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Immunology and Infection

Development of an Antigen-driven Colitis Model to Study Presentation of Antigens by Antigen Presenting Cells to T Cells

Published: September 18th, 2016



1APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork, 2Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Basel, 3Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology, University of Ulm

In this antigen-driven colitis model, OT-II CD4+ T cells expressing a red fluorescent protein were adoptively transferred into RAG-/- mice that express a green fluorescent protein in mononuclear phagocytes (MPs). The hosts were challenged with Escherichia coli (E.coli) expressing the ovalbumin protein (OVA) fused to a cyan fluorescent protein (CFP).

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammation which affects the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). One of the best ways to study the immunological mechanisms involved during the disease is the T cell transfer model of colitis. In this model, immunodeficient mice (RAG-/- recipients) are reconstituted with naive CD4+ T cells from healthy wild type hosts.

This model allows examination of the earliest immunological events leading to disease and chronic inflammation, when the gut inflammation perpetuates but does not depend on a defined antigen. To study the potential role of antigen presenting cells (APCs) in the disease process, it is helpful to have an antigen-driven disease model, in which a defined commensal-derived antigen leads to colitis. An antigen driven-colitis model has hence been developed. In this model OT-II CD4+ T cells, that can recognize only specific epitopes in the OVA protein, are transferred into RAG-/- hosts challenged with CFP-OVA-expressing E. coli. This model allows the examination of interactions between APCs and T cells in the lamina propria.

The intestine is the largest surface of the body that is exposed to the external environment. Vast arrays of resident microbes colonize the human intestine to form the intestinal microbiota (or microflora). This is estimated to consist of up to 100 trillion microbial cells and constitutes one of the most densely populated bacterial habitats known in biology1-3. In the GIT bacteria colonize an intestinal niche where they survive and multiply4. In return, the microbiota endows the host with additional functional features not encoded on its genome1. For example the microbiota stimulates the proliferation of epithelial cells, produces vita....

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Mice were bred and kept under specific pathogen-free (SPF) conditions in the animal facility of Ulm University (Ulm, Germany). All animal experiments were performed according to the guidelines of the local animal use and care committee and the National Animal Welfare Law.

1. Construction of the pCFP-OVA Plasmid

  1. Amplify the full size OVA gene using the primers Ova_SpeI_fw (3'-GACCAACTAGTATGGAATTTTGTTTTGATGTATT-5') and Ova_ClaI_rev (3'- GACCAGATCGATTAAGGGGAAACACA.......

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To establish an antigen-driven colitis model an E. coli strain has been constructed that contains a plasmid in which the gene for the CFP is fused to the coding sequence for the chicken ovalbumin protein and the fusion construct is expressed under control of the strong constitutive promoter Phyper (Figure 1A). Fluorescent microscopy shows that the recombinant E. coli pCFP-OVA, but not the parental E. coli DH10B, expr.......

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As with every other model, the antigen-driven colitis model described above may present few issues that the investigator performing the technique must be aware of. When injecting the OT-II/Red+ CD4+ T CD62L+cells in the hosts, the investigator must be very gentle and careful to insert the needle into the peritoneal cavity. Failure to do so may result in the tearing of the intestine of the mouse which could lead to death, or a subcutaneous administration of cells which will not induce any .......

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JHN is supported by the Swiss National Foundation (SNSF 310030_146290).


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
LB Broth, Miller (Luria-Bertani) Difco 244620
Rotary Shake Reiss Laborbedarf e. K. Model 3020 GFL
2 mm gap couvettes  Peqlab Biotechnologie GmbH 71-2020
Glycerol Sigma-Aldrich G5516-100ML
Gene Pulser Xcell system  BioRad Laboratories GmbH 1652660
LB Agar, Miller (Luria-Bertani) Difco 244510
Ampicillin Sigma-Aldrich A9393-5G
SOC Medium Sigma-Aldrich S1797-100ML
High Pure Plasmid Isolation Kit Roche 11754777001
Agarose Carl Roth GmbH & Co 3810.1
EDTA Sigma-Aldrich E9884-100G
Tris-HCl Sigma-Aldrich T5941
Glacial acetic acid Sigma-Aldrich 537020 
Gel chamber  PEQLAB Biotechnology GmbH 40-0708
Loading Dye Thermo Fisher R0611
GeneRuler 1 kb DNA Ladder  Thermo Fisher SM0312
Ethidium bromide solution Carl Roth GmbH & Co. KG 2218.3
Photo-documentation system  Decon Science Tech GmbH DeVision G 
DNA sequencing  MWG-Biotech GmbH
Phosphate buffered saline (PBS) Biochrom L182-50
Fluorescent microscope  Zeiss HBO 100
Mini-PROTEAN Tetra System Bio-Rad Laboratories GmbH 1658005
PageRuler Prestained Protein Ladder  Fermentas, St. Leon-Rot, Germany
IstanBlue Solution Expedeon, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
Nitrocellulose membrane  Macherey-Nagel GmbH & Co. KG 741280
Electro blotter  Biometra GmbH 846-015-600
Bovine Serum Albumins (BSA) Sigma-Aldrich A6003-25G
Anti-Ovalbumin antibody  Abcam ab181688
Anti-rabbit IgG  HRP Sigma-Aldrich A0545 
Pierce ECL Plus Western Blotting Substrate Pierce Biotechnology, Thermo Fischer Scientific Inc 32132
Forene Abbott 2594.00.00
FBS Invitrogen 10500-064
Falcon Cell Strainers Fischer Scientific  08-771-19
Ammonium chloride Sigma-Aldrich 254134-5G
Tris Base Sigma-Aldrich 10708976001
CD4+ CD62 L+ T isolation kit  Miltenyi Biotec 130-093-227 
MACS LS Columns  Miltenyi Biotec 130-042-401
MACS MS Columns  Miltenyi Biotec 130-042-201
MidiMACS Separator Miltenyi Biotec 130-042-302
MiniMACS Separator Miltenyi Biotec 130-042-102
MACS MultiStand Miltenyi Biotec 130-042-303
Feeding Needle 20G SouthPointe Surgical Supply, Inc FN-7903
Formalin solution, neutral buffered, 10% Sigma-Aldrich HT501128
Paraffin Sigma-Aldrich 1496904
Hematoxylin Sigma-Aldrich H9627
Eosin Y Sigma-Aldrich 230251 
Dithiothreitol Sigma-Aldrich D9779 
Collagenase type VIII Sigma-Aldrich C-2139
Roswell Park Memorial Institute (RPMI) medium AppliChem A2044, 9050
Percoll (density 1.124 g/ml) Biochrome L-6145
Sodium azide Sigma-Aldrich 438456
Mouse BD Fc Block BD Pharmingen 553141
FITC-conjugated mAb binding Vß 5.1, 5.2  BD Pharmingen 553189
APC-conjugated mAb binding CD4 GK1.5  eBioscience 17-0041-83
FACS Calibur  BD Biosciences
FCS Express V3 software DeNovo
Meta scanning confocal microscope  Zeiss LSM 710 
Zeiss Workstation Zeiss LSM 7
Zeiss ZEM software  Zeiss v4.2.0.121
Maxisorp immuno plates  NUNC, Roskilde 442404
Streptavidin conjugated alkaline phosphatase Jackson Immuno Research 016-050-084
Alkaline phosphatase substrate 4-Nitrophenyl phosphate disodium salt hexahydrate Sigma-Aldrich 71768-5G
mAb R4-6A2 BD Biosciences 551216
mAb XMG1.2  BD Biosciences 554410
TECAN microplate-ELISA reader Tecan
EasyWin software Tecan

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