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J Immunol. 2000 Dec 1;165(11):6193-204.

Role of TNF receptor-associated factor 2 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activation during 4-1BB-dependent immune response.

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Department of Immunology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021, USA.


4-1BB is a costimulatory member of the TNFR family, expressed on activated CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. Previous results showed that 4-1BB-mediated T cell costimulation is CD28-independent and involves recruitment of TNFR-associated factor 2 (TRAF2) and activation of the stress-activated protein kinase cascade. Here we describe a role for the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway in 4-1BB signaling. Aggregation of 4-1BB alone induces p38 activation in a T cell hybridoma, whereas, in normal T cells, p38 MAPK is activated synergistically by immobilized anti-CD3 plus immobilized 4-1BB ligand. 4-1BB-induced p38 MAPK activation is inhibited by the p38-specific inhibitor SB203580 in both a T cell hybridoma and in murine T cells. T cells from TRAF2 dominant-negative mice are impaired in 4-1BB-mediated p38 MAPK activation. A link between TRAF2 and the p38 cascade is provided by the MAPK kinase kinase, apoptosis-signal-regulating kinase 1. A T cell hybrid transfected with a kinase-dead apoptosis-signal-regulating kinase 1 fails to activate p38 MAPK in response to 4-1BB signaling. To assess the role of p38 activation in an immune response, T cells were stimulated in an MLR in the presence of SB203580. In a primary MLR, SB203580 blocked IL-2, IFN-gamma, and IL-4 secretion whether the costimulatory signal was delivered via 4-1BB or CD28. In contrast, following differentiation into Th1 or Th2 cells, p38 inhibition blocked IL-2 and IFN-gamma without affecting IL-4 secretion. Nevertheless, IL-4 secretion by Th2 cells remained costimulation-dependent. Thus, critical T cell signaling events diverge following Th1 vs Th2 differentiation.

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