Novel regulatory process for T cells may help explain immune system diseases

Oct 19, 2010

A newly identified regulatory process affecting the biology of immune system T cells should give scientists new approaches to explore the causes of autoimmunity and immune deficiency diseases.

In findings posted online ahead of publication in (PNAS), scientists at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center report a novel process of coordinated cellular communications vital to the maintenance of T cells. If the process breaks down, T cells proliferate rapidly and die off. This could disrupt the immune system's normal defensive functions.

"This study involves an important mechanistic finding affecting the molecular regulation of T cell biology that will have implications in our future understanding of and autoimmunity," said Yi Zheng, Ph.D., co-investigator on the study and director of Experimental /Cancer Biology at Cincinnati Children's.

T cells – named such because they originate in the thymus – are a type of white blood cell vital to the body's and its defense against pathogens and disease.

Scientists entered the current study knowing from earlier research that normal T cell biology involves carefully coordinated signaling between what are known as T cell receptors and a gene/protein called interluken-7 receptor (IL-7Ra). IL-7Ra is vital to the formation of white blood cells called lymphocytes, which include T cells. Unknown before this study, however, were the detailed mechanisms that regulate this coordination.

In a variety of test tube experiments and experiments involving mice, researchers determined the cell division control protein Cdc42 is essential to coordinating a signaling network of genes/proteins and enzymes that control normal T cell biology. The disruption caused by loss of Cdc42 included restricted signaling by IL-7Ra, an initial hyper-proliferation of and their rapid loss through programmed cell death. When the researchers were able to reconstitute Cdc42 in their experiments, T cell biology became more normalized, they report.

Explore further: Study finds enzyme inhibitors suppress herpes simplex virus replication

Related Stories

Protein's new role discovered in autoimmune disease

Jan 02, 2008

Investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have identified the previously unknown role of a chemical 'messenger' leading to autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Study finds key protein controls T-cell proliferation

May 04, 2010

New research has identified that a key protein called PEA-15 stops T-cell proliferation by blocking the cell's ability to reproduce. The control of T-cell proliferation is essential in preventing certain blood cancers and ...

Protein helps immune cells to divide and conquer

Mar 08, 2009

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a key protein that is required for immune cells called B lymphocytes to divide and replicate themselves. The rapid generation of large ...

Glue inside the cell

Oct 19, 2007

The acquired immune response is triggered after specific engagement of foreign peptides (antigens) by receptor molecules on white blood cell (lymphocytes). Cellular signaling pathways are responsible for the activation of ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.