Adrian Liston

Research Summary

The Liston laboratory works on regulatory T cells. These are a type of white blood cell that act to suppress the rest of the immune response, preventing spontaneous autoimmune disease and acting as a rheostat to control just how active our immune system is. The number of these cells in our blood goes up as we get old, which may contribute to the immune-suppressed state of older persons. We seek to understand these cells, using both patient material and mouse models, so that we can harness their power to fine-tune the immune system for healthy ageing.

Latest Publications

Pax5 regulates B cell immunity by promoting PI3K signaling via PTEN down-regulation.
Calderón L, Schindler K, Malin SG, Schebesta A, Sun Q, Schwickert T, Alberti C, Fischer M, Jaritz M, Tagoh H, Ebert A, Minnich M, Liston A, Cochella L, Busslinger M

The transcription factor Pax5 controls B cell development, but its role in mature B cells is largely enigmatic. Here, we demonstrated that the loss of Pax5 by conditional mutagenesis in peripheral B lymphocytes led to the strong reduction of B-1a, marginal zone (MZ), and germinal center (GC) B cells as well as plasma cells. Follicular (FO) B cells tolerated the loss of Pax5 but had a shortened half-life. The Pax5-deficient FO B cells failed to proliferate upon B cell receptor or Toll-like receptor stimulation due to impaired PI3K-AKT signaling, which was caused by increased expression of PTEN, a negative regulator of the PI3K pathway. Pax5 restrained PTEN protein expression at the posttranscriptional level, likely involving -targeting microRNAs. Additional PTEN loss in double-mutant mice rescued FO B cell numbers and the development of MZ B cells but did not restore GC B cell formation. Hence, the posttranscriptional down-regulation of PTEN expression is an important function of Pax5 that facilitates the differentiation and survival of mature B cells, thereby promoting humoral immunity.

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Science immunology, 6, 61, 23 Jul 2021

PMID: 34301800

Unstable regulatory T cells, enriched for naïve and Nrp1 cells, are purged after fate challenge.
Junius S, Mavrogiannis AV, Lemaitre P, Gerbaux M, Staels F, Malviya V, Burton O, Gergelits V, Singh K, Tito Tadeo RY, Raes J, Humblet-Baron S, Liston A, Schlenner SM

Regulatory T cells (T) are indispensable for the control of immune homeostasis and have clinical potential as a cell therapy for treating autoimmunity. T can lose expression of the lineage-defining Foxp3 transcription factor and acquire effector T cell (T) characteristics, a process referred to as T plasticity. The extent and reversibility of such plasticity during immune responses remain unknown. Here, using a murine genetic fate-mapping system, we show that T stability is maintained even during exposure to a complex microbial/antigenic environment. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the observed plasticity of T after adoptive transfer into a lymphopenic environment is a property limited to only a subset of the T population, with the nonconverting majority of T being resistant to plasticity upon secondary stability challenge. The unstable T fraction is a complex mixture of phenotypically distinct T, enriched for naïve and neuropilin-1-negative T, and includes peripherally induced T and recent thymic emigrant T These results suggest that a "purging" process can be used to purify stable T that are capable of robust fate retention, with potential implications for improving cell transfer therapy.

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Science immunology, 6, 61, 23 Jul 2021

PMID: 34301799

MicroRNA miR-29c regulates RAG1 expression and modulates V(D)J recombination during B cell development.
Kumari R, Roy U, Desai S, Nilavar NM, Van Nieuwenhuijze A, Paranjape A, Radha G, Bawa P, Srivastava M, Nambiar M, Balaji KN, Liston A, Choudhary B, Raghavan SC

Recombination activating genes (RAGs), consisting of RAG1 and RAG2, are stringently regulated lymphoid-specific genes, which initiate V(D)J recombination in developing lymphocytes. We report the regulation of RAG1 through a microRNA (miRNA), miR-29c, in a B cell stage-specific manner in mice and humans. Various lines of experimentation, including CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing, demonstrate the target specificity and direct interaction of miR-29c to RAG1. Modulation of miR-29c levels leads to change in V(D)J recombination efficiency in pre-B cells. The miR-29c expression is inversely proportional to RAG1 in a B cell developmental stage-specific manner, and miR-29c null mice exhibit a reduction in mature B cells. A negative correlation of miR-29c and RAG1 levels is also observed in leukemia patients, suggesting the potential use of miR-29c as a biomarker and a therapeutic target. Thus, our results reveal the role of miRNA in the regulation of RAG1 and its relevance in cancer.

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Cell reports, 36, 2, 13 Jul 2021

PMID: 34260911