Publications by authors named "Alexander Wintges"

8 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Tumor cell-intrinsic RIG-I signaling governs synergistic effects of immunogenic cancer therapies and checkpoint inhibitors in mice.

Eur J Immunol 2021 06 5;51(6):1531-1534. Epub 2021 Apr 5.

Department of Medicine III, School of Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany.

Immunogenic cancer therapies, including radiation and hypomethylating agents, such as 5-azacytidine, rely on tumor cell-intrinsic activation of the RNA receptor RIG-I for their synergism with immune checkpoint inhibitors. Possible RIG-I ligands are small nuclear RNA (snRNA) and endogenous retroviral elements (ERV) leaking from the nucleus during programmed cell death.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eji.202049158DOI Listing
June 2021

RIG-I activation is critical for responsiveness to checkpoint blockade.

Sci Immunol 2019 09;4(39)

Department of Medicine III, School of Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany.

Achieving durable clinical responses to immune checkpoint inhibitors remains a challenge. Here, we demonstrate that immunotherapy with anti-CTLA-4 and its combination with anti-PD-1 rely on tumor cell-intrinsic activation of the cytosolic RNA receptor RIG-I. Mechanistically, tumor cell-intrinsic RIG-I signaling induced caspase-3-mediated tumor cell death, cross-presentation of tumor-associated antigen by CD103 dendritic cells, subsequent expansion of tumor antigen-specific CD8 T cells, and their accumulation within the tumor tissue. Consistently, therapeutic targeting of RIG-I with 5'- triphosphorylated RNA in both tumor and nonmalignant host cells potently augmented the efficacy of CTLA-4 checkpoint blockade in several preclinical cancer models. In humans, transcriptome analysis of primary melanoma samples revealed a strong association between high expression of (the gene encoding RIG-I), T cell receptor and antigen presentation pathway activity, and prolonged overall survival. Moreover, in patients with melanoma treated with anti-CTLA-4 checkpoint blockade, high RIG-I transcriptional activity significantly associated with durable clinical responses. Our data thus identify activation of RIG-I signaling in tumors and their microenvironment as a crucial component for checkpoint inhibitor-mediated immunotherapy of cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciimmunol.aau8943DOI Listing
September 2019

Targeting intrinsic RIG-I signaling turns melanoma cells into type I interferon-releasing cellular antitumor vaccines.

Oncoimmunology 2019;8(4):e1570779. Epub 2019 Feb 11.

Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik 3, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität, Munich, Germany.

Resistance to cell death and evasion of immunosurveillance are major causes of cancer persistence and progression. Tumor cell-intrinsic activation of the RNA receptor retinoic acid-inducible gene-I (RIG-I) can trigger an immunogenic form of programmed tumor cell death, but its impact on antitumor responses remains largely unexplored. We show that activation of intrinsic RIG-I signaling induces melanoma cell death that enforces cross-presentation of tumor-associated antigens by bystander dendritic cells. This results in systemic expansion and activation of tumor-antigen specific T cells with subsequent regression of pre-established melanoma. These processes were dependent on the signaling hub MAVS and type I interferon (IFN-I) signaling in the host cell. Using melanoma cells deficient for the transcription factors IRF3 and IRF7, we demonstrate that RIG-I-activated tumor cells used as a vaccine are a relevant source of IFN-I during T cell cross-priming . Thus, our findings may facilitate translational development of personalized anticancer vaccines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2162402X.2019.1570779DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6422402PMC
February 2019

RIG-I activating immunostimulatory RNA boosts the efficacy of anticancer vaccines and synergizes with immune checkpoint blockade.

EBioMedicine 2019 Mar 6;41:146-155. Epub 2019 Mar 6.

Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik III, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität, Munich, Germany. Electronic address:

Background: Antibody-mediated targeting of regulatory T cell receptors such as CTLA-4 enhances antitumor immune responses against several cancer entities including malignant melanoma. Yet, therapeutic success in patients remains variable underscoring the need for novel combinatorial approaches.

Methods: Here we established a vaccination strategy that combines engagement of the nucleic acid-sensing pattern recognition receptor RIG-I, antigen and CTLA-4 blockade. We used in vitro transcribed 5'-triphosphorylated RNA (3pRNA) to therapeutically target the RIG-I pathway. We performed in vitro functional analysis in bone-marrow derived dendritic cells and investigated RIG-I-enhanced vaccines in different murine melanoma models.

Findings: We found that protein vaccination together with RIG-I ligation via 3pRNA strongly synergizes with CTLA-4 blockade to induce expansion and activation of antigen-specific CD8 T cells that translates into potent antitumor immunity. RIG-I-induced cross-priming of cytotoxic T cells as well as antitumor immunity were dependent on the host adapter protein MAVS and type I interferon (IFN-I) signaling and were mediated by dendritic cells.

Interpretation: Overall, our data demonstrate the potency of a novel combinatorial vaccination strategy combining RIG-I-driven immunization with CTLA-4 blockade to prevent and treat experimental melanoma. FUND: German Research Foundation (SFB 1335, SFB 1371), EMBO, Else Kröner-Fresenius-Foundation, German Cancer Aid, European Hematology Association, DKMS Foundation for Giving Life, Dres. Carl Maximilian and Carl Manfred Bayer-Foundation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2019.02.056DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6444128PMC
March 2019

Regeneration After Radiation- and Immune-Mediated Tissue Injury Is Not Enhanced by Type III Interferon Signaling.

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2019 03 29;103(4):970-976. Epub 2018 Nov 29.

Klinik und Poliklinik für Innere Medizin 3, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany.

Purpose: Type I interferon (IFN-I) and interleukin (IL)-22 modulate regeneration of the thymus and intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) after cytotoxic stress such as irradiation. Radiation-induced damage to thymic tissues and IECs is a crucial aspect during the pathogenesis of inadequate immune reconstitution and acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) with myeloablative total body irradiation (TBI), respectively. IL-22 and IFN-I reduce the severity of acute GVHD after allo-HSCT with myeloablative TBI. However, the role of biologically related type III interferon (IFN-III), also known as interferon lambda (IFN-λ) or IL-28, in this context is unclear. We therefore studied the role of the IFN-III pathway in thymic regeneration and GVHD after TBI and allo-HSCT.

Methods And Materials: Cohoused wild-type (WT) and IFN-III receptor-deficient (IL-28 receptor alpha subunit-deficient/IL-28Ra) mice were analyzed in models of TBI-induced thymus damage and a model of GVHD after allo-HSCT with myeloablative TBI. PASylated IFN-III (PASylated IL-28A, XL-protein GmbH) was generated to prolong the plasma half-life of IFN-III. Pharmacologic activity and the effects of PASylated IL-28A on radiation-induced thymus damage and the course of GVHD after allo-HSCT with myeloablative TBI were tested.

Results: The course and severity of GVHD after myeloablative TBI and allo-HSCT in IL-28Ra mice was comparable to those in WT mice. Activation of the IFN-III pathway by PASylated IL-28A did not significantly modulate GVHD after allo-HSCT with TBI. Furthermore, IL28Ra mice and WT mice showed similar thymus regeneration after radiation, which could also not be significantly modulated by IFN-III receptor engagement using PASylated IL-28A.

Conclusions: We analyzed the role of IFN-III signaling during radiation-mediated acute tissue injury. Despite molecular and biologic homologies with IFN-I and IL-22, IFN-III signaling did not improve thymus regeneration after radiation or the course of GVHD after myeloablative TBI and allo-HSCT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2018.11.038DOI Listing
March 2019

RIG-I/MAVS and STING signaling promote gut integrity during irradiation- and immune-mediated tissue injury.

Sci Transl Med 2017 04;9(386)

III. Medizinische Klinik, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany.

The molecular pathways that regulate the tissue repair function of type I interferon (IFN-I) during acute tissue damage are poorly understood. We describe a protective role for IFN-I and the RIG-I/MAVS signaling pathway during acute tissue damage in mice. Mice lacking mitochondrial antiviral-signaling protein (MAVS) were more sensitive to total body irradiation- and chemotherapy-induced intestinal barrier damage. These mice developed worse graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in a preclinical model of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) than did wild-type mice. This phenotype was not associated with changes in the intestinal microbiota but was associated with reduced gut epithelial integrity. Conversely, targeted activation of the RIG-I pathway during tissue injury promoted gut barrier integrity and reduced GVHD. Recombinant IFN-I or IFN-I expression induced by RIG-I promoted growth of intestinal organoids in vitro and production of the antimicrobial peptide regenerating islet-derived protein 3 γ (RegIIIγ). Our findings were not confined to RIG-I/MAVS signaling because targeted engagement of the STING (stimulator of interferon genes) pathway also protected gut barrier function and reduced GVHD. Consistent with this, STING-deficient mice suffered worse GVHD after allo-HSCT than did wild-type mice. Overall, our data suggest that activation of either RIG-I/MAVS or STING pathways during acute intestinal tissue injury in mice resulted in IFN-I signaling that maintained gut epithelial barrier integrity and reduced GVHD severity. Targeting these pathways may help to prevent acute intestinal injury and GVHD during allogeneic transplantation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aag2513DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5604790PMC
April 2017

Assessment of mucosal integrity by quantifying neutrophil granulocyte influx in murine models of acute intestinal injury.

Cell Immunol 2017 06 11;316:70-76. Epub 2017 Apr 11.

III. Medizinische Klinik, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität, München, Germany.

Intact epithelial body surfaces represent physical barriers which protect the organism from invading pathogens and loss of nutrients. Barrier malfunction is closely linked to disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and graft-versus-host disease. In fact, several pharmacological or radiobiological therapeutic strategies have side effects that affect epithelial surfaces. In this context, assays that accurately assess epithelial barrier integrity in patients and animal models are crucial to create a better understanding of the mechanisms leading to disease or limiting therapeutic approaches due to barrier disruption. Here, we tested the ability of the widely used FITC-dextran intestinal permeability analysis to evaluate loss of intestinal barrier integrity in different murine models of gut mucosal damage and established influx of neutrophil granulocytes into the intestinal lamina propria (LP) as an alternative approach. We demonstrate that the sensitivity and specificity of FITC-dextran intestinal permeability analysis is relatively low: Although it did represent severe forms of mucosal damage due to intensive conditioning therapy (high doses of either total body irradiation (TBI) or chemotherapy) or after conditioning and allogeneic stem cell transplantation, it did not recognize less severe forms of damage as after lower doses of TBI or chemotherapy alone. In addition, discrimination of untreated from irradiated mice by differences in FITC-dextran translocation was not exact. In contrast, influx of neutrophil granulocytes into the intestinal LP, which reflects immune activation due to translocation of microbes and microbial products during intestinal barrier breech, quantitatively correlated with the severity of intestinal barrier damage. It accurately represented both severe and less severe forms of intestinal damage as after high or lower dose TBI or chemotherapy and correctly discriminated treated from untreated animals. Taken together, we demonstrate the limitations of FITC-dextran intestinal permeability analysis and identify intestinal neutrophil influx as a powerful additional tool to measure breakdown of intestinal barrier function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cellimm.2017.04.003DOI Listing
June 2017

Card9 controls Dectin-1-induced T-cell cytotoxicity and tumor growth in mice.

Eur J Immunol 2017 05 10;47(5):872-879. Epub 2017 Apr 10.

Institut für Klinische Chemie und Pathobiochemie, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität, Munich, Germany.

Activation of the C-type lectin receptor Dectin-1 by β-glucans triggers multiple signals within DCs that result in activation of innate immunity. While these mechanisms can potently prime CD8 cytotoxic T-cell (CTL) responses without additional adjuvants, the Dectin-1 effector pathways that control CTL induction remain unclear. Here we demonstrate that Dectin-1-induced CTL cross-priming in mice does not require inflammasome activation but strictly depends on the adapter protein Card9 in vitro. In vivo, Dectin-1-mediated Card9 activation after vaccination drives both expansion and activation of Ag-specific CTLs, resulting in long-lasting CTL responses that are sufficient to protect mice from tumor challenge. This Dectin-1-induced antitumor immune response was independent of NK cell function and completely abrogated in Card9-deficient mice. Thus, our results demonstrate that Dectin-1-triggered Card9 signaling but not inflammasome activation can potently cross-prime Ag-specific CTLs, suggesting that this pathway would be a candidate for immunotherapy and vaccine development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eji.201646775DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5434796PMC
May 2017
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