Patients with LRBA deficiency show CTLA4 loss and immune dysregulation responsive to abatacept therapy

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Science  24 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6246, pp. 436-440
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa1663

Trafficking from bedside to bench

Typically in translational research, a discovery in cell or molecular biology is later exploited to improve patient care. Occasionally, information flows in the opposite direction. Lo et al. found that patients with an autoimmune disorder caused by deficiency of a protein called LRBA responded dramatically to the drug abatacept (see the Perspective by Sansom). Abatacept contains a segment of a potent inhibitory immune receptor, CTLA4. Experiments prompted by this observation revealed the relationship between the two proteins: LRBA controls the intracellular trafficking and degradation of CTLA4. This information may further improve patient care, because other clinically approved drugs have the desired mechanism of action with potentially fewer side effects.

Science, this issue p. 436; see also p. 377


Mutations in the LRBA gene (encoding the lipopolysaccharide-responsive and beige-like anchor protein) cause a syndrome of autoimmunity, lymphoproliferation, and humoral immune deficiency. The biological role of LRBA in immunologic disease is unknown. We found that patients with LRBA deficiency manifested a dramatic and sustained improvement in response to abatacept, a CTLA4 (cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen-4)–immunoglobulin fusion drug. Clinical responses and homology of LRBA to proteins controlling intracellular trafficking led us to hypothesize that it regulates CTLA4, a potent inhibitory immune receptor. We found that LRBA colocalized with CTLA4 in endosomal vesicles and that LRBA deficiency or knockdown increased CTLA4 turnover, which resulted in reduced levels of CTLA4 protein in FoxP3+ regulatory and activated conventional T cells. In LRBA-deficient cells, inhibition of lysosome degradation with chloroquine prevented CTLA4 loss. These findings elucidate a mechanism for CTLA4 trafficking and control of immune responses and suggest therapies for diseases involving the CTLA4 pathway.

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