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J Immunol. 2012 Aug 1;189(3):1510-20. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1200166. Epub 2012 Jul 2.

Endoplasmic reticulum stress response promotes cytotoxic phenotype of CD8αβ+ intraepithelial lymphocytes in a mouse model for Crohn's disease-like ileitis.

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  • 1Chair for Biofunctionality, Research Centre for Nutrition and Food Science, Centre for Diet and Disease, Technical University of Munich, 85350 Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany.


Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) unfolded protein responses (UPR) are implicated in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. Cytotoxic CD8αβ(+) intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) contribute to the development of Crohn's disease-like ileitis in TNF(ΔARE/+) mice. In this study, we characterized the role of ER-UPR mechanisms in contributing to the disease-associated phenotype of cytotoxic IEL under conditions of chronic inflammation. Inflamed TNF(ΔARE/+) mice exhibited increased expression of Grp78, ATF6, ATF4, and spliced XBP1 in CD8αβ(+) IEL but not in CD8αα(+) IEL or in lamina propria lymphocytes. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis in CD8αβ(+) T cells showed selective recruitment of ER-UPR transducers to the granzyme B gene promoter. Heterozygous Grp78(-/+) mice exhibited an attenuated granzyme B-dependent cytotoxicity of CD8αβ(+) T cells against intestinal epithelial cells, suggesting a critical activity of this ER-associated chaperone in maintaining a cytotoxic T cell phenotype. Granzyme B-deficient CD8αβ(+) T cells showed a defect in IL-2-mediated proliferation in Grp78(-/+) mice. Adoptively transferred Grp78(-/+) CD8αβ(+) T cells had a decreased frequency of accumulation in the intestine of RAG2(-/-) recipient mice. The tissue pathology in TNF(ΔARE/+) × Grp78(-/+) mice was similar to TNF(ΔARE/+) mice, even though the cytotoxic effector functions of CD8αβ(+) T cells were significantly reduced. In conclusion, ER stress-associated UPR mechanisms promote the development and maintenance of the pathogenic cytotoxic CD8αβ(+) IEL phenotype in the mouse model of Crohn's disease-like ileitis.

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