Immunomodulatory proteins in Heligmosomoides polygyrus excretory/secretory products
Kemter, Andrea Maria
Infections with parasitic helminths are counted as neglected tropical diseases; they infect millions of people worldwide, causing high morbidity and economic loss. Many parasites establish long lasting infections in the host by blocking immune recognition, activation and effector pathways. To allow in depth research on their modes of immune evasion, several mouse models for parasitic helminth infections have been established. Heligmosomoides polygyrus for example is a gastrointestinal nematode of rodents exhibiting a wide spectrum of immunomodulatory effects, mediated in part by soluble molecules released by adult worms in vitro, the excretory/secretory products (HES). HES is a potent inhibitor of dendritic cell (DC) activation by Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands, completely abolishing LPS induced IL-12 production and reducing the upregulation of cell surface activation markers. As of now, neither the modulatory molecule nor its mechanism of action are known. Here, the effect of HES on TLR ligand induced DC maturation was characterized in considerably more detail compared to previous publications. It could be shown to inhibit DC maturation induced by various TLR ligands, on both protein and mRNA levels. These effects were comparable in both C57BL/6 and BALB/c derived cells; in contrast to this HES differentially affected alternative activation of BMDC from these two mouse strains. Although for most of the experiments GM-CSF differentiated BMDC were used, HES also inhibited LPS induced activation of splenic CD11c+ cells as well as the activation of all three populations described in Flt3-L differentiated BMDC - pDCs, CD11b+ cDCs and CD24+ cDCs. Furthermore, it could be shown here that HES also inhibits LPS induced maturation in human monocyte derived DCs. In the search for the component in HES responsible for its inhibition of TLR ligand induced DC maturation, exosome depleted HES rather than exosomes was inhibitory, and the effect was heat labile. This lead to the conclusion that the modulatory molecule has a protein component which is indispensable for its effect; following this reasoning HES was subjected to fractionation, with subsequent analysis of the fraction protein contents by mass spectrometry. The top nine candidate proteins were expressed recombinantly; however, the recombinants were not able to inhibit LPS induced DC activation. In parallel, experiments to elucidate the mechanism by which HES inhibits TLR ligand induced DC maturation were performed. This led to the conclusion that HES induces changes in the cells that, while not affecting the induction of signalling downstream of TLRs, do impair its maintenance. As a complement to these experiments, the transcriptomes of LPS and LPS+HES treated cells eight hours after LPS stimulation were compared. This revealed that transcripts encoding a number of transcription factors inducing the expression of activation markers after TLR ligation were reduced upon treatment of cells with HES, as were the transcript levels of IRAK2, a kinase necessary for persistent signalling. In addition, HES increased the transcript levels for several factors known to negatively regulate DC maturation, including ATF3. Furthermore, this analysis revealed changes in transcript levels of factors like HIF-1a, indicating an even greater reliance on aerobic glycolysis if cells were treated with HES, in addition to hints at increased ER and oxidative stress. In conclusion, this work narrows down the list of potential DC modulators in HES, gives a first insight into changes in DC metabolism induced by HES and sheds light on the role of a number of signalling pathways with important roles in DC activation as targets of DC inhibition by HES.