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PTX3 in Humoral Innate Immunity

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - PHII (PTX3 in Humoral Innate Immunity)

Reporting period: 2020-03-01 to 2020-08-31

The general objective of our proposal was to explore unexpected vistas on humoral innate immunity, using as a molecular tool the long pentraxin PTX3 identified in our laboratory.
We proposed to test two related hypotheses:
1- matrix and microbe recognition are related functions of humoral molecules of the innate immune response. We use the soluble pattern recognition molecule PTX3 as a paradigm of humoral innate immunity molecules.
2- PTX3 and other elements of humoral innate immunity are essential components of cancer related inflammation.

The project had the general aim to identify new functional activities of humoral innate immunity molecules that could be translated to human clinics in the context of tissue damage and repair and in the context of cancer.

Using animal models, we demonstrated the involvement of PTX3 in the remodeling of the fibrin-rich inflammatory matrix ensuring a normal tissue repair, thus providing a novel link between innate immunity, haemostasis and tissue repair.

In a second line of work we addressed the involvement of PTX3, other elements of humoral innate immunity and neutrophils in cancer-related inflammation. We observed that PTX3-deficiency is associated with unleashed complement activation and exacerbated cancer-related inflammation.
We extended our analysis of cancer-related inflammation to neutrophils, showing a novel antitumor pathway in which TANs promote type 1 polarization of a subset of unconventional T cell with antitumor potential.

These activities open new therapeutic opportunities in the contexts of tissue repair, as well as in cancer-related inflammation. In particular, the identification of new players involved in cancer related inflammation might open new therapeutic approaches for the immunotherapy of cancer.
Results obtained in in vivo studies in PTX3-deficient mice agree with our hypotheses and indicate that PTX3 is involved in tissue repair and in modulating complement-dependent cancer-related inflammation.

Activities performed showed that PTX3 plays a non-redundant role in tissue repair in a skin wound healing model (Figure 1) as well as in different models of tissue damage (i.e. chemically-induced sterile liver and lung injury). Under these conditions, macrophages and mesenchymal cells produced PTX3 in response to TLR activation and amplification by IL-1, localizing to the pericellular matrix of macrophages and mesenchymal-remodeling cells. PTX3-deficiency was associated with increased clot formation, fibrin deposition and persistence, followed by increased collagen deposition (Figure 2). We found that PTX3, and in particular its N-terminal domain, interacts with fibrin and plasminogen, with higher affinity observed at acidic pH, a condition which occurs in damaged tissues (Figure 3). In vitro and in vivo studies demonstrated that by these interactions, PTX3 promoted remodelling of the fibrin-rich inflammatory matrix ensuring a normal tissue repair, thus providing a novel link between innate immunity, haemostasis and tissue repair.

Concerning PTX3 in cancer, activities performed showed that PTX3-deficiency in mice caused increased susceptibility to mesenchymal and epithelial carcinogenesis (Figure 4). PTX3-deficiency was associated with exacerbated cancer-related inflammation as revealed by enhanced macrophage infiltration in tumours, pro-inflammatory cytokine production, and complement activation. PTX3 regulated C3-deposition on sarcoma cells by interacting with and recruiting the negative regulator Factor H (Figure 5). Indeed, genetic inactivation of C3 reverted the increased susceptibility to 3-MCA-induced carcinogenesis and macrophage recruitment. These results indicate that unleashed complement activation and increased C5a production associated to PTX3-decifiency are responsible of exacerbated production of chemokines, increased recruitment of tumor promoting macrophages.


In the context of tissue remodeling we investigated the role of PTX3 in physiological skeletal remodeling and bone healing. Micro-computed tomography (μCT) and bone histomorphometry of distal femur showed that PTX3 gene-targeted mice had lower trabecular bone volume than their wild-type littermates (Figure 6). Using a tibial fracture model, we found that PTX3-deficient mice formed significantly less mineralized callus during the anabolic phase following fracture injury compared to wild type mice. We speculate that PTX3 could support maintenance of the bone mass, possibly by inhibiting FGF2 and its negative impact on bone formation. Our results indicate that PTX3 plays an important role in bone homeostasis and in proper matrix mineralization during fracture repair.

Efforts to obtain high resolution structural models of the PTX3 protein were based on a combination of X-ray crystallography, Cryo Electron Microscopy (Cryo-EM), and Small-Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) techniques. An X-ray model of the isolated monomeric PTX3 C-terminal domain (C_PTX3) was generated that was superimposed onto a Cryo-EM structure of the C_PTX3 octamer. The resulting structure was refined to a final resolution of 2.7Å (Figure 7).

We addressed the role of tumor-associated neutrophils (TANs) and described a novel antitumor pathway in which TANs promote IL-12 production by macrophages, leading to type 1 polarization of a subset of unconventional T cell (UTCalpha/beta). Type 1 UTCalpha/beta possess an innate-like phenotype and antitumor potential in vivo. In selected human tumors, neutrophil infiltration is associated with type 1 immunity and better clinical outcome (Figure 8).

Finally, we analyzed the role of Complement as a component of tumor promoting inflammation. We observed that C3-/-, MBL1/2-/-, C4-/- and C3aR-/-mice showed reduced susceptibility to 3-MCA sarcomagenesis and transplanted sarcomas (Figure 9). C3 and C3aR deficiency were associated with reduced accumulation and functional skewing of TAMs, increased T cell activation and response to anti-PD-1 therapy. Transcriptional profiling of sarcoma infiltrating macrophages and monocytes revealed the enrichment of MHC II-dependent antigen presentation pathway in C3-deficient cells. In patients, C3aR expression correlated with a macrophage population signature and C3 deficiency-associated signatures predicted better clinical outcome. These results suggest that the lectin pathway and C3a/C3aR axis are key components of complement and macrophage-mediated sarcoma promotion and immunosuppression.
The results obtained in tissue repair models provide a novel link between innate immunity, haemostasis and tissue repair and open new therapeutic opportunities in the context of tissue damage associated with defective fibrinolysis and fibrosis or in physiological skeletal remodeling and bone healing
Results obtained in cancer models unravel the involvement of humoral innate immunity, and in particular of complement, in cancer-related inflammation. A novel role of TAN has been described, leading to type 1 polarization of a subset of unconventional T cells with innate-like phenotype and antitumor potential in vivo.
Since immunotherapy has an important impact on patients’ survival, the identification of new players of cancer-related inflammation has potential therapeutic implication in the context of immunotherapy of cancer. In particular, understanding the role of Complement as a component of tumor promoting inflammation could have an impact on the development of novel therapies.
Neutrophils mediate antitumor response.
PTX3 protein structure.
Complement activation promoted by the lectin pathway mediates C3aR-dependent sarcoma progression.
PTX3-deficiency is associated with increased Complement activation
PTX3 interatc with fibrin/ogen and palsminogel at acidic pH
Increased susceptibility to carcinogenesis of Ptx3-/- mice
Role of PTX3 in physiological skeletal remodeling and bone healing.
PTX3-deficiency is associated with altered phenotype and increased fibrin deposition
Altered skin wound haling in PTX3-deficient mice