Biochemistry and Pharmacology - Research Publications

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    Thymic expression of a gastritogenic epitope results in positive selection of self-reactive pathogenic T cells
    Laurie, KL ; La Gruta, NL ; Koch, N ; van Driel, IR ; Gleeson, PA (AMER ASSOC IMMUNOLOGISTS, 2004-05-15)
    Intrathymic expression of tissue-specific self-Ags can mediate tolerance of self-reactive T cells. However, in this study we define circumstances by which thymic expression of a tissue-specific autoepitope enhances positive selection of disease-causing, self-reactive T cells. An immunodominant gastritogenic epitope, namely the gastric H/K ATPase beta subunit(253-277) (H/Kbeta(253-277)), was attached to the C terminus of the invariant chain (Ii) and the hybrid Ii (Ii-H/Kbeta(253-277)) expressed in mice under control of the Ii promoter. The Ii-H/Kbeta(253-277) fusion protein was localized to MHC class II-expressing cells in the thymus and periphery of Ii-H/Kbeta(253-277) transgenic mice. In one transgenic line the level of presentation in the periphery (spleen) was insufficient to activate naive, low affinity H/Kbeta(253-277)-specific transgenic T cells (1E4-TCR), whereas thymic presentation of H/Kbeta(253-277) enhanced positive selection of 1E4-TCR cells in Ii-H/Kbeta(253-277)/1E4-TCR double-transgenic mice. Furthermore, Ii-H/Kbeta(253-277)/1E4-TCR double-transgenic mice had an increased incidence of autoimmune gastritis compared with 1E4-TCR single-transgenic mice, demonstrating that the 1E4 T cells that seeded the periphery of Ii-H/Kbeta(253-277) mice were pathogenic. Therefore, low levels of tissue-specific Ags in the thymus can result in positive selection of low avidity, self-reactive T cells. These findings also suggest that the precise level of tissue-specific Ags in the thymus may be an important consideration in protection against autoimmune disease and that perturbation of the levels of self-Ags may be detrimental.
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    Promiscuous thymic expression of an autoantigen gene does not result in negative selection of pathogenic T cells
    Allen, S ; Read, S ; DiPaolo, R ; McHugh, RS ; Shevach, EM ; Gleeson, PA ; van Driel, IR (AMER ASSOC IMMUNOLOGISTS, 2005-11-01)
    "Promiscuous" thymic expression of peripheral autoantigens can contribute to immunological tolerance in some cases. However, in this study we show that thymic mRNA expression alone cannot predict a contribution to thymic tolerance. Autoimmune gastritis is caused by CD4+ T cells directed to the alpha (H/Kalpha) and beta (H/Kbeta) subunits of the gastric membrane protein the H+/K+ ATPase. H/Kalpha mRNA is expressed in the thymus, but H/Kbeta expression is barely detectable. In this study, we demonstrate that thymic H/Kalpha in wild-type mice or mice that overexpressed H/Kalpha did not result in negative selection of pathogenic anti-H/Kalpha T cells. However, negative selection of anti-H/Kalpha T cells did occur if H/Kbeta was artificially overexpressed in the thymus. Given that H/Kalpha cannot be exported from the endoplasmic reticulum and is rapidly degraded in the absence of H/Kbeta, we conclude that H/Kalpha epitopes are unable to access MHC class II loading compartments in cells of the normal thymus. This work, taken together with our previous studies, highlights that thymic autoantigen expression does not necessarily result in the induction of tolerance.
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    CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells inhibit the antigen-dependent expansion of self-reactive T cells in vivo
    Zwar, TA ; Read, S ; van Driel, IR ; Gleeson, PA (AMER ASSOC IMMUNOLOGISTS, 2006-02-01)
    A deficiency of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (CD25+ Tregs) in lymphopenic mice can result in the onset of autoimmune gastritis. The gastric H/K ATPase alpha (H/Kalpha) and beta (H/Kbeta) subunits are the immunodominant autoantigens recognized by effector CD4+ T cells in autoimmune gastritis. The mechanism by which CD25+ Tregs suppress autoimmune gastritis in lymphopenic mice is poorly understood. To investigate the antigenic requirements for the genesis and survival of gastritis-protecting CD25+ Tregs, we analyzed mice deficient in H/Kbeta and H/Kalpha, as well as a transgenic mouse line (H/Kbeta-tsA58 Tg line 224) that lacks differentiated gastric epithelial cells. By adoptive transfer of purified T cell populations to athymic mice, we show that the CD25+ Treg population from mice deficient in either one or both of H/Kalpha and H/Kbeta, or from the H/Kbeta-tsA58 Tg line 224 mice, is equally effective in suppressing the ability of polyclonal populations of effector CD4+ T cells to induce autoimmune gastritis. Furthermore, CD25+ Tregs, from either wild-type or H/Kalpha-deficient mice, dramatically reduced the expansion of pathogenic H/Kalpha-specific TCR transgenic T cells and the induction of autoimmune gastritis in athymic recipient mice. Proliferation of H/Kalpha-specific T cells in lymphopenic hosts occurs predominantly in the paragastric lymph node and was dependent on the presence of the cognate H/Kalpha Ag. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that the gastritis-protecting CD25+ Tregs do not depend on the major gastric Ags for their thymic development or their survival in the periphery, and that CD25+ Tregs inhibit the Ag-specific expansion of pathogenic T cells in vivo.