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EMBO Rep. 2008 Jan;9(1):50-5. doi: 10.1038/sj.embor.7401138.

Molecular regulation of T-cell anergy.

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University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


The activation of T cells is tightly controlled by many positive and negative regulatory processes. This fine-tuning allows productive immunity to pathogens while minimizing the risk of autoimmunity. One negative regulatory mechanism is clonal anergy, which is a hyporesponsive state that occurs when T cells are activated through the T-cell antigen receptor in the absence of appropriate co-stimulatory signals. Recent studies have confirmed a crucial role for defective Ras activation in mediating this hyporesponsive state. Diminished Ras activation can, in part, be explained by the upregulated expression of diacylglycerol kinases (DGKs), which phosphorylate diacylglycerol and restrict Ras guanyl releasing protein 1 (RasGRP1)-dependent activation of Ras. Increased expression of DGKs is probably transcriptional and is accompanied by augmented expression of additional negative regulators, including the transcription factors early growth response (Egr) 2 and Egr3, and the E3 ubiquitin ligases known as gene related to anergy in lymphocytes (GRAIL) and Casitas B-cell lymphoma-b (Cbl-b). A model is emerging for how these factors are regulated to control T-cell responsiveness.

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