Neutrophils are early wound healing and inflammation regulators that, due to functional plasticity, can adopt either pro- or antitumor functions. Until recently, beclin-1 was a protein known mainly for its role as a critical regulator of autophagy. In this issue of the JCI, Tan et al. describe the effects of the beclin-1 conditional myeloid cell–specific deletion in mice, in which immunostimulation resulted in hypersensitive neutrophils. The chronic proinflammatory effect of these neutrophils triggered spontaneous B cell malignancies to develop. Such tumorigenic effects were mediated primarily by IL-21 and CD40 signaling, leading to the upregulation of tolerogenic molecules, such as IL-10 and PD-L1. The authors went on to examine samples derived from patient lymphoid malignancies and showed that beclin-1 expression in neutrophils positively correlated with pre–B cell leukemia/lymphoma. Overall, the study provides an elegant model for neutrophil-driven carcinogenesis and identifies potential targets for immunotherapy of B cell malignancies.
Yu-Lin Su, Marcin Kortylewski
With the approval of CD19-targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells for the treatment of B cell malignancies, clinicians have gained valuable insights into the power and challenges of cellular therapies. In this issue of the JCI, Maluski et al. showed that a CAR containing a CD28 costimulatory domain drives progeny differentiation to resemble that of NK cells, which have the potential for an off-the-shelf cell therapy. These CAR-induced killer (CARiK) cells displayed potent antitumor function and killed across the MHC barrier in vivo. After performing in vitro and in vivo mouse studies, the authors also successfully differentiated human umbilical cord blood–derived progenitor cells into CARiK cells. These unique cells may address some of the current challenges associated with first-generation CARs, such as prolonged production that requires patients to wait weeks for infusion. We believe this innovative progenitor gene-engineered lymphoid system has the potential for clinical translation.
Brigett D. Brandjes, Marco L. Davila
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is an acquired disorder characterized by hemolysis, thrombosis, and bone marrow failure caused by defective expression of glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored (GPI-anchored) complement inhibitors. Most commonly, PNH is caused by loss of function of PIGA, which is required for GPI biosynthesis. In this issue of the JCI, Höchsmann et al. report on 4 PNH patients who also had marked autoinflammatory manifestations, including aseptic meningitis. All 4 patients had a germline mutation of the related gene PIGT and a somatically acquired myeloid common deleted region (CDR) on chromosome 20q that deleted the second PIGT allele. The biochemistry and clinical manifestations indicate that these patients have subtle but important differences from those with PNH resulting from PIGA mutations, suggesting PIGT-PNH may be a distinct clinical entity.
Robert A. Brodsky
The interleukin 3 receptor (CD123) is a transmembrane protein that is absent or hardly expressed on normal hematopoietic stem cells, but highly expressed on the surface of cancer cells in several hematologic malignancies. In this issue of the JCI, Togami et al. investigated the mechanism of resistance to the recently approved anti-CD123 agent tagraxofusp, which consists of interleukin 3 fused to a truncated diphtheria toxin (DT) molecule. The authors demonstrated that loss of the intracellular target for DT, diphthamide, a conservative modification of histidine 715 in eukaryotic elongation factor 2, resulted in tagraxofusp resistance. Specifically, hypermethylation of the DPH1 gene, encoding a key enzyme in diphthamide synthesis, resulted in diphthamide loss. Notably, treatment with a DNA hypomethylating agent restored DPH1 expression and resensitized cells to tagraxofusp. The recognition of this resistance mechanism may have important clinical implications and lead to the development of more effective multiagent therapies.
Lukasz P. Gondek
A strong Th17 inflammatory response aggravates ischemia reperfusion–induced (IR-induced) acute kidney injury (AKI), tissue fibrosis, and AKI-to–chronic kidney disease (CKD) progression. However, the underlying mechanisms of sustained Th17 activation following AKI and during AKI-to-CKD progression are unclear. In this issue of the JCI, Mehrotra et al. present compelling evidence that the store-operated calcium (Ca2+) channel Orai1 sustains Th17-driven inflammatory response after AKI and drives the AKI-to-CKD transition. Orai1 blockade significantly protected renal function from IR, attenuated high-salt–induced AKI-to-CKD progression in rats, and decreased Th17 response in rat and human T cells. Therapeutic targeting of Orai1 can potentially reduce AKI, AKI-to-CKD progression, and other Th17-driven diseases.
Cardiac tissue necrosis secondary to coronary artery occlusion is one of the most common and deadly sterile injuries in developed countries. In this issue of the JCI, Rieckmann et al. identified and characterized antigen-specific CD4+ T helper (Th) cells that developed in the context of myocardial infarction (MI) in mice. They showed that myosin heavy chain α (MYHCA) is a dominant cardiac autoantigen and that T cells with T cell receptor (TCR) specificity to MYHCA acquired a Treg phenotype when adoptively transferred into infarcted mice, which mediated a cardioprotective healing response. Thus, Rieckmann et al. showed that an acute ischemic insult to the heart, which induces sterile inflammation, promoted, rather than limited, protective T cell autoimmunity. Notably, strategies that support an antigen-specific Treg response may limit the immune-inflammatory response and promote cardiac repair after acute MI.
Mutations affecting the integrity of the essential torsin ATPase/cofactor system have been identified in a steadily increasing number of congenital disorders. Since most of these mutations affect brain function, much of the research has focused on deciphering disease etiology in the brain. However, torsin is expressed in a wide variety of nonneural tissues and is strictly conserved across species, including the lowest metazoans, suggesting that it plays roles extending beyond neurons. In this issue of the JCI, Shin et al. explored torsin function in the mammalian liver. The group reports major defects in hepatic lipid metabolism when the torsin system is compromised in mice. Remarkably, conditional deletion of either torsinA or its cofactor, lamina-associated polypeptide 1 (LAP1), resulted in fatty liver disease and steatohepatitis, likely from a secretion defect of VLDLs. This study considerably expands our understanding of torsin biology, while providing defined opportunities for future investigations of torsin function and dysfunction in human pathologies.
Sarah M. Prophet, Christian Schlieker
With almost 2 million new HIV-1 infections in 2018, a highly effective vaccine is imperative. Vaccine-elicited HIV-1 antibodies contribute to protection through multiple nonneutralizing activities, but the exact mechanisms remain unknown. In this issue of the JCI, Neidich and associates sought to determine how antibodies contributed to reducing the risk of HIV-1 acquisition in a phase IIb preventative vaccine efficacy trial, HVTN 505. Their studies revealed that antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis (ADCP) and FcγRIIa binding were strongly associated with reduced HIV-1 risk; however, HIV-1 envelope–specific IgG3, IgA; and host FcγRIIa genotype also influenced risk. This study highlights the intricate interactions between antibodies and innate immune functions in humans.
Tysheena P. Charles, Cynthia A. Derdeyn
The pathophysiology of cellular injury and repair has been extensively studied in acute kidney injury (AKI) for more than 70 years. Although a great deal of knowledge has been generated, a debate over the importance of repairing damaged cells versus replacing them by proliferation remains. In this issue of the JCI, Kishi et al. demonstrate that following kidney epithelial cell injury, DNA repair, rather than cell proliferation, plays the central role in recovery and longevity by minimizing apoptosis, G2/M cell-cycle arrest, and subsequent fibrosis. This has important therapeutic implications and highlights the need for more sensitive techniques to evaluate functional, structural, and molecular recovery following injury.
Bruce A. Molitoris
Two different antisense oligonucleotide–based (ASO-based) therapies are currently in clinical use to treat neuromuscular diseases. This success, for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy, offers hope not only for additional neuromuscular diseases, but also for other disorders that could benefit from RNA-targeted therapies. A major limitation for more widespread application of ASOs relates to relatively poor tissue penetration. In this issue of the JCI, Klein et al. showed that conjugating an ASO with an arginine-rich cell-penetrating peptide, Pip6a, enhanced delivery, resulting in corrective outcome for a mouse model of myotonic dystrophy. Linking ASOs to cell-penetrating peptides, or even other moieties, is an approach currently under development with treatment potential to expand to other disorders.
Elizabeth M. McNally, Brian D. Leverson
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