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Targeted deletion of Traf2 allows immunosuppression-free islet allograft survival in mice


AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Administration of anti-CD40 ligand (CD40L) antibodies has been reported to allow long-term islet allograft survival in non-human primates without the need for exogenous immunosuppression. However, the use of anti-CD40L antibodies was associated with thromboembolic complications. Targeting downstream intracellular components shared between CD40 and other TNF family co-stimulatory molecules could bypass these complications. TNF receptor associated factor 2 (TRAF2) integrates multiple TNF receptor family signalling pathways that are critical for T cell activation and may be a central node of alloimmune responses. METHODS: T cell-specific Traf2-deficient mice (Traf2TKO) were generated to define the role of TRAF2 in CD4+ T cell effector responses that mediate islet allograft rejection in vivo. In vitro allograft responses were tested using mixed lymphocyte reactions and analysis of IFN-gamma and granzyme B effector molecule expression. T cell function was assessed using anti-CD3/CD28-mediated proliferation and T cell polarisation studies. RESULTS: Traf2TKO mice exhibited permanent survival of full MHC-mismatched pancreatic islet allografts without exogenous immunosuppression. Traf2TKO CD4+ T cells exhibited reduced proliferation, activation and acquisition of effector function following T cell receptor stimulation; however, both Traf2TKO CD4+ and CD8+ T cells exhibited impaired alloantigen-mediated proliferation and acquisition of effector function. In polarisation studies, Traf2TKO CD4+ T cells preferentially converted to a T helper (Th)2 phenotype, but exhibited impaired Th17 differentiation. Without TRAF2, thymocytes exhibited dysregulated TNF-mediated induction of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and canonical NFkappaB pathways. Critically, targeting TRAF2 in T cells did not impair the acute phase of CD8-dependent viral immunity. These data highlight a specific requirement for a TRAF2-NFkappaB and TRAF2-JNK signalling cascade in T cell activation and effector function in rejecting islet allografts. CONCLUSION/INTERPRETATION: Targeting TRAF2 may be useful as a therapeutic approach for immunosuppression-free islet allograft survival that avoids the thromboembolic complications associated with the use of anti-CD40L antibodies.

Type Journal
ISBN 1432-0428 (Electronic) 0012-186X (Linking)
Authors Villanueva, J. E.; Walters, S. N.; Saito, M.; Malle, E. K.; Zammit, N. W.; Watson, K. A.; Brink, R.; La Gruta, N. L.; Alexander, S. I.; Grey, S. T.
Responsible Garvan Author Prof Shane Grey
Published Date 2017-04-01
Published Volume 60
Published Issue 4
Published Pages 679-689
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1007/s00125-016-4198-7
URL link to publisher's version