Thursday, October 20, 2022

Toward Customized Natural Killer Cells

An important role of Natural Killer (NK) cells is to eliminate other cells that extinguish or diminish expression of self-MHC class I molecules or Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA), which commonly occurs as a result of viral infection or cellular transformation. This capacity arises because NK cells express stimulatory and inhibitory receptors that engage ligands on normal cells. The majority of inhibitory receptors belong to the Killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) and CD94/NKG2A  families and are specific for MHC I molecules. When an NK cell encounters a normal cell, engagement of the inhibitory receptors conveys signals that counteract stimulatory signaling. Lysis occurs when inhibition is lost because the target cell lacks one or more self-MHC molecules or when target cells express high levels of stimulatory ligands that counter inhibition.

Mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) embedded in the genomes of 66,000 humans was associated with adverse consequences including cancer. Overall tumor specific nuclear embedded MtDNA was more common on Chromosome (Chr)19, less common on Chr6 and tended to involve non-coding, repetitive elements or satellite repeats. 

The dimorphic relationship between genes on Chr6, encoding HLA and  Chr19, encoding KIRs  may elucidate how, why and when NK cells determine self restraint or attack cells infected by pathogens and disease. Chr19 has also been linked to blood pressure mechanics, immunity and checkpoints associated with P53. Cancer mutation burden is shaped by G4 DNA, cell cycle replication stress, DNA repair pathway and mitochondrial dysfunction. G4 DNA overrepresentation generally occurs in tumors with mutations in tumor suppressor gene's such as TP53. 

Whether KIR-HLA relationships are associated with p53 status of NK cells and of its target is unknown. However, it has been reported that cellular metabolism regulates a cells sensitivity to NK cells depending on its P53 status and that P53 pathway is coupled to NK cell maturation leaving open the possibility that a relationship exists

KIR and HLA genes are polymorphic and display significant variations, The independent segregation of these unlinked gene families produces extraordinary diversity in the number and type of KIR-HLA pairs inherited in individuals. Variation affects the KIR repertoire of NK cell clones, NK cell maturation, the capability to deliver signals, and consequently the NK cell response to human diseases.

One study suggests that functional interactions between KIR and HLA modify risks of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) and that KIR B haplotypes provide selective pressure for altered P53 in BCC tumors.

MtDNA and other insertions into nuclear DNA may have altered Chr19-Chr6 linkage relationships and KIR-HLA validity, affecting the integrity of NK missing-self surveillance. Therefore, P53 dependent metabolism and P53 coupled NK cell education may point to a required synchronicity, obtained through NK education, licensing KIR-HLA and other receptor-ligand combinations for a global NK symbiosis.

The altered landscape of cancer is often characterized by a heterogeneous mix of immunosuppressive metabolites, glucose and amino acid deprivation, hypoxia and acidity, which, in concert, prevent effective anti-tumor immunity, here NK therapies herald great potential.

NK cell co-culture with patient cells selected using precise P53 rankings for a distinct P53-coupled-NK cell education may realize a mature NK subset with P53-paired characteristics. Trojan therapy using autologous or combined allogeneic NK cells may promote licensing, through a broad synchronization including at least KIR-HLA. This ex-vivo approach may resist re-education in vivo and activate against P53-decoupled-KIR-HLA affected cells. The objective is an NK subset that, in vivo will initiate and progress a limited innate immune response and disrupt near-neighbor targets that will contribute to a broader immune response.  

Monday, October 3, 2022

Angiogenic Growth Factor Flood

A previous series, about p53 culminated with "Blastocyst Development - A Perfected Cancer Model" that focused on the parallels in angiogenesis, triggered by blastocyst implantation and progression of tumors beyond ~1mm. Now, a recent study has found that conventional Natural Killer cells (cNK) control vascular remodeling in the uterus during pregnancy by acidifying the extracellular matrix (ECM) with a2V-ATPase that activates MMP-9 that degrades the ECM. Ablation of a2V-ATPase decreases Bax and p53 expression in testis and leads to implantation failure in the female mouse. The degrading ECM releases bound pro-angiogenic growth factors that contribute to Uterine artery (UtA) remodeling characterized by the loss of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) and dilation of the vessels. Without cNK, the UtA never lose VSMCs and UtA resistance remains high often leading to implantation failure.

Its logical that a timely flood of angiogenic growth factors, previously stored in the ECM would provide instant availability, but whether this explains the maternal-embryonic immune paradox remains to be determined? In the immune paradox maternal NK cells invade and maternal blood vessels are remodeled just before the arrival of trophoblasts, the external cells of the blastocyst, that carry male antigens during formation of the fetal placenta. A sudden flood of angiogenic factors preceding invading trophoblasts could provide the perfect environment required for maternal arterial/vascular remodeling.

Lymphocytes in the uterine lining (decidua) are dominated by a unique decidual natural killer (dNK) cell population. The dNK cell surface phenotype CD56bright CD16− CD3− and macrophages CD14+ CD206+(dMac) support a model whereby dNK cells, capable of killing extra-villous cytotrophoblasts (CTB), are prevented from doing so by neighboring macrophages thus protecting the fetal cells from NK cell attack. Existing research has centered on the function of the abundant and diverse sets of dNK, but now that cNK cells have been identified to play a more significant role, our understanding of the remodeling are likely to change.

In CTB exogenous p53 is able to down-regulate MMP-9 promoter activity, but endogenous p53 is not able to regulate MMP-9 expression in first trimester CTB cells. Inactivation of p53 through mutation is the most common trait in cancer. By loosing its onco-suppressive activity, p53 becomes oncogenic in almost all malignant tumors (Soussi and Lozano, 2005). Although p53 is not mutated in the human placenta, it has become functionally incompetent. Understanding why and how p53 is functionally incompetent in CTB might well be the key to understanding trophoblast invasion.

Downregulation of EMMPRIN (BSG,CD147) by p53 leads to a decrease in the activity of MMP-9 and an inhibition of tumor cell invasion. Upregulation of EMMPRIN seen in many cancers can be attributed to, at least in part, to the dysfunction of p53 and thus provides new evidence for the roles of p53 in tumor development and progression. Epithelial derived MMP-9 exhibits a novel defensive role of tumor suppressor in colitis associated cancer by activating MMP9-Notch1-ARF-p53 axis. MMP-9 mediates Notch1 signaling via p53 to regulate apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, and inflammation. 

The inter-activity of p53, cNK and MMP-9 are complexed, but this novel research may lead to the mechanisms by which arterial remodeling occurs after release of angiogenic factors from ECM. If that shares characteristics of NK invasion into developing tumor micro environment's a new therapeutic approach may arise.


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Educating Perfect Natural Killers

Mining Tissue Match for Immune Co-culture

Mutant p53 knockdown in KPC (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma) cells of immune deficient mice had no effect on primary tumor growth, by contrast the reduced tumor growth in the immune-proficient syngeneic host was due to altered immune cell recruitment.

In vivo, the increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines coupled with increased Natural Killer (NK) cell ligand expression permits the recruitment of immune cells and clearance of abnormal cells. Elimination of senescent tumors by NK cells may occur as a result of the cooperation of signals associated with p53 expression or senescence, which regulate NK cell recruitment, and other signals that induce NKG2D ligand expression on tumor cells.

Coculture of wild-type (wt) p53-induced human tumor cells with primary human NK cells enhanced NKG2D-dependent degranulation and IFN-γ production by NK cells. Taken together findings define the involvement of p53 in the regulation of specific NKG2D ligands that enhance NK cell–mediated target recognition.

Inhibitory KIR-educated NK cells showed significantly increased expression of the glucose transporter Glut1 in comparison to NKG2A-educated or uneducated NK cells, with and without exposure to target cells. Educated NK cells displayed significantly higher rates of cellular glycolysis than uneducated NK cells indicating they may reside in different metabolic states prior to activation. The ability to metabolize glucose may represent a mechanism for the superior functionality of educated NK cells expressing KIR receptors. 

Cancer cells acquire immunoediting abilities by which they evade surveillance and escape eradication. Murine p53 missense mutation G242A (human G245A) suppresses activation of host NK cells, enabling breast cancer cells to avoid immune assault. Serial injection of EMT6 breast cancer cells that carry wild-type (wt) Trp53 promoted NK activity, while SVTneg2 cells carrying Trp53 G242A+/+ mutation decreased NK cell numbers and increased CD8+ T lymphocyte numbers in spleen. Upon co-culture with isolated NK cells, EMT6 cells activated NK cells and proliferation, increasing interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) production; however, SVTneg2 cells suppressed NK cell activation. p53 can modulate expression by cancer cells of Mult-1 and H60a activating and inhibitory ligands for NKG2D receptors of NK cells, respectively, to enhance immune surveillance against cancer. p53 is requisite for NK cell-based immune recognition and elimination of cancerous cells, and p53 missense mutant in cancer cells impairs NK cell responses.

NK cells are the oldest member of the innate lymphoid cell family (ILC) and the only representative of cytotoxic ILCs. These tissue-resident innate immune cells have a similar functional diversity to T cells including lineage-specifying transcription factors that drive certain effector programs. ILCs are present in almost every tissue, but strongly enriched at barrier surfaces, where they regulate immunity to infection, chronic inflammation, and tissue maintenance. ILCs orchestrate tissue homeostasis through their ability to sustain bidirectional interactions with epithelial cells, neurons, stromal cells, adipocytes, and many other tissue-resident cells. ILCs provide an integrated view on how immune responses in tissues are synchronized with functional relevance far beyond the classical view of the role of the immune system in discrimination between self/non-self and host defense.

Codondex has evidenced p53 genetic variations, in multiple samples of same biopsy tissue from pancreatic tumors and oral squamous cell carcinoma's that may distinguish host tumor tissue gradients. The effect of highly-specific tissue-selected cell co-culture to educate ILC/NK cells may enhance the prospect for tissue penetration by these expanded, activated cytotoxic cells to improve overall survival.  

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Expanding Treatment Horizons

An unrecognized link between p53 function and the immunosurveillance of cancer and infection led to an understanding how p53 influences the expression of MHC molecules at the cell surface via binding interaction with endoplasmic reticulum ERAP1.

Targeted mutations in multiple cancers revealed TP53 gene expression ranged between the 89th and 100th percentile of all expressed transcripts, and raised the possibility that p53 peptides arising from these common mutations might be immunogenic in these patients.

Select KIR-HLA composition favoring antitumor activity could be a promising immunotherapeutic strategy against breast cancer using autologous activated Natural Killer (NK) cell clones. Coexistence of inhibitory and activating killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) to the same cognate HLA-C2 and HLA-Bw4 ligands conferred breast cancer risk. Inhibitory KIR(iKIR)-HLA pairs without their activating KIR (aKIR)-HLA counterparts were significantly higher in normal controls. Contrarily and adding complexity this suggests NK cells expressing iKIR, to cognate HLA-ligands in the absence of specific aKIR counterparts are instrumental in antitumor response

Identification and characterization of the peptides presented by HLA-C, G and E molecules has been lacking behind the more abundant HLA-A and HLA-B gene products. The peptide specificities of these HLA molecules were elucidated using a comprehensive analysis of naturally presented peptides. The 15 most frequently expressed HLA-C alleles as well as HLA-E*01:01 and HLA-G*01:01 were transfected into lymphoblastoid C1R B-cells expressing low endogenous HLA. 

The results (above) include allotype C*02:02 for p53 presentation and indicate the overlap of HLA source protein and top 500 peptides demonstrating the enormous complexity for multivariate analysis of immune response. However,  C*02:02 and C*05:01 have identical contact residues for p8 and p9, the residues of the bound peptide that influences HLA-C interaction with KIR. This suggests peptide effects could contribute to the broader and stronger binding reactions of these two HLA-C allotypes. Interestingly SART3 and MAGEA3 proteins both interact through the p53 pathway and are reported in the peptide study (above) in addition to TP53 to present ligands on C*02:02 and C*05:01. 

Moreover, in vitro  models demonstrated that p53 is required for upregulation of NK ligands. Further, there was a strong association between the KIR B haplotype and p53 alteration in Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), with a higher likelihood that KIR B carriers harbor abnormal p53 (p<0.004). Together the data suggests functional interactions between KIR and HLA modify risks of BCC and Squamous Cell Carcinoma and that KIR encoded by the B genes provide selective pressure for altered p53 in BCC tumors.

Notwithstanding the enormous complexity between iKIR, aKIR - HLA interactions, immunoterapy must address the highly specific characteristics of autologous precision and discover methods to sensitively educate NK cells so that minimally invasive treatments can be extended to patients who fall outside the patient cohort for strictly regulated treatments. 

Of course, its never that simple...

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Evidence of Purposeful Evolution

Darwin's evolution challenged!

A recently published article in Nautre challenged evolution theory suggesting DNA repair was the more likely candidate driving evolutionary development than the environmental conditions thought to be the driver of natural selection. In some sense the two may be linked, but this study showed how epigenome-associated mutation bias reduced the occurrence of deleterious mutations, challenging the prevailing paradigm that mutation is a directionless force in evolution.

Quantitative assessment of DNA gain and loss through DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair processes suggests deletion-biased DSB repair causes ongoing genome shrinking in A. thaliana, whereas genome size in barley remained nearly constant.

Introduction of as little as 0.7% sequence divergence between Alu elements resulted in a significant reduction in recombination, which indicates even small degrees of sequence divergence reduce the efficiency of homology-directed DSB repair. Alu elements are the most abundant transposable elements (capable of shifting their positions) containing over one million copies dispersed throughout the human genome.

The emergence of recombination-activating genes (RAGs) in jawed vertebrates endowed adaptive immune cells with the ability to assemble a diverse set of antigen receptor genes. Innate Natural Killer (NK) cells are unable to express RAGs or RAG endonuclease activity during ontogeny. They exhibit a cell-intrinsic hyperresponsiveness, but a diminished capacity to survive following virus-driven proliferation, a reduced expression of DNA damage response mediators, and defects in the repair of DNA breaks. However, RAG expression in uncommitted hematopoietic progenitors and NK cell precursors marks functionally distinct subsets of NK cells in the periphery, demonstrating a novel role for RAG in the functional specialization of the NK cell lineage. 

The most active region of Human Chromosome 19 has a long history of recombinations that define the expression patterns of telomeric and centromeric proportions of Killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) gene's encoding receptors. KIR's bind cells presenting MHC class 1 HLA haplotype combinations, that vary significantly across tissues in different population groups. Further, the deletion rate in Zinc Finger clusters (ZNF) located around 19q13.42, near KIR and C19MC between 51,012,739 and 55,620,741 are about twofold higher than the background deletion rate. 

The relationship between deletions and mutation may indeed play a direct role in rapidly evolving, innate immunity. This may just begin to explain the speed at which global populations can respond and survive pandemics caused by the likes of COVID-19. And, the '19' in its nomenclature may go beyond time to the very chromosome responsible for innate immune diversity.