Identification d’un nouveau mécanisme de contrôle de l’homéostasie des lymphocytes T iNKT et MAIT

Abstract : Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) lymphocytes represent a peculiar T cell-lineage that differs from conventional T cells by its development, function, and ligands it recognizes. In humans, iNKT cells express an invariant TCR made of the V?24-J?18/V?11 rearrangement, which recognizes glycosphingolipids presented by the MHC class I monomorphic molecule CD1d. Moreover, they rapidly produce high amounts of cytokines when stimulated and are thus considered as innate-like T cells. The molecular mechanisms that control the homeostasis of iNKT are poorly understood. XIAP (X-linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis) is a physiological inhibitor of caspases 3, 7 and 9 and is mutated in the X-linked lymphoproliferation syndrome 2 (XLP-2), a rare primary immunodeficiency (PID) characterized by a peculiar susceptibility to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection. Patients with a XIAP deficiency exhibit a strong reduction of their iNKT cells in blood. Here, I report that XIAP is required for the survival of iNKT cells in humans. The requirement of XIAP correlates with a pro-apoptotic phenotype of iNKT cells that is not observed in conventional T cells. The increased susceptibility to apoptosis of iNKT cells was observed upon stimuli that trigger either extrinsic or intrinsic apoptosis pathways. iNKT cells by contrast to conventional T cells express elevated amounts of pro-apoptotic molecules including caspases 3 or 7 and Bid. The pro-apoptotic phenotype of iNKT cells is early acquired since iNKT cells from cord blood and thymus display a similar pro-apoptotic phenotype. Knock-down of XIAP in iNKT cells and analysis of XIAP-deficient humans indicate that XIAP is a potent inhibitor of apoptosis in iNKT cells while it has only a moderate effect in conventional T cells. I also show that this pro-apoptotic phenotype of iNKT cells is dependent of the expression of the transcription factor PLZF. This factor is already known to be necessary for the acquisition of the effector functions of these cells. Conversely, over expression of PLZF in conventional T cells leads to a pro-apoptotic phenotype and to an increased expression of caspase 3. Recently, a second invariant T cell subpopulation, the mucosal associated invariant T (MAIT) cells was identified both in humans and mice. These cells express a semi-invariant TCR made of V?7.2-J?33 rearrangements and share with iNKT cells a number of developmental, functional and phenotypical features that lead to consider MAIT cells as innate-like T cells like iNKT cells. Similarly, MAIT cells also exhibit a pro-apoptotic phenotype and are decreased in XIAP-deficient humans. The pro-apoptotic phenotype of MAIT cells is also dependent on PLZF. Interestingly, one XIAP-deficient patient with normal iNKT cell number was identified. This patient has not yet encountered EBV, suggesting that reduction of iNKT cells in XIAP-deficient patients is likely due to increased apoptosis in the context of EBV infection. I also show that EBV might have an escape mechanism from iNKT cells by down-regulating the expression of CD1d on the surface of B cells. My thesis works identify a previously unknown pathway controlling innate T cell homeostasis depending on XIAP and PLZF. PLZF is thus a key factor involved in the differentiation and the homeostasis of innate T cells by regulating the acquisition of their effector functions and their survival. I also identified the first PID associated with a defect in MAIT cells. Finally, these results provide evidences that iNKT cells might play a role against EBV infection.
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Stéphane Gérart. Identification d’un nouveau mécanisme de contrôle de l’homéostasie des lymphocytes T iNKT et MAIT. Autre. Université René Descartes - Paris V, 2012. Français. ⟨NNT : 2012PA05TO22⟩. ⟨tel-00754934⟩

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