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  • Interleukin-17 production in central nervous system-infiltrating T cells and glial cells is associated with active disease in multiple sclerosis.

    24 October 2018

    Recent findings in the animal model for multiple sclerosis (MS), experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, implicate a novel CD4+ T-cell subset (TH17), characterized by the secretion of interleukin-17 (IL-17), in disease pathogenesis. To elucidate its role in MS, brain tissues from patients with MS were compared to controls. We detected expression of IL-17 mRNA (by in situ hybridization) and protein (by immunohistochemistry) in perivascular lymphocytes as well as in astrocytes and oligodendrocytes located in the active areas of MS lesions. Further, we found a significant increase in the number of IL-17+ T cells in active rather than inactive areas of MS lesions. Specifically, double immunofluorescence showed that IL-17 immunoreactivity was detected in 79% of T cells in acute lesions, 73% in active areas of chronic active lesions, but in only 17% of those in inactive lesions and 7% in lymph node control tissue. CD8+, as well as CD4+, T cells were equally immunostained for IL-17 in MS tissues. Interestingly, and in contrast to lymph node T cells, no perivascular T cells showed FoxP3 expression, a marker of regulatory T cells, at any stage of MS lesions. These observations suggest an enrichment of both IL-17+CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in active MS lesions as well as an important role for IL-17 in MS pathogenesis, with some remarkable differences from the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis model.

  • T cell-mediated autoimmune disease due to low-affinity crossreactivity to common microbial peptides.

    24 October 2018

    Environmental factors account for 75% of the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS). Numerous infections have been suspected as environmental disease triggers, but none of them has consistently been incriminated, and it is unclear how so many different infections may play a role. We show that a microbial peptide, common to several major classes of bacteria, can induce MS-like disease in humanized mice by crossreacting with a T cell receptor (TCR) that also recognizes a peptide from myelin basic protein, a candidate MS autoantigen. Structural analysis demonstrates this crossreactivity is due to structural mimicry of a binding hotspot shared by self and microbial antigens, rather than to degenerate TCR recognition. Biophysical studies reveal that the autoreactive TCR binding affinity is markedly lower for the microbial (mimicry) peptide than for the autoantigenic peptide. Thus, these data suggest a possible explanation for the difficulty in incriminating individual infections in the development of MS.

  • Dissection of the multiple sclerosis associated DR2 haplotype.

    24 October 2018

    Epidemiological and genetic data have consistently identified associations with HLA class II alleles in many autoimmune diseases. In multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease targeting central nervous system (CNS) myelin, the DR2 haplotype (DRB1*1501, DRB5*0101 and DQB1*0602) remains the strongest identified genetic risk factor in Caucasians. However, it is hard to tease apart the precise contributions of its constituent individual alleles and their modes of action remain poorly understood, due in part to the strong linkage disequilibrium in this region. Recent work in humanized mice indicates functional epistatic interactions whereby DRB5*0101 directly modulates the severity of the ensuing disease through activation-induced cell death (AICD) of encephalitogenic T cells which are restricted by DRB1*1501. Complementary structural studies help to explain how these alleles may facilitate thymic escape of autoreactive T cells and contribute to peripheral T cell activation via suboptimal binding interactions and mechanisms of molecular mimicry. Here we discuss the emerging role of the constituent alleles of the DR2 haplotype and our ongoing efforts to uncover the mechanisms by which they influence MS pathogenesis.

  • Metabolism-independent sugar sensing in central orexin neurons.

    24 October 2018

    OBJECTIVE: Glucose sensing by specialized neurons of the hypothalamus is vital for normal energy balance. In many glucose-activated neurons, glucose metabolism is considered a critical step in glucose sensing, but whether glucose-inhibited neurons follow the same strategy is unclear. Orexin/hypocretin neurons of the lateral hypothalamus are widely projecting glucose-inhibited cells essential for normal cognitive arousal and feeding behavior. Here, we used different sugars, energy metabolites, and pharmacological tools to explore the glucose-sensing strategy of orexin cells. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: We carried out patch-clamp recordings of the electrical activity of individual orexin neurons unambiguously identified by transgenic expression of green fluorescent protein in mouse brain slices. RESULTS- We show that 1) 2-deoxyglucose, a nonmetabolizable glucose analog, mimics the effects of glucose; 2) increasing intracellular energy fuel production with lactate does not reproduce glucose responses; 3) orexin cell glucose sensing is unaffected by glucokinase inhibitors alloxan, d-glucosamine, and N-acetyl-d-glucosamine; and 4) orexin glucosensors detect mannose, d-glucose, and 2-deoxyglucose but not galactose, l-glucose, alpha-methyl-d-glucoside, or fructose. CONCLUSIONS: Our new data suggest that behaviorally critical neurocircuits of the lateral hypothalamus contain glucose detectors that exhibit novel sugar selectivity and can operate independently of glucose metabolism.

  • Tolerance to ingested deamidated gliadin in mice is maintained by splenic, type 1 regulatory T cells.

    24 October 2018

    BACKGROUND & AIMS: Patients with celiac disease have permanent intolerance to gluten. Because of the high frequency of this disorder (approximately 1 in 100 individuals), we investigated whether oral tolerance to gluten differs from that to other food proteins. METHODS: Using transgenic mice that express human HLA-DQ2 and a gliadin-specific, humanized T-cell receptor, we compared gluten-specific T-cell responses with tolerogenic mucosal T-cell responses to the model food protein ovalbumin. RESULTS: Consistent with previous findings, the ovalbumin-specific response occurred in the mesenteric lymph nodes and induced Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells. In contrast, ingestion of deamidated gliadin induced T-cell proliferation predominantly in the spleen but little in mesenteric lymph nodes. The gliadin-reactive T cells had an effector-like phenotype and secreted large amounts of interferon gamma but also secreted interleukin-10. Despite their effector-like phenotype, gliadin-reactive T cells had regulatory functions, because transfer of the cells suppressed a gliadin-induced, delayed-type hypersensitivity response. CONCLUSIONS: Ingestion of deamidated gliadin induces differentiation of tolerogenic, type 1 regulatory T cells in spleens of HLA-DQ2 transgenic mice. These data indicate that under homeostatic conditions, the T-cell response to deamidated gliadin is tolerance, which is not conditioned by the mucosal immune system but instead requires interleukin-10 induction by antigen presentation in the spleen.

  • Synthetic peptides that inhibit binding of the myelin basic protein 85-99 epitope to multiple sclerosis-associated HLA-DR2 molecules and MBP-specific T-cell responses.

    24 October 2018

    Copolymer 1 (Cop 1, poly [Y, E, A, K]) is a random synthetic amino acid copolymer effective in the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that is linked to HLA-DR2 (DRB1*1501). In the present study various peptides, synthesized according to the binding motifs for both the immunodominant epitope of myelin basic protein (MBP) 85-99, a candidate autoantigen in MS, and Cop 1, differentially inhibited binding of these antigens to disease-associated HLA-DR2 (DRB1*1501) molecules. In particular, two peptides with residue K at position P-1, as referred to MBP 85-99, inhibited effectively the binding of both biotinylated MBP 85-99 and Cop 1 to HLA-DR2 molecules as well as IL-2 production by two MBP-specific HLA-DR2-restricted T-cell clones. These findings suggest the possible utility of these compounds or their more stable derivatives in treatment of MS.

  • From genes to function: the next challenge to understanding multiple sclerosis.

    24 October 2018

    Susceptibility to multiple sclerosis is jointly determined by genetic and environmental factors, and progress has been made in defining some of these genetic associations, as well as their possible interactions with the environment. However, definitive proof for the involvement of specific genetic determinants in the disease will only come from studies that examine their functional roles in disease pathogenesis. New and combined approaches are needed to analyse the complexity of gene regulation and the functional contribution of each genetic determinant to disease susceptibility or pathophysiology. These studies should proceed in parallel with the use of genetically defined human populations to explore how both genetic and environmental factors affect the function of the pathways in individuals with and without disease, and how these determine the inherited risk of multiple sclerosis.

  • Structure of HLA-A*0301 in complex with a peptide of proteolipid protein: insights into the role of HLA-A alleles in susceptibility to multiple sclerosis.

    24 October 2018

    The structure of the human major histocompatability (MHC) class I molecule HLA-A*0301 (HLA-A3) in complex with a nonameric peptide (KLIETYFSK) has been determined by X-ray crystallography to 2.7 Å resolution. HLA-A3 is a predisposing allele for multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. The KLIETYFSK peptide is a naturally processed epitope of proteolipid protein, a myelin protein and candidate target for immune-mediated myelin destruction in MS. Comparison of the structure of HLA-A3 with that of HLA-A2, an MHC class I molecule which is protective against MS, indicates that both MHC class I molecules present very similar faces for T-cell receptor recognition whilst differing in the specificity of their peptide-binding grooves. These characteristics may underlie the opposing (predisposing versus protective) associations that they exhibit both in humans and in mouse models of MS-like disease. Furthermore, subtle alterations within the peptide-binding groove of HLA-A3 and other A3-like MHC class I molecules, members of the so-called A3 superfamily, may be sufficient to alter their presentation of autoantigen peptides such as KLIETYFSK. This in turn may modulate their contribution to the associated risk of autoimmune disease.

  • The nature of molecular recognition by T cells.

    24 October 2018

    Considerable progress has been made in characterizing four key sets of interactions controlling antigen responsiveness in T cells, involving the following: the T cell antigen receptor, its coreceptors CD4 and CD8, the costimulatory receptors CD28 and CTLA-4, and the accessory molecule CD2. Complementary work has defined the general biophysical properties of interactions between cell surface molecules. Among the major conclusions are that these interactions are structurally heterogeneous, often reflecting clear-cut functional constraints, and that, although they all interact relatively weakly, hierarchical differences in the stabilities of the signaling complexes formed by these molecules may influence the sequence of steps leading to T cell activation. Here we review these developments and highlight the major challenges remaining as the field moves toward formulating quantitative models of T cell recognition.