Current therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS) target the immune system in an effort to control its destructive actions in the central nervous system during autoimmune disease. Unfortunately, the approved therapies usually act globally to affect many cells of the immune system and not just the autoreactive cells causing disease. To improve upon the current therapies, many groups, including our own, are attempting to selectively target the myelin specific T cells supporting and propagating the anti-self response. Our efforts have focused on mutating the myelin peptide antigen to make variants with low affinity for the MHC molecule while retaining their ability to interact at biological levels with T cells. These MHC variant peptides (abbreviated here as MVPs) induce T cell anergy, prevent the initiation of autoimmune disease, and reduce the severity of ongoing EAE in polyclonal populations of T cells in two EAE models. Thus, MHC variant peptides retain antigen specific effects by targeting myelin-reactive T cells without the broad immunosuppressive consequences or side effects of the current clinical therapies used in MS. The phenotype induced using MHC variant peptides manifests itself as T cell anergy with an observed decrease in T cell proliferation, IL-2 production, and IL-2 response. In addition, the MVP effects do not promote a shift in T helper polarization (measured as conserved IFN gammaproduction). To expand on our initial promising findings and to assess the mechanism of MVP action, we have generated exciting preliminary data that suggests the tyrosine phosphatase SHP-1 is an important point of control for the intensity of autoimmune disease. We hypothesize that methods, which increase SHP-1 activity in T cells can lead to the induction of anergy in those myelin specific cells. These anergic T cells in turn can moderate other myelin reactive T cells, thus providing a potential treatment for autoimmune disease.
Two specific aims are designed to test this hypothesis.
Aim 1 : To define SHP-1 regulation in myelin reactive T cells- Aim 2: To determine the efficacy of MVP and adoptive T cell therapy in regulating autoimmune disease-

Public Health Relevance

The overall goal of this grant is to define the mechanisms of T cell anergy induced using variants of myelin antigens as a means for controlling autoimmune disease in the central nervous system. T cells play a major role in the pathogenesis of Multiple Sclerosis and the related animal model EAE, indicating that the control of the autoimmune T cell responses is paramount for any beneficial therapy. As a result, all current treatments for MS attempt to target T cells in some fashion. We describe a model for regulation of the T cell response through the activation of the tyrosine phosphatase SHP-1 by MHC variant peptides, suggesting that both could form the basis for future therapies effective against MS as well as other autoimmune diseases. We propose to test our hypothesis using murine EAE models, but our results should be rapidly transferable to human cells. Therefore, our findings are highly relevant to MS and could provide a future treatment by specifically limiting the autoimmune T cell response.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Clinical Neuroimmunology and Brain Tumors Study Section (CNBT)
Program Officer
Utz, Ursula
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Emory University
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Edwards, Lindsay J; Evavold, Brian D (2013) Destabilization of peptide:MHC interaction induces IL-2 resistant anergy in diabetogenic T cells. J Autoimmun 44:82-90
Zhu, Cheng; Jiang, Ning; Huang, Jun et al. (2013) Insights from in situ analysis of TCR-pMHC recognition: response of an interaction network. Immunol Rev 251:49-64
Rosenthal, Kristen M; Edwards, Lindsay J; Sabatino Jr, Joseph J et al. (2012) Low 2-dimensional CD4 T cell receptor affinity for myelin sets in motion delayed response kinetics. PLoS One 7:e32562
Edwards, Lindsay J; Zarnitsyna, Veronika I; Hood, Jennifer D et al. (2012) Insights into T cell recognition of antigen: significance of two-dimensional kinetic parameters. Front Immunol 3:86
Edwards, Lindsay J; Evavold, Brian D (2011) T cell recognition of weak ligands: roles of signaling, receptor number, and affinity. Immunol Res 50:39-48
Sabatino Jr, Joseph J; Rosenthal, Kristen M; Evavold, Brian D (2010) Manipulating antigenic ligand strength to selectively target myelin-reactive CD4+ T cells in EAE. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol 5:176-88
Edwards, Lindsay J; Evavold, Brian D (2010) A unique unresponsive CD4+ T cell phenotype post TCR antagonism. Cell Immunol 261:64-8
Huang, Jun; Zarnitsyna, Veronika I; Liu, Baoyu et al. (2010) The kinetics of two-dimensional TCR and pMHC interactions determine T-cell responsiveness. Nature 464:932-6
Bettini, Maria; Rosenthal, Kristen; Evavold, Brian D (2009) Pathogenic MOG-reactive CD8+ T cells require MOG-reactive CD4+ T cells for sustained CNS inflammation during chronic EAE. J Neuroimmunol 213:60-8