Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Gail A. Bishop
CD40 signals are required for productive immune responses but also play a role in autoimmune disease pathogenesis. The major goal of this research was to investigate the contribution of two receptors to the development of autoimmune disease: (1) LMP1, an oncogenic EBV-encoded mimic of CD40 and (2) a naturally-occurring polymorphism in CD40, P227A, which appears to confer LMP1-like properties to the CD40 receptor.
Interestingly, hCD40-P227A is overrepresented in individuals of Mexican and South American descent. Although this allele is not directly associated with SLE incidence in Hispanic populations, patients of Hispanic ethnicity have a tendency toward increased severity of SLE symptoms, particularly lupus nephritis. This work reports the initial genetic description of CD40-P227A and characterizes its gain-of-function signaling properties in mouse and human B cells. In comparison to Wt-CD40 signaling, CD40-P227A signaling results in increased binding of TRAF3, TRAF5, and Act1, as well as enhanced secretion of IL-6, TNF-α, and Ig due to a selective hyperactivation of the JNK pathway. Whereas TRAF3 is normally a negative regulator of Wt-CD40 signaling, TRAF3 is a required positive regulator of CD40-P227A signaling as demonstrated in TRAF3-deficient B cells.
LMP1 is an EBV-encoded CD40 mimic which signals in an amplified and sustained manner. Although EBV is latent in >90% of humans, EBV infection is associated with autoimmunity, particularly SLE. Upon flares of autoimmunity, EBV reactivates and LMP1 is expressed, yet the contribution of LMP1 to exacerbation of disease is unknown. LMP1 transgenic mice generated in our lab have an autoreactive phenotype but do not die early due to autoimmune disease. To test the hypothesis that LMP1 cooperates with other genes in the host to exacerbate autoimmunity, mCD40-LMP1 transgenic mice were bred to two lupus-prone strains of mice. LMP1 signaling was able to enhance the autoimmune phenotype of the B6.Sle1, but not the B6.Sle3 strain. These data suggest that LMP1 is redundant with genes within the Sle3 interval, but acts cooperatively with genes within the Sle1 interval to exacerbate autoimmunity.
Together, the research foci of this dissertation examine how the CD40 pathways of B cell activation can be amplified and dysregulated, by either a viral mimic of CD40, a polymorphism in its signaling domain, or its cooperation with additional gene products. Differential usage of TRAF3 as a positive, rather than a negative, regulator of signaling appears to be one common mechanism by which this occurs. In conditions where enhanced CD40 signaling may be desirable such as during chronic infections, manipulation of TRAF3-CD40 signaling may serve to enhance immune responses. It is hoped that these studies can additionally reveal important information about the normal regulation of this powerful activation pathway.
Copyright 2011 Anna Louisa Peters