Wednesday, September 27, 2023

When Immunity Fails Programmed Cell Death

DNA Damage Response

Telomeric repeat (TR) sequences are responsible for genome integrity, where instability is a primary factor that leads to activation of p53. Introduction of a TR into cells leads to stabilization of p53, specific to TRs and not observed in plasmids containing non-TR sequences. TR-activated p53 exhibited enhanced transcriptional activity and induced p53-dependent growth suppression, measured as a reduction in colony formation. Sub-telomeric p53 binding prevents accumulation of DNA damage at human telomeres.  

Healthy cells experience thousands of DNA lesions per day. Micronuclei, containing broken fragments of DNA or chromosomes, that have become isolated, are recognized as one mediator of DNA damage response (DDR)-associated immune recognition. Like micronuclear DNA, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is recognized by cGAS to drive STING-mediated inflammatory signaling. Mitochondrial damage can intersect DNA repair and inflammatory cascades with programmed cell death, through p53. In human fibroblasts and conditionally immortalized vascular smooth muscle cells p53 mediates CD54 (ICAM-1) overexpression in senescence.

Replicative senescence, an autophagy dependent program and crisis are anti-proliferative barriers that human cells must evade to gain immortality. Telomere-to-mitochondria signaling by ZBP1 mediates replicative crisis. Dysfunctional telomeres activate innate immune responses (IFN) through mitochondrial TR RNA (TERRA)–ZBP1 complexes. Senescence occurs when shortened telomeres elicit a p53 and RB dependent DNA-damage response. A crisis-associated isoform of ZBP1(innate immune sensor) is induced by the cGAS–STING DNA-sensing pathway, but reaches full activation only when associated with TERRA transcripts from dysfunctional telomeres. p53 utilizes the cGAS/STING innate immune system pathway for both cell intrinsic and cell extrinsic tumor suppressor activities. cGAS-STING activation induces the production of IFN-b and increases CD54 expression in  human cerebral microvascular endothelial cells.

In melanoma patients there is a significant correlation between cGAS expression levels and survival and between NK cell receptor expression levels and survival. Loss of cGAS expression by tumor cells could permit the tumor cell to circumvent senescence or prevent immunostimulatory NKG2D ligands expression. Loss of p53 and gain of oncogenic RAS exacerbated pro-malignant paracrine signaling activities of senescence-associated secretory phenotypes. Results imply that heterogeneity in cGAS activity, across tumors, could be an important predictor of cancer prognosis and response to treatment and suggest that NK cells could play an important role in mediating anti-tumor effects. Coculture of wild-type p53-induced human tumor cells with primary human NK cells enhanced NKG2D-dependent degranulation and IFN-γ production by NK cells. 

When p53 consensus sequences are modified and DNA damage response is compromised, replicative crisis ensues, mitochondrial membranes misfunction, mtDNA expression is downregulated and IFN signaling upregulates. A cell may then express activating immune ligands that bind NK receptors signaling non-self and cytolytic death or inhibitory receptors that signal self and immortality

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