Proteomic identification and functional characterization of prohibitin 1 and 2 in T cell activation, expansion, survival and disease

Jeremy Aaron Ross, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Several immune pathologies are the result of aberrant regulation of T lymphocytes. Pronounced T cell proliferation can result in autoimmunity or hematologic malignancy, whereas loss of T cell activity can manifest as immunodeficiency. Thus, there is a critical need to characterize the signal transduction pathways that mediate T cell activation so that novel and rational strategies to detect and effectively control T cell mediated disease can be achieved. The first objective of this dissertation was to identify and characterize novel T cell regulatory proteins that are differentially expressed upon antigen induced activation. Using a functional proteomics approach, two members of the prohibitin (Phb) family of proteins, Phb1 and Phb2, were determined to be upregulated upon activation of primary human T cells. Furthermore, their regulated expression was dependent upon CD3 and CD28 signaling pathways which synergistically increased their expression. In contrast to previous reports of Phb nuclear localization, both proteins were determined to localize to the mitochondrial inner membrane of human T cells. Additionally, novel Phb phosphorylation sites were identified and characterized using mass spectrometry, phosphospecific antibodies and site directed mutagenesis. Prohibitins have been proposed to play important roles in cancer development however the mechanism of action has not been elucidated. The second objective of this dissertation was to define the functional role of Phbs in T cell activity, survival and disease. Compared to levels in normal human T cells, Phb expression was higher in the human tumor T cell line Kit225 and subcellularly localized to the mitochondrion. Ablation of Phb expression by siRNA treatment of Kit225 cells resulted in disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential and significantly enhanced their sensitivity to cell death, suggesting they serve a protective function in T cells. Furthermore, Q-RT-PCR analysis of human oncology cDNA expression libraries indicated the Phbs may represent hematological cancer biomarkers. Indeed, Phb1 and Phb2 protein levels were 6-10 fold higher in peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from malignant lymphoma and multiple myeloma patients compared to healthy individuals. Taken together, Phb1 and Phb2 are novel phosphoproteins upregulated during T cell activation and transformation to function in the maintenance of mitochondrial integrity and perhaps energy metabolism, thus representing previously unrecognized intracellular biomarkers and therapeutic targets for regulating T cell activation and hematologic malignancies.

Subject Area

Cellular biology|Immunology

Recommended Citation

Ross, Jeremy Aaron, "Proteomic identification and functional characterization of prohibitin 1 and 2 in T cell activation, expansion, survival and disease" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3287851.