Eur J Immunol 2002 Jun;32(6):1737-47
Salmond RJ, Pitman RS, Jimi E, Soriani M, Hirst TR, Ghosh S, Rincon M, Williams NA.
University of Bristol, Department of Pathology and Microbiology, School of Medical Sciences, Bristol, GB.
The B subunit of Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin (EtxB) is a potent immunomodulatory molecule capable of treating and preventing autoimmune disease.
These properties result from its ability to bind to glycolipid receptors, principally G(M1) ganglioside, and modulate immune cell function.
EtxB receptor binding causes B cell activation, modulates monocyte cytokine secretion and triggers apoptosis of CD8(+) T cells.
These wide-ranging effects suggest that B subunit receptor interaction triggers signaling events affecting cellular differentiation.
We have investigated the processes by which EtxB induces CD8(+) T cell apoptosis.
We show that receptor interaction by EtxB activates caspase-3 in CD8(+) but not in CD4(+) T cells.
Inhibition of caspase-3 blocks the apoptotic process.
EtxB induces the activation of NF-kappaB in both CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells.
The findings that (i) SN50, a peptide inhibitor of NF-kappaB nuclear translocation, prevents caspase-3 activation and subsequent apoptosis, and (ii) CD8(+)CD4(-) thymocytes from transgenic mice expressing a dominant-negative form of the IkappaBalpha protein were markedly less susceptible to EtxB-induced apoptosis than cells from wild-type mice, indicate that NF-kappaB is important in the induction of the apoptotic pathway.
Further investigations revealed that while caspase-8 activity is detected concomitant to caspase-3, caspase-9 activation, following mitochondrial cytochrome c release, is detectable later on.
These observations are consistent with death receptor-mediated signaling, however, experiments using lpr/lpr and p55 TNFR -/- mice rule out the involvement of Fas and the p55 TNF receptor, respectively.
The data therefore indicate that EtxB-mediated apoptosis occurs via a novel pathway involving NF-kappaB.