PhD defense: Sébastien FAUTEUX

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Date / Heure
Date(s) - 27/03/2018
0 h 00 min - 17 h 00 min

Amphi Pasteur, Tour CERVI

PhD defense: Sébastien FAUTEUX, team Immunity innate in infectious and autoimmune diseases Tuesday, March 27th, at 14:00 in the Pasteur amphitheater, on the ground floor of the CERVI tower 

Title: “Role of the inflammasome and Styk1 kinase in the regulation of cytotoxic lymphocytes.

Upon recognition of infected or target cells, CD8+ T and Natural Killer (NK) lymphocytes initiate a polarized degranulation of vesicle storing cytotoxic molecules (perforin: PRF1 and granzyme B). By altering the target cell’s cellular membrane integrity, perforine allows granzyme B to translocate to its cytosol. Genetic anomalies may affect normal cytotoxic functions and severely hamper the control of intracellular pathogens. In this context, the pathogenic signal remains uninterrupted and both cytotoxic lymphocytes and macrophages are continuously stimulated. This auto-inflammatory pathological condition is named hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) and is fatal without therapeutic intervention. HLH can also occur secondary to infection with viruses from the herpesviridae family, or be concomitant to important immune alterations such as systemic onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SoJIA), with no clear etiological cause identified.

In 2014, a case of HLH mediated by the constitutive activation of the NLRC4 inflammasome receptor was first described. The inflammasome is a multimeric structure involving a cytosolic receptor, a scaffold protein – ASC – and Caspase-1. In the immune system, the inflammasome is expressed in macrophages and dendritic cells and senses pathogenic (PAMP) and danger (DAMP) associated signals. Once activated, inflammasome’s protein Caspase-1 catalyzes the maturation of pro-IL-1b and pro-IL-18 and leads to their secretion. Since NLRC4 constitutive activation appears to be sufficient for triggering HLH, we aimed to understand if the inflammasome structure was essential to the development of the syndrome. In order to address this question, we invalidated the inflammasome through the abrogation of ASC or Caspase-1 in PRF1 -/- HLH mouse model. We also tested the hypothesis that an altered cytotoxic function could explain the high prevalence of HLH in the proinflammatory context of SoJIA.

The results we present here show that the inflammasome is responsible the elevated levels of IL-18 in the serum of HLH patients. However, the inflammasome is facultative for its development. We also demonstrate that in patients suffering from SoJIA, NK cells show normal cytotoxicity, suggesting that immunological mechanisms involved in FHL and secondary HLH are distinct.

In the second part of this manuscript, we aim at understanding the role of Styk1 serine/threonine/tyrosine kinase in NK cells’ regulation. NK cells are in charge of eliminating stressed, virally infected or transformed cells. Upon activation, they secrete large amounts of IFN-γ and TNF-α, thus bridging innate and adaptive immunity. Capabilities for recognition of target cells is endowed by the expression of numerous stochastically expressed activating and inhibitory receptors. The balance between activating and inhibitory signal allows for self-tolerance or activation upon engagement of abnormal cells. Activating and inhibitory receptor are germline encoded in two dense, large complexes, the Natural Killer Complex (NKC) and the Leukocyte Receptor Complex (LRC). At the moment of starting this work, we had recently identified that Styk1 was a signature transcript of NK cells. However, its function in NK cells and more generally in the immune system remains unknown. Nevertheless, its genetic localisation near the NKC and its potential implication in the PI3K-AKT pathway prompt that it may play a role in NK cell development and/or functions. In order to evaluate the role of Styk1 in NK cells’ regulation, we generated a mouse model in which its expression is abrogated.

Jury members:

Dr SEPULVEDA, Fernando E INSERM U1163 Rapporteur
Dr DÉCHANET-MERVILLE, Julie CNRS UMR 5164 Rapporteur
Pr STEPHAN, Jean-Louis CHU de Saint-Etienne Examinateur
Dr BENDRISS-VERMARE, Nathalie INSERM U1111 Examinateur
Dr FAURE, Mathias INSERM U1111 Président
Dr WALZER, Thierry INSERM U1111 Directeur de thèse