The phenotypic and functional dichotomy between IRF8+ type 1 and IRF4+ type 2 conventional dendritic cells (cDC1s and cDC2s, respectively) is well accepted; it is unknown how robust this dichotomy is under inflammatory conditions, when additionally monocyte-derived cells (MCs) become competent antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Using single-cell technologies in models of respiratory viral infection, we found that lung cDC2s acquired expression of the Fc receptor CD64 shared with MCs and of IRF8 shared with cDC1s. These inflammatory cDC2s (inf-cDC2s) were superior in inducing CD4+ T helper (Th) cell polarization while simultaneously presenting antigen to CD8+ T cells. When carefully separated from inf-cDC2s, MCs lacked APC function. Inf-cDC2s matured in response to cell-intrinsic Toll-like receptor and type 1 interferon receptor signaling, upregulated an IRF8-dependent maturation module, and acquired antigens via convalescent serum and Fc receptors. Because hybrid inf-cDC2s are easily confused with monocyte-derived cells, their existence could explain why APC functions have been attributed to MCs.
Keywords: CD64; Fc receptor; IRF8; convalescent serum; dendritic cell; inf-cDC2; inflammation; monocyte; transcription factor; type 1 interferon; virus.
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