Publications by authors named "Alexei Nikolaev"

19 Publications

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IL-17 controls central nervous system autoimmunity through the intestinal microbiome.

Sci Immunol 2021 Feb;6(56)

Institute for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

Interleukin-17A- (IL-17A) and IL-17F-producing CD4 T helper cells (T17 cells) are implicated in the development of chronic inflammatory diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). T17 cells also orchestrate leukocyte invasion of the central nervous system (CNS) and subsequent tissue damage. However, the role of IL-17A and IL-17F as effector cytokines is still confused with the encephalitogenic function of the cells that produce these cytokines, namely, T17 cells, fueling a long-standing debate in the neuroimmunology field. Here, we demonstrated that mice deficient for IL-17A/F lose their susceptibility to EAE, which correlated with an altered composition of their gut microbiota. However, loss of IL-17A/F in T cells did not diminish their encephalitogenic capacity. Reconstitution of a wild-type-like intestinal microbiota or reintroduction of IL-17A specifically into the gut epithelium of IL-17A/F-deficient mice reestablished their susceptibility to EAE. Thus, our data demonstrated that IL-17A and IL-17F are not encephalitogenic mediators but rather modulators of intestinal homeostasis that indirectly alter CNS-directed autoimmunity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciimmunol.aaz6563DOI Listing
February 2021

Alternative Splice Forms of CYLD Mediate Ubiquitination of SMAD7 to Prevent TGFB Signaling and Promote Colitis.

Gastroenterology 2019 02 10;156(3):692-707.e7. Epub 2018 Oct 10.

Institute for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Centre, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany. Electronic address:

Background & Aims: The CYLD lysine 63 deubiquitinase gene (CYLD) encodes tumor suppressor protein that is mutated in familial cylindromatosus, and variants have been associated with Crohn disease (CD). Splice forms of CYLD that lack exons 7 and 8 regulate transcription factors and functions of immune cells. We examined the expression of splice forms of CYLD in colon tissues from patients with CD and their effects in mice.

Methods: We performed immunohistochemical analyses of colon tissues from patients with untreated CD and patients without inflammatory bowel diseases (controls). We obtained mice that expressed splice forms of CYLD (sCYLD mice) without or with SMAD7 (sCYLD/SMAD7 mice) from transgenes and CYLD-knockout mice (with or without transgenic expression of SMAD7) and performed endoscopic analyses. Colitis was induced in Rag1 mice by transfer of CD4 CD62L T cells from C57/Bl6 or transgenic mice. T cells were isolated from mice and analyzed by flow cytometry and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and intestinal tissues were analyzed by histology and immunohistochemistry. CYLD forms were expressed in mouse embryonic fibroblasts, primary T cells, and HEK293T cells, which were analyzed by immunoblot, mobility shift, and immunoprecipitation assays.

Results: The colonic lamina propria from patients with CD was infiltrated by T cells and had higher levels of sCYLD (but not full-length CYLD) and SMAD7 than tissues from controls. Incubation of mouse embryonic fibroblasts and T cells with transforming growth factor β increased their production of sCYLD and decreased full-length CYLD. Transgenic expression of sCYLD and SMAD7 in T cells prevented the differentiation of regulatory T cells and T-helper type 17 cells and increased the differentiation of T-helper type 1 cells. The same effects were observed in colon tissues from sCYLD/SMAD7 mice but not in those from CYLD-knockout SMAD7 mice. The sCYLD mice had significant increases in the numbers of T-helper type 1 cells and CD44 CD62L memory-effector CD4 T cells in the spleen and mesenteric lymph nodes compared with wild-type mice; sCYLD/SMAD7 mice had even larger increases. The sCYLD/SMAD7 mice spontaneously developed severe colitis, with infiltration of the colon by dendritic cells, neutrophils, macrophages, and CD4 T cells and increased levels of Ifng, Il6, Il12a, Il23a, and Tnf mRNAs. Co-transfer of regulatory T cells from wild-type, but not from sCYLD/SMAD7, mice prevented the induction of colitis in Rag1 mice by CD4 T cells. We found increased levels of poly-ubiquitinated SMAD7 in sCYLD CD4 T cells. CYLD formed a nuclear complex with SMAD3, whereas sCYLD recruited SMAD7 to the nucleus, which inhibited the expression of genes regulated by SMAD3 and SMAD4. We found that sCYLD mediated lysine 63-linked ubiquitination of SMAD7. The sCYLD-SMAD7 complex inhibited transforming growth factor β signaling in CD4 T cells.

Conclusions: Levels of the spliced form of CYLD are increased in colon tissues from patients with CD. sCYLD mediates ubiquitination and nuclear translocation of SMAD7 and thereby decreases transforming growth factor β signaling in T cells. This prevents immune regulatory mechanisms and leads to colitis in mice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2018.10.023DOI Listing
February 2019

A miRNA181a/NFAT5 axis links impaired T cell tolerance induction with autoimmune type 1 diabetes.

Sci Transl Med 2018 01;10(422)

Group Immune Tolerance in Type 1 Diabetes, Institute for Diabetes Research, Helmholtz Diabetes Center at Helmholtz Zentrum München, Munich, Germany.

Molecular checkpoints that trigger the onset of islet autoimmunity or progression to human type 1 diabetes (T1D) are incompletely understood. Using T cells from children at an early stage of islet autoimmunity without clinical T1D, we find that a microRNA181a (miRNA181a)-mediated increase in signal strength of stimulation and costimulation links nuclear factor of activated T cells 5 (NFAT5) with impaired tolerance induction and autoimmune activation. We show that enhancing miRNA181a activity increases NFAT5 expression while inhibiting FOXP3 regulatory T cell (T) induction in vitro. Accordingly, T induction is improved using T cells from NFAT5 knockout (NFAT5ko) animals, whereas altering miRNA181a activity does not affect T induction in NFAT5ko T cells. Moreover, high costimulatory signals result in phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-mediated NFAT5, which interferes with FoxP3 T induction. Blocking miRNA181a or NFAT5 increases T induction in murine and humanized models and reduces murine islet autoimmunity in vivo. These findings suggest targeting miRNA181a and/or NFAT5 signaling for the development of innovative personalized medicines to limit islet autoimmunity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aag1782DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5828501PMC
January 2018

Inducible knockdown of procollagen I protects mice from liver fibrosis and leads to dysregulated matrix genes and attenuated inflammation.

Matrix Biol 2018 03 6;66:34-49. Epub 2017 Nov 6.

Institute of Translational Immunology, Research Center for Immunotherapy, University Medical Center, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany; Division of Gastroenterology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA. Electronic address:

Organ fibrosis is characterized by a chronic wound-healing response, with excess deposition of extracellular matrix components. Here, collagen type I represents the most abundant scar component and a primary target for antifibrotic therapies. Liver fibrosis can progress to cirrhosis and primary liver cancer, which are the major causes of liver related morbidity and mortality. However, a (pro-)collagen type I specific therapy remains difficult and its therapeutic abrogation may incur unwanted side effects. We therefore designed tetracycline-regulated procollagen alpha1(I) short hairpin (sh)RNA expressing mice that permit a highly efficient inducible knockdown of the procollagen alpha1(I) gene in activated (myo-)fibroblasts, to study the effect of induced procollagen type I deficiency. Transgenic mice were generated using recombinase-mediated integration in embryonic stem cells or zinc-finger nuclease-aided genomic targeting combined with miR30-shRNA technology. Liver fibrosis was induced in transgenic mice by carbon tetrachloride, either without or with doxycycline supplementation. Doxycycline treated mice showed an 80-90% suppression of procollagen alpha1(I) transcription and a 40-50% reduction in hepatic collagen accumulation. Procollagen alpha1(I) knockdown also downregulated procollagens type III, IV and VI and other fibrosis related parameters. Moreover, this was associated with an attenuation of chronic inflammation, suggesting that collagen type I serves not only as major scar component, but also as modulator of other collagens and promoter of chronic inflammation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.matbio.2017.11.002DOI Listing
March 2018

Elevated levels of Bcl-3 inhibits Treg development and function resulting in spontaneous colitis.

Nat Commun 2017 04 28;8:15069. Epub 2017 Apr 28.

Institute for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg, University of Mainz, Obere Zahlbarer Str 67, 55131 Mainz, Germany.

Bcl-3 is an atypical NF-κB family member that regulates NF-κB-dependent gene expression in effector T cells, but a cell-intrinsic function in regulatory T (Treg) cells and colitis is not clear. Here we show that Bcl-3 expression levels in colonic T cells correlate with disease manifestation in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Mice with T-cell-specific overexpression of Bcl-3 develop severe colitis that can be attributed to defective Treg cell development and function, leading to the infiltration of immune cells such as pro-inflammatory γδT cells, but not αβ T cells. In Treg cells, Bcl-3 associates directly with NF-κB p50 to inhibit DNA binding of p50/p50 and p50/p65 NF-κB dimers, thereby regulating NF-κB-mediated gene expression. This study thus reveals intrinsic functions of Bcl-3 in Treg cells, identifies Bcl-3 as a potential prognostic marker for colitis and illustrates the mechanism by which Bcl-3 regulates NF-κB activity in Tregs to prevent colitis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms15069DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5414353PMC
April 2017

miRNA92a targets KLF2 and the phosphatase PTEN signaling to promote human T follicular helper precursors in T1D islet autoimmunity.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2016 10 10;113(43):E6659-E6668. Epub 2016 Oct 10.

Institute for Diabetes Research, Independent Young Investigator Group Immune Tolerance in Type 1 Diabetes, Helmholtz Diabetes Center at Helmholtz Zentrum München, 80939 Munich, Germany; Deutsches Zentrum für Diabetesforschung, 85764 Munich, Germany;

Aberrant immune activation mediated by T effector cell populations is pivotal in the onset of autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes (T1D). T follicular helper (TFH) cells are essential in the induction of high-affinity antibodies, and their precursor memory compartment circulates in the blood. The role of TFH precursors in the onset of islet autoimmunity and signaling pathways regulating their differentiation is incompletely understood. Here, we provide direct evidence that during onset of islet autoimmunity, the insulin-specific target T-cell population is enriched with a C-X-C chemokine receptor type 5 (CXCR5)CD4 TFH precursor phenotype. During onset of islet autoimmunity, the frequency of TFH precursors was controlled by high expression of microRNA92a (miRNA92a). miRNA92a-mediated TFH precursor induction was regulated by phosphatase and tension homolog (PTEN) - phosphoinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling involving PTEN and forkhead box protein O1 (Foxo1), supporting autoantibody generation and triggering the onset of islet autoimmunity. Moreover, we identify Krueppel-like factor 2 (KLF2) as a target of miRNA92a in regulating human TFH precursor induction. Importantly, a miRNA92a antagomir completely blocked induction of human TFH precursors in vitro. More importantly, in vivo application of a miRNA92a antagomir to nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice with ongoing islet autoimmunity resulted in a significant reduction of TFH precursors in peripheral blood and pancreatic lymph nodes. Moreover, miRNA92a antagomir application reduced immune infiltration and activation in pancreata of NOD mice as well as humanized NOD Scid IL2 receptor gamma chain knockout (NSG) human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DQ8 transgenic animals. We therefore propose that miRNA92a and the PTEN-PI3K-KLF2 signaling network could function as targets for innovative precision medicines to reduce T1D islet autoimmunity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1606646113DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5087025PMC
October 2016

Generation of a Novel T Cell Specific Interleukin-1 Receptor Type 1 Conditional Knock Out Mouse Reveals Intrinsic Defects in Survival, Expansion and Cytokine Production of CD4 T Cells.

PLoS One 2016 23;11(8):e0161505. Epub 2016 Aug 23.

Institute for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

Interleukin-1 (IL-1) plays a crucial role in numerous inflammatory diseases via action on its only known signaling IL-1 receptor type 1 (IL-1R1). To investigate the role of IL-1 signaling in selected cell types, we generated a new mouse strain in which exon 5 of the Il1r1 gene is flanked by loxP sites. Crossing of these mice with CD4-Cre transgenic mice resulted in IL-1R1 loss of function specifically in T cells. These mice, termed IL-1R1ΔT, displayed normal development under steady state conditions. Importantly, isolated CD4 positive T cells retained their capacity to differentiate toward Th1 or Th17 cell lineages in vitro, and strongly proliferated in cultures supplemented with either anti-CD3/CD28 or Concanavalin A, but, as predicted, were completely unresponsive to IL-1β administration. Furthermore, IL-1R1ΔT mice were protected from gut inflammation in the anti-CD3 treatment model, due to dramatically reduced frequencies and absolute numbers of IL-17A and interferon (IFN)-γ producing cells. Taken together, our data shows the necessity of intact IL-1 signaling for survival and expansion of CD4 T cells that were developed in an otherwise IL-1 sufficient environment.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0161505PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4995027PMC
July 2017

Interleukin 17 drives vascular inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, and arterial hypertension in psoriasis-like skin disease.

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2014 Dec 23;34(12):2658-68. Epub 2014 Oct 23.

From the Institute for Molecular Medicine (S.K., A.L.C., R.S., N.Y., A.N., S.R., A.W.), Department of Medicine 2 (S.K., M.O., D.M., M.K., P. Wild, A.D., P. Wenzel, T.M.), Department of Dermatology (J.W., L.K., E.v.S.), Department of Pharmacology (H.L., Z.W.), Institute for Pathology (C.B.), Center for Thrombosis and Hemostasis (P. Wild, P. Wenzel, T.M.), German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK), partner site RhineMain (A.U., P.W.), and Department of Medicine 3 (M.R.), University Medical Center of the Johannes-Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany; Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital Erlangen, Germany (M.W., M.F.N.); Institute of Anatomy, University of Leipzig, Germany (C.P., I.B.); Institute for Biochemistry, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany (S.R.-J.); Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology II, Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany (J.S.).

Objective: Interleukin (IL)-17A is regarded as an important cytokine to drive psoriasis, an inflammatory skin disease marked by increased cardiovascular mortality. We aimed to test the hypothesis that overproduction of IL-17A in the skin leading to dermal inflammation may systemically cause vascular dysfunction in psoriasis-like skin disease.

Approach And Results: Conditional overexpression of IL-17A in keratinocytes caused severe psoriasis-like skin inflammation in mice (K14-IL-17A(ind/+) mice), associated with increased reactive oxygen species formation and circulating CD11b(+) inflammatory leukocytes in blood, with endothelial dysfunction, increased systolic blood pressure, left ventricular hypertrophy, and reduced survival compared with controls. In K14-IL-17A(ind/+) mice, immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry revealed increased vascular production of the nitric oxide/superoxide reaction product peroxynitrite and infiltration of the vasculature with myeloperoxidase(+)CD11b(+)GR1(+)F4/80(-) cells accompanied by increased expression of the inducible nitric oxide synthase and the nicotinamide dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase, nox2. Neutrophil depletion by anti-GR-1 antibody injections reduced oxidative stress in blood and vessels. Neutralization of tumor necrosis factor-α and IL-6 (both downstream of IL-17A) reduced skin lesions, attenuated oxidative stress in heart and blood, and partially improved endothelial dysfunction in K14-IL-17A(ind/+) mice.

Conclusions: Dermal overexpression of IL-17A induces systemic endothelial dysfunction, vascular oxidative stress, arterial hypertension, and increases mortality mainly driven by myeloperoxidase(+)CD11b(+)GR1(+)F4/80(-) inflammatory cells. Depletion of the GR-1(+) immune cells or neutralization of IL-17A downstream cytokines by biologicals attenuates the vascular phenotype in K14-IL-17A(ind/+) mice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/ATVBAHA.114.304108DOI Listing
December 2014

Overexpression of Bcl-3 inhibits the development of marginal zone B cells.

Eur J Immunol 2014 Feb 18;44(2):545-52. Epub 2013 Nov 18.

Institute for Molecular Medicine, Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

The transcription factor Bcl-3 functions as a proto-oncogene via regulation of cell proliferation and apoptosis. Bcl-3 is an atypical member of the IκB family and plays a central role in the immune response through interactions with the NF-κB subunits p50 and p52. To investigate the impact of Bcl-3 on B-cell maturation and regulation, we generated mice that overexpress Bcl-3 specifically in B cells. Interestingly, these mice lack marginal zone B cells and exhibit a significant reduction in the number of B-1 B cells. Further, B cells from these mice are impaired in their proliferative capacity. Our data demonstrate that the overexpression of the transcription factor Bcl-3 inhibits germinal center formation, marginal zone B-cell development, and affects the B-1 B-cell compartment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eji.201343655DOI Listing
February 2014

IL-6 regulates neutrophil microabscess formation in IL-17A-driven psoriasiform lesions.

J Invest Dermatol 2014 Mar 25;134(3):728-735. Epub 2013 Sep 25.

Institute for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center of the Johannes-Gutenberg University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany. Electronic address:

The lack of a generally accepted animal model for human psoriasis has hindered progress with respect to understanding the pathogenesis of the disease. Here we present a model in which transgenic IL-17A expression is targeted to the skin in mice, achievable after crossing our IL-17A(ind) allele to the K14-Cre strain. K14-IL-17A(ind/+) mice invariably develop an overt skin inflammation bearing many hallmark characteristics of human psoriasis including dermal infiltration of effector T cells, formation of neutrophil microabscesses, and hyperkeratosis. IL-17A expression in the skin results in upregulated granulopoiesis and migration of IL-6R-expressing neutrophils into the skin. Neutralization of IL-6 signaling efficiently reduces the observed pathogenesis in skin of IL-17A-overexpressing mice, with marked reductions in epidermal neutrophil abscess formation and epidermal thickening. Thus, IL-6 functions downstream of IL-17A to exacerbate neutrophil microabscess development in psoriasiform lesions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/jid.2013.404DOI Listing
March 2014

The tumor suppressor CYLD controls the function of murine regulatory T cells.

J Immunol 2012 Nov 12;189(10):4770-6. Epub 2012 Oct 12.

Institute for Molecular Medicine, Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, 55131 Mainz, Germany.

CYLD was originally identified as a tumor suppressor gene mutated in familial cylindromatosis, an autosomal dominant predisposition to multiple benign neoplasms of the skin known as cylindromas. The CYLD protein is a deubiquitinating enzyme that acts as a negative regulator of NF-κB and JNK signaling through its interaction with NEMO and TNFR-associated factor 2. We have previously described a novel mouse strain that expresses solely and excessively a naturally occurring splice variant of CYLD (CYLD(ex7/8)). In this study, we demonstrate that CYLD plays a critical role in Treg development and function. T cells of CYLD(ex7/8) mice had a hyperactive phenotype manifested by increased production of inflammatory cytokines and constitutive activation of the NF-κB pathway. Furthermore, the amount of Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells in these mice was markedly enhanced in thymus and peripheral organs. Importantly, these regulatory T cells displayed decreased expression levels of CD25 and CTLA-4 associated with impaired suppressive capacity. Hence, our data emphasize an essential role of CYLD in maintaining T cell homeostasis as well as normal T regulatory cell function, thereby controlling abnormal T cell responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1201993DOI Listing
November 2012

Transcription factor NFATc2 controls the emergence of colon cancer associated with IL-6-dependent colitis.

Cancer Res 2012 Sep 27;72(17):4340-50. Epub 2012 Jun 27.

I. Medical Clinic, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen; Institute of Diabetes Research, Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen, Neuherberg, Switzerland.

NFAT transcription factors control T-cell activation and function. Specifically, the transcription factor NFATc2 affects the regulation of cell differentiation and growth and plays a critical role in the development of colonic inflammation. Here, we used an experimental model of colitis-associated colorectal carcinoma to investigate the contribution of NFATc2 to the promotion of colonic tumors. Compared with wild-type animals that readily presented with multiple colon tumors, NFATc2-deficient mice were protected from tumor development. This observed decrease in colonic tumor progression was associated with reduced endoscopic inflammation, increased apoptosis of lamina propria T lymphocytes, and significantly reduced levels of the critical proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-21 and IL-6. Administration of hyper IL-6 abrogated protection from tumor progression in NFATc2-knockout mice and restored tumor incidence to control levels. Taken together, our findings highlight a pivotal role for NFATc2 in the establishment of inflammation-associated colorectal tumors mediated by control of IL-6 expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-4155DOI Listing
September 2012

Microwave and UV excitation spectra of 4-fluorobenzyl alcohol at high resolution. S0 and S1 structures and tunneling motions along the low frequency -CH2OH torsional coordinate in both electronic states.

J Phys Chem A 2011 Oct 27;115(41):11369-77. Epub 2011 Jul 27.

Department of Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, United States.

Rotationally resolved electronic spectra of several low frequency vibrational bands that appear in the S(1) ← S(0) transition of 4-fluorobenzyl alcohol (4FBA) in the collision-free environment of a molecular beam have been observed and assigned. Each transition is split into two or more components by the tunneling motion of the attached -CH(2)OH group. A similar splitting is observed in the microwave spectrum of 4FBA. Analyses of these data show that 4FBA has a gauche structure in both electronic states, but that the ground state C(1)C(2)-C(7)O dihedral angle of ∼60° changes by ∼30° when the photon is absorbed. The barriers to the torsional motion of the attached -CH(2)OH group are also quite different in the two electronic states; V(2) ∼ 300 cm(-1) high and ∼60° wide in the S(0) state, and V(2) ∼ 300 cm(-1) high and ∼120° wide (or V(2) ∼ 1200 cm(-1) high and ∼60° wide) in the S(1) state. Possible reasons for these behaviors are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jp2051905DOI Listing
October 2011

A20 deficiency in B cells enhances B-cell proliferation and results in the development of autoantibodies.

Eur J Immunol 2011 Mar 10;41(3):595-601. Epub 2011 Feb 10.

Institute for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

A20/TNFAIP3 is an ubiquitin-editing enzyme, important for the regulation of the NF-κB pathway. Mutations in the TNFAIP3 gene have been linked to different human autoimmune disorders. In human B-cell lymphomas, the inactivation of A20 results in constitutive NF-κB activation. Recent studies demonstrate that in mice the germline inactivation of A20 leads to early lethality, due to inflammation in multiple organs of the body. In this report, we describe a new mouse strain allowing for the tissue-specific deletion of A20. We show that B-cell-specific deletion of A20 results in a dramatic reduction in marginal zone B cells. Furthermore, A20-deficient B cells display a hyperactive phenotype represented by enhanced proliferation upon activation. Finally, these mice develop higher levels of serum immunoglobulins, resulting in an excessive production of self-reactive autoantibodies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eji.201041313DOI Listing
March 2011

Activation of epithelial STAT3 regulates intestinal homeostasis.

Cell Cycle 2010 Feb 12;9(4):652-5. Epub 2010 Feb 12.

Medical Clinic I, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.

The intestinal epithelium that lines the mucosal surface along the GI-tract is a key player for the intestinal homeostasis of the healthy individual. In case of a mucosal damage or a barrier defect as seen in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, the balance is disturbed, and translocation of intestinal microbes to the submucosa is facilitated. We recently demonstrated a pivotal role of STAT3 activation in intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) for the restoration of the balance at the mucosal surface of the gut in an experimental colitis model. STAT3 was rapidly induced in intestinal epithelial cells upon challenge of mice in both experimental colitis and intestinal wound healing models. STAT3 activation was found to be dispensable in the steady-state conditions but was important for efficient regeneration of the epithelium in response to injury. Here, we extend our previous findings by showing epithelial STAT3 activation in human patients suffering from IBD and provide additional insights how the activation of epithelial STAT3 by IL-22 regulates intestinal homeostasis and mucosal wound healing. We also demonstrate that antibody-mediated neutralization of IL-22 has little impact on the development of experimental colitis in mice, but significantly delays recovery from colitis. Thus, our data suggest that targeting the STAT3 signaling pathway in IEC is a promising therapeutic approach in situations when the intestinal homeostasis is disturbed, e.g., as seen in Crohn's disease or Ulcerative colitis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/cc.9.4.10615DOI Listing
February 2010

Cutting edge: trans-signaling via the soluble IL-6R abrogates the induction of FoxP3 in naive CD4+CD25 T cells.

J Immunol 2007 Aug;179(4):2041-5

Laboratory of Immunology, Medical Clinic I, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

Chronic inflammatory diseases may develop when regulatory T cells (Tregs) fail to control the balance between tolerance and immunity. Alternatively, activated immune cells might prevent the induction or activation of Tregs in such diseases. In this study, we demonstrate that trans-signaling into T cells via the soluble IL-6 receptor completely abrogates the de novo induction of adaptive Tregs. Mechanistically, IL-6 trans-signaling augmented the expression of the TGF-beta signaling inhibitor SMAD7. Consequently, SMAD7 overexpression in T cells using newly created transgenic mice rendered CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells resistant to the induction of FoxP3. Finally, IL-6 trans-signaling inhibited Treg-mediated suppression in a murine model of colitis. In summary, IL-6 trans-signaling into T cells emerges as a key pathway for blockade of the development of adaptive Tregs and thus may play a pivotal role in shifting the balance between effector and regulatory T cell numbers in chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.179.4.2041DOI Listing
August 2007

Epithelial NEMO links innate immunity to chronic intestinal inflammation.

Nature 2007 Mar 14;446(7135):557-61. Epub 2007 Mar 14.

Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne, Zülpicher Strasse 47, 50674 Cologne, Germany.

Deregulation of intestinal immune responses seems to have a principal function in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. The gut epithelium is critically involved in the maintenance of intestinal immune homeostasis-acting as a physical barrier separating luminal bacteria and immune cells, and also expressing antimicrobial peptides. However, the molecular mechanisms that control this function of gut epithelial cells are poorly understood. Here we show that the transcription factor NF-kappaB, a master regulator of pro-inflammatory responses, functions in gut epithelial cells to control epithelial integrity and the interaction between the mucosal immune system and gut microflora. Intestinal epithelial-cell-specific inhibition of NF-kappaB through conditional ablation of NEMO (also called IkappaB kinase-gamma (IKKgamma)) or both IKK1 (IKKalpha) and IKK2 (IKKbeta)-IKK subunits essential for NF-kappaB activation-spontaneously caused severe chronic intestinal inflammation in mice. NF-kappaB deficiency led to apoptosis of colonic epithelial cells, impaired expression of antimicrobial peptides and translocation of bacteria into the mucosa. Concurrently, this epithelial defect triggered a chronic inflammatory response in the colon, initially dominated by innate immune cells but later also involving T lymphocytes. Deficiency of the gene encoding the adaptor protein MyD88 prevented the development of intestinal inflammation, demonstrating that Toll-like receptor activation by intestinal bacteria is essential for disease pathogenesis in this mouse model. Furthermore, NEMO deficiency sensitized epithelial cells to tumour-necrosis factor (TNF)-induced apoptosis, whereas TNF receptor-1 inactivation inhibited intestinal inflammation, demonstrating that TNF receptor-1 signalling is crucial for disease induction. These findings demonstrate that a primary NF-kappaB signalling defect in intestinal epithelial cells disrupts immune homeostasis in the gastrointestinal tract, causing an inflammatory-bowel-disease-like phenotype. Our results identify NF-kappaB signalling in the gut epithelium as a critical regulator of epithelial integrity and intestinal immune homeostasis, and have important implications for understanding the mechanisms controlling the pathogenesis of human inflammatory bowel disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature05698DOI Listing
March 2007

Cutting edge: IL-23 cross-regulates IL-12 production in T cell-dependent experimental colitis.

J Immunol 2006 Sep;177(5):2760-4

Laboratory of Immunology, First Medical Clinic, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

Although IL-12 and IL-23 share the common p40 subunit, IL-23, rather than IL-12, seems to drive the pathogenesis of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and arthritis, because IL-23/p19 knockout mice are protected from disease. In contrast, we describe in this study that newly created LacZ knockin mice deficient for IL-23 p19 were highly susceptible for the development of experimental T cell-mediated TNBS colitis and showed even more severe colitis than wild-type mice by endoscopic and histologic criteria. Subsequent studies revealed that dendritic cells from p19-deficient mice produce elevated levels of IL-12, and that IL-23 down-regulates IL-12 expression upon TLR ligation. Finally, in vivo blockade of IL-12 p40 in IL-23-deficient mice rescued mice from lethal colitis. Taken together, our data identify cross-regulation of IL-12 expression by IL-23 as novel key regulatory pathway during initiation of T cell dependent colitis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.177.5.2760DOI Listing
September 2006

TGF-beta suppresses tumor progression in colon cancer by inhibition of IL-6 trans-signaling.

Immunity 2004 Oct;21(4):491-501

Laboratory of Immunology, I. Medical Clinic, University of Mainz, Langenbeckstrasse 1, 55131 Mainz, Germany.

Alterations of TGF-beta signaling have been described in colorectal cancer, although the molecular consequences are largely unknown. By using transgenic mice overexpressing TGF-beta or a dominant-negative TGF-betaRII, we demonstrate that TGF-beta signaling in tumor infiltrating T lymphocytes controls the growth of dysplastic epithelial cells in experimental colorectal cancer, as determined by histology and a novel system for high-resolution chromoendoscopy. At the molecular level, TGF-beta signaling in T cells regulated STAT-3 activation in tumor cells via IL-6. IL-6 signaling required tumor cell-derived soluble IL-6R rather than membrane bound IL-6R and suppression of such TGF-beta-dependent IL-6 trans-signaling prevented tumor progression in vivo. Taken together, our data provide novel insights into TGF-beta signaling in colorectal cancer and suggest novel therapeutic approaches for colorectal cancer based on inhibition of TGF-beta-dependent IL-6 trans-signaling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2004.07.020DOI Listing
October 2004