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J Leukoc Biol. 2003 Dec;74(6):1102-7. Epub 2003 Sep 12.

TCR subunit specificity of CTLA-4-mediated signaling.

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  • 1The FOCIS Centre for Clinical Immunology and Immunotherapeutics, Robarts Research Institute, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5K8.


Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen (CTLA)-4 is an activation-induced receptor that down-regulates T cell responses by antagonizing B7-dependent costimulation and/or by transducing a negative signal. The mechanism of CTLA-4-mediated negative signaling is unknown. Recently, it has been postulated that CTLA-4 inhibits T cell activation by causing specific dephosphorylation of the T cell receptor (TCR)-zeta chain of the antigen-receptor complex through an lck-dependent recruitment of the Src homology-2-containing tyrosine phosphatase-2. To test this hypothesis, we generated stably transfected T cell clones expressing doxycycline-inducible CTLA-4 with CD25:TCR-zeta (CD25-zeta) or CD25:CD3-epsilon (CD25-epsilon) fusion proteins. In these clones, ligation of CD25-zeta or of CD25-epsilon with antibodies against CD25 induced full T cell activation, as illustrated by extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation and interleukin (IL)-2 production. More importantly, coligation of CTLA-4 with CD25-zeta or of CTLA-4 with CD25-epsilon in the respectively transfected clones inhibited ERK activation and IL-2 production, demonstrating that CTLA-4 does not specifically inhibit signals from TCR-zeta but can also inhibit signals from CD3-epsilon. Our results suggest that the target specificity of CTLA-4 is determined by its coligation with any given transmembrane receptor rather than by its intracellular mediators.

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