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.