The human cluster of differentiation (CD)1 system for antigen display is comprised of four types of antigen-presenting molecules, each with a distinct functional niche: CD1a, CD1b, CD1c, and CD1d. Whereas CD1 proteins were thought solely to influence T-cell responses through display of amphipathic lipids, recent studies emphasize the role of direct contacts between the T-cell receptor and CD1 itself. Moving from molecules to diseases, new research approaches emphasize human CD1-transgenic mouse models and the study of human polyclonal T cells in vivo or ex vivo in disease states. Whereas the high genetic diversity of major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-encoded antigen-presenting molecules provides a major hurdle for designing antigens that activate T cells in all humans, the simple population genetics of the CD1 system offers the prospect of discovering or designing broadly acting immunomodulatory agents.
Type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among noncommunicable diseases, and additional animal models that more closely replicate the pathogenesis of human type 2 diabetes are needed. The goal of this study was to develop a model of type 2 diabetes in guinea pigs, in which diet-induced glucose intolerance precedes β-cell cytotoxicity, two processes that are crucial to the development of human type 2 diabetes. Guinea pigs developed impaired glucose tolerance after 8 weeks of feeding on a high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, as determined by oral glucose challenge. Diet-induced glucose intolerance was accompanied by β-cell hyperplasia, compensatory hyperinsulinemia, and dyslipidemia with hepatocellular steatosis. Streptozotocin (STZ) treatment alone was ineffective at inducing diabetic hyperglycemia in guinea pigs, which failed to develop sustained glucose intolerance or fasting hyperglycemia and returned to euglycemia within 21 days after treatment. However, when high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet-fed guinea pigs were treated with STZ, glucose intolerance and fasting hyperglycemia persisted beyond 21 days post-STZ treatment. Guinea pigs with diet-induced glucose intolerance subsequently treated with STZ demonstrated an insulin-secretory capacity consistent with insulin-independent diabetes. This insulin-independent state was confirmed by response to oral antihyperglycemic drugs, metformin and glipizide, which resolved glucose intolerance and extended survival compared with guinea pigs with uncontrolled diabetes. In this study, we have developed a model of sequential glucose intolerance and β-cell loss, through high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet and extensive optimization of STZ treatment in the guinea pig, which closely resembles human type 2 diabetes. This model will prove useful in the study of insulin-independent diabetes pathogenesis with or without comorbidities, where the guinea pig serves as a relevant model species.
There is an urgent need to develop new drug treatment strategies to control the global spread of drug-sensitive and multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis). The ß-lactam class of antibiotics is among the safest and most widely prescribed antibiotics, but they are not effective against M. tuberculosis due to intrinsic resistance. This study shows that 2-aminoimidazole (2-AI)-based small molecules potentiate ß-lactam antibiotics against M. tuberculosis. Active 2-AI compounds significantly reduced the minimal inhibitory and bactericidal concentrations of ß-lactams by increasing M. tuberculosis cell envelope permeability and decreasing protein secretion including ß-lactamase. Metabolic labeling and transcriptional profiling experiments revealed that 2-AI compounds impair mycolic acid biosynthesis, export and linkage to the mycobacterial envelope, counteracting an important defense mechanism reducing permeability to external agents. Additionally, other important constituents of the M. tuberculosis outer membrane including sulfolipid-1 and polyacyltrehalose were also less abundant in 2-AI treated bacilli. As a consequence of 2-AI treatment, M. tuberculosis displayed increased sensitivity to SDS, increased permeability to nucleic acid staining dyes, and rapid binding of cell wall targeting antibiotics. Transcriptional profiling analysis further confirmed that 2-AI induces transcriptional regulators associated with cell envelope stress. 2-AI based small molecules potentiate the antimicrobial activity of ß-lactams by a mechanism that is distinct from specific inhibitors of ß-lactamase activity and therefore may have value as an adjunctive anti-TB treatment.
Protected from host immune attack and antibiotic penetration by their unique cell envelope, mycobacterial pathogens cause devastating human diseases such as tuberculosis. Seamless coordination of cell growth with cell envelope elongation at the pole maintains this barrier. Unraveling this spatiotemporal regulation is a potential strategy for controlling mycobacterial infections. Our biochemical analysis previously revealed two functionally distinct membrane fractions in Mycobacterium smegmatis cell lysates: plasma membrane tightly associated with the cell wall (PM-CW) and a distinct fraction of pure membrane free of cell wall components (PMf). To provide further insight into the functions of these membrane fractions, we took the approach of comparative proteomics and identified more than 300 proteins specifically associated with the PMf, including essential enzymes involved in cell envelope synthesis such as a mannosyltransferase, Ppm1, and a galactosyltransferase, GlfT2. Furthermore, comparative lipidomics revealed the distinct lipid composition of the PMf, with specific association of key cell envelope biosynthetic precursors. Live-imaging fluorescence microscopy visualized the PMf as patches of membrane spatially distinct from the PM-CW and notably enriched in the pole of the growing cells. Taken together, our study provides the basis for assigning the PMf as a spatiotemporally distinct and metabolically active membrane domain involved in cell envelope biogenesis.
Improved biomarkers are needed for tuberculosis. To develop tests based on products secreted by tubercle bacilli that are strictly associated with viability, we evaluated 3 bacterial-derived, species-specific, small molecules as biomarkers: 2 mycobactin siderophores and tuberculosinyladenosine. Using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, we demonstrated the presence of 1 or both mycobactins and/or tuberculosinyladenosine in serum and whole lung tissues from infected mice and sputum, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), or lymph nodes from infected patients but not uninfected controls. Detection of the target molecules distinguished host infection status in 100% of mice with both serum and lung as the target sample. In human subjects, we evaluated detection of the bacterial small molecules (BSMs) in multiple body compartments in 3 patient cohorts corresponding to different forms of tuberculosis. We detected at least 1 of the 3 molecules in 90%, 71%, and 40% of tuberculosis patients' sputum, CSF, and lymph node samples, respectively. In paucibacillary forms of human tuberculosis, which are difficult to diagnose even with culture, detection of 1 or more BSM was rapid and compared favorably to polymerase chain reaction-based detection. Secreted BSMs, detectable in serum, warrant further investigation as a means for diagnosis and therapeutic monitoring in patients with tuberculosis.
The now-famous term "restriction" derived from experiments in which T cells from Donor A failed to recognize Ags presented by cells from Donor B. Restriction results from interdonor variation in MHC genes. Donor restriction dominates immunologists' thinking about the T cell response because it governs organ transplantation and hinders the discovery of disease-associated Ags. However, other T cells can be considered "donor unrestricted" because their targets, CD1a, CD1b, CD1c, CD1d, or MR1, are expressed in a similar form among all humans. A striking feature of donor unrestricted T cells is the expression of invariant TCRs with nearly species-wide distribution. In this article, we review new evidence that donor unrestricted T cells are common in humans. NKT cells, mucosa-associated invariant T cells, and germline-encoded mycolyl-reactive T cells operate outside of the familiar principles of the MHC system, providing a broader picture of T cell function and new opportunities for therapy.
Although small molecules shed from pathogens are widely used to diagnose infection, such tests have not been widely implemented for tuberculosis. Here we show that the recently identified compound, 1-tuberculosinyladenosine (1-TbAd), accumulates to comprise >1% of all Mycobacterium tuberculosis lipid. In vitro and in vivo, two isomers of TbAd were detected that might serve as infection markers. Using mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance, we established the structure of the previously unknown molecule, N6-tuberculosinyladenosine (N6-TbAd). Its biosynthesis involves enzymatic production of 1-TbAd by Rv3378c followed by conversion to N6-TbAd via the Dimroth rearrangement. Intact biosynthetic genes are observed only within M. tuberculosiscomplex bacteria, and TbAd was not detected among other medically important pathogens, environmental bacteria, and vaccine strains. With no substantially similar known molecules in nature, the discovery and in vivo detection of two abundant terpene nucleosides support their development as specific diagnostic markers of tuberculosis.