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Title: The role of DOCK8 in the maintenance of CD8+ T cell memory and invariant NKT cells
Author: Crawford, Greg Hugh
ISNI:       0000 0004 2745 6147
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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The use of genome wide ENU mutagenesis screening has uncovered vast numbers of novel genes involved in the control of the immune system. This thesis describes the characterization of a novel mutant, Captain Morgan (CPM), originally identified in an immunization screen designed to evaluate both the initial antibody response to antigen and the ability to sustain antibody production. Mapping of this mutant lead to the identification of a single base pair mutation in a novel guanine nucleotide exchange factor, dedicator of cytokinesis 8 (DOCK8). The mutation was found to result in altered gene splicing of the DOCK8 protein leading to the truncation of the protein and loss of catalytic function. The importance of understanding the role of DOCK8 in host immunity has been recently underlined by the discovery that cohorts of patients suffering from autosomal recessive forms of hyper-IgE syndrome have loss-of-function or deletions in this novel guanine nucleotide exchange factor. Disease in these patients is characterised by recurrent viral and bacterial infections mainly of the skin and lungs, with reduced levels of peripheral CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the blood of patients. Patients also have high levels of IgE and eosinophilia in the blood and are highly atopic with increased prevalence of allergic diseases including asthma. Loss of DOCK8 function results in a number of phenotypes in CPM mice, which may help understand the immunodeficiency syndrome experienced by DOCK8 deficient patients. CPM mice, like DOCK8 deficient patients, are lymphopenic with losses of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the blood and secondary lymphoid organs. Challenge of CPM mice with modified vaccina virus (MVA) and influenza strain X31 demonstrated normal primary anti-viral responses. However, similar to the loss of germinal centre B cells previously described in these mice, memory T cell responses were diminished, which may explain the susceptibility of DOCK8 deficient patients to recurrent infections. In addition to the loss of peripheral T cells, rare populations of lymphocytes such as invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT) were also reduced in the liver and thymus. Due to their roles in bacterial and viral responses and cancer immunosurveillance it is expected that loss of these cells will contribute to disease severity. Together these findings illustrate the importance of the ENU mutagenesis model for generating new mutants, which can enhance our understanding of mammalian genes and create disease models of human disease. Further characterization of DOCK8 deficiency and the molecular mechanisms of DOCK8 function will have important implications for disease diagnosis and ongoing treatment for patients.
Supervisor: Cornall, Richard Sponsor: Medical Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Biology ; Genetics (life sciences) ; Transgenics ; Immunology ; Infectious diseases ; NKT cells ; memory CD8 T cells