MALT1 Protease Plays a Dual Role in the Allergic Response by Acting in Both Mast Cells and Endothelial Cells

J Immunol. 2020 May 1;204(9):2337-2348. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1900281. Epub 2020 Mar 25.

Abstract

The signaling protein MALT1 plays a key role in promoting NF-κB activation in Ag-stimulated lymphocytes. In this capacity, MALT1 has two functions, acting as a scaffolding protein and as a substrate-specific protease. MALT1 is also required for NF-κB-dependent induction of proinflammatory cytokines after FcεR1 stimulation in mast cells, implicating a role in allergy. Because MALT1 remains understudied in this context, we sought to investigate how MALT1 proteolytic activity contributes to the overall allergic response. We compared bone marrow-derived mast cells from MALT1 knockout (MALT1-/-) and MALT1 protease-deficient (MALTPD/PD) mice to wild-type cells. We found that MALT1-/- and MALT1PD/PD mast cells are equally impaired in cytokine production following FcεRI stimulation, indicating that MALT1 scaffolding activity is insufficient to drive the cytokine response and that MALT1 protease activity is essential. In addition to cytokine production, acute mast cell degranulation is a critical component of allergic response. Intriguingly, whereas degranulation is MALT1-independent, MALT1PD/PD mice are protected from vascular edema induced by either passive cutaneous anaphylaxis or direct challenge with histamine, a major granule component. This suggests a role for MALT1 protease activity in endothelial cells targeted by mast cell-derived vasoactive substances. Indeed, we find that in human endothelial cells, MALT1 protease is activated following histamine treatment and is required for histamine-induced permeability. We thus propose a dual role for MALT1 protease in allergic response, mediating 1) IgE-dependent mast cell cytokine production, and 2) histamine-induced endothelial permeability. This dual role indicates that therapeutic inhibitors of MALT1 protease could work synergistically to control IgE-mediated allergic disease.