Mitochondrial DNA in exosomes key to initiate antiviral response

10/09/2018

Imagen Noticia

CNIC researchers demonstrate that exosomes transferred from T lymphocytes to dendritic cells contain mitochondrial DNA

Researchers at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) in Spain have provided valuable information about the defense mechanisms of the immune system during the early stages of the response to pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. The research findings, published in Nature Communications, contribute to the understanding of the cellular processes initiated at early stages and explain how the distinct cell populations of the immune system communicate to mount an effective response against pathogens.

These discoveries contribute to the understanding of the cellular processes initiated during the immune synapse and of how components of the innate and adaptive immune systems communicate to mount an effective response to pathogens.

The CNIC researchers have shown that mitochondrial DNA contained in nanovesicles triggers a state of alertness in recipient cells that activates an antiviral genetic program. These nanovesicles, known as exosomes, are produced by T lymphocytes and taken up by dendritic cells via intercellular contacts.

The immune response against pathogens requires the specific physical interaction between T lymphocytes and antigen presenting cells, especially dendritic cells, through the formation of an immune synapse. During this process, the cells exchange information both through receptor-ligand contacts at the cell surface and through the transfer of exosomes.

The present study was performed by the group led by Professor Francisco Sánchez-Madrid, principal investigator of the Intercellular Communication laboratory at the CNIC, head of the Immunology Service at the Hospital la Princesa, and Professor of Immunology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. In previous work, the group demonstrated that T cells can transfer exosomes to dendritic cells during the formation of the immune synapse. Authors Daniel Torralba and Francesc Baixauli collaborated with other CNIC groups, including the group led by Professor José Antonio Enriquez and the Proteomics and Genomics units. The study also involved contributions from researchers from the Centro de Investigación CIMA in Pamplona and other Spanish centers.

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