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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 9;108(32):13224-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1101398108. Epub 2011 Jul 25.

Functional CD47/signal regulatory protein alpha (SIRP(alpha)) interaction is required for optimal human T- and natural killer- (NK) cell homeostasis in vivo.

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Department of Cell Biology and Histology, Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, Center for Immunology Amsterdam, 1105AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The homeostatic control mechanisms regulating human leukocyte numbers are poorly understood. Here, we assessed the role of phagocytes in this process using human immune system (HIS) BALB/c Rag2(-/-)IL-2Rγc(-/-) mice in which human leukocytes are generated from transplanted hematopoietic progenitor cells. Interactions between signal regulatory protein alpha (SIRPα; expressed on phagocytes) and CD47 (expressed on hematopoietic cells) negatively regulate phagocyte activity of macrophages and other phagocytic cells. We previously showed that B cells develop and survive robustly in HIS mice, whereas T and natural killer (NK) cells survive poorly. Because human CD47 does not interact with BALB/c mouse SIRPα, we introduced functional CD47/SIRPα interactions in HIS mice by transducing mouse CD47 into human progenitor cells. Here, we show that this procedure resulted in a dramatic and selective improvement of progenitor cell engraftment and human T- and NK-cell homeostasis in HIS mouse peripheral lymphoid organs. The amount of engrafted human B cells also increased but much less than that of T and NK cells, and total plasma IgM and IgG concentrations increased 68- and 35-fold, respectively. Whereas T cells exhibit an activated/memory phenotype in the absence of functional CD47/SIRPα interactions, human T cells accumulated as CD4(+) or CD8(+) single-positive, naive, resting T cells in the presence of functional CD47/SIRPα interactions. Thus, in addition to signals mediated by T cell receptor (TCR)/MHC and/or IL/IL receptor interactions, sensing of cell surface CD47 expression by phagocyte SIRPα is a critical determinant of T- and NK-cell homeostasis under steady-state conditions in vivo.

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