Mice with a mutation of the zeta-associated protein of 70 kDa gene (skg mutation) are genetically prone to develop autoimmune arthritis, depending on the environment. In a set of mice with the mutation, the amount of zeta-associated protein of 70 kDa protein as well as its tyrosine phosphorylation upon TCR stimulation decreased from +/+, skg/+, skg/skg, to skg/- mice in a stepwise manner. The reduction resulted in graded alterations of thymic positive and negative selection of self-reactive T cells and Foxp3(+) natural regulatory T cells (Tregs) and their respective functions. Consequently, skg/- mice spontaneously developed autoimmune arthritis even in a microbially clean environment, whereas skg/skg mice required stimulation through innate immunity for disease manifestation. After Treg depletion, organ-specific autoimmune diseases, especially autoimmune gastritis, predominantly developed in +/+, at a lesser incidence in skg/+, but not in skg/skg BALB/c mice, which suffered from other autoimmune diseases, especially autoimmune arthritis. In correlation with this change, gastritis-mediating TCR transgenic T cells were positively selected in +/+, less in skg/+, but not in skg/skg BALB/c mice. Similarly, on the genetic background of diabetes-prone NOD mice, diabetes spontaneously developed in +/+, at a lesser incidence in skg/+, but not in skg/skg mice, which instead succumbed to arthritis. Thus, the graded attenuation of TCR signaling alters the repertoire and the function of autoimmune T cells and natural Tregs in a progressive manner. It also changes the dependency of disease development on environmental stimuli. These findings collectively provide a model of how genetic anomaly of T cell signaling contributes to the development of autoimmune disease.
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"However all Skg/Skg mice developed severe arthritis after intraperitoneal injection of 20 mg mannan (purchased from Sigma) dissolved in 200 µl PBS. Skg/WT heterozygous mice display altered thymic selection ,  and alterations of the Vβ thymic repertoire  qualitatively similar to the ones found in Skg/Skg mice, however they do not develop spontaneous  or polysaccharide-induced (our unpublished observation) arthritis. Clinical scoring of arthritis was carried out as described . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A C1858T (R620W) variation in the PTPN22 gene encoding the tyrosine phosphatase LYP is a major risk factor for human autoimmunity. LYP is a known negative regulator of signaling through the T cell receptor (TCR), and murine Ptpn22 plays a role in thymic selection. However, the mechanism of action of the R620W variant in autoimmunity remains unclear. One model holds that LYP-W620 is a gain-of-function phosphatase that causes alterations in thymic negative selection and/or thymic output of regulatory T cells (Treg) through inhibition of thymic TCR signaling. To test this model, we generated mice in which the human LYP-W620 variant or its phosphatase-inactive mutant are expressed in developing thymocytes under control of the proximal Lck promoter. We found that LYP-W620 expression results in diminished thymocyte TCR signaling, thus modeling a "gain-of-function" of LYP at the signaling level. However, LYP-W620 transgenic mice display no alterations of thymic negative selection and no anomalies in thymic output of CD4(+)Foxp3(+) Treg were detected in these mice. Lck promoter-directed expression of the human transgene also causes no alteration in thymic repertoire or increase in disease severity in a model of rheumatoid arthritis, which depends on skewed thymic selection of CD4(+) T cells. Our data suggest that a gain-of-function of LYP is unlikely to increase risk of autoimmunity through alterations of thymic selection and that LYP likely acts in the periphery perhaps selectively in regulatory T cells or in another cell type to increase risk of autoimmunity.
PLoS ONE 02/2014; 9(2):e86677. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0086677 · 3.23 Impact Factor
"Germ-free SKG homozygous mice do not develop disease, but stimulation of pattern-recognition receptors induces onset of disease which is T cell-dependent (Yoshitomi et al., 2005). In contrast, SKG heterozygous mice develop spontaneous autoimmune disease emphasizing the impact of graded TCR stimulation (Tanaka et al., 2010). Autoimmune manifestations are also seen in ZAP70 hypomorphic mutants that allow the study of the impact of graded T cell receptor signaling strengths (Siggs et al., 2007). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Immune aging is best known for its immune defects that increase susceptibility to infections and reduce adaptive immune responses to vaccination. In parallel, the aged immune system is prone to autoimmune responses and many autoimmune diseases increase in incidence with age or are even preferentially encountered in the elderly. Why an immune system that suboptimally responds to exogenous antigen fails to maintain tolerance to self-antigens appears to be perplexing. In this review, we will discuss age-associated deviations in the immune repertoire and the regulation of signaling pathways that may shed light on this conundrum.
Frontiers in Immunology 06/2013; 4:131. DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2013.00131
"Recent findings that attenuation of the function of proximal elements in the TCR signalling pathway, such as Zap-70, can lead to autoimmunity (Tanaka et al, 2010) are particularly encouraging in this regard, and will greatly inform our future efforts to better understand the possible role of HDAC7 in the genetics of human autoimmune disease. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Histone deacetylase 7 (HDAC7) is a T-cell receptor (TCR) signal-dependent regulator of differentiation that is highly expressed in CD4/CD8 double-positive (DP) thymocytes. Here, we examine the effect of blocking TCR-dependent nuclear export of HDAC7 during thymic selection, through expression of a signal-resistant mutant of HDAC7 (HDAC7-ΔP) in thymocytes. We find that HDAC7-ΔP transgenic thymocytes exhibit a profound block in negative thymic selection, but can still undergo positive selection, resulting in the escape of autoreactive T cells into the periphery. Gene expression profiling reveals a comprehensive suppression of the negative selection-associated gene expression programme in DP thymocytes, associated with a defect in the activation of MAP kinase pathways by TCR signals. The consequence of this block in vivo is a lethal autoimmune syndrome involving the exocrine pancreas and other abdominal organs. These experiments establish a novel molecular model of autoimmunity and cast new light on the relationship between thymic selection and immune self-tolerance.
The EMBO Journal 10/2012; 31(23). DOI:10.1038/emboj.2012.295 · 10.43 Impact Factor