Macrophages possess numerous mechanisms to combat microbial invasion, including sequestration of essential nutrients, like Zn. The pleiotropic cytokine granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) enhances antimicrobial defenses against intracellular pathogens such as Histoplasma capsulatum, but its mode of action remains elusive. We have found that GM-CSF activated infected macrophages sequestered labile Zn by inducing binding to metallothioneins (MTs) in a STAT3 and STAT5 transcription factor-dependent manner. GM-CSF upregulated expression of Zn exporters, Slc30a4 and Slc30a7 and the metal was shuttled away from phagosomes and into the Golgi apparatus. This distinctive Zn sequestration strategy elevated phagosomal H+ channel function and triggered reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation by NADPH oxidase. Consequently, H. capsulatum was selectively deprived of Zn, thereby halting replication and fostering fungal clearance. GM-CSF mediated Zn sequestration via MTs in vitro and in vivo in mice and in human macrophages. These findings illuminate a GM-CSF-induced Zn-sequestration network that drives phagocyte antimicrobial effector function.
Analysis of complement deficiency states has supported the role of complement in host defense and elucidated diseases associated with defective complement function. Although neisserial infection plays a prominent role in these deficiency states, examination of individuals with late complement component deficiency (LCCD) reveals a particular propensity for recurrent meningococcal disease and provides important clues to the role of complement in neisserial infections. In response to meningococcal disease, LCCD individuals produce significantly greater amounts of antilipooligosaccharide (LOS) antibody which can kill group B meningococcus in a complement-sufficient in vitro system. Further studies of antibody cross-reactivity to other meningococci has led to a clearer understanding of its epitopic specificity. Nevertheless, epidemiologic evidence is consistent with the relative absence of protective immunity in LCCD persons following an episode of infection and supported by quantitation of antibody to capsular polysaccharide. However, compared to anti-LOS antibodies, anticapsular antibodies can offer immune protection to LCCD individuals via complement-dependent opsonophagocytosis--the only form of complement-mediated killing available to these persons. Thus vaccination of LCCD persons with capsular antigens is considered an important means of protecting these high-risk individuals against meningococcal disease.
LC3-associated phagocytosis (LAP) is a non-canonical autophagy pathway regulated by Rubicon, with an emerging role in immune homeostasis and antifungal host defence. Aspergillus cell wall melanin protects conidia (spores) from killing by phagocytes and promotes pathogenicity through blocking nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase-dependent activation of LAP. However, the signalling regulating LAP upstream of Rubicon and the mechanism of melanin-induced inhibition of this pathway remain incompletely understood. Herein, we identify a Ca signalling pathway that depends on intracellular Ca sources from endoplasmic reticulum, endoplasmic reticulum-phagosome communication, Ca release from phagosome lumen and calmodulin (CaM) recruitment, as a master regulator of Rubicon, the phagocyte NADPH oxidase NOX2 and other molecular components of LAP. Furthermore, we provide genetic evidence for the physiological importance of Ca-CaM signalling in aspergillosis. Finally, we demonstrate that Ca sequestration by Aspergillus melanin inside the phagosome abrogates activation of Ca-CaM signalling to inhibit LAP. These findings reveal the important role of Ca-CaM signalling in antifungal immunity and identify an immunological function of Ca binding by melanin pigments with broad physiological implications beyond fungal disease pathogenesis.
SUMMARYAlternative activation of macrophages promotes wound healing but weakens antimicrobial defenses against intracellular pathogens. The mechanisms that suppress macrophage function to create a favorable environment for pathogen growth remain elusive. We show that interleukin (IL)-4 triggers a metallothionein 3 (MT3)- and Zn exporter SLC30A4- dependent increase in the labile Zn2+ stores in macrophages and that intracellular pathogens can exploit this increase in Zn to survive. IL-4 regulates this pathway by shuttling extracellular Zn into macrophages and by activating cathepsins that act on MT3 to release bound Zn. We show that IL-4 can modulate Zn homeostasis in both human monocytes and mice. In vivo, MT3 can repress macrophage function in an M2-polarizing environment to promote pathogen persistence. Thus, MT3 and SLC30A4 dictate the size of the labile Zn2+ pool and promote the survival of a prototypical intracellular pathogen in M2 macrophages.
Zinc (Zn) is an essential metal for development and maintenance of both the innate and adaptive compartments of the immune system. Zn homeostasis impacts maturation of dendritic cells (DCs) that are important in shaping T cell responses. The mechanisms by which Zn regulates the tolerogenic phenotype of DCs remain largely unknown. In this study, we investigated the effect of Zn on DC phenotype and the generation of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) using a model of Histoplasma capsulatum fungal infection. Exposure of bone marrow–derived DCs to Zn in vitro induced a tolerogenic phenotype by diminishing surface MHC class II (MHCII) and promoting the tolerogenic markers, programmed death–ligand (PD-L)1, PD-L2, and the tryptophan degrading enzyme, IDO. Zn triggered tryptophan degradation by IDO and kynurenine production by DCs and strongly suppressed the proinflammatory response to stimulation by TLR ligands. In vivo, Zn supplementation and subsequent H. capsulatum infection supressed MHCII on DCs, enhanced PD-L1 and PD-L2 expression on MHCIIlo DCs, and skewed the Treg–Th17 balance in favor of Foxp3+ Tregs while decreasing Th17 cells. Thus, Zn shapes the tolerogenic potential of DCs in vitro and in vivo and promotes Tregs during fungal infection.
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