Ablation of Cbl-b and c-Cbl in dendritic cells causes spontaneous liver cirrhosis via altering multiple properties of CD103+ cDC1s

Cell Death Discov. 2022 Mar 30;8(1):142. doi: 10.1038/s41420-022-00953-2.


The Casitas B-lineage lymphoma (Cbl) family proteins are E3 ubiquitin ligases implicated in the regulation of various immune cells. However, their function in dendritic cells (DCs) remains unclear. To investigate the role of Cbl family members in DCs, we created dendritic cell double-deficient Casitas B lymphoma-b (Cbl-b) and Casitas B lineage lymphoma (c-Cbl) mice by crossing Cbl-b-/- mice with c-Cblflox/flox CD11c-Cre+ mice. We found that specific deletion of Cbl-b and c-Cbl in CD11c+ cells, predominantly in DCs, led to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, and accumulation of systemic conventional Type I DCs (cDC1s) due to enhanced cell proliferation and decreased cell apoptosis. In addition to a change in DC number, double knockout (dKO) cDC1s exhibited a partially activated status as indicated by high basal expression levels of certain cytokines and possessed an enhanced capacity to prime T cells. After adoptive transfer, dKO cDC1s could drive liver fibrosis too. In further experiments, we demonstrated that Cbl-b and c-Cbl could target signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5), a transcriptional repressor for the pro-apoptotic protein Bim, to promote ubiquitination-mediated degradation and cell apoptosis in cDC1s. Further extensive experiments revealed that Cbl-b mediated K27-linked ubiquitination of lysine 164 of STAT5a while c-Cbl induced K29-linked ubiquitination of lysine 696 of STAT5a and K27-linked ubiquitination of lysine 140 and 694 of STAT5b. Thus, our findings indicate a functional redundancy of Cbl-b and c-Cbl in cDC homeostasis and maturation.