Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Bishop, Gail A.

First Committee Member

Houtman, Jon

Second Committee Member

Weiner, George

Third Committee Member

Habelhah, Hasem


CD40 is a TNF receptor superfamily (TNFRSF) member central to the development of many aspects of the adaptive immune response. CD40 signaling promotes adaptive immunity in part by inducing the expression of cytokines, chemokines, and various adhesion and co-stimulatory molecules. The family of cytoplasmic adapter proteins, the TNFR-associated factors (TRAFs), serve as major mediators of TNFRSF pathways. CD40 regulates itself in part via the signaling induced degradation of TRAF2 and TRAF3. However, the effect of CD40-induced TRAF degradation on other TRAF dependent pathways is unknown. Here I provide evidence that CD40-mediated degradation of TRAFs 2 and 3 also influences the responsiveness of immune cells to CD40-independent, TRAF2- and 3-dependent pathways.

LMP1 is a functional mimic of CD40, but signals to B lymphocytes in an amplified and sustained manner. LMP1 contributes to the development of B cell lymphoma in immunosuppressed patients, and may exacerbate flares of certain autoimmune diseases. The cytoplasmic (CY) domain of LMP1 binds TRAF2 with lower avidity than the CY domain of CD40, and TRAF2 is needed for CD40-mediated degradation of TRAFs 2 and 3. LMP1 doesn't induce TRAF degradation, and employs TRAF3 as a positive mediator of cell signaling, whereas CD40 signals are inhibited by TRAF3. Here, I tested the hypothesis that relative affinity for TRAF2, and/or distinct sequence differences in the TRAF2/3 binding sites of CD40 vs. LMP1, controls the disparate ways in which CD40 and LMP1 use TRAFs 2 and 3. The results revealed that TRAF binding affinity and TRAF binding site sequence dictate a distinct subset of CD40 vs. LMP1 signaling properties.

The E3 ubiquitin ligases, cIAP1 and cIAP2, have been reported to play a crucial role in CD40 signaling. Because LMP1 is a mimic of CD40 signals, I hypothesized that LMP1 requires the cIAPs for signaling. To elucidate the role of the cIAPs in CD40 and LMP1 signaling, I specifically depleted the cIAPs and found that the cIAPs are differentially utilized in CD40 and LMP1 signaling. I also sought to further the understanding of the molecular underpinnings of how CD40, but not LMP1 signaling induces TRAF2 and TRAF3 degradation upon signaling. To do this, I investigated the ability of various CD40 and LMP1 mutants to induce TRAF degradation in distinct TRAF or cIAP deficient models. I found that neither a high TRAF2 binding potential nor the presence of the cIAP molecules are required for this process. Thus, this work reveals important insights into the molecular mechanisms of and role of CD40-mediated TRAF degradation in the immune system.


cancer, cellular activation, immune regulation, immunotherapy, signal transduction


iv, 141 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 124-141).


Copyright 2010 John Patrick Graham