Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Signaling molecule identified as essential for maintaining a balanced immune response

Date:
July 25, 2011
Source:
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Summary:
Researchers have identified a signaling molecule that functions like a factory supervisor to ensure that the right mix of specialized T cells is available to fight infections and guard against autoimmune disease.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital investigators have identified a signaling molecule that functions like a factory supervisor to ensure that the right mix of specialized T cells is available to fight infections and guard against autoimmune disease.

The research also showed the molecule, phosphatase MKP-1, is an important regulator of immune balance. Working in laboratory cell lines and mice with specially engineered immune systems, scientists demonstrated that MKP-1 serves as a bridge between the innate immune response that is the body's first line of defense against infection and the more specialized adaptive immune response that follows. The results are published in the July 22 print edition of the scientific journal Immunity.

The results raise hopes that the MKP-1 pathway will lead to new tools for shaping the immune response, said Hongbo Chi, Ph.D., assistant member of the St. Jude Department of Immunology and the study's senior author. The co-first authors are Gonghua Huang, Ph.D., and Yanyan Wang, Ph.D., both postdoctoral fellows in Chi's laboratory.

The findings provide new details about how dendritic cells regulate the fate of naοve or undifferentiated T cells. Dendritic cells are the sentinels of the innate immune response, patrolling the body and ready to respond at the first sign of infection.

Investigators were surprised that a single molecule regulated production of three out of the four major subsets of T cells, which each play different roles. MKP-1 is a negative regulator of the enzyme p38, which is part of the MAP kinase family of enzymes that control pathways involved in cell proliferation, differentiation and death.

Chi and his colleagues demonstrated that MKP-1 works in dendritic cells by altering production of protein messengers known as cytokines. Those cytokines determine which subset of specialized T cells the undifferentiated T cells are fated to become. In this study, scientists showed that MKP1 controls production of the cytokines that yield T helper 1 (Th1), T helper 17 (Th17) and regulatory T (Treg) cells. Th1 cells combat intracellular bacterial and viral infections. Th17 cells fight extracellular bacterial infections and fungi. Treg cells help with immune suppression, protecting against autoimmune diseases.

The study showed that suppression of p38 by MKP-1 promotes production of interleukin 12 (IL-12), which leads to an increase in Th1 cells. Rising IL-12 coincides with a drop in interleukin 6 (IL-6) and a corresponding dip in production of Th17. MKP-1 also inhibited the generation of Treg cells by down-regulating production of a third cytokine, TGF-beta.

Knocking out MKP-1 in mice disrupted production of IL-12 and IL-6 in dendritic cells as well as the anti-bacterial and anti-fungal immune response, researchers reported. MKP-1 deficiency also promoted T-cell driven inflammation in a mouse model of colitis, an inflammatory disease.

"MKP-1 is the first signaling molecule found in dendritic cells to program differentiation of these diverse T- cell subsets," Chi said.

Previous work by other scientists focused on T cell differentiation in response to stimulation by cytokines. "This research fills a gap in our understanding of dendritic cell-mediated control of T-cell lineage choices," Chi said. "T cells do not recognize pathogens directly, but dendritic cells do. T cells need dendritic cells to tell them what to do. In this study, we show that MKP-1 signaling in dendritic cells bridges the innate and adaptive immune responses by regulating cytokine production."

Other authors are Lewis Shi and Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, both of St. Jude.

The research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Cancer Research Institute, The Hartwell Foundation and ALSAC.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gonghua Huang, Yanyan Wang, Lewis Z. Shi, Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, Hongbo Chi. Signaling by the Phosphatase MKP-1 in Dendritic Cells Imprints Distinct Effector and Regulatory T Cell Fates. Immunity, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2011.05.014

Cite This Page:

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "Signaling molecule identified as essential for maintaining a balanced immune response." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110722112058.htm>.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. (2011, July 25). Signaling molecule identified as essential for maintaining a balanced immune response. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110722112058.htm
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "Signaling molecule identified as essential for maintaining a balanced immune response." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110722112058.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — Conjoined twins Emmett and Owen Ezell were separated by doctors in August. Now, nearly nine months later, they're being released from the hospital. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) — The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins