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Immunology

Immunology is a functional definition describing studies related to host protection mechanisms against pathogens, and is thus in itself a multi-disciplinary science linking topics such as biochemistry, cell biology, microbiology and disease. Here in this editorial page, we select articles that feel most exciting to us to share with you, and hope that you will feel the same.

Featured articles

CD45 limits T cell activation, so its exclusion from the T cell immunological synapse is thought to occur as a means to enable TCR signalling. Here the authors use a variety of cellular imaging methods to show that CD45 is indeed excluded from the tips of the T cell microvilli and that this occurs prior to contact with antigen, indicating this exclusion is one of the initiating factors for antigen presentation and T cell activation.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Fibroblast-like synoviocytes are important mediators of joint pathology in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Here the authors show that Lasp1 is epigenetically regulated and highly expressed by these cells in RA and its deletion can limit joint pathology in a mouse model of inflammatory arthritis.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

3-hydroxy-L-kynurenamine (3-HKA) is a metabolite deriving from a lateral pathway of tryptophan catabolism. Here the authors identify 3-HKA as a biogenic amine and show it has anti-inflammatory properties that can protect mice against psoriasis and nephrotoxic nephritis.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Type II alveolar cells play central roles in multiple aspects of lung biology. Here the authors show that type II alveolar cells also constitutively express MHCII, exhibit limited MHCII antigen presentation capacity, and are a component of the host response to respiratory viral infection.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Differentiating neutrophil functional states is difficult. Here the authors show, using single cell RNA-sequencing and trajectory analyses, that mouse neutrophils can be presented as a transcriptome continuum rather than discrete subsets, but are affected by inflammation to express distinct transcriptional states.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Neutrophils are versatile immune cells that may also serve as antigen-presenting cells (APC). Here the authors show that engaging FcγRs on neutrophils with immune complexes or an anti-FcγR-antigen conjugate induces neutrophil APC with comparable functions as classical dendritic cells, and with therapeutic potentials for cancer and infectious diseases.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Macrophages perform diverse functions during immune responses, but the molecular mechanisms by which physical properties of the tissue regulate macrophage behavior remain unknown. Here the authors find that Piezo1 is a mechanosensor of stiffness, and that its activity modulates macrophage polarization responses.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

T follicular helper (TFH) cells are specialized effector CD4+ T cells that are critical in humoral immunity, but the function of post-transcriptional regulation is not clearly defined. Here, the authors demonstrate that RNA methylation is important for TFH effector differentiation and subsequent antibody formation through stabilization of Tcf7 transcripts.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Immune checkpoint inhibition (ICI) shows potential for cancer therapies, but response rates vary. Here, the authors use single-cell analyses to show that, in a 28 patient cohort, patients stratified by mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) percentages show different response rates, and ICI responders have more MAIT cells expressing CXCR4 and granzyme B.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Invariant natural killer T cells are known to be composed of a number of phenotypic and functionally distinct populations. Here the authors use transcriptomic and epigenomic analysis to further characterize the peripheral iNKT compartment before and after antigenic stimulation.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

The peritoneal cavity is a complicated myeloid niche containing a mixed population of resident macrophages and infiltrating cells that are responsive to inflammatory cues. Here the authors trace the fate of these infiltrating macrophages, their conversion to resident cells and how this is altered by the local inflammatory state over time.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Notch signalling is central to marginal zone B cell development, but it is unclear what path this development takes in vivo. Here the authors use a mouse that lacks these cells to show that transgenic induction of Notch2 is sufficient for development of marginal zone B cells via transdifferentiation from follicular B cells and that this mechanism can occur in wildtype mice.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Myeloid cells are able to utilize a variety of monosaccharides from our diet, including fructose. Here the authors show that when monocytes are reliant on fructose as a carbon energy source they are reprogrammed towards oxidative metabolism, glutamine anaplerosis and a pro-inflammatory phenotype owing to excess pro-inflammatory cytokine production.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

lncRNAs are transcriptional regulators, but little is known of them functioning as negative feedback regulators of inflammation in humans. Here, the authors show that the human lncRNA LUCAT1 sequesters STAT1 to limit JAK/STAT signaling and the inflammatory response to viral infection or TLR stimulation in myeloid cells.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Glioblastoma multiform (GBM) is a common and aggressive type of primary brain cancer that currently has no effective therapy. Here, the authors show, using a mouse GBM model and EGFRvIII-targeting chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells, that Intratumoral injection of interleukin-12 helps condition the microenvironment and promote anti-tumor immunity.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Anecdotal reports suggest potential severity and outcome differences between sexes following infection by SARS-CoV-2. Here, the authors perform meta-analyses of more than 3 million cases collected from global public data to demonstrate that male patients with COVID-19 are 3 times more likely to require intensive care, and have ~40% higher death rate.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Therapies and vaccines for COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 viral pandemic, are urgently needed. Here the authors establish and screen an antibody library from a convalescent COVID-19 patient to isolate a neutralizing antibody with the ability to reduce viral titer and alleviate symptoms in ferret, hamster, and rhesus monkey infection models.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Whether the immune system aging differs between men and women is barely known. Here the authors characterize gene expression, chromatin state and immune subset composition in the blood of healthy humans 22 to 93 years of age, uncovering shared as well as sex-unique alterations, and create a web resource to interactively explore the data.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Production of inflammatory mediators by M1-polarized macrophages is thought to rely on suppression of mitochondrial metabolism in favor of glycolysis. Refining this concept, here the authors define metabolic targets of nitric oxide as responsible for the mitochondrial rewiring resulting from polarization.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Dietary fiber-derived short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) act as histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors on Tregs and innate immune cells, promoting immune tolerance by altering gene expression. Here the authors show that SCFA HDAC inhibitor activity impacts B cell differentiation, antibody responses and antibody-driven autoimmunity.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Here the authors provide a single-cell characterization of cerebrospinal fluid and blood of newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, revealing altered composition of lymphocyte and monocyte subsets, validated by other methods including the interrogation of the TFH subset in mouse models of MS.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Relevant features of T cell repertoire in human cancer remain to be delineated. Here the authors show, by TCR sequencing in a large cohort of lung cancer patients, that while a majority of T cell clones are shared between tumor and adjacent lung tissue, less frequent tumor-unique T cell clones correlate with worse prognosis.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Antimicrobial peptide LL37 can bind nucleic acids and potentiate their sensing by endosomal TLRs. Here the authors show that LL37 binds to RNA from neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), which amplifies inflammation and production of more LL37 and NETs via TLR8/13, suggesting that LL37 contribution to psoriasis may be fueled by NET-associated RNA.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Understanding factors that impact CAR T cell expansion in the clinic is crucial to improving its therapeutic success. Here the authors document heterogeneity in the clonal dynamics of CAR-T cells by tracking individual clones using the endogenous TCR and integration sites and provide further insights into the role of transcriptional states in clonal kinetics.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

As an interface between maternal and fetal tissues, decidua hosts immune cells specialized in fostering a successful pregnancy. Here the authors carry out high-dimensional characterization of function, morphology and surface markers of human decidual innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), identifying subsets with features distinct from blood ILC.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Inflammation, immune cells and the host microbiota are intimately linked in the pathophysiology of obesity and diabetes. Here the authors show mucosal-associated invariant T cells fuel inflammation in the tissues and serve a function in promoting metabolic breakdown, polarising macrophage populations and inducing dysbiosis of the intestinal microbiota.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Poly-functional helper T cells can have a stronger effect than mono-functional T cells, but whether the response is qualitatively different is not clear. Here the authors show that a population of IL-17+IL-22+, but not single IL-22+, CD4+ T cells are induced by TGF-β, enriched in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) and drive CRC progression in mice.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications