Mechanism of dendritic epidermal T cell-mediated tolerance induction and inhibition of proliferation

Cheryl Diane Love-Schimenti, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Dendritic epidermal T cells (DETC) comprise a unique population of T cells that reside in mouse epidermis and whose function remains unclear. Most DETC express a $\gamma\delta$ TCR, although some, including our DETC line, AU16, express an $\alpha\beta$ TCR. Additionally, AU16 cells express CD3, Thy-1, CD45, CD28, B7, and AsGM-1. Previous studies in our laboratory demonstrated that hapten-conjugated AU16 could induce specific immunologic tolerance in vivo and inhibit T cell proliferation in vitro. Both these activities are antigen-specific, and the induction of tolerance is non-MHC-restricted. In addition, AU16 cells are cytotoxic to a number of tumor cell lines in vitro. These studies suggested a role for these cells in immune surveillance. The purpose of my studies was to test the hypothesis that these functions of DETC (tolerance induction, inhibition of T cell proliferation, and tumor cell killing) were mediated by a cytotoxic mechanism. My specific aims were (1) to determine whether AU16 could prevent or delay tumor growth in vivo; and (2) to determine the mechanism whereby AU16 induce tolerance, using an in vitro proliferation assay. I first showed that AU16 cells killed a variety of skin tumor cell lines in vitro. I then demonstrated that they prevented melanoma growth in C3H mice when both cell types were mixed immediately prior to intradermal (i.d.) injection. Studies using the in vitro proliferation assay confirmed that DETC inhibit proliferation of T cells stimulated by hapten-bearing, antigen-presenting cells (FITC-APC). To determine which cell was the target, $\gamma$-irradiated, hapten-conjugated AU16 were added to the proliferation assay on d 4. They profoundly inhibited the proliferation of naive T cells to $\gamma$-irradiated, FITC-APC, as measured by ($\sp3$H) TdR uptake. This result strongly suggested that the T cell was the target of the AU16 activity because no APC were present by d 4 of the in vitro culture. In contrast, the addition of FITC-conjugated splenic T cells (SP-T) or lymph node T cells (LN-T) was less inhibitory. Preincubation of the T cells with FITC-AU16 cells for 24 h, followed by removal of the AU16 cells, completely inhibited the ability of the T cells to proliferate in response to FITC-APC, further supporting the conclusion that the T cell was the target of the AU16. Finally, AU16 cells were capable of killing a variety of activated T cells and T cell lines, arguing that the mechanism of proliferation inhibition, and possibly tolerance induction is one of cytotoxicity. Importantly, $\gamma\delta$ TCR$\sp+$ DETC behaved, both in vivo and in vitro like AU16, whereas other T cells did not. Therefore, these results are consistent with the hypothesis that AU16 cells are true DETC and that they induce tolerance by killing T cells that are antigen-activated in vivo.

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Recommended Citation

Love-Schimenti, Cheryl Diane, "Mechanism of dendritic epidermal T cell-mediated tolerance induction and inhibition of proliferation" (1993). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9413201.