Context-specific regulation of monocyte surface IL7R expression and soluble receptor secretion by a common autoimmune risk allele
Al-Mossawi H., Yager N., Taylor C., Lau E., Danielli S., de Wit J., Gilchrist J., Nassiri I., Mahe E., Lee W., Rizvi L., Makino S., Cheeseman J., Neville M., Knight J., Bowness P., Fairfax B.
IL-7 is a key factor in T-cell immunity and IL7R polymorphisms are implicated in autoimmune pathogenesis. IL7R mRNA is induced in stimulated monocytes in a genetically determined manner, yet a role for IL7R in monocyte biology remains unexplored. Here we characterize genetic regulation of IL7R at the protein level across multiple cell subsets and conditions in healthy individuals. We find monocyte surface and soluble IL7R (sIL7R) protein are markedly expressed in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We further demonstrate alleles of rs6897932, a non-synonymous IL7R polymorphism associated with susceptibility to Multiple Sclerosis, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, form the key determinant of both surface IL7R and sIL7R in the context of inflammation. No effect of this allele was observed in unstimulated monocytes or across lymphoid subsets. Production of sIL7R by monocytes greatly exceeded that of CD4 + T-cells, and was strongly associated with both rs6897932 genotype and expression of the splicing factor gene DDX39A. Stimulated monocytes were sensitive to exogenous IL-7, which elicits a defined transcriptional signature. Flow cytometry and single-cell sequencing of synovial fluid derived monocytes from patients with spondyloarthritis showed an enlarged subset of IL7R + monocytes with a unique transcriptional profile that markedly overlaps that induced by IL-7 in-vitro and shows similarity to the previously described ‘Mono4’ subset. These data demonstrate disease-associated genetic variants at IL7R specifically impact monocyte surface IL7R and sIL7R following innate immune stimulation, suggesting a previously unappreciated key role for monocytes in IL-7 pathway biology and IL7R-associated diseases.