Bloom syndrome protein restrains innate immune sensing of micronuclei by cGAS.

Cellular innate immune sensors of DNA are essential for host defense against invading pathogens. However, the presence of self-DNA inside cells poses a risk of triggering unchecked immune responses. The mechanisms limiting induction of inflammation by self-DNA are poorly understood. BLM RecQ-like helicase is essential for genome integrity and is deficient in Bloom syndrome (BS), a rare genetic disease characterized by genome instability, accumulation of micronuclei, susceptibility to cancer, and immunodeficiency. Here, we show that BLM-deficient fibroblasts show constitutive up-regulation of inflammatory interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) expression, which is mediated by the cGAS-STING-IRF3 cytosolic DNA-sensing pathway. Increased DNA damage or down-regulation of the cytoplasmic exonuclease TREX1 enhances ISG expression in BLM-deficient fibroblasts. cGAS-containing cytoplasmic micronuclei are increased in BS cells. Finally, BS patients demonstrate elevated ISG expression in peripheral blood. These results reveal that BLM limits ISG induction, thus connecting DNA damage to cellular innate immune response, which may contribute to human pathogenesis.

EHD2 is a mechanotransducer connecting caveolae dynamics with gene transcription.

Caveolae are small invaginated pits that function as dynamic mechanosensors to buffer tension variations at the plasma membrane. Here we show that under mechanical stress, the EHD2 ATPase is rapidly released from caveolae, SUMOylated, and translocated to the nucleus, where it regulates the transcription of several genes including those coding for caveolae constituents. We also found that EHD2 is required to maintain the caveolae reservoir at the plasma membrane during the variations of membrane tension induced by mechanical stress. Metal-replica electron microscopy of breast cancer cells lacking EHD2 revealed a complete absence of caveolae and a lack of gene regulation under mechanical stress. Expressing EHD2 was sufficient to restore both functions in these cells. Our findings therefore define EHD2 as a central player in mechanotransduction connecting the disassembly of the caveolae reservoir with the regulation of gene transcription under mechanical stress.

Dissecting Effects of Anti-cancer Drugs and Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts by On-Chip Reconstitution

A major challenge in cancer research is the complexity of the tumor microenvironment, which includes the host immunological setting. Inspired by the emerging technology of organ-on-chip, we achieved 3D co-cultures in microfluidic devices (integrating four cell populations: cancer, immune, endothelial, and fibroblasts) to reconstitute ex vivo a human tumor ecosystem (HER2 breast cancer). We visualized and quantified the complex dynamics of this tumor-on-chip, in the absence or in the presence of the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin), a targeted antibody therapy directed against the HER2 receptor. We uncovered the capacity of the drug trastuzumab to specifically promote long cancer-immune interactions (>50 min), recapitulating an anti-tumoral ADCC (antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity) immune response. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) antagonized the effects of trastuzumab. These observations constitute a proof of concept that tumors-on-chip are powerful platforms to study ex vivo immunocompetent tumor microenvironments, to characterize ecosystem-level drug responses, and to dissect the roles of stromal components.

Wnt1 silences chemokine genes in dendritic cells and induces adaptive immune resistance in lung

Lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD)-derived Wnts increase cancer cell proliferative/stemness potential, but whether they impact the immune microenvironment is unknown. Here we show that LUAD cells use paracrine Wnt1 signaling to induce immune resistance. In TCGA, Wnt1 correlates strongly with tolerogenic genes. In another LUAD cohort, Wnt1 inversely associates with T cell abundance. Altering Wnt1 expression profoundly affects growth of murine lung adenocarcinomas and this is dependent on conventional dendritic cells (cDCs) and T cells. Mechanistically, Wnt1 leads to transcriptional silencing of CC/CXC chemokines in cDCs, T cell exclusion and cross-tolerance. Wnt-target genes are up-regulated in human intratumoral cDCs and decrease upon silencing Wnt1, accompanied by enhanced T cell cytotoxicity. siWnt1-nanoparticles given as single therapy or part of combinatorial immunotherapies act at both arms of the cancer-immune ecosystem to halt tumor growth. Collectively, our studies show that Wnt1 induces immunologically cold tumors through cDCs and highlight its immunotherapeutic targeting.

Macrophages hide HIV in the urethra.

TLR3 Activation of Intratumoral CD103 Dendritic Cells Modifies the Tumor Infiltrate Conferring

An important challenge in cancer immunotherapy is to expand the number of patients that benefit from immune checkpoint inhibitors (CI), a fact that has been related to the pre-existence of an efficient anti-tumor immune response. Different strategies are being proposed to promote tumor immunity and to be used in combined therapies with CI. Recently, we reported that intratumoral administration of naked poly A:U, a dsRNA mimetic empirically used in early clinical trials with some success, delays tumor growth and prolongs mice survival in several murine cancer models. Here, we show that CD103 cDC1 and, to a much lesser extent CD11b cDC2, are the only populations expressing TLR3 at the tumor site, and consequently could be potential targets of poly A:U. Upon poly A:U administration these cells become activated and elicit profound changes in the composition of the tumor immune infiltrate, switching the immune suppressive tumor environment to anti-tumor immunity. The sole administration of naked poly A:U promotes striking changes within the lymphoid compartment, with all the anti-tumoral parameters being enhanced: a higher frequency of CD8 Granzyme B T cells, (lower Treg/CD8 ratio) and an important expansion of tumor-antigen specific CD8 T cells. Also, PD1/PDL1 showed an increased expression indicating that neutralization of this axis could be exploited in combination with poly A:U. Our results shed new light to promote further assays in this dsRNA mimetic to the clinical field.

Actin filaments regulate microtubule growth at the centrosome.

The centrosome is the main microtubule-organizing centre. It also organizes a local network of actin filaments. However, the precise function of the actin network at the centrosome is not well understood. Here, we show that increasing densities of actin filaments at the centrosome of lymphocytes are correlated with reduced amounts of microtubules. Furthermore, lymphocyte activation resulted in disassembly of centrosomal actin and an increase in microtubule number. To further investigate the direct crosstalk between actin and microtubules at the centrosome, we performed reconstitution assays based on (i) purified centrosomes and (ii) on the co-micropatterning of microtubule seeds and actin filaments. These two assays demonstrated that actin filaments constitute a physical barrier blocking elongation of nascent microtubules. Finally, we showed that cell adhesion and cell spreading lead to lower densities of centrosomal actin, thus resulting in higher microtubule growth. We therefore propose a novel mechanism, by which the number of centrosomal microtubules is regulated by cell adhesion and actin-network architecture.

Notch Signaling Facilitates In Vitro Generation of Cross-Presenting Classical Dendritic Cells.

The IRF8-dependent subset of classical dendritic cells (cDCs), termed cDC1, is important for cross-priming cytotoxic T cell responses against pathogens and tumors. Culture of hematopoietic progenitors with DC growth factor FLT3 ligand (FLT3L) yields very few cDC1s (in humans) or only immature “cDC1-like” cells (in the mouse). We report that OP9 stromal cells expressing the Notch ligand Delta-like 1 (OP9-DL1) optimize FLT3L-driven development of cDC1s from murine immortalized progenitors and primary bone marrow cells. Co-culture with OP9-DL1 induced IRF8-dependent cDC1s with a phenotype (CD103 Dec205 CD8α) and expression profile resembling primary splenic cDC1s. OP9-DL1-induced cDC1s showed preferential migration toward CCR7 ligands in vitro and superior T cell cross-priming and antitumor vaccination in vivo. Co-culture with OP9-DL1 also greatly increased the yield of IRF8-dependent CD141 cDC1s from human bone marrow progenitors cultured with FLT3L. Thus, Notch signaling optimizes cDC generation in vitro and yields authentic cDC1s for functional studies and translational applications.

Host tissue determinants of tumour immunity.

Although common evolutionary principles drive the growth of cancer cells regardless of the tissue of origin, the microenvironment in which tumours arise substantially differs across various organ sites. Recent studies have established that, in addition to cell-intrinsic effects, tumour growth regulation also depends on local cues driven by tissue environmental factors. In this Review, we discuss how tissue-specific determinants might influence tumour development and argue that unravelling the tissue-specific contribution to tumour immunity should help the development of precise immunotherapeutic strategies for patients with cancer.

The N-Terminal Domain of cGAS Determines Preferential Association with Centromeric DNA and Innate

The Histone Methyltransferase SETDB1 Controls T Helper Cell Lineage Integrity by Repressing

Upon activation, naive CD4 T cells differentiate into distinct T cell subsets via processes reliant on epigenetically regulated, lineage-specific developmental programs. Here, we examined the function of the histone methyltransferase SETDB1 in T helper (Th) cell differentiation. Setdb1 naive CD4 T cells exhibited exacerbated Th1 priming, and when exposed to a Th1-instructive signal, Setdb1 Th2 cells crossed lineage boundaries and acquired a Th1 phenotype. SETDB1 did not directly control Th1 gene promoter activity but relied instead on deposition of the repressive H3K9me3 mark at a restricted and cell-type-specific set of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) located in the vicinity of genes involved in immune processes. Refined bioinformatic analyses suggest that these retrotransposons regulate Th1 gene cis-regulatory elements or act as Th1 gene enhancers. Thus, H3K9me3 deposition by SETDB1 ensures Th cell lineage integrity by repressing a repertoire of ERVs that have been exapted into cis-regulatory modules to shape and control the Th1 gene network.

Regulation of Antigen Export to the Cytosol During Cross-Presentation.

Cross-priming refers to the induction of primary cytotoxic CD8 T cell responses to antigens that are not expressed in antigen presenting cells (APCs) responsible for T cell priming. Cross-priming is achieved through cross-presentation of exogenous antigens derived from tumors, extracellular pathogens or infected neighboring cells on Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) class I molecules. Despite extensive research efforts to understand the intracellular pathways involved in antigen cross-presentation, certain critical steps remain elusive and controversial. Here we review recent advances on antigen cross-presentation, focusing on the mechanisms involved in antigen export to the cytosol, a crucial step of this pathway.

Cold Tumors: A Therapeutic Challenge for Immunotherapy.

Therapeutic monoclonal antibodies targeting immune checkpoints (ICPs) have changed the treatment landscape of many tumors. However, response rate remains relatively low in most cases. A major factor involved in initial resistance to ICP inhibitors is the lack or paucity of tumor T cell infiltration, characterizing the so-called “cold tumors.” In this review, we describe the main mechanisms involved in the absence of T cell infiltration, including lack of tumor antigens, defect in antigen presentation, absence of T cell activation and deficit of homing into the tumor bed. We discuss then the different therapeutic approaches that could turn cold into hot tumors. In this way, specific therapies are proposed according to their mechanism of action. In addition, ”supra-physiological” therapies, such as T cell recruiting bispecific antibodies and Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells, may be active regardless of the mechanism involved, especially in MHC class I negative tumors. The determination of the main factors implicated in the lack of preexisting tumor T cell infiltration is crucial for the development of adapted algorithms of treatments for cold tumors.

Translate less, prime better, to improve anti-tumor responses.

Transcriptional regulation of FeS biogenesis genes: A possible shield against arsenate toxicity

In the eukaryotic model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, arsenic (As) detoxification is regulated by two transcriptional factors, Yap8 and Yap1. Yap8 specifically controls As extrusion from the cell, whether Yap1 avoids arsenic-induced oxidative damages. Accordingly, cells lacking both Yap1 and Yap8 are more sensitive to arsenate than cells lacking each regulator individually. Strikingly enough, the same sensitivity pattern was observed under anoxia, suggesting that Yap1 role in As detoxification might not be restricted to the regulation of the oxidative stress response. This finding prompted us to study the transcriptomic profile of wild-type and yap1 mutant cells exposed to arsenate. Interestingly, we found that, under such conditions, several genes involved in the biogenesis of FeS proteins were upregulated in a Yap1-dependent way. In line with this observation, arsenate treatment decreases the activity of the mitochondrial aconitase, Aco1, an FeS cluster-containing enzyme, this effect being even more pronounced in the yap1 mutant. Reinforcing the relevance of FeS cluster biogenesis in arsenate detoxification, the overexpression of several ISC and CIA machinery genes alleviates the deleterious effect of arsenate caused by the absence of Yap1 and Yap8. Altogether our data suggest that the upregulation of FeS biogenesis genes regulated by Yap1 might work as a cellular shield against arsenate toxicity.

Actin dynamics drive cell-like membrane deformation

Cell membrane deformations are crucial for proper cell function. Specialized protein assemblies initiate inward or outward membrane deformations that turn into, for example, endocytic intermediates or filopodia. Actin assembly and dynamics are involved in this process, although their detailed role remains controversial. We show here that a dynamic, branched actin network is sufficient to initiate both inward and outward membrane deformation. With actin polymerization triggered at the membrane of liposomes, we produce inward filopodia-like structures at low tension, while outward endocytosis-like structures are robustly generated regardless of tension. Our results shed light on the mechanism of endocytosis, both in mammalian cells, where actin polymerization forces are required when membrane tension is increased, and in yeast, where those forces are necessary to overcome the opposing turgor pressure. By combining experimental observations with physical modeling, we propose a mechanism for actin-driven endocytosis controlled by membrane tension and the architecture of the actin network.


Nature Physics – Actin dynamics drive cell-like membrane deformation


[Cell complexity should be placed at the heart of cancer research].

Genetic and most likely epigenetic alterations occurring during tumor progression and metastatic process lead to a broad deregulation of major cellular functions. However, the molecular mechanisms involved are still poorly understood. To understand them, the cell, the basic unit of life, remains more than ever the essential level to integrate the functional impact of genetics and epigenetics processes in the light of the global economy of the normal and cancerous cell, and of its interactions with its microenvironment.