In colorectal cancer patients, a high density of cytotoxic CD8+ T cells in tumors is associated with better prognosis. Using a Stat3 loss-of-function approach in two wnt/β-catenin-dependent autochthonous models of sporadic intestinal tumorigenesis, we unravel a complex intracellular process in intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) that controls the induction of a CD8+ T cell based adaptive immune response. Elevated mitophagy in IECs causes iron(II)-accumulation in epithelial lysosomes, in turn, triggering lysosomal membrane permeabilization. Subsequent release of proteases into the cytoplasm augments MHC class I presentation and activation of CD8+ T cells via cross-dressing of dendritic cells. Thus, our findings highlight a so-far-unrecognized link between mitochondrial function, lysosomal integrity, and MHC class I presentation in IECs and suggest that therapies triggering mitophagy or inducing LMP in IECs may prove successful in shifting the balance toward anti-tumor immunity in colorectal cancer.
Lymph nodes (LNs) are strategically situated throughout the body at junctures of the blood vascular and lymphatic systems to direct immune responses against antigens draining from peripheral tissues. The current paradigm describes LN development as a programmed process that is governed through the interaction between mesenchymal lymphoid tissue organizer (LTo) cells and hematopoietic lymphoid tissue inducer (LTi) cells. Using cell-type-specific ablation of key molecules involved in lymphoid organogenesis, we found that initiation of LN development is dependent on LTi-cell-mediated activation of lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) and that engagement of mesenchymal stromal cells is a succeeding event. LEC activation was mediated mainly by signaling through receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK) and the non-canonical NF-κB pathway and was steered by sphingosine-1-phosphate-receptor-dependent retention of LTi cells in the LN anlage. Finally, the finding that pharmacologically enforced interaction between LTi cells and LECs promotes ectopic LN formation underscores the central LTo function of LECs.
Bone marrow fibrosis (BMF) develops in various hematological and non-hematological conditions and is a central pathological feature of myelofibrosis. Effective cell-targeted therapeutics are needed, but the cellular origin of BMF remains elusive. Here, we show using genetic fate tracing in two murine models of BMF that Gli1+ mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are recruited from the endosteal and perivascular niche to become fibrosis-driving myofibroblasts in the bone marrow. Genetic ablation of Gli1+ cells abolished BMF and rescued bone marrow failure. Pharmacological targeting of Gli proteins with GANT61 inhibited Gli1+ cell expansion and myofibroblast differentiation and attenuated fibrosis severity. The same pathway is also active in human BMF, and Gli1 expression in BMF significantly correlates with the severity of the disease. In addition, GANT61 treatment reduced the myofibroblastic phenotype of human MSCs isolated from patients with BMF, suggesting that targeting of Gli proteins could be a relevant therapeutic strategy.