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Title: Investigation of SIGIRR and other TIR domain containing molecules in primary human myeloid cells and rheumatoid arthritis
Author: Drexler, Stefan Karl
ISNI:       0000 0000 7184 5765
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2008
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Key components of the innate immune response to infections are the Toll-like receptors (TLRs), which are able to detect invading pathogens and subsequently generate inflammatory responses. Many details of the signalling pathways of TLRs have emerged from gene targeted mice or inhibition studies in transformed cell lines. However, the signalling pathways activated in primary human cells and disease tissues are less well understood. Previous studies identified differences in TLR signalling between human cells of myeloid- and non-myeloid origin. While over-expression of a dominant negative construct of the TLR adaptor molecule MyD88 inhibited TLR4 signalling in HUVECs it had no effect on TLR4 signalling in macrophages. Based on this observation, this thesis examined the function of MyD88 in primary human monocyte derived dendritic cells (DCs). Unexpectedly, over-expression of MyD88 dn resulted in the activation of DCs. Subsequent experiments, provided evidence for a DC specific inhibitory mechanism, which depends on endogenous MyD88 and is disrupted by TIR domain over-expression. To further investigate the mechanism, the function of SIGIRR in human DCs was examined. SIGIRR is a member of the TIR domain containing receptor family that has been shown to be expressed in murine and human DCs but not macrophages. However, results in this thesis show that SIGIRR is expressed by human DCs as well as macrophages. While SIGIRR has been studied in murine models, nothing is known about its function in primary human cells. Therefore, an adenoviral construct encoding wild-type SIGIRR was generated and over-expressed in DCs and macrophages, which impaired TLR2, TLR3, TLR4, TLR5, TLR7/8 and IL-1R but not TNFα signalling. In accordance with these results, siRNA knock down of SIGIRR in macrophages led to an increase of TLR3, TLR4, TLR7/8 and IL-1R but not TNFα induced cytokine production. Therefore, SIGIRR seems to be an inhibitor of TIR domain dependent signalling, affecting the MyD88 dependent as well as the TRIF dependent signalling pathway. Furthermore, immunoprecipitation studies of SIGIRR with MyD88 suggest, that SIGIRR interacts with MyD88 constitutively through TIR domain interaction, indicating that SIGIRR inhibits TLR/IL-1R signalling by sequestering MyD88. Given the potency of SIGIRR to inhibit TLR/IL-1R signalling in human DCs and macrophages, this thesis further investigated its role in rheumatoid arthritis disease models. Over-expression of SIGIRR wt in human RA synovial membrane cultures inhibited the spontaneous secretion of cytokines by those cells. In contrast, SIGIRR deficient mice were resistant to collagen induced arthritis (CIA). SIGIRR null mice immunised with CIA showed a loss in IgG2a anti-collagen antibody production as well as reduced Th1 and Th17 immune responses but increased Th2 immunity. Subsequent results indicated that SIGIRR is able to regulate CD4+ T cell development through the inhibition of ST2/IL-33 signalling. Therefore, while SIGIRR inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokine release during the progression stages of RA, it may also regulate the development of Th2 development, thereby reducing CIA incidence. These studies highlight the importance of investigating signalling pathways in physiologically relevant cells in order to fully understand the roles TLRs and specific signalling molecules play in the human immune system and human disease process.
Supervisor: Foxwell, Brain ; Feldmann, Marc Sponsor: Arthritis Research Campaign
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral