A regulatory T cell that expresses three specific genes shuts down the mass production of antibodies launched by the immune system to attack invaders, a team led by scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reported online in the journal Nature Medicine.
"Regulatory T cells prevent unwanted or exaggerated immune system responses, but the mechanism by which they accomplish this has been unclear," said paper senior author Chen Dong, Ph.D., professor in MD Anderson's Department of Immunology and director of the Center for Inflammation and Cancer.
"We've identified a molecular pathway that creates a specialized regulatory T cell, which suppresses the reaction of structures called germinal centers. This is where immune system T cells and B cells interact to swiftly produce large quantities of antibodies," Dong said.
The discovery of the germinal center off-switch, which comes two years after Dong and colleagues identified the mechanisms underlying a helper T cell that activates the centers, has potential implications for cancer and autoimmune diseases.
"In some types of cancer, the presence of many regulatory T cells is associated with poor prognosis," Dong said. "The theory is those cells suppress an immune system response in the tumor's microenvironment that otherwise might have attacked the cancer."
However, in B cell lymphomas, overproliferation and mutation of B cells are the problems, Dong said. Hitting the regulatory T cell off-switch might help against lymphomas and autoimmune diseases, while blocking it could permit an immune response against other cancers.
Antibody production central
Germinal centers are found in the lymph nodes and the spleen. They serve as gathering points for B and T cell lymphocytes, infection-fighting white blood cells.
When the adaptive immune system detects an invading bacterium or virus, B cells present a piece of the invader, an antigen, to T cells. The antigen converts a naïve T cell to a helper T cell that secretes cytokines, which help the B cells expand and differentiate into specialized antibodies to destroy the intruder.
"Germinal centers have mostly B cells with a few helper T cells to regulate them. The B cells mutate to make high-affinity antibodies and memory B cells for long-term immunity. The cell population in the germinal center structures replicates in an average of several hours, one of the fastest rates of cell replication known in mammals," Dong said.
Tracking down specialized T cell
In the Nature Medicine paper, Dong and colleagues found that a subgroup of regulatory T cells that expresses two genes, Bcl-6 and CXCR5, moves into germinal centers in both mice and humans, where they have access to B cells.
(Bcl-6 produces a protein called a transcription factor, which moves into the cell nucleus to regulate other genes. CXCR5 is a receptor protein for a signaling molecule called CXCL13.)
They also found that the Bcl-6/CXCR5 T cells aren't produced in the thymus, with other T cells, but are generated by regulatory T cell precursor cells that express Foxp3, another transcription factor.
Knocking out the regulatory T cells that express all three proteins in mice resulted in increased germinal center production of antibodies. They named this key T cell the T follicular regulatory cell, or Tfr.
In a 2009 paper in the journal Science, the researchers found that naïve T cells that expressed Bcl-6 and CXCR5 also gathered in the B cell zone of germinal centers. Expression of Bcl6 converted the T cell into a T follicular helper (Tfh) cell that launches antibody production in the germinal centers.
With Tfr turning germinal centers off and Tfh turning them on, we could potentially regulate antibody production, Dong noted. Increasing Tfr production could be a new approach to treating autoimmune inflammatory disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
The team's research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, MD Anderson, the American Heart Association, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Clinical Scientist Development Award and the China Ministry of Science and Technology Protein Science Key Research Project.
Co-authors with Dong are first author Yeonseok Chung, Ph.D., Shinya Tanaka, Ph.D., Roza Nurieva, Ph.D., Gustavo Martinez, Yi-Hong Wang and Joseph Reynolds, Ph.D., of MD Anderson's Department of Immunology and the Center for Cancer Immunology; Chung also is with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Institute of Molecular Medicine; Seema Rawal and Sattva Neelapu, M.D., of MD Anderson's Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma, also of the Center for Cancer Immunology; and Ziao-hui Zhou, M.D., Hui-min Fan, M.D., and Zhong-ming Liu, M.D., of Shanghai Dong Fang Hospital, Shanghai, China.
About MD Anderson
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. MD Anderson is one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. For eight of the past 10 years, including 2011, MD Anderson has ranked No. 1 in cancer care in "America's Best Hospitals," a survey published annually in U.S. News & World Report.
Scott Merville | EurekAlert!
Algae: The final frontier
22.06.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science
Flipping the switch to stop tumor development
22.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences