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J Immunol. 2003 Aug 15;171(4):1691-6.

Differential localization and function of ADP-ribosylation factor-6 in anergic human T cells: a potential marker for their identification.

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Department of Adult Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Division of Medical Oncology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Anergy is a state of immunologic tolerance in which T cells are viable but incapable of responding to antigenic stimulation. Recent data indicate that anergic cells have a distinct gene expression program that determines their unique function. In this study we show that anergic human T cells selectively express the small GTPase ADP-ribosylation factor-6 (ARF6), which is involved in membrane traffic and regulation of the cortical actin cytoskeleton. ARF6 was expressed in the GTP-bound form that localizes at the plasma membrane, resulting in a distinct morphologic appearance of anergic cells. Forced expression of ARF6-GTP in Jurkat T cells prevented TCR-mediated reorganization of cortical actin, extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2 activation, and IL-2 transcription. Forced expression of ARF6-GTP in primary human T cells inhibited extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2 activation and proliferative responses. Importantly, T cells with the distribution pattern of ARF6-GTP were detected in peripheral blood, suggesting that anergic T cells may constitutively exist in vivo.

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