Graded attenuation of TCR signaling elicits distinct autoimmune diseases by altering thymic T cell selection and regulatory T cell function.

Department of Experimental Pathology, Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.
The Journal of Immunology (Impact Factor: 5.36). 08/2010; 185(4):2295-305. DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.1000848
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 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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