes of normal platelets. Then we performed Western blotting (WB) and flow cytometry with permeabilized platelets to show that TLT-1 is selectively reduced in the platelets of patient 1, previously noted to be deficient in glycoprotein (GP)VI (Nurden et al, Blood 2004; 104:107−114). Yet both TLT-1 and GPVI were normally expressed in platelets of patient 2. Usual levels of JAM-C and claudin-5, also members of the immunoglobulin receptor family, were detected in platelets of both patients. In contrast, P-selectin was markedly decreased for patient 1 but not patient 2. Two metalloproteases, MMP-2 and MMP-9 were normally present. As predicted, platelets of patient 1 showed little labelling for TLT-1 in I-EM, whereas residual Fg was seen in small vesicular structures and P-selectin lining vacuoles or channels of what may be elements of the surface-connected canalicular system. Our results identify TLT-1 as a glycoprotein potentially targeted in platelets of GPS patients, while decreases in at least three membrane glycoproteins suggest that an unidentified proteolytic activity may contribute to the phenotype in some patients with this rare disease.
KIR3DL1 shows extensive polymorphism, and its variation has functional significance in terms of cell-surface expression levels and inhibitory capacity. We characterized nine KIR3DL1 alleles (*022, *028, *029, *033, *035, *051, *052, *053, and *054), four of which were identified for the first time in this study, and compared them to known alleles in phylogenetic analysis. Blood was available from eight individuals with these alleles, and cell-surface expression on NK cells could be determined for six of them using the KIR3DL1-specific Ab DX9. Four of the alleles were expressed at clearly detectable levels, and two others showed exceptionally low levels of expression. Site-directed mutagenesis demonstrated that single amino acid changes can result in either diminished or enhanced DX9 staining compared with the respective related KIR3DL1 allotypes. These results raise the possibility that KIR3DL1 evolution maintains variation in KIR3DL1 cell-surface expression levels, potentially due to the effect of such variation on functional capacity.
We evaluate here the use of real-time quantitative PCR (q-PCR) as a method for screening for homologous recombinants generated in mammalian cells from either conventional gene-targeting constructs or whole BAC-based constructs. Using gene-targeted events at different loci, we show that q-PCR is a highly sensitive and accurate method for screening for conventional gene targeting that can reduce the number of clones requiring follow-up screening by Southern blotting. We further compared q-PCR to fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) for the detection of gene-targeting events using full-length BAC-based constructs designed to introduce mutations either into one gene or simultaneously into two adjacent genes. We find that although BAC-based constructs appeared to have high rates of homologous recombination when evaluated by FISH, screening by FISH was prone to false positives that were detected by q-PCR. Our results demonstrate the utility of q-PCR as a screening tool for gene targeting and further highlight potential problems with the use of whole BAC-based constructs for homologous recombination.
Tec family kinases are implicated in T cell receptor (TCR) signaling, and combined mutation of inducible T cell kinase (Itk) and resting lymphocyte kinase (Rlk)/Txk in mice dramatically impairs mature T cell function. Nonetheless, mutation of these kinases still permits T cell development. While itk−/− mice exhibit mild reductions in T cells with decreased CD4/CD8 cell ratios, rlk−/−itk−/− mice have improved total T cell numbers yet maintain decreased CD4/CD8 ratios. Using TCR transgenics and an in vitro thymocyte deletion model, we demonstrate that mutation of Tec kinases causes graded defects in thymocyte selection, leading to a switch from negative to positive selection in rlk−/−itk−/− animals. The reduction in both positive and negative selection and decreased CD4/CD8 ratios correlates with decreased biochemical parameters of TCR signaling, specifically defects in capacitive Ca2+ influx and activation of the mitogen-activated kinases extracellular signal–regulated kinase 1 and 2. Thus, Tec kinases influence cell fate determination by modulating TCR signaling, leading to altered thresholds for thymocyte selection. These results provide support for a quantitative model for thymic development and provide evidence that defects in negative selection can substantially alter thymic cellularity.
gene-targeted mice; signal transduction; Itk; Rlk/Txk; T cell receptor