Activation of JUN in fibroblasts promotes pro-fibrotic programme and modulates protective immunity
Authors: Lu Cui, Shih-Yu Chen, Tristan Lerbs, Jin-Wook Lee, Pablo Domizi, Sydney Gordon, Yong-hun Kim, Garry Nolan, Paola Betancur & Gerlinde Wernig
The transcription factor JUN is highly expressed in pulmonary fibrosis. Its induction in mice drives lung fibrosis, which is abrogated by administration of anti-CD47. Here, we use high-dimensional mass cytometry to profile protein expression and secretome of cells from patients with pulmonary fibrosis. We show that JUN is activated in fibrotic fibroblasts that expressed increased CD47 and PD-L1. Using ATAC-seq and ChIP-seq, we found that activation of JUN rendered promoters and enhancers of CD47 and PD-L1 accessible. We further detect increased IL-6 that amplified JUN-mediated CD47 enhancer activity and protein expression. Using an in vivo mouse model of fibrosis, we found two distinct mechanisms by which blocking IL-6, CD47 and PD-L1 reversed fibrosis, by increasing phagocytosis of profibrotic fibroblasts and by eliminating suppressive effects on adaptive immunity. Our results identify specific immune mechanisms that promote fibrosis and suggest a therapeutic approach that could be used alongside conventional anti-fibrotics for pulmonary fibrosis.
Reference: Cui, L., Chen, S., Lerbs, T. et al. Activation of JUN in fibroblasts promotes pro-fibrotic programme and modulates protective immunity. Nat Commun 11, 2795 (2020). Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/