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Breast cancer-derived transforming growth factor-β and tumor necrosis factor-α compromise interferon-α production by tumor-associated plasmacytoid dendritic cells.

We previously reported that plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) infiltrating breast tumors are impaired for their interferon-α (IFN-α) production, resulting in local regulatory T cells amplification. We designed our study to decipher molecular mechanisms of such functional defect of tumor-associated pDC (TApDC) in breast cancer. We demonstrate that besides IFN-α, the production by Toll-like receptor (TLR)-activated healthy pDC of IFN-β and TNF-α but not IP-10/CXCL10 nor MIP1-α/CCL3 is impaired by the breast tumor environment. Importantly, we identified TGF-β and TNF-α as major soluble factors involved in TApDC functional alteration. Indeed, recombinant TGF-β1 and TNF-α synergistically blocked IFN-α production of TLR-activated pDC, and neutralization of TGF-β and TNF-α in tumor-derived supernatants restored pDCs' IFN-α production. The involvment of tumor-derived TGF-β was further confirmed in situ by the detection of phosphorylated Smad2 in the nuclei of TApDC in breast tumor tissues. Mechanisms of type I IFN inhibition did not involve TLR downregulation but the inhibition of IRF-7 expression and nuclear translocation in pDC after their exposure to tumor-derived supernatants or recombinant TGF-β1 and TNF-α. Our findings indicate that targeting TApDC to restore their IFN-α production might be an achievable strategy to induce antitumor immunity in breast cancer by combining TLR7/9-based immunotherapy with TGF-β and TNF-α antagonists.

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Chemokines have diverse abilities to form solid phase gradients.

Chemokines play critical roles in leukocyte recruitment into sites of inflammation such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). While chemokines immobilized on endothelium (solid-phase), but not soluble chemokines, direct rolling leukocytes to firmly adhere to endothelium, soluble and solid-phase chemokine gradients may play important roles in leukocyte extravasation into the tissue. In this study, we have sought to determine (1) if chemokines can be immobilized on structures in the extravascular space, (2) the mechanisms by which chemokines may be immobilized, and (3) if different chemokines have similar potentials to form solid-phase gradients. While secreted alkaline phosphatase (SEAP)-tagged chemokines SLC (CCL21), TARC (CCL17), and RANTES (CCL5) bound to mast cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM) in RA synovium under physiologic salt conditions, MCP1 (CCL2), MIP1 alpha (CCL3), MIP1 beta (CCL4), and fractalkine (FKN, CX3CL1) fusion proteins did not detectably bind. Chemokine binding to ECM and mast cells in situ and to immobilized heparin was inhibited by high salt and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) heparin, heparan sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and dermatan sulfate, but not by dextran or hyaluronan, indicating that the chemokines bind to highly sulfated GAGs. Chemokine binding to synovial structures correlated strongly with avidity of chemokine binding to heparin (SLC > TARC > RANTES > MIP1 beta > MCP1 > MIP1 alpha > FKN). A RANTES mutant with decreased avidity for heparin was not able to bind to ECM or mast cells. Thus, these data indicate that chemokines can bind to ECM and mast cell granule constituents in situ via interactions with GAGs. Further, only a subset of chemokines were able to bind efficiently to structures in the extravascular space, indicating that chemokines may form different types of gradients based on their GAG binding ability and that chemotactic gradients in tissues may be quite complex.

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