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Front Immunol. 2019 Aug 20;10:1973. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01973. eCollection 2019.

Engagement of Nuclear Coactivator 7 by 3-Hydroxyanthranilic Acid Enhances Activation of Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor in Immunoregulatory Dendritic Cells.

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Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.
Laboratory of Translational Immunology, Istituto Clinico Humanitas IRCCS, Rozzano, Italy.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.


Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) catalyzes the first step in the kynurenine pathway of tryptophan (Trp) degradation that produces several biologically active Trp metabolites. L-kynurenine (Kyn), the first byproduct by IDO1, promotes immunoregulatory effects via activation of the Aryl hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR) in dendritic cells (DCs) and T lymphocytes. We here identified the nuclear coactivator 7 (NCOA7) as a molecular target of 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid (3-HAA), a Trp metabolite produced downstream of Kyn along the kynurenine pathway. In cells overexpressing NCOA7 and AhR, the presence of 3-HAA increased the association of the two molecules and enhanced Kyn-driven, AhR-dependent gene transcription. Physiologically, conventional (cDCs) but not plasmacytoid DCs or other immune cells expressed high levels of NCOA7. In cocultures of CD4+ T cells with cDCs, the co-addition of Kyn and 3-HAA significantly increased the induction of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells and the production of immunosuppressive transforming growth factor β in an NCOA7-dependent fashion. Thus, the co-presence of NCOA7 and the Trp metabolite 3-HAA can selectively enhance the activation of ubiquitary AhR in cDCs and consequent immunoregulatory effects. Because NCOA7 is often overexpressed and/or mutated in tumor microenvironments, our current data may provide evidence for a new immune check-point mechanism based on Trp metabolism and AhR.


aryl hydrocarbon (Ah) receptor; dendritic cell; immune regulation; nuclear coactivator 7 (NCOA7); tryptophan metabolism

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