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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 23;108(34):E577-85. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1102941108. Epub 2011 Aug 4.

The D-dopachrome tautomerase (DDT) gene product is a cytokine and functional homolog of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF).

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Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a pivotal regulator of the immune response. Neutralization or genetic deletion of MIF does not completely abrogate activation responses, however, and deletion of the MIF receptor, CD74, produces a more pronounced phenotype than MIF deficiency. We hypothesized that these observations may be explained by a second MIF-like ligand, and we considered a probable candidate to be the protein encoded by the homologous, D-dopachrome tautomerase (D-DT) gene. We show that recombinant D-DT protein binds CD74 with high affinity, leading to activation of ERK1/2 MAP kinase and downstream proinflammatory pathways. Circulating D-DT levels correlate with disease severity in sepsis or malignancy, and the specific immunoneutralization of D-DT protects mice from lethal endotoxemia by reducing the expression of downstream effector cytokines. These data indicate that D-DT is a MIF-like cytokine with an overlapping spectrum of activities that are important for our understanding of MIF-dependent physiology and pathology.

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