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  • Fumarate Upregulates Surface Expression of ULBP2/ULBP5 by Scavenging Glutathione Antioxidant Capacity.

Fumarate Upregulates Surface Expression of ULBP2/ULBP5 by Scavenging Glutathione Antioxidant Capacity.

Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) (2020-03-08)
Rikke Illum Høgh, Alec Droujinine, Sofie Hedlund Møller, Stine Dam Jepsen, Maiken Mellergaard, Lars Andresen, Søren Skov
ABSTRACT

Fumarate is a tricarboxylic acid cycle metabolite whose intracellular accumulation is linked to inflammatory signaling and development of cancer. In this study, we demonstrate that endogenous fumarate accumulation upregulates surface expression of the immune stimulatory NK group 2, member D (NKG2D) ligands ULBP2 and ULBP5. In agreement with this, accumulation of fumarate by the therapeutic drug dimethyl fumarate (DMF) also promotes ULBP2/5 surface expression. Mechanistically, we found that the increased ULBP2/5 expression was dependent on oxidative stress and the antioxidants N-acetylcysteine and glutathione (GSH) abrogated ULBP2/5 upregulated by DMF. Fumarate can complex with GSH and thereby exhaust cells of functional GSH capacity. In line with this, inhibition of GSH reductase (GR), the enzyme responsible for GSH recycling, promoted ULBP2/5 surface expression. Loss of the tricarboxylic acid cycle enzyme fumarate hydratase (FH) associates with a malignant form of renal cancer characterized by fumarate accumulation and increased production of reactive oxygen species, highlighting fumarate as an oncometabolite. Interestingly, FH-deficient renal cancer cells had low surface expression of ULBP2/5 and were unresponsive to DMF treatment, suggesting that the fumarate-stimulating ULBP2/5 pathway is abrogated in these cells as an immune-evasive strategy. Together, our data show that ULBP2/5 expression can be upregulated by accumulation of fumarate, likely by depleting cells of GSH antioxidant capacity. Given that DMF is an approved human therapeutic drug, our findings support a broader use of DMF in treatment of cancers and inflammatory conditions.

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