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Genome Biol. 2005;6(6):223. Epub 2005 May 31.

The B7 family of immune-regulatory ligands.

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Wyeth Research, 200 Cambridge Park Drive, Cambridge, MA 02140, USA.


The B7 family consists of structurally related, cell-surface protein ligands, which bind to receptors on lymphocytes that regulate immune responses. Activation of T and B lymphocytes is initiated by engagement of cell-surface, antigen-specific T-cell receptors or B-cell receptors, but additional signals delivered simultaneously by B7 ligands determine the ultimate immune response. These 'costimulatory' or 'coinhibitory' signals are delivered by B7 ligands through the CD28 family of receptors on lymphocytes. Interaction of B7-family members with costimulatory receptors augments immune responses, and interaction with coinhibitory receptors attenuates immune responses. There are currently seven known members of the family: B7.1 (CD80), B7.2 (CD86), inducible costimulator ligand (ICOS-L), programmed death-1 ligand (PD-L1), programmed death-2 ligand (PD-L2), B7-H3, and B7-H4. Members of the family have been characterized predominantly in humans and mice, but some members are also found in birds. They share 20-40% amino-acid identity and are structurally related, with the extracellular domain containing tandem domains related to variable and constant immunoglobulin domains. B7 ligands are expressed in lymphoid and non-lymphoid tissues. The importance of the family in regulating immune responses is shown by the development of immunodeficiency and autoimmune diseases in mice with mutations in B7-family genes. Manipulation of the signals delivered by B7 ligands has shown potential in the treatment of autoimmunity, inflammatory diseases and cancer.

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