The complex task of launching a well-organized, effective immune system attack on specific targets is thrown into high gear when either of two specific enzymes chop a protein called LAG-3 off the immune cells leading that battle, according to investigators at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
These cells, called T lymphocytes, are key to the body’s ability to fight off infections, tailoring the immune response so it focuses on specific targets. When activated, certain T lymphocytes called effector T cells reproduce, increasing their numbers and enhancing their ability to protect the body.
The St. Jude finding is important because it represents a new concept in how T cells are regulated, according to Dario Vignali, Ph.D., associate member of the St. Jude Department of Immunology. The study offers the first example of a protein that is required for dampening T cell activity being controlled by getting chopped off at the T cell’s surface. Certain drugs that inhibit metalloproteases now under development as treatments for multiple sclerosis and arthritis appear to work by keeping T cells on a tight leash, Vignali noted. The new discovery could demonstrate an additional way in which these drugs work. Vignali is senior author of a report on this work that appears in the January 24 issue of The EMBO Journal.
The investigators performed their studies using animal cells that were genetically modified to carry LAG-3 on their surface; the researchers also used drugs that inhibit enzymes that chop off LAG-3. The team demonstrated that the two enzymes that cleave LAG-3 are controlled by of distinct but overlapping signals generated from the T cell receptor, a specialized protein that allows T lymphocytes to “see” the outside world. The investigators showed that the T cell receptor generates a different, specific signal to control the activity of these metalloprotease enzymes, called ADAM10 and ADAM17.
Specifically, the team demonstrated that ADAM10 normally cleaves LAG-3 even before the T cells are activated. After the T cell receptor receives signals from the immune system, it causes the gene for ADAM10 to make much more of this enzyme, substantially increasing the rate of LAG-3 cleavage. However, ADAM17 is inactive until the T cell receptor triggers a molecule called protein kinase C theta to activate this enzyme. In either case, when metalloproteases remove LAG-3, the brakes are taken off T cell activity.
“Appropriate control of T cell expansion during an immune response is critical,” Vignali said. “We have uncovered a new paradigm in which specialized cell surface enzymes control this process by modulating the expression of a molecule, LAG-3, that acts as an immunological molecular brake. In turn, this process is controlled by the strength of the T cell receptor signal—the immunological ‘accelerator.’ So the more the T cell ‘accelerates,’ the more the ‘brake’ is released.”
The St. Jude team previously reported that regulatory T cells, which prevent effector T cells from running out of control and causing damage to the body, use LAG-3 to rein in these activated effector T cells (http://www.stjude.org/media/0,2561,453_5297_16097,00.html). The current study in EMBO extends that finding by showing that cleavage of LAG-3 proteins on the surface of T cells allows them to greatly increase their proliferation rate during such a battle. The team also showed that cleaved pieces of LAG-3 do not contribute to T cell control, but are rather “waste” products that are swept away later.
Summer Freeman | EurekAlert!
Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells
22.02.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital
New insights into the information processing of motor neurons
22.02.2017 | Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
22.02.2017 | Life Sciences
22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy