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Blood. 2011 Mar 24;117(12):3382-90. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-08-302034. Epub 2011 Jan 20.

Sézary syndrome cells overexpress syndecan-4 bearing distinct heparan sulfate moieties that suppress T-cell activation by binding DC-HIL and trapping TGF-beta on the cell surface.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Dermatology Section (Medical Service), Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390-9069, USA.


Because syndecan-4 (SD-4) on effector and memory T cells inhibits T-cell activation by binding dendritic cell-associated heparan sulfate proteoglycan-integrin ligand (DC-HIL) on antigen presenting cells and because malignant cells of the cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) subset, Sézary syndrome (SS), exhibit memory T-cell phenotype, we posited SS cells to express SD-4. Indeed, malignant T cells from patients with SS and from CTCL cell lines constitutively expressed SD-4 at high levels, in contrast to T cells from healthy volunteers and patients with other inflammatory skin diseases and to non-CTCL cell lines that did not. SS cells also bound to DC-HIL at a level higher than normal T cells activated in vitro, resulting in their inhibited proliferation to anti-CD3 antibody. SD-4 on SS cells also trapped transforming growth factor-β1 to their cell surface, enhancing their ability to inhibit activation of syngeneic and allogeneic normal T cells. All of these inhibitory properties were dependent on overexpression of distinct heparan sulfate (HS) moieties by SD-4 on SS cells. Finally, we showed toxin-conjugated DC-HIL to abrogate the ability of SS cells to proliferate in vitro. These findings indicate that SD-4 bearing distinct HS moieties plays a pathogenic role in SS and may be targeted for treatment.

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