The B and T lymphocyte attenuator (BTLA) is a recently identified member of the CD28 family of cell receptors. Initial reports demonstrated that mice deficient in BTLA expression were more susceptible to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, indicating that BTLA was likely to function as a negative regulator of T cell activation. However, cross-linking of BTLA only resulted in a 2-fold reduction of IL-2 production, questioning the potency with which BTLA engagement blocks T cell activation. We established a model in which BTLA signaling could be studied in primary human CD4 T cells. We observed that cross-linking of a chimeric receptor consisting of the murine CD28 extracellular domain and human BTLA cytoplasmic tail potently inhibits IL-2 production and completely suppresses T cell expansion. Mutation of any BTLA tyrosine motifs had no effect on the ability of BTLA to block T cell activation. Only mutation of all four tyrosines rendered the BTLA cytoplasmic tail nonfunctional. We performed structure-function studies to determine which factors recruited to the BTLA cytoplasmic tail correlated with BTLA function. Using pervanadate as a means to phosphorylate the BTLA cytoplasmic tail, we observed both Src homology protein (SHP)-1 and SHP-2 recruitment. However, upon receptor engagement, we observed only SHP-1 recruitment, and mutations that abrogated SHP-1 recruitment did not impair BTLA function. These studies question whether SHP-1 or SHP-2 have any role in BTLA function and caution against the use of pervanadate as means to initiate signal transduction cascades in primary cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy