Investigation into the regulation of CD46 function in T cells
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CD46 is a ubiquitously expressed transmembrane protein in humans with a role in immune homeostasis. Originally identified as a complement regulator, CD46 has since been regarded a receptor for several pathogens and most recently, described as a T cell costimulatory molecule. Its coligation with CD3 and consequent cleavage from the T cell surface serves as a costimulatory stimulus for T cell activation. In addition, in the presence of IL-2, CD46 induces Tr1 cell differentiation which is characterised by low IFN-γ and high IL-10 secretion. CD3/CD46-induced Tr1 differentiation is defective in patients with MS, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, highlighting the need to investigate the mechanisms involved in the regulation of the CD46 pathway. CD46 is a highly glycosylated protein with three N-glycosylation sites in the short consensus repeats and multiple O-glycosylation sites in the STP region. Previous data from the lab have shown that CD3 activation causes a change in CD46 glycosylation. Herein, I convey that this change is more pronounced in memory than naive CD4+ T cells and is mainly due to changes in CD46 O-glycosylation. Furthermore, these changes are required for the T cell responses triggered by CD46 costimulation including T cell activation and Tr1 differentiation. Interestingly, CD46 is recruited to the immunological synapse formed between a T cell and an antigen presenting cell and I illustrate that the STP region is needed for this also. These data suggest that the glycosylation status of CD46 regulates its function. In MS, vitamin D deficiency is considered to be a significant risk factor and many patients take vitamin D supplement to help manage their condition. Herein, I report that treatment of healthy and MS CD4+ T cells with vitamin D does not prevent T cell activation but it decreases adhesion molecule expression. Moreover, vitamin D supplementation in MS enhances CD46 cleavage. Therefore, vitamin D also plays a role in the regulation of the CD46 pathway and it would be interesting to investigate whether vitamin D affects CD46 glycosylation. During my MSc, I showed that a recombinant protein derived from adenovirus serotype 35 (which naturally binds CD46) known as Ad35K++ controls the CD46 pathway in CD4+ T cells. Lymphoma cells treated with Ad35K++ in combination with monoclonal antibody therapy rituximab have demonstrated increased sensitivity to rituximab and prove that virus-derived recombinant proteins that target CD46 have therapeutic potential. Considering the key role of CD46 as a T cell costimulatory molecule, I have investigated the effects of Ad35K++ on the CD46 pathway following its use in vivo and confirm CD46 is still cleaved from the cell surface and the cells still become activated. Overall these results provide insight into the mechanisms involved in the regulation of the CD46 pathway and highlight how it can be manipulated for therapeutic use.