A study to be published online in Nature Immunology reveals how T lymphocytes survive to induce several types of autoimmune disease, including multiple sclerosis.
Working with a mouse version of multiple sclerosis, Gang Pei and colleagues study a protein called beta-arrestin 1, a factor known to regulate gene expression in all cells. Pei's team reports that beta-arrestin 1 helps promote survival of T lymphocytes, which increases the duration of inflammation. In the absence of beta-arrestin 1 a critical factor required for T lymphocyte survival is not produced. Consistently, T lymphocytes lacking beta-arrestin 1 survive less well and cause much less brain inflammation in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis.
Demonstrating a role for beta-arrestin 1 in prolonging survival of aggressive T lymphocytes associated with autoimmune disease provides a possible target for reducing such diseases. Whether blocking the function of beta-arrestin 1 will help multiple sclerosis patients, however, remains a question for future investigation.
Gang Pei (Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, China)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
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