FEB 04, 2016 04:14 PM PST

Sharpin Protein Necessary for T Regulatory Cell Function

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
The body needs regulatory T cells (Tregs) on the sidelines of an immune attack, making sure tempers don’t run too hot and preventing the body’s lymphocytes from taking the body’s own cells. Because of this vital role, scientist strive to pinpoint the key mechanisms for Treg function and survival. The newest research calls on Sharpin, formally known as SHANK-Associated RH Domain Interactor, a protein involved linear polyubiquitination and associated with “inappropriate inflammation” (Gene Cards)
 
From the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, Yun-Cai Liu, PhD, and his team set out to decipher definitively the relationship between Sharpin and Tregs. Their study was published in Nature Immunology earlier this month.
 
"Treg-based intervention has in fact been proposed as a novel therapeutic means to treat various inflammatory diseases, meaning that knowing how Treg function is regulated could speed development of effective treatments,” said study co-author Hyung-seung Jin.
 


To study the functionality of Tregs, the researchers observed mice that lacked any Sharpin protein. Not long after being born, the Sharpin knock-out mice developed skin lesions and internal inflammation, despite being free of any infections. The last clue was the low Treg cell count in all tissues, even in the thymus where all T lymphocytes develop. These outcomes strongly linked a lack of Sharpin to low numbers of Tregs, which resulted as expected in unnecessary inflammatory responses.
 
The team also replenished the Treg population in the knock-out mice by injecting healthy Tregs from normal mice who were born with Sharpin. They saw a clear reduction in inflammation severity.
 
Without the “cell survival mechanism” provided by Sharpin during Treg development, the lymphocytes die in the thymus. A single mutation in the genes coding for Sharpin could lead to autoimmune disease. Now scientists will know to check for Sharpin proteins in cases of autoimmune disease where Treg levels are low all over the body. If a lack of Sharpin ends up being the cause of disease, a treatment of healthy Tregs with ample Sharpin to keep them alive, similar to the replenishment done in this study, could potentially help people with autoimmune disease.
 
Also promising are the applications for cancer treatments made possible with this discovery. Scientists could carefully take advantage of Treg dependence on Sharpin for survival when fighting tumors in certain tissues. By limiting Sharpin production in certain tissues, killer lymphocytes like cytotoxic T cells could experience enhanced tumor recognition and attack more efficiently, behaviors which are usually heavily monitored and inhibited by Tregs.
 
 
Source: La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
 
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 21, 2018
Immunology
NOV 21, 2018
HIV Persisting How?
A team of researchers have identified an HIV reservoir...
DEC 15, 2018
Drug Discovery
DEC 15, 2018
Ebola-Fighting Protein Paves The Way For New Drugs
In a study published in Cell, research at Northwestern University School of Medicine has involved scientists discovering a human protein that could be...
DEC 26, 2018
Immunology
DEC 26, 2018
When the Immune System Makes a Mistake: Autoimmunity
A team from Scripps Research has found a molecular cause of a group of rare autoimmune disorders in which the immune system attacks the body's healthy cells....
FEB 04, 2019
Immunology
FEB 04, 2019
Eyes Hold the Secret to Islets
Summary: Scientists show in experimental and preclinical recipients that islets transplanted in the eye can survive and function long-term without continuous immunosuppression....
FEB 12, 2019
Immunology
FEB 12, 2019
Why Does My Throat Hurt Again
Scientists are uncovering the mechanisms behind recurring cases of step throat...
MAR 25, 2019
Drug Discovery
MAR 25, 2019
Aspirin Combats Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is a global infection far from being eradicated. It currently infects more than 1,400 people per year in Australia. The deadliest form and exp...
Loading Comments...