Nematode-Derived Proteins Suppress Proliferation and Cytokine Production of Antigen-Specific T Cells via Induction of Cell Death

Hartmann et al., PLoS One (2013) - PMID: 23861729

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In order to establish long-lasting infections in their mammalian host, filarial nematodes have developed sophisticated strategies to dampen their host's immune response. Proteins that are actively secreted by the parasites have been shown to induce the expansion of regulatory T cells and to directly interfere with effector T cell function. Here, we analyze the suppressive capacity of Onchocercavolvulus-derived excreted/secreted proteins. Addition of two recombinant O. volvulus proteins, abundant larval transcript-2 (OvALT-2) and novel larval transcript-1 (OvNLT-1) to cell cultures of T cell receptor transgenic CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells suppressed antigen-specific stimulation in vitro. Ovalbumin-specific CD4(+) DO11.10 and OT-II T cells that had been stimulated with their cognate antigen in the presence of OvALT-2 or OvNLT-1 displayed reduced DNA synthesis quantified by (3)H-thymidine incorporation and reduced cell division quantified by CFSE dilution. Furthermore, the IL-2 and IFN-γ response of ovalbumin-specific CD8(+) OT-I T cells was suppressed by OvALT-2 and OvNLT-1. In contrast, another recombinant O. volvulus protein, microfilariae surface-associated antigen (Ov103), did not modulate T cell activation, thus serving as internal control for non-ESP-mediated artifacts. Suppressive capacity of the identified ESP was associated with induction of apoptosis in T cells demonstrated by increased exposure of phosphatidylserine on the plasma membrane. Of note, the digestion of recombinant proteins with proteinase K did not abolish the suppression of antigen-specific proliferation although the suppressive capacity of the identified excreted/secreted products was not mediated by low molecular weight contaminants in the undigested preparations. In summary, we identified two suppressive excreted/secreted products from O. volvulus, which interfere with the function of antigen-specific T cells in vitro.

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