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Immunity. 2013 Oct 17;39(4):697-710. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2013.09.006.

Granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor induced Zn sequestration enhances macrophage superoxide and limits intracellular pathogen survival.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, University of Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA; Division of Infectious Diseases, College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA.


Macrophages possess numerous mechanisms to combat microbial invasion, including sequestration of essential nutrients, like zinc (Zn). The pleiotropic cytokine granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) enhances antimicrobial defenses against intracellular pathogens such as Histoplasma capsulatum, but its mode of action remains elusive. We have found that GM-CSF-activated infected macrophages sequestered labile Zn by inducing binding to metallothioneins (MTs) in a STAT3 and STAT5 transcription-factor-dependent manner. GM-CSF upregulated expression of Zn exporters, Slc30a4 and Slc30a7; the metal was shuttled away from phagosomes and into the Golgi apparatus. This distinctive Zn sequestration strategy elevated phagosomal H⁺ channel function and triggered reactive oxygen species generation by NADPH oxidase. Consequently, H. capsulatum was selectively deprived of Zn, thereby halting replication and fostering fungal clearance. GM-CSF mediated Zn sequestration via MTs in vitro and in vivo in mice and in human macrophages. These findings illuminate a GM-CSF-induced Zn-sequestration network that drives phagocyte antimicrobial effector function.

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