2013 Vol. 4, No. 1

Innate immune responses to DNA viruses
Ying Nie, Yan-Yi Wang
2013, 4(1): 1-7. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2122-6
The innate immune system acts as the first line of defense against pathogens, which is also essential for initiation of adaptive immunity. Innate immune responses are initiated by pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs), which recognize conserved molecular structures of pathogens called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). The infection of virus triggers a series of signaling events leading to transcriptional induction of type I interferons (IFNs) and proinflammatory cytokines. In recent years, the mechanisms of viral RNA recognition and RNA virus-triggered signaling pathways have been well studied. However, it remains unclear on how DNA virus infection is sensed by host cells and triggers the host antiviral defense. Although ten potential viral DNA sensors have been reported, none of them is validated as a generally used sensor for distinct DNA viruses in divergent cell types and animals. Here, we provide a summary and perspective on recent advances in innate immune responses to DNA viruses.
Recognition of self and altered self by T cells in autoimmunity and allergy
Lei Yin, Shaodong Dai, Gina Clayton, Wei Gao, Yang Wang, John Kappler, Philippa Marrack
2013, 4(1): 8-16. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2077-7
T cell recognition of foreign peptide antigen and tolerance to self peptides is key to the proper function of the immune system. Usually, in the thymus T cells that recognize self MHC + self peptides are deleted and those with the potential to recognize self MHC + foreign peptides are selected to mature. However there are exceptions to these rules. Autoimmunity and allergy are two of the most common immune diseases that can be related to recognition of self. Many genes work together to lead to autoimmunity. Of those, particular MHC alleles are the most strongly associated, reflecting the key importance of MHC presentation of self peptides in autoimmunity. T cells specific for combinations of self MHC and self peptides may escape thymus deletion, and thus be able to drive autoimmunity, for several reasons:the relevant self peptide may be presented at low abundance in the thymus but at high level in particular peripheral tissues; the relevant self peptide may bind to MHC in an unusual register, not present in the thymus but apparent elsewhere; finally the relevant self peptide may be post translationally modified in a tissue specific fashion. In some types of allergy, the peptide + MHC combination may also be fully derived from self. However the combination in question may be modified by the presence of other ligands, such as small drug molecules or metal ions. Thus these types of allergies may act like the post translationally modified peptides involved some types of autoimmunity.
Immune plexins and semaphorins: old proteins, new immune functions
Kelly Roney, Eda Holl, Jenny Ting
2013, 4(1): 17-26. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2108-4
Plexins and semaphorins are a large family of proteins that are involved in cell movement and response. The importance of plexins and semaphorins has been emphasized by their discovery in many organ systems including the nervous (Nkyimbeng-Takwi and Chapoval, 2011; McCormick and Leipzig, 2012; Yaron and Sprinzak, 2012), epithelial (Miao et al., 1999; Fujii et al., 2002), and immune systems (Takamatsu and Kumanogoh, 2012) as well as diverse cell processes including angiogenesis (Serini et al., 2009; Sakurai et al., 2012), embryogenesis (Perala et al., 2012), and cancer (Potiron et al., 2009; Micucci et al., 2010). Plexins and semaphorins are transmembrane proteins that share a conserved extracellular semaphorin domain (Hota and Buck, 2012). The plexins and semaphorins are divided into four and eight subfamilies respectively based on their structural homology. Semaphorins are relatively small proteins containing the extracellular semaphorin domain and short intracellular tails. Plexins contain the semaphorin domain and long intracellular tails (Hota and Buck, 2012). The majority of plexin and semaphorin research has focused on the nervous system, particularly the developing nervous system, where these proteins are found to mediate many common neuronal cell processes including cell movement, cytoskeletal rearrangement, and signal transduction (Choi et al., 2008; Takamatsu et al., 2010). Their roles in the immune system are the focus of this review.
The essential adaptors of innate immune signaling
Huihui Chen, Zhengfan Jiang
2013, 4(1): 27-39. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2063-0
Microbial components and the endogenous molecules released from damaged cells can stimulate germline-encoded pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) to transduce signals to the hub of the innate immune signaling network-the adaptor proteins MyD88/TRIF/MAVS/STING/Caspase-1, where integrated signals relay to the relevant transcription factors IRF3/IRF7/NF-κB/AP-1 and the signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6) to trigger the expression of type I interferons and inflammatory cytokines or the assembly of inflammasomes. Most pleiotropic cytokines are secreted and bind to specific receptors, activating the signaling pathways including JAK-STAT for the proliferation, differentiation and functional capacity of immune cells. This review focuses on several critical adaptors in innate immune signaling cascades and recent progress in their molecular mechanisms.
Regulation of TLR7/9 signaling in plasmacytoid dendritic cells
Musheng Bao, Yong-Jun Liu
2013, 4(1): 40-52. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2104-8
Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), also known as type I interferon (IFN)-producing cells, are specialized immune cells characterized by their extraordinary capabilities of mounting rapid and massive type I IFN response to nucleic acids derived from virus, bacteria or dead cells. PDCs selectively express endosomal Toll-like receptor (TLR) 7 and TLR9, which sense viral RNA and DNA respectively. Following type I IFN and cytokine responses, pDCs differentiate into antigen presenting cells and acquire the ability to regulate T cell-mediated adaptive immunity. The functions of pDCs have been implicated not only in antiviral innate immunity but also in immune tolerance, inflammation and tumor microenvironments. In this review, we will focus on TLR7/9 signaling and their regulation by pDC-specific receptors.
Caenorhabditis elegans mom-4 is required for the activation of the p38 MAPK signaling pathway in the response to Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection
Ajing Xu, Guojun Shi, Feng Liu, Baoxue Ge
2013, 4(1): 53-61. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2080-z
The p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) plays an evolutionarily conserved role in the cellular response to microbial infection and environmental stress. Activation of p38 is mediated through phosphorylation by upstream MAPKK, which in turn is activated by MAPKKK. In the Caenorhabditis elegans, the p38 MAPK (also called PMK-1) signaling pathway has been shown to be required in its resistance to bacterial infection. However, how different upstream MAP2Ks and MAP3Ks specifically contribute to the activation of PMK-1 in response to bacterial infection still is not clearly understood. By using double-stranded RNA-mediated interference (RNAi) and genetic mutants of C. elegans, we demonstrate that C. elegans MOM-4, a mammalian TAK1 homolog, is required for the resistance of C. elegans to a P. aeruginosa infection. We have also found that the MKK-4 of C. elegans is required for P. aeruginosa resistance, but not through the regulation of DLK-1. In summary, our results indicate that different upstream MAPKKKs or MAPKKs regulate the activation of PMK-1 in response to P. aeruginosa.
USP2a positively regulates TCR-induced NF-κB activation by bridging MALT1-TRAF6
Yi Li, Xiao He, Shuai Wang, Hong-Bing Shu, Yu Liu
2013, 4(1): 62-70. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2120-8
The paracaspase MALT1 is essential for the activation of NF-κB in response to T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation. It recruits downstream TRAF6 and activates the E3 ligase activity of TRAF6 to polyubiquitinate several targets, which ultimately leads to NF-κB activation. Here we identified ubiquitin-specific protease 2a (USP2a) as a MALT1-associated protein by biochemical affinity purification. Endogenous USP2a constitutively interacted with TRAF6, but dynamically interacted with MALT1 and CARMA1 in a stimulation-dependent manner. RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated silencing of USP2a attenuated TCR-induced NF-κB activation and production of interleukin-2 (IL-2). In addition, the ubiquitination of MALT1 and TRAF6 were both suppressed by USP2a knockdown. By knockdown and reconstitution assays, we found that USP2a mediated the interaction between MALT1 and TRAF6 in a catalytic activity-dependent manner. Furthermore, USP2a deSUMOylated TRAF6. Our findings implicate that USP2a plays an important role in TCR signaling by deSUMOylating TRAF6 and mediating TRAF6-MALT1 interaction.
Research article
Combined effects of p53 and MDM2 polymorphisms on susceptibility and surgical prognosis in hepatitis B virus-related hepatocellular carcinoma
Yun Yang, Tian Xia, Ning Li, Jin Zhang, Yuan Yang, Wenming Cong, Qiang Deng, Ke Lan, Weiping Zhou
2013, 4(1): 71-81. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2067-9
The p53 signaling pathway works as a potent barrier to tumor progression. Two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the gene loci of p53 pathway, p53 codon 72 Arg72Pro and MDM2 SNP309 (T > G), have been shown to cause perturbation of p53 function, but the effect of the two SNPs on the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains inconsistent. This study investigated the influence of combined p53 Arg72Pro and MDM2 SNP309 on the risk of developing HCC in patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection, and evaluated the significance of the two combined SNPs on patient prognosis. In total, 350 HCC patients, 230 non-HCC patients, and 96 healthy controls were genotyped for the p53 Arg72Pro and MDM2 SNP309. The combined p53 Pro/Pro and MDM2 G/G genotype was significantly associated with HCC risk (P=0.047). Multivariate analysis indicated that combined p53 Pro/Pro and MDM2 G/G genotype was an independent factor affecting recurrence and survival (P < 0.05). Patients with combined p53 Pro/Pro and MDM2 G/G genotypes had a poorer prognosis than other genotypes, P < 0.01 for both disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS). DFS and OS rates also differed significantly between Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) stage A patients with combined p53 Pro/Pro and MDM2 G/G and other genotypes (P < 0.05). Thus, the combined p53 Pro/Pro and MDM2 G/G genotype is associated with increased risk of developing HCC and is an independent adverse prognostic indicator in early stage HCC.