Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Natural Killer Shaping A Life

As explained in previous posts, reproduction and innate immunity conspire when maternal Natural Killer (NK) cells of the decidua, lining the uterine wall are coerced to attack maternal epithelial cells, lining spiral arteries that penetrate the decidua to supply nutrients into the rapidly forming placenta. The culprit, extravillous cytotrophoblasts that originate from the external wall of the blastocyst, penetrate the decidua and replace disrupted maternal epithelial cells of advancing spiral arteries. This rejection paradox by the maternal innate immune system, of the foreign male contribution to the blastocyst is mitigated by its trohphoblasts that enable maternal-fetal interface and blastocyst implantation. By day 7 life begins, at least through the handshake of maternal epithelial cells and fetal trophoblasts thus transforming rejection to inception.

Maternal NK enable extravillous cytotrophoblasts to converge with epithelial cells of spiral arteries
Decidual NK constitute 70% of lymphocytes up to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. They are characterized by their low cytotolytic capacities, but adequately secrete cytokines, chemokines and angiogenic factors. As of 2018 it was unknown as to the effect of these decidual NK cells on earliest stages of pregnancy or how they may transform in context of the developing placenta. As previously discussed allorecognition by decidual NK cells is emerging as the key maternal-fetal immune mechanism that ultimately regulates placentation and that immuno-metabolism played a more significant role in NK activation and cellular transformation.

Single cell analysis at the Fetal - Maternal interface 
Studies of maternal microchimerism suggest that cell's and DNA transferred from mother to embryo can be traced and are prevalent in chord blood. These include NK cells that have been demonstrated to persist following re-transplantation of chord blood. Inferred in these findings, maternal microchimerism's, specifically NK cells transferred at a very early, even in single cell quantities may influence the earliest development of fetal immunity. Indeed at 6 weeks the earliest fetal NK cells are detected in the liver and tend to possess lower lytic potential a characteristic similar to decidual NK.

Maternal decidual NK cells that transfer into the developing placenta probably remain less cytolyic. Given the active environment they may even be metabolically exhausted, but are still capable of lytic activity and could play a critical role eliminating aberrant cells of the rapidly developing embryo. Further this activity could also educate fetal NK cells that start to develop from 6 weeks. Because this exposure occurs during early development of the fetal immune system, the primary response is to develop allospecific tolerance to maternal antigens.

A new concept is emerging in that the uterine immune system uses NK cell allorecognition to regulate placentation and to control the maternofetal interface. The jury is still out on microchimeric influences including exosomes, DNA and whole cells that transfer between mother and fetus. However, it seems entirely plausible that maternal immune cells may do much more than we presently know to shape conditions and determine cells of the fetus.

Our research interest relates to p53 peptides presented by MHC class receptors on targets of NK cells. We maintain the well conserved phospho-acceptor sites of p53 protein in axis with MDM2 is central to immunity and allorecognition. It is known that p53 plays an important role in blastocyst implantation and maternal reproduction through regulation of leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) in mice. We expect p53 peptides, influenced by transcription regulatory factors determine outcomes of immune-target reactions including blastocyst implantation. Further that TP53 transcription can be triggered in a target by NK allorecognition nano-probe at a distance resulting in target p53 peptide presentation by MHC as NK's go-no-go cytolytic tipping point for immunity.

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