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Frontiers in immunology ; 12, 2021.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1563522


Recent findings have shown that iron is a powerful regulator of immune responses, which is of broad importance because iron deficiency is highly prevalent worldwide. However, the underlying reasons of why iron is needed by lymphocytes remain unclear. Using a combination of mathematical modelling, bioinformatic analysis and experimental work, we studied how iron influences T-cells. We identified iron-interacting proteins in CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell proteomes that were differentially expressed during activation, suggesting that pathways enriched with such proteins, including histone demethylation, may be impaired by iron deficiency. Consistent with this, iron-starved Th17 cells showed elevated expression of the repressive histone mark H3K27me3 and displayed reduced RORγt and IL-17a, highlighting a previously unappreciated role for iron in T-cell differentiation. Quantitatively, we estimated T-cell iron content and calculated that T-cell iron demand rapidly and substantially increases after activation. We modelled that these increased requirements will not be met during clinically defined iron deficiency, indicating that normalizing serum iron may benefit adaptive immunity. Conversely, modelling predicted that excess serum iron would not enhance CD8+ T-cell responses, which we confirmed by immunising inducible hepcidin knock-out mice that have very high serum iron concentrations. Therefore, iron deficiency impairs multiple aspects of T-cell responses, while iron overload likely has milder effects.

Nat Commun ; 12(1): 5376, 2021 09 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1402068


Natural killer (NK) cells are important early responders against viral infections. Changes in metabolism are crucial to fuel NK cell responses, and altered metabolism is linked to NK cell dysfunction in obesity and cancer. However, very little is known about the metabolic requirements of NK cells during acute retroviral infection and their importance for antiviral immunity. Here, using the Friend retrovirus mouse model, we show that following infection NK cells increase nutrient uptake, including amino acids and iron, and reprogram their metabolic machinery by increasing glycolysis and mitochondrial metabolism. Specific deletion of the amino acid transporter Slc7a5 has only discrete effects on NK cells, but iron deficiency profoundly impaires NK cell antiviral functions, leading to increased viral loads. Our study thus shows the requirement of nutrients and metabolism for the antiviral activity of NK cells, and has important implications for viral infections associated with altered iron levels such as HIV and SARS-CoV-2.

Killer Cells, Natural/immunology , Killer Cells, Natural/metabolism , Retroviridae Infections/immunology , Animals , Bone Marrow , COVID-19 , Cytokines , HIV , HIV Infections , Large Neutral Amino Acid-Transporter 1/genetics , Large Neutral Amino Acid-Transporter 1/metabolism , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Knockout , Mitochondria , Retroviridae , Retroviridae Infections/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , Viral Load
EMBO Rep ; 22(8): e52447, 2021 08 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1278776


Cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP) is an immunostimulatory molecule produced by cGAS that activates STING. cGAMP is an adjuvant when administered alongside antigens. cGAMP is also incorporated into enveloped virus particles during budding. Here, we investigate whether inclusion of cGAMP within viral vaccine vectors enhances their immunogenicity. We immunise mice with virus-like particles (VLPs) containing HIV-1 Gag and the vesicular stomatitis virus envelope glycoprotein G (VSV-G). cGAMP loading of VLPs augments CD4 and CD8 T-cell responses. It also increases VLP- and VSV-G-specific antibody titres in a STING-dependent manner and enhances virus neutralisation, accompanied by increased numbers of T follicular helper cells. Vaccination with cGAMP-loaded VLPs containing haemagglutinin induces high titres of influenza A virus neutralising antibodies and confers protection upon virus challenge. This requires cGAMP inclusion within VLPs and is achieved at markedly reduced cGAMP doses. Similarly, cGAMP loading of VLPs containing the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein enhances Spike-specific antibody titres. cGAMP-loaded VLPs are thus an attractive platform for vaccination.

COVID-19 , Influenza Vaccines , Vaccines, Virus-Like Particle , Animals , Humans , Mice , Nucleotides, Cyclic , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Vaccines, Virus-Like Particle/genetics