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J Leukoc Biol. 2009 Jan;85(1):175-85. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0408248. Epub 2008 Oct 15.

The IKK-neutralizing compound Bay11 kills supereffector CD8 T cells by altering caspase-dependent activation-induced cell death.

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Department of Immunology, Center for Immunotherapy of Cancer and Infectious Diseases, MC1319, University of Connecticut Health Center, 263 Farmington Ave., Farmington, CT 06032, USA.


Antigen with dual costimulation through CD137 and CD134 induces powerful CD8 T cell responses. These effector T cells are endowed with an intrinsic survival program resulting in their accumulation in vivo, but the signaling components required for survival are unknown. We tested a cadre of pathway inhibitors and found one preclinical compound, Bay11-7082 (Bay11), which prevented survival. Even the gammac cytokine family members IL-2, -4, -7, and -15 could not block death, nor could pretreatment with IL-7. We found that dual costimulation caused loading of phosphorylated IkappaBalpha (p-IkappaBalpha) and high basal levels of NF-kappaB activity in the effector CD8 T cells. Bay11 trumped both events by reducing the presence of p-IkappaBalpha and ensuing NF-kappaB activity. Not all pathways were impacted to this degree, however, as mitogen-mediated ERK phosphorylation was evident during NF-kappaB inhibition. Nonetheless, Bay11 blocked TCR-stimulated cytokine synthesis by rapidly accentuating activation-induced cell death through elicitation of a caspase-independent pathway. Thus, in effector CD8 T cells, Bay11 forces a dominant caspase-independent death signal that cannot be overcome by an intrinsic survival program nor by survival-inducing cytokines. Therefore, Bay11 may be a useful tool to deliberately kill death-resistant effector T cells for therapeutic benefit.

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