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Trends Immunol. 2008 Jun;29(6):272-9. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2008 May 9.

CTLA-4 trafficking and surface expression.

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Cell Signalling Section, Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1QP, UK.


The T-cell co-receptor cytotoxic T-cell antigen 4 (CTLA-4) has a strong inhibitory role as shown by the lymphoproliferative phenotype of CTLA-4-deficient mice. Despite its potent effects on T-cell function, CTLA-4 is primarily an intracellular antigen whose surface expression is tightly regulated by restricted trafficking to the cell surface and rapid internalisation. Recently, several signalling molecules such as Trim, PLD, ARF-1 and TIRC7 have been described to be involved in the transport of CTLA-4 to the cell surface. Minor changes in surface expression levels have major effects on the outcome of T-cell activation. Optimal regulation of CTLA-4 surface expression is crucial for the balance of stimulatory and inhibitory signals to maximize protective immune responses while maintaining immunological tolerance and preventing autoimmunity.

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